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Natural. Gentle. Vet Formulated. Premium Quality. Kind To The Environment.

The Power Of Scent:
A Multimodal Approach To Reducing Patient Stress
In The Veterinary Clinic

Shy Tiger is a pet care company that is 100% Australian-owned and operated. It was founded by Dr. Nicole, a holistic veterinarian who has a passion for natural and holistic health practices. Dr. Nicole owns and operates Mont Albert Veterinary Surgery, a veterinary practice located in Melbourne, Australia. Before starting Shy Tiger, Dr. Nicole gained valuable experience and knowledge through her work at Mont Albert Veterinary Surgery.

With her veterinary experience, Dr. Nicole developed a keen interest in holistic and natural health practices. She started studying natural therapies and treatments and eventually committed to providing pets with the highest quality, most natural products possible. This commitment is reflected in the Shy Tiger ethos, which emphasises the use of only natural ingredients while avoiding synthetic and chemical ingredients.

 

At Shy Tiger, Dr. Nicole and her team are dedicated to creating the best natural products for pets using nature's finest ingredients. Their mission is to help pets live their best lives by providing them with safe, effective, and high-quality natural products. Shy Tiger offers a wide range of natural pet products, including natural dog food, healthy treats, and natural supplements.

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How Does Patient Stress Impact a Veterinary Clinic?

 

As soon as pet owners – and their animals - step into the veterinary clinic, their senses are immediately engaged. The sterile smell of disinfectant and the sound of barking dogs may be what initially catches their attention, but have you ever considered how the power of scent could impact their experience?

 

The provision of veterinary care is an essential component of ensuring the good welfare of companion animals. However, a significant body of research has demonstrated that a considerable proportion of dogs and cats exhibit fear and stress during veterinary visits, which can also have negative consequences for their owners. Specifically, a survey of pet owners has shown that 28% of cat owners and 22% of dog owners would seek veterinary care more frequently if their pets experienced less stress during these visits [1]. In a study in 2019, it was found that half of companion dogs experience some level of fear when receiving veterinary care, including one in seven dogs that show severe or extreme fear.[2]

 

The stress experienced by animals during veterinary visits can distort physiological measurements, impede physical examinations, and pose a risk to veterinary personnel, particularly in cases of aggression. This presents a significant challenge to veterinarians, who must balance the provision of important medical procedures, some of which may be painful, with consideration for the emotional well-being of their animal patients.

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The Power of Scent - Creating a PAWsitive Experience

One of the important factors influencing a dog’s experience at the veterinary clinic is the environmental set up of the clinic. 

 

There has been a recent increase in awareness of how individual animals, and their owners, experience veterinary visits and how negative experiences can be counteracted. As such, a multimodal approach that incorporates various solutions is recommended to address this issue.

 

One of the important factors influencing a dog’s experience at the veterinary clinic is the environmental set up of the clinic. The environment in which the animal is examined can be modified to provide a more comfortable and calming atmosphere. This can include using a combination of aromatherapy, pheromone diffusers, calming music, minimizing bright lights and loud noises, and incorporating spatial dividers and elevated places for cat carriers in reception spaces.

 

Using calming scents in both the reception area and the consult rooms can help reduce stress and improve the overall experience for both pets and their owners.  Scents that are known to have calming properties, such as lavender and chamomile, can create a more relaxed environment for both animals and their owners. This can have a positive impact on the customer experience, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

 

Diffusing scents throughout a veterinary clinic can be safely achieved by using veterinary formulated, pure essential oil blends that are veterinary formulated in a diffuser.

How Scent Marketing Can Boost Client Satisfaction and Sales in Your Veterinary Clinic

 

Scent marketing, also known as olfactory marketing, is a technique that aims to create positive emotional responses in customers by using specific scents. The sense of smell is closely linked to memory and emotions, and scent marketing can therefore have a significant impact on customer behaviour. Creating an inviting and soothing environment is crucial to shaping owners’ perceptions of quality, minimizing aggression, and reducing perceived wait times.

 

Research has shown that scents can influence customers' perception of a business and their willingness to spend money. Scent marketing can have a positive impact on the customer experience, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

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How do we know it works?

There are several statistics that support the effectiveness of scent marketing in increasing sales and improving customer experience.

 

Studies have shown that scent marketing can increase sales and customer loyalty. For example, a study conducted in a bookstore found that customers spent 20% more time in the store when a simple scent was diffused and were more likely to make a purchase. [3]

 

One study found that customers in a scented environment were willing to pay up to 10% more for products than those in an unscented environment. [4] Another study conducted in a casino found that the introduction of a pleasant scent led to a 45% increase in revenue from slot machines. [5]

 

In the hospitality industry, a study found that hotel guests rated their experience as more enjoyable when the hotel lobby was scented, with a 7.7% increase in overall ratings. [6] Additionally, the same study found that guests were willing to pay an average of $10 more for a room when it was scented.

