Over the last few years, there has been a growing awareness in Veterinary Medicine of how adopting a few simple measures can have a very positive effect on our patient’s health and well being. The “Fear Free” movement focuses on making visits to the veterinarian as pleasant and low stress as possible for our four-legged friends. The benefits are impressive!
Here are some things we, the team at Sault Ste Marie Animal Clinic, are doing to make YOUR pet’s visit as pleasant, low stress and fear free as possible
1. None slip mats on exam tables – we are loving these new paw print mats that give your pet a comfortable, warm, grippy surface to stand on – yet are easy to disinfect between patients!
2. Calming Sprays – Pheromone sprays provide your pet with a calming message – spritzing the exam room or table with ‘Feliway’ (for cats) or ‘Adaptil’ (for dogs), can make a big difference for some pets.
3. Smorgasboard of delectable treats. While we don’t normally recommend ‘junk food’ for pets, we do pull out the ‘big guns’ such as squeeze cheese and other super tasty morsels to tempt your pet and distract them from what else is going on. We want your pet to think of us super treat dispensers so that they want to come back!
4. Training and becoming proficient in low stress handling techniques – when we do need to do something potentially unpleasant for your pet such as trimming their nails or drawing a blood sample, we distract them with treats, and we use the minimum restraint needed. For cats, using towels to wrap them up like a burrito is often a simple, safe, and well tolerated way to get done what we need to do. Some dogs may need to have a muzzle put on, but this can have a calming effect and again allows us to do what we need to quickly and safely for the pet as well as people.
Making Hospital Stays Better:
1. Spritzing all kennels with pheromone sprays gives your pet the message this is a safe, comfortable place to be.
2. Providing a variety of bedding options – for most cats and small dogs, we provide a soft comfy (freshly washed) bed or polyester fleece. For bigger dogs we provide a thick comfy fleece over a rubber mat that will keep them warm and dry. Some cats will prefer something they can hide out in like a paper bag while some pets prefer the ‘private room’ option – ie a blanket hung over the kennel door. We are constantly assessing the pet and making adjustments as needed.
3. Outdoor Bathroom Breaks. You can’t be comfortable if you need to go to the bathroom! We take dogs outside on our large property (lots of grass in the summer) and let them sniff around to find the perfect place to do their business.
What can YOU do to make YOUR pet’s visit less stressful?
1. Bring your pet to us hungry! Feed your pet half of their regular meal prior to their appointment – we want them hungry enough to be enthusiastic about treats but not so hungry they are stressed about it. For pets that are particularly finicky or have special dietary needs please bring along some of their favourite treats from home. This is for ‘well pet visits’ such as vaccines or general check ups – pets that are ill probably won’t want or shouldn’t have treats.
2. Give your dog a chance to go to the bathroom outside before coming into the clinic – it is hard to relax with a full bladder or bowel and the excitement of the visit can heighten the need to urinate or defecate.
3. Stop by with your dog for weigh ins or just to get a treat. If you are picking up food, medication, treats, why not bring them along?
4. For cats, try to acclimatize them to the carrier at home – click here for more info.
5. Ask us about medications – a single dose of Gabapentin given at home a couple of hours prior to leaving can make a world of difference for cats that get very stressed by car rides and vet visits.
In conclusion, our goal is to make your pet’s experience with us as pleasant as possible. We know how much you love your pet and understand that no one like to see their pet uncomfortable or afraid. A few simple steps can make a big difference – allowing us to better evaluate your pet and make the best decisions and recommendations regarding their care. Please feel free to call us at 705-759-8888 if you have any questions or concerns regarding your next visit – we look forward to seeing you and your pet!