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

What Is Fear-Free Veterinary Medicine?

At Animal Hospital at Brier Creek we practice fear-free veterinary medicine. What does that mean?

Fear-free practice is about making each pet’s vet experience as stress-free as possible. Did you know even one stressful visit could cause permanent psychological damage? That’s why we’re committed to making each patient as calm and comfortable as we can.

Typhoon is always relaxed at AHBC. Not all cats are.

Customized Experiences for Cats and Dogs

Fear-free veterinary medicine at AHBC is customized to your pet’s unique needs, personality, and temperament. We cannot always make every dog or cat love us, but we always do whatever it takes to lessen anxiety and fear.

Toys, Treats, Love

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

We let kitties explore the room.

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.

Harley gets hugs.

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: from biscuits and kibbles to freeze-dried liver, peanut butter, cheese crackers, and even small pieces of hot dog! 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.

Bernard prefers the bench.

Some of our canine patients are timid, shy, or scared. For them we always speak quietly and move slowly. We can perform physical exams on the floor, or while your dog sits in your lap—wherever the patient is most comfortable. We’re flexible! The very anxious canine patient is sent home with calming supplements or medications for you to administer before your next AHBC visit.

The Meet and Greet

We see a handful of extremely stressed dogs. For them we recommend regular meet-and-greet visits. This 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 anxious dogs often come in just to say hello, sit on a bench in the lobby, chat with our team, walk around a bit, feed their fur babies treats, and let them 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 fun, a place full of love and treats.

Every pet has a unique personality!

Your Pet Is Special

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

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

We always know when to stop.

Knowing When to Stop

Sometimes fear-free medicine means ending the visit early.

We may want to perform a nail trim but elect to stop because the pet is too stressed that day. In the past, veterinarians would often force a nail trim by holding the terrified patient down. Over the years we have learned better ways to practice medicine. It is essential to know when to stop to prevent 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.

At AHBC, fear-free veterinary medicine means we do everything we can to keep your pet safe, happy, and healthy.