 

In a veterinary clinic environment, a survey conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that over 60% of pet owners reported feeling stressed or anxious when taking their pets to the vet.[7] Using calming scents in the waiting area and exam rooms can help reduce this stress and improve the overall experience for both pets and their owners.

 

Overall, incorporating scent marketing into a veterinary clinic can be an effective way to enhance the customer experience. By using scents that are pleasing to both humans and animals, and maintaining a consistent scent throughout the clinic, a more relaxing and enjoyable environment can be created for customers and their pets.

Positive influence of essential oils on human wellbeing 

 

Essential oils can have a positive effect on people in the clinic too!  Diffusing essential oils in the clinic environment can have a positive influence for 

  • staff working in the vet clinic; and 

  • pet owners visiting the clinic with their animals. 

  

In a study in a hospital in Vienna in 2015, 55 staff members were given an essential oils roll-on consisting of 12 essential oils. The roll-on was applied at least 3 times a day for one month on the pulse zones on the wrists. [12] 

  

Essential oils used: Top notes of Pennyroyal and Orange.  Heart notes of Lavendin, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Marjoram, Neroli, Clary Sage, Ylang Ylang, Bitter Orange and Petit Grain. Base note of Vetiver. 

  

On the first day, the participants’ stress rating on a scale from 1 (no stress) to 10 (very high stress) was on average 6.28.   After one month of using the essential oils preparation, the participants’ stress rating reduced to 5.24. 

  

In terms of physical impairment due to stress, analysis found a statistically significant beneficial effect of aromatherapy among nursing staff and in persons older than 50 years of age.   (p = 0.012 and 0.025, respectively).   Participants’ stress levels due to physical, psychological, and social stress over the month showed marked, and partly significant, positive changes after the use of essential oils. 

  

Thus, this study found that the majority of the study participants were able to markedly reduce their stress associated impairment by the use of essential oils.  No allergic reactions or incompatibilities were observed. 

Influence of essential oil scents on dog behaviour

In a 2005 study of 55 dogs in a rescue shelter, the influence of specific scent stimulation on their behaviour was studied.[8] The study used lavender, chamomile, rosemary and peppermint essential oils, and a control.  For 4 hours per day for 5 days, the dogs were exposed to the diffusion of each essential oil, with a 2 day wash out period between each scent, and their behaviour was observed.    

  

It was found that certain aspects of the dogs’ behaviour were influenced by scent:  

  • Lavender and chamomile - dogs spent more time resting and less time moving around.  The dogs were also less vocal. 

  • Rosemary and peppermint – dogs were more active in standing, moving and vocalising. 

 

In this study from 2019, 23 shelter dogs were exposed to olfactory stimulation through diffusing a blend of 9 anxiolytic essential oils for 8 weeks in order to check long-term effects on behaviour. [9] The essential oil blend consisted of May Chang, Mediterranean Cypress, Bitter Orange, Rose Geranium, Lavender, Ylang-Ylang, Juniper, Gum Rock Rose, and Bay Laurel. The blend was diffused by a diffuser able to diffuse up to 300m². A concentration of 3 ml was gradually diffused each day over 21 hours. The results indicate that olfactory enrichment with this blend of EOs is related to less time spent by dogs in high posture.  

 

A 2019 study assessed whether olfactory enrichment through lavender essential oils influences the behaviour of sheltered dogs.[10] Eleven dogs wore a collar with a gauze on which 5 drops of lavender essential oil were laid once a week. The dogs went a 10-minute isolation period in an unknown environment, then they were brought back to their own box and their behaviour was videotaped for 5 minutes. The same procedure was repeated after one and two months. Preliminary results of this study seem to indicate that the application of a collar impregnated with lavender essential oil can have a positive effect on the stress of the animal in the kennel, avoiding an increase in stress behaviours. 

 

Another study from 2018 evaluated the olfactory effects of the following 9 essential oils: Ylang-Ylang, Gum Rock Rose, Bitter Orange, Mediterranean Cypress, Juniper, Lavender, Bay Laurel, May Chang, Rose Geranium. [11] The essential oils were explored on a cognitive bias test, cortisol levels, and the behaviours of 110 shelter dogs (n = 10 dogs within each group). A blend of 9 essential oils and each separate oil of the blend were tested, for a total of 10 treatments and a control group. Essential oils were diffused through a cotton collar worn by the dogs for 3 hours before starting the second cognitive test procedure. The collar, just before being applied to the dog, had 1 drop of an individual oil or of the blend added to it. Olfactory enrichment with the blend resulted in a reduced latency to the ambiguous cue, indicating a more optimistic bias and improved welfare. The results of this study suggest that olfactory enrichment with essential oils can have specific effects on the affective states and behaviours of shelter dogs and could therefore be useful for shelter management. 

