We all know the cheesy action movie cliché where the bad guy can “smell the fear” wafting from one of his unfortunate victims. But is this a real thing? And if it is, what does that mean for our pets?
Let’s put one thing to bed; that bad guy is lying. We humans do emit a “fear pheromone” when we’re scared, but there is no way that we can actually smell fear itself (not consciously anyway). Humans simply lack the heightened sense of smell that is required for such a feat. Whilst we may be able to smell a delicious dinner when we open the front door, we are purely incapable of smelling the much finer pheromones we each emit during our different emotional states.
However, if you were to insert a dog next to the scared victim, that dog would be petrified. But why? Because they can smell the fear pheromones. Humans have approximately 1,000 olfactory receptors, whilst dogs to the contrary can have over 300 million. Yes – you read that right. 300 million. So, whilst the bad guy may be using other cues to predict his victim’s emotional state, the dog in the scene could simply close their eyes and take a deep breath to know exactly how his owner was feeling.
Ok, so aside from debunking claims from fictional Hollywood bad guys, why is this important? Because it isn’t just humans that release a fear pheromone when they are scared, it’s literally every mammal on the planet. Have you ever walked your dog or cat into the veterinary clinic only to have them freak out metres before entering the door? This isn’t just a coincidence, and whilst they may recognise the building from last time they were there, you will more than likely find they will do this even on their first visit. Why? Because the clinic absolutely stinks. It may just smell like a sterile hospital (or scented candles burning in the waiting room if you’re lucky), but to your dog or cat, it smells like hundreds of absolutely terrified animals. The fear pheromones have already sent a very clear message to your pet: “Bad things happen here – STAY OUT!”.
Vets want the best for our pets but there are somethings that are unavoidable for them. Firstly, some things they need to do may hurt or be a little uncomfortable for their patients, and secondly, their patients don’t understand that they are just trying to help. This means that a cacophony offear pheromones lingering throughout the clinic is unavoidable in a traditional clinic situation, which will ultimately affect the healthcare outcomes of your pet.
How so, you may ask? Well, have you ever been to a doctor with a particular symptom only to arrive and have no symptoms anymore? Well, fear does this to our pets. It makes them tense up, be less malleable and more difficult to examine, which in turn results in a poorer diagnosis.
At Vets on Call, we wanted to change that. We wanted scary trips to the vet to be a thing of the past but most importantly, we wanted better healthcare outcomes for our pets. And that’s exactly what we have done. By delivering a clinical quality service in the comfort of your own home, we are able to remove stress from the situation, complete more thorough examinations and review environmental factors that may be contributing to the issue. This results in a more accurate and improved diagnosis for your pet and better healthcare outcomes in the short and long term.
Use Vets on Call to remove the stress, improve the outcome and be the best pet owner you can be. Download the Vets on Call mobile app today to get started and for more information.