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Low Stress Handling

No pet should have to choose
between being happy or being healthy.

Our pet's body language tells us everything about their comfort level, and can let us know if they are experiencing any fear, anxiety, or stress (FAS). Using the FAS scale, our VetWell Care Team can help you assess obvious and subtle signs of your pet’s emotional health.


We track each pet’s comfort level before, during, and after handling. This allows us to adjust our approach or treatment plan so your pet can have a comfortable, happy experience at our clinic. Pets that experience higher FAS may require a slower approach, rescheduling the appointment, or anxiety aids including pre-visit calming medications.

A pet’s FAS score can change throughout their veterinary visit. Some pets may show signs of fear at the weight scale but otherwise enjoy the social interaction. Many pets tolerate exam handling but not blood collection. Even examining particular body parts (face or paws) can elicit FAS responses from a pet.

Let’s take a look at the FAS scale.


Level 5:

The patient shows signs of aggression such as growling, snapping, barking, hissing, or lunging. Pet will not tolerate procedures and most likely needs sedation for handling or procedures. PVM will be prescribed before future visits.Every patient has different needs, and our VetWell Care Team uses low stress handling techniques customized for each patient. 

Level 4:

Pet is not willing to participate in procedures and may attempt to get away or escape. Pet may exhibit fight, flight, or freeze response. Pet does not accept treats or attention. Sedation may be recommended or rescheduling with PVM.

Level 2-3:
Pet is fidgeting and not readily accepting treats or attention. May interact with staff. At this point, the staff can assess the situation and try to find ways to comfort the patient. They may use a different treat, form of handling, or take a break. If the pet continues to struggle, sedation may be recommended, or the exam may be rescheduled for a later date with pre-visit calming medications (PVM).

Level 0-1:

Pet is relaxed and readily accepts treats, attention, and/or toys. The veterinary team can easily continue procedures with a level 0-1 patient.



Why Low Stress? Fear & anxiety in our pets, and how we can help.

Low Stress Veterinary Visits for Cats

Dogs and Car Rides

Using Medication to Lower Veterinary Visit Stress

Chart of Fear, Stress, and Anxiety in Felines
Chart of Fear, Stress, and Anxiety in Canines

Pet owners who would like more information about FAS and how it affects their pet’s emotional wellbeing

can speak to a member of our VetWell Care Team by calling 956-386-9310.

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