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Fear Free

Fear Free is a set of training protocols for veterinary professionals, trainers, and pet owners to help pets overcome their fears, anxiety, and stress. Many of the veterinary professionals on our Aurora Veterinary Hospital team are Fear Free certified.

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Fear Free Certification

When veterinary professionals complete the Fear Free Certification process, they demonstrate their commitment to providing their four-legged patients with veterinary care that aims to reduce the fear, anxiety, and stress that often accompany a trip to the veterinarian.

Our Fear Free Certified team members have received extensive training in how to create a calm and welcoming environment for pets, as well as how to recognize when a pet is fearful or anxious and requires a gentler approach.

Fear Free Certified, Seattle Vet

Fear Free Techniques

Aurora Veterinary Hospital is committed to helping patients cope with stress, anxiety, and fear while providing the best medical care possible.

Offering treats, KONGS, mats, and hiding spaces, allowing cats to stay in their carriers or dogs to sit on their family's lap, pre-visit medications when needed, and modifications in our handling techniques are just a few of the small things we do to make your pet's visit at our hospital a positive one.

Our animal hospital was designed with larger Fear Free principles in mind, including separate cat and dog areas.

We believe that adhering to both large and small Fear Free principles makes our patient care more gentle and positive for both our patients and their owners.

We want you to know that you and your pet are important to us from the moment you walk through our doors!

As part of their commitment to providing excellent veterinary care, many of our employees have worked hard to become Fear Free certified.

How We Implement Fear Free

Many of our professionals at our veterinary clinic have been trained in Fear Free practices and philosophies; as a result, the basic principles of this approach are applied throughout the hospital and are prioritized second only to our patients' medical care.

Before and during each appointment, we work with our patients and their owners to complete the following steps:

  • Good Communication Between Pets & People

    To begin, we must first comprehend and recognize how pets communicate stress to us.

    These signals can range from a tense expression or dilated pupils to growling, hissing, or a tucked tail, to name a few.

    We also talk to the owner about the pet's known stressors, which can include sounds, smells, discomfort, disease processes, and new people.

    Understanding what stresses our canine and feline clients, as well as how they communicate that stress, allows us to better manage it during their visits.

    If there is something that causes fear, anxiety, or stress in the family, we ask them to speak up (FAS). We can assist you!

  • Planning Ahead

    A stress-free veterinary visit begins at home. Please let us know if your pet becomes anxious when visiting the veterinarian. Before the visit, we can make recommendations for things to do at home. There may be options to send supplements or medication home with you before your appointment to help with car sickness or reduce stress at the vet.

    If your pet becomes stressed when entering the lobby or meeting new people or animals, please let us know. You are welcome to wait in your car or our outside waiting area before entering the exam room. To assist you, we have several entrances.

    Please let us know whether your pet prefers male or female veterinarians.

    Cats and small to medium-sized dogs should be familiar with their carriers before using them. This can be accomplished by placing the carrier in a location in the house where the pet enjoys spending time. To help create a safe environment with familiar scents, drape a towel over the top of the carrier.

    Toys, soft, comfortable bedding, or a non-slip mat should be included in the carrier, which should also have a top-off option to make it more accessible.

    You can also spray cat or dog pheromones in the carrier or onto a bandana for larger dogs.

    Use an approved restraint device in the car when transporting a medium to large dog. By listening to soothing music or driving in silence and avoiding abrupt stops and starts, the trip to the veterinarian can be made as stress-free as possible.

    Bring your pet's favorite treats or toys to the visit.

  • A Calm, Quiet Environment

    At our veterinary clinic, we strive to maintain a calm, quiet, and positive environment.

    Separate cats and dogs as much as possible in the waiting area to help reduce your pet's stress. Cat carriers should be kept on a sturdy table or chair, not on the floor. To avoid interaction with other waiting pets, keep your dog leashed and close to your side.

    When you and your pet arrive, you will be greeted with warmth and friendliness. We want you to know how important you are to us.

    Because dogs and cats are often startled by loud noises and sudden movements, our veterinary team will remain calm, speak in low tones, and approach your pet slowly and carefully during the appointment.

  • Treats & Toys

    Rewards such as treats, toys, or petting/brushing can be used during an exam or when obtaining diagnostics to encourage a positive experience and reduce fear, stress, and anxiety during the visit, as long as it is not contraindicated based on why the pet is at the hospital.

    We have treats available throughout the hospital, but if your cat or dog is on a special diet, please bring their treats or food with you.

  • Sedation & Restraint Options

    Our employees have been trained in Low-Stress Handling techniques as well as a considerate attitude. As distractions, we use treats, petting, and toys. During procedures, families are permitted to accompany their pets (excluding sedation, anesthesia, X-rays, and while the hospital is closed). Families will be directed on how they can help with their pet's treatment so that the animal is less stressed and the staff and family are safe during the procedure.

    If the pet is stressed, we may need to reschedule the procedure. This allows us to send medications home with patients before performing procedures.

    If restraint is necessary during a procedure, our trained staff may use a towel wrap, muzzle, or Elizabethan collar to keep the patient safe and comfortable. A mild sedative may be prescribed to ensure that the procedure is carried out safely and with minimal stress to the patient.

    If you know your pet is anxious or stressed when visiting the veterinarian, the veterinarian may prescribe a mild sedative for you to administer to your pet at home before the appointment.

  • Fear Free Overnight Stays

    Our veterinary team has guidelines in place to minimize stress during overnight stays.

    We try to keep smells and loud noises to a minimum, and we use calming pheromone diffusers throughout the hospital.

    We also use soft music or white noise machines to drown out any unexpected noises. To make pets more comfortable, the lights are dimmed and soft bedding and hiding places are provided.

    If we need to move your pet around the hospital — for an exam, a procedure, or a walk outside — we do so slowly and calmly, so as not to disturb other patients. In the hospital, mild sedatives or anti-anxiety medications may be used to reduce stress during your stay.

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