The most critical period in determining future health are the initial steps animal guardians take when adopting new puppies and/or kittens. The first important step is to have a full veterinary exam and evaluation, preferably by a progressive integrative veterinarian who is familiar with both traditional conventional veterinary medicine and complimentary holistic veterinary medicine. It is critical at this first visit to have a microscopic stool check for intestinal parasites, which are very common, especially in young puppies and kittens. Read More
“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” ~ Immanuel Kant, Philosopher
Over the past 10 years I have had two dogs, four cats, a ferret, a hamster, a Yellow Nape Amazon, and a rabbit. I have moved around quite a bit with various pets and each time I move, I have had to find a new veterinarian to take care of my babies. Just like any random group of people, there are veterinarians that come across as intellectual, some as kind, some are patient, some are compassionate, there are some veterinarians that seem too busy, some that charge too much, there are some that have a good sense of humor, and some that do not like to smile at all. Most importantly, there are veterinarians that make me comfortable immediately and some that put me on edge. Many times in my articles I suggest that developing a good relationship with your veterinarian and finding a good veterinarian is extremely important to the well-being of your pets. This story recounts how I found mine.
Here at PetMeds, we love our pets and want them to stay happy and healthy. Regular veterinary care is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your beloved furry friend stays healthy. The newest PetMeds commercial, “We Love Our Vets,” is a friendly reminder that to help keep your dog or cat healthy, most veterinarians recommend annual checkups, heartworm tests, and monthly heartworm prevention, as well as keeping up with monthly flea or tick preventatives.
PetMeds encourages and supports the close relationship between pet parents and veterinarians. To celebrate the important role your veterinarian shares in your own pet’s life, we’re having a giveaway! Tell us what makes your veterinarian special and, to help your dog or cat stay healthy, we’ll give away a year’s supply of flea medicine to one lucky winner.
Check out our PetMeds Facebook page to leave comments about your vet, and for more details about the giveaway. Good luck!
When growths, tumors, lumps or bumps are found on our pets it is often necessary for veterinarians to perform a biopsy to determine a specific diagnosis. When possible, veterinarians will often try and obtain the biopsy with a needle and syringe in what is known as a needle biopsy. This procedure usually does not require anesthesia or sedation, and is performed by aspirating cells from the growth and examining them on a microscope either directly in the veterinary office or sent to an outside laboratory.
Needle aspiration often allows veterinarians to make tentative diagnoses of tumors such as benign soft fatty tumors known as lipomas, mast cell tumors, as well as malignant lymphomas. In order to make a definitive diagnosis, however, an excisional biopsy either ultrasound guided or at surgery is necessary. These types of biopsies are often necessary to stage the tumor, as well as provide useful information in guiding treatment.
One of the more common blood tests done during a medical workup of an animal is the measurement of a CBC blood count. This important test certainly may reveal lots of important information to the examining veterinarian. The measurement of the red blood cell count will tell a veterinarian whether a pet is dehydrated, as well as whether a pet is anemic with a lower than normal red blood cell count.
When anemia is diagnosed on a CBC, the veterinarian will usually begin an extensive diagnostic workup to assess for the underlying causes of the anemia. Increases or decreases in the white blood cell count may reveal viral or bacterial infection, as well as possible need for prescription antibiotics or other immune stimulant supplements such as Vetri-DMG liquid. Platelet counts will reveal how well a pet’s blood is able to clot, and is important as many tick born diseases as well as autoimmune diseases may lower platelet counts and cause disease. On rare occasions, certain types of cancers may show up on measuring a CBC. During any disease process, many veterinarians will often monitor the CBC during treatment to make sure that the pet is progressing and that the original presenting complaint is slowly resolving.
A very controversial topic in veterinary medicine is whether or not a dog should have its dewclaws removed surgically. These are the innermost claws found on one or multiple paws, which are analogous to the thumbs of human beings. Only certain dogs are born with these claws in place. The biggest concern about the presence of the dewclaws is that they can sometimes get caught on surfaces leading to torn nails and patient pain and discomfort.
