Here at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital, we strive to live up to our name by treating all our patients with kindness, compassion, and a gentle touch. We understand how nerve-wracking it can be for pets to visit a strange place with unusual sounds, smells, and sights, so we’ve undergone extensive training to overhaul typical veterinary care methods, to create a welcoming, calming environment for our patients. With low-stress handling techniques, species-specific exam rooms, and a soothing atmosphere, your beloved pet will feel more at ease and receive more comprehensive, effective care with minimal stress. 

When we offer such pet-friendly benefits, you may wonder why all veterinary hospitals don’t adhere to the same guidelines. But, achieving these goals is challenging, and not every practice is dedicated to putting in the time and effort to reach Fear Free certification. Our entire team is committed to providing nothing but the best for our furry patients and their families, and we’d love to show you the difference Fear Free veterinary care makes for your pet. Take a look at how these changes benefit your best friend. 

What is Fear Free certification?

We’ve been talking a lot about Fear Free certification and the changes our practice has undergone to reach that goal, but what exactly does Fear Free mean? A concept that has been rapidly gaining popularity among veterinary professionals and pet owners, Fear Free is a concept founded by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker. This initiative’s mission is to “prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets, by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.” We’ve wholeheartedly embraced this concept, and have learned how to create a low-stress environment for pets visiting our hospital. In-depth training on Fear Free practices has included:

  • Deciphering body language signals that indicate stress
  • Reacting in a way to promote relaxation
  • Learning low-stress handling techniques
  • Tips on preventing and alleviating anxiety and fear in pets during veterinary procedures
  • Promoting a calming hospital atmosphere

We’ve taken our low-stress, fear-free handling methods further by pursuing our Cat Friendly Practice certification. Cats are more likely than dogs to experience stress and anxiety in new places, and their sensitive nature can make thorough veterinary care challenging without calming methods. By investing time and resources into catering to our feline patients, we’ve experienced more success with smooth, comfortable exams, diagnostic testing, and treatments for our shy, scared patients. 

How does Fear Free certification benefit my pet?

If your furry pal has ever dissolved into a quivering mass of nerves when approached by a stranger or traveling to an unfamiliar place, Fear Free veterinary medicine is perfect for them. By learning stress and anxiety signs in your pet, you can accurately gauge the difference Fear Free handling makes. Have you noticed the following signs in your pet at a veterinary hospital?

  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • Pacing
  • Hyperactivity
  • Clinging or hiding
  • Urination or defecation
  • Refusal to take treats
  • Avoiding petting

Fear, anxiety, and stress can present in many subtle ways, so you may not always realize your pet is nervous. While growling and hissing are obvious indicators, we are also trained to detect the more hidden signs, such as heavy panting and drooling. When your pet is anxious, their vital signs are affected, increasing their heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and glucose level. We use these stats to determine your pet’s health status, but these fear responses can make differentiating between a medical issue or stress difficult. 

At a Fear Free practice, your pet’s vital signs will be as accurate as possible and not skewed  by fear and stress. Our team takes the following steps to ensure our patients’ comfort during their visit:

  • Stress-free handling techniques
  • Treats as rewards throughout the visit
  • Calming species-specific pheromone diffusers in exam rooms and kennel facilities
  • Species-specific calming music in exam rooms and kennel facilities
  • Medicinal and non-medicinal support for anxiety disorders
  • Behavior modification programs

In addition to the fear-free techniques we’ve implemented at our hospital, you can also work on calming your pet at home. Sign up for the Fear Free Happy Homes newsletter for tips on helping your furry pal find comfort and relaxation, despite stressful home situations, or register to become a full-fledged member.

What are you waiting for? Schedule a preventive visit to see the difference a Fear Free certified veterinary hospital can make in your best friend’s care.