10 things to know about a Fear Free Veterinary Visit

What do we mean when we say that a veterinary visit is Fear Free? A veterinary team member who is Fear Free certified wants your pet to be less anxious when he comes through the door of the clinic. Fear Free doesn’t mean that your pet will never experience anything uncomfortable at the veterinarian as he may be injured or ill, but it does mean that we make every effort to reduce any fear, anxiety, and stress related to examinations and procedures. Here are 10 ways we help your pet stay comfortable and relaxed from arrival to departure.

  1. You have the option of waiting in the car with your pet until you are called to come in, or be taken right into the exam room upon arrival. We may have you wait ten minutes in the exam room to allow your pet to adjust to the new environment.

  2. No more sitting on slick, cold surfaces. Your pet will have a nonslip surface to stand on a such a yoga mat or a warm, pheromone-infused towel.

  3. Relaxation rules. Pheromone and aromatherapy diffusers emit calming substances into the air, and pet-friendly music works its calming effect on the central nervous system. (Some clients benefit from this, too!)

  4. You will notice that we initially avoid eye contact with your pet if they are anxious or fearful. This helps your pet feel less stressed because he’s not the center of attention and gives him time to check out his environment to become accustomed to the team member’s presence.

  5. TREATS. Bring your dog or cat in hungry because Fear Free certified veterinary team members will be handing out many small but delicious treats throughout the visit to welcome your pet, distract him from procedures, and reward him for cooperation.

  6. Color therapy. Bright white can be startling to animals. Pastels are more soothing, so veterinary professionals wear lab coats in shades other than white.

  7. In addition to treats, our veterinary team members utilize a variety of distraction techniques such as toys or scratches to help your pet be comfortable.

  8. WHEN possible, our team members will perform exams and procedures in the exam room with the family present. IF pets have to be separated from family members to perform advanced diagnostics or treatments, rest assured, your pet is treated with kindness and respect throughout the hospital.

  9. If needed, we will prescribe anti-anxiety or other calming medications or supplements to help make the car ride and the visit more enjoyable and less frightening for your pet. We will also discuss sedation as necessary.

  10. Our veterinary team members will note your pet’s emotional response to the visit and what treats and techniques worked best to reduce any fear, anxiety, and stress that may have been expressed. This will help to make future visits even better.

Click below to see the Fear, Anxiety, and Stress (FAS) scale we use for our assessment.