Shoe Thief

Thievery and No Go Zones

Skipper is about 16 weeks old now and growing like a little weed!  Potty training is going very well; we only have a handful of accidents per week! He’s been enjoying playing with his sister terrier at home and the other doctors’ dogs from work (Check out our Instagram for pictures of the Skipper Conroy & Phebe Luce playdate!).  He’s also learned a few commands; high five is my most favorite of these. I have grand plans for this to be a gateway into a “touchdown” trick for next football season. As it turns out, he’s a little lanky and unbalanced which results in him just tipping over these days, so we’re going to table that one for now.

With every growing inch, Skipper finds access to new places.  Coffee tables apparently house very fun things, like all the cat toys that have been way more interesting than his 800 dog toys.  Teaching him to stay off the couch was also much easier when he was half this height… and his maximum launch distance was shorter.  Also, in his defense, Lily the terrier sabotages him by pulling him on to the couch during tug of war battles.  As Skipper grew to couch access height, it became important for him to learn “off.” I picked “off,” because “get down” sounds too close to “lay down” for such a young pupper to differentiate.  In my opinion, it is easiest to teach commands along with their opposite. For couch purposes, I taught Skipper “on” and “off” using lots of treats and a very sturdy wooden box. Now, when we correct Skipper for putting front feet on the couch, his (reluctant) retreat is another command worthy of earning praise and a treat.

Now, possibly more than ever, it’s important to keep everything positive, including corrections.  Puppies can be very sensitive; disciplining early or incorrectly can damage your relationship together, and cause the puppy to misinterpret a situation. For example, if the puppy pees on the floor, refrain from pointing at the mess and yelling, “Bad dog!”  He may act sheepish and seem like he understands, but keep in mind that puppies are pretty literal. Your pointing at the yellow liquid on the floor can make him think the pee itself and his proximity to it is bad, not the act of peeing on your floor.  Shame and guilt have the same emotional appearance to us, but there’s a critical distinction.  Guilt is a feeling of that one has done something bad; shame is thinking that one is inherently bad.  There may be some level of satisfaction and accomplishment from these phrases and that sad puppy face you receive in return, but it is in fact a façade, and all we’ve done is derail the puppy’s confidence in your relationship.

Gently startling a pup to get his attention and redirect it is appropriate in many situations, but remember, you’ll need to remove and replace the undesired activity. Skipper greatly enjoys “shopping” for shoes and socks in the closet.  He will oh-so-proudly return to a room and proceed to nom on his selection. This is an issue for two reasons. First, he can’t chew on expensive shoes. Second, socks, shoes, and clothes make excellent foreign bodies and could be life threatening.  Your first instinct may be to chase the puppy and retrieve the item promptly. This incites a super fun game of chase!  This may work for a little while, but my kiddo is going to have the legs of a deer and is definitely going to outrun me. A dog running away with a toxic or dangerous item is the last thing I want to encourage. To avoid rewarding Skipper with attention for stealing an off-limits item, we nonchalantly approach with another toy, ask him to “leave it” and then trade for an appropriate chew toy. Ideally, we keep the “fun” things out of his reach, or distract him on his way into the closet. If Skipper doesn’t know an item is off-limits, the allure of taking something he’s not supposed to have will likely fade away.   Conversely, if every time he takes my shoe earns him a game of chase and attention, I’ve just increased the value of the shoe exponentially.

Let us know what fun things your pup has decided to have an affinity for, and how you’re working on it at home! We love updates through Facebook and Instagram!

-Dr. Conroy & Skipper

Skipper_Conroy_Hat

Tips on Training Commands

Keep It Short, Sweet, and the Same


Puppy training can be a daunting task.  I’m here to empower you, and tell you that YOU can do this!  If you’ve been working on potty training and general manners at home, you’ve already learned the important training fundamentals: consistency and positivity. And I’ll add one more: patience.  Remember to be patient with your puppy, but also patient with yourself.  You and your puppy are learning how to communicate, and you are learning to teach, essentially in a different language.

First and foremost: create a setting for success.  As you get to know your puppy, you’ll be able to tell when he’s ready to focus.  There are certain points of the day that Skipper just wants to terrorize Lily and others where he’s wandering around the house needing to occupy his mind.  Take advantage of those moments when you can, and try to minimize distractions.  Separate your training session from other dogs in the house, and work in an area with good traction and minimal background noises.