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LEARNING RESOURCES:

In a study in a hospital in Vienna in 2015, 55 staff members were given an essential oils roll-on consisting of 12 essential oils. The roll-on was applied at least 3 times a day for one month on the pulse zones on the wrists. [12] 

How Shy Tiger can help!

By using veterinary formulated aromatherapy throughout the clinic, a more relaxing and enjoyable environment can be created for customers and their pets.

 

Shy Tiger offers a safe, natural solution to help establish a tranquil and aromatic ambiance in veterinary clinics. Shy Tiger’s diffuser products are veterinarian-formulated essential oil blends that are optimised for a water-based diffuser. These blends incorporate lavender, ylang ylang, and Roman chamomile, which possess anxiolytic properties to soothe your animal’s emotional state throughout the day. Most importantly, these veterinary formulated blends are specially formulated for use on or around dogs.

 

If your clinic would like advice on how to implement the power of scent into their environmental modification, we can help!

 

 

Concerned about safety of essential oils? Click the link below to read a review of available literature where essential oils have been used on dogs or cats with no negative effects documented.

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References

  1. Riemer S, Heritier C, Windschnurer I, Pratsch L, Arhant C, Affenzeller N 2021, “A Review on Mitigating Fear and Aggression in Dogs and Cats in a Veterinary Setting”, Animals, vol. 11, no.1, pp 158

  2. Edwards PT, Hazel SJ, Browne M, Serpell JA, McArthur ML & Smith BP 2019, “Investigating risk factors that predict a dog’s fear during veterinary consultations”, PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 7, e0215416. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215416

  3. Brumfield, C. Russell, Goldney, James, & Gunning, Stephanie. 2008, "Whiff!: The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age". iUniverse.

  4. Gulas CS & Bloch, PH 1995, "Right under our noses: Ambient scent and consumer responses", Journal of Business and Psychology, vol. 10, no. 1, pp 87-98.

  5. Fiore AM, Yah X & Yoh E 2010, "Effects of a pleasant ambient fragrance on simulated driving and overall ratings of quality of the environment", International Journal of Hospitality Management, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 559-562

  6. Graham L, Wells DL & Hepper PG 2005, “The influence of olfactory stimulation on the behaviour of dogs housed in a rescue shelter”, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 91, no. 1–2, pp 143-153.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2004.08.024

  7. Steflitsch W, Steiner D, Peinhaupt W, Riedler B, Smuc M, & Diewald G 2015, "Gesundheitsförderung durch Stress- und Burnout-Prophylaxe mit ätherischen Ölen für alle Berufsgruppen im Wiener Otto-Wagner-Spital [Health Promotion through Prevention of Stress and Burnout with Essential Oils for All Professionals at the Otto Wagner Spital in Vienna]", Forsch Komplementmed, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 185-94. German. doi: 10.1159/000433619. Epub 2015 Jun 18.

IN LEARNING RESOURCES:

  1. Graham L, Wells DL & Hepper PG (2005), “The influence of olfactory stimulation on the behaviour of dogs housed in a rescue shelter”, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 91, no. 1–2, pp 143-153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2004.08.024

  2. Haverbeke, A. et al. (2019), ‘A Pilot Study on Behavioural Responses of Shelter Dogs to Olfactory Enrichment’, Veterinary Science Research, 1(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.30564/vsr.v1i1.1147.

  3. Stanghellini, A.L. (2019), ‘Effect of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oils on sheltered dog behavior: preliminary results’, Dog behavior, 5(3), pp. 19–22. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4454/db.v5i3.111.

  4. Uccheddu, S, et al. (2018), “Behavioural and Cortisol Responses of Shelter Dogs to a Cognitive Bias Test after Olfactory Enrichment with Essential Oils.” Dog Behaviour, vol. 4, no. 2, 2018, Available at: https://doi.org/10.4454/db.v4i2.87.

  5. Steflitsch W, Steiner D, Peinhaupt W, Riedler B, Smuc M, & Diewald G (2015), "Gesundheitsförderung durch Stress- und Burnout-Prophylaxe mit ätherischen Ölen für alle Berufsgruppen im Wiener Otto-Wagner-Spital [Health Promotion through Prevention of Stress and Burnout with Essential Oils for All Professionals at the Otto Wagner Spital in Vienna]", Forsch Komplementmed, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 185-94. German. doi: 10.1159/000433619. Epub 2015 Jun 18.

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