Fear Free Pets https://fearfreepets.com Taking the "pet" out of "petrified" Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:27:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 https://fearfreepets.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/cropped-fearfreelogo-32x32.png Fear Free Pets https://fearfreepets.com 32 32 Study: Effects of Trazodone Compared to Acepromazine in Anesthetic Induction https://fearfreepets.com/study-effects-trazodone-compared-acepromazine-anesthetic-induction/ Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:00:22 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=210406 Acepromazine is frequently used for pre-medication before veterinary visits and surgery. While it offers sedation, it doesn’t offer any substantial anxiety relief. The authors of a study published in the February 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association investigated the use of trazodone instead of acepromazine as an oral pre-medication.

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Acepromazine is frequently used for pre-medication before veterinary visits and surgery. While it offers sedation, it doesn’t offer any substantial anxiety relief. The authors of a study published in the February 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association investigated the use of trazodone instead of acepromazine as an oral pre-medication.

Thirty healthy, client-owned dogs were admitted for tibial plateau leveling osteotomy or tibial tuberosity advancement and assigned to one of two groups: acepromazine or trazodone.

The acepromazine group received 0.01 to 0.03 mg/kg IM 30 minutes before anesthetic induction, and the trazodone group received 5 mg/kg for patients > 10 kg or 7 mg/kg for patients ≤ 10 kg, PO 2 hours before induction.

Both groups received morphine sulfate (1 mg/kg IM) 30 minutes before induction. Anesthesia was induced with propofol (4 to 6 mg/kg IV) and maintained with isoflurane or sevoflurane in oxygen. Bupivacaine (0.5 mg/kg) and morphine (0.1 mg/kg) were administered epidurally.

Findings included:

  • There was no difference in the mean dose of propofol and all cardiovascular variables between groups.
  • No significant differences were seen in the cardiovascular effects of premedication that included acepromazine versus trazodone.
  • No significant differences were seen in the mean propofol dose needed for induction, mean isoflurane vaporizer setting, mean duration of anesthesia, or median surgical time between the treatment groups.
  • Heart rates and blood pressure measurements were the same for all dogs.
  • Both groups had similar numbers of dogs who required intervention for low blood pressure and bradycardia.

In her evaluation of the study, boarded veterinary behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta of the Fear Free Executive Council said:

This study shows that there is an opportunity to use a medication with more anxiolytic and fear-reducing properties than acepromazine with no significant differences in outcome. Veterinarians can now ask clients to pre-medicate with trazodone at home so that pets will be calmer when they enter the clinic and ideally be less stressed and fearful as well as easier to handle.

Murphy LA, Barletta M, Graham LF, Reichl LJ, Duxbury MM, Quandt JE. Effects of acepromazine and trazodone on anesthetic induction dose of propofol and cardiovascular variables in dogs undergoing general anesthesia for orthopedic surgery. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2017 Feb 15;250(4):408-416. doi: 10.2460/javma.250.4.408.

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Is Fear Free the Only Way to Compassionate Veterinary Practice? https://fearfreepets.com/fear-free-way-compassionate-veterinary-practice/ Sun, 03 Dec 2017 15:00:22 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=203688 Is Fear Free Certification right for every veterinary professional and practice? It’s hard for me to answer that with anything other than a resounding “Yes!” Not only do I constantly see Fear Free change the lives of animals, allowing them to receive the care they need and deserve without fear, anxiety, and stress, but I believe it holds the answer to many of the most difficult challenges facing our profession today. I believe Fear Free is the right tool at the right time to shift our profession into a whole new era.

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By Dr. Marty Becker

Is Fear Free Certification right for every veterinary professional and practice?

It’s hard for me to answer that with anything other than a resounding “Yes!” Not only do I constantly see Fear Free change the lives of animals, allowing them to receive the care they need and deserve without fear, anxiety, and stress, but I believe it holds the answer to many of the most difficult challenges facing our profession today. I believe Fear Free is the right tool at the right time to shift our profession into a whole new era.

But it’s also true that one of the biggest sources of stress for both animals and people is a lack of choice. Just like our patients, no veterinarian or veterinary nurse wants to feel backed into a corner, or be told there is only one right way to accomplish something.

There are six of us on the Fear Free team, and I know for a fact that not one of us would ever want to cause any veterinary professional stress, make someone feel Fear Free is a threat to them, or seem to be cutting off choices instead of expanding them.

Instead, I see Fear Free as the most recent stop on a path pioneered by countless voices in veterinary medicine, from Dr. Leo Bustad to Dr. Karen Overall to the late and much-missed Dr. Sophia Yin.

I believe all of us in veterinary medicine are following in the footsteps of those giants and countless others, moving toward an ever more-compassionate practice of veterinary medicine that is less stressful and more rewarding for us, too.

