Fear, Anxiety, Stress- oh me!

We’ve all been there – walking into the doctor’s office feeling our stress levels skyrocketing! Our pets are the same way and, to boot, they feed off of us.

Here at Park Road Veterinary Clinic, we strive to make your pet (and your!) experience as happy & carefree as possible. We don’t like when we suffer from Fear, Anxiety and Stress (FAS) and we definitely don’t like it when we see our furry friends suffering.

Some of our team members have decided to learn more about how we can help our patients and their families have a more enjoyable visit and are currently enrolled in the Fear-Free Initiative program. Our goal is to make every visit a happy one for everyone. No one likes being stressed or afraid, and we want to do everything we can to help alleviate this in your furry best friend and, ultimately, you as well.

Part of the Fear-Free training is learning to read our patient’s body language. (As Ursula the sea witch from The Little Mermaid always says: “Never underestimate the importance of body language.”) Learning to look for the subtle cues our furry friends are giving off is just as important as learning to recognize the not-so-subtle cues.

We have already started implementing some changes to the clinic as well as our interactions with our patients. Just a few things that we have been doing: Feliway – feline pheromone diffuser & spray being used for each of our fuzzy feline friends visiting; a variety of extra yummy treats for our canine companions; a “less is more” approach for all whenever possible; “constant touch” – keeping a hand on your furry buddy at all times throughout our interactions, hopefully decreasing the startled reaction that we often see happen.

Is there anything I, as a pet guardian, can do to help decrease my pets FAS level? Absolutely!

For our feline friends, allow them to get used to their carrier. Leaving it out all the time as a safe place to nap or, if that’s not possible, taking it out a few days before their scheduled appointment allows them to investigate it ahead of time without fear of being “shoved in” hopefully making “go time” much less stressful for everyone.

For our canine pals, we have found that food is the key for most of them 🙂

For both the cats & dogs visiting, try to remember not to feed them for a few hours prior to their visit. This way, hopefully, they will be a bit hungry on arrival & more willing to eat some treats.

Another thing that you could do is bring your pet with you for “happy visits” – lots of love attention & treats, but no “pokes”. Letting them tag along and be part of your excursion to the clinic may help decrease their anxiety level when it comes time for an appointment – they won’t know if you brought them in to pick up more treats or for a visit with the doctor.

Finally, work with your pets at home. When you have a chance, pet them & “feel” all over. Touch everything from ears to tail to toes. Getting them used to being handled is the first step to decreasing their FAS level.

Next time you’re at the clinic, whether it’s for an appointment or picking up supplies, feel free to ask us about our Fear Free training. We’d be glad to discuss it with you!

Written by Park Road Veterinary Clinic