Fear Free Veterinary Visits
At Arcata Animal Hospital, we realize that for many pets and their owners, visiting a veterinary hospital can cause feelings of fear, anxiety and stress. This is not good for you, your pet or us! We have committed ourselves to changing this dynamic by embracing a Fear Free philosophy at our hospital. Our team members have undergone special training to become Fear Free Certified, and we are incorporating multiple Fear Free techniques and strategies into all of our healthcare protocols – making visits to “the vet” something you and your pet can look forward to!
The Fear Free Veterinary Visit
During a typical visit to Arcata Animal Hospital, you will experience team members using a variety of strategies to reduce fear, anxiety and stress for your pet, such as:
- Initially avoiding eye contact with your pet and focusing on you instead.
- Providing non-slip surfaces for your pet to stand or rest on to improve balance and stability.
- Using gently pressure to soothe your pet using a towel or compression garment.
- Creating a calming environment with pheromone diffusers and aromatherapy.
- Playing calming music to ease tension and promote relaxation.
- Providing tasty treats or toys to relax your pet and shift their focus from fear and anxiety to anticipation.
- Prescribing calming medications or supplements.
- Suggesting delaying or postponing an exam or procedure until a time when your pet is calmer and more relaxed.
Strategies You Can Use at Home to Help Create a Fear Free Visit to Arcata Animal Hospital
- Prepare your pet by acclimating them to their carrier. Leave it open and in a conspicuous area at home so they can become used to it. Give them treats or toys in the carrier so it becomes a desirable place to spend time.
- Purchase a carrier that has a door on the top as well as on the side, and has easy latches or screws that allow us to take the top completely off in the exam room. Cats often like to stay in their carriers for their exam, if we can remove the top, they can stay in the bottom half of the carrier where they are more comfortable.
- Limit food before the appointment (unless there is a medical reason prohibiting this). If they are hungry, they are more likely to respond to food rewards while visiting us. You can also bring along their favorite treats for us to give them while they are visiting.
- Play soothing music in the car during the ride to the hospital. Studies have shown that traditional classical (Mozart, Chopin) music reduces stress in pets.
- Work with our CSRs (receptionists) to determine the optimal location to wait with your pet prior to care. This could include the car or an open exam room if one is available.
- Consider “happy visits” – bringing your pet to the hospital simply to walk into the lobby, and receive some treats and loving attention from our team members.
- In many cases, pets will benefit tremendously from pre-visit medications, supplements or sedatives. Please ask to talk to one of our doctors before your visit if you would like to try this strategy.