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  • Writer's pictureMarybeth Haines

Taking Fear Out Of Vet Visits

TAKING FEAR OUT OF VET VISITS: I came across this really great article today written by Dr. Karen Becker through Mercola’s Healthy Pets. She talks about ways veterinary practices can help reduce the fear and anxiety some of our fellow furry family members have when visiting their doctor.

I particularly LOVED how Dr. Phil Zeltzman, a Fear Free Certified veterinary surgeon shared in this article how he offers “just because” visits at his clinic. Here’s more about what he has to say about doing this and how profound a difference it can make:


In a recent article for Veterinary Practice News, Dr. Phil Zeltzman, a veterinary surgeon who is Fear Free Certified, writes about a 5-year-old pit bull named Myla. Myla was absolutely terrified of vet visits, and behaved so badly at the animal hospital the staff thought she was evil. Her owner had to sedate her at home before each visit, and then had to muzzle her before she entered the clinic.

Myla’s fear grew increasingly worse with each visit. “Visits were a mixture of growling, high anxiety, anal gland smell, pounding heart rates, and sheer terror on both ends of the leash,” writes Zeltzman.1 Then the poor dog developed a painful back leg, and when her owner brought her in to be examined, it was traumatic for everyone involved.

It turns out Myla had a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) and needed surgery, but her owner was so concerned about her dog’s stress being left at the veterinary hospital that she put off the surgery for many months. Myla limped, was in constant pain, and lost muscle mass in the injured leg.

Myla’s owner got in touch with Zeltzman, and he referred her to a veterinary clinic that practices low stress handling. The first order of business was to set up what Zeltzman calls “just because” visits for Myla at the clinic. She was to enter through the back door, without sedation or a muzzle, and be hungry. From there she was taken immediately to an exam room that had been very thoroughly cleaned to remove smells that might trigger her fear. A blanket sprayed with canine-appeasing pheromones had also been placed in the room.

Myla spent 15 minutes acclimating to the room before any veterinary staff entered. A veterinary nurse who is a skilled low stress handler entered the room slowly, without making eye contact with Myla, and allowed the dog to investigate her. She dropped treats on the floor here and there, and left the room, signaling the end of the visit.

This allowed Myla to visit a veterinary clinic with no restraint, and without being handled or even touched. These “just because” visits continued weekly until Myla was jumping from her owner’s car and running to the back door for her visit. After a few visits, the nurse began petting Myla and hugging her, and the dog was beautifully behaved.

Myla’s CCL surgery was at last scheduled, and even though she had to stay overnight at the hospital, the whole process was uneventful. When her other CCL ruptured a year later, she had a second surgery that hospital stay was also uneventful.


This article by Dr. Becker goes on to share “10 Ways Veterinary Clinics and Staff Can Help Fearful Patients” and is a must read for everyone! Perhaps your vet clinic is open to hearing about this in helping your furry companion?

Vet visits do not need to be stressful and this is one step closer to helping make them not be so.

Here’s the link to read the full article:…/11/…

If you have read this far, thank you for being here!

Your friend,


Marybeth &. Mr. Mooshie

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