NEW GLASGOW – Something new has been taking shape at East River Animal Hospital.
Dr. Kathryn Finlayson says she has had a number of ideas come to her as a result of attending conferences and seminars across the United States over the last few years.
“A lot of the conferences and seminars introduced new approaches to veterinary science so I decided to use some of that to add on a pet care centre to the hospital,” she explains.
It includes a number of new options for patients including a cat boarding facility, a dog boarding facility based on ideas from a fear-free design as well as a new doggy spa and comfort room.
In reference to the boarding facilities, Finlayson notes, “I don’t think there’s anything like this in Nova Scotia or the Maritimes. It’s new to the veterinarian world.”
Both facilities are based on means of reducing stress in animals to provide them with a more comfortable stay.
“There’s been a lot of research done into the design of these in terms of lowering the stress for animals as much as possible,” she explains.
The cat boarding facility consists of nine cubicles that can be opened or closed according to the amount of space a client requests for their pet.
“It’s a patented design and there are holes inside of the cubicles to make it bigger or smaller depending on the amount of space the cat needs.”
The litter area is also kept separate and vented to the outside so there is no smell.
The front, instead of the regular kennel gates, is made of glass with horizontal ventilation marks instead of vertical bars because Finlayson says horizontal lines help to cut down on the stress level of cats.
“The room is also sound proof so they can’t hear the dogs barking.”
Finlayson notes boarding is often used when families are going on vacation or their pet is in need of medication.
The dog boarding facility includes many similar features.
“Studies have shown that dogs behind glass are less likely to bark and less stressed than dogs behind gates. We have also included a lot of natural light and LED lights instead of fluorescents that can be dimmed as lighting can be a big stressor for dogs.”
There are 10 boarding areas for dogs and they are set up in a way that dogs are never facing each other which can reduce aggression and they have a little wall they can hide behind if they are shy or want privacy in the sound proof area.
“We have also installed a flushing system with the grates outside of the kennel areas. The floor is sloped so the waste runs out into the flush system. This creates less of a chance of contamination which decreases things like kennel cough. The glass also helps to reduce kennel cough.”
The dogs get walked three to four times a day through a door that leads straight outside, never disrupting the hospital patients.
These new facilities are completely different than any other kennel system in the Maritimes, according to Finlayson.
Finlayson also has a new doggy spa. She says there is a smaller tub area for smaller dogs and a walk in shower area for larger dogs.
“Groomers often won’t take dogs that are larger than 60 pounds because they are difficult to lift, so this allows you to walk your dog right in and wash it.”
The final enhancement Finlayson has made to the East River Animal Hospital is the addition of the comfort room which has been open approximately eight weeks.
The comfort room is a calming room with a sofa where families can come in and spend time with a pet before having to euthanize it or visit with a pet which is sick and must stay at the hospital.
“It’s like a family room, you don’t have to be around all of the patients in the waiting room. It’s a nice quiet room, the lights can be dimmed and families don’t have to rush with their pets.”
The room also has access to the back entrance so families don’t have to walk out in front of the waiting area.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback in the short time the room has been available,” explains Finlayson. “People really appreciate it and are grateful to have it available. People tend to value their animals like family members now and it can be difficult to say good-bye.”
Finlayson says she has worked in this area for more than 12 years and has developed a lot of relationships with her patients and has seen how emotional and difficult it can be for families to say good-bye, so she wanted to do something to make the process a little easier.
“We don’t have to rush people in and out. People can stay as long as they need to.”
Jacob, three, with his mother Marsha and sister Keeley Davidson, 10 months, sit with their dog Arlo who is in for a check up. They are using the new euthanasia comfort and palliative care room at the East River Animal Hospital while they wait for their appointment. (Harvie photo)