If your pet tends to get anxious or stressed when it’s time to visit the vet, training class or similar setting, you’re not alone. Experts have identified a need to address this, thus creating the specialization of Fear Free pet care.
Dr. Stephanie Waters-Lemma, veterinarian at East Bay Veterinary Hospital in Merrick, is currently a Level 3 Fear Free Veterinarian specializing in decreasing patient’s fear, anxiety, and stress in the hospital and at home, while strengthening the human-animal bond.
“By integrating my Fear Free Certification into my everyday work as a veterinarian, I actively try to make pet appointments as low stress and happy as possible to create a better experience for that animal in the future” says Waters-Lemma. The goal is to share techniques and ideas with pet owners in order to provide high quality veterinary care with a happy and safe veterinary experience.
Fear Free techniques can include the use of separate waiting areas away from other patients and unsettling noises, use of white noise or soft music to set the tone for a soothing atmosphere, and providing treats to create a positive association and distraction. Examinations may be conducted on the floor at your pet’s level, on your lap, or in the pet’s carrier if that’s where they feel more comfortable.
For veterinarians, the benefits of Fear Free care are clear. The ability to give a pet a vaccination or draw blood with very little physical handling due to the distraction of food in a comfortable position makes for a happy pet and successful future examinations. And pet owners who may have been previously anxious or nervous to make an appointment now feel confident knowing their visit will be a success.
Dr. Waters-Lemma explains that all of her appointments involve Fear Free techniques and ideas. “I’m also able to provide extended veterinary appointments for pets with severe separation, anxiety, generalized anxiety, and aggression. This allows time to discuss a pet’s mental health and come up with a behavior plan to keep him/her more comfortable on a daily basis”.