by Bryan Slinker, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine
At the college, our highly-specialized care for companion animals in areas such as oncology, cardiology, or ophthalmology means we can provide an incredible team approach to the most complicated and difficult medical and surgical cases. We are rightly very proud of this. We are just as proud to offer specialized care more routinely. If “routine specialized care” sounds like an oxymoron to you, let me explain. Important areas of general practice, including advanced level of routine dentistry, dental disease prevention, behavioral services, physical rehabilitation, and alternative and complementary medicine-based strategies, broaden what is generally thought of as routine care for animals.
Today, there is also a rethinking of what a general practice environment should look like from the point of view of the dog or cat. The Cat Friendly Practice program and Fear Free are prominent examples of efforts to reduce stress for pets when they visit their veterinarian. At WSU, we are striving to design a more cat friendly corner of our large hospital, modifying our exam rooms, and supporting our staff and faculty to become certified in Fear Free principles. Behavior medicine principles underlie many of these approaches.
As we work to educate our DVM graduates to achieve their best possible success in companion animal practice, we are also adding behavior services to our own practice to provide clinical training opportunities for students and the expertise to bring these concepts into the classroom prior to clinical experience.
In this issue of Advance, we highlight our behavior program and the great work Dr. Leticia Fanucchi and her colleagues are doing to treat the whole patient. She and her colleagues also conduct research on the behavioral underpinnings of cat-friendly and Fear Free to determine which practices to prioritize, and to inform how we best teach our students about these concepts. Reducing an animal’s stress during a visit to the veterinarian, coupled with basic expertise in behavioral medicine, are critical to the success of the profession; reducing the often-significant anxiety and stress that a visit to the veterinarian induces, these practices make it easier for our clients to seek routine care for their pets. Further, by teaching our graduates more about basic behavioral services and appropriate referral to specialized care when needed, we all can work together to reduce the likelihood of relinquishment and elective euthanasia.
As always, thanks to all of you for the many ways you support your College of Veterinary Medicine, and Go Cougs!