Category Archives: Services

Good morning, humans!  (Well, it’s morning for me, as I just woke us from my mid-morning feeding nap)  Today we are going to talk about something that’s been affecting me lately, and lots of other dogs and cats I see at our hospital: Joint Disease.

As our pets grow older, it becomes more probable for them to develop some form of joint disease.  It can be mild, even unnoticeable to the pet owner, or it can be debilitating, severely affecting the pet’s quality of life; joint pain may even cause partial or complete lameness.  While some pets may develop joint disease in their younger years due to injury or over-exertion, signs of joint pain usually do not appear until the later half of life, depending on your pet’s breed.  Dogs are more susceptible to arthritis than cats, and the larger dog breeds are more vulnerable than smaller breeds.  So, what should you be looking for?  The most common signs of joint disease include stiffness, limping, or favoring a limb (especially after sleeping or resting), inability or trouble getting up, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, and noticeable pain.

There are many diseases and problems that affect the joints of pets, such as:

1 – Ligament, tendon, or muscle problems and joint fractures
2 – Inflammatory joint diseases, like Lyme
3 – Congenital/genetically inherited disorders
4 – Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis)
5 – Dietary and hormonal disease, like hyperparathyroidism or obesity

There are far more causes of joint disease in pets than are listed here, but fortunately there are just as many methods of managing and treating joint pain.

Weight management is one of the first things we look at.  All surgical and medical procedures will be more beneficial if the animal is not overweight.  Considering that up to half of the pets in the U.S. are overweight, there is a fair chance that many of the dogs and cats with hip dysplasia/osteoarthritis are also overweight.  Helping a pet lose weight until they reach the recommended weight and maintaining that weight may be the most important thing an owner can do for a pet.  This may be the hardest part of the treatment, but it is worth it.  You, as the owner, have control over what your dog eats.  This method also goes hand-in-hand with exercise.  Activities that provide a good range of motion and muscle building and limits exertion on the joints is the best.  Leash walking, swimming, walking on treadmills, and trotting are excellent low-impact exercises.  In general, too little exercise can be more detrimental than too much, however the wrong type of exercise can cause further damage.  While watching a dog play Frisbee or catch is very enjoyable and fun for the dog, it is very hard on a dog’s joints.  Remember, it is important to exercise daily; only exercising on weekends or just occasionally may cause more harm than good if the animal is sore and reluctant to move at all.  Beyond losing weight and exercise, sometimes a little physical therapy is in order.  Our veterinary staff can show you how to perform simple physical therapy and massage on your pet to help relax stiff muscles and promote a good range of motion in the joints.  Remember, your furry friend is in pain, so start slowly and build trust.  If therapy isn’t an option for you to perform on your own, we have a few wonderful Pet Therapy Specialists in the area who would be happy to help rehabilitate your companion animal!

Most of us humans who have arthritis find that the pain and other symptoms are worse in cold, damp weather. The same is true for pets!  Keeping your pet warm and insulated will be much more comfortable.  You may want to consider keeping the temperature in your home a little warmer, or provide your pet with a warming pad or cushy orthopedic foam bed.  Orthopedic or dense foam beds distribute weight evenly and reduce pressure on joints.   Another option for pain management is medication.  Medical management is appropriate for both young pets with clinical signs (mostly dogs in this case) and for older animals with chronic osteoarthritis.  Because of the high cost involved with many surgeries to correct ligament injuries or joint fractures, medication is most times the only affordable option for many pet owners.  Anti-inflammatories and joint supplements may be used in tandem to help treat joint paint, and you may even need to use pain control medications and analgesics.  Glucosamine and chondroitin found in joint supplements give the cartilage-forming cells in the body what they need to synthesize new cartilage and to repair the existing damaged cartilage. These products are not painkillers; they work by actually healing the damage that has been done.  They generally take at least six weeks to begin to heal the cartilage and most animals need to be maintained on these products the rest of their lives to prevent further cartilage breakdown.  These products are very safe and show very few side effects.  Anti-inflammatory medications (known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs) are strong and effective painkillers and anti-inflammatory agents.  They are prescription products and, because of potential side effects, careful adherence to dosing quantity and frequency must be followed.  The manufacturers and veterinarians recommend periodic bloodwork to be done on pets that use these medicines to monitor any developing liver problems resulting from their use.  And, of course, pain control medications are used often in pets with joint pain to do just that – control the pain.  It may seem as though your pet is getting a lot of medication and pet owners may be resistant to giving medications to their pets, but it really does wonders to help pets with joint pain and arthritis feel so much better!  We have seen significant improvement in painful pets with prescribed pain control medications – they are happier, move more easily, and seem like their young selves again.

**It is very important while speaking of medical pain management to mention that you may never give human medications such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol to a pet!  These are toxic and fatal to your pet!  Please ask a veterinarian for a safe, pet-approved medication to help treat joint disease pain before consulting Dr. Google.**

In the event that the above options do not work, or that your pet has a congential issue or ligament/muscle/bone injury, surgery may be the best option to correct and treat the problem.  We work with several surgical experts who can have your pet up and running via surgical procedures to correct cruciate and ligament tears, bone problems, hip dysplasia, and more.  For pets who do not need surgical repair and only display more soft tissue or muscle related joint disease,
Acupuncture may be a good treatment option.  Our own Dr. Garrood is a certified pet Acupuncturist and sees many pets who are having problems with walking, lameness, and degenerative joint pain.  Many of her patients experience great recovery within a few sessions!

So, if you see your pet exhibiting stiffness, lameness, limping, problems getting up, problems jumping or climbing stairs, weight gain issues, inactivity and sleeping more, urinating around the house or other behavioral issues, call your veterinarian promptly.  We can evaluate your furry friend and see if their problems are stemming from joint pain or related issues and get them the treatment they need to be happy and healthy again!

I personally am happier when I have my Metacam dose – it helps me a lot and keeps me jumping!

Til next meow,
Mason

It’s time for another one of Mason’s Mewsings!  Today, we’ll be talking about AAHA, the American Animal Hospital Association.  You may have seen their logo on our website or around the hospital.

So, what is AAHA?  Per Wikipedia, “The American Animal Hospital Association is a non-profit organization for companion animal veterinary hospitals.  Established in 1933, the association is the only accrediting body for small animal hospitals in the U.S. and Canada.  The association develops benchmarks of excellence, business practice standards, publications and educational programs.  Any veterinary hospital can join AAHA as a member, but must then pass an evaluation in order to receive AAHA accreditation.”

And what does this accreditation entail?  Well, to become an AAHA-accredited practice, animal hospitals and clinics willingly undergo a rigorous evaluation process to ensure they meet the 900+ individual standards of accreditation put forth by AAHA.  These 900+ standards include but are not limited to: “Patient care, diagnostic imaginglaboratorypain managementpharmacy, safety, surgery, client service, anesthesiacontagious diseasecontinuing educationdentistry, examination facilities, medical records, leadership and emergency/urgent care. To maintain their accredited status, hospitals undergo comprehensive on-site evaluations every three years, which ensures that hospitals are compliant with the Association’s mandatory standards.”  And it’s not just limited to general practice veterinary facilities – specialty hospitals can become accredited as a “Referral” practice, as well.

So, what does this mean for you, our clients?  It means that you can expect a higher standard of quality and veterinary care from us.  It means that we are holding ourselves to higher expectations and that we try to maintain and exceed current veterinary medical standards.  It means that we provide a safe, clean, contagion-free environment to come to, that we use high quality medications and anesthesia, and that our hospital protocols are designed to meet AAHA’s high standards of quality.  AAHA also recommends continuous learning and keeping staff skills up-to-date.  This helps members build team confidence and ultimately helps hospitals provide a positive client “experience,” while improving the level of patient care.  AAHA-accredited practices use a team approach to meet the needs of their clients and the pets they love.

We’re proud to say that we are AAHA accredited and have been for many years!  If you have any questions regarding our accreditation or practices, please contact us and we’ll be happy to speak with you.  My favorite part is when the staff gives me copious amounts of treats and lets me stay at the hospital as their cat!  
 
Well, you cool cats, that’s all for me today!  I have some much-needed napping to attend to!

 

Til next meow,

Mason

Hello, all you followers of Mason, you!  I have a very important topic to talk about today: low-stress handling.  The name may sound self-explanatory, but there is a lot of buzz about this “new” way of handling pets.

 

With animals, we have to rely on rewarding behavior as soon as it happens, and we must remove rewards for bad behavior before the animal is actually rewarded.  This is how we (and you) communicate with your pet.  And while animals may learn to recognize individual words, they don’t understand human language; however, they do understand our body language.  As a result we have to be aware of every action and movement we make because they all communicate something.  And we have to realize that whether we’re aware of it or not, every interaction we have with the pet is a training session.  Unfamiliar smells, sounds, and sights, and potentially threatening pets and people inundate our patients the moment they enter our office.  We perform unpleasant, sometimes painful procedures, often by force due to the unwillingness of the patient.  A single such experience can condition a negative emotional response where the animal learns to fear us.  This learned fear can result in fidgeting, attempts to flee, and/or aggression at subsequent visits.

So, what are some of the steps we take to handle your pet in a low-stress way?  We work to condition a POSITIVE emotional response.  This approach can prevent fear from developing, as well as counter-act a fear that has already been established by previous encounters elsewhere.  We pair the experience with something that naturally elicits a positive emotional response in the animal – food and love.  Food is the easiest and most powerful means of providing this response because we are all programmed with an innate positive response to food.  And we use gentle motions, soft voices, hugs, and lots of petting to calm your pet during the exam and treatments.  We use small sharp needles that do not hurt as much when we give injections or vaccines.  We use pheromone sprays and diffusers in the exam rooms to help alleviate any stress your pet may be feeling.  We use appropriate but minimal restraint for procedures and examinations, include towel restraint for cats versus scruffing.

Pets who have already developed a strong negative emotional response to a clinic setting may need a slower, more systematic approach as they may be too stressed to find food appealing at that point.  These pets are best helped by setting up a series of “Desensitization” visits. If the care needed is urgent or necessary, then sedation is recommended before beginning any stressful procedures.

With both positive reinforcement as well as coercion, the timing is the same and owners need to be equally consistent.  So, if a pet owner does not have the ability to reward consistently and with the right timing, it’s not likely they will be able to perform the punishment technique well either.  It is important to continue training your animal when not at the veterinarian’s office so that your pet will learn to be more comfortable with us and in other stressful situations.  If you are interested in low-stress handling, consult the works of Dr. Sophia Yin, the leading expert on behavior modification and positive reinforcement training.  You are also welcome to call our office and ask about low-stress handling!

Well, cats and kittens, that is all for today.  I know I always appreciate being treated gently and with lots of treats, so I’m sure your pet will, too!

Til next meow,
Mason

Mason, here!  Talking to you about a very important topic with regard to felines who live outdoors.  We all know the problem with feral cat colonies and cats who live outdoors: a lot of them aren’t spayed/neutered and their population keeps increasing!!  Trap-Neuter-Return (called TNR) is a humane and effective approach for cats living outside.  Scientific studies show that Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.
Trap-Neuter-Return is exactly what it sounds like: Cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be neutered and vaccinated, and to have their ears tipped to indicate that they have been neutered and returned to the outdoors.  This practice stops the breeding cycle of cats and improves their lives.   Since most feral cats are not adoptable, they have been trapped by animal control services and subsequently killed in pounds and shelters due to their wild nature and lack of domesticity.  Trap-Neuter-Return helps prevent the need for euthanizing these felines while allowing them to live without adding to the problem of overpopulation.

Our own Dr. Snellgrove and Vet Assistant Elizabeth Board participate in TNR clinics and love talking about their experiences in aiding outdoor felines!

Here, Elizabeth is helping another volunteer to prep cats for surgery. This involves removing hair from the surgical site and scrubbing it clean.

Here, Dr. Snellgrove (in the red top) and another doctor perform neuter and spay surgeries while technicians monitor the patients and stand by to give additional anesthesia if necessary.  The doctors have to work very fast because the felines are anesthetized with injectable medications versus gas anesthesia, to prevent any medical complications.

Don’t worry, this cat is just asleep!  Each cat has an ID number and paperwork that accompanies it, so there’s no worry of getting the animals mixed up.  You may also see animals laid out on trays in preparation for the surgeries – this helps cut down on time that the cats have to stay asleep so the neuter and spay surgeries can be done quickly and efficiently.  

his kitten just had her ear tipped in surgery prep (she’s asleep, too!).  The clamp will stay on through her surgery and be removed in recovery.  Chances are if you see a cat with a clipped ear, it was once an outside cat who has gone through a TNR program and was adopted!

With Trap-Neuter-Return, veterinarian professionals can stabilize the feline outdoor population humanely, improve the cats’ lives, save taxpayer dollars, address neighbors’ concerns, and help the entire community reach a solution that benefits everyone!  If you are interested in helping with Trap-Neuter-Return programs, you can contact Alley Cat Allies or Metro Ferals for more information.  Here at Great Falls Animal Hospital, we work with 4Paws Rescue Team directly to care for their cats and spay and neuter them!

I hope that sheds some light on a very interesting and life-saving practice that we believe in wholeheartedly!  Well, kittens, that’s all for now.  I’m going to snuggle up here and wait for Christmas!


Til next meow,
Mason

Hello, blogger fans!  It has been a long and fun summer and everything is now winding down for the fall.  That also means lots of moving, kids going to school and moving for college, and fall changes.  So, today, I would like to talk to you about microchipping.

What is microchipping, you may ask?  Well, a microchip is a tiny electronic device (about the size of a grain of rice) that uses radio waves to transmit stored information when it is read by the right kind of scanner.  Microchips for pets store a unique identification number and do not need a power source, and they have no moving parts, so they do not wear out.  Microchips are made of a material that is compatible with body tissues, so rejection and infection at the site are rare.  After injection, the microchip becomes encased in the tissue at the injection site (usually around the back and shoulders). It may move slightly, but it usually stays at or near the place it was injected.  To read the chip, a compatible scanner must be passed over it.  Different microchip companies use different chips; however, there are scanners that can read all kinds of chips.

To complete the microchipping process, you must register your pet’s microchip with the microchip company.  Unless the microchip company has your information, there is no way for the identification number on the microchip to link you with your lost pet!  This is the number one way to reunite an owner with their pet, and we here at our hospital have many happy stories about reuniting pets and owners due to a microchip and the information attached with the microchip.

So, what happens if your pet becomes lost?  When a lost or injured pet is taken to an emergency room, veterinary office, or shelter, he or she can be scanned for the presence of a microchip.  If the pet has a chip, the scanner reads the pet’s identification number.  If the chip has been properly registered, the shelter or hospital can provide the number to the microchip company, which maintains the owner’s contact information.  The microchip company or hospital then contacts the owner, and the pet can be reunited with his or her family!

The use of tattoos as permanent identification for pets has for the most part been made obsolete by microchip technology.  A microchip and an ID tag, however, work best together, and I recommend that every pet have both.  The most important thing to remember about any form of pet ID is to keep your contact information current!  If you move or change your phone number, update your microchip information immediately.  Don’t wait, because a move is a high-risk time when your pet is more likely to slip out and go missing.  And get a new ID tag as well: Many pet-supply stores have machines that make them while you wait, in five minutes or less!  No excuses!

The bottom line, though, is that if your pet is lost, you want to make sure you have done everything you can to make his return home as quick and easy as possible.  You don’t want to have to rely on posters plastered around town or hope a harried shelter worker will have the time and resources to figure out where your pet belongs.  Tags, microchips and other innovative ways of identifying pets all help to produce happy endings for lost pets and their owners.

To sum up, here’s why you should use a microchip as an identifier for your pet:

  • Microchips are a way of permanently identifying your pet.
  • Microchips must be registered with a microchip company to reunite you with your pet.
  • Microchipping is a simple, quick procedure that can be performed by your veterinarian.
  • Many lost pets are never returned to their owners because they do not have any form of identification.


To keep your pet safe in the face of the unknown, try a microchip today!  Coupled with an ID tag or ID collar, your pet will have the best chance possible to be reunited with you.  And I should know – I’m microchipped, too!

Til next meow,

Mason

Hello, everyone!  I am your guest blogger for the month – my name is Luna!  I am a lionhead bunny and a good friend of Mason, who has been vacationing for the entire summer (lucky cat!).  He only just told me about his blog and I was all too happy to volunteer for an entry.

Finding the right pets to complete your household can be a daunting task.  How you introduce the new housemates to each other can make or break the relationship, with those all-important first impressions. The introduction process may need to continue for weeks, or even months, until everyone is comfortable with each other.

 
Day-to-day management of a cat and a dog (or bunny, or hamster, or fish, or bird) represents several challenges.  You’ll want to consider in advance whether you want to live with the household changes that may be required, like all the chasing and squawking and squeaking!  No one can guarantee that particular pets will be safe together unsupervised – I know that some of us pocket pets would get eaten up in an instant if Mom and Dad weren’t watching over us!
 

So, how do you introduce your new pet to your current companion?  Start by letting the pets smell and hear each other through a door or crate that blocks the view.  It may take at least one to several days, but definitely keep this up as long as it takes for pet to be relaxed, then try reversing their locations so your new pet can be out and about the house and your current pet is in a different area.

It’s useful to switch them back and forth several times so neither one gets jealous of each other.  If both animals remain calm, the next step would be to put two barriers between the pets, with a distance of several feet or more so both animals will feel comfortable that actual contact can’t happen.  Of course, in the cases of pocket pets, this may never actually happen, as those cats and dogs are sooooo big!!!!  It may be too scary to let them meet face to face, but crated contact is a good idea.  One of the barriers might be a see-through door, window, or crate.  If it’s a baby gate it must be one the cat can’t get over, under or through.

Dogs need to be confined away from the barrier the other pet is behind.  You could use another crate or enclosure, or perhaps have the dog on leash.  Even if both animals are completely calm at this point, that’s enough for the first day, maybe the first several days.  Don’t rush to the next stage.  If either animal is nervous when viewing the other, go back to the setup of hearing and scent without sight.  Be careful to maintain their trust by not allowing accidental contact.

Cats can take a long time to get used to things, commonly months – like I said before, my kitty brothers took forever to get used to me!  Taking things too quickly can set the process back so badly that it’s far better to go slowly.  Dogs are usually much better at meeting new pets, but they can also be quick to think that new pet is a chew toy!

You can read more about the Introduction Process here, thanks to our awesome authors and trainers over at Veterinary Partner! Veterinary Partner – Introducing New Pets

And for more information specifically regarding Dog Behavior and Introductions to new pets, please see this article on Dog Introductions.

Thank you all so much for letting me talk to you this week!  I will let Mason know you all miss him, but he is very busy getting back massages and being combed (it’s his favorite thing ever).  Next time, we will have another guest blogger for you!  Luna, out!

Happy summer, my friends!  Enjoying the warmer weather so far?  I know I am!  Well, at least from the window…  How about any fun summer vacationing yet?  I’ve been saving up for my summer cruise, which reminds me, I need to find out if they accept treats as payment.

 

Today I welcome a very special guest who just happens to be a good buddy of mine- Dr. Anne Garrood!  She is going to help me by talking about veterinary acupuncture.  For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Garrood, let me tell you a little bit about her. 

Dr. Garrood, originally from Cambridge, England, has been practicing veterinary medicine for about 26 years and actually started out in human medicine earning her Bachelors degree in nursing while working in Nottingham at a pharmaceutical company.  After a few years, she decided she wanted to see what the good ole’ USA had to offer and soon found herself living in Mississippi and beginning her journey of veterinary medicine.  In 1991, she not only graduated from Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine, but also became a United States citizen!  Fast forward to 1999, she joined our fabulous team at GFAH and has since been stuck with us! J  Following her interest in complementary medicine, she took the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) course in 1997 and has been practicing ever since.

For those who may not be familiar with acupuncture, it is essentially inserting needles into particular points of the body to help generate healing and “balance energy”.  I bet you probably didn’t know that it has been used in veterinary medicine in China for at least 3000 years!  Like humans, animals don’t always respond to acupuncture, but it has been proven to be very successful in many cases to help alleviate symptoms and pain from a variety of diseases and ailments.  Some of those include (but are not limited to): arthritis, skin problems, respiratory problems, reproductive issues, and nervous system, kidney and liver problems and gastrointestinal issues.  I think Dr. Garrood would agree that most of her acupuncture patients are receiving treatment due to issues with arthritis but she has had patients with other ailments as well. 

 

Dr. Garrood was kind enough to answer some questions for me relating to what she does with acupuncture on dogs and cats

 

Mason: When did you first become interested in doing acupuncture on dogs and cats?

 

Dr. Garrood: “When I was in vet school, I looked into taking the course but it was too expensive for a poor vet student.”

 

Mason: Was learning how to do acupuncture on animals difficult?  How long have you been doing it?

 

Dr. Garrood: “Yes.  It was very hard to switch my mind from Western scientific thinking (“left brain”) to the Chinese model which is more “right brain” driven.   Chinese medicine varies the treatment depending on the signs that a person shows, so 2 people, both with asthma, might receive very different treatments. 

I took the IVAS (International Veterinary Acupuncture Society) course from 1996-1997.”
 

Mason: I know you typically see more dogs than cats for acupuncture; do you think that dogs tend to respond better than cats in general?

 

Dr. Garrood: “Although cats usually don’t like insertion of the needles very much, they do seem to respond to acupuncture very well.  I have had some cats with very severe illness become completely well again with acupuncture, so I love doing acupuncture on kitties; it is very rewarding!”

 

Mason: Just like with people, acupuncture on animals is never guaranteed to work, however it looks like you have been fairly successful overall with patients responding to treatment.  Over the years that you have been practicing acupuncture, what percentage would you say were given a better quality of life because of it?

 

Dr. Garrood: “I generally expect 60-70% of patients to respond well.  Another 10-15% responds some, but maybe not responds well enough to continue with the acupuncture.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell beforehand who will respond and who won’t, so I have to try it to find out.”

 

Thank you Dr. Garrood for taking the time to sit down with me and answer some questions!  If you think that your dog or cat might benefit from acupuncture, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can put you in touch with Dr. Garrood.

 

For more information on veterinary acupuncture, here are a few resources to try:

 

International VeterinaryAcupuncture Society

 

American Academy of VeterinaryAcupuncture  

 

American Holistic VeterinaryMedical Association  

 

VeterinaryPartner- Acupuncture:  An AncientPractice

 

OK, all of this acupuncture talk suddenly has me very relaxed and “zen-ful” so I’m going to go nap it off! 

 

Til next meow,

Mason

Happy April, my fellow Masoneers!  Did you look into adopting a rescued guinea pig during Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig month?  I did, but they did athorough background check and found out that I was a cat and therefore ineligible.  When I meowed that I felt I was being discriminated against, they asked if I had a steady income that would allow me to provide food, shelter and medical care and I had to be honest and say no.  They also asked if I rented or owned my residence and how much I pay per month; well, I actually cost my roommate’s money to keep me but they do because they love me.  J  We all came to a mutual agreement that owning a pet was not going to be in the pet’s best interest. 

Speaking of which, did anyone else look up information on guinea pigs after reading about it? Although it was focused on guinea pigs, the message is VERY important to anyone looking to have any kind of pet: what kind of pet is right, is it even the right time or place to have a pet right now?  That has to be the #1 reason for pets ending up in shelters and/or neglected.  The owner never did or no longer has the time or means to care for them and unfortunately, many don’t care enough to rectify the situation.  Please, please make sure that before you take on the responsibilities of having a pet, that you have the ability to meet that pet’s needs.  If you think that an adoption fee is expensive, that may be a good indication that adopting a pet is probably is not the right thing to do right now.   Food, medical care, pet rent (where applicable) and supplies are all expenses that will be in addition to your current cost of living.  When making this decision, ask yourself how long the pet would be alone during the day, how much space you have to accommodate them, type of environment, and if living with others, is everyone on board?  Let’s help shelters and animals by educating people about pet ownership so that we can reduce the number of homeless pets!

Another very popular reason for pets being surrendered to shelters are allergies.  Dog and cat dander (really pet dander in general) are top reasons that many people do not own animals and why so many pet owners are on lifetime allergy medication.  Having a pet means that you are most likely having to clean more often and, depending on what you have, how much extra cleaning you need to do. Even if you think your dog or cat doesn’t shed, think again.  Humans shed.  Sorry, the truth hurts.  How much they shed varies so if that’s an issue for you, do your research before you bring a pet home. 

If you have the financial means, many people find that having hardwood floors (or something other than carpet such as tile, laminate, etc) helps tremendously for people with allergies and can also be much easier to clean. Speaking of, is it possible to keep a clean house while being a pet owner?  The answer is a most definite yes, though a lot of that depends on the upkeep. VeterinaryPartner.com has some good ideas; for areas that are harder to keep clean, try and cover with something that can be fairly easily washed like a small rug or furniture throw.  It also helps tremendously when you can clean up before dirt or mess spread throughout the house.  I know those dogs can be awfully messy, mud and dirt everywhere and who knows what else.  OK, I’ll admit it cats sometimes get litter in their paws and walk around the house too but we at least have a “grace” about it.  You can use baby wipes or a warm washcloth to periodically wipe our paws if you feel so inclined.  We may act like we hate it but secretly we enjoy the cleanliness!

So is there a stain on the carpet that we may or may have not contributed to somewhere?  It would probably be advisable to try again and see if maybe another method or product can take it out.  Word around the campfire is that pets have a habit of returning to the scene of previous crimes; other’s or our own, we’re not prejudiced. 

Here’s another newsflash:  a lot of us love to be groomed.  It also keeps some of the fur under control and not all over the rest of the house.  It’s good for bonding too.  Believe it or not, we have our Hallmark moments too!

For more information on keeping it tidy, visit:

https://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1614

https://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=208

https://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=962

Speaking of cleaning, I’m going to go try and get out of the way of my staff cleaning.  I sometimes feel kind of bad that they have to do it around me. 

Til next meow,

Mason

Greetings friends! How is everyone’s 2013 going so far? How about those New Year’s resolutions? One of mine was to simmer down the sarcasm a bit but then I remembered that I’m a cat! It’s part of my natural charm. My 2013 has been OK so far though I am recovering from being a bit under the weather. Thankfully my staff takes pretty good care of me and can tell when I’m not feeling my best! I know you want your pet to feel their best, so let’s talk about your pet’s dental health and signals that something may be wrong. Today’s main objective however is to go over with you what to expect when your pet does need dental care.

Let’s say that Fido is 8 years old and has a broken tooth with significant amount of tartar buildup.   Fido’s parent had noticed a decrease in his appetite and then he didn’t want to eat at all.  He had also become lethargic and didn’t want to play or go on walks which concerned the parent even more since walks were pretty much the best darn thing ever created.  So Dr. Mason has now determined that Fido needs dental work.  What now?  He recommends extracting the broken tooth and doing a complete dental at the same time. The doctor gives them the pre-dental instructions.  Due to Fido’s graceful aging and passing 7 years, pre-anesthetic blood work is mandatory so he goes ahead and takes care of that during the exam.  Dr. Mason will determine based on the blood work whether or not he thinks Fido will be a good candidate to undergo anesthesia.  Other things to remember:  12-hour fast (no food or treats however water is OK), and what time Fido should be admitted the day of the procedure.  You need to make sure that you tell the front desk at check in if you gave any medications that morning so they can relay that to the doctor.  And if you do accidentally give your pet a treat or feed them even a little breakfast, let the front staff know since that could affect whether or not your pet should go under anesthesia. 

Fido needs to be fully anesthetized, because the doctor needs to be able to fully examine his mouth and the licensed veterinary technician needs to be able to perform a thorough cleaning. While Fido is anesthetized the doctor may find other teeth that need to be extracted and possibly need to take x-rays to look for further decay.  The doctor went over Fido’s post dental care.  Taking into consideration Fido’s medical history and having at least one tooth extracted, the doctor plans on sending him home with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) for pain and an antibiotic.  Every case is different so make sure you pay attention to what the vet says and follow any pre and post dental instructions!  Follow ups are usually not necessary as long as your pet’s eating and drinking normally and they are not showing any other signs of distress. 

My doctors and staff will handle any questions or concerns you may have so don’t hesitate to ask!  You can come in and ask me but then people might think it’s a bit strange asking a cat medical advice…  No one’s supposed to know just how smart I really am.  They wouldn’t believe you since it’s so rare to have some cat this handsome be this intelligent…  On that note, my brain needs food as does my tummy so I am off to soak in some smart… in the form of dinner!

Purrs,

Mason

Can you believe we are in October, folks?  I guess technically I have no concept of time other than “time to eat”, “time to eat”, “time for treats”, and then “time to eat.”  This is also the month when I have to endure unnecessary torture.  My staff finds pleasure in dressing  me up in what you refer to as “clothes”.  Usually it’s something awful on my head, a “costume” I believe is the name, and it makes me look handsomely ridiculous.  (Cause let’s face it, I’m always handsome…) 

First things first, Halloween is right around the corner.  I am of the understanding that you two-legged varieties choose this day to go to other two-leggeds’ homes and rob them of their treats.  I personally find this to be a barbaric ritual, as I am very protective of my treats but I guess it works for you humans!  That being said, keep any candy or other “human treats” out of your pet’s reach.  Same goes for decorations; I know we felines like to play with things that we are not supposed to and dogs like to eat things they’re not supposed to, so be extra careful!  I know I had briefly gone over this in my last blog but I just needed to reiterate with three big holidays coming up!

So now I wanted to talk a little bit about National Veterinary Technician Week, an annual event since 1993, which ran from October 14-20.  Although we appreciate our technicians every day, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, Inc. (NAVTA) wanted to recognize those special people who work together with veterinarians to try to keep your pet healthy and happy.  NAVTA  (incorporated in 1981) is a non-profit organization that proudly represents  veterinary technicians  while  educating  and providing support to the profession. 

Our lovely LVT’s are:  Jennifer Keane, Renee Small, Beth Lannon, Denise Sanchez, Cara Scarano, Bernadette Ortiz and Mary Portelly.  I have intermewed one of those fabulous techs, Cara, to learn a little bit more about her job. (I know, I’m very intelligent already but believe it or not I don’t know everything…)

MASON:  What is the job of a veterinary technician?

CARA:  Veterinary technicians do a wide variety of jobs. These duties can include drawing blood and ordering lab tests, reading slides and samples under the microscope, taking X-rays  of sick and injured animals, giving injections and vaccinations, placing IV catheters to aid in the administration of fluids and anesthetics, inducing general anesthesia and assisting doctors in surgery, performing dental cleanings on anesthetized pets, changing bandages and splints, and most importantly, educating  owners on how to best care for their pets both preventively and once medical conditions have been diagnosed by a doctor.

MASON:  Do all veterinary technicians have to go to school for this job?

CARA:  The short answer is no. Some technicians have hands on training, and are taught to the specific standards of their employer. These technicians, or “techs” for short, may have similar duties to that of a licensed veterinary technician, or LVT.  What a ‘tech” can do does vary from state to state and from clinic to clinic. Here at Great Falls Animal Hospital, we refer to non- licensed employees as assistants.

The only way to obtain the title of LVT is by completing a degree program at an AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accredited school. Upon graduation of the scholastic program, which usually lasts 2 to 4 years, a student is then allowed to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam. This test requires a satisfactory passing score, and in Virginia, can only be taken by graduates of a Veterinary Technician Program. Once these two requirements have been met, a person can then apply to their state Department of Health for their license.

MASON:  What part of your job is most rewarding?  (Mine is treats!)

CARA:  I really enjoy both helping animals and working with their owners.  The human-animal bond is so amazing and never fails to touch my heart. Whether it is a small child learning love, compassion, responsibility and patience through pet ownership or an elderly person who relies on their dog to get them out of the house and walking on a daily basis, this bond and relationship cannot be denied.

MASON:  What advice do you have for someone who may be interested in the veterinary profession?

CARA:  First, get involved. There are so many great clinics and organizations in the area that need help. You don’t need to have experience, just a strong interest and willingness to learn. People should also remember that though that this field is very rewarding, it is not “just playing with kittens and puppies.” There is a lot of cleaning and less-than- glamorous work that needs to be done to keep our patients comfortable and well-cared for.  Cases and patients can be challenging and don’t always have the outcomes we hope they will.  I find that spending time with animals and their owners even during the most difficult times still has its own personal rewards.  Because of that, I cannot imagine doing anything else!

Until next time,

Meows,

Mason