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Calming Care for Cats, Dogs, and Humans

Kim Campbell Thornton

Anticipation. Anxiously waiting. Those words aren’t just song lyrics. They’re how pets feel every time they go to the veterinary clinic. Veterinarians, technicians, and staff with Fear Free training help make them feel happy, not helpless, when they anticipate a veterinary exam. Here are some of the ways members have put their training to work.

Lucky Penny

Penny, an 8-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, had not had her mouth examined by a veterinarian for seven years due to extreme fear, anxiety, and resulting aggression. After using Fear Free techniques, we were able to make her part of our family, with regular visits and boarding becoming an enjoyable experience for Penny.

Sarah Lavelle, DVM, Elite Fear Free Certified Professional, Ark Veterinary Practice, Belgrade, Montana




All in the Family

Fear Free practices have allowed for owners to remain calm while their pet is being examined. We often involve the entire family to help us feed the pet during vaccines or blood draws – it really does help alleviate the owner’s nervousness, as it is hard not to laugh when your dog has cheese or peanut butter all over their nose (and sometimes in my hair).

Kara Porto, Elite Fear Free Certified Professional, Sayreville, New Jersey

Transforming Cats from Stressed to Calm

I work at the front desk in our clinic. There have been cats who have come into our practice very stressed. After adding the towel sprayed with Feliway, taking them to a cat-only waiting area, and then transferring them to a cat-only exam room, it is amazing to see how calm they are when they leave!

Stacey Wheeler, Elite Fear Free Certified Professional, Client Care, Bloomsburg Veterinary Hospital, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania

Helping Patients and Staff

We are using classical music in our dedicated cat and dog wards, which we find also helps calm the staff. We also built a wall between the cat and dog waiting area, which helps, but we do find the best thing is always to try and get the cats into the cat-only exam room. We use Feliway in our cat-only exam room and also spray our cat ward blankets and it works great with our patients; we have seen a difference between not using it before and using it now. The staff is a big fan of trazodone/gabapentin given pre-visit for FAS. It has worked wonders on most patients. We also worked with a trainer and got her Fear Free certified. Overall, we have noticed a lot of benefits for the pets and staff members. Thank you for designing such a great course.

Julie K. Levy, DVM, Ph.D., DACVIM, Elite Fear Free Certified Professional, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, University of Florida, Gainesville

How has Fear Free impacted you, your workplace, or the pets you care for? Submit your success story here to have the spotlight shined on you and be featured on our blog and social media channels!

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Kim Campbell Thornton is content manager for Fear Free Pets and is an Elite Fear Free Certified Professional. She has been writing about dogs, cats, wildlife, and marine life since 1985.

Happy Paws Magazine

Spring/Summer 2020 Issue Available Now!