Visitors to Fullwood Animal Hospital will notice some changes next time they visit. Before entering the lobby, customers are now greeted by a basket of soft towels for feline visitors and bright bandanas for canine visitors.
The towels are infused with Feliway, a synthetic version of the hormone cats give off to their kittens. Draping a towel over your cat’s carrier before entering the office can help lessen the animal’s fear, anxiety and stress. Likewise, the bandanas are infused with Adaptil, a comforting synthetic canine pheromone.
It’s all part of Fullwood Animal Hospital’s new initiative to become a Fear Free practice. “A lot of animals come in stressed, and that’s not good for us or for the pets either,” says Practice Manager Jamie Gawron. “Fear Free is just taking the pets’ emotional being in perspective along with the physical being. It’s helping them so they’re not so stressed, anxious or fearful at the vet.”
“Once we heard of the Fear Free way, we spoke with the staff, and everybody was definitely on board with getting certified,” continues Gawron. In order to become Fear Free Certified, each team member completed nine one-hour modules of specialized training. Fullwood Animal Hospital currently has thirteen Fear Free-Certified Professionals on staff and two more employees working on their Fear Free Certification.
Convinced of the importance of embracing the Fear Free way, Fullwood Animal Hospital didn’t want to stop at individual certification. As of May 23, Fullwood Animal Hospital became only the fourth practice in North Carolina and only one of four practices within a 100-mile radius to become Fear Free Certified.
Certified Practices like Fullwood Animal Hospital go above and beyond to successfully implement Fear Free into all aspects of their business, and Fullwood’s commitment to Fear Free is evident throughout the office. Relaxing classical music plays in all the exam rooms to calm pets and their human companions. The cat exam room has been completely transformed to be more kitty-friendly with a cat tree, places to hide, and toys to play with. Calming pheromone diffusers are plugged in throughout the office, and special cleaning products help prevent nose blindness.
To form positive associations with the vet’s office, Fullwood Animal Hospital supplies lots of high value treats! Dogs are treated to chewy milkbones and peanut butter while cats enjoy whipped cream, spray cheese and catnip.
Ultimately, a calm and happy pet is easier to treat and overall healthier than a stressed and anxious one. “If the animal’s stress level is very high, instead of holding them down and doing that nail trim or scruffing the cat and doing that exam, we’ll stop,” says Gawron. Animals this anxious are sent home with a comfort kit that includes anti-anxiety medicine and rescheduled.
The ultimate goal of the Fear Free method is to make your pet’s experience at the vet positive so they will be happy to go back. Fullwood Animal Hospital’s Fear Free Certification means that everyone at the practice is committed to working together to make your pet’s vet visit the best it can be.