Take a Chill Pill, Man

In my capacity as a doctor, I suppose I say a fair amount of things that end up offending people. “This guy really needs to lose some weight” is a popular one. “We’re not going to be able to fix this in one visit” is pretty reliable. “This is unusually aggressive behavior for a puppy” is sure to ignite some fireworks. Try not to take things like that personally. The doctor’sentire job is to help you and your petattain a long and happy life togetherSometimes we have to ruffle a few feathers to get there.

One thing that oftenirks pet owners is when I suggest a tranquilizer pill. There must be a lot of misconceptions about these, although I’m not precisely sure what they are. Perhaps I can help to clear things up with a few well-chosen facts.

1. Pre-visit tranq pills are used for one or two daysThey are not prescribed to change your pet’s personality. There’s nothing wrong with his personality.

2Tranqs are going to make him feel happier about a relatively unpleasant necessityWhile it’s totally normal to be somewhat pessimistic about the vet, some of us are genuinely petrified. These medicines gently coax the brain to be less intimidated by unfamiliar people and proceduresWhy not cruise through your doctor visit with a smile? Can you think of a good reason not to?

3. Tranqs allow your pet to get much better medical care, and that is unquestionably better value for you. If his whole exam is spent flinching and struggling, the doctor won’t be able to tell you a lot about his condition. Meanwhile, clients with calmer pets are receiving valuable nuggets of information in exchange for their physical exam fee. Moreover, most illnesses require some kind of sample or x-ray image collected from the patient. He might have to lie on a table, or recline on his back, or tip his head up, or just be still for a minute. If your pet can’t tolerate that, it’s not his fault (or yours)… but without samples and images, our hands will be tied for getting you the answers you need. Pets that can’t be cooperative require the team to do more guessing and less scientific calculation. I don’t love the odds on that.

4Tranqs keep your pet safe. Overly reactive patients flail around when asked to sit still at the clinic. Occasionally they bite their own tongues, run into walls,or bang their heads on the floor. Worse still, some of our patients have medical conditions or breed characteristics that make them very brittle when it comes to panic. If you are already breathing noisily, for example, it doesn’t take that much anxiety tothrow you into a life-and-death crisis. I’m talking to you, bulldogs.

Now sit back and digest a bit. Have you been the one that turned your nose up at this prescription when it was recommended? If you’re still not convinced, I have four more flattering facts about tranqs that might just change your mind.

Dr. M.S. Regan