Pet Doctors of America Works to Give Patients a Fear-Free Veterinary Experience

by Jennifer Legrange, DvM

As a veterinarian, I’ve always been interested in behavioral medicine. Over the years as a general practice doctor, I noticed that many patients display fear, anxiety, and stress during their appointments or while boarding. While attending a veterinary conference earlier this year, I learned about the Fear Free Initiative, which is a training program for veterinarians and their staff that teaches low-stress handling techniques and ways to alleviate patient fear at the veterinary hospital. Upon completion of this training program, I was awarded the title of Fear Free Certified Professional. I was elated to learn that implementing these fear-free protocols throughout the clinic at Pet Doctors of America improved my patients’ veterinary experience and helped them get the care they needed without having to experience fear, anxiety, or stress!

The emotional well-being of your pet is such an important part of their overall health. Since invoking these new fear-free protocols at Pet Doctors of America, we’ve been able to truly make strides in making our patients’ visits actually pleasant for them! It all starts when you call to book your appointment. You’re asked about past veterinary experiences that may have caused your pet to be scared or nervous. By knowing more about your pet’s individual preferences, we’re better able to customize the veterinary visit to relieve angst. This may entail waiting in the comfort of your car with your pet prior to the appointment if he or she gets nervous in the lobby around other pets, or even having your dog examined outside if they become anxious upon entering the hospital! For pets that show excessive signs of stress during visits, one of our veterinarians may prescribe anti-anxiety medications or calming supplements to administer prior to the appointment to ensure a safer, more relaxed visit.

In addition to personalizing your pet’s veterinary experience, Pet Doctors of America has reevaluated how our hospitals are perceived by our patients. Because dogs and cats can be more sensitive to environmental stimuli than humans, our staff utilizes gentle control when working with patients which allows for the safe, comfortable administration of veterinary care. Our staff members bring the procedure to the pet in the examination room whenever possible, so that your pet can stay with you where he or she likely feels the most relaxed. We create a calming environment in our examination rooms, treatment areas, and boarding facilities by playing classical music, using species-specific pheromone diffusers and aromatherapy, and we minimize frightening stimuli to promote relaxation. Cozy hiding spots are provided in examination rooms and boarding facilities for our feline patients, non-slip surface options are available throughout the hospital, and water bowls are provided for all of our patients during appointments. Our patients are also offered a variety of yummy treats—if medically appropriate—during appointments to help condition a positive emotional response with our hospital.

I’d love to personally invite you to bring your pet in for a “happy pet” visit to ask us more about our Fear Free practices and how we can reduce your pet’s stress level during your next veterinary visit—we’d love to meet you! •

You can make your appointment at one of
Pet Doctors of America’s two locations:
14471 Beach Blvd., Jax (904) 223-5700
1103 3rd Street S., Jax Beach (904) 853-6223