Many pets are stressed when they come to the veterinary clinic and it is understandable why they might feel this way. For most pets, the veterinary clinic is a strange place with weird smells, new people and unfamiliar sounds. Fear, anxiety, and stress affects all pets differently, but minimizing these three factors during veterinary visits results in a better experience for pets and their owners as well as faster healing time in sick or injured patients. It is not much fun for you or your pet to visit us if they are anxious while they are here and as animal lovers ourselves, we don’t like seeing pets frightened either.
This is why we are investing in Fear Free training for our staff. All of our doctors and several support staff members have completed certification as Fear Free Veterinary Professionals. This certification involves 9 hours of continuing education on recognizing, minimizing, and addressing fear, anxiety, and stress in our patients.
You may have noticed some of the changes we implemented already. We are utilizing treats more frequently to reward and distract patients during procedures that might otherwise be scary or uncomfortable. We are also adjusting our restraint techniques to help our patients be more comfortable during procedures while still keeping our staff safe. We installed pheromone diffusers in our exam rooms to help reduce stress in our patients. If your pet is very frightened during their visits, we may have discussed holding off on some procedures until the next visit or prescribing an anti-anxiety medication for your pet prior to their visit to help reduce their stress levels.
Some of the changes we are implementing are less obvious. We have started keeping track of what treats your pet enjoys in their medical record so we make sure we have them on hand during their visits. We are also recording the level of anxiety your pet has during their visit in their medical record so we can see if this level is changing over time. We are also recording what techniques for examining your pet work best – for example, some pets do much better being examined on the floor instead of the exam table.
We are excited to be working on making your pets’ visits to our clinic more enjoyable – please let us know if you have suggestions on changes that would make visits better for your pet!
Check out Fear Free Happy Homes to see what you can do to help your pet at home and prep for a stressful event!
Check out Fear Free Pets to learn more about Fear Free and what it can bring to the vet hospital. Hopefully it will give you an idea of why we are so excited to start this journey in growing our practice!
Emily Cornwell, DVM, PhD, CertAqV