There are countless YouTube videos, books, puppy classes, and training services that demonstrate how to teach each individual command. Always be sure to select only positive reinforcement training programs; avoid punishing or forceful techniques, as these have no place in puppy training.  Dr. Sophia Yin’s material is a wonderful resource.  She has countless online videos and has written many books, including How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves and Perfect Puppy in 7 Days.

 

Short

Keep your sessions short and simple, as puppy attention span is quite brief.  Depending on your individual puppy, 5-10 minutes may be his maximum.  When he starts to show signs of disinterest, quickly wrap things up on a good note, i.e. one more good sit with a treat, praise all around, and then break for play.   I like to introduce a command during a training session, and then reinforce the command sporadically throughout the day.  For example, Skipper and I will spend 5-10 minutes at lunchtime learning something like “sit.” Then, at random points during the rest of the day, I’ll ask for a sit and reward him for remembering.   During training, you’ll want to maximize the chance of success by minimizing the possibility of failure (like potty training!), so make sure to pick your battles wisely. I don’t ask for a “sit” command in the middle of an intense tug of war session or while he’s running around the yard like a gazelle. The chances my kibble and praise are worth stopping the fun are pretty slim, and it’s important to get the behavior I requested each and every time, or he’ll learn to get away with “forgetting.”

Sweet

Prepare the treats!  Using a handful of puppy kibble is usually sufficient.  Dogs don’t particularly care what you’re offering, just that you gave them something!  Speaking from experience; be careful offering a bunch of rich food as rewards, as you may find yourself punished by the flatulence later.   It’s also a good idea to save the “high value” treats for things like the vet’s office, bath time, and nail trims.  We like to spoil your puppy and bribe away their love so next time they’ll come bounding through the hospital doors ready for more! As a veterinary behaviorist once explained it: if you were offered $20 to go to the dentist, you may be inclined to find something else to do that afternoon; if you were offered $20,000 to go to the dentist, you’d be there every Tuesday!  For Skipper, the $20 kibble is quite sufficient to learn sit, down, roll over, etc.  The $20,000 liquid gold (aka squeeze cheese from the can) has been deemed a fair price for nail trims, vaccines, and ear exams at the clinic.

Same

Be consistent with the terms, hand signals, and the manner in which a command is given to the puppy.  All members of the household will need to use the same terms and process in order to avoid confusion.  And, more importantly, make sure puppy gets praise and/or a treat each time, to keep him interested in learning and doing the right things!

With Love and Squeeze Cheese,

 

Dr. Conroy & Skipper

Socialization and Independence

So, Skipper has been home for some time; we’ve been working on developing some manners, potty training, and crate training.  We’ve also been introducing socialization adventures. Socialization is a time for your puppy to develop basic life skills, like interacting with his environment, playing with other dogs, and meeting new humans. This is Puppy Kindergarten, and you are the puppy’s teacher.  The optimal socialization window for puppies is between 4-14 weeks, so it’s important to get started relatively soon after bringing a puppy into your home.

Because puppies begin to experience fear about 8 weeks of age, with a peak at around 14 weeks, it is critically important that experiences are only positive. Traumatic experiences at this age can have lasting effects on behavior for years to come.  Make sure to use praise in a high/encouraging tone, and give LOTS of treats when introducing something new.  Watch for signs of fear in your puppy, like freezing, whining when looking towards a stimulus, or avoiding something altogether. If these occur, take a step back and offer lots of praise and tasty encouragement. Contrary to popular belief, consoling a dog when he is anxious or scared of something does NOT reinforce anxious behaviors. Gradually re-approach or allow the stimulus to approach only if/when the puppy is still eating treats and relaxed.  You may have to table an experience for another day, and that is ok!

Skipper wasn’t quite sure what to think when the Roomba (we call her Betty) reported for duty one morning.  So we spent some time playing tug and eating snacks on the floor in the next room over, protected by the great brown wall (aka the couch). After some time listening to the noise, Skipper decided Betty wasn’t worth his concern.  We repeated this with the hairdryer.  With the hair dryer on low, Skipper and I played a few feet away.  Whenever he was comfortable and not paying attention to the wind machine, I turned up the speed, level by level, until it was on high.  By introducing possibly scary things in a steady manner, we allow the puppy to feel confident and safe. You can apply this same process to plenty of other things, too!

We also like to take Skipper with us on outings, when possible, to get him used to lots of different sounds, sights, and people. Always pack treats and toys to help make the experience fun!

