4 food-free Fear-Free veterinary tips


Use these quick low-stress tips for pets who arent food motivated.

Maybe they're picky. Maybe they're scared. Maybe they just aren't hungry. There are lots of reasons pets might turn their noses up at treat offerings. But that doesn't mean that needs to be the end of your fight to be Fear-Free. Consider these four fast fixes to reduce pets' stress. 

1. Try catnip 

Many kitties are calmed and relaxed by the substance, and it's also possible to invigorate the cat to come closer. For example, you can spray it on objects or stuff it inside of toys. Just make sure to check with pet owners first to see whether their kitties enjoy the substance. You'll probably want to avoid catnip if cats are uninterested or for those who become agitated or experience an overly excited response that interferes with your efforts to offer care.


2. Consider natural supplements

Two products that may work for both cats and dogs are Zylkene, a milk byproduct, and Anxitane, containing L-Theanine, an amino acid naturally found in green tea leaves.

You may also try pheromone products in the exam room using dispensers or spritzed on key areas like the animal's crate or a towel placed on the exam table to invite relaxation.


3. Brush it out

Some pets respond to gentle brushing during a veterinary visit. Opt for gentle brushes over harsher brushes. Looking for gentle brushes? Two examples are the Calming Genie and Kong Zoom Groom. A bonus: it also helps remove excess fur.


4. Walk it out

Moving around is both a reward and a way to keep animals relaxed. In my experience, this is the least used but one of the most powerful motivators for animals, especially dogs.

After an event that's potentially stressful, releasing the pet to move or sniff allows a release of tension and a way for pets to calm themselves. It can also be a useful reward to engage pets in types of play, such as playfully following after a moving toy or moving with a person to jog or sniff an exciting area. Many dogs who are too stressed initially to take treats often begin relishing food rewards when this movement game is incorporated. Just as with other rewards, releasing pets after they present a calm, reward-worthy behavior is ideal to reinforce the calm.


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