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!
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.
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!
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:
Lack of coordination
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
Petechiae or pin point bruises noted on gums or skin
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!
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:
Who will be caring for my pet?
What phone numbers should I leave them in the case of an emergency?
Do I have enough food to last the duration of my trip?
With pets that take medications- Do I have enough medication to last for the duration of my trip?
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?
Is my pet sitter authorized on my account at the Vet’s Office, in the case of an emergency?
Does my current Vet have an emergency facility?
What are my wishes for CPR in the case that something does happen and are my wishes clear with the sitter?
What is the best facility to meet my pet’s needs for boarding?
Is my pet up to date on all the vaccines required at the facility?
What are my wishes in the case that CPR may need to be performed?
How does the facility feel about medications if my pet needs any?
Is there someone in the building at all hours of the day or just during regular business hours?
Will my pet interact with other pets during their stay?
What is the facilities protocol in the scenario that my pet starts to get sick?
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.
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.
Some people believe that veterinary visits are too stressful or unnecessary for their cat. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cats are secretive and masters of hiding disease. It takes a trained eye, a thorough history, and maybe some lab tests to know for sure. Nature teaches cats that the sick and the weak fall, for this reason, they will hide sickness until they are no longer physically able to do so.
Frequently, when owners are concerned about their cats because they’re acting ill, they have a very advanced disease process. These cats were often acting perfectly normal even up to the day before they started acting sick. Routine examination and blood work can detect minor changes in organ function. Therefore, treatment can be started early and prolong the life of the patient.
An annual examination allows the veterinarian to have a good baseline for your pet. This will help them detect abnormalities or changes over time. A good annual exam will cover all body parts of your cat from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.
Eyes and Nose The vet will check for clarity, basic vision, and signs of infection or inflammation. They may also ask you about your cats’ behavior at home. Oral Cavity The vet will examine the oral cavity for gum inflammation, oral masses, signs of excess tartar on the teeth, and tooth abnormalities or breakage. Ears The vet will examine your cat’s ears for signs of infection, debris, inflammation, redness, drainage around the ear canal, and mites. Heart and Lungs Your vet will listen to your kitty’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope, listening for any heart murmurs or any other abnormal sounds, such as respiratory congestion. Fur Your vet will examine your cat’s skin and hair coat, these can be indicative of certain disease processes, allergies, or flea infestation. Paws and Legs The vet will examine the legs and feet. They will palpate to make sure your cat has a full range of motion and is not painful. Abdomen Your vet will palpate your kitty’s abdomen. This is to feel for any apparent masses or any pain in the digestive tract. Rectum The anus will be checked for visual evidence of worms, and the anal glands for potential signs of infection or impaction.
All of these things will give your vet an idea of your cats’ health. Additionally, your vet may request lab work. This could include blood work, urinalysis, and potentially radiographs or an ultrasound. Certain values in the blood or urine will change as organ function begins to decline. These blood values may remain the only symptom for an extended period of time. Early detection will make treatment much more possible and manageable.
Your vet will use all of these clues to determine the health of your pet. Continued care and monitoring are the only way to detect changes. This is the reason that an annual examination is the standard of practice. As your cat gets older your vet may opt to do twice yearly examinations. Waiting until your cat shows signs of illness may be too late.
Did you know that Aldie Vet has a business page on Yelp? If you have not had experience writing a review, here are the recommendations Yelp provides on their website:
What makes for a great review?
Yelp reviews are useful, funny and cool because people like you take the time to share thoughtful insights on local businesses and services. The best reviews are personal and experiential, and tend to offer helpful suggestions, perhaps even an insider tip or two. The most useful reviews sometimes make mention of unique qualities that make the business special or the type of person who might also like this business.
If you wish to write a review of your experience, please click on the link below. We love 5-star reviews from our Yelpers.
When your pet is in need of a physical fitness plan or is recovering from an injury or surgery, he or she will often benefit from a physical rehabilitation routine. The key to any successful rehabilitation plan is communication. Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioners will work carefully with you and your primary care veterinarian to assess your pet and create a customized rehabilitation plan. We offer a complete array of rehabilitation services including hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill), laser therapy, hot and cold therapy, ultrasound, as well as massage and stretching techniques.
Acupuncture and eastern medicine can provide an excellent complement to modern western medicine. These methods are becoming frequently used to provide a more well-rounded approach to pet wellness. The most frequent reasons for acupuncture referral include; musculoskeletal problems (back pain, joint disease), neurologic disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, and other chronic conditions that are not responding to traditional therapies. Our certified veterinary acupuncturist will place small needles into strategic points to affect energy flow in the body and promote self-healing.