Here are some basic rules of socialization outings for you to consider:

  1. Positivity, NOT punishment. Socialization experiences should be fun for you both!  Reward him frequently with treats and praise; punishment is not conducive to socialization.
  2. Realistic expectations. Pick excursions your puppy is likely to encounter as an adult and make absolutely sure you are both set up for success and positivity! I doubt Skipper will ever have to go onto a subway or board a helicopter, but I would like him to tolerate trips to Home Depot, wineries, and the occasional Virginia Tech Tailgate (Go Hokies!), so we aim for similar locations during less busy shopping times.
  3. Observe and absorb. The puppy doesn’t have to participate or do anything at all for the experience to be valuable. He can simply observe quietly and eat lots of treats. If he knows any obedience commands, performing them in a new setting is extra credit, but certainly not required.
  4. Puppy does not have to be friends with everyone. Ideally, we introduce the puppy to all types of people, such as officers in uniform, and tiny humans. Your puppy may not enjoy being petted by everyone. As your puppy’s steward and guardian, it is ok to ask someone to refrain from petting if he looks uncomfortable, has a tight/drawn facial expression, or is avoiding eye contact/touch. Carry treats which you can allow strangers can offer as a reward/positive experience.
  5. Socialization The objective is to teach the puppy to tolerate another dog, person, etc., being nearby. Your puppy may not want to play with other dogs; likewise, not all other dogs like to be played with by the puppy. Always bring a few toys for distraction/interaction.
  6. Safety is key! Use extreme caution when introducing puppy to other dogs, as a negative experience could not only be formative and scary but also life-threatening. Ensure that your puppy is exposed to only well vaccinated, friendly dogs, under close supervision, to minimize the risk of disease and injury. The staff at Aldie Vet is here to help you set a vaccine schedule based on your pup’s lifestyle, and help identify safe interactions for him.
  7. No guarantees. Proper socialization experiences can set the puppy up for success, but they do not ensure he will grow up to be free of behavior issues. Genetics, individual temperament, and his life experiences all contribute to adult behavior. Two pups may interpret the same experience differently; it can be fun for one and terrifying for the other. Poor responses may indicate your puppy could have behavioral difficulties as an adult and needs early intervention from a veterinarian or behaviorist to manage/modify the behavior.  Always remember Aldie Veterinary Hospital here to help with tips/tricks, or trainer suggestions if needed.

 

Happy Travels!

 

Dr. Conroy & Skipper

#Vetsrus #Skipper&Conroy #PuppyLove #PetLife #ChristmasPuppy

 

SkipperSnugs

Potty Training

Now that you’ve got the puppy home and you’re laying down some ground rules, let’s talk potty training, as this tends to be pretty high on the priority list.  Crate training goes hand-in-hand with potty training, and is your best friend with a new puppy!  A puppy typically will not soil his sleeping place. He doesn’t need a Taj Mahal crate right now, just enough space to be able to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably.  The crate shouldn’t be big enough that he can urinate in the back half and lounge up front in the foyer.   The crate is for sleep and safety.

It’s important that your puppy understands his crate is his safe place, a place where he gets treats and pets!  Avoid using the crate as a place for punishment.  I started off by feeding Skipper treats in the kennel and shutting the door for brief periods, and then re-opening it, before leaving him in it for the night.  He definitely still cried for a few minutes when we shut the door for the night; this was expected.  When this happens, wait it out. The crying stops, I promise; usually before your heart completely breaks in half.  If the puppy is removed from the crate or given any attention while he is crying, he’ll learn that making noise means breaking out!  We play with Skipper to tire him out shortly before bedtime, and this definitely cut down the wait time as he was learning to sleep alone in the crate.

Remember a puppy can only hold his bladder a few hours, however. Plan to keep the crate close so you’ll wake when he does, or consider setting an alarm for 4-6 hours into the night for a potty break.  Every puppy is different; some can sleep longer than others without an issue. Now, we don’t want to reward the puppy for crying and make that his ticket out of the crate, but we also can’t have him soiling the crate. Oh no… what to do?  Wait for that ever-so-brief 0.25 seconds of quiet and open the door nonchalantly, with no big fuss.  We discovered that picking Skipper up, putting the leash on, and escorting him outside before putting him down decreases the risk of a premature pee accident.  For the first week or so, Skipper would pee the millisecond his toes hit the ground first thing in the morning, so we had to be dressed in a coat and shoes and ready to run!  Remember, when your puppy pees outside, it is the very best thing you’ve ever seen in your whole life!  “Good boys!” all around with pets and treats and love!

