san jose fear free vet clinicWhat is Lincoln Avenue Veterinary Clinic’s fear free philosophy?

Our goal is to create a hospital culture that promotes the health and well being of your pet by making their visit as comfortable, relaxed and enjoyable as possible. We strive to minimize fear, stress and anxiety for our patients (and clients!).

How do we reduce stress, fear and anxiety in our patients?

> Our team sets up good vibes for our patients by using distractors such as treats and grooming tools to take their minds off the procedure. We also use low-stress handling and restraint techniques to keep patients calm.

> Our exam rooms are designed with your pet’s comfort in mind.  We use pheromone sprays and diffusers to provide calming signals to take the edge off. Exam tables are equipped with a yoga mat and towel to provide a soft, non-slip surface so pets feel more secure. We aren’t afraid to get down on the floor with big dogs and patients who do not like heights and we can fold the tables up and out of the way.

> We make injections less stressful by using small-gauge needles and some low-volume vaccines.

> For anxious pets that need a little extra help relaxing, we provide pharmaceutical intervention with anti-anxiety drugs such as trazodone and gabapentin. These medications are safe, short-acting and inexpensive. They reduce patients’ stress and fear without making them less alert.

Note: If we are trying to perform an exam or procedure on a stressed pet, it is critical for our team to know when to stop. If our fear free strategies are not working, we will always respect the pet enough to stop before the handling sends them into a panic. In this situation, we may decide to continue the plan with deeper injectable sedation or have the pet come in on a different day to finish treatment.

How can I reduce my pet’s stress during a visit?

> Bring your pet hungry. When medically appropriate, withhold food for several hours before an appointment. Treats are more effective when the patient is highly food-motivated.

> De-stress the carrier and car.  Before your appointment, make the carrier/car a fun place to be. Use it as a regular place to feed treats and deliver toys. Spray calming pheromones such as Adaptil(dogs) or Feliway(cats). Many cats will willingly sleep in a carrier if it is left out all the time with a cozy blanket inside! Periodically take your pet for a ride around the block to get them acclimated to being in the car.

> Use calming tools. Bring calming items such as a Thundershirt, favorite toy, or preferred treat to the appointment. To keep pets motivated, do not give treats until you arrive at the clinic.

> Use prescribed sedatives when necessary. Anti-anxiety medication works best when given at home, before the pet encounters any stressful triggers. Feel free to ask ahead of time if you think your pet would benefit from mild sedation.

> Acclimate nervous patients. We encourage you to bring your pet in on a regular basis to say hi between appointments. Stopping by for some yummy treats and attention from clinic staff creates a positive association with our practice and reduces stress during appointments.