What are Fear Free Vet Visits?

Veterinary Clinics make pets healthy. But they definitely are not known for making pets happy! In fact, it is just the opposite. A trip to the vet is often terrifying for a pet, and therefore stressful for an owner. Did you know that there are simple steps that you and your veterinarian can take to change this experience for your pet? Wouldn’t it be nice if your pet actually enjoyed their annual examination? And if your blood pressure didn’t rise just thinking about having to bring them to a clinic? It is our goal to work with pet owners to change the “scary veterinarian” dynamic!

To that end, ten members of our staff recently completed course work to become Fear Free Certified.  A big thanks to Emily, our Certified Veterinary Technician with a special interest in behavior, who led the staff on this journey.




What is Fear Free?  

The Fear Free initiative was started and developed by Dr. Marty Becker (“American’s Veterinarian”) to decrease fear, anxiety and stress related to veterinary visits and procedures.  Many pet owners know that it is important to have their pet regularly examined by a veterinarian, but their pet’s experience often dictates how often they are seen.  The goal of Fear Free is to consider the emotional response of your pet at the veterinary visit and make it as pleasant as possible. We want your pet to want to be here!


What We Learned

During the Fear Free training our team members learned how to recognize fear, stress and anxiety (FAS) in our patients.  We also learned about methods and resources to use to decrease this response in our patients and therefore make visits to our clinic much easier on pets and their owners.  Our goal is to keep your pet as calm and anxiety-free as we can.

You may notice changes at your next visit starting with the reception staff as you schedule your pet’s visit. Those changes will continue as you arrive and as your pet is seen and treated. Some of the changes have to do with HOW we touch the pets (did you know that excessive stroking can actually increase your pet’s anxiety!?), so please don’t be offended if we make suggestions during the examination.

Signs of Fear, Anxiety, and Stress in Cats and Dogs



Do you recognize your dog or cat in the images above? It is important to remember your pet is not being anti-social or naughty, they are simply expressing their feelings in the only way they know how. Here at Oakview Vet, we are working hard to decrease the stresses that lead to the signs of FAS. We have learned how to do this in our lobby and our exam rooms. We even learned how to teach you how to help at home!

Cat relaxed in exam room
A relaxed cat in a veterinary exam room! Several techniques are being used in this picture.

This month, we will explore what fear and anxiety look like in our pets and talk about how and why we use Fear Free techniques. We will discuss all the steps you can take at home to help both cats and dogs prepare for a low stress visit.  Then, we’ll delve right in to how we use Fear Free in the clinic. Get a head start by looking at our website.

Dr. Karnitz
Dr. Lisa Karnitz  led our team in getting Fear Free certified.

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.

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