The rest of the day, you’ll need to be very diligent about taking the little pupper outside regularly. Once an hour is a good starting rule, whenever he’s awake and not in the kennel. Additionally, take him out immediately after any naps, and within 5-10 minutes after a meal.  Watch for signs of sniffing/posturing and scoop him up quickly to go out.  Minimizing accidents will maximize your success. At this stage, any “accidents” in the house, are technically on us, because he doesn’t know the rules. During puppy training, keep in mind that we’re working on substrates. Meaning, he needs to learn that when his toes touch hardwood, he cannot go; but when his toes touch grass, he can go.  For those of you raising a puppy on snow, you may want to clear a particular area to make this concept clearer, since (hopefully) you won’t always have snow on the ground.

When there is an accident, startle the puppy with a clap, scoop him up, and immediately go outside.  Hopefully, he’ll still have a little left, and again, when he goes, it’s a party!  Make sure to clean up any accidents right when you come in, preferably with an enzymatic cleaner for carpets. Scents left behind in the house can be confusing and derail your efforts.  The old adages of putting the puppy’s nose into the accident only confuse them into thinking that pee/poop, in general, is a bad thing; therefore this is not recommended.  Potty training doesn’t happen overnight, so be consistent and positive, with time things will improve!

May all the paper towels and patience be with you,

 

Dr. Conroy & Skipper

#Skipper&Conroy #Vetsrus

SkipperConroy

New Puppy Life

As veterinarians, we tend to be pretty good at remaining somewhat objective towards our patients and their parents.  Every so often, I have an experience with one of my own fur babies that reminds me how challenging some pet experiences can be, veterinarian or not!

Enter my most recent eye opener: Skipper, 9.6 lbs of German Shorthair Pointer cuteness. At some point, my husband and I said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to have a puppy?”  Have you ever had that thought? And then immediately wondered what in the world you were thinking, 24 hours after bringing said puppy home?  Yup.  I’m with you.  Let me tell you, nature made these things cute for a reason! Skipper, named after the cannon which Virginia Tech fires following each touchdown, happens to be the first puppy my husband and I have (attempted) to raise in our adult lives. I’ll be keeping you up to date on the latest triumphs and tribulations via the Skipper blog, and offering some tips and tricks along our journey.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

The first days with your puppy are stressful to you both.  His whole world just changed: new surroundings, new humans, new dogs, new food, and maybe even a new furry chase-able thing equipped with daggers (aka cat).  This is like dropping a kid off at college, on steroids. The most important thing is to establish consistency and positivity in all aspects of this new world.

Allow your puppy some time to settle before expecting him to learn commands/tricks.  You’ll both need to get to know each other a bit before you’ll know the signs your pup is ready to pay attention and learn during training sessions. There are some things, however, which you should start instilling immediately. Puppies are learning every second. Even in the absence of teaching, his brain is learning, so set expectations early.  This may include potty training (stay tuned for the next blog!), off limits areas, and refraining from nibbling the humans’ appendages. For example, I don’t particularly look forward to 65 lbs of canine on a new leather sofa.  Therefore, 9.6 lbs of tiny Skipper isn’t allowed on it, either. No matter how cute and cuddly he is when he’s sleeping.

If you haven’t noticed, those puppy teeth are SHARP. When the puppy goes to bite, loudly say, “OUCH!” The fun stops abruptly, and briefly. Just enough for the puppy to figure out bite=no play, then give him something he CAN bite.   This same “remove and replace” concept applies to all other objects: curtains, couch cushions, shoes, your underwear, leaves on the ground, you name it.  Use “Leave it” instead of “Ouch,” for objects.  Puppies do better when you preemptively occupy their mind, so replace “Don’t do that,” with “Hey, try this!”  This means you should always keep a toy or two in your pocket, and treats as well! If you take the puppy outside, to a friend’s house, etc., the toy goes with!  As an added bonus, during play time and snuggle sessions, take some time to touch his toes, tap on the toenails, put fingers in his ears, and lift his lips.  This will set you up for success for nail trims, ear cleanings, and teeth brushings! Veterinarians reserve a special place in our hearts for owners like you who teach these things early!

