The fear of doctors’ visits impacts our furry family members in much the same way as our own trepidation of going to annual dental exams. In fact, a 2014 Bayer Veterinary Healthcare Usage Study found that 37 percent of dog owners and 58 percent of cat owners say their pets hate going to the veterinarian. That fear and anxiety can manifest as diarrhea, vomiting, elevated vital signs, and aggression. Since proper care is essential, many vet offices have adopted fear free environments and protocols. Founded by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, Fear Free has become one of the single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice, with more than 58,000 veterinary and pet professionals committed to becoming Fear Free Certified®. Here are a few suggestions from Fear Free to help eliminate some of those anxieties before the official visit:
• Throughout the year, whenever traveling around town with your furry family, work in a quick stop to your vet’s office. Bring them in for some snuggles and treats. Doing so can help prevent or break the association of the vet’s office with stress, needle pokes, and temperature checks. • Book one of the earlier morning appointments with your vet, this way furry family members will not become anxious if the office is running behind. • Leave for appointments earlier than you think you’d need to get there, and prepare everything for your trip several hours in advance (the night before is great, if possible and practical). This keeps your stress level down, and subsequently, theirs.
• Consider a vet who makes house calls. More and more veterinarians are willing to come to your home for routine exams and vaccinations. You may be able to ease your furry family member’s fears by having some services provided in their own comfortable, familiar space.
Photos credit: (Top) Nichole Leighton, Randolph Veterinarian Clinic technician, weighs Sophia June 9 during her yearly check-up. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Alexis Siekert) (released); additional pictures courtesy of Austin Community College Vet Tech Program.