What is Fear Free?
“Fear Free” was founded by Dr Marty Becker, an American Veterinary Surgeon, who has dedicated his life to working toward better health for pets. The Fear Free approach to animal handling and treatment works to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets. Amongst many other achievements, Dr Becker has written 23 books and lectured at every veterinary school in the United States. He is a passionate advocate for the human-animal bond.
At Carmels Veterinary Centre, the whole team are committed to providing a Fear Free environment for your pets. We are “taking the pet out of petrified.” We have a Certified Fear Free Practitioner who works at our Pennfields site and we work together to ensure that Fear Free practices and protocols are followed by all of our team members at both our Pennfields an Fallings Park practice.
Our Fear Free approach helps to reduce fear, anxiety and stress that may be experienced by your pet before, during and after their visit to our practice. As an owner, there are many things that you can do at home to create a happy and fear free environment. The link below takes you to the owner Fear Free web page:
We feel that Fear Free is vital for your pets care as it involves treating the whole animal and recognising we can do so much more if we take a little more time and build a trusting relationship with you and your pet. Seeing a pet exhibiting fear, anxiety and stress is upsetting for everyone involved. The last thing our team want to see is a pet or owner in distress, so by taking our time to build trust and create positive emotions, the experience becomes a much more positive one.
How Does Fear Free work?
Our team are trained to recognise signs of fear, anxiety and stress. We have implemented techniques to alleviate these emotions by changing our interactions and approach to treatment and handling. For example offering treats and using appropriate and considered medication in response to your pet’s signals.
Our aim is to prevent stress and to provide a positive experience for your pet. It is vital never to push an animal to the point where aggression is their only option to communicate “no you are not listening I am scared”.
It may mean that examination and treatment may take a little longer initially. However, as we build a positive relationship with your pet the time needed reduces, as rather than working to reduce negative emotions; we are starting from a positive emotional state.
It may also mean that we ask you to take medication away and to come back another day. This avoids unnecessary stress and creating fear. By adopting this approach, your pet is able to receive the necessary examinations and treatment, hopefully in one visit and associate the experience with a positive emotion. The aim is that eventually, the medication that helps calm and reduce the negative emotions is not needed and vet visits will become a pleasant experience rather than a stressful event for all involved.
Here are some example of our “Fear Free” practices:
- Both of our practices have been accredited the ISFM Silver Level Cat Friendly clinic.
- Separate Dog and Cat kennel areas.
- Hides for cats, rabbits and guinea pigs.
- Blankets with Pet Remedy are draped over carriers, hides and the front of kennels.
- Bandana’s sprayed with Pet Remedy may by used for dogs.
- “Plug ins”, Pet Remedy, Feliway and Adaptil in the kennel area, with Pet remedy in all consult rooms and clinical areas.
- We allow cats to come out of their carrier on their own or remove the lid and examine them in the bottom of the carrier, if they are too fearful to come out.
- We allow dogs to enter the consult room at their own pace with encouragement by using treats and fuss, rather than force.
- In our cat corner in reception, we have a cat tower that faces away from where other animals. The cats in their carriers can go into the tower, away from the floor, which cats prefer.
- We have blankets in reception for people to apply pet remedy to and place over carriers, over chairs to create a den for a dog or on the floor or seat for the dog to sit on.
- We are a no scruff practice, which means at no point will any of our staff use a scruff technique on a cat. This is due to “scruffing” resulting in negative emotions such as fear and anxiety.
- We use cat friendly and fear free handling techniques to suit the individual pet and adapt to their specific needs.
- We encourage owners to introduce muzzles to dogs using a considered and positive method. We often use dog safe peanut butter in muzzles to distract and create a positive emotion. as they enjoy the food and are distracted from the treatment they are receiving.