“Fear-Free” Veterinarian Practices Could Save Your Pet’s Life
This was sent to us the other day and what a brilliant initiative in the U.S and the one thing we wish that all vets would do immediately is to change the exam table to something such as the yoga matts used below or similar – have yet to see a dog that is comfortable on them
I have to admit, I’m a little spoiled in the area of veterinary treatment. I’ve been going to a holistic veterinarian for years that creates a very calming atmosphere, not only during treatment, but as soon as I walk in the door with Sanchez or Gina. However, I was sharply aware that not all vet clinics are the same when I had to take Sanchez to a different vet for an x-ray. The environment was noisy, smelly, and—even worse—the vet was rushed and his energy was chaotic. Sanchez, who normally loves any man, was panting and pacing.
Just after that visit, I heard about the “Fear-Free” veterinary movement. I was thrilled that an initiative was starting to take place across the U.S. to educate veterinarians and technicians on creating clinics where pets would not only tolerate, but actually enjoy visiting and receiving necessary treatment.
The “Fear-Free” movement was started by Dr. Marty Becker, known as “America’s Vet.” In addition to being the Chief Veterinary Correspondent for the American Humane Association, he is a man with big heart and is so committed to helping animals everywhere. You may have also seen him on Good Morning America or The Dr. Oz Show.
In regard to Fear Free Veterinary Visits, Dr. Becker suggests the following two veterinary practices:
1) At every moment of truth, ask yourself or the team, “If the pet could talk…what would she say right now?”
2) Take the pet out of petrified… and put pets back into practices.
The Huffington Post quoted Dr. Richard A. LeCouteur, a veterinarian with a specialty in neurology and a professor emeritus at the University of California at Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine:
“Stress and fear can lead animals to hide the symptoms that prompted the vet visit, and may even alter their test results.”
How can veterinary clinics help create a fear-free environment? Heather Lewis of Animal Arts in Boulder, Colorado makes the following recommendations:
- Replace your milkbone jar with special treats for all your clients. It will help build an association that really yummy things happen at the vet clinic.
- Get rid of all the white lab coats. They can be scary to pets. Replace them with soft, pastel colors.
- Replace all of your fluorescent lighting. Dogs and particularly cats hear frequencies much higher than the human ear can detect. They could easily get spooked by sounds of fluorescent lighting you may not even hear.
- Choose soothing background music specifically designed to calm dogs and cats. Becker and Lewis prefer the rearranged classical sound tracks from Through a Dog’s Ear and Through a Cat’s Ear. Your human clients will thank you for it too, and remember that energy gets transferred down the other end of the leash.
- Avoid cold, elevated exam tables for your patients. Becker’s clinic at North Idaho Animal Hospital now use yoga mats.
- A fear-free clinic might also replace muzzles or restraints with sedatives and pheromones.
- Offer a private area for clients making difficult end-of-life decisions.
So far, about 50 practices across the U.S. have gone fear-free. Becker presents these concepts to both veterinarians and technicians. Later in 2016, vet professionals can get certified as a fear-free clinic after taking about 12 hours of online training.