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Supplements: Eenie, Meenie, Miney, NO!

How many times have you walked into the pet store thinking, “I should really get Fido some joint/coat/breathe/immune/etc supplements.” Then you walk down the isle marked Supplements to find rows on rows of a similar product by um-teen different companies. How do you know which one is the best? Can you tell by the price? Can you tell by which has the cutest dog on the label?

Well truth be told, there are as many good products as unhelpful products.  Here are some helpful tips when choosing a supplement brand.

1. Choose a product from a company that has been in the animal health pharmaceutical business for years instead of months.  It is likely that companies with a good reputation are not going to stake their reputation on manufacturing a poor-quality product for short-term sales.

2. Look for products that are backed by clinical research published in peer-reviewed veterinary journals.  Many companies report they have clinical trials but don’t have information available.

3. Look at the label and make sure all of the ingredients in the product are listed, including active, inactive, and filler ingredients.  Manufacturers that do not list all ingredients of their products likely use fillers and may not contain the labelled ingredients.  Dosing instructions should be accurate and clear, and the amount of ingredient per dose should be printed clearly on the label.

4. Look for products with clear contact information and check to see if the company you choose has veterinarians on staff to answer your questions.

 

Remember: Not all supplements are created equal and not all ingredients used in different products are created equal. There are shocking differences between the quality and safety of ingredients. Talk to your veterinarian about what brands they recommend ensuring safe and reliable products!

Is Heartworm Prevention worth it?

Heartworm medication is an expense you might not have expected, but it’s an important one. Here are answers to common questions to help you think about a once-a-month medication to keep your pet safe and sound.
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Heartworm medicine can be expensive. Why should I spend my money on it?
While it seems expensive, you get a lot more value for your prevention dollar than you realize. Consider this: You can protect your dog from a fatal heartworm infection for an entire month for what you’d spend on a pastry and coffee at your favorite coffee shop. Many monthly medications also offer more than just heartworm protection- some protect against fleas and common intestinal worms too. That’s important to your pet’s overall health as well as that of your family, when you consider that parasites like roundworms and hookworms can be spread to your kids and other household members.

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I still don’t think I can justify spending money on it.
Here are two important facts you need to know. First, preventing heartworms is a lot cheaper than treating them; heartworm treatment can cost up to $1,000 in medication and veterinary bills. Second, while heartworm disease in dogs can be treated and the worms eliminated, the damage left by heartworms is forever, and many dogs are left with residual health problems.

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I don’t think I need it. Heartworms aren’t that common around here.
While heartworm disease may not be common in some parts of the US, heartworms have been diagnosed in every state in the country. In parts of the country that stay cold for six months or more, there are lots of warm, protected spots where mosquitoes that transmit heartworms can live. In urban areas, radiated heat is stored in concrete and asphalt and released at night when mosquitoes are active. In rural areas, mosquitoes may find a warm spot in a hollow log or animal burrow to ride out the winter. In dry locales, thanks to sprinkler systems, birdbaths and watering cans, there are pockets of standing water everywhere where mosquitoes can breed. Think about it this way: You may never have been in a car wreck, but you still put on your seatbelt. Would you risk your life by not wearing one? Why would you risk your pet’s life by not giving him or her heartworm prevention?

Biggest Loser- Dog edition

Everyone meet Cowboy!

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Cowboy is a 14-year-old male Beagle that was adopted from the local animal shelter about 6 months ago. Back then he was slow moving and could not bend his body, or what we often hear referred to as “old dog syndrome”. Upon his initial exam, Cowboy carried his 49 pounds in just looking for love and treats- and who could blame him, we could all use a dose of cookie happiness! He was what you call a 5 out of 5 on the BCS chart. That means he was more than just geriatric, he was obese and desperately needed to lose weight.