Now is also a time to instill independence and confidence in your pup.  When he is playing alone, with HIS toys (not to be confused with your shoes or the cat’s tail), admire, adore, and take all the photos you want, from afar.  Allow him to sleep alone in his bed without constant snuggles or interruptions. If you have tiny humans in the house, they’ll need to be instructed to respect his time and space as well.  As your puppy’s parent, it’s your responsibility to guide everyone else in how to interact with him.  It takes a village to raise a puppy, and it’s ok to recruit others to that cause.

In summary- be consistent and positive! Everyone involved in puppy raising should be on the same page, and use the same processes and commands, to help the puppy learn. If I say, “Leave it” and my husband says, “Drop it,” poor Skipper basically needs to learn English and Spanish all at the same time!  You are not alone with all the challenges and joys that go along with puppy parenthood.  In fact, Skipper has been home a week now, and brought me at least 5 different shoes this morning, attempted to eat a frozen/petrified frog from the pond, and had 3 accidents on the floor through the day.  Apparently, no one told him that his mom is a veterinarian and he should make her look good.  Lucky for you, we’re putting all this on the blog for your entertainment, and hopefully some helpful tips!

Much love and puppy kisses,

Dr. Conroy & Skipper

#FF #PuppyLife #Vetsrus

Puppy and Treats

Heart Disease & Grain Free Diets

We have noticed many of our clients have questions on the relationship of Grain Free diets and Cardiac Disease the more this topic has entered into the public eye. Dr. Suzanne Barnes has put together this great article to help clear up any questions you may have. In addition we  have provided a some great links that delve further into the subject below. We are certainly always here to discuss any concerns you may have regarding your pet’s diet.

On July 12, 2018, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a document alerting pet owners to the dangers of feeding certain diets and their apparent link to a specific cardiac disease of dogs. These certain diets are known to be high in peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes. Commonly, these diets are listed as “grain free”. The concern is that dogs are developing a cardiac condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Some dog breeds will commonly be affected by this condition through genetic predispositions whereas other dog breeds do not have a genetic predisposition. It is in some of these other breeds that we are seeing an increase in DCM while having been fed a “grain free” diet. In some of these cases, dogs are developing heart disease and presenting in acute heart failure. Some of them are suffering a sudden death. If your dog has been on a grain free diet from a small dog food manufacturer also known as a “boutique” producer for months to years, then we recommend changing the diet to a commercial food or a food that has undergone a feed trial.

 

A feed trial indicates that the food has been fed to a group of dogs for a certain amount of time and their nutritional status has been evaluated and deemed appropriate for sustainability. Many smaller food manufacturing companies produce food based on an AAFCO statement and follow the recommendations set forth but have not tested their food in a live population to ensure nutritional adequacy. We recommend feeding a food from a company that has a long history of producing food and that has done the research to ensure their food has met the necessary standards to support life and maintain health.

 

We also recommend monitoring your dog for any signs that are associated with heart disease. Clinical signs associated with DCM can include decreased energy, coughing, exercise intolerance, increased breathing rate or effort, difficulty in breathing, and sudden collapse. If you are concerned that your pet is experiencing any of these signs then we recommend bringing your pet in for an exam and we’ll discuss our recommendations to do a cardiac evaluation with chest x-rays, blood work, blood pressure evaluation and an electrocardiogram based on your pet’s individual needs.

 

CVCA – Cardiac Care for Pets shared a great live video on Facebook with Dr. Steven Rosenthal. You may also visit their website for a Q&A on Grain Free Diets they have provided following the video release.

Dr. Suzanne Barnes has also found two other references on the subject, an article from the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University and the original FDA Notice released on July 12, 2018.

Staff Appreciation

Update October 22, 2018:

Thank you to our clients and patients for allowing us to celebrate our staff last Thursday, October 18, 2018. Please enjoy these great photo’s from our night out!

Here at Aldie Veterinary Hospital we believe in treating our staff with the same level of care, compassion, and appreciation we give our patients and our clients. This week is National Veterinary Technician Week, and if you keep an eye on our facebook pages you will get a chance to meet each one of them.

However, we want to make sure we celebrate all of our staff this week as they are all an important part of the wheel that turns this hospital. To show our Veterinarians, Licensed Veterinary Technicians, Veterinary Assistants, Kennel Assistants, and Client Care Professionals how much they mean to this company we are temporarily closing on Thursday, October 18th, 2018 from 5pm to 10pm for fun group activity.

