The Fear Free Movement Continues at Oakview Vet

Last year ten members of our staff completed the first level of certification of the Fear Free program developed by Dr. Marty Becker. The goal of the Fear Free program is to provide the best care for our patients by limiting fear, anxiety and stress as much as possible during a veterinary visit.. This year we have decided to continue onto the second level of certification. The second level of certification provides more in-depth education in the areas of patient handling, advanced handling techniques, and in-hospital care. In addition to step by step procedures, the modules feature numerous videos detailing procedures, handling techniques and client communication examples. Each member who is completing the second level certification views the module and completes a quiz at the end. We then meet monthly to discuss what we learned and how to best utilize the information in our daily practice.

LK Fear Free

Our staff feels it is important to continue learning how to recognize fear, anxiety and stress (FAS) in your pets and the best methods to minimize these as much as possible. Our goal at Oakview Veterinary Medical Center is to make your, and your pet’s, visit to our clinic as stress free and enjoyable as possible. This helps us do our jobs better by allowing us to deliver high quality care as we look after the physical and emotional well-being of our patients. We then can practice better medicine because we can get more accurate vital signs and diagnoses, thus providing the best treatment options.

When your pet is relaxed and eating delicious treats during their visit at the clinic it is easier for our veterinarians to complete a thorough physical exam. This is as important during a wellness exam as it is when your pet is sick. Because our patients can’t tell us what is wrong, or where it hurts, we must rely on our pet owner’s observations and the physical exam to tell us where to look or what tests to run. Often during a wellness visit we find new lumps or dental disease that owners were not aware of. If a pet is stressed and it is difficult to complete the exam, then we may not find these important issues.

Cat Cheese Beard
A cheese beard is a sign of a happy vet visit!

We have patients that love coming to our clinic, gladly take treats and allow a comprehensive physical exam. But we also have patients that are nervous, stressed or fearful. One way we can decrease the anxiety associated with a trip to the veterinary clinic is through “happy visits.” Happy visits are just that, a visit to the clinic that is a pleasant experience. This month we will detail what happy visits entail and give some examples of how they may help your pet feel less anxious about a veterinary clinic visit.

For more information about how we currently implement fear free at Oakview, please visit our website.

by Lisa Karnitz, DVM

Dr Lisa Karnitz - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

Dr. Karnitz graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 2004. She has been in practice ever since. She was also the resident veterinarian at the Globe University for two years.
Dr. Karnitz has a special interest in dentistry and internal medicine.
She shares her home with her husband, two children, and a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Harry.


Cat Body Language

Some days, we think we know exactly what our feline friend is thinking but other days it’s more like “What?!?!” The truth is our cats communicate with us all the time, we just need to listen. And not with our ears but with our eyes! Cats are constantly communicating with us through their body signals. I always tell our staff at Oakview, “Read the whole cat, not just one body signal. And Respect what they are telling you!”

Here are some clues:

EyesCat Eyes - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point Wi

When your cat has a nice steady gaze, constricted pupils, and soft, slow blinks she’s pretty content. When her pupils are large (and it’s not dark out!), this could mean they are feeling playful or defensive. Be mindful of this focused stare from our cats, most cat owners know what I’m talking about! This means they are up for a challenge. You may see this between family cats right before a fight breaks out.

TailHappy Tail

Sometimes just looking at the tail can be confusing, so remember to look at your cat’s WHOLE body to help determine how your cat is feeling. A tail that is straight up can mean he is happy or interested. Down or tucked underneath can mean he is scared or nervous. The fast twitching tail means your kitty is not happy. A nice, slow moving loose tail usually means they are content. And we’ve all seen that puffed up tail–Back away as this cat is warning you to stay away.


Your cat’s body posture is one more way to see what she is telling you. When she is agitated her body appears tense or she may suddenly freeze. She may walk slow and stiff. A frightened cat will usually slink low to the ground and move very slow (she may also do this if she is ready to pounce on something). A relaxed cat usually has a comfortable body position, and breathing is slow and deep. A stressed cat will have a fast and shallow breathing pattern. Some medical conditions such as asthma and heart problems can affect breathing so it is important to monitor your cat’s breathing when she is relaxed and content at home.


The “Rub my Belly” Posture

Watch for the kitty who ever so cutely rolls over to show her belly. While she may be doing this to trust you, it can also mean she is becoming defensive or wants to play! We all know the cat who seems to say “Rub my belly!” then bites when you do! Assess the whole situation before deciding to love up on that kitty!


Cat Belly - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

by Emily Karpinski, CVT

Emily - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

Emily earned her Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology at Madison Area Technical College and joined us as a CVT in 2004. She shares her home with her husband Jaime, daughters Violet and Abigail, a black lab called “Clyde”, “Chloe” the cat, and a quarter horse.


She has a strong interest in animal behavior and animal massage. Emily is certified in Fear Free handling and experienced in low stress techniques.

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