Judy Allen brings her 12-year-old dog, Hayley, into the Oceanside Animal Hospital in Parksville once a month for a routine check-up.

“She comes in once a month for a shot,” said Allen, who adopted her dog from the local SPCA. “She loves her visits to this vet.”

The clinic is now the first in B.C., and second in Canada, to receive their “Fear Free” certification.

The practice focuses on ways of handling and responding to anxiety, fear and stress that dogs and cats experience when they come to the vet.

“They come in here, they don’t know us, they don’t know where we’re going,” said Dr. Leonie McKinlay, the primary vet at the Oceanside Animal Hospital. “They’re coming here and meeting people that they haven’t necessarily met before.”

Dr. McKinlay believes the animal’s emotional well-being is just as important as their physiological and physical health, so a visit to their clinic is more like a spa treatment.

Classical music is played in the waiting room when the pet arrives.

Species-specific pheromones, scents that help calm the animals, are sprayed in the air and tasty treats are always in stock.

“We have everything from peanut butter, cheese and things like tuna flakes for the cats,” Dr. McKinlay explained.

The staff also personalize each animal’s visit to the clinic which could include prescribing anti-anxiety medication before the visit.

“It might mean for the patient we do the physical examination on the floor instead of the table,” said Dr. McKinlay. “We’ve had a lot of people say that their cat or dog has never been as relaxed in another vet clinic as they are here.”

Judy says Hayley’s visits to the vet are now less stressful and more enjoyable.

“She just feels really at home here,” Allen explained.

 

Ceilidh Millar