Many humans find going to the doctor to be a stressful event. Veterinary visits can be just as stressful, if not more, for our pets. When we go in for an exam we can tell the doctor what is wrong and why we are there. The doctor is then able to explain to us what they plan on doing and how to fix the problem. Communication is key.
On the other hand, our pets, can not tell us what is wrong, where it hurts, or why they’re scared. We can not explain to them what a bunch of strangers are doing to them or why they are doing it. As vet staff, we do our best to keep the stress level for our patients as low as possible. We need to communicate with them differently. At Frost Family, we have taken an extra step to help make your furry family member feel more comfortable. Every staff member has gone through the Fear Free Certification. But what does that mean?
Fear Free Certification
To become Fear Free Certified, each staff member underwent 9 hours of training. This training included informational videos, multiple quizzes, and a final exam. Our staff learned about many topics including behavior, handling, pharmaceuticals, transportation, and overall what it takes to make a Fear Free experience.
Each year, the staff is required to do 4 additional hours of continuing education to keep their certification. This allows for staff to stay on top of what is new and to always be learning.
What We Do Differently
It is very important to us that our patients have a Fear Free Experience from the moment they step through our doors. One negative experience can make any future visits that much more stressful. In order to prevent this from happening we do a few things a little differently.
Many pheromone wall plug-ins are used throughout the clinic. They are odorless to us but act as a chemical communication for our cats and dogs. These pheromones help to decrease stress levels naturally and safely. We also have pheromone sprays that we use on our clothing and on the towels and blankets we have for our hospitalized patients. The plug-ins can be purchased at the clinic if you would like to try them for anxious pets at home.
Along with thoroughly disinfecting every room after each visit, we use enzymatic cleansers. There are many smells in a vet clinic that include urine, stool, anal glands, pet dander, and much more. Enzymatic cleansers help to break down the odor left behind by pets, so future pets do not smell them and become territorial or frightened.
Positive reinforcement is another huge aspect of what we do. Who doesn’t love snacks? We offer a variety of tasty treats for both our feline and canine patients. Feeding treats may help to reduce stress and form a bond between staff and the pets. It is also a great way to distract our patients during more stressful procedures, like nail trims, vaccines, or blood draws.
Fear Free Assessment Notes
Our exam forms have a separate section for fear assessment. This section includes any pre-visit anti-anxiety medications given, intra-exam sedation used, doctor/technician preference, exam location preference, treat preference, emotional triggers, and overall fear assessment score. Having this section in our exam forms allows us to better prepare for future exams.
Less is More in Fear Free
A less is more approach is always taken when it comes to handling our patients. We do not attempt to wrestle any patient. Not only is this stressful for our patients and staff, but we do not want anyone getting hurt. If the patient is terrified of the exam table, we will gladly perform the exam on the floor where they are more comfortable.
As a last resort, anti-anxiety medications are dispensed for future visits. If a patient is stressed out, it is very difficult to provide quality care. These medications allow for better visits and exams. They help to keep everyone safe and comfortable.
Fear Free’s mission statement is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them. That is exactly what this program has helped us do and we have seen a huge improvement in overall happiness. For more information on Fear Free visit https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/