It's in every veterinary practice—why shouldn't you use it?

It's in every veterinary practice—why shouldn't you use it?

Don't let this piece of equipment get between your bond with clients.
Mar 01, 2013

In almost every exam room, there's a piece of equipment I used to practice with all the time. Now, if I use it one time out of five, I'd be surprised. By passing on it, I often make my patient feel more at ease and relax my client.

Have you guessed what I'm not using anymore? You've got it—it's the exam room table.

While convenient for some veterinarians and technicians, that hunk of slippery, cold stainless steel isn't all that comfortable for the pets we see. The elevation and isolation stresses out cats and small dogs. (Why? Just imagine seeing your physician while perched on top of a second-story building). Large dogs are just as uncomfortable and they're harder to lift.

In most cases, I go where the pet is: On the bench next to the client, in a chair, or down on the floor. By taking my physical exam to the pet, I minimize tension.

Of course, after more than 30 years of practice, I can tell when to make an exception to this rule, and when I think I can get a better handle on a pet from an exam-room table, up he'll go. For example, when a pet is aggressive, guarding the owner, or the situation is so urgent that I'll have only one chance at a good exam, I'll use the table. But you'd be surprised how often it's not needed. With my smock drenched in pheromones and treats in my hand, I am the veterinarian of my patients' dreams—or at least not their nightmares. By meeting them more than halfway, I am often presented with a pet that, even when sick or in pain, will tolerate handling, or even look forward to coming back to the hospital.

Dr. Marty Becker is a popular speaker and author of more than 22 top-selling books, including The Healing Power of Pets. He is the resident veterinarian on Good Morning America, a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show, and the lead veterinary contributor to . Dr. Becker practices at North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, Ida. and Lakewood Animal Hospital in Coeur d'Alene, Ida.