Fear-Free visits to QCAH

Is your dog or cat nervous every time you turn the car in the direction of the vet? Do you dread taking your beloved pet in for an exam because you know they’ll be frightened, upset, and anxious? If so, you need to experience the difference of a low-stress veterinary visit. Such a thing does exist! At Queen City Animal Hospital, all established team members are Fear-Free certified.

What Fear Free Means

What does it mean to be fear-free certified? It’s more than just claiming we handle animals gently. It’s a promise to you—one that we’ve made with a lot of preparation and training to back it up.

Studies show that at least 75% of patients that come through the door of a veterinary clinic are severely stressed by exams and encounters with their vet. That means there’s a good chance your pup or kitty are in this majority. And although veterinary care is crucial, it doesn’t have to come at the cost of your pet’s emotional health.

Stress isn’t healthy for your pet. Stress can:

  • Exacerbate existing conditions
  • Cause behavioral and emotional problems in your pet
  • Delay healing

It’s incredibly important that your pet’s experience with their veterinary clinic is as free of stress as possible. A fear free environment is one that has taken every step possible to make sure that your pet is comfortable, taken care of, and calm.

How can we as a busy animal hospital accomplish this? Here are a few of the ways that we lower the stress of our patients.

  1. Staff training: The number one way to change the experience of pets in a veterinary hospital is to educate staff on fear free animal handling, and we’ve done that. This kind of training makes all the difference for a scared or stressed pet who comes into the vet expecting rough and brisk handling. Kind hands, calm voices, and smiling faces goes a long way.
  2. Environmental changes: Sometimes an animal hospital, much like a human hospital, can seem like a cold, unwelcoming, sterile place. But we strive to be different! At Queen City Animal Hospital, our exam rooms are set up a bit more like your living room – including rugs and comfortable chairs- than a scary doctor’s office. If we need to place your pet on an exam table or the scale, we use grip pads to keep pets from slipping, which is something that commonly scares dogs and cats. Calming music around the hospital reduces echoes and disturbing noises, while species specific animal pheromones help bring our patients comfort during their visit.
  3. Rewards: Treats Treats Treats! It’s a good idea to bring your pet in hungry to drive home the treat, cheese, or peanut butter snacks our staff will provide to help make your pet more comfortable; it shows your pet that the vet is on their side and that an exam doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience.
  4. Knowing that No means No: Despite all of our fear-free efforts, sometimes patients just won’t accept our care. Is that nail trim super scary despite light handling, soothing tones, and lots of treats? Then maybe it just won’t get done today. We will not man-handle your pets to get the job done- it breaks our hearts and your pet’s heart. So if the blood draw, nail trim, or physical exam isn’t going well, our doctors and team may discuss medications that can be given a few hours before the next visit to help calm your pet and relieve some of the anxiety associated with a vet visit. Why struggle when medications can make your pet more comfortable the next time?

At Queen City Animal Hospital, we have worked hard to make our hospital as low-stress for your pet as possible, and we look forward to seeing you and your calmer, happier pet!

How do we determine if your pet is showing signs of fear, anxiety, or stress?

We use a questionnaire and chart called the Fear Free FAS scoring chart. It gives us clues and context so that we can determine how fearful/stressed/anxious your pet is.

If we feel your pet has “scored” too high on the chart, we will discuss techniques and next steps regarding your pet’s visit. Perhaps this means we send you home with medication to give prior to the next visit, or perhaps it means we approach your pet in a different manner/location that may help alleviate stress. Does your pet do better without you present? You may be surprised that some do, as protective instincts can be high! Does your pet prefer humans with another color hair? We can try that too! No matter what works for your pet, we will do our best to ensure they are as calm and comfortable as possible. Exacerbate existing conditions