If Fear Free can be of service to you on that path, please know we’re here to help. If you’re taking your own road, we respect your journey and hope to have the opportunity to learn from you as we meet along the way.

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Healing Our Wounds as We Heal Theirs: A Veterinarian Gives Thanks https://fearfreepets.com/healing-wounds-heal-veterinarian-gives-thanks/ Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:00:22 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=196867 Since I published the story of my personal struggle with depression and a family history of suicide—including my father, who killed himself with a shotgun in Veterinary Economics last year, I’ve heard from hundreds upon hundreds of my fellow veterinary professionals who have faced the same struggles. As Thanksgiving and the holiday season draw near, I can’t help but think of all of us in veterinary medicine who are feeling anything but thankful, and are overwhelmed not with feelings of good cheer, but of darkest depression.

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By Dr. Marty Becker

Since I published the story of my personal struggle with depression and a family history of suicide–including my father, who killed himself with a shotgun–in Veterinary Economics last year, I’ve heard from hundreds upon hundreds of my fellow veterinary professionals who have faced the same struggles.

As Thanksgiving and the holiday season draw near, I can’t help but think of all of us in veterinary medicine who are feeling anything but thankful, and are overwhelmed not with feelings of good cheer, but of darkest depression.

My personal journey to becoming a veterinarian began when I was 7 years old, growing up on a dairy farm. The family vet came out to treat a fallen cow who, after one injection, rose up.

Even though my desire to be a veterinarian was sparked by that happy recovery, that memory and many like it are frequently overwhelmed by memories of death, terrible suffering, and the mistakes that we see happen in our profession every single day, year-in, year-out.

My experience of practicing veterinary medicine ranged from getting the Twin Falls, Idaho, City Shelter to shut down their gas chamber by agreeing to euthanize the animals myself; fighting to keep some kind of barrier between me and the pain of seeing animals I cared about suffer, or die–and seeing the devastating grief of their human families at their loss; the steady drumbeat of “suck it up” and “don’t think about it” and “don’t focus on all this emotional stuff” I heard so often from my bosses and colleagues.

I got the message loud and clear: Unlike physical suffering and illness, their mental and emotional counterparts were shameful, trivial, and unworthy even of acknowledgement, let alone treatment.

It was the Thanksgiving season that followed the horror of 9/11 when I first became seriously depressed. I was in my late 40s, and had just finished working on my book The Healing Power of Pets. I was sad and wanted nothing more than to sleep all the time. I was in darkness that no amount of awareness of my family history, or will power, or stern self-lectures, or prayer could lighten. That took the care of a physician and the prescription of an anti-depressant. Five years later, I needed an additional medication to keep the darkness at bay.

While clearly my family background contributed to the likelihood I’d suffer from depression, so did my profession. A recent commentary in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) cited a CDC survey of more than 10,000 practicing veterinarians that found we are more likely to be depressed, to suffer serious mental illness, and to attempt suicide than the general public.

In fact, frighteningly, 14.4 percent of male and 19.1 percent of female veterinarians have considered suicide, nearly three times the national average for the general population. And these numbers are consistent with those in studies of veterinary professionals around the globe, not just in the United States.

I did not found Fear Free to address the epidemic of depression and suicide in our profession; I did it to help animals. But what I found is that it also has the power to help us.

Consider these words written by the authors of that same JAVMA article I mentioned above:

 

Some of the reasons for the high rates of mental disorders in veterinarians include work-related stress, a lack of early detection of mental problems, access to lethal drugs associated with euthanasia, and the adverse effects of performing euthanasia.

A qualitative, interview-based study of veterinarians who had attempted suicide revealed contributing factors to be adverse relationships at work, concerns about career, issues related to patients, long hours, and heavy work-load. A cross-sectional study of work conditions for veterinarians found that the number of hours worked and professional mistakes were the chief stressors that accounted for anxiety and depression.

How much of the soul-killing stress that afflicts veterinarians and veterinary nurses is caused by working all day on patients who fear us, even hate us? How much is the result of seeing the animals we love and feel such compassion for shiver, drool, even lose control of bladder and bowels, as we try to help and heal them?

I know I became a veterinarian because I felt so connected to the soul of animals. I thought I was doing what was best for them, and it was not until the fateful day when Dr. Karen Overall ripped the bandage off the wound of my compassion that I realized I was in fact harming all the animals I thought I was helping. That horrifying realization sharpened my senses, opened my heart, and inspired the creation of Fear Free.

And it was in hearing from so many of the almost 25,000 of you who have so far enrolled in certification that I realized it isn’t just our patients who need healing through the practice of Fear Free veterinary medicine; it’s us, too.

Of course, Fear Free is not a form of therapy or medical care. Depression and suicidal ideation are real medical issues and require the care of qualified professionals. But as the JAVMA article pointed out, work stress is a massive risk factor for mental health problems and suicide in veterinarians.

