We love our pets and want them to keep them happy and healthy! Although we are with them daily, it can be hard to tell when our pets are in pain. Cats are especially good a disguising their pain. Pain can be caused by many factors such as arthritis, urinary issues, dental problems, and following a surgical procedure. Each pet will display pain differently but it is important for us, as pet owners, to know our pet’s habits and identify when changes occur. The sooner the pet’s suffering is addressed, the quicker the issue can be treated and resolved.
Some symptoms may be displayed in the following ways:
Vocalizing: meowing, hissing, growling, even purring
Expression: vacant stare, enlarged pupils, flattened ears
Posture: arches back, lays with feet underneath, protecting limb, limping
Behavior: acting out of character: aggression with a typically friendly cat
Activity: hiding, decreased appetite, failure to use litterbox, won’t
Vocalizing: whining, howling, yelping, groaning
Expression: glazed eyes, panting at rest, vacant stare
Posture: hunched, laying on side, hiding, protecting limb, limping
Behavior: acting out of character, restless, reluctant to move
Activity: decreased appetite, change in sleeping habits, less active
Vocalizing: whinnying, grunting, groaning
Expression: glazed eyes, flattened ears, wrinkled nose
Posture: low head, kicking at belly, “parked out”
Behavior: restless, reluctant to move, swishing tail
Activity: decreased appetite, less active, lameness
If you notice symptoms of pain, consult your veterinarian. We use a pain scale to determine each pet’s pain level. The scale is rated 0-4 based on behavior, response to palpation, and body tension. Based on the pet’s pain level, the doctor may make recommendations for a course of action. Treatment can vary from a prescription medication, acupuncture, or oral and injectable supplements. Different types of pain require different treatments, sometimes multiple treatments in coordination. Never administer medication or change the dosage of a current prescription unless directed by your veterinarian.
We are seeing an increased number of kennel cough cases around Gallatin Valley. “Kennel Cough” is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can be contracted through the air or nose-to-nose contact with another infected dog. Although dogs cannot get it from the air, the viruses or bacteria can stick on surfaces like fences, water bowls, fire hydrants, and other communal areas. Summer is a prime time for an outbreak as many of us are more social and active.
Symptoms to look for:
Symptoms can begin 2-14 days after exposure and last 1-2 weeks. An infected dog may shed the infection for up to a month after being treated.
Common places dogs can contract kennel cough:
If you notice your dog is showing symptoms of kennel cough, contact your veterinarian. Do not let your dog participate in socialization or have access to other dogs until recovered. The Bordatella vaccination can help to minimize infection, however there is no way to completely prevent the chance that your dog will contract kennel cough. Kennel Cough can be caused by 10 different viruses or bacteria and only 4 viruses can be vaccinated against. Therefore, a fully vaccinated dog can still contract it. The best form of prevention is to vaccinate directly prior to potential kennel cough environments.
If you have any questions or concerns about kennel cough and your dog, do not hesitate to call the office at 406-586-4919.
April 9-15 is Dog Bite Prevention Week
We all love dogs and consider them to be members of the family. But it is important to recognize that any dog, put in the wrong situation, has the potential to bite.
In the United State there are over 70 million dogs living with families. Each year there are 4.5 million people bitten by a dog. Of these, 800,000 dog bites require medical attention, with over half of these cases being children.
Every dog owner has the responsibility to properly socialize their dog when they are a puppy to maximize their exposure to a variety of situations, people, other pets and environments. This is crucial to having a well-adjusted dog that is not likely to bite. The majority of a puppy’s learning of social skills is in the first 12 weeks of life; so starting young is key!
Most dog bites occur in the home and with a familiar dog. And many dog bites occur in children who are unable to recognize behavioral cues. Below are some simple things to keep in mind to help prevent dog bites, especially in young children.
• Do not approach unfamiliar dogs, and teach children that if approached by a dog they do not know, “be a tree.” This means plant your feet – running away from a dog may cause it to chase.
• Always use a gentle touch – do not hit or climb on a dog and do not pull on tails and ears.
• When greeting a dog, allow it to sniff a hand first. Avoid petting the dog on the top of the head, standing over the dog and approaching it from above can feel threatening.
• If a dog is sleeping or eating, give it space. A dog should not be disturbed during either of these activities.
• Make sure dogs (and all pets) have a safe, comfortable place to get away from the action and commotion of a family.
• Teach children that if a dog is trying to get away or displaying behaviors indicating that it may be either avoiding the attention or anxious from it (such as looking away, yawning, licking lips), they need to give it space.
• Do not punish a dog that gives a child a growl. A growl is a warning that a bite is next, so instead of punishing the growl, appreciate that the dog has given a fair warning and decide what you need to do to make a safe environment.
• Commit to socializing your dog and learning how to read the dog’s body language and behavioral cues.
For more information on dog bite prevention, visit the website of the American Veterinary Medical Association (avma.org) or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (aspca.org).
Clover is an 8 year-old female lab-pointer mix Dr. Shari Bearrow adopted when she was 12 weeks old. She is a high-energy dog and loves to run and run and run! She goes with her family hiking, skiing and mountain biking. She has never had any chronic health problems.
