VetNetwork Blog

Fear Free Veterinary Visits Increase Revenue

0 Comments Posted by Alyssa Noonan in General on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013.

If you think a commitment to “fear free” veterinary visits is just a passing trend, you are barking up the wrong tree. Not only are fear free visits effective and inexpensive, they are life-changing for pets and their owners – and that spells increased efficiency and revenue for veterinary practices.

“When I adopted Harley, I couldn’t wait for our veterinary visits,” said Angelina George, pet owner from San Jose, California. “The reality? Harley is such a trembling, panting wreck at those visits that I sweat just trying to contain him. Forget about asking questions. It seems counter-intuitive that a veterinary practice dedicated to his well-being stimulates every fear response he has. It’s so draining for me that I avoid basic appointments.”

Simple Actions Make Calmer Pets & Owners
Dr. Marty Becker, aka America’s Veterinarian – and 16-year veterinary contributor on Good Morning America, member of the Board of Directors of the American Humane Association & Chief Veterinary Correspondent, founding member of Core Team Oz for The Dr. Oz Show – is committed to fear free veterinary visits. He recommends that veterinarians fill their pockets with treats and consider a two-fold approach: client education and veterinary office changes.
Dog Traveling in Car
Client Education for Pet Owners
Many pet owners don’t realize that action at home can contribute to calmer veterinary visits. They will welcome your guidance along with the fact that a few easy shifts are all it takes:

  • Car Rides: For many pets, car rides symbolize a trip to the veterinarian, providing the optimal opportunity to work themselves into an irreversible state of panic. Adding some enjoyable car rides between veterinary visits will help animals arrive at appointments in a more relaxed state.
  • Pet Carrier Desensitization: Many pets also associate their carriers with veterinary visits. Clients should use pet carriers as cozy dog and cat retreats at home, thereby removing or preventing fearful associations.
  • Pheromones: Soothing pheromones, sprayed on pet carrier towels and cushions, help pets enjoy their environment (even en route to the veterinary hospital).
  • Hungry Pets: Encourage pet owners to bring hungry pets to veterinary appointments; this gives you the chance to share treats with your furry clients, while creating a rewarding association.
  • Pet Owner Relaxation: Pet owners should be mindful that when they are nervous, their pets become nervous. Spot not only picks up on his owner’s anxiety but interprets it as there really must be something to fear!

Proactive Changes Minimize Anxiety

Consider implementing easy changes that are sure to reap big rewards for your veterinary practice:

  • Use Pagers: A few pagers, located at the reception desk, will allow owners to conveniently take nervous cats or dogs for short walks while waiting.
  • Drop-in for Treats: Encourage clients to visit with pets between appointments for a treat, a little staff attention, and some valuable desensitization.
  • Play Soothing Animal Music (Through A Dog’s Ear, soundstrue.com): With specialized tone, tempo, and vibrations, this music – which sounds New Age to people – is clinically proven to reduce stress in animals.
  • Stop Overpowering Odors: Strong odors like Nolvasan aren’t particularly pet-friendly. Use soothing pheromones in all rooms.
  • Use ThunderShirts: With the calming effects of consistent, gentle pressure, many dogs and about 50% of cats will respond well to wearing a thundershirt while visiting their veterinarian. Consider lending them to pet owners for veterinary visits; this thoughtful act will calm pets and impress owners.
  • Lower Lights & Voices: Soft soothing tones and natural lighting aid in relaxation.
  • Exam Table Transformation: When possible, examine (small) scared animals in their owner’s laps; when using the exam table, cover with a warm towel.
  • Pet Massage Therapy: Offer pet massages during veterinary visits. You may find a long line of achy pooches at your door.

With practical, targeted changes, you can team up with pet owners and work toward fear free veterinary visits – raising spirits, animal well-being, client loyalty, and your bottom line.

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