Look at it this way: If I think of myself as a cup, I’m half-full–maybe even three-quarters full in my case–of risk factors related to genetics and my upbringing.

Why fill that cup the rest of the way with insufficient sleep, a lack of connectedness to my family and community, guilt, unwillingness to face my problems, and stewing every day in the fear, anxiety, and stress of the pets, pet owners, and staff I interact with professionally? Why crank up the already dangerous pressure I feel by burying feelings of burnout, compassion fatigue, depression, or worse?

After almost 40 years of veterinary practice, I still feel blessed to be part of the greatest profession on earth. I am endlessly grateful for the opportunities I have to lecture to veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary students, and to speak on behalf of the veterinary profession through the media.

But this Thanksgiving, I also know tremendous gratitude that I’m able to share this gift with each of you: That the practice of the medicine we love on the animals we love can be a healing gift to us both, and not a source of fear or suffering. That we’re part of the largest transformational initiative in the history of companion animal practice, part of healing animals, the people who love them, and ourselves.

God bless you, and have a Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Author’s note: If you’re experiencing depression or are contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK; 800-273-8255; suicidepreventionlifeline.org). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whatever darkness you are facing, the good people who staff these phone lines care and will help you.

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Fear Free and Ceva Animal Health Partner to Launch Veterinary Practice Certification in April 2018 https://fearfreepets.com/fear-free-ceva-animal-health-partner-launch-veterinary-practice-certification-april-2018/ Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:29:42 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=194135 The post Fear Free and Ceva Animal Health Partner to Launch Veterinary Practice Certification in April 2018 appeared first on Fear Free Pets.

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Denver, Colo. – Thanks to a partnership with Ceva Animal Health, Fear FreeSM practice certification will be offered to qualifying veterinary hospitals starting in April 2018.

The growth of the Fear Free training and certification program has been explosive since it launched in 2016. More than 20,000 professionals have enrolled so far, and interest in practice certification has been equally high.

“Fear Free is excited to leverage Ceva’s existing talent of highly-qualified, educated, and passionate veterinarians for practice certification,” said Dr. Marty Becker, founder and CEO of Fear Free. “This collaboration will allow Fear Free to offer a larger number of certification visits, with a highly trained team, at affordable rates to hospitals.”

“Ceva is proud to be an inaugural sponsor of Fear Free and believes strongly in the program and its mission,” said Craig Wallace, CEO and NAPAC Zone Director at Ceva Animal Health. “Our veterinary services team and territory managers know firsthand how adoption of Fear Free protocols improves the experience of the pet, the pet owner, and even hospital staff leading to more frequent and more in-depth appointments. We look forward to helping veterinary hospitals become certified by embracing the Fear Free approach, which benefits all involved.”

The Fear Free certification program was based on the input of its 160-member advisory panel, comprised of board-certified veterinary behaviorists, well-known veterinary practice management experts, and other leaders in the field.

While individual training and certification provides professionals with the tools they need to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in patients, Fear Free Practice Certification takes this effort to the next level. These practices will have successfully implemented Fear Free into all aspects of their business, from culture and leadership to client education, staff training, and facility and patient experience, which will be evaluated during an on-site visit.

Practice certification will be conducted by Ceva veterinarians, who in their capacity as Fear Free consultants are committed to visiting the practices as representatives of Fear Free, and to conduct thorough and impartial certifications. Products will not to be mentioned unless they are part of an established Fear Free Practice standard.

“The Ceva veterinarians are committed to becoming fully immersed in Fear Free, and will receive extensive training prior to practice certification launching.” said Becker. “All certifying veterinarians will be Level 1 and Level 2 certified, and will have taken all of Fear Free’s available CE.”

“Practice certification is the next transformative step in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Julie Reck, owner of the Veterinary Medical Center of Fort Mill and member of the Fear Free Executive Council. “This partnership will create an opportunity for veterinary practices to demonstrate a united commitment to providing kind and compassionate care for animals, which is a refreshing reminder of what inspired us to pursue veterinary medicine in the first place!”

Veterinary professionals can visit fearfreepets.com to sign up and begin Fear Free Certification.

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About Fear Free

Developed by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, the Fear Free initiative aims to “take the ‘pet’ out of ‘petrified’” and get pets back for veterinary visits by promoting considerate approach and gentle control techniques used in calming environments. Utilization of Fear Free methods and protocols leads to reduction or removal of anxiety triggers, which creates an experience that is rewarding and safer for all involved, including pets, their owners, and veterinary health care teams. The end result? Calmer, more accepting patients, more compliant clients, and better veterinary care. For more information, visit www.fearfreepets.com.

