10500 Little Brier Creek Lane, Raleigh, NC 27617 | (919) 544-2226

What Is ‘Fear-Free’ Veterinary Medicine?

Pets just hate the vet. Right? Not necessarily! Many AHBC pets love us. That’s because when your pet speaks, we listen.

We practice fear-free veterinary medicine. That means we’re all about happy visits—creating a vet experience customized to your pet’s unique needs, personality, and temperament. We let pets be themselves. Then we try to make them happy!

Fear-free veterinary medicine is about making each pet’s visit with us as stress-free as possible. Did you know? Even one severely stressful visit can cause permanent psychological damage and lead to life-long anxiety at the vet. That’s why we’re committed to making each patient as calm and comfortable as we can. We always do whatever it takes to lessen anxiety and fear.

Treats, Toys, Love

We let kitties explore the room.

We have two exam rooms designated for cats. The feline vet visit begins when you and your cat are escorted into a cat room upon arrival. This helps your cat avoid frightening smells and noises, such as barking dogs or chatting humans.

In our cat rooms, special feline calming music is playing. A Feliway diffuser silently puffs out calming pheromones. We have sprayed the table towel—and ourselves—with Feliway. We will sprinkle catnip on the table and scale if your cat likes that. (Not all cats like catnip!) We keep a variety of treats and toys at hand to keep your cat occupied.

When assistants, vet nurses, and doctors enter the room to greet you and your cat, we talk in soft voices and act relaxed. We avoid staring at our feline patients, which can make them nervous. If we must look your kitty in the eye, we make sure to blink often.

We handle and care for your cat with expert, gentle attention. For especially stressed cats we prescribe calming medications for you to administer at home before your next AHBC visit.

Bernard prefers the bench.

We have two rooms designated for dogs. The AHBC visit for a canine patient is an entirely different experience. Most dogs prefer excitement and attention: lots of ear scratches, belly rubs, and talking. We act upbeat and speak in higher voices to convey enthusiasm and fun.

We keep a variety of delicious dog treats at hand: biscuits and peanut butter, freeze-dried liver, and cheese crackers!  Every dog’s palate is different. Feeding treats can work wonders to keep a dog distracted and happy. We also have rubber squeaky toys, disinfected between patients, for your dog to chew on.

Some of our canine patients are timid, shy, or scared. For them we always speak quietly and move slowly. We’ve can perform physical exams on the floor or in the pet parent’s lap—wherever the patient is most comfortable.We’re flexible! We’ve done visits in the play area. We’ve even done visits in the parking lot and the car. The very anxious canine patient is sent home with calming supplements or medications for you to administer before your next AHBC visit.

Your Pet Is Special

The most important things about practicing fear-free veterinary medicine are to recognize every dog and cat is different, to respect each patient’s needs and temperament, and to personalize each visit accordingly.

It is essential to read each pet’s demeanor. If your dog or cat is becoming stressed, we can slow down, take a break, or even stop completely. The point is to calm your pet in time to prevent the visit from ever becoming a bad experience.

We are fully committed to being fear-free. We’ve done visits in the lobby. We’ve done visits in the play area. We’ve even done visits in the parking lot, and in a pet parent’s car. Anything that helps, we’ll do.

We Know When to Stop

Gentle handling creates trust.

Sometimes fear-free medicine means ending the visit early.

We may want to perform a nail trim but elect to stop because your pet is too stressed that day. Some places force a nail trim by holding down a terrified patient. We know this is not the best course of action. Knowing when to stop prevents serious trauma.

While we do restrain pets—holding them in specific positions for physical exams, blood draws, nail trims, radiographs, and other procedures—we do not force them. We use proven restraining methods and only the exact amount of restraint necessary to keep the pet and the team safe.

If your pet is severely stressed, we can offer great advice on how to help your pet overcome vet anxiety.

The Meet-and-Greet Visit

We see a handful of severely stressed dogs. This is where the meet-and-greet visit can work wonders. The meet-and-greet is when you bring your dog to our hospital when nothing scary is happening—no exam, no vaccinations, no nail trim, nothing.

Amazing AHBC pet parents of severely anxious dogs often bring them in just to say hello. Pet and pet parent simply sit in the lobby, then walk around a bit. We chat, feed treats, and let your dog sniff out the place.

The meet-and-greet visit solidifies a good memory of a happy experience. After several happy experiences, dogs usually get used to our hospital and realize it isn’t such a scary place—AHBC is actually a place full of love and treats.

Fear-free veterinary medicine means we do everything we can to make your pet happy. Call us at (919) 544-2226 to learn more.