In your pet’s mind, the vet is a place with an overwhelming amount of new smells, noises and people wanting to do very weird things! Kala is a 5 year old Labrador who felt a lot of anxiety at the vet. Her fear and anxiety was portrayed in her hunched body posture, constantly avoiding touch and eye contact with everyone except Mom, as well as pacing, panting and no interest in any of our yummy treats.
Each time Kala came to see us, we'd recognize her signs of fear, anxiety and stress, in turn we’d try a different supplement or medication. Some things worked a little bit, others not at all, because every patient reacts differently, just like people. Kala’s Mom just wanted her to have less stress and quality veterinary care, which is why she was so patient through the fear free process.
What really made the difference is one day Kala flat out told us that she had had enough! She knew where she was and refused to get out of the car. Choosing to listen to Kala, we decided it was best if she did not come into the hospital that day. Instead we talked about with Mom what had worked, what did not, and what we could try next.
Our goal for Kala was to complete a sedated dental procedure and get her caught up on wellness care. We scheduled this 2 weeks out and put a plan together. We made some changes in her Pre Visit Prescriptions and Mom agreed to start walking Kala around the shopping center to get her used to being in the area. Mom suggested maybe including their other dog on the walks for emotional support.
Kala, Mom and lil brother Wicket walked around the shopping center every chance they got. A nice brisk walk, especially with another dog who is more confident was just the thing Kala needed. A PAH team member even had a little visit with them on one of their walks. Kala felt comfortable and even gave her paw for a shake! On the day of her procedure, Mom made sure to give the medications as prescribed and called from the parking lot.
Since we planned ahead, we were able to walk Kala, Wicket and Mom through the back door of the hospital, since Kala had never used it before, straight into the exam room. A sedation injection was ready and given while Mom talked to her and made her feel safe. Mom stayed with her for the few minutes it took for the meds to settle in.
At this point Kala was out and unaware of the dental cleaning, vaccines, fecal, etc… that we were performing. She woke up in our kennel area surrounded by calming music and pheromones. At discharge, Kala was happy to leave, but her anxiety was definitely lessened.
There's still a lot of work to be done to really gain Kala’s confidence and have her actually enjoy her vet visits. But this was a win for us, for Mom and especially Kala.
This is why we strive to implement Fear Free practices. Happy pets equal healthy pets!
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