Taking the “Pet” out of Petrified
By Dr. Melanie McCoury, DVM
Last article I wrote about Feline Friendly certification and am proud to say that Wilderness Animal Hospital has achieved Gold certification. I’m now very excited to say we are taking the next step to decrease fear and anxiety for our patients and their owners. We are so excited to be part of the Fear FreeSM initiative in veterinary medicine. After attending a couple days of training for Fear FreeSM initiative at a meeting in Florida, my office manager and I returned so impressed with the program, we signed up all our veterinarians and technicians for the training. As each person finishes the training, the change is amazing to see.
To be honest, before I went to the training I thought, “I’ve been doing this almost 30 years, and we do a pretty good job with difficult patients, many people bring their animals here because of our reputation for being able to handle the more difficult pets.” But I have to tell you, the training has opened my eyes to a completely different way of practicing, interacting with our patients and as every employee finishes the training, they feel the same way.
Developed by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, the Fear FreeSM initiative aims to “take the ‘pet’ out of ‘petrified’” and get pets back for veterinary visits by promoting considerate approach and gentle control techniques used in calming environments. Utilization of Fear Free methods and protocols leads to reduction or removal of anxiety triggers, which creates an experience that is rewarding and safer for all involved including pets, their owners, and veterinary health care teams. Learn more at www.fearfreepets.com.
So what does that mean to you and your pets? The short answer is happier visits for you and your pets. The added benefit is it makes it a lot more fun to work at the animal hospital. We now get to spend our days giving treats and playing with our patients. The one down side I have come across is I’m constantly finding gooey dog and cat treats in the wash I forgot to remove from my pockets.
One topic that was brought up at the meeting was the risks associated with using retractable leashes. Now I never have liked them because I can never seem to work the locking mechanism and keep the pet close to me, so I have never used one. Dr. Becker wrote an article, “Why I Don’t Recommend Retractable Leashes.” We have a link to the article on our Facebook page. In the article Dr. Becker gives 10 reasons not to use retractable leashes, some I never even thought about. Obvious reasons are related to the distance the dog is from the owner and difficulty controlling any risky situations. The long cords can cause injuries to the pets and people, as serious as amputation of a body part if the cord is wrapped around it. The handle is big and if dropped can scare a pet from the noise of it dragging and cause the pet to run to get away from the handle. If a dog runs full out to the end of the leash, it can injure itself and the human attached to the other end of the leash from the impact of hitting the end of the leash with force. It’s a good article and if you do use a retractable leash, it is certainly food for thought.