VCA Pinnacle Animal Hospital

Our Story

At VCA Pinnacle Animal Hospital, we help pets live long, healthy and happy lives. We deliver the best medical care for pets and the best experience for pet owners.

Our veterinarians, technicians and other pet-friendly support staff are trained to the highest standards. Their thorough knowledge of the latest procedures and medications ensures that all our patients receive the best in preventive and healing care.

Hometown Care at VCA Pinnacle Animal Hospital

Our mission at VCA Pinnacle is to provide top-notch veterinary care in an atmosphere that is welcoming and comfortable for pets and people alike. Our clients and patients are part of our Pinnacle family, and our entire team works together with you to make sure all of your pet’s needs are met. We invite you to stop in and meet our team, and we’re confident you and your pet will feel right at home!


Low Stress Handling

At VCA Pinnacle Animal Hospital, 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.

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 Pinnacle Animal Hospital, 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 Pinnacle vet.

How does your staff learn to use these methods?

Our staff receives training throughout the year from an expert in the field of low-stress handling. All of the writings, videos, and educational materials from Dr. Sophia Yin are an inspiration to us everyday. Our veterinary staff and clinic overall are working towards Low Stress Certification as well as Fear Free Certification.


Cat Friendly Features

VCA Pinnacle Animal Hospital is not just the only AAFP Cat Friendly Practice in San Jose, but we also received the highest level of certification: Gold Status! We appreciate that cats have medical, behavioral, and environmental needs that are unique, and we cater to them. At VCA Pinnacle, our cat patients have an entire wing of the hospital to themselves where they never have to see or encounter a dog. Our cat wing is the ultimate in feline-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 Pinnacle 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!

The feline wing of our hospital includes five distinct cats-only spaces:

  1. A separate waiting area
  2. Two feline-only exam rooms, complete with fun wall perches and windows
  3. A cat treatment room where many procedures are performed
  4. A cat ward for our hospitalized and surgical patients.
  5. Cages in the feline hospital ward are oriented such that patients have privacy, and added sound insulation helps keep the ward quiet.


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 Pinnacle Animal Hospital 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 Pinnacle, please feel free to place your cat’s crate on the couch 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 Pinnacle with minimal stress, check out this information from the AAFP.

Accreditations & Affiliations
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American Animal Hospital Association

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) sets the standard for quality veterinary care for companion animals. As an accredited hospital, we voluntarily uphold the Association's high standards in 18 different areas and are routinely evaluated on over 900 different standards of veterinary care. Not all animal hospitals are accredited, and we are proud to be amongst only 12-15% of veterinary hospitals that hold this honor.

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Cat Friendly Practice - Gold logo
Cat Friendly Practice

The Cat Friendly Practice® program is a leading movement to make veterinary care less stressful for cats and their caregivers. This global initiative is designed to elevate care for cats by assisting practices in developing calming, cat-friendly environments and reducing stress for felines before, during, and after their veterinary visit.

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American Association of Feline Practitioners

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) represents practitioners in the veterinary community who are passionate about the care of cats and supports its members in improving the health and welfare of feline patients. With a reputation as a leader in the field of feline medicine, the AAFP helps veterinary practices establish a feline-friendly environment that reduces stress for cats during veterinary visits.

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Fear Free logo
Fear Free Certified Professional

As veterinary professionals, we know that the stress and anxiety associated with taking a pet to the veterinarian is a significant reason why pets don't always receive the medical attention they need. Fear Free℠ veterinary visits reduce feelings of stress, resulting in a better experience for all involved, including pets, owners, and veterinary health care teams. Having a Fear Free℠ Certified Professional can help alleviate your pet's fear, anxiety, and stress when visiting our hospital.