Dr. Lila Miller, D.V.M., ASPCA Sr. Director Animal Sciences & Vet Advisor
GIVING A BASIC HEALTH EXAM
FACILITIES AND PROCEDURES
A good basic health exam should be conducted in an area that has been set aside specifically for the care and handling of animals. It should be the only activity conducted in that space.
The room itself should be large enough for the animal, the technician and at least one other person (for restraint) to move around easily.
The room should be completely cleaned and disinfected on a routine basis after each examination period. The floor should have drains so it can be thoroughly hosed and bleached daily.
It should also be well lit, bright and cheerful, with a bulletin board for special notes about treatments, etc.
It would be preferable to have a separate treatment room for animals with contagious disease, but this is not always possible given the limited resources of many shelters. If the room is large enough, there should be another area set up with a table for treatments.
The room should be equipped with all the necessary equipment and drugs to minimize having to leave the room to obtain supplies. If drugs and other medical supplies are stored in a separate, central location, the examination room should be stocked at the beginning or end of the day, before mass examinations begin.
If staffing permits, it is probably best to have the technician remain in the exam room while other personnel bring the animals to the room. This allows the technician to focus solely on examinations.
Examinations should be a priority function in the shelter. Animals should be triaged, categorized, isolated and entered into the system as soon as possible after their arrival to try to prevent the spread of disease.
Many shelters perform euthanasia in the same room where examinations are conducted. This should be avoided if possible for control of disease spread, and to avoid having to juggle the two functions due to space considerations. (If the same person performs both functions, it may be better psychologically to not be in the same room all day anyway!)
Exams may be conducted continuously during the day as animals are brought in to the shelter, or during exam periods when animals are brought to the technician during specified times only. This is usually a resource decision.
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