As a Fear Free Certified hospital, we are committed to aiding your pet's emotional and mental well-being as well as ensuring their overall safety. There are many different approaches to a Fear Free visit all depending on your pet’s FAS level. So, what do these Fear Free visits look like?
For any exam, a Fear Free visit starts at home. Sometimes the stress begins with getting ready to leave with your pet. This could mean when you pull out your cat carrier, your cat is nowhere to be seen. Maybe your dog is very vocal during the car ride. We can instruct you on the best methods of travel for your pet’s specific needs. Most of all, we want to make sure the rides are smooth and calm. Your pet should be secure in the vehicle where they won’t be jostled around. Also, ensure the music is not too loud or fast-paced as well as your speed shouldn’t be rushed. All of this can make the ride relaxing which is a great start to the visit itself.
Once you arrive at the hospital, we start evaluating your pet's FAS level immediately as well as keep an eye on changes. When these changes occur, we can pinpoint what it is that is causing your pet stress. For dogs, they are weighed at check-in on our low to the ground scale that has a non-slip mat. From there you will be escorted to an exam room that is already equipped with species-specific pheromones as well as fully stocked with treats ranging in desirability. The doctor and assistant will always use a considerate approach and gentle control to restrain for the exam without being overly abrasive with their holds. If ever your pet needs a treatment done, we will always try to do so without removing the pet from the room as we know leaving the area can increase stress. If the visit is still too stressful, we can discuss alternative options such as Pre-Visit Pharmaceuticals, or anxiety-reducing medications, to make the next visit go much smoother. Prepare for your first Fear Free visit by filling out this Pre-Visit questionnaire!
A great way to help your pet become associated with vet visits as a good experience is to do Happy Visits. These are highly beneficial, no charge visits where you would simply bring your pet to be loved on by our staff and rewarded with treats. Oftentimes, pets visit the vet when they are sick or to get vaccines and that is where they begin to get a negative perception. Happy Visits can redirect that thought process and make them realize, “I can come here for all the good treats and they will give me belly rubs!” After enough Happy Visits, they will actually become excited to come to the vet and they will begin to trust the staff. These visits can be as short as 10 minutes or be as long as half an hour. We will be waiting with treats and rewards for a good day.
Drop-Offs and Surgeries
Pet parents tend to get stressed themselves when it comes to the thought of dropping their pet off. They know that their pet is anxious in certain scenarios and they don’t want to think of their pet being anxious all day. We have kept all of this in mind when creating the comforting environment they will stay in. All blankets or towels are sprayed with the species-specific pheromones before they are placed in their kennel. Cats are always housed in kennels higher off the ground to aid in their preferred enrichment. We also provide cage covers so that they won’t see other patients getting treatments or be inclined to bark at passing dogs. The technicians are also trained to use a considerate approach when removing them from the kennel they are housed in so they don’t look like a scary person reaching for them. The entire staff keeps in mind exactly what it takes to stress out a patient and they are prepared to handle your pet in the most stress-free way.