Why have we chosen to be Fear Free?
Most pets brought to a veterinary clinic are anxious or fearful. Here is the scary reality of the veterinary profession: Despite our best efforts, 37 percent of dog owners and 58 percent of cat owners say their pets hate going to the veterinarian, according to the 2014 Bayer Veterinary Healthcare Usage Study.
Dr. Connolly says that when patients are not stressed, they will:
- Have more accurate blood tests.
- Have more accurate temperature, pulse and respiration.
- Have more accurate physical exams.
- Require less sedation.
- Have less immune suppression.
What does Compass do differently in a effort to reduce stress on patients and be Fear Free?
Our efforts at Fear Free began early in the construction process. We had the entire HVAC system rebuilt and rezoned to better control odors, and to minimize blower noise. We elected to have a Central vacuum installed for more thorough cleaning, but we installed the motor unit outside of the clinic proper to control and limit noise.
We have separated our boarding cats from our boarding dogs to limit interspecies stress.
None of our cages or kennels face one another, to reduce visual stimulus. We installed double-action swing doors wherever possible to decrease door slams.
In the exam rooms, we installed flip-up tables. Dr. Connolly likes to examine many pets on the floor. "Most dogs aren't accustomed to being on tables. They're trained to stay off of tables and they feel more comfortable on the floor. If I can be at or below eye level to the dog, that makes them feel safer and I'm not challenging them."
Our staff is conscious of the need for quiet, calm voices; gentle, flowing movements; careful and quiet closing of cage and room doors. We speak gently to our patients, and allow them to approach us. We may join them in exploring the exam room. Cats are permitted to remain in their carriers if they are happy there.
Many dogs are delighted to be examined on the floor rather than the table. A thorough physical exam can be done while petting and loving up a pet, with no need to hold the pet still.
Every pet is unique and has a unique personality. Dr. Connolly has a special gift at reading your pet's body language: "I don't approach them at all, I let them approach me. If they're really terrified, I turn my back on them and sit down. I let them check me out. I like to examine pets from behind, so I'm not blocking their instinctive path of escape. I like to have the owner there. If they stay calm and relaxed, their pet will stay calm and relaxed. Sometimes, I examine the pet in the owner's lap."
We use pheromones such as Feliway and Adaptil to help cats and dogs relax. We have chosen to use the Ultra line of vaccines in cats when possible because of the smaller volume of vaccine; and for dogs we chose the oral vaccination against Bordetella – no needles needed! Our Veterinarians and Technicians use one needle to draw up a vaccine, then they use a fresh needle for administration. The needle used to draw up a vaccine can become dull after penetrating the rubber stopper on the vaccine vial. To make the injection of the vaccine more comfortable on your pet, we mount a fresh needle on the syringe before vaccine administration. Yes, we're that meticulous about patient comfort.
We invested in the Sedecal VetRay DX-V, the fastest and most advanced digital x-ray machine on the market. The DX-V gives us unparallelled image quality in SIX SECONDS! The ultra-smooth acting, four-way float top table allows our technicians to quickly reposition the machine rather than your pet. The enhanced image quality means that Dr Connolly may need fewer views to make a diagnosis. Fewer views mean less potential stress on your pet.
In the lab, we chose Heska blood analyzers. Heska technology allows the smallest sample size in the industry, about four drops. Most of our in-house results are available in under ten minutes. The smaller blood draw is much more comfortable on your pet, the faster result means less wait time in the clinic.
Our pet scale was installed level with the floor, with a non-skid surface, so pets don't have to step up onto an unfamiliar and scary platform.
What can you do to help your pet have a great visit to Compass?
We love to have pets brought in hungry – we can give lots of treats! If not medically contra-indicated, try not to feed your pet for several hours prior to your visit. We try very hard to distract your pet, either with treats or petting, while vaccinations are given.
Plan frequent visits to our veterinary practice just for fun, especially if your pet is fearful. It’s best for you to visit during a quiet part of the day, such as mid-afternoons. Call our practice and check to see if it’s a good, relaxing time so your pet enjoys a calm experience and the veterinary team can focus on you and your pet. We schedule appointments so that we can minimize time in the waiting room.
Keep it fun. Plan your practice visits in low- stress situations before your pet needs care by visiting our parking lot, lobby and exam room so they’re familiar places. Use play and trick training to make the experience full of pleasurable activities. Your pet will learn to associate good things with the veterinary hospital. Rather than being afraid, they learn to relax.
If you have a truly anxious pet, and we cannot accomplish what we need to, we offer sedation. We do not want to overpower your pet. We want to help your pet be happy and relaxed at Compass Veterinary Clinic.
Talk to us. We’re here to help. Our veterinary team looks forward to working with you to create a better visit with your dog or cat. If you need extra help to prepare for a visit, please call us and we can offer guidance to make visits relaxing and fun.
For those whose pets are truly terrified at the veterinary clinic, we can send home anti-anxiety medication to be given before the visit.
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