What Is This Fear Free Initiative All About Anyway?

By July 6, 2016Blog

If you’ve been to our new veterinary hospital, or if you’ve had us come to you for a house call appointment, then you already know we do things differently compared to the way most other veterinary hospitals do things.

Why? Because the entire staff made the commitment, right from the get-go, to hold your pet’s emotional well-being with equal importance as their physical health.

Well, now it’s official.

And after completing the required training, CoastView Veterinary here in Clairemont is now the first animal hospital in the neighborhood with several staff members who are “Fear Free Certified Professionals.”

The ‘Fear-Free Initiative’ is all about kindness and compassion. You can count on us to do everything possible to ensure your pet’s emotional health is cared for just as much as their physical health by providing a calming, stress-free, and rewards-based environment.

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Here are a few videos to help demonstrate just a few of the Fear Free techniques we use:

Our staff members have reported clients saying things like:

“…this is honestly the first time she has not gotten sick from being anxious at the vet. I know you helped make visiting the vet a more positive experience…”

“…they not only allowed my cat to freely explore the exam room and come out of her box in her own time, they placed a calming towel with spray on it that helped her to relax.”

“…this is the first time anyone has taken time to do this for our dog…Thanks for making our dog’s comfort a priority.”

“…this was the absolute best experience I have ever had at a vet with my dogs. They gave my pup all sorts of good treats to make her feel comfortable and happy instead of being scared.”

We use a variety of rewards based, calming and low stress methods when interacting with your pets.

In addition, there are many things you can begin at home, either a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days before your pet’s appointment which can help set-up your pet for success. The three main tips are:

1. Skip Breakfast.
Do not feed your pet breakfast on the morning of the appointment. We know! We know! Your pet is going to pester you, paw at you, cry, whine, and give you ‘the look’ – but it truly is for their own good. They aren’t going to starve by skipping breakfast, and they are more food-motivated when they arrive for their appointment.

2. Pack Some Snacks.
Secretly bring along their favorite treats or treat-stuffed-toys. Having their all-time favorite treats or toys “magically appear” in the exam room is nothing short of mind-blowing to a cat or dog. And don’t worry if you can’t bring along any treats, we’ve got an entire kitchen cabinet (seriously!) stocked with a variety of special treats.

3. Stay Cool, Calm, Collected, and Quiet.
You may notice a peaceful, easy feeling when you step into our facility. Yep. That’s by design.

We’ve got these special plug-in diffusers (sort of like plug in air fresheners) that emit just enough pheromone to help your pets feel calm.

fear-free-bandanasIn addition, you may notice some pets wearing colorful CoastView Veterinary bandannas. These bandannas do more than just make your pet look more adorable (as if that’s even possible!!) they are infused with additional pheromones to further enhance the calming effect when needed.

And to top it off, our staff’s scrubs are also sprayed with these feel-good pheromones (don’t worry – only the dogs can smell the dog pheromones and cats can smell the cat pheromones).

You, the pet owner, can also play a part in helping to set-up your pet for success by using some of the spray pheromones on a towel inside of the pet carrier or on the cloth fabric in your car.

One of the best things you can do to help minimize your pet’s stress is to avoid speaking to them once they are inside the pet carrier or buckled in your vehicle.

We know! We know! It is so difficult to not do the ‘baby talk’ thing.

 “Okay here we go! We’re going to the vet. It’s okay. You’ll be just fine. It’s for your own good. Oh, that’s my good girl, kissy-kissy-smoochie-smoochie!”

We now understand this higher-than-normal-pitched speak or ‘baby-talk’ actually causes more anxiety.

Bummer! We love to talk baby-talk to our pets. Most of us do it without even realizing it.

Again, we now know that it is best for the pets if pet parents stay cool, calm and completely silent during the car ride to the vet.

Consider playing special music in your car, like “Through a Dog’s Ear” or “Through a Cat’s Ear” by Joshua Leeds and Lisa Spector, or just focus on your own breathing so you, too, can stay as calm as possible.

Once you arrive at our hospital, please don’t feel offended if we don’t gush and ooh-and-aww over your pet.

We may not even acknowledge or make eye contact with your pet for the first few minutes. Although we all tend to like it when other people gush over our pets, the pets generally don’t like it. Direct eye contact can be perceived as a threat and can cause some pets to feel very anxious.

Of course, even with our best attempts to make every pet feel comfortable when visiting, there will still be some pets who will be stressed no matter what. If this describes your pets, please know we are prepared to try even more creative and/or alternative modalities ranging from warm-up appointments during which we do nothing more than give your pet treats during several visits leading-up to the actual exam visit, to pharmacological options and mild sedation for pets who are exhibiting high levels of stress or anxiety.

And you always have the option of a house call appointment which can eliminate almost all of the stressors found in the hospital setting. You can learn more about our house calls and mobile veterinary services here.

Please feel free to stop by our place anytime, with or without your pet, so you can experience this Fear Free and unique approach to pet healthcare as we aim to “Take the ‘pet’ out of petrified and put the ‘treat’ back into the treatments.”