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Hospital Picture of VCA Animal Hospital of Los Gatos

Our Hospital

At VCA Animal Hospital of Los Gatos, we help pets live long, healthy and happy lives. We deliver the best medical care for pets and the best experience for pet owners. We are open 7 days a week, Monday-Sunday, to serve all of your pet care needs. Walk-ins welcome.

Serving Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Campbell, Saratoga and the surrounding communities, our veterinarians, technicians and pet-friendly support staff are trained to the highest standards. Their thorough knowledge of the latest procedures and medicines ensures that our patients receive the best in preventive and healing care.

Hospital Overview

At VCA Animal Hospital of Los Gatos, we look forward to welcoming you, your dog, and your cat. Everyone on our staff believes that the better we get to know your pets, the better we can provide the best possible health care for them. In fact, when you come in, you'll see exactly why our veterinarians are praised for their kind and thorough care. We'll give you and your pet all the time you need, and never rush through an exam. We'll also carefully track the course of your pet's care, which is so important to your pet's long-term health.

 

Low Stress Handling

At VCA Animal Hospital of Los Gatos, we handle every patient with care and consideration using Low Stress Handling, so that both pets and owners can have positive, relaxing visits with us. You will often hear us refer to our handling as Fear Free, which is a certification program that's mission is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.

What is low stress handling?

Low stress handling means we consider our patient's perspective first and look at the visit through the pet's eyes to remove any fear or anxiety triggers. We also try to find ways to work cooperatively with our patients rather than forcing them. While this takes more time and can be quite challenging in many cases, we feel it is the kinder and safer way to approach veterinary care.

At VCA Animal Hospital of Los Gatos, you'll see that we take the extra time to greet our patients and allow them to warm up to us before starting the check-up. We make efforts to keep our exam rooms quiet and calm, and exam tables always have a soft surface. We may offer special treats or fun toys to create positive associations. For example, rewarding a nervous dog for following basic commands like sit or high-five helps build confidence and trust. Peanut butter covered pretzel sticks and squeeze cheese can help many nervous animals agree to procedures like nail trims and blood draws. Low-stress handling also means using techniques like counter-conditioning and desensitization to help the very nervous or fearful pets get accustomed to working with the vet.

Why do we use these techniques? Isn’t it easier to just “get the job done”?

We are often asked this question, whether it's regarding a nail trim or a blood draw or ear exam. Can't we just hold the patient down and do what we have to do? While that might seem easier in the short term, the pet may be more fearful or reactive at the next visit, which makes things worse in the long run. Low-stress methods are also safer for the pets and our staff.

How do you know which techniques will work for a nervous pet?

Our staff is trained to identify which handling techniques may work for an individual pet. Sometimes we have to get creative for positive reinforcement; for example, many dogs will allow a blood draw while licking frozen chicken broth, while others prefer squeeze cheese on a pretzel. We always encourage owners to bring anything from home that they know will be a positive motivator for their pet during the visit. For highly anxious animals, it may take multiple attempts to figure out what works best, but in the long run, it leads to easier visits and better long term relationships between the pet and their VCA Los Gatos vet.

How does your staff learn to use these methods?

Our staff receives training throughout the year on low-stress handling and many hold individual Fear Free Certifications of various levels. Our hospital is working towards a full practice certification from Fear Free. All of the writings, videos, and educational materials from Dr. Sophia Yin are an inspiration to us every day. For information about what you can do at home to help prepare for future vet visits, visit Fear Free Happy Homes.

 

Cat Friendly Features

VCA Animal Hospital of Los Gatos are members of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), and a certified Gold Cat Friendly Practice®. The Cat Friendly Practice® program is designed to elevate care for cats by reducing stress for cats, their caregivers, and the veterinary team. We understand the unique needs of cats, and strive to make every veterinary visit cat-friendly.

We know that many cat owners put off coming to the vet simply because of the stress on their kitty. But just like dogs, cats also need regular preventative care to help them stay healthy. So what do we do differently at VCA Animal Hospital of Los Gatos that keeps our feline patients so happy? Our philosophy is that cats are most likely to accept a thorough veterinary exam when they are handled with respect and patience. Whenever possible, we perform all exams and basic procedures in the exam room because we have found that cats feel most comfortable when their family is nearby. Cats by nature don't like feeling forced to do things, so we don't resort to using harsh restraint methods such as "scruffing." We always use low-stress handling techniques such as towel wraps. Working cooperatively with our feline patients keeps their anxiety level low and makes future visits much easier for everyone!

 

Helpful Hints for a Stress-Free Visit

There are also many things you can do as a pet owner to help your kitty have a positive visit with us. A cat that arrives calm and relaxed at our clinic is more likely to have a pleasant experience. But a cat that is scared from the get-go may end up feeling more stressed during the visit. So what can you do to help your cat arrive at VCA Animal Hospital of Los Gatos in a better frame of mind? Here are some ideas:

  • Teach your cat to love his or her crate.
  • Pick the right crate! Airline crates with lids that can be unscrewed allow us to examine our patients in the comfort of their crate bottom. Cats don't appreciate being dumped or pulled out of the safety of their crates.
  • Carry the crate into the clinic from the bottom, as you would carry a box, not by the handle. Jostling around inside the carrier can frighten your cat, so keeping the crate steady as you move in and out of the car is important.
  • When you arrive at VCA Los Gatos, please feel free to place your cat's crate on the center island in the waiting area while you check in. Sitting on an elevated surface feels safer to kitties.
  • Use calming pheromones like Feliway spray or a Thundershirt to help soothe your cat.
  • Bring your cat's favorite canned food or treats. We use them to create positive associations with the vet and encourage positive behaviors. Toys can also help ease the tension in the exam room for frisky cats.

For more ideas to get your cat to VCA Los Gatos with minimal stress, check out this information from the AAFP.

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