Fear Free

Because we care.


The Fear-Free Visit

Dog on a green grass outdoors
Perhaps the feature that sets us apart from other veterinary clinics is our passion for, and focus on, the Fear-Free visit. One of the most common complaints of pet owners is, “It is really stressful to take my pet to the vet.” The Fear-Free approach to veterinary medicine takes into consideration your pet’s emotional status every step of the way. This approach also takes into consideration the smells, sounds, and sights that your pet experiences at a veterinary clinic that can cause fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) and places them, as much as possible, in a relaxed state. Fear-Free also means that we must be acutely aware of your pet’s body language and the veterinary team’s body language, the tone of our voices, how we touch and handle your pet, and much more to reduce FAS and make the experience more pleasant for everyone. We use species-specific pheromones that have been proven to reduce FAS in dogs and cats throughout the hospital, and we use a wide variety of treats during the entire visit to create positive memories for your pet. Furthermore, the Fear-Free visit means that we understand that your pet may be frightened when it is taken away from you, so we do as much as we can while you are present to reduce FAS. In addition, we can provide you with supplements and anti-anxiety medications that you may use to prepare your pet prior to veterinary visits to help prevent FAS before it starts, which is more helpful than most people think. Click on the following links to become more informed about getting your cat or dog to our practice in the least stressful way possible. Please call to schedule your Fear-Free visit.

Victory Visits

Cute red tabby and white cat kitten playing and showing its claws outside in green grass in a flowery garden
Many pets already have very negative associations with veterinary clinics or are prone to be anxious in new situations. This is when our Victory Visits can be very helpful. Victory Visits are brief visits to the clinic when we work on making experiences that were previously scary more pleasant for your pet. This usually involves a combination of medical therapy prior to the visit (anxiety medication[s] to help them learn positive behaviors), counter-conditioning, and desensitization during the visit. Counter-conditioning is the process of making something that was once really scary less scary and even fun for the pet. This is primarily accomplished through lots of treats to positively associate their experiences. Desensitization is the process of introducing a once stressful stimulus in very small degrees that are not stressful for the patient and associating them with positive experiences (i.e., lots of treats!). Please call to find out more about this unique service that we provide at Summer Creek Animal Clinic. Members of our Preventive Care Club receive 20% off of all Victory Visit packages.

Puppy/Kitten Socialization Classes

Adorable puppy lying on the green grass in the garden
Behavioral issues are the most common reasons why dogs and cats end up in shelters. At Summer Creek Animal Clinic, we are passionate about preventing problem behaviors. The best way to do this is to start young. Puppy-and-kitten socialization classes are one way we can accomplish this. These are weekly classes for four weeks during which your puppy or kitten can interact with other puppies and kittens of a similar age, learn positive behaviors, and have positive exposure to animals and new experiences outside the home in a controlled environment. Availability of these classes depends on the number of puppies and kittens available during any given four-week period. Please call the clinic for more details about the requirements for attendance and whether or not socialization classes are currently being offered. When offered, Preventive Care Club members receive 20% off the four-week package.

Behavior Consultations

Golden retriever
We are passionate about the emotional health of your pet and the bond that you have with them. Research demonstrates that behavioral problems are the most common reasons why pets are in shelters. We also know that many pet owners struggle with pets that have a variety of behavioral issues including separation anxiety, urinating outside the litter box, and much more. Frequently, there are medical conditions that need to be corrected. In other situations, a combination of appropriate medication and behavioral modification can provide immense improvement. We are here to thoroughly evaluate your pet, consult with you, and formulate a plan that is tailored to your pet’s diagnosis and needs. Behavioral issues are often complicated, but we are committed to helping you and your pet. If we are unable to help, we can refer you to a non-board-certified veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior which is often very helpful for more difficult cases. Please call today to schedule your pet’s behavior consult.

Fear-Free Nail Trims

dog foot on the floor
The dreaded nail trim. The vast majority of pets really dislike having their nails trimmed. The historical way of trimming nails is laying the dog or cat on their side and pinning them down or scruffing them. We now know that this may cause irreparable emotional harm, and it makes them even more terrified during future visits.The Fear-Free nail trim takes a more cooperative approach, training the dog or cat that the nail clippers are not scary, but instead, represent something positive such as lots of their favorite treats. This is best accomplished starting at a young age, but there is still hope even if your pet already hates having their nails trimmed. We can help you retrain them to tolerate nail trims without the emotional trauma. This is usually a process that requires patience, and Victory Visits will help ensure success. We promise to never pin your pet down to trim their nails. This may “get the job done,” but it also terrifies your pet and ensures that they will be more fearful and stressed during subsequent nail trimmings. Despite our best efforts, sometimes the nail-trim experience is still too stressful for a pet, and sedation is the best option because it makes the experience much safer and less stressful for your pet. Please call today to schedule your Fear-Free nail trim.

Fear-Free Anal Gland Expressions

Many pets (mostly dogs) do not express their anal glands as regularly as they should. These glands are scent-marking tools that are meant to be expressed when the pet defecates. When this doesn’t happen, the material can build up and must be manually expressed. If your pet is licking or scooting their rear, this may be an indication that their glands need to be manually expressed. As you might imagine, this experience can be quite distressing for your pet. Through our Fear-Free approach at Summer Creek Animal Clinic, we do everything we can to make this process as stress free as possible by giving treats liberally, providing a calm environment, utilizing calming pheromones, and much more. Please see Fear-Free Nail Trims, Victory Visits, and the Fear-Free Visit for more details about how this process will help your pet. Please call today to schedule your Fear-Free anal gland expression.