Running Fearlessly into… Becoming a Fear Free Animal Hospital
Well, not really running, more like baby steps. But there is a change happening in the veterinary industry. It’s called Fear Free. Hanover Veterinary Hospital is the first Fear Free Certified Practice in Cedar Lake and Northwest Indiana.
What does this mean? That we must nurture the pet’s mind as well as the body. Every day we practice medicine with this foremost in our thoughts. The Fear Free initiative was founded by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker and the belief is summed up in their mission statement, ‘to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.’
We have always looked after your pet’s physical health but have sometimes struggled with how to look after their emotional health in the very short time we interact with them. How do we reduce stress during that nail trim? How do we convince your angry feline to take her meds? How do we encourage that dog to walk happily through our doors? How do we remove squeeze cheese from dog nostrils? Well, that comes after, but you get the picture.
The answer is Fear Free. “Fear Free has become one of the single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice”. You may have already noticed that we place a bandana on your dog when he or she comes in our door. Aside from the cuteness factor, that bandana is sprayed with Adaptil, a happy dog pheromone that is only the first step in helping your dog cope with anxiety at the vet’s office. Those plug-ins don’t smell like daisies, they smell like a happy dog. That towel we place over your cat’s carrier not only blocks out sights and sounds, it is sprayed with Feliway, the happy cat pheromone. Those pouches the assistants and technicians carry around are full of tasty things such as Beggin Strips, squeeze cheese, peanut butter and hot dogs. Or cat treats, catnip and tuna.
Pheromones, food rewards, gentler handling, non-slip mats and sometimes just stopping to take a break are just some of the things we are doing to make your pet’s visit more like old home week than a walk through a mine field. Even the paint on our walls is designed for stress free viewing.
We begin by assessing how your pet is feeling the moment they come in the door and we adapt our techniques accordingly. That assessment continues through the visit until they are safely in your car. Each pet is different and we know some will take more time than others. We will gladly spend that time.
For some pets, we will need to use medication, or even sedation to achieve a stress free visit. But we want you to know that we will use everything else in our bag of knowledge before taking this step.
The Fear Free movement, to put it simply, is liberating! And we want to share everything we know with you. We love discussing things such as body language, how to help your dog feel secure, how to understand the mind of your cat, thundershirts, nosework and noise phobias.
We are chomping at the bit to help you discover everyday activities that can help enhance your pet’s life so they can become your best relationship. Outside of your human ones of course.
Albert, our resident cat, would like to take credit for this quote, but it was really Dawn Richard who said, “Be exactly who you are. You can fit in any space you see yourself in. Be fearless.”
Schedule an appointment for your pet at our recently certified Fear Free animal hospital in Cedar Lake. Click Here