We know this may be an inconvenience for some of our clients, and for that we apologize. We are striving to provide the best client experience possible, and we believe this will recharge and show our staff how much we care for them. In turn they will show you, our clients, how much you mean to them. During this time you may reach out to The Life Center in Leesburg, VA at 703-777-5755 or The Hope Center in Vienna at 703-281-5121. For those of you who like to follow our journey as a hospital, keep your eyes peeled for lots of group pictures!

Aldie Vet Heat Blog Post 2

The Dog Days of Summer

Heat Exhaustion vs Heat Stroke

Now that we are in the depth of Summer, we wanted to take a minute to discuss a topic that is completely avoidable, Heat Stroke.  Heat stroke is a serious and dangerous problem that can happen to our four-legged children.  It is something that can happen very quickly and is 100% preventable.

Animals do not sweat as humans do.  Although animals do have sweat glands in the pads of their feet, their primary way of cooling themselves is by panting.

Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion is imperative to prevent heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion is defined as a body temperature over 103.0°.  Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Excessive Panting
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Dark red tongue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lethargy or depression

If Heat exhaustion is not treated your pet is at risk of having a heat stroke.  Heat stroke is defined as a body temperature over 105.8°.  Heat stroke IS A LIFE THREATENING CONDITION.

Signs of heat stroke include but are not limited to:

  • Obtunded, or large, hard abdomen (caused by excessive panting)
  • Change in mentation – unaware of who you are or where they are
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Petechiae or pin point bruises noted on gums or skin
  • Pale/White gums
  • Rapid heart rate

Short-snouted dogs (pugs, bull dogs, etc.), dogs with long hair (light or dark in color), or obese animals are at higher risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Recognizing and treating the signs of heat exhaustion is the key to keeping your pet from having a heat stroke.   If you see any of the signs above call your veterinarian immediately.  In the mean time, place cool clothes in their arm pits, between their hind legs, or submerge in a cool bath.  NEVER submerge in ice water as this will cause the body temperature to drop too rapidly and can cause shock.  Cool circulating air, such as a fan, can also help.  Offer small amounts of cool water, too large of an amount can make them vomit.

Keeping your pet’s time limited outdoors is crucial!  If they must be outdoors offer plenty of shade and fresh, cold water.  Never leave your pet in a car (anytime air temp is over 75°), even with windows down.  Prevention is the key!

 

Aldie Vet Heat Blog Post

 

Aldie Vet Vacation Pet

Is Your Pet Vacation Ready?

Summer is approaching and like most of us, a vacation is near. As you pack your sunscreen, clothes, towels, and bathing suits think about your furry friends as well. Just like you would for children, assigning a caregiver while you are away takes the stress off of your mind. Most facilities where you take your pets have forms to fill out in the case of an emergency. Here are some questions to ponder before you take your getaway:

Pet Sitter

  1. Who will be caring for my pet?
  2. What phone numbers should I leave them in the case of an emergency?
  3. Do I have enough food to last the duration of my trip?
  4. With pets that take medications- Do I have enough medication to last for the duration of my trip?
  5. Should I see if the facility has a possibility to leave my Credit Card on file, in the case that my pet sitter has to come in?
  6. Is my pet sitter authorized on my account at the Vet’s Office, in the case of an emergency?
  7. Does my current Vet have an emergency facility?
  8. What are my wishes for CPR in the case that something does happen and are my wishes clear with the sitter?

Boarding

  1. What is the best facility to meet my pet’s needs for boarding?
  2. Is my pet up to date on all the vaccines required at the facility?
  3. What are my wishes in the case that CPR may need to be performed?
  4. How does the facility feel about medications if my pet needs any?
  5. Is there someone in the building at all hours of the day or just during regular business hours?
  6. Will my pet interact with other pets during their stay?
  7. What is the facilities protocol in the scenario that my pet starts to get sick?
  8. Where will the boarding facility take my pet if medical treatment is needed?

These are just some of the questions that you should think on. Here at Aldie Veterinary Hospital, we offer Emergency Treatment Authorization forms to fill out and add on the account, as well as credit card forms to leave on file. We strive to make your vacation as stress-free as possible. We also have our emergency services through Dulles South Animal Emergency & Referral, all housed in the Dulles South Veterinary Center. Our medical staff is available 24 hours a day.  Enjoy a fun-filled summer and please call us if you have any questions at 703-327-0909 or download these forms here.

dental care aldie vet

Proper Sedated Dental Care For Pets

Have you heard about non-anesthetic dental cleanings for your pets?  In this blog post Dr. Pattie will discuss the risks of such dental practices as well as the benefits to traditional dental care at the vet’s office.  If you have any questions about your pets oral health, the safety of anesthesia, or what you can do at home, please don’t hesitate to contact us, or to schedule time with a licensed veterinary technician to answer your questions.

