Have you ever postponed your pet’s veterinary care because of a negative experience? Fear, anxiety, and stress can paralyze pets, and cause physical illness, or uncharacteristic aggression. Witnessing your pet’s terror at the veterinary hospital can make you feel as if you are harming them, despite your good intentions. But, do not delay their next annual appointment to avoid those emotions, especially if your pet looks OK, because your decision could negatively impact your pet’s health, and magnify their fear, anxiety, and stress.
As a Fear Free Certified Practice, Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital eliminates the emotional barriers to your pet’s health by prioritizing their comfort. At our hospital, pets enjoy a carefully designed, calm experience that further enhances their level of care.
Let us show you how a Fear Free visit differs from any other veterinary experience.
#1: Prioritizing your pet’s emotional wellbeing allows the highest level of care
Fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) are detrimental to your pet’s health, and can negatively affect our assessment. These emotions cause abnormal elevations in blood pressure, and heart and respiratory rates, and artificial changes in white blood cells and blood glucose. Such physical changes can make an accurate diagnosis challenging. Also, pets experiencing FAS are more difficult to examine and handle, without the veterinary team unintentionally worsening the pet’s state of anxiety, or risking injury to the pet, or themselves.
We do not hurry through examining your pet with FAS. Rather, we tailor our actions and treatments to promote and maintain calm feelings. Minimizing FAS makes your pet’s assessment more accurate, thorough, and safe.
#2: We proceed at your pet’s pace
Pets can speak volumes without vocalizing, and they have a lot to say about the veterinary experience. Fortunately, the Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital team knows how to listen. From our first greeting, to your pet’s departure, we observe your pet, and customize our approach according to their state of mind. To understand your pet’s emotions, we use:
- Species-specific body language — Pets communicate FAS through their facial features and body posture.
- The touch gradient — We maintain steady physical contact with your pet during the exam, allowing them to anticipate our actions, rather than startling them. We can also feel changes in their muscle tension that indicate arousal or relaxation.
- An FAS scale — We compare your pet’s emotional and physical cues against a scale of low, moderate, and high FAS. Based on your pet’s level, our team goes forward with their actions, uses caution, or stops and reassesses the situation.
#3: We use special tools to reduce your pet’s anxiety
Pets cannot reason with us, but we can use strategic tools and techniques to minimize their FAS, and help them understand that we are only trying to help. Some of our favorite strategies include:
- Food — Food naturally promotes contentment and satisfaction. Tasty, time-consuming foods, such as spray cheese, peanut butter, or wet food, can provide pleasant distractions during vaccinations or their examination. Frequent, carefully timed rewards keep pets engaged, and create positive associations with previously scary situations.
- Pheromones — Adaptil and Feliway replicate natural dog and cat pheromones. These odorless products send powerful “happy messages” of calm and security to dogs and cats. We diffuse these pheremones throughout the hospital, and spray them on bedding, exam room towels, and scrubs.
- Air muzzles — Frightened cats and small dogs can enjoy reduced FAS and improved comfort with these non-restrictive muzzles that also block visual stimuli, reducing hypervigilant behavior. Check out this video to see how an air muzzle reduces a patient’s FAS.
- Visual barriers — We strategically minimize visual contact between unfamiliar pets whenever possible, and will bring you and your pet directly to an examination room whenever possible.
- Non-slip mats — Traction and secure footing improve pet confidence and safety.
To see our Fear Free methods in action, click here to watch dr. Man’s video blogs.
#4: Species-specific designs put cats at ease
The smell of strange dogs can trigger feline FAS, because your cat perceives the odor as a threat, and reacts with fight or flight. Our hospital has designed a room exclusively for feline comfort—no dogs allowed. Our cat room has everything your cat needs to feel safe, including:
- A scratching post
- A cat tree
- Hiding places
- Feliway pheromone diffuser and scented towels
#5: Medication can make a difference for your pet
For some pets, the veterinary environment provokes such severe FAS that they demonstrate extreme flight or freeze behavior, such as escape attempts or complete immobilization, or a fight response, and show defensive aggression. Pets at this level can endanger themselves, their owner, and the veterinary team. We will likely reschedule your pet’s services, and prescribe pre-visit anti-anxiety medication or sedation that you give at home before the next visit. This medication will allow us to provide comprehensive veterinary care, without your pet feeling scared or threatened.
If your pet has a history of severe FAS, contact us to discuss your pet’s specific needs before you schedule an appointment, so we can determine the best course of action.
Don’t let your pet’s fearful, anxious, or stressed veterinary past stop you from protecting their future. Let Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital provide our special, considerate approach that cares not only for your pet’s physical wellbeing, but also their emotional health. Contact us to schedule your pet’s Fear Free examination.