“Here kitty, kitty, kitty” you call out to your cat, Sassy, as she weasels her way as far under your bed as physically possible. “Come on, Sassy, it’s time to go to the vet.” After managing to scruff her into the pet carrier that you stored in the garage since her last visit to the vet over a year ago, you begin your drive to the clinic. She cries out long stressful meows once in the vehicle, so you poke your finger through the front of her kennel, trying to provide some comfort, but she continues to cry for the entire 30 minute drive into town.
In a 2014 study by Bayer Animal Health, they found that 58% of cat owners, and 37% of dog owners say their pet hates going to the vet- and up until now, who could blame them? A veterinary visit used to mean completely going outside of their comfort zone, whether it be motion sickness from the car ride, the scent of hundreds of different pets who had been in the reception area, or of course, the big man in the white coat that pokes them with needles. As an employee at a veterinary clinic, I found it very disheartening to see these fearful, anxious, and stressed pets walking through the front door, knowing that we were the cause. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, which is what lead Dr Marty Becker to develop the Fear Free initiative.
The Fear Free initiative involves reducing FAS (fear, anxiety, and stress) at home, in the vehicle, and in the exam room. By taking simple steps (ie: anti-nausea medication prior to the car ride, using species specific exam rooms, variety of food incentives, etc) we can help your pet have a fear free veterinary visit. Special calming chemical signals, known as pheromones, are also used and infused throughout the exam room. Only dogs and cats can smell these happy pheromones, and they assist in putting them in a relaxed state. In more severe cases of FAS, your veterinarian may recommend for your pet to be given a supplement or anxiolytic to help keep their visit Fear Free. The idea is not to sedate in terms of making your pet feel sleepy, but rather to calm them so that they no longer feel anxious or stressed.
As of September 2017 we are proud to announce that the staff of Selkirk Veterinary Hospital are officially Fear Free Certified. For more information on Fear Free veterinary visits, or how you can take steps at home to reduce FAS, visit www.fearfreehappyhomes.com or give us a call at 250 352 2999.