About Ceva

Ceva Animal Health is the sixth largest global animal health company offering products for companion animals, poultry and swine. In the U.S.  Ceva’s key products include the Vectra® and Catego™ line of parasiticides, the pheromone brands Adaptil® and Feliway®, Douxo® dermatology products, and TRP-Tri-COX®. The company’s North American headquarters is in Lenexa, Kansas. Visit www.ceva.us.

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Study: Gabapentin Reduces Stress in Cats Before Veterinary Visits https://fearfreepets.com/study-gabapentin-reduces-stress-cats-veterinary-visits/ Mon, 06 Nov 2017 15:35:22 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=175157 Cats can suffer from severe fear and stress when being transported to the veterinarian or while being examined once there. New research indicates that use of the medication gabapentin can significantly reduce signs of stress and increase compliance with the veterinary exam.

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Cats can suffer from severe fear and stress when being transported to the veterinarian or while being examined once there. New research indicates that use of the medication gabapentin can significantly reduce signs of stress and increase compliance with the veterinary exam.

Gabapentin is an inexpensive medication originally developed to control seizures in humans. It is also used to control neuropathic pain in humans, dogs, and cats. While it is not labeled for use for anxiety, it is increasingly used for that purpose in human and veterinary medicine. It does not have a strong taste and is usually well accepted by cats when given in liquid form or with treats. (Note that some liquid formulations contain the sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs although not known to be toxic to cats.)

Despite its increasing use in animal practice, research into its efficacy in cats has been recent and limited. In this study, published in the Nov. 15. 2017 issue of Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 20 healthy pet cats, ranging in age from 1 to 16 years and with a history of signs of stress when at the vet, were brought by their owners for two veterinary visits one week apart.

The cats were randomly assigned to receive 100 mg of gabapentin or a placebo capsule containing lactose powder before the first visit. The capsules were given 90 minutes before they left for the vet. The treatment was reversed for each cat prior to the second visit.

Once they arrived at the veterinary hospital, each cat was examined and had his or her blood pressure read. Owners also rated the cats’ stress scores during the trip to the hospital as well as during the exam. The veterinarians rated the cats’ compliance with the process. The owners, the examining veterinarian, and observers were all blinded to which cats received the medication and which the placebo.

Findings included:

  • Owners gave significantly lower stress scores during transportation and examination to the cats who received gabapentin.
  • Veterinarians rated the cats treated with gabapentin as significantly more compliant during exam.
  • For 20 percent of the cats, examination was possible only when they were medicated with gabapentin
  • Sedation was a commonly reported side effect, particularly in smaller cats.
  • Some ataxia, hypersalivation, and vomiting were reported, all of which resolved within 8 hours.
  • Owners reported the peak effect of the medication occurred 2 to 3 hours after administration, suggesting that dosing the cats 90 minutes in advance, as was the case in the study, may have been less than optimal.

In their discussion of the study results, the authors concluded:

Overall, the present study yielded good evidence that oral administration of a 100-mg gabapentin cap­sule to cats 90 minutes before transporting them to the veterinary hospital led to a significant reduction in stress-related behaviors during transportation and examination. Gabapentin administration also de­creased aggression and increased compliance of cats during veterinary examination.

Karen A. van Haaften DVM; Lauren R. Eichstadt Forsythe PharmD; Elizabeth A. Stelow DVM; Melissa J. Bain DVM, MS, Effects of a single preappointment dose of gabapentin on signs of stress in cats during transportation and veterinary examination, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, November 15, 2017, Vol. 251, No. 10, Pages 1175-1181. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.251.10.1175.

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Veterinary Technicians: The Heartbeat of the Hospital https://fearfreepets.com/veterinary-technicians-heartbeat-hospital/ Thu, 19 Oct 2017 18:35:22 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=186319 Veterinary technicians have their fingers on the pulses of every patient, and they are at the heart of the entire veterinary profession. No living being can survive without a heart. Veterinary medicine can’t survive without our phenomenal technicians. During National Veterinary Technician Week, we celebrate the knowledge, compassion, professionalism, and amazing skills of these key team players. Veterinary medicine wouldn’t be possible without amazing technicians, and Fear Free veterinary medicine is no exception. Technicians facilitate Fear Free medicine, but practicing Fear Free medicine can help technicians, too!

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By Monique Feyrecilde, BA, LVT, VTS (Behavior)

Veterinary technicians have their fingers on the pulses of every patient, and they are at the heart of the entire veterinary profession. No living being can survive without a heart. Veterinary medicine can’t survive without our phenomenal technicians. During National Veterinary Technician Week, we celebrate the knowledge, compassion, professionalism, and amazing skills of these key team players. Veterinary medicine wouldn’t be possible without amazing technicians, and Fear Free veterinary medicine is no exception. Technicians facilitate Fear Free medicine, but practicing Fear Free medicine can help technicians, too!

