Fear Free Success Comes in Many Forms

By Kim Campbell Thornton

We love hearing how our members have made Fear Free work in their practices. And sharing their stories is one way we can spread the good news of the difference Fear Free techniques can make in a pet’s visit to the veterinary clinic. In this series, we hope you’ll enjoy and learn from your Fear Free colleagues’ experiences.

Pre-Visit Preparation

Franklin was a 6-year-old domestic shorthair who needed deep sedation for any exam or procedure. With the help of pre-visit oral medications to help the cat relax, combined with use of Feliway in the exam room, Dr. Kelly Strecher was able to perform an exam and blood draw on him with minimal feline grumbling. His photo shows him happily devouring his treat reward.
Sarah Lochen, Care Animal Hospital, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin

Outside the Exam Room

We have worked so hard in the past year to make Fear Free our practice philosophy. In May of this year, we opened our dedicated outdoor exam room. The response has been tremendous. Piper, a young Labrador Retriever, used to cower in the exam room, hiding behind her owner and refusing offers of treats. This year’s exam was a complete 180. Piper happily snacked on hot dogs and gave kisses during her exam. The owner was so happy, and this was such a huge win for our entire team. Fear Free takes a little more time but it is 100 percent worth it!
Dr. Allison Malandra, Pet Health Center, Tiffin, Iowa

Practice Makes Perfect

A scared Chihuahua named Raydar was difficult to examine, but a prescription for gabapentin and “social visits” to the hospital made a difference. Now he wags his tail and is happy to see people, allows exams, and is more tolerant of people petting him.
Elana Gulla, 1st Pet Veterinary Hospital, Chandler, Arizona

From Shaky to Secure

Dottie shook in fear every time she visited the clinic. The little dog was hypertensive, and it was important to get a good in-hospital blood pressure on her. We applied DAP to a towel and placed it in the cage for comfort and placed a bandana with DAP around her neck. We also turned on the iCalm for her. We gave her about 10 minutes to just “be” before we tried to do anything with her. She did so well that we got a very good blood pressure, even better than the ones the owners got at home. Dottie has since come back several times and doesn’t even shake anymore.
Darla Rodriguez, VCA California Veterinary Specialists, Ontario, California

Educating Owners

When one of our feline patients needed a blood draw, I asked the owner if she minded watching her cat get his blood drawn. She said she was so glad that she was going to get to see what we were doing. Any other time her cat had to have blood drawn, they took him out of the room. It was pretty much the perfect blood draw, and the owner could not stop thanking us for that experience.
Angie Cordell, 1st Pet Veterinary Hospital, Mesa, Arizona

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 a Level 3 Fear Free Certified Professional. She has been writing about dogs, cats, wildlife, and marine life since 1985.

Happy Paws Magazine

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