Fear Free Certification
When veterinary professionals pursue Fear Free Certification, they demonstrate their commitment to providing their four-legged patients with veterinary care that aims to reduce the fear, anxiety, and stress that often accompany a trip to the vet.
Our Fear Free Certified veterinarians have received extensive training on how to create a calm and welcoming environment for pets, as well as how to recognize when an animal is fearful or anxious and requires a more gentle approach.
Fear Free Techniques
The Pet Hospitals is dedicated to decreasing stress, anxiety, and fear in patients while offering the best medical care possible.
The small things we do to make your pet's experience at our hospital positive include offering treats, KONGS, mats, and hiding spaces, allowing cats to stay in their carriers or dogs in their family's lap, pre-visit medications when needed, and modifications in our handling techniques.
Larger Fear Free principles have been incorporated into the design of our animal hospital, including separate cat and dog areas.
We feel that following both big and small Fear-Free principles makes our delivery of patient care a more gentle and positive experience for our patients and their owners.
From the moment you walk through our doors, we want you to know that you and your pet are important to us!
How We Implement Fear Free
All of our veterinarians are trained in Fear Free practices and philosophies at our veterinary clinic; thus, the basic principles of this approach extend throughout the hospital and are prioritized second only to our patients' medical care.
We work with our patients and their owners to undertake the following steps before and during each appointment:
- Good Communication Between Pets & People
We start by understanding and identifying how pets communicate signs of stress to us.
These signs can include several subtle and obvious signals, from a tense expression or dilated pupils to growling, hissing, or a tucked tail — just to name a few.
We also discuss the pet's known stressors with the owner, which can include sounds, scents, discomfort, disease processes, and unfamiliar people.
Understanding what stresses our canine and feline clients and how they communicate that stress allows us to better manage it during their visits.
We ask the family to speak up if there is something that causes fear, anxiety, or stress (FAS). We can help!
- Planning Ahead
A stress-free veterinary appointment begins at home. Please let us know if your pet becomes anxious when visiting the veterinarian. We can make recommendations for things to do at home before the visit. There may be options to send supplements or medication home ahead of time to help with car sickness or to reduce stress at the vet.
Let us know if your pet gets stressed coming into the lobby or meeting new people or other animals. We can have you wait in the car or our outside waiting area then come directly into the exam room. We have several entrances to help.
Let us know if your pet does better with male or female vets.
Cats and small- to medium-sized dogs should be acclimated to their carriers. This can be accomplished by leaving the carrier out in an area of the home where the pet likes to be. Place a towel over the top of the carrier to help create a safe place with familiar scents.
The carrier should be outfitted with toys, soft, comfortable bedding, or a non-slip mat, and should have a top-off option to make it more accessible.
You can also spray cat or dog pheromones in the carrier or, for larger dogs, onto a bandana.
If transporting a medium to large dog, be sure to use an approved restraint device in the car. The drive to the vet can be kept low-stress with calm music or silence and by avoiding hard stops or starts.
Bring your pet's favorite treats or toys to the visit.
- A Calm, Quiet Environment
At our veterinary office, we do our best to keep the atmosphere calm, quiet, and positive.
Keep cats and dogs as separate as possible in the waiting area to help reduce your pet's stress. Cat carriers should be placed on a sturdy table or chair, not on the floor. To avoid interaction with other waiting pets, keep your dog leashed and close by.
When you arrive, you and your pet will receive a warm and friendly welcome. We want you to know that you are important to us.
As dogs and cats are often sensitive to loud noises and quick movements, during the appointment, our veterinary team will remain calm, speak in quiet voices and approach your pet in a slow, careful manner.
- Treats & Toys
Rewards such as treats, toys, or petting/brushing can be used during an exam or when obtaining diagnostics to encourage a positive experience and reduce fear, stress, and anxiety during the visit, as long as it is not contraindicated based on why the pet is at the hospital.
We have treats throughout the hospital, but if your cat or dog is on a special diet, we encourage you to bring their treats or food with you to the visit.
- Sedation & Restraint Options
Our employees have received training in Low-Stress Handling techniques as well as a considerate approach. As distractions, we use treats, petting, and toys. During procedures, families are permitted to accompany their pets (excluding sedation, anesthesia, X-rays, and while the hospital is closed). The staff will instruct families on how to participate in their pet's treatment to reduce stress for the animal and keep staff and family safe during the procedure.
In some cases, we will reschedule a procedure if the pet is stressed. This allows us to send home medications before performing the procedures.
If restraint is required during a procedure, our trained staff may use a towel wrap, a muzzle, or an Elizabethan collar to ensure the patient is safe and comfortable during the process. A mild sedative may be recommended to make sure that the procedure can be performed safely and is less stressful for the patient.
If you already know that your pet experiences anxiety or stress when visiting the vet, it may be beneficial for the veterinarian to provide you with a mild sedative to give to your pet at home before an appointment
- Fear Free Overnight Stays
Our veterinary team has guidelines in place to minimize stress during overnight stays.
We work to minimize smells and loud noises, and we place calming pheromone diffusers around the hospital.
We also sometimes use soft music or white noise machines to interfere with any sudden noises. Lights are kept low and pets are given soft bedding and places to hide to make them more comfortable.
We move your pet around the hospital slowly and calmly, avoiding interactions with other patients. To reduce stress during the hospital stay, mild sedatives or anti-anxiety medications may be administered.