The Vet Space Journal
Fear Free in Veterinary Practice
Mairéad Leahy MVB MRCVS | Septmeber 4th September, 2020
Since discovering the world of fear free veterinary medicine, we have never looked back nor have our clients. Granted that we still have a long way to go to developing cemented fear free protocols, we have definitely started mixing the sand and water and are exploring it every day in Arra Vets.
Being a fear free practice mostly leads to happy contented and delighted clients, however on the odd occasion it can lead to grumpy and unhappy clients. Holding tough on our motto of not pushing pets too far along the scale of fear, anxiety and stress sometimes means telling people to go home without the non-urgent nail clip, waiting for another day to microchip the scared puppy or not grooming a petrified cat.
The job satisfaction you get from seeing a happy cat, kneading his Feliway infused blanket waking up happy and pain free from a neuter makes it all worthwhile. This is why I became a vet, to see happy purring cats feeling content and pain free. Making sure a cat is happy is simple, it’s not rocket science. Cats want to be in a separate area away from dogs and loud noises. Cats want warmth and gentle handling. They want to be high on pheromones and pain free. All these are easy to provide.
Dogs are a little more complicated, dogs remember past experiences a lot more than cats do. Dogs may already have a bad experience and its going to take a long time of treats and toys to win them over. Starting fear free at puppy consult is the best, pups love food and treats and taking that extra time to give lots of treats and distractions at the initial vaccine will help the vet relationship for life. Some dogs love treats, other love toys and some will sell their soul for a tennis ball! There is nothing that makes me happier than a dog bounding in on what we call social visits for a rub and a treat.
I am really looking forward to moving into our new premises designed around the fear free principles. Simple things we have done I’m hoping will help. We have a spot designed to bury our weighing scales to make it flush with the floor, hoping this will be less struggling with the dreaded weighing scales. We have kept waiting area minimal with more consult rooms so owners and pets can move directly into their room and no waiting and stress for pets. We have cats and dogs separated with a treatment area for each species so no mixing of stress pheromones between pets. We have placed extra sockets in all consult rooms and kennels so that we can have species specific pheromones available. I have designed one consult room directly leading into the surgery so anxious pets that need to be sedated with owners will be able to prepped and moved quickly. We have placed a lot of insulation to keep us warm but to keep noise levels down also. We have an outdoor courtyard ‘examination room’ for pets that prefer not going in. Very exciting and hoping that it will help us to continue providing a fear free experience for all our customers.
Mairead qualified from UCD and went straight into mixed practice work in Clare. She returned to her native Tipperary and now owns began working in Arra Veterinary Clinic. Mairead has a keen interest in small animal medicine and is currently doing a cert in this area. Mairead is also trained in veterinary acupuncture, is Fear Free Certified and is passionate about keeping all animals pain free.
Fear Free in Veterinary Practice further information here.