The expectations placed on technicians can seem impossible at times. Triage exams, collecting histories, giving injections and vaccinations, performing blood collections, cystocentesis, and radiographs, administering and monitoring anesthesia, assisting in surgical procedures, providing complete dental care and intensive care for hospitalized patients, managing extensive medical records, performing grooming and janitorial duties, and providing emotional support for team mates, clients, and patients are all in a day’s work. The list of duties and responsibilities is overwhelming, and finances can be tight on a technician’s salary. With such a huge list of responsibilities in a stressful work environment for modest pay, it’s no surprise to anyone in the industry that technicians have a high rate of professional attrition and burnout.

One perhaps surprising but important cause of attrition is a mismatch between motivation and expectation. When I am teaching or presenting at a veterinary conference, I ask, “Why did you choose veterinary medicine?” Invariably the answer is because people love animals and wish to help these animals. These admirable and compassionate individuals come to the profession wanting to help, but these same people are confronted with a mismatch of expectations. The medical care they are providing to restore wellness can result in emotional and physical injuries to pets and people.

We learn how to observe patient body language, understand animal communication, and meet physical and emotional needs of animals. We are then then asked to ignore these important pieces of information in the name of diagnostics and treatments. We are taught the fastest way to scruff a cat who is trying to run away, and how to use a control pole without being bitten.  Is the better lesson how to prevent the animal from feeling as if she needs to escape from us? We are asked to harden our hearts and become experts in difficult physical restraint in the name of making pets “better.” Could we instead have open hearts and become experts in working with Considerate Approach and Gentle Control, or even Cooperative Veterinary Care? We are told to control our emotions and “keep it professional.” It is easy to label animals as mean, aggressive, biters, fractious, evil, or worse. It’s easy to become jaded about people and pets. We are asked to set aside the compassion and love for animals that sparked our interest in this vocation, and it hurts.

Fulfilling your heart’s vocation shouldn’t be dangerous, and it shouldn’t mean you set aside your compassion for animals. Dangerous work conditions, emotional challenges, low income, and underutilization are all cited by technicians as reasons they leave clinical practice. Fear Free can help keep amazing technicians at the heart of every hospital.

Heather Schroeder, CVT, is one example of a veterinary technician who recently transitioned out of clinical practice. She shared her story with me.

“After I earned my Fear Free certification, I made a presentation to my team teaching them about Fear Freesm. I wanted to inspire them to feel the way I felt, and to handle patients using these techniques. I had a great deal of success working with patients and receptive veterinarians, but the rest of the team continued allowing pets to struggle, handling them with forceful restraint. If I tried to step in and help, my team was not receptive and responded negatively.

After many disappointments, I chose to leave clinical practice for academia. I’m now teaching veterinary technician students, and including Fear Free in my curriculum to help new technicians succeed from the start.”

Fear Free brings us back to the heart of the matter: the wellbeing of animals. We can listen to the animals again. Jade Velasquez, LVT, is the practice manager of Brookside Animal Hospital. She shares, “When technicians are empowered to use Fear Free techniques, we can reconnect with our passion to provide care in a kind, caring and compassionate manner for our patients.” Technicians can prevent fear, anxiety, and stress. We can respond to patients’ emotional states, and provide care without causing fear. When we reduce the fear, anxiety, and stress a patient experiences, we reduce the risk of physical and emotional injury to both people and pets in the veterinary hospital.

Clients love Fear Free technicians. They notice the special interaction and bond between patient and caregiver when these technicians make every visit as comfortable as possible. Check out this client feedback about technicians:

“I love how excited Leon is to see Monique when we come to the clinic. Other hospitals gave up on Leon, but Monique is an amazing technician and we are so grateful for the care she provides while he is at the hospital.”

-Anthea G., client of Mercer Island Veterinary Clinic

“My dog, Carmela, has a lot of fears, especially the veterinarian. My vet office has recently instituted Fear Free techniques. No one approached her or frightened her. I took her to the scale, she sat on the scale for her weight, again quiet. We went into the exam room. Our technician Kate and veterinarian came into the room, sat on the floor and fed her treats. Carmela would go behind me and then go to the veterinarian. By the end of the visit, Carmela was lying quietly on the floor, no vocalizations, no jumping up and grabbing my clothing. She never felt trapped or forced. It was just amazing.”

-Susan Olson, client of Marine View Veterinary Hospital

“I never realized what technicians do! During my visit, the technician asked all sorts of questions about Mimi.* The doctor did her checkup and then the technician took her blood, and gave her shots. Mimi hardly noticed the needles while I had her eat the cheese whiz, and the technician was so gentle with her. I was so glad to be able to see what happened, and to see what gentle care they took of my baby.”

