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Fear Free Veterinary Care Comes to Patton

Why is Patton choosing Fear Free for Veterinary Care?

You may be wondering, “What is the Fear Free Pet Initiative?”  How may it affect your pet’s healthcare? Fear Free Practice Certification is something that Patton Veterinary Hospital is passionately working towards making a reality.  As Dr. Marty Becker says, we want to “Take the Pet out of Petrified.”  Likewise, the Fear Free Initiative’s mission is not only to prevent fear, but to help alleviate signs of fear, anxiety and stress that sometimes accompany veterinary visits.  Fear, Anxiety and Stress (FAS) have long lasting effects on your pet’s overall health.  By utilizing low stress handling and changing the way we approach and administer veterinary care, we can not only help pets have a better experience that day, but improve future visits as well.  So, what are the changes?

Although it is sometimes hard, it is best to ignore a pet who is frightened.  This gives them time to acclimate to an area before a person approaches and/or greets them.  It takes dogs about 5-8 minutes to acclimate to a room/new setting.  Cats actually take about 10 minutes to acclimate.   You will find that we try to either stand sideways or potentially crouch down making ourselves smaller in size, which is less threatening.  Generally speaking, we try to allow the pet to initiate first contact and interaction.

While taking our history and trying to let your pet get acclimated, we are actually reading their body language as well.  Body language speaks volumes and your pet will give a lot of subtle cues when they are showing signs of FAS.  Is your pet panting, hiding, climbing on top of you (height seeking), yawning, avoiding eye contact, cowering, or shaking?  These are all very clear signs that your pet is uncomfortable with the situation they are facing.  By evaluating your pet’s current FAS level we can try to formulate a plan for his or her veterinary visit. 

Other changes include treats, treats and more treats!  We want your pet(s) to have the best experience possible and, generally, most dogs and cats enjoy treats.  That being said, bringing your pet hungry to the appointment will help tremendously so that they are more accepting of the treats being offered.  A “treat ladder” is also utilized.  This is trying different types of treats in order to find one of high enough value to tempt your pet during exams and procedures.  A milk bone may be ok for a greeting, but not for a checking the ears, or administering a vaccine.  So, we may try a variety of different treats.  Please let us know if your pet or your family has any food allergies, and if your pet has any specific preferences.  If there is a treat your dog goes crazy for, please feel free to bring it along!

Hopefully, you will look forward to the changes we are making just as much as we do.  Keep an eye out for more blogs about Patton’s Fear Free commitment.  

By Krista Harbold, CVT

This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.