Fear Free: Be the team that changes everything for pets
If a fearful pet could talk, what would he or she say? For Jonathan Bloom at Willowdale Animal Hospital in Toronto, it wasn’t that hard to figure out. “We create mental health problems [in pets],” he says. “If you need two 150-pound people to trim the nails on a 10-pound pet, that’s a problem.”
Bloom and his staff began experimenting with various techniques to give pets a less stressful experience, and they were buoyed by a receptive client response. “Pet owners may not be able to identify dental disease or obesity, but they are experts at identifying fear and anxiety in their pets,” he says. “Owners are on it. They are grateful for any effort made to help their pets.”
He finds the veterinarians harder to convince than the owners—at least at first. “Here’s the problem with training vets: They will spend a day learning the best insulin for the two diabetic pets they see a year. But five of the next 10 patients will be suffering fear and anxiety,” he says.
It took some time, but the other veterinarians at Willowdale also came on board. When they did, Bloom says, the wait was worth it. “It’s fun to watch them get it,” he says. “They go from skeptical to ‘That was sort of neat!’”
For veterinarians who are resistant to the idea of changing the pet experience, Bloom reminds them that pet fear and stress are one of the major factors keeping clients away from the hospital, and it’s one of the easiest to fix.
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