Just like the anxiety many people have about a doctor or dentist visit, our patients can experience similar anxieties. In fact, studies have confirmed that pets experience emotions that are very similar, even identical to our own.
In our attempt to provide advanced, compassionate care, we are striving to make visits to Adams Farm Animal Hospital, P.A., a highly enjoyable experience for our patients. The Fear-Free™ initiative promotes the practices, methods, and tools that calm patients and create low-stress environments to encourage better healthcare emotionally and physically.
Our goals for a Fear-Free Veterinary Practice or taking the “Pet” out of “petrified”:
- Pets arrive to the clinic calm and free from anxiety. We ask our patients to prepare their pets for the visit to the practice. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to allow pets to use carrier/crates as resting places when at home. That way, the carrier will not be viewed in a negative light when used to transport. On the day of the appointment, pheromones and covers may be used on the carrier as well to help as a calming agent. Owners must remain calm, too. Perhaps play gentle tunes on the radio during the journey. Do not apologize to your pet or “fret” over them as this can create anxiety.
- Limit food before an appointment. A hungry pet is easier to distract/reward with treats, so feed a smaller amount for the meal prior to your pet’s visit and please bring some favorite treats with you to help provide positive reinforcement during the exam.
- Minimal waiting time. AFAH staff will strive to conduct quick, efficient check-ins that limits your pet’s time in the waiting area. If we see your pet is stressed, we will move them directly to an exam room, if possible. In some cases, it may be best for your pet to leave him/her in the car until a room is available.
- Pet Accommodating Exam Rooms. Rooms are equipped with pheromone diffusers, baby blankets and skid proof bath mats along with gentle, calming music piped in to keep the atmosphere neutral.
- Veterinarians and technicians are trained to avoid direct eye contact and allow for the pet to initiate interaction. Positive experiences are the priority, so time is not an issue. Pets will not be hurried, instead they will be given time to assess the scenario and interact positively.
- Pets will be examined in the location that suits them best. Do not be surprised to see our doctors on the floor with your pet. We want each animal to feel safe and not threatened by our actions…so, we let your pet determine the best spot for their exam.
- In order to make vaccinations less stressful, our doctors employ distraction techniques that take your pets focus off of the action. Our doctors may also chose to use topical pain management before the injection, smaller gauge needles and in some instances, such as the oral bordetella vaccination, we use no needles at all.
- Sedation. Sedation is not a bad thing. Rather than allowing your pet to become overly stressed and anxious, our doctors encourage either an opportunity to “regroup” and try again focusing on fear free practices and preparation or sedation to insure a thorough exam without any negative reinforcements.
- We prioritize your pet’s well-being. With that said, we firmly believe that best practices for low stress handling focus on the animal’s emotional well-being and then their physical well-being. Constant attention to those priorities will insure pets are happy and healthy.