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Cowboy also needed to have dental work done and some minor masses removed, however due to his size, anesthesia was too risky.  A new study by scientists at the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare’s Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition showed that the lifespans of overweight dogs were up to two-and-a-half years shorter than those of ideal-weight dogs. Cowboy would need to go on a diet right away.
Lucky for Cowboy, his new owners wanted to be certain they were doing everything they could for him in the meantime. They elected to run a senior panel to check Cowboy’s bloodwork. Annual bloodwork can detect changes in organ function and alert the veterinarian to conditions or diseases. In this case, a low t4 level flagged the doctor to Cowboy’s condition- Hypothyroidism. The symptoms of Hypothyroidism matched Cowboy- overweight, thin or brittle coat, lethargic, and elevated cholesterol levels. Hypothyroidism is a very common condition in dogs and is easily treatable with daily medication and bloodwork checks.

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While the medication was necessary to aid in Cowboy’s weight loss, he also needed a strict diet and exercise during his weight loss journey. Cowboy’s veterinarian calculated how many calories he should receive for healthy weight loss and his dedicated owners stuck to the plan. He was always happy to be outside which helped the exercise regime, even during the cold months. Cowboy came in for weigh-in’s often and he steadily lost weight. Now with steady thyroid levels and newfound youth, Cowboy is down to 36 pounds! He has since had his dental work done safely and maintains his bloodwork checks.

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Routinely checking bloodwork and calorie content is especially important in aging pets. Early detection may help prevent extreme conditions, like Cowboy’s weight, and allow for quicker diagnosis and treatment for new conditions.

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Show me the Love


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February is the month of Love! Calorie counting goes out the door on Valentine’s Day, and the after-holiday sales make it easy to keep celebrating all month long. Here are 10 ways to show your love without the calories!

10. Toys, toys, toys!
Who doesn’t want to wake up to a new squeaky toy on Christmas morning? And if your pup is anything like my toy-passionate (OK toy-obsessed) Boston terrier they will get right down to making “improvements” on their toys. Okay, let’s face it, they often turn into saliva-encrusted pelts… but it’s a lot of fun!
Of course, the key is to make sure your pup is supervised while playing with any toys. The last thing anyone wants the day after the holidays is a trip to the veterinary clinic because a piece of a toy was ingested.

9. Comfy sleeping places
New bedding and blankets are a great way to keep your pup comfy during those cold winter months. My dog has more sleeping places around my home than she knows what to do with, but that way I know she can always curl up for a nap beside me (and I’m only slightly envious…). Bedding doesn’t last forever, so the holidays are a great time make some upgrades!

8. Outdoor gear for outdoor adventures
If you live in a colder climate like my pup and I, outdoor gear is a must for winter activities. I live in Ontario, Canada, so my Boston terrier requires a doggie onesie to survive the cold winter months. Yes, literally boots attached to a full body coat (aka doggie onesie). It keeps her warm and keeps the salt and sand out of her paws on our outdoor adventures.

7. Seat belts for car rides
Have a dog that loves care rides? My little Boston terrier rides shotgun (so if you ever need a ride, be prepared to sit in the back). Why not invest in a doggie seat belt to keep your pup safe and secure during car rides?

6. Grooming
No matter the breed, grooming is essential! A new brush, a new set of nail clippers, a gift certificate for a “spa day” with the local groomer, are all ways to help our pups feel their best!
Bear in mind, if your pup has any medical conditions (especially skin conditions) or becomes easily stressed during grooming, be sure to chat with your veterinarians about the best options for you and your pup.

5. Training
Want to teach an old dog new tricks? Have a new pup that is in need of a manners class? Investing in a training program that uses positive reinforcement techniques can be a great way for you and your pet to bond over the upcoming months. And remember that using your dog’s dry food during training sessions is a great way to have your pup work for their meals. And it avoids too many extra calories or an upset stomach from too many treats or people foods!

4. Food puzzles and kibble dispensing toys
One of my favorite sayings that I teach to veterinary students is, “If a dog is working for their current meal, they aren’t begging for their next meal.” Working for meals not only provides mental stimulation, it also makes the meals last longer. This is a great way to ensure the right amount of calories lasts as long as possible, especially if you have a Labrador that can eat their entire meal in 30 seconds (and then starts begging for more)!