-Anonymous, Mercer Island Veterinary Clinic

During this week of appreciation for the ninjas, the masters, the magicians, the marvelous wizards who are veterinary technicians, take a moment to consider how to keep technicians in our hospitals and with our patients. We need to fully utilize our technicians, we need to appreciate them, we need to pay them, we need to show them respect. We need to empower them to do no harm. Veterinary technicians should be able to love our patients, showing concern for both their emotional and physical wellbeing. Empowering technicians to practice Fear Free medicine will help them fulfill their true vocations, and it will help keep them safe. It will bond clients and technicians, making our practices stronger and healthier. Let these compassionate geniuses show their empathy for our precious patients: it will keep the hearts of our hospitals healthy.

Monique Feyrecilde, BA, LVT, VTS (Behavior)

Teaching Animals, Auburn, WA | Mercer Island Veterinary Clinic, Mercer Island, WA

Monique Feyrecilde is a full-time veterinary technician in small animal private practice with over 20 years of experience. She is a veterinary technician specialist in behavior, and a past president of the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians as well as the current chair of the Examination Committee. Monique was a content contributor for the Fear Free Certification course, and a module chair for two modules in the level two certification course.

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Gulliver’s Travails And Other Tales Of Fear Free Technician Care https://fearfreepets.com/gullivers-travails-tales-fear-free-technician-care/ Mon, 16 Oct 2017 18:35:22 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=172885 Gulliver was nervous and fearful. Recently adopted, he needed a complete checkup, but his owner wasn’t sure she could get the cat into a carrier and to the clinic without a complete meltdown on his part—and maybe hers. Fortunately, she knew that her veterinarian offered in-home exams using Fear Free techniques.

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By Kim Campbell Thornton

Gulliver was nervous and fearful. Recently adopted, he needed a complete checkup, but his owner wasn’t sure she could get the cat into a carrier and to the clinic without a complete meltdown on his part—and maybe hers. Fortunately, she knew that her veterinarian offered in-home exams using Fear Free techniques.

Dr. Karen Angele and certified veterinary technician Chrissy Schultz went to Gulliver’s home where they gently wrapped him in a towel treated with Feliway, a pheromone spray, and sat with him on the floor as they checked his weight, examined his eyes, ears, and teeth, and drew blood.

“Gulliver’s owner described the visit as a very pleasant encounter for both of them,” says Carol Petersen, a certified veterinary technician at Burr Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Darien, Illinois, where Dr. Angele and Ms. Schultz practice.

Gulliver’s tale is just one example of the reasons veterinary technicians and other staff members have taken to Fear Free techniques. The opportunity to give pets the care they need in a way that’s pleasant for all involved is more than just handing out treats and helping pets feel comfortable in a care setting, whether that is the home or the veterinary clinic.

“Implementing Fear Free techniques at our clinic has been life-changing,” Petersen says. “Fear Free was a natural next step for Burr Ridge Veterinary Clinic because in addition to making sure each pet receives all of the medical treatments needed for good physical health, we’re equally committed to the emotional health of our patients.”

Trixie is a 12-year-old American Eskimo who hated getting her nails trimmed. When her people brought her in to Heron Creek Animal Hospital in North Port, Florida, they described her as nippy and said she would need a muzzle for the nail trim. Cindy Goldstein, LVT, CVT, who is Fear Free certified, has a “less is more” attitude when it comes to restraint and handling. She put her Fear Free training to the test, spraying a bandana with Adaptil and gently holding Trixie while her owner stood in front of her.

“Trixie was wagging her tail and gave no signs of aggression and didn’t try to bite,” Goldstein says. “The pets that I use Fear Free techniques on are more relaxed, and so are their owners. It makes bringing your pet to the vet less stressful for the owner and rewarding for me as a tech.”

One of the benefits of Fear Free certification is the way it expands knowledge of animal behavior and handling. Training in those areas is sometimes lacking, says Jennie Fiendish, a CVT in Portland, Oregon, who owns Happy Power Behavior and Training. She notes that it’s not uncommon for new graduates to have been taught to scruff cats or hold down struggling dogs. In her own experience, Fear Free has taught her how to advocate for patient needs and easy ways to implement techniques.

“Fear Free provides an excellent working understanding of animal behavior and how it applies to our patients, how they feel about us, and how we can interact with them appropriately,” she says. “With the techniques learned from Fear Free, I have not only seen a dramatic decrease in fear and stress of our patients but also for our staff. No one wants to cause an animal harm or get harmed themselves. Fear Free lets us accomplish that.”

At Del Mar Veterinary Hospital in Saint Augustine, Florida, its Fear Free status differentiates it from clinics in the surrounding area. Anna Deason, lead CVT, believes it has helped the team achieve a closer bond not only with their patients but with owners as well. It may look as if technicians are simply cuddling animals and giving them lots of treats, but there’s more going on beneath the surface.

“To us, we are performing a better exam and getting samples, but to the owners they see us taking the time to make sure their pet is comfortable and happy,” she says.

