Our Goal: A Fear Free? Visit for Your Pet

Panting, hiding, whining, trembling – most pet owners have experienced these reactions and worse when taking their pet to the veterinarian. In fact, pet owners say it’s the #1 reason why they don’t take their pet to the vet for needed exams and routine care.
It doesn’t have to be that way.

43rd Avenue Animal Hospital has always worked hard to provide the best care for your pets, and now we’re also committed to providing Fear Free? veterinary visits, as developed by Dr. Marty Becker. We want you and your pets to be comfortable when you visit us, so we’re taking steps to make your animal companions as relaxed and happy as possible while you’re here.

The first step starts with recognizing the signs of fear, anxiety and stress. They include:

  • Tail down, tucked, or high over the back
  • Closeness to you or climbing up on you
  • Panting, trembling, fidgeting, yawning, whining
  • Circling, barking, pacing, lunging, growling, snarling or biting
  • Hair up (piloerection)
  • Turning away when you look at him or turning his back to stimuli
  • Hypervigilance (looking around everywhere, seemingly paranoid)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Licking lips
  • Avoiding veterinary team members

The problem with ignoring these signs of stress is that over time, it becomes more and more difficult to get your pet to cooperate. That can be a serious problem, especially when your dog or cat needs urgent care.

By using Fear Free? techniques, our veterinary professionals can make vet visits not only more pleasant, but more effective. We have several strategies for creating this environment, including non-slip surfaces for stability, careful low-stress handling, treats, aromatherapy, noise reduction, and creating a separate entrance and exam area for cats. We may also begin the visit by initially focusing on you rather than your pet, or recommending calming medications or supplements prior to the visit.

There are also steps you can take to help alleviate fear, stress and anxiety surrounding vet visits, such as:

Bring your pet in on an empty stomach. Unless it’s medically necessary, it’s a good idea not to feed your pet 12 hours before an appointment. Your pet will be hungry, making any treats we offer that much more enticing!

Prep your pet. Carriers give cats a sense of security, but they shouldn’t only see them right before they go to the vet. Leave the carrier out somewhere she can access it regularly and place fluffy bedding, toys or treats inside. Dogs should already have positive experiences on a leash, but make sure they also have happy experiences in the vehicle that don’t always end at the vet office.

Look for a waiting room alternative. Work with the receptionist to find the best place for your pet to wait for care.

Be open to new techniques and strategies. This can include pre-visit medications, examining the pet while in your lap, and using treats and toys to move animals on to scales and into exam rooms.

For more information on our Fear-Free? commitment, give 43rd Avenue Animal Hospital a call at 602-705-0534.