Fear Free Blog

With Dr. Klotz

Welcome June!

welcome june

Welcome Spring!

Welcome February!

I probably should have started my Fear Free blogs with an explanation of what Fear Free is. I was just so excited about the new kitten I started with her. So, this month I want to talk to you about what Fear Free is.

Welcome to Fear Free – where veterinary health care professionals “Take the pet out of petrified” and “Put the treat into treatment!” and where pet owners are “Helping pets live happy, healthy, full lives”. This was taken from the website https://fearfreepets.com I invite everyone to visit this website to learn more. This is the program I earned my certification from. Donna, one of our licensed technicians, is also a Fear Free certified professional. There is even a pet owner section where you at home can learn tips and techniques to help your pet overcome fear and anxiety.

We started incorporating Fear Free into our practice about a year ago, and we are still working to make the hospital even better. Here are a few things that make a Fear Free veterinary visit.

1.) Did you notice the doctors have given up their white lab coats? Bright white can be startling to animals. Pastels are more soothing, so we now wear scrubs in neutral tones.

2.) At our hospital dogs and cats have separate waiting areas. Please let a receptionist know if you think your pet would be more comfortable waiting in a room by yourself, or even waiting in the car.

3.) We use pheromones. For cats the same Feliway I have been using at my house to soothe my cats, and for dogs a product called Adaptil. Some of our rooms have them plugged in, and we offer bandannas for the dogs to wear, and blankets to drape on the cat carriers. Just ask a receptionist when you arrive.

4.) Eye contact is for you not your pet. We avoid eye contact with your pet not because we don’t like him, but because it makes him uncomfortable. This gives him time to check things out and become accustomed to us.

5.) We give lots of treats! We are constantly trying out new ones. Sometimes we use tuna, hotdogs, peanut butter or cheese. If you or your pet has an allergy let us know. Treats are a great distraction from the scary stuff that goes on in the clinic. Bring your pet hungry, and if they have a favorite treat bring it along for us to give.

6.) Does your lab love her ball? Bring your pet’s favorite toy to their visit. We love to play with them, and sometimes that toy is just the right thing to calm them down.

7.) We try to do most of our procedures in the room. Sometimes we must take them in back, like for a radiograph, but we try to do most things in the room. We know most animals do best with their familiar owner present. The more times we move them around the hospital the more times they encounter new things that they might perceive as scary.

8.) Sometimes your pet needs something extra to help with the visit. We can prescribe anti-anxiety or calming medications to help with the visit.

If you think your pet is experiencing stress with their visit. Tell us. We will come up with a plan to support their emotional well being as well as their physical health.

Update on my new kitten. She and my older cat are getting along great. I took some videos of her getting one of her check ups, so everyone can see what we are striving to do with our Fear Free visits. Just follow the links.

Until next month have a fear, anxiety and stress-free time.

Kim Klotz, DVM

Jan 2018: Happy New Year!

One of my goals for 2018 is to share more information about being a Fear Free veterinarian and pet owner. To that end I am starting a short blog for our hospital. Check back periodically for new information. 

Today I want to share some insights on getting a new pet. This time of year new pets are a common occurrence, and my household is no different. I added a 9 week old kitten over the holidays. I gave her to my daughter for her Christmas present. In general I don’t recommend giving animals as gifts (especially to kids), but she and I had talked a lot about what it takes to be a fur parent, and I was convinced she was ready for this. She is “Dani’s” primary caregiver, but I am there to make sure everything goes smoothly. We have an older cat and dog in our house currently, so I went through a little preparation before bringing the new one home. I would like to share that with you. 

  • I started gathering supplies about a month out. New liter box, liter, cat tree, food, toys, etc. 
  • A few days before picking up the kitten I started my older cat on Zylkene. Zylkene is a supplement made from a milk derived protein with proven calming properties. Zylkene is made for dogs and cats. 
  • I also plugged in Feliway diffusers in the rooms where the cats spend most of their time. These take about 48 hours to build up, so getting them plugged in a few days ahead of time helps. Feliway products are made from synthetic versions of pheromones that cats produce naturally. They make a multi cat and a regular version. The multi cat helps cats to get along with each other, while the regular helps with liter box and marking behaviors. I chose to plug in the multi cat version, and then use a spray of the regular in key locations, like around bedding and liter boxes. Feliway also makes a product to attract cats to their scratching post. I am using this to train the new kitten to use her cat tree for scratching.
  • Prior to bringing home the new kitten I started her on Zylkene, and sprayed her carrier with regular Feliway. She had a 5 hour car trip, and both these things kept her stress free. 
  • The next day she had her first vet visit. Prior to coming in she took gabapentin a mild anti anxiety medicine. Her trip couldn’t have been better. She ate lots of yummy treats while getting blood drawn and vaccines. 
  • At home I have continued giving Zylkene, and the Feliway products.

Update for “Dani’s” first week home. Things are going great. She is using her liter box, and scratching post. I am slowly introducing her to the house, but she spends most of her time in my daughter’s bedroom. At this point she is too small to have free range of the house. She has also traveled to a couple of friends houses to visit. We are doing this because my daughter wants to be able to take her places. Again we use lots of Feliway spray, and a carrier that seat belts into the car. So far she seems to enjoy her trips. We have also fitted her with a harness and leash. To do this I sprayed them with Feliway, and left them out for her to play with. After a couple of days I slowly put the harness on while feeding her treats. She doesn’t seem to mind wearing it at all. My older cat is doing really well too. She hisses if the kitten gets too close, but otherwise she seems happy. She is not hiding, and continues to use her liter box, and eat well. I have continued her Zylkene and Feliway as well. Hoping over the next several weeks that she and the kitten will become friendly. That takes time, and I will let the cats decide how quickly it will happen. We should never try to force a friendship between cats. If you are considering a new kitten let us know. We have lots of things to help you make it a smooth transition, and I would be happy to offer advice on what might work best for your situation. 

Wishing you and all your fur babies a great 2018.