by Myles Chadwick and Laura Helmueller, DVM

The first time that I stepped back into the surgery and prep area of an Emancipet spay/neuter clinic I was immediately impressed by how quiet it was. In fact, it took me several minutes of observation before I realized that there were actually more than 40 dogs and cats in cages around the room. Over the years I had worked with numerous technicians who wore cotton in their ears, in order to muffle the sounds of anxious animals, but here it was different and I couldn’t wait to learn how they did it.

At Emancipet, every cage has a towel lining its bottom. This makes the space softer, more comfortable, and reduces the sounds of nails on metal. But the real trick is that every towel receives a spray of Feliway (for cats) or of a lavender oil/ distilled water mixture (for dogs). You are probably familiar with Feliway (available at many pet and online retailers), which mimics the natural feline facial pheromone that happy cats use to mark their territory as safe and familiar. For the lavender oil mixture for dogs, just mix 1 drop of lavender essential oil to 1 oz of distilled water in a spray bottle. Lavender aromatherapy is relaxing for dogs and humans alike, so this is an all-around win. You can even spray animals’ carriers with it before they head home to help with the stress of travel. Try it in your facility today and check out the difference!

Using Feliway and Lavender oil are efficient methods that help to create a peaceful clinic, and there are lots of other pieces of the puzzle that play a crucial part as well – our hiring and training processes, intake and flow processes, etc. If you are interested in more tips like these for making your spay/neuter clinic run safely and efficiently, while doing more surgeries than ever before, check out Turn Up the Volume: Safely Increasing Clinic Efficiency & Capacity on April 3-4 in Austin, TX.

Lavender aromatherapy has been shown to reduce pacing, vocalization and other stress related physical activities in dogs. Appl Anim Behav Sci. May 2005;91(1-2):143-153 and J Am Vet Med Assoc. September 2006;229(6):964-7

Feline facial pheromone (Feliway, Ceva) has been used with cats to reduce stress in cats in a new environment and can facilitate examination and handling in some cats.  J Feline Med Surg. 2016;0(0):


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