3. A gram scale
Believe it or not, measuring cups (even those designed for pet foods) are incredibly inaccurate. Dr. Alex German, a board-certified small animal internal medicine specialist, and colleagues, conducted a number of studies using measuring cups and published the results in 2010. Accuracy ranged from an 18% under-estimate to an 80% over-estimate in portion size! Yes, over-estimated by up to 80%!!! One more time! Over-estimated by up to 80%!!!
So what’s the solution? A gram scale (aka a digital kitchen scale) is the most accurate way to measure your pup’s food. These scales are inexpensive and can be easily purchased online. This may seem like a daunting transition at first, but it becomes so easy with a little practice. I have a good friend and her 4-year old daughter helps with all the gram scale measurements for their family dogs each morning, so it is definitely a skill that anyone can learn. The key is to measure all the food for the day in the morning and then dole it out over small meals throughout the day.
Work with your veterinary team to determine the number of calories your pup needs each day to maintain a healthy weight. This number of calories can then easily be converted to a number of grams per day. For more information on gram scales, check out my blog on #BanTheCup!

2. Pet insurance
I am a firm believer in pet insurance. As a veterinarian, I never want to have to make a decision for my beloved pup based on money. I always want to make my decisions for her health based on her quality of life. Pet insurance allows me to do just that. Investing in pet insurance or setting up a bank account for your pup for unexpected expenses are great ways ensure you can always provide the best care for your pup.

1. Quality time
Honesty the best way to show your pup just how much you love them is to spend time with them. So curl up on the couch or in front of the fireplace together. Spend a few extra minutes giving a bum scratch or a belly rub. Spending a few quite minutes with your pup could also do wonders for your holiday stress!

So be sure to love your dog this holiday season, just do it without the extra calories!

by Dr. Jackie Parr, BScH, DVM, MSc, Dip ACVN

February Dental Month Discounts!


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Another great year- Let’s review 2018

 


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Ring in the New Year- 2019 January Equine Specials

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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Kick off 2019 with $20.19 OFF coggins testing! Get your horse’s digital coggins certificate at a great price! Access your certificates anytime using the MyVetLink App or we can print a copy for your paper records.
Start off 2019 on the right foot and bring in your horse’s fecal sample for a parasite screening priced at $19.  Check a fecal first and only de-worm if your horse needs it! De-wormer will be discounted to cover the specific parasite treatment for your horse.

12 Days of Christmas- Merry Petmess

12 Days of Christmas Pet Gift Guide

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1. One Christmas Story- a custom book based on your pet! Check out Petlandia

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2. Two Lupine Accessories- get a festive collar and leash that has a lifetime warranty

3. Three Forms to Finance- sign up for pet insurance, care credit, buy a gift certificate from your vet for those unexpected expenses

4. Four Kids chasing- have your pet microchipped with HomeAgain for lifetime and permanent identification

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5. Five Ugly Sweaters- choose a jacket or sweater for your pet. Better yet, get some socks with your pet’s face on them for yourself at https://myphotosocks.com/

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6. Six Breeds discovered- best for mixed breed dogs, Wisdom Panel will check your pet’s DNA for breed identification and genetic condition carriers

7. Seven Retakes Taken- snap a photo of your pet with Santa, put in a holiday frame to feel all those cozy feels

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8. Eight Snuggly blankets- replace those old dingy blankets and beds with new, soft blankets to snuggle so hard

9. Nine Teeth to treat- pick up CET chews or toothbrush/toothpaste kit to get that breathe minty fresh for some mistletoe kisses

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10. Ten minutes sudsin’- have your pet professionally groomed or pick up the supplies to do-it-yourself

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11. Eleven Snacks stolen- get your pet their own treat so you don’t have to share! Choose Lean treats for a low calorie option- less is more (less calories, more to eat)! Even if your pet is on a specialized diet, Royal Canin and Hill’s both make treats to meet any prescription diet.

