Photo gallery: Veterinary housing solutions to show cats and dogs the love

Review new research findings about housing and learn about solutions for your veterinary practice that reduce cats' and dogs' stress.
May 22, 2012
By staff

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Olde Towne Pet Resort in Dulles, Va., features a custom cat jungle gym. "People and cats both love this feature," says veterinary architect Heather Lewis, AIA, a partner at Animal Arts in Boulder, Colo.

"Cats don't typically do as well away from home as dogs, and having space to get out and unwind makes the boarding experience less scary."

This room gives boarded cats choices about their environment and new spaces to explore, Lewis says. In the background you can see individual Raintree Cat Condos from the Mason Company.
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The individual cat suites at Olde Towne Pet Resort give cats a broad view out, which helps them feel less claustrophobic. They're big enough for the cat to feel comfortable, and they have perches that gives cats choices about what level to sit on.

"Research shows that a single house cat needs 11 square feet of space and the right environment to be comfortable to and protect their psychological welfare," Lewis says. For example, she says, they need to be able to get three feet away from their litter pan to eat and rest.

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When dogs from the same household arrive at your practice, they'll do better if they're boarded together. This example of multiple-pet boarding at Olde Towne Pet Resort is relatively inexpensive to build, says Lewis. One key feature: The windows are low enough that dogs can look out without jumping up. (So the environment is not encouraging potentially bad behaviors.)

"Don't box yourself in when you're thinking about your housing solutions," Lewis encourages.

"For example, runs don't have to be long and narrow. Square enclosures are better than long ones for encouraging positive behaviors. They give the dog defensible space, and so they encourage a more natural relationship when people come into the area. And a square environment might take no more room than a traditional run."

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This real-life suite is another example of the multiple-pet boarding facilities at Olde Town Pet Resort.
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This playroom at Olde Towne Pet Resort might cost less to build than you think, Lewis says. The room features roll-up doors to the outside and between playrooms, so you can open up and give dogs space to exercise all year and in all kinds of weather.

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PetCare Veterinary Hospital, one of the 2012 Veterinary Economics merit award winners based in Santa Rosa, Calif., uses these enclosed wards, which are proving wonderful—dogs and cats are recovering so much better from surgery.

This isolation ward is right off the lab. You can see it from ICU, so it's easy to keep an eye on patients. Team members can see immediately if pets are ill or in any distress. It's an enclosed room that's quiet and peaceful but has easy views from other spaces.

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These real-life dog suites at PetCare Veterinary Hospital were a leap for the practice's team, but they wanted to take extra care of their specialty patients. But they've also found it's good marketing.

All the suites are outfitted with oxygen and IV supports and they find dogs are less stressed in this environment. They feature sound control and individual ventilation. Rooms are quiet, peaceful, and odor-free for each pet. And pet owners really respond well—they've seen this leap of faith really supports their business.

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This real-life room at Grand Pet Resort and Spa uses prefabricated elements, including doors by Tristar.

Rooms are enclosed but with a cage door. Ideally real-life rooms should have doors that seal to control noise. But even with open doors, dogs have more natural space, often with windows, and natural light and odor control make a big difference in the dogs anxiety and behavior.

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In the Grand Pet Resort and Spa playroom, dogs can burn off some steam, and a separate enclosure for small dogs means they don't have to run with the big dogs.

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This fire extinguisher cabinet houses a TV and webcam. Owners can log in and watch their pets—at their dog's height. There's also a webcam in the playroom, the cat play area, and each of the cat areas. This has proven to be an excellent marketing tool on the Grand Pet Resort and Spa website.

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This enclosed outdoor play area at Grand Pet Resort and Spa contains a pool made especially for dogs. It is just the right depth to be safe for virtually any dog and boasts water jets. You can see the bone shape from the second floor of the resort.

The pool is visible from the parking area, so it's great for marketing. Clients see the dogs playing as they arrive.

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In the dog runs at VCA South Shore, a specialty hospital, glass allows for good visibility into the space. It's more efficient for team members to look in and make sure patients are OK.

You can see oxygen hanging over some of these runs, set up for ICU or critical care. The extra-wide doors go the full width of the run so you can see the pets very clearly.

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Critical care wards should be separate from primary treatment so it's more quiet and calm. In the critical care unit at VCA South Shore, cabinets over the oxygen cages contain cubbies for fluid pumps. The cubbies are outfitted with both power and oxygen.