Fear Free Practice

Providing a Stress-Free Experience For Your Pet

Fear Free was founded by Dr. Marty Becker, and developed by hundreds of experts in behavior, veterinary medicine, and handling. Fear Free has become a transformative initiative in companion animal practices.

Their mission statement is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.

Fear Free Happy Homes is a great resource for YOU and YOUR PET: https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/

More information here: https://fearfreepets.com/


How do I get my cat to the vet?

The first step is choosing a suitable cat carrier. This includes making sure the cat carrier is big enough for the cat to move around. Hard or soft carriers are acceptable. Make sure it can be taken apart easily, and there are at least two openings.

Train your kitten to sleep in their carrier, so they become used to it. For adult cats, leave the open carrier out at all times on an elevated surface where the cat typically likes to rest. If your cat is already used to the carrier, leave it out 3-4 days before the appointment to become reacquainted.

To make the cat carrier more welcoming: spray pheromone (Feliway) or use the owner's scent on a blanket/towel for placement inside, put favorite things inside the cat carrier (treats, catnip, toys), feed your cat in or near the carrier.

For transporting your cat, we recommend you spray Feliway in carrier 15-30 mins before trip, cover the carrier with a towel/blanket for the ride, place familiar smelling or familiar objects in the car (ie. treats, catnip, toys). If you have two cats, we usually recommend bringing them in two separate carriers. Since, on the way home, they can be stressed from the visit, and they might fight with each other. We also recommend playing calm music on the way.

Pet owners should carry the carrier at their chest with a minimal motion to not upset the cat and to not be at eye level with dogs. Try not to hold the carrier by the handle, but instead as a steady to box. Also, if your cat travels better with a covering, please keep a blanket/towel over the cat carrier when entering the vet hospital.

If your cat still has an increased stress level during transport or owners cannot get their cat into the carrier, please call our hospital so we can further assist you. Sometimes cats need medication to help, or we may recommend a mobile veterinarian to come to your house as an alternative.

Returning home can sometimes be just as stressful if there are other cats in the household. We recommend isolating your cat until the sedative has completely worn off and then re-introduce him/her to the other cats. The owner can play with or give treats to other cats as a distraction and use a pheromone diffuser.

You can also visit https://www.centerforpetsafety.org for more information.

How do I get my dog to the vet?

We recommend the following: spraying pheromones (Adaptil calming spray) in the car, using a crate/travel harness if the dog is already trained to use it, providing non-slip mats in the carrier, playing soft music, and driving slowly. If your dog does well with a thunder shirt, then we recommend using it.

Please make sure your dog is on a fixed, length leash, so you are better in control. We also recommend leaving the prong or choke collars at home, so your dog does not associate us with any pain.

If your pet was given sedatives for the veterinary visit, we recommend keeping the dog isolated from other pets and children until they are completely awake. If other dogs in the household are aggressive to the dog that just came from the vet, we recommend taking them both on a short walk.

You can also visit https://www.centerforpetsafety.org for more information.

What if I have a dog/cat that doesn’t like going to the vet?

This is a common occurrence in our field, and we do not get offended :) It’s stressful going to the doctor! If your pet is known to have a stressful experience at the vet, then we recommend calling us ahead of time for us to prescribe anti-anxiety medication prior to the appointment. This will make the drive and their examination easier. We also recommend bringing your pet hungry so we can use treats for positive reinforcement.