Fear Free Certification—5 Benefits for Your Pet

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Your pet’s happiness and health are codependent, and if your pet is stressed, they are predisposed to injury and illness. Neighborhood Vets Mobile Care offers Fear Free housecalls, and we would like to explain how this service benefits your pet.

#1: Our Fear Free approach reduces your pet’s fear, anxiety, and stress

When your pet is stressed, the increased adrenaline and cortisol levels in their bloodstream can skew diagnostic tests, and lead to significant health issues, including:

  • Inappetence — Stress leads to a decreased appetite, which is especially harmful for pets who are already medically compromised. 
  • Obsessive habits — Stressed pets can start excessively chewing objects, such as toys, doors, or window sills, and also obsessively licking themselves, causing injury.
  • Weakened immune system — The increased cortisol in a stressed pet’s bloodstream decreases a pet’s ability to fight off infection, and slows down their healing ability.
  • Diarrhea — The increased adrenaline in a stressed pet’s bloodstream causes a decrease in blood flow to the stomach and intestines, which can result in diarrhea.
  • Behavioral problems — Stressed pets are more likely to become aggressive if they feel trapped in a situation.
  • Urination issues — Stressed pets may relieve themselves in response to fear, and stressed cats may stop using their litter box, opting instead for less appropriate areas in your home.

#2: Our Fear Free facilities provide a calming environment for your pet

Neighborhood Vets Mobile Care comes right to your door, so your pet doesn’t have to take a long, scary car ride to get to a funny smelling, unfamiliar location. This service also prevents your pet from interacting with other pets who could scare them, or carry infectious diseases. We park our van, which is equipped with a full service clinic, in your driveway. We tailor the experience to your pet’s needs, meeting them on their level to keep them as calm as possible. When approaching your pet, we move slowly, and speak in soothing, gentle tones. We never pressure your pet. We want to ensure their experience is as nice and comfortable as possible, so they will be happy to see our van pull up for their next visit. 

#3: Our Fear Free team recognizes your pet’s emotions

We have been trained to read your pet’s body language, so we know when they are experiencing fear, anxiety, or stress (FAS), and when your pet needs us to slow down, or give them more space when we are performing a procedure. Your pet’s emotions can be scored using a Fear Free scoring system:

  • FAS 0 — Your pet is relaxed. At this level, they feel comfortable enough to sleep. If awake, their ears are neutral, eyes and brow are soft, and their mouth is closed. Their pupils are dilated normally, and they may offer a friendly greeting.
  • FAS 1 — Your pet is interested but not anxious. They are paying attention, but not intently staring. Their tail is up, and their mouth is closed. Their pupils are slightly dilated.
  • FAS 2 — Your pet is mildly anxious. They avoid eye contact, and their tail is down. Their ears are partly back or to the side, and they have partial pupil dilation. Dogs may begin to pant slightly. 
  • FAS 3 — Your pet is moderately anxious. They will start to turn their head away, and may be hesitant to interact. They may refuse treats, or take them quickly. Cats may start to twitch the tip of their tail.
  • FAS 4 — Your pet is extremely anxious. They are actively trying to escape, or they become immobile. Dogs will have a tucked tail, and cats will have a bushed out tail.
  • FAS 5 — Your pet is severely stressed and aggressive. Their pupils are fully dilated, and their hair will be up on their back. Dogs will growl, showing their front teeth, and cats will hiss and swat.

#4: Our Fear Free Happy Visits help your pet see veterinary visits are fun

You can schedule a Happy Visit when your pet does not need medical attention, so we can get to know your pet, allowing them to enjoy our attention without being examined or injected. We will offer treats, belly rubs, and chin scratches, so your pet will associate our presence with fun, happy times. 

#5: Our Fear Free Victory Visits make veterinary care less stressful for your pet

We use desensitization and counterconditioning techniques during our Victory Visits, to help your pet learn to participate in their veterinary care. These visits are great for pets who scored an FAS 2 or higher, to help them adjust to procedures, and lower their stress levels. We listen to your pet’s cues, and proceed at their pace. We use treats liberally to persuade them to cooperate, and as a reward after they allow the procedure. Homework is often required to enforce the idea that certain procedures don’t have to be scary.

Fear Free service that comes to you is the best way to provide veterinary care for your pet, without causing them unnecessary emotional distress. If your pet finds the veterinary office a scary place, contact us to schedule an appointment, so we can calm their fears.