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Fear Free Pets

What does our mission of Fear Free pets mean? At South Franklin Animal Hospital in Franklin, TN, we prevent and alleviate FEAR, ANXIETY, and STRESS in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them

Long before the fear free movement, Dr. Sophia Yin was practicing, teaching, and writing about stress-less techniques, and early socialization of pups/kittens to all that life will present in sight, sounds, and smells.

At South Franklin Animal Hospital, we have always tried to maintain a calm, relaxed, odor-free, and loving environment. Now, through further education and certification, all staff members will be able to assist and educate our clients on more Fear Free Approach. Every experience your pet has at SFAH, we will try our hardest to make it a positive, happy, and highly rewarding experience. The overall key to this positive veterinary hospital experience is getting to know our individual pets/patients.

Small dogs at South Franklin Animal Hospital

Your Pet’s Preferences & Personality Matter

At our hospital there is extra attention in notes on pets’ likes, dislikes, fears, anxieties, behavior concerns or needs, handling, motivation/rewards. Of course we also have prompts for diets, amounts, medications, supplements,… OUR GOAL IS TO GET TO KNOW, AND KNOW OUR PATIENTS THE BEST WE CAN TO ACCOMMODATE AND BE PREPARED FOR THEM. THIS IS OUR DUTY AS YOUR VETERINARY TEAM!

South Franklin Animal Hospital understands if FEAR ANXIETY and STRESS is not addressed in our pets, it will always lead to unwanted behavior[s] and medical conditions. It has now been a proven fact that many of our pet’s medical conditions come from fear, anxiety, and stress. Pancreatitis, IBD, Gastric ulcers/Gi upset, and many more diseases. Behaviors that come from fear, anxiety, and stress are barking, pacing, kennel issues, fear biting, destructive scratching, and house soiling. Fear, anxiety, and stress is known to cause premature graying around the muzzle/face before 4 years of age in dogs.

The #1 reason pet owners don’t take pets to the vet is because of stress to the pet. When owners experience/feel their pet’s stress, this increases anxiety/stress in the owners. This is a cycle of stress and anxiety all surrounding going to the animal hospital. We want to decrease/minimize FEAR, ANXIETY, and STRESS for your/our pets and our owners.

The Signs of Stress

Your pet is hiding. She’s not napping, she’s scared!! Many signs of Fear, Anxiety, and Stress in pets are difficult to detect. Here are some of the most common signs that your pet might be feeling less than calm and content!! Tail down, Tucked tail, Closeness to you, climbing on you, panting, trembling, fidgeting, yawning, snarling, biting, piloerection/hair up, hypervigilance/looking around/paranoid, dilated pupils, turning away when you look at him, hiding, licking lips, avoiding team members.

FIVE Ways You Can Help Make The Veterinary Visit Fear Free For Your Pet

  1. Prep your pet– positively accustom the pet to her carrier or restraint device and condition happy experiences in the vehicle
  2. Limit food before the appointment unless medically contraindicated- a hungry pet will take treats that creates a positive association
  3. Explore waiting room alternatives- work with us to determine the optimal location to wait with your pet prior to care.
  4. Be open to non traditional techniques-examine on floor, lap, using treats.
  5. Consider proven, new, strategies to reduce fear/anxiety/stress in your pets-pre visit meds, sedatives, and conditioning.
Dr. Sammons with dogs
Vet technician kissing a dog at South Franklin Animal Hospital

Helpful Resources

Fear Free Boarding Services

At SFAH, we follow the Fear Free approach for our patients while boarding and want to make sure you are aware of what this means for you and your pet. Visit (link to this website) for more information.

We have learned that many times, a pet’s FAS [fear, anxiety, and stress] level is affected by things that happen before arriving at our facility. Stress of owners packing and then the stress of travel to the boarding facility. We are here to help alleviate our pets and clients FAS. Our goal is to inform and educate our clients on the handling of your pet in SFAH Boarding setting, and trouble shooting that goes into ensuring less FAS for boarding.

Dogs display FAS / Fear Anxiety Stress:

  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Hiding
  • Vocalizing (whining, barking)

Cats display FAS / Fear Anxiety Stress:

  • Yowling
  • Hiding
  • Hissing
  • Pinning ears back
  • Crouching motionless

Preparing Your Pet for Boarding

We want your pet to feel safe and secure in our care. If you have noticed any of these signs in your pet associated with coming to stay with us, or another experience that we need to understand. Anxiety or Motion sickness in car travel can set off a lot of FAS prior to coming to board. So if you are concerned or needing suggestions on pet travel, please ask us. Cerenia may be used for motion sickness, drooling, vomiting.

Our veterinarian can review a pet’s medical records and tailor a plan to address your pet’s FAS prior to the stay. This may include dietary supplements or medications to help decrease fear and anxiety.

Promote Calm & Relaxation During Their Stay

Next we use synthetic appeasing pheromones. to produce a natural calm/relaxation. These pheromones are sprayed on bedding, bandana, and throughout the building. Calming music, species specific in each area. It is known that dogs/cats respond to classical and reggae music.

Calming supplements can be used prior during and post visit. Anxitane, Zylkene, and Composure Pro are all nutraceuticals that can be started prior to stressful events.

Probiotics are a MUST for any dog that is experiencing a higher level of FAS. Stress will change the normal GI flora, causing stress diarrhea. At SFAH we promote Probiotics for any stressed dog/cat, esp PRE DURING POST Boarding.

Trazodone is SFAH’s first line of medications, quick acting for anxieties. This is not a sedative, but an anxiolytic medication. Ideally this is wonderful to start at the first signs of any signs of FAS. Melatonin is also used for reduction in FAS . Along with many other medications. Most dogs that have anxiety/fear/stress, have other behavior concerns or issues at home or other places. Dr. Sammons does offer behavior appointments/consults to help solve the big picture with the emotional health of your pets.

Want to join the South Franklin Animal Hospital patient family? Send us a message or give us a call today!

South Franklin Animal Hospital
137 Alpha Dr
Franklin, TN 37064
SFAH Cell:

Personal Email:

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Business Hours:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:
7:00 AM to 5:00 PM


7:00 AM to 3:00 PM

7:00 AM to 12:00 PM
*Closed the first & last of the month

Only Boarding from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM