Complete Medical Assessment
Our complete medical assessment begins with in-depth discussion with one of our veterinarians about any health concerns that you have, or any changes to your pet's routines. This discussion can be very useful in helping the veterinarian pinpoint a problem and, for this reason, it is important that a person who is familiar with health of the pet attend the appointment. This is followed by a thorough physical examination whereby your pet's eyes, ears, skin, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal and skeletal system are examined for any abnormalities. Blood tests can be performed as necessary to assess the proper functioning of your pet's kidneys, liver, pancreas, and endocrine system including the thyroid gland and adrenal glands. Urine tests can detect similar problems. Depending on your pet's condition, we may recommend further diagnostic tests such as more targeted blood work, radiography (X-rays), cytology or biopsy collection, and in some cases, surgery. We also have the option of referring patients for more advanced procedures such as ultrasound and endoscopy.
Parasite control is an important part of your pets' preventative health care program. Fleas, ear mites, and intestinal parasites (roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, coccidia) are encountered quite commonly in both dogs and cats. Other parasites that we encounter less frequently include mange mites (sarcoptes and demodex), cheylitiella ("walking dandruff), and lice. For our canine patients, heartworm is another parasite that is frequently discussed.
A flea problem on your pet may mean a flea problem in your home! Fleas cause itch and irritation to both pets and humans alike and can also spread tapeworm to our four-legged friends! Some pets suffer from flea allergies, and can develop severe skin problems as a result of a flea infestation. Understanding the flea life cycle and methods for its control can be a daunting task. We will gladly assist you in this process. We can provide you with safe, effective flea prevention and if necessary, flea treatment. For dogs, we encourage flea prevention as part of their annual heartworm prevention program.
Ear mites most commonly affect young kittens. These highly contagious mites can also infect puppies and older cats and dogs. The mites cause a typical brown, "coffee-ground" like discharge in the ears, and can be quickly diagnosed by an ear swab. If mites are detected, we recommend treating all in contact pets due to the contagious nature of these little critters!
Internal parasites are of primary concern in puppies and kittens, but can also be a concern in the adult pets as well, depending on their lifestyle. Many internal parasite infections are sub-clinical, meaning we see no outward sign of infection. In other cases, diarrhea or soft stools may be noted. Stool samples are often used to determine if parasites are present, and in some cases, deworming medications are used based on suspicion of an infection, especially in high risk patients (such as the felines who hunt). Many of the medications recommended for heartworm prevention in our canine patients also provide excellent internal parasite control.
Heartworm is a parasite spread between dogs by mosquitos. The immature parasites are passed from the mosquitos and travel through the bloodstream to the large blood vessels in the chest where they stay and mature to the adult life stage. The reproductively active adults release immature microfilarial stages into the bloodstream which can then be picked up by mosquitos to continue the cycle. Certain environmental requirements are necessary for infection to occur, and we are seeing those conditions more and more frequently and in more and more areas. Our approach to heartworm is a preventative one, as prevention has proven to be both safe and effective. Dogs require heartworm prevention from June 1- November 1 each year, and we also recommend blood tests to screen for possible infection, even for the dogs that are on the preventative medications. The veterinarians will discuss the schedule for testing appropriate for the individual patient.
If you have specific questions, please ask our veterinary staff. Remember, that we are your best source of information regarding parasite control for your pets!
Radiology (x-ray) is routinely used to provide valuable information about a pet's bones, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, colon), respiratory tract (lungs), heart, and genitourinary system (bladder, prostate). It can be used alone or in conjunction with other diagnostic tools to provide a list of possible causes for a pet's condition, identify the exact cause of a problem or rule out possible problems.
When a pet is being radiographed, an x-ray beam passes through its body and hits a piece of radiographic film. Images on the film appear as various shades of gray and reflect the anatomy of the animal. Bones, which absorb more x-rays, appear as light gray structures. Soft tissues, such as the lungs, absorb fewer x-rays and appear as dark gray structures. Interpretation of radiographs requires skill and experience on the part of the veterinarian.
If your pet requires an x-ray, we provide that service right here at our hospital. In some cases, you may be required to leave your pet with us, as it can take time to achieve diagnostic quality images. Sometimes, we need to sedate our patients in order to make the pet more comfortable when positioning them properly for the x-rays. We always arrange a discharge appointment in which you can view the x-rays with one of our veterinarians. Images obtained with the dental x-ray unit are obtained only if patients are under a full general anesthetic for a dental procedure.
Our in-house pharmacy is well stocked and contains supplies that allow us to vaccinate and treat your pet for a wide variety of conditions. Veterinarians have the responsibility to dispense medications with great care, and medications are not dispensed if we feel they are unnecessary. In addition, it is important that pets be evaluated each time a problem presents itself, even if it looks the same as a previous episode. The veterinarian may decide to run further tests before proceeding with therapy, or medications may be changed. In some cases, our veterinarians may choose to write a prescription for a canine or feline patient that can be filled at a local pharmacy, if we do not routinely carry a medication that we feel would benefit your pet. In addition, we also frequently utilize special compounding pharmacies that can provide us with medications in special formulations and flavours specifically designed for pets.