What is ‘Fear Free’?
‘Fear Free’ is an initiative started by Dr Marty Becker in the USA aimed at reducing the fear and anxiety that pets go through when visiting a Vet.
Why do we need it?
We aim to make your pets happy here at Camden Valley Animal Hospitals, and that includes making them mentally happy as well as treating any injury or sickness that they might experience. Research shows that animals suffer mental disease at about the same rate as humans, (1 in 5 or 20%). Most animals experience some level of fear and anxiety when coming to see us even though they may not suffer from a mental disorder. We want you and your pets to enjoy coming to see us in a relaxing ‘homy’ environment.
Anxious and fearful pets are also more difficult to examine and treat and can pose safety concerns to any humans in the room. Through making our hospital Fear Free we aim to improve the level of medical attention your pet receives and the effectiveness of the treatment.
The education of staff and owners will help cultivate deeper and more understanding relationships between humans and animals.
What changes will I notice?
The changes will be small at first, but there are a few things happening. We are creating non-slip examination tables, there will be soft music playing in the consultation rooms, pheremones plugged in and different approaches to treating anxious animals. We will also have especially designated dog and cat consult rooms. There will also be more treats in the consultation rooms for animals, (if your pet is seeing us for a tummy upset we will not give treats).
Keep an eye out for more changes over the next 12 months!
Consultations times may vary as we take extra time to ensure that your pet is comfortable and as stress free as possible at all times. This may include using some mild sedatives in some cases or post-poning treatment if they are too stressed.
What can I do to help reduce fear and anxiety when my pet visits the vet?
It’s all about preparation. If there is a particular part of the vet-visit process that your pet becomes really stressed or scared about, let us know and we will do all we can to reduce that fear and anxiety, e.g. if your pet becomes stressed in our waiting room, we may choose to do the exam in your car or outside of the hospital.
If you are bringing a cat to see us, we ask that you bring the carrier out a few days before your visit (where possible) and have a lot of interaction between your cat and the carrier. On the way to see us in the car, place the carrier on your back seat with the front of the carrier towards to back of the seat, do not talk to your cat and keep it covered at all times, sprayed with Feliway. When you come into the waiting room, please carry your cat carrier by the bottom and you will directed straight into the Feline consult room. Do not let your cat out of his/her carrier, but simply place that covered carrier on the examination table facing the wall.
What if my pet needs sedation?
Sedation is a tool that we regularly use in the hospital to reduce fear and anxiety on the animals and to make it safer for our staff to examine them. Quite often sedation can be done at the time of the consult, but in some cases we may ask that your pet stays with us for a few hours. There are many different types of sedation and we decide on what the best one to use is on a case-by-case basis.
If our vets think that your pet is a candidate for sedation, they will discuss this with you at the time.
How can I find out more about ‘Fear Free Veterinary Visits’?
There are many informative websites that take you through the science of fear and anxiety in animals and what we can do to help. Listed below are a few. You can also call the hospital on (02) 46 47 6199 and we can answer any questions that you have.