Fear Free Products to Use in Your Practice


Laura Muller, LVT, nursing manager at Cherry Hill Animal Hospital in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, goes through some of the Fear Free products you can use in your veterinary practice.

Laura Muller, LVT, nursing manager at Cherry Hill Animal Hospital in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, goes through some of the Fear Free products you can use in your veterinary practice.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“Here are some of the things we use in the clinic. Obviously you have your treats—starting off with milkbones, then we can work our way up to really, really yummy things and high-value rewards. Pup-Peronis are great, squeeze cheese is awesome, and also peanut butter. I like to tell clients that choosy pups choose Jiff, and it makes it a little easier, breaks up some tension. So, if they’re afraid that their dog is fearful but they’re food motivated that really helps.

Adaptil, we love this stuff. It’s not snake oil, there’s science behind it, clients like it, the Adaptil collars are great, they stay on a pet for 30 days. What we do is we’ll spray the room about 5 to 10 minutes before a patient comes in. We’ll also let clients know that Adaptil collars are actually bandanas that we’ll make. If a pet’s nervous or it’s marked in their chart that they’re a little stressed or fearful, we’ll spray it on there before they come in and say, ‘Hey Mrs. Smith, this is for Riley. I know he gets worked up, but this is a little air-hug for him, something to take the edge off. It’s a dog pheromone.’ You don’t have to get into all the science behind it. Sometimes a lot of people are overwhelmed at their appointment, you’re talking about heartworm prevention, you’re talking about a lot of things, so I just tell clients that it’s like a little air-hug or lavender for babies. It helps take the edge off.

Rescue is a product that we really like and use in practice. A lot of clinics have used bleach in the past for their disinfection agent, which is fine, but we know that dogs have a really, really sensitive nose. If we get a headache when a bleach smell is overpowering, imagine a dog. Rescue is still an approved cleanser. It’s a disinfectant. It will take care of Parvo, it will take care of those things we want to protect our patients against, but it is low odor. Some people say it has a little bit of an almond scent, but you have these wipes, they’re great for just wiping down your stethoscope. How many times a day we ascult a patient and it has literally touched dogs, cats, healthy ones, sick ones, for a long time and we’re not cleaning it. So, the Rescue wipes are really nice. It also comes in a floor cleanser, so you can just mop the hospital with it.

Something else to think about: Not every dog is a candidate and appreciates it, but Marley our stuffed animal, which Bella will not eat, is wearing a Thundershirt. So, what this is, is it provides a little compression therapy. I always tell clients it’s just like getting an extra hug, that type of comfort and security is really assuring and some dogs really thrive on it. If they’re nervous and stressed out, they can have that extra hug in addition to those belly rubs to make them a little more comfortable in the clinic.

We have two more things. Using your towel to decrease that visual barrier. This is really helpful for dogs that are fearful when they see something approach. If they see the nail trimmers approach, and that’s scary, they’ve had negative reactions to them in the past, taking this and putting it over their head, letting the client know what’s going on, that helps a lot. Wrapping kitties up in a kitty burrito, that makes compliance a whole lot easier. You’re not wrangling a cat and they’re not seeing you coming. Cats and dogs are very visual creatures. Cats especially, they’re predators and they’re prey. Take that out of the situation, taking what’s going on visually really helps.

One more thing. They like treats, but some dogs really, really love toys. If you have a dog that’s really engaged by loud squeaky toys, you can do a lot with that. You can use that as a distraction techniques and f that’s what they’re about, that helps your process, that helps your exam. It also shows the client that you’re actually caring about what their pet likes. Pit bulls like to shake things and make them go squeak, but it really helps if they are engaged with it. Clients see that and clients want to see that.

These are just a few things that we use daily in practice, they’re not expensive, they’re easily taken care of in terms of cleaning and disinfecting, and clients like it when you give them something. For puppies, what we’ll do is give them little squeaky toys that cost about $1.50 each, we include that in their puppy pack and clients go crazy over them. Sometimes we still get pictures that it’s their favorite toy to play with because they’ve had it since they were a baby.”

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