ANESTHESIA-FREE DENTAL CLEANINGS : FACT VS. FICTION

Veterinarians, including those at Aldie Veterinary Hospital, are more frequently encountering cats and dogs that have had “Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings” (AFDC) or what has been termed “Non-professional Dental Scaling” (NPDS).  The alternative is professional dental scaling & polishing with a licensed veterinarian, which is exactly the same procedure you do at your dentist checkups.  The only difference is that animals don’t “open up and say ahhh”, therefore a professional veterinary dental cleaning requires general anesthesia.

There are a few reasons for this notable increase of AFDC/NPDS. Fortunately, this is primarily the result of more owners being aware of the importance of oral health care for their pets. These owners also have natural concerns about the risks of anesthesia and the associated costs. Unfortunately, AFDC/NPDS has been marketed as an attractive alternative that touts the same benefits as professional scaling without the cost and risks. By definition, a complete and comprehensive oral exam includes a complete visualization of all dental/oral structures, probing the gum-line, and may include taking dental X-Rays. In spite of the claims, it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to perform a “complete, comprehensive and thorough” oral assessment on companion animal patients without the assistance of general anesthesia.

The reason for this impossibility is because not all surfaces of a pet’s teeth are even visible in an awake patient. Periodontal disease affects the surfaces 360 degrees around the teeth (just like humans). Most periodontal infections start in locations BETWEEN teeth where the toothbrush does not reach. The hidden bacteria that cause periodontal disease and infection is NOT addressed with AFDC/NPDS, and a false sense of accomplishment is conveyed. These pets may continue to be affected for years with chronic oral infection which progresses to the point of pain, gum recession, and eventually tooth loss. When infections are finally recognized, the patients are usually older, and often have additional health related problems that increase the risks of anesthesia. Instead of treatment being an elective, preventive procedure on a relatively healthy patient, there is often urgency to treating the problem on a less healthy patient.  Additionally, the problems become not only more urgent to treat, but treatment costs are then often greater.

As for general anesthesia, no one should ever say it is without risk; however, it can absolutely be approached safely with appropriate pre-sedation screening and trained professionals.  Most major anesthetic risks are associated with two things: 1) the general health of the patient (young & healthy vs. older & existing problems), and 2) the level of training, knowledge, caring and skills of those individuals administering and monitoring the anesthesia itself.  Highly trained and experienced veterinarians and technicians are found here at Aldie Veterinary Hospital.  Bottom line: risk of sedation must be outweighed by the potential benefit (pain relief, etc.).  The more we know the details of your pet’s health, the safer we can deliver anesthesia and effective oral health care.

Furthermore, with AFDC/NPDS, proper treatment of any oral problem is even less possible to perform and can even be dangerous.  In California, a recent (2012) case of a patient’s fractured jaw led to a ruling against the party as practicing veterinary medicine without a license.  The reason this accident happened was due to the non-sedated animal struggling against attempts to perform oral work.

It is acceptable for well-meaning clients to decline professional treatment because of their fear of anesthesia or if they cannot afford it.  However, it is another thing to be fooled by the marketing of untrained individuals that target this fear and offer an alternative that is “just as good”. AFDC/NPDS is a service whose marketing sounds appealing and logical on the surface, however, it promises a lot more than can be delivered.  It is essentially a cosmetic procedure that addresses only the visible surfaces of only some of the pet’s teeth. Unfortunately, without the benefit of general anesthesia, pets most often do not receive the proper and timely preventative care, diagnosis and treatment of oral problems. What results are pets that are not receiving thorough preventative care, and some have serious dental problems that go undiagnosed and/or are improperly treated.

For general information on performance of dental procedures on veterinary patients, please read the AVDC Position Statement on Veterinary Dental Healthcare Providers, which is available on the AVDC web site (www.AVDC.org). For information on effective oral hygiene products for dogs and cats, visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council web site (www.VOHC.org). or ask any of our trained and knowledgeable professionals at Aldie Vet.

Caroline Pattie, DVM, CVA