Fear Free – We’ve Been Doing that All Along

By June 19, 2018 No Comments
Managing anxiety and fear in our patients when they come to the vet has been a hot topic recently. There is even an official organization training and certifying veterinarians and team members on minimizing stress in our patients. There are many techniques to help lower stress in our pets at the vet. The techniques vary depending upon the physical building and the humans involved. There is definitely no one-size-fits-all approach. We have to understand all the different ways we can help and figure out what works best for each of our patients.

If your pet is more comfortable, you are calmer too. We can do a better exam and you will be relaxed enough to focus more on all the things we need to talk about. When your pet isn’t traumatized by a trip to the vet, it’s easier to bring them in for care before they get too sick. All of those things result in better care, less stress and decrease risk of injury to your pet, you and us.

We’ve Always Used Fear Free Approaches

We manage fear and stress in many different ways. We have always made notes on the medical charts of what works best with each patient so we can be consistent with an approach that works, no matter which member of our team sees your pet. All that hard work to figure out the best way to make them comfortable at the vet doesn’t go away at a tech appointment or with a different doctor. We listen to you if you have a suggestion that you think will work too.

We Take Our Time

We aren’t in a rush. Taking a few minutes at the beginning of the appointment to talk with you and give your pet time to approach us or take a few treats helps break the ice. They don’t enter a room and then have two people descend upon them in a scary and threatening way. Getting a few minutes to explore the room, take in the smells and sounds before being handled by strangers also helps reduce anxiety.

Pets Like to Still See You There

We try to avoid cornering them at all costs. Many dogs do better on the floor facing out an open door with you (a familiar face) in front of them. We are at the sides and never grab them or corner them. Smaller dogs can be handed over to us butt first so they see you and aren’t facing directly towards a strange scary person. We keep both dogs and cats facing you as much as possible. It is comforting to see a familiar human is there with you. We rarely take our patients “into the back” where you aren’t present for the exact same reason. We have nothing to hide and everyone is more comfortable.


Patients small enough to need to be on the table instead of the floor are often more comfortable on a towel or matt on the table which is less cold and slippery. We can also use a calming pheromone on the towel for cats. The smell helps them to be more relaxed.

Less is More

We make every effort to minimize how much we grab and hold your pet. We do just enough that is needed to keep everyone safe for the procedure we are performing. Less is Best is most often our motto. Many pets try harder to get away when we hold them tighter and it is counter-productive. Others do worse with less holding. We get to know them and figure out what works best to keep everyone as happy safe and comfortable as possible. We often get into odd positions to get our job done in whatever position they are most comfortable.

Minimal Time at the Hospital for Procedures

We are very flexible when it comes to surgery and dental procedures. We can easily manage drop offs within 30 min of surgery time or at the time of surgery for the very anxious pets. We will also get them home as early as your schedule and our schedule allows. Once they can walk a straight line, they can go home. Just like us, recovery is smoother and less stressful when you can get home to your own bed to sleep it off. Lower stress leads to better recoveries.

Enjoy the gentle differences for your pet’s veterinary experience and see how much more relaxed you are taking them to the vet!

Learn more about our guiding principles below:

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