Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Fear not at Left Hand Animal Hospital


January 22, 2020

Vicky Dorvee

Left Hand Animal Hospital in Niwot is now the first Fear Free certified veterinary practice in Boulder County.

Doctors' offices as a rule are less fun than say...a walk in the park. It can oftentimes be worse for pets, for whom a confusing visit to the veterinarian's office may be an onslaught of scents, close quarters shared with bewildering beings, possible unpleasant associations, and the scary anticipation of what's going to happen next.

Niwot's Left Hand Animal Hospital (LHAH) wanted to alleviate the stress pets go through, so they sought out expert advice on the subject and the entire practice subsequently earned the first Fear Free certification for a veterinary clinic in Boulder County.

LHAH joins just four other Colorado veterinary practices that have completed the eight-part educational course and exam through Fear Free and has earned the distinction that lets the public know they and their pets will be privy to stress-reducing, fear-relieving methods, before and during a visit.

Started in 2016, Fear Free was founded by Dr. Marty Becker, who along with pet experts from a broad spectrum of fields (technicians, anesthetists, behaviorists, and practitioners) created the initiative they like to say will "take the pet out of petrified" by creating a calming environment, removing and reducing anxiety triggers, and creating an experience that's safer and more enjoyable for pets, owners, and health care teams.

Dr. Becker is best known as "America's Veterinarian" owing to the 17 years he was featured on Good Morning America. Using the Fear Free protocols LHAH learned, the practice has modified its facilities, and procedures including creating separate feline and canine waiting rooms, shorter waiting times and exam rooms that allow the pet to be where they are most comfortable, whether it's on the floor, on a lap or on a soft pet bed as opposed to a metal exam table. Offering toys, snacks, and lots of praise are all part of the process.

The staff at LHAH has an arsenal of pre-visit suggestions to set patients up for a soothing experience such as not feeding your pet the usual amount before they arrive, making treats and their positive distraction during the visit more compelling, recommending supplements and medications that will calm your cat or dog before arriving, bringing along familiar items, using Thundershirts or pheromones, and best practices for the ride to the clinic.

"Our team here at Left Hand Animal Hospital is dedicated to treating our pet patients and our pet parents with kindness and compassion." said Dr. Nancy Bureau who with co-owner Dr. Katie Thomas led the LHAH team to certification. "Our entire team is committed to preventing and alleviating fear, anxiety, and stress in pets. Becoming a Fear Free Certified Practice helps us to help our patients and pet parents even more".

"The most common thing pet parents tell us is that their dog or cat loves coming to see us here at Left Hand Animal Hospital," Dr. Bureau said. "Their pets get snacks, toys, and are treated compassionately."


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