And that’s the real key to the success of Fear Free. When pets are less stressed, owners are less stressed, too.

“Owners come in worried about their pets,” says Nicole Ballreich, a Fear Free certified LVT at Westarbor Animal Hospital. “When they see their pets eating food and purring or licking us, they laugh and feel better about the visit. This keeps them coming back.”

Most important, Ballreich says, when patients are happy and less stressed, veterinary technicians are less stressed. That allows them to provide more care and better care.

“It is making a huge difference in how we run our practice.”

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An Open Letter to Our Clients on Their Hardest Day https://fearfreepets.com/open-letter-clients-hardest-day/ Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:35:22 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=171016 The loss of our furry family companion is devastating, and often the loss can leave us in a fog of emotion. We seldom stop and think about the veterinarians that do that work every day. Veterinarian Dr. Liz Bales explains the memories that live on outside of the exam room.

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The loss of our furry family companion is devastating, and often the loss can leave us in a fog of emotion. We seldom stop and think about the veterinarians that do that work every day. Veterinarian Dr. Liz Bales explains the memories that live on outside of the exam room.

By Liz Bales, VMD

I want you to know that we remember you.

For those of you who have made the difficult decision to put your beloved pet to sleep, you know it is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Maybe you are alone, holding your cat for the last goodbye. Maybe your whole family is gathered, and you are comforting your kids as you all let go of your favorite dog. No matter the circumstance, this is an unforgettable and deeply meaningful day for you.

I want you to know, it is deeply meaningful for us, too.

It is your moment. Our job is to support you and your family through this hardship and to perform what at times can be a technically difficult medical procedure. We deeply respect the sanctity of these moments. And it affects us.

We carry your moment with us when we have to go into the next exam room and cheerfully vaccinate a puppy. Your moment stays with us when we clock out and go home to make dinner and care for our families. Sometimes, your moment lingers in our hearts forever.

I just wanted you to know.

Tonight I was at my local farmers market with my family for dinner. My eight-year-old daughter loves dogs, maybe even more than I do, and was patting every one of them that wagged by with their humans enjoying the beautiful evening.

This parade of dogs led us to chatting with a couple nestled in to a table for two for dinner. After a few minutes of conversation, I said, “I believe we have met before. Only once.”

“We have?” the husband replied.

“Yes. I was your veterinarian at the clinic across the street.”

“Yes,” he said. “That’s right.  You put our sweet cat to sleep that night.  Wow. That was 12 years ago.”

“I did. I have thought of you often.”

“We had a severely disabled son. He died just a few days later,”  the wife said sadly.

“I remember,” I said softly. “You shared with me all that you were going through at the time. It was all impossibly hard. I have never forgotten you.”

And I never will.

Your vet won’t either. We remember you. We carry with us your love for your pet, your smiles at their purrs and wagging tails, and your grief when you say goodbye.

I just wanted you to know.

Liz Bales, VMD

Dr. Liz Bales, VMD, has been in practice for 17 years and has a special interest in the unique behavioral and wellness needs of cats. She is the founder of Doc and Phoebe’s Cat Company and the inventor of The Indoor Hunting Feeder for cats. Dr. Bales is featured as an expert in feline medicine for the 2017 series Natural Pets Tv – The Cat Edition, and in her Pet-X talk on the natural feeding behavior of cats. In print, Bales has contributed to Modern Cat Magazine, CatingtonPost.com and Cat Talk magazine, in addition to her own blog, TheCatvocate.com. Dr. Bales has been a guest speaker at The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and The University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

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Nail the Nail Trim With These Fear Free Training Tips https://fearfreepets.com/nail-nail-trim-fear-free-training-tips/ Wed, 04 Oct 2017 15:30:59 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=171026 Does your dog get upset and struggle when his or her nails are trimmed? You’re not alone. Nail trims are stressful for many dogs. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Learn Fear Free-friendly nail trim tips by checking out the following video featuring Fear Free Certified Professional and certified dog trainer Mikkel Becker for her insight on gaining a dog’s trust during nail trims.

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This is content restricted to Fear Free registered members.

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Temple Grandin’s Unique Voice is Helping To Create A More Fear Free Experience For Pets Visiting the Vet https://fearfreepets.com/temple-grandins-unique-voice-helping-create-fear-free-experience-pets-visiting-vet/ Sun, 01 Oct 2017 18:35:22 +0000 https://fearfreepets.com/?p=167543 Temple’s voice in the Fear Free Advisory Group continues to enhance the emotional wellbeing of animals, including companion pets in veterinary care.

