Let’s face it – there aren’t many of us that enjoy visits to the doctor or dentist. However, we understand why they are important and what is being done. Our pets on the other hand, have no understanding of these things, and one can only imagine what they think when they are brought to a place where unpleasant or scary things are done.
What then, can we do? The veterinary profession is starting to embrace a concept called “Fear Free”. Changing our approach and trying new methods can do a lot for many pets in changing their experience at the vet clinic. Being more creative with food rewards, positioning and restraint techniques, distraction and massage, calming pheromones and anything else that may create a more pleasant experience for the pet are all parts of this exciting revolution in the veterinary community.
Our clinic is implementing fear free techniques and most of our staff has earned various levels of fear free certification. What works for one animal doesn’t necessarily work for the next and we will be working to find out what works best for each pet. Some are easily distracted by yummy treats, while others are not as food motivated, or their fear/anxiety level prevents them from being interested in food in times of stress. These pets may be helped by pheromone sprayed towels or bandana’s, different positioning for blood draws or nail trims or a little bit of help from anti anxiety medications prior to visits or procedures.
It is very important that we can have an open dialogue with you, the pet owner, in all of this. We may have a discussion about doing things differently to fit your pet’s needs. Sometimes it may be trials of medications to help with anxiety. Sometimes it may be conditioning methods that you can work on at home to help prepare your pet for things we will be doing at vet visits (nail trims, ear cleaning, looking in the mouth). Animals do so much better when they have been slowly and positively introduced to these things ahead of time and in stress free situations. Using praise and rewards and slowly acclimating them to things we may be doing in clinic can make a world of difference in making these things much less frightening and anxiety producing for your pet.
The bottom line is – we need your help. Like you, we want what is best for your pet. Reducing fear, stress and anxiety during vet visits is so very important and with your help, we promise to do our best to make your pet’s visit to our clinic as fear free as we possibly can.