Happy visits are completely free and low stress appointments. We move at the pets pace and a ton of treats are given. There is no pressure for the pet because there is no expectations, this decreases fear, anxiety, and stress.
Ziggy came in a few days before his vaccine appointment for a happy visit. We did this to hopefully decrease anxiety and fear during his appointment. Ziggy is an anxious boy and he is pretty suspicious of fast movements. A happy visit was the perfect thing for him because it was low stress and the veterinary staff didn’t ask anything of him. His owner came with treats although Ziggy only wanted OUR treats. I put down a yoga mat so the floor was not as slippery. Ziggy went into both of our exam rooms and he decided he liked the cat room better! He even went on the scale so he didn’t have to get weighed on the vaccine day. This allowed Ziggy to go straight into the cat room on the vaccine day. Ziggy needed to get his Bordetella vaccine which goes up his nostril. During the happy visit, I was able to put my finger near his nostril simulating the syringe. He did great!
Happy visits are great for anxious pets because it lets them get comfortable with the surroundings. If the pet is too stressed to even come inside then there are supplements that can help take the edge off. Composure Pro is a chew that helps with anxiety and calming but does not sedate. It works within 30 minutes of giving and the recommended dose can be doubled in times of high anxiety or stress. This is a great supplement that owners can give their cats or dogs for veterinary appointments, car rides, when company is over, or before thunderstorms.
Jasper also came in for a happy visit. His reason was different than Ziggys. Jasper’s owners thought it would be a good idea to introduce him to the staff now as he is a new addition to their family. Jasper is all up to date on his vaccines, dewormer, and he is already neutered so we might not see Jasper for another year until his vaccines are due. That is a long time so it’s good that his owners wanted to bring him in so we could meet him.
Happy visits are completely free and it helps the pet associate our clinic and staff with a positive experience.
Keeping your pet's nails trimmed is part of their regular care and grooming. Many pets don't like this task but because it is necessary, we have to get it done. If your pet has a hard time with nail trims, give some of these techniques a try.
Pairing a neutral stimulus (nail trimmers) with an unconditioned stimulus (treats) will eventually produce a conditioned stimulus (nail trimmers) causing a conditioned response (happiness and excitement).
Is a way for pets to consent and let us know they would like to participate. It is taught using positive reinforcement. The pet can ALWAYS leave. Treats are often tossed off the station (yoga mat) throughout sessions to ensure the pet chooses to come back. Tricks are not taught on the mat because the mat is used so the pet associates it with treats. Eventually they will also associate you getting the nail clippers and preforming the task with a good quality treat.
This is a visual guide on where to cut your pet’s nails to help you out.
Here is a great video demonstrating how to make trimming nails a positive experience.
Here are some nail trimming tips.
It may take some time to get your pet conditioned to getting their paws touched and their nails trimmed. Here at the clinic we try our best to use a Fear Free approach and give plenty of treats along the way. We also have started a nail trim reward card, get five nail trims and get the sixth one free!
Freya came in to get her DAPP vaccine, which is the core vaccine for dogs, and her Rabies vaccine. Before Dr. Melissa sees Freya, the RVT does an initial exam. This consists of getting a heart rate, a respiratory rate, and a temperature via ear thermometer. This video is representing a Fear Free initial examination. Freya is on the ground during the exam because dogs feel more comfortable on the ground rather than on the exam table. Generally, owners don't allow their dogs on the table at home, so it is very unnatural for them to be placed on ours. You can see in the video that I get Freya to smell the thermometer and stethoscope before I use them. This allows her to see it’s not dangerous and there’s nothing to be afraid of. She is too busy eating the delicious treats that Christie is continuously feeding her! We love giving cats and dogs treats during their visits and we even have hypoallergenic ones.
Because Freya is still small she goes on the exam table with a towel underneath for some traction. We don’t put large or extra large dogs on the table, but medium and small dogs and cats go on the table so the veterinarian can examine and vaccinate the animal easier and more efficiently. Dr. Melissa comes in and does a full physical exam on Freya and if there are no concerns we proceed with the vaccinations. Our clinic has now switched to using a non slip mat instead of the towels because we find the towels are still pretty slippery for the animals. The thing Freya was most upset about during her vaccinations was that I wasn’t able to feed her the treats fast enough!
We try to take a Fear Free approach to all appointments and we currently have three staff members with their Fear Free Certification.
Treat dispensing toys are great for extra enrichment for cats and dogs. The pictured toys are filled with frozen, mashed banana, dog food, and then sealed with peanut butter. Our dogs love them!
The great thing about these treat toys is they can be filled with many different things like spray cheese, frozen vegetables, and liver paste, just to mention a few. Some pet owners will bring their own treat dispensing toys to their appointment for vaccines or nail trims. This is a great way to distract the animal for the procedures being done.
Apple Pie Toy Filling Recipe
• 1 apple (cored and diced)
• Cornstarch to thicken
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1/3 cup apple juice
Combine ingredients and heat in microwave or on stove top until liquid is gone. Then stuff the toy.
If your pet is overweight you can put their regular kibble in a treat ball to encourage more activity to get the food out. There are also treat mazes and puzzles to occupy your cat or dog.
These enrichment toys are great for dogs that are kennelled or when you’re not around. This is helpful for preventing or dealing with separation anxiety.
Any other year, owners would be able to be with their pets when they come in to the veterinary clinic but Covid has changed that. I realize it might be hard to not be there when your puppy or kitten gets their first vaccines, although I want to assure you that our staff is taking excellent care of your pets. Our clinic has a good understanding of Fear Free and we use that knowledge to make your pet feel comfortable even when their owner is not present.
When your pet comes in we offer many treats and have a variety for them to choose from. We even have treats for dogs with allergies!
We put a towel on our exam table to make the surface less slippery for your pet. If your cat comes in a carrier that is top loading or the top easily comes off we can even do a full physical examination with them laying in the bottom of their carrier where they feel less nervous. We give lots of pets and belly rubs as well.
It is important to us to make sure your pet is treated like part of the family because we know they are an important part of yours.
Fear Free is a certificate program that teaches the participants to recognize the signs of fear and anxiety in animals and how to make them more at ease to create a positive experience out of something that could potentially be frightening.
I would like to share with you some tips that I have found helpful.
Join me in learning a few tips about being the best owner that you possibly can be.