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Temple’s voice in the Fear Free Advisory Group continues to enhance the emotional wellbeing of animals, including companion pets in veterinary care

By Mikkel Becker, CBCC-KA, KPA CTP, CDBC, CPDT-KA, CTC

Veterinarian and Fear Free founder Dr. Marty Becker was moved recently by a conversation with animal scientist and autism advocate Dr. Temple Grandin. Grandin, now a member of the Fear Free Advisory Group, shared insights for protecting the emotional lives of animals during veterinary healthcare.

Dr. Grandin, commonly known by her first name, Temple, has dedicated her life’s work and research toward practices that protect and enhance the emotional wellbeing of animals. Her research has led to improvements in handling and living environments for animals in food-production and slaughter, based on her belief that food animals should live minimally stressed and comfortable lives all the way to their final moments. Her efforts are well known for their positive effect on slaughterhouse design and processing.

Dr. Becker admired and followed Temple’s work for years. With the development of Fear Free, which had a mission that complemented Temple’s life work, it was a natural fit to invite her to join the Fear Free advisory board and partner in mutual efforts to advance animal wellbeing.

“Temple is the epitome of someone who combines both science and soul,” Dr. Becker says. “She has a gift for working with and understanding animals. It’s not just her gift; she’s an experienced researcher.”

Insights from a unique perspective

In particular, Temple emphasized two aspects of safeguarding emotional wellbeing during veterinary care.

“Temple said the number-one mistake we are doing as veterinary professionals is stripping familiar scents away from pets,” Dr. Becker says.

She explained that when a dog or cat goes to the vet, familiar scents are stripped away, replaced by scents that are offensive or threatening. To better help the pet, these new and frightening scents can be replaced with an aromatic environment that is both calming and familiar to the animal.

One way to make such a change is to bring familiar scents with the pet, such as a blanket, towel, or bathmat from home. Much like a child’s security blanket, the familiar scented resting space can move with the animal throughout care or during hospitalization.

Temple also recommended a toy called Scents of Security: a soft animal-shaped item with an inner pocket that can be stuffed with familiar objects. Dr. Becker now incorporates Scents of Security into puppy packages at North Idaho Animal Hospital where he practices.

“The second mistake made during veterinary care that Temple emphasized is that animals are kept off balance all the time. She said that when animals are off balance, they are uncomfortable; this goes for any animal, from horses and camelids to dogs and cats and, yes, humans.

Temple explained that the veterinary exam on the exam table is the worst possible scenario because the animal is off balance and doesn’t have secure footing. That’s a situation likely to cause an animal to panic.

“We naturally want to have our footing and to feel in balance. But for a pet on the exam table, it’s probably a lot like what we might feel like if we were elevated off the ground onto a slippery surface and were standing on roller skates,” says Dr. Becker.

Temple’s tips

One of the greatest takeaways from their discussion on keeping pets in balance is to incorporate nonslip surfaces into the veterinary care environment. Temple’s nonslip surface of choice is a bathmat.

“She likes those because they have a nonskid bottom, they’re soft on top, and they can be laundered,” says Dr. Becker.

Temple also addressed the importance of paying attention to nonverbal communication of animals.

“She highlighted the importance of people being in tune with the different signals animals send. She said that animals are constantly telling us through their body language when they feel calm, safe. and connected and when they’re in a state of fear, anxiety, and stress,” says Dr. Becker.

Temple ended the conversation by having Marty place the family dog, Quixote, up on the desk area in front of him to work through an exercise of keeping an animal in balance.

Similar to the way pets often react on the exam table, Quixote trembled slightly as he tried to stabilize himself on the slippery surface.

“Temple walked me through exercises I could do to help him keep calm in this situation he’d never before encountered—a veterinary exam on top of my desk,” said Dr. Becker.

Temple encouraged Marty to use long, stroking touches along Quixote’s neck and down his sides, keeping one hand in constant contact while doing so. At the same time, she encouraged him to avoid eye contact and to talk to Quixote in a calming voice. In little time, with Temple’s guidance, Quixote’s demeanor changed from one of alarm to happy relaxation.

“Temple’s like a supercomputer that’s analyzing data and processing all of these experiences she’s had with different animals as you talk with her. She talks with very thoughtful responses based on a big brain and a big heart. You can see, or hear, the stuff processing and her responses are a further realization of how deeply intuitive and thoughtful she is,” says Dr. Becker.

Having Temple’s ongoing voice in the Fear Free Advisory Group is a true gift to animals and to those who care for them.

Mikkel Becker, CBCC-KA, KPA CTP, CDBC, CPDT-KA, CTC

Mikkel Becker is a certified trainer and certified behavior consultant who specializes in training dogs and cats. Mikkel is the co-author of six books and has been the featured trainer on Vetstreet.com. In her professional work, Becker uses positive reinforcement and non-force based training strategies that are rooted in scientific learning theory. Mikkel is committed to helping pets and their people live better lives together through kind training and bond building methods that partner closely with the pet’s veterinary team.

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