Here at Noah's Ark Animal Hospitals, we are implementing Fear Free tactics to better all outcomes with our patients and owners as well. We have certified staff who will work with and talk with you about reducing your pet's fear from the vet.
Fear Free “addresses the emotional well-being of the veterinary health care team, patients we treat, and the people who love them.” Essentially, we want to make treatments as pleasant as possible for all of our patients and create a Fear Free veterinary visit. Being a Fear Free (FF) practice helps us, as a team, to reduce a pet’s negative experience. This helps to reduce Fear, Anxiety and Stress (FAS) and the sometimes resultant aggression that follows. Pets can associate the staff and hospital with positive experiences and create manageable patients. FF protocols earn an owner’s trust and commitment which means they are more likely to come in earlier for problems (ex: ear infections).
Fear Free (FF) means we understand and have ways to help pets. By gaining your pet’s trust, we save time from having to struggle with a fearful pet. We know when pets exhibit signs of FAS and change our approach. Noting these signs gives us the opportunity to share them with you and we note how to address it at the next visit. Watching our patient’s body language allows us to know their emotional state. We try to use relaxed and calm approaches to affect your pet positively.
Many steps we take to incorporate FF include constant communication. This is between all staff members and also to you, the owner. Communication allows us to identify what creates FAS for pets, and create unique plans geared towards addressing them and reducing the frequency of FAS. This means that we notate all recognized treatments, objects, etc., which can be a factor in producing FAS in your pet. In doing so, we can work on how to manage that and work as a team by notating which techniques work such as treats, toys, petting. We evaluate “needs versus wants” which means some treatments might be higher prioritized and others might need to be held off on. Sometimes, we need to recognize if appointments need to be rescheduled, or if a pet needs sedation. All this is to alleviate the FAS in a patient. Sometimes this can become an inconvenience, but the goal is to work with your pet so that again, the Veterinary Visit can become positive.
Did you know that your pet’s experience of a visit to the vet actually begins before they even arrive? They associate everything before the visit, with the visit. That carrier which you only ever use to transport your cat or small dog; the only time your dog gets to ride in the car, etc. FF techniques are not only used in the hospital, we also provide techniques to use in the home to start off positively. Some tips include leaving your carriers out in the house and allowing you pet to use them as resting spots, play areas, and even for feeding. This will make it a positive item and make is less stressful for you and your pet when you need him or her to go inside for a vet visit. The music played inside your car can greatly affect FAS too. Use calming music. You can also use shades to reduce visual stimuli that can stress a pet. For dogs, condition them to getting used to restraints like seat belts. Avoid forcing them into the car as this can cause them to become fearful. Reward calm behavior. For all pets/crates/carriers, the key once inside the vehicle is to make the trip enjoyable, or least, less fearful. Make sure crates/carriers are placed securely on the bottom behind seats. This will prevent them from sliding around in the car. For the cats, you can even place a towel over the crate. Restraints for larger dogs helps stabilize them and keep them safe.