Fear Free Veterinary Visits
Did you know that Camden Valley Animal Hospital now has Fear Free® certified staff? Everybody here is fully committed to providing stress-free veterinary services for pets and their owners.
What does “fear free” actually mean? It is a better, kinder, gentler way of caring for our patients. The Fear Free® training and certification program provides expert training for (and subsequent examination of) veterinary staff to develop procedures, handling techniques and facilities to help pets feel safe and comfortable while receiving the medical care they need. This provides a better experience for the pets and their owners as well as the veterinary staff, which makes health care and treatment easier and safer for everybody.
Ideally, the first step is prevention. Make every visit to the vet a positive one right from the start. The experience begins right from when you make your veterinary appointment. Book for a time you won’t be stressed or rushed. Prepare yourself and your pet. Have them comfortable, safe and secure in your vehicle when you travel. Play some calming music in the car (Reggae or soft rock have been shown to be most effective at calming dogs)! Use some Adaptil® spray on a bandana or thundershirt to help nervous travellers (or maybe try some Lavender aromatherapy oil). Start with a hungry dog and bring their favourite treats with you. Observe your dog closely for signs of stress and if necessary stop and let them have a breather or a little walk around before getting into the car or into the vet’s waiting room. If your dog is nervous around other dogs and there are dogs in the waiting room, wait outside or in the car and call the vet receptionist to ask them to let you know when the waiting room is empty.
Cats prefer classical music in the car. Cover their carrier with a Feliway sprayed towel and carry them close to your body like a precious parcel. Place the carrier in our new purr-zone near reception while you complete the admission process.
If your cat or dog has a history of fear, anxiety or stress (FAS) associated with veterinary visits I recommend seeing a Fear Free® certified veterinarian. Let the receptionist know when you make your appointment. You may need to pick up something to reduce your cat or dog’s anxiety before you even come to the vet’s. If your pet does experience some FAS at the vet’s, which may be unavoidable for some medical emergencies, they should receive medication to prevent the formation or reinforcement of fear memories associated with the treatment.
Bring your dog in for some “social visits” before you need to come for a medical reason. Let them have some positive experiences at the vet clinic without any medical procedures being done. Give them plenty of treats right from the moment they reach the car park. You can lay a trail of treats on the ground for them, into the waiting room, onto the scales and into the consult room. Small dogs can have some treats on the exam table if that’s where they feel comfortable. Some dogs prefer to have their exam in their owner’s arms, on a chair or on the floor.
Puppies should attend a Puppy Pre-School held at their own vet’s if possible. That will give them lots of positive experiences in the waiting room. It is really important that all experiences the puppy has during their sensitive socialisation period are positive ones, especially those associated with other dogs and people. I will discuss puppy socialisation more in another blog post soon.