Okaw Veterinary Clinic

140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953



Bite, Near Bite Job Stress Survey of Veterinary Professionals


Bite Near Bite Job Stress Survey of Veterinary Professionals  

A 10 question survey was circulated to veterinary professionals in practice or shelter care from June 2016 - Sept 2016 to assess personal stress related to bite or near bite risk at work. Approximately 400 responders consisting of veterinarians, licensed technicians, and unlicensed assistants participated. The survey was promoted through various veterinary and technician associations, facebook groups and personal networks. This survey was written and promoted by Dr. Foote without any other sponsorship or support.

The purpose of the survey was to gather data on the animal handler interactions where a bite/near bite incident occurred; the duration of personal stress on the job related to the incident; what reduced personal stress and risk of bite/near bite incident and if there was an impact on job performance due to bite risk stress. 

A summary of the survey results:

  • The majority of responders were DVM (18.9%), license technician (29.52%) and assistants (15.8%) with over 5 years of clinical experience
  • 74% of responders reported a bite coming without warning, yet when questioned about the animal displaying signs of anxiety. 70% of the bite/near bite incidents the animal was displaying body language signs of fear, which was often not recognized.  
  • The scenarios for bite/near bite incident were - 29% greeting the animal, 40.1%  blood draw, handling feet or injection, 27.5%  for oral, ear, painful, or rectal exam and 14% while sedated or transfer post surgery while sedate. 
  • When asked how the responder performed their work duties when stressed - 55.5% asked for help from a co worker; 58.2% required the use of muzzles, sedation or other safety measures; 36.4% avoided handling fractious animals
  • 42% of respondents reported prolonged stress after a bite/near bite incident and 33.4% had stress "just for the day"
  • 12.3% of responders report considering leaving the practice due to bite risk with 1.47% who left practice 

In summary of the comments, increased education in behavior and recognizing the body language of fear decreased both injury risk and job stress. Currently, responders needed to take courses, webinars, handling labs or certification courses outside to gain this education. Adding this education to our veterinary curriculums at the DVM and technician level was mentioned as a way to decrease stress and injury.

Bite Near Bite Survey Results

 You can view the larger PDF version by clicking here