Can you imagine telling your dog, "Let's go to the vet!" and seeing her tail wag? How about getting out your cat's carrier and seeing him come running?
Local pet owners won't need to imagine that if they visit Family Pet Health in Murfreesboro. That's because Family Pet Health is part of a new initiative in veterinary medicine designed to ease the fear, anxiety and stress so many pets experience while at the veterinarian.
Known as Fear FreeSM, the training and certification program helps veterinarians and entire practices modify their procedures, handling and facilities to help pets feel safe and comfortable while receiving the medical care they need.
"We value the emotional health of our patients, not just their physical health," stated Dr. Amy Shirley, owner of Family Pet Health, PLLC. "‘Fear Free' is reorienting how we approach animals within veterinary medicine. The approach is better for the health of our patients and pet parents as well as the veterinarians and staff."
Dr. Shirley explained that fear can hinder the health and well-being of pets.
"Studies have shown that fear can have a negative effect on our pet's health," Shirley said. "So if they come to the clinic because they are sick, they may not recover as quickly with treatment or heal as well after surgery if they have any pain or fear from that visit."
Imagine the possible scene at a standard veterinary clinic.
Upon entering the door, the pet may be confronted with loud noises and strange smells. There might be other, strange pets in the waiting room who are anxious. The exam or procedures themselves may be uncomfortable or frightening. Your pet is having a traumatizing experience that will follow him through each visit to the vet.
So how then does a veterinary clinic create a "Fear Free" environment?
Dr. Shirley described her practice's approach.
"Anything that could be considered a negative experience like a needle poke or being weighed, we try to turn it into a positive through the use of positive reinforcements like treats and praise. We also use pheromones to invoke a calming, relaxing experience. Our rooms utilize sound control features with music playing to soothe anxieties. And all of our staff members are trained and certified in the utilization of best practices to meet the emotional needs of our patients."
In addition to having individual Fear Free Certified Professionals on staff, Fear Free Practice Certification requires a practice to meet 27 mandatory standards and earn a minimum of 1,070 points out of a possible 2,060 from another 28 standards. Some standards require as many as 9 action items to be met that cover how that staff must interact with pets positively.
Founded by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, the Fear Free training program was developed by board-certified veterinary behaviorists, veterinary technician behavior specialists, board-certified veterinary anesthetists, well-known veterinary practice management experts and board-certified veterinary practitioners experienced in Fear Free methods.
"Providing veterinarians and their staff with the tools they need to ease this burden of fear and anxiety for our patients is the pinnacle of my 37-year veterinary career," said Dr. Becker, who was dubbed "America's Veterinarian" by Dr. Oz and appeared on Good Morning America for 17 years. "Veterinary professionals are hungry for this information. Animals and their humans need and deserve it. And now it's here!"
Pet owners who would like their pets to experience the Fear Free difference can schedule an appointment by calling 615-907-8387.
About Family Pet Health, PLLC
Family Pet Health is located at 3307 Manchester Pike in Murfreesboro. The practice, owned by Dr. Amy Shirley and her husband Michael, is a small and exotics animal veterinary hospital. They provide a full range of veterinary services including exams and vaccinations, lab work and diagnostics, surgeries, referral services and overnight lodging. All of their staff members are Fear Free certified and have undergone extensive training on recognizing signs of fear, anxiety and stress in their patients. Learn more at www.familypethealth.com.
About Fear Free
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.