End fearful visits to your veterinary practice


Coat yourself in pheromones and stuff your pockets with treats to make pets feel more comfortable.

Have you looked at your practice from a pet's point of view? When you rethink veterinary medicine from behind the eyes of the dogs and cats that come in the front door, you'll be changing the way you do business. I've been calling this "fear-free practice," and I believe it's a game-changer for pets, people and our profession.

If you change the way you and your staff handle pets from the second they come in the door, you can minimize their fear and stress. That will make pet owners happier and allow you to do what you do best: practice great veterinary medicine.

Fear-free practices are different from the get-go. Cats aren't left to stew in their carriers surrounded by dogs in the waiting area—they're swept straight into feline-friendly exam rooms. They're given time to adjust in their carriers. When they're handled, it's by professionals practically marinated in pheromones that give off a whiff of "kumbaya."

Dogs need this kind of handling too. Again, we're talking about relatively small changes in the physical design of your practice and changes in the handling skills of you and your technicians. Imagine how much better a terrified dog will be when he gets treats from you instead of what he sees as torment, and when you meet him where he feels most comfortable—on the floor.

Ready for a change? I hope so, because I truly believe fear-free practices are the future of our profession. Let's put fearless pets back in our exam rooms, with happier owners as a result.

Dr. Marty Becker is a practicing veterinarian, popular speaker and author of more than 22 top-selling books. He is the resident veterinarian on Good Morning America, a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show and the lead veterinary contributor to VetStreet.com.

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