Once again we’ve joined forces with Fear Free and this time a panel of seasoned veterinarians took time out of their busy schedules to share insights during a fireside chat on reducing fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) in pets.
In the webinar, Fear Free and Airvet: A Pawsitive Pairing for Your Practice, held Aug. 19, Marty Becker, DVM, founder and CEO of Fear Free; Russ Brewer, DVM, CVMA, CVSMT, CCRT of Care Animal Hospital of Pleasant Prairie; and Jeff Werber, DVM, chief veterinary officer of Airvet, discussed how Fear Free practices and virtual care have been a boon to the industry, pets, and pet parents.
Top 3 Takeaways from the Webinar
Fear Free provides online and in-person education to veterinary and pet professionals to help reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in pets and the people who care for them. Our partnership with Fear Free has allowed us to fully realize how Fear Free practices and virtual care are changing the way we practice medicine and create a positive impact on the client experience. During the discussion, the vets shared real-world examples from their practices; here are a few highlights:
1. Understanding Millennial and Gen Z Expectations
Dr. Becker remembers when vets were the single source of information about pet care—that is not the case today. Nowadays, millennial and Gen Z pet parents are getting pet care information from Google, trainers, groomers, dog walkers, pet sitters, social media, celebrities like Martha Stewart, and influencers like Nala Cat and Doug the Pug.
Here are a few characteristics of today’s millennial and Gen Z pet parents, they:
- Don’t want to be lectured or talked down to
- Expect vet pros to know that their pets are their kids
- Insist on extremely personalized service
- Expect convenience
- Want pet health care information at their fingertips
We all know that pet parents like to refer to their pets as “fur babies,” but Dr. Becker wants to take it one step further.
“Every animal is the equivalent of a 1-year-old child,” he said.
When it comes time to see a vet, animals are taken against their will, they have no idea why any procedure benefits them, they can’t anticipate the release of fear, anxiety, stress, or pain, and they are unable to flee the threat.
The fear could cause animals to have a fight or flight response, which makes it difficult for staff to provide them with the care they need.
If pet parents feel like they’re hurting their pet by getting them care, they won’t continue or follow through with treatments.
2. How Virtual Care Supports Urgent Care Delivery
Drs. Werber and Brewer recalled the days when doctors had pagers and were basically on call for their patients—free of charge. After cell phones became available, the on-demand nature of patient care still exists, but prevents any barriers for vets between their day job and their personal life. With virtual care, vets can take after-hours consultations but now they can monetize these calls and grow their practice.
“If we do get the wake-up call at 2 a.m., there’s some compensation for it,” Dr. Brewer said.
Out of his 3,000 virtual visits, Dr. Werber said he’s had to send less than 100 to the ER.
Most “emergencies” are not life-threatening emergencies, Dr. Werber said.
With so many of these non-emergency cases going to the ER for care, it’s no wonder that wait times are around 10-12 hours.
But with 24/7 virtual care, pet parents spend less money, vets can get some rest, and Airvet doctors can work whenever they want to.
“It’s a win-win-win for everybody,” Dr. Werber said.
3. How Virtual Care and Fear Free Techniques Work Together
Working together, Airvet and Fear Free are both high-tech and high-touch. Dr. Becker said that pets can’t be healthy if they suffer from high levels of FAS. Physical and emotional well-being are of the utmost importance.
“Pets can’t be healthy if they’re not happy,” he said.
Dr. Brewer uses Airvet as his connected care platform and his practice is Fear Free certified. He talked about how some patients with a high FAS can be seen from the comfort of their homes. He even had one pet parent download the Airvet app and took the appointment virtually instead. Dr. Brewer was able to treat the extremely anxious and protective German shepherd for a skin condition while he was in his office and the dog was in the parking lot in the back of his pet parent’s pickup truck. Dr. Brewer actually got a better look at the dog’s skin via cell phone than if he was treating him in the exam room.
Dr. Becker stressed the strength of Airvet’s partnership with Fear Free by highlighting the shared belief in helping both pet parents and clinicians have a more positive experience.
“We put the pet first and always put the veterinarian at the center of everything,” he said. “Think of it like a wagon wheel with a hub with these spokes coming out—wherever these people are interacting with people that take care of their pet’s health, the veterinarian is always in the center as the true pet health expert.”
Thanks to our Speakers
We’d like to take this opportunity to say a special thanks to our speakers:
Marty Becker, DVM: Dr. Becker grew up on a small family farm in southern Idaho that was home to dairy and beef cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, chickens, dogs, and cats. He graduated from Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980. He went on to own and co-own seven veterinary hospitals the following four decades. Fear Free was founded in 2016.
Russ Brewer, DVM, CVMA, CVSMT, CCRT: Dr. Brewer was born and raised in Kansas. He completed his undergraduate studies at Kansas State University then went on to study at Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine. He’s worked at several different hospitals throughout the midwest. Dr. Brewer is certified in veterinary medical acupuncture and veterinary spinal manipulation therapy.
Jeff Werber, DVM: Dr. Werber graduated from UC Berkeley in 1976 and earned his veterinary degree at the University of California-Davis in 1984. He’s been a practicing veterinarian for more than 35 years and currently sees patients at Value Vet on Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles. In 1997, Dr. Werber became the pet expert for CBS News in Los Angeles and earned an Emmy for his pet health reporting. He is currently a frequent contributor to CNN, E! Entertainment, KCBS/KCAL-Los Angeles, KTLA, and Inside Edition.
Considering Virtual Care or Introducing Fear Free Practices?
Visit the Fear Free website to watch the webinar and hear directly from our panel of expert speakers. Pet parents can go to Fear Free Happy Homes to learn more about the resources available to pet parents and how to find Fear Free certified professionals.
“Our goal is to help pets live a happier, healthier, and fuller life and by extension, the human family live a happier, healthier, and fuller life,” Dr. Becker said.