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12. Twelve Toys tossing- Plush or bouncy, you know your pet best so give them what they like! There are some toys that will make your pet think and work to receive the treat. Looking for something to keep them busy? Check out the PetStages Challenge Ball

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A technician by any other name would still be a Rockstar

If you follow our All West Facebook or Instagram account you may have noticed that the week of October 14th, we had daily posts about each of our technicians. (If you missed the posts, here are the links to our Facebook and Instagram). You may have noticed that the photos weren’t your average portrait, many of them being taken without the technician even looking at the camera. I intentionally did this, without any resistance,  to show you an average work day of our technicians. It was your behind-the-scenes look at our hospital staff.. now if only we could get Ryan Seacrest to come host!

Our day “starts” at 7am: Truth is, many of our technicians get here before 7 to get ahead of the day. Cleaning, feeding, letting out, administering meds,  taking morning vitals- All of these happen before the average person has had their morning coffee.

Surgery patients begin dropping off around 7:15. From here the doctor performs their examination and pre-meds are administered. The technicians are responsible for monitoring anesthesia and taking patient vitals during surgery. It is nerve wrecking anytime our pets go under anesthesia, because let’s face it, there is always a risk. But nobody knows this better than our technicians, which is why they take this part of the job so seriously.

Appointments start at 8am. A technician starts the appointment with taking vitals and questions. We honestly care what every person feels about each visit, mostly because we expect the same thing for our own pets. We want our concerns to be heard and questions answered. We want to know that the doctor cares about our pet just as much as we do. That is why the technician asks so many questions. They are there to facilitate the doctor’s examination. Most of the time the technician will come back into the exam room to demonstrate medication administration or to follow up with any necessary paperwork. Typically there are 3-4 appointments happening at the same time, so if you hear scurrying feet on the other side of the exam door it doesn’t mean there’s a fire. It just means that the technicians are trying to give as much time and attention to each client and patient as possible.

Think you have a minute? Nope! Let’s get that room clean, patients outside to potty, answer the phone, grab your charts and start entering medical history. But regardless of what is happening, our technicians work together to keep each patient happy and cared for.  While it’s not always sunshine and puppies, our technicians are there to be cheerleaders and as moral support. They follow the progress of most patients almost as closely as the doctors. When your heart is breaking, know that you aren’t alone in that. Many times we go home thinking about a patient or writing notes to remind ourselves of something to call a client about the next day. All day each technician is responsible for being a nurse, groomer, x-ray technician, phlebotomist, chef, personal trainer, educator, and personal assistant. Talk about chameleon! 

The lunch hour is a fun game of hot potato as not everybody can go at the same time. We have an eye on our hospitalized and surgical patients throughout the day- meaning sometimes the sandwich comes with a little hair from the dog whose kennel you are sitting in. Appointments start up again at 1pm and surgical patients begin being discharged around 4pm. Want to come to the hospital when it’s the loudest? Come around 4pm. Want to come to the hospital when you see the most smiling faces? Come around 4pm. Ask most of our technicians- this is the best part of the day. No, not because we are getting towards the end of the day. It’s for the reaction when pet meets person. Have you ever seen a dog smile? We have. When we get to send home a healthy pet, we are reminded why we all got into this career in the first place. These moments are what make the job so meaningful.

The doctors are the hands of the hospital, receptionists are the face of the hospital, but the technicians- the technicians are the heart of the hospital. This job requires an insane amount of multi-tasking without losing attention to detail.  This job is utterly exhausting and wonderfully rewarding. So for doing this job, we want to thank them all for everything they do: Amy, Oleta, Nikki, Taylor, Michelle, Kylee, Sarah, Liz, Shelby, Morgan, Katie, Dalayna, Rheanna, and Logan.

Prevent Howls on Halloween

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