Why a Certified Fear Free Practice May Be Right for Your Pet

A cat sniffing a stethoscopeAs pet owners, we all know how important it is to bring our pets in for their regularly scheduled wellness exams, but finding the time and energy to get a fearful or anxious pet in for a check-up can be a daunting task. Because bringing and managing a scared animal at the vet’s office is so difficult, many pets end up missing out on wellness visits and other important care.

At Berkeley Veterinary Center, we believe all pets deserve access to regular, quality, and low-stress veterinary care. We are committed to providing a calm, stress-free environment for our patients, which is why we have taken the steps necessary to receive our Fear Free Certification!

What Is Fear Free Certification?

The Fear Free Initiative was developed by Marty Becker, DVM, after recognizing the need to address the emotional well-being of his patients, as well as their physical health. A panel of 160 veterinary and animal behavior experts have come together to design best practices and recommendations for handling and interacting with pets to help them feel more at ease while visiting the vet.

The Fear Free certification program is designed to teach veterinary professionals:

  • Gentle handling techniques
  • How to recognize the subtle signs of fear in pets
  • How to create positive environmental associations with the veterinary practice

Fear Free and Proud

We are proud to announce the completion of our Fear Free Certification here at Berkeley Veterinary Center. We are continually working to make our practice as comfortable as possible for our patients by implementing the Fear Free Initiative techniques, which include:

  • A soothing environment with positive sensory associations (treats and toys)
  • Designated quiet areas
  • Low-stress exam rooms (fewer anxiety triggers and more comfort)
  • The use of dog/cat-appeasing pheromones or calming medications as needed
  • Gentle use of stress-free restraint when necessary

The Benefits of Being Fear Free

According to a 2014 Bayer Veterinary Healthcare Usage study, 37 percent of dog owners and 58 percent of cat owners report that their pets fear going to the veterinarian. We vow to do our part to reduce this statistic, one pet at a time. Our awareness of your pet’s fear, and our highly specialized response to him or her, is the foundation of our continuing commitment to providing a fear-free practice.

Reducing Stress in Advance

Part of the Fear Free Initiative involves empowering our clients to get their pets to our office as calmly and safely as possible. You can help to alleviate your furry friend’s anxiety by:

  • Create a positive association with the carrier by leaving it out and open in a room where kitty spends a lot of time. Provide toys, treats, and meals in the carrier to increase your cat’s comfort level.
  • Acclimate your pet to car rides by taking him or her along for short drives around the block, and providing a yummy reward after. Slowly increase the duration of each trip, and make sure not every car ride ends in a visit to the vet’s office.
  • Try not to coddle or use “baby talk” with your pet, as this may increase stress for both of you.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet, please reach out to the staff at Berkeley Veterinary Center.

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