Our goal is to recondition your pet to associate their experience with positive rewards during their visit.
At Happy Tails, we feel that pets are family and should be treated with love and respect. Many pets do not like going to the vet, it makes them anxious and we know that makes you anxious as well. Our goal is to make coming to the vet a happy experience for the whole family. For some pets that have had very negative experiences at the vet in the past this may take some time and effort from you and us – if you think your pet is one that will require some extra attention to become comfortable at our facility please indicate this on your New Client Registration Form and feel free to email us with more information about your particular situation.
Please note that creating a fear-free visit takes extra time so even routine visits may take longer than you are used to at other clinics. Over time, as the stress of visits is reduced, our approach will actually make bringing your pet in a smoother and quicker experience. Depending on how stressful your particular pet finds visiting the hospital we may recommend an initial consultation to talk about pre-exam medication at home before doing full exams or procedures, but that will only be necessary in rare cases. During your appointment, we will talk through with you any signs of stress your pet may be showing and how we plan to manage that going forward.
Here is what we do at our clinic to make you and your pet more comfortable:
1. Fear Free Certification
All of our employees are required to go through an individual Fear Free Certification program. This is a relatively new program available for veterinary professionals. You can read more about fear-free visits by clicking here and what it means to be Fear Free Certified by clicking here. Our staff are currently the only Fear Free Certified Professionals working in Solano County!
2. Fear Free Colors
Studies have shown that certain colors have a more calming effect on pets, we have chosen some of these to use throughout our hospital to create a soothing atmosphere for pets and humans alike.
Similar to colors, studies have shown that certain types of classical music are more calming to animals so that is what we play in our exam rooms and treatment areas. We use the music from Through A Dog’s Ear and Through A Cat’s Ear – click here to visit their website.
These are chemicals produced by the body to send signals – fear, excitement, calming, etc. We use pheromones proven to calm anxiety in pets – Feliway in the cat areas of the hospital and Adaptil in the dog areas of the hospital.
5. Cat Friendly
Some cats like dogs but most find them scary. We have dedicated Exam Room 3 to be “cat only” so there are no doggie smells in there to upset our feline patients. We also have divided up our waiting area so there is a cat-only waiting area and two separate dog waiting areas so our more nervous patients can feel more comfortable while they wait to go into the exam rooms.
6. Providing Positive Rewards/Distractions
We will have a variety of food rewards and toys at the hospital but every pet has its own preferences. You can help reduce the stress of a vet visit on your pet by making sure they are hungry when they come in (increases the value of food rewards) and letting us know any specific treats, toys, or other rewards (some pets really enjoy being groomed for example) that are preferred. Please let us know on your new client form what your pet likes and any food allergies or sensitivities they have prior to their visit. Always feel free to bring preferred rewards with you to appointments.
7. Personalized Care
Every pet is different. Some become aggressive towards hospital staff, or even towards their owners, due to the level of fear they have at being in a strange place. These pets may need oral medication at home prior to their visit to help reduce anxiety, or even sedation at the hospital to allow necessary procedures to be performed without worsening their level of fear, stress, and anxiety. Most pets are able to get through their exams and receive needed care such as vaccines and routine blood draws but it is still a negative experience for them. Many pets show increasing anxiety over the years as they associate the sights, sounds, and smells of a veterinary hospital with painful or unpleasant experiences.