Many veterinarians will offer to remove the dewclaws when puppies are a few days old when the surgery is least traumatic, while other veterinarians will remove them at the time of a surgical spay or neuter. As a more holistic oriented veterinarian, I usually do not recommend this procedure, as I do feel it is a painful procedure, and it would be like a surgeon removing our thumbs because they got in the way. However, each case should be evaluated individually and the decision on whether to remove them should be discussed between animal guardian and veterinarian.
When an animal guardian takes a pet to the veterinarian, there are several aspects of historical information that is important to give the vet. Probably the most common information asked will be the vaccination history on the pet. While traditionally most veterinarians recommended and required yearly vaccinations for core viruses like parvo/distemper and rabies, in recent years less frequent vaccination to at most once every 3 years is growing increasingly common. In lieu of proof of vaccinations, many veterinarians will accept the measurement of blood vaccination antibody titers. In my veterinary practice I have found that in most cases pets are protected for 5-7 years and even longer when vaccinated as youngsters at 16 weeks of age or older.
Many veterinarians will also require proof of heartworm blood testing, as well as annual stool checks to make sure no parasites are present. Other important information to give to the veterinarian include what type of diet the pet is on, as well as any nutritional supplements being given which can strongly impact health. Most veterinary offices will also ask if and what type of flea and/or tick prevention medication is being given, especially given the increases in flea and tick transmitted diseases in many areas of the country.
While conventionally speaking clients will often use topical pesticides such as Frontline and/or Advantage, many holistically oriented veterinarians are also using more natural alternatives, including topical essential oils and food grade diatomaceous earth. Other important parts of the history will include any changes in thirst/urination, appetite, or behavior, as well as if there are any problems with different organ systems including digestive tract symptoms, respiratory tract signs, as well as any history of joint or back issues.
Paw pad injuries in pets are fairly common. Trauma is by far the biggest cause of paw pad injuries. Because paw pads are areas quite rich in blood flow, injuries to these areas can be quite painful and may bleed easily as well. Signs of paw pad injuries include lameness of one or more limbs, as well as bleeding around the paw pads. In addition, laceration of the paw pads often occurs.
Because of the nature and location of these injuries, many times suturing is not possible, and therefore protective dressing and bandaging is often required. Paw pad injuries are especially common in the wintertime when pets often are walking on icy or salt treated roads and side walks. Depending upon the severity of the paw pad injuries, oral antibiotics may be needed. With those superficial injuries of the paw pads, I will often instruct clients to apply topical vitamin E, aloe vera or calendula gel to the areas to promote and encourage healing.
In recent years, many veterinarians are now being trained in using laser to perform various surgical procedures, instead of using the traditional scalpel blade. Procedures that are now being done increasingly with laser include standard soft tissue surgeries including spays and castrations, lump removals, as well as declaws in cats. Orthopedic procedures are also being done routinely with lasers.
Amongst the many benefits of laser surgery include much less bleeding at the surgical site, as well as not needing any sutures, in most cases. There is significantly much less pain, and healing has been shown to be accelerated when using laser over traditional surgical techniques. It is believed that circulation is better maintained with laser surgery. The use of E collars, bandages, and wraps is also much reduced, as most pets will usually leave the surgical site alone when done with laser therapy.
During the course of veterinary practice it is often necessary for veterinarians to do blood work. Sometimes this will be a part of a workup for a sick animal, and in other cases veterinarians will often check blood work as a part of a preventative maintenance wellness program, particularly in adult and senior pets. Blood work is often done prior to elective or required surgery, including surgical sterilization procedures.
Blood work is important prior to general anesthesia to make sure that kidney, liver and other organ function is adequate. The CBC blood work done will look at parameters including whether a pet is anemic, has an infection, as well as whether clotting is adequate prior to the surgical procedure. Blood work also may determine glandular function of the thyroid and adrenal glands, as well as for heartworm status (prior to starting preventatives), and even whether a pet is protected against certain viral infectious diseases such as parvo virus or canine distemper (known as vaccination titers).
Exposure to tick born diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichia may also be determined by blood work. Although many pets may be managed symptomatically for their illnesses, it is always preferable to have a diagnosis first, which is why performing blood work is so important.