Do you have a pet that stresses out about a wellness exam or Vet visit? We’ve seen animals that urinate, defecate, tremble or whine in fear. Adrenaline and the instinctual fight or flight impulse release hormones that impact virtually every system in your pet’s body. Those sensory memories are powerful enough to trigger fear reactions each time a similar circumstance occurs. A visit to the vet, for example, can be a harrowing experience for a pet – but it doesn’t have to be that way.
At Union Lake Pet Services, we see that your pet’s fear is very real, so it is our goal to be a stress-free, fear-free practice. How do we establish – or re-frame – your pet’s experience at the vet?
We believe that the minute your pet’s paws hit our welcome mat, a calm and welcoming tone is integral to your pet’s vet experience. As a result, we:
Play pet-approved music that aims to relax and calm a worried pet. Studies have shown that certain types of music reduce barking and calm stressed pets.Offer a variety of toys and treats that stimulate your pet’s senses and create a lasting and positive associationEmploy the use of the fabulously effective feline hormone spray Feliway that reduces stress
Recognizing Your Pet’s Fear
A critical part of our job involves closely observing and assessing your pet’s behavior during a visit. We are trained to notice even the most subtle signs of discomfort or stress, and watch for these signs that your pet is experiencing fear:
- Licking the lips repeatedly
- Increased vigilance to stimuli
- Decreased eye contact
- Lowered head, ears, and eyes
- Noticeable whites of the eye in a dog
- Tail tucked
- Furrowed brow
- Anxiety-related pacing or salivating
- Dilated pupils
- Blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate spikes
At times, an animal freezes up in response to something they perceive as fearful, such as a nail trim or blood draw. By moving slowly, gently, and deliberately, we help to soothe fearful reactions. Our gentle plying typically results in future acceptance of routine procedures.
Behavior Modification to Overcome Your Pet’s Fear
ULVH now offers animal husbandry appointments where specially-trained staff work with pets individually on whatever they fear (nail trim, exam) to help them get past that fear.
The ULVH Rehabilitation Team is completing their collective education through the FitPAWS Master Trainer Certification. One element of this science-based program is behavior modification training using force-free techniques and positive reinforcement to encourage behavioral changes. Our team can use this to mitigate some of the fight or flight instincts we commonly see in dogs who fear a visit to our practice.
A Big Deal
Our awareness of your pet’s fear – and our specialized response to him or her – guide how we continue to work on providing a stress-free, fear-free practice. Please let us know what you think, and never hesitate to call with questions or concerns.