One day when petting her a 1” soft lump was noticed on her left elbow. Labs and Lab mixes commonly get “fatty” lumps on their bodies as they get older. But luckily having a Veterinarian Mom, she knew “fatty lumps” uncommonly occur on the legs. So why wait, aspirate! A fine needle aspiration involves aspirating cells and placing them on a microscope. The cells were suggestive of a type of cancer called a soft-tissue sarcoma.
This is a cancer from connective tissue that can send out microscopic threads from the primary tumor and require an aggressive surgery to remove. She was signed up with Dr. Karyn to have her mass removed. Dr. Karyn was as aggressive as possible considering the elbow area does not have much extra skin or fat.
The histopathology (analysis of the mass) confirmed the lump was a soft-tissue sarcoma. But unfortunately, the margins of the tumor were not “clean”, meaning there were tumor cells along the surgical border of the tumor. The term for this is “dirty margins”. Due to the behavior of soft-tissue sarcomas, recurrence of the tumor is very likely. The only way to “cure” her of this would be to amputate her leg. Being such an active dog, her family wanted to avoid this option. Dr. Shari consulted with a Veterinary Oncologist at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Radiation therapy for these tumors tend to be very successful. On average, 90% of dogs who underwent radiation treatment after surgery had no tumor recurrence 5 years later. The Bearrow family packed up for the 7 hour drive to Pullman Washington to drop off Clover. She stayed at WSU for 3 and ½ weeks and underwent 18 radiation sessions. Each session involved general anesthesia.
She did fabulous with her treatments but her absence was probably harder on her family instead of her! Dr. Shari drove back out to Pullman to pick her up and she was ready to run! Unfortunately, a side effect of radiation is a “radiation burn”. These are not true burns, but are due to skin damage from the radiation, which can be as painful as a burn.
She tried very hard to lick at the wounds, so she lived in an e-collar 24/7 for 3 weeks. 2-3 times daily her wound was cleaned with a wet cloth and Aquaphor gel was applied to soothe the area. The affected area got worse before it got better.
But eventually after 3 weeks her wound healed. Now 6 months later she is starting to regrow her fur, but it is re-growing gray (which is common after radiation).
She is back to her full activity level and loving life. Not all dogs are lucky enough to receive full cancer treatment. The cost of surgery, radiation and post-op care can cost $3,000 to $4,000! The Bearrow’s are so happy to have a cancer free dog with 4 legs and years of adventure ahead of her.
The only way to tell if a lump is cancerous is to aspirate or biopsy it. Feeling a lump is not a diagnostic test! Fine needles aspiration is a low-cost test that can be done in awake dogs with minimal to no pain and is usually diagnostic. Why wait, aspirate!
Meet Roz Kirk. Roz had been attacked by two dogs in September. He suffered severe injuries to on the abdominal inguinal skin and muscle. When Roz came to us in October, he was dehydrated, not eating and had developed pressure sores from the bandaging. Along with the massive wounds, Roz had contracted a Pseudomonas infection, a bacterium that is often resistant to many antibiotics. He was hospitalized to monitor hydration, eating and licking of the wounds before performing surgery later on in the week.
During the surgery, the dead and damaged skin was removed and the wounds were closed. He was hospitalized for a few more days to monitor licking and get the infection under control. For the next couple of weeks, Roz visited us twice a week to ensure proper healing, repair and appetite increase. Roz;s family was very creative in fitting him with various shirts to cover the healing wounds. With his family’s dedication, by December Roz had healed and kicked the infection. Amazingly, Roz was always a cooperative patient and we all fell in love with him.
Acupuncture is the process of placing needles below the skin to help stimulate muscles and nerve fibers to promote healing. Acupuncture points are located where nerves enter or pass between muscles and fascia. Stimulation of these points helps to relax tissues and release mediators that reduce pain and inflammation. The needles used in acupuncture can influence nerve conduction and help to dilate vessels, improve blood flow and oxygenate surrounding tissues.
Dr. Jeneé Daws is trained in veterinary acupuncture. She has completed over 160 hours of continuing education and is certified to perform acupuncture and electroacupuncture on horses, dogs, cats or any veterinary species.
Every patient reacts to acupuncture differently, so Dr. Daws conducts a myofascial exam at the initial acupuncture appointment. This allows her to fully understand the patient’s problems and further identify target areas for therapy. 75% of patients receiving acupuncture see favorable outcomes from therapy.
Acupuncture therapy does not inflict serious pain. The small acupuncture needles are tapered to slide in smoothly without being noticed, especially when the patient is distracted with petting or treats. Sometimes patients will even fall asleep during treatment.
Rarely, a patient will be slightly sore or lethargic within the first 48 hours after treatment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, because it indicates that the acupuncture therapy influenced a physiological change in the patient. The soreness you may see is usually followed by a considerable improvement in the condition being treated.
Below are some of the conditions that acupuncture can be used for:
Musculoskeletal conditions (arthritis, disc disease, hip dysplasia)
Skin conditions (allergies and wounds)
Gastrointestinal disorders (constipation and diarrhea)
Neurologic problems (nerve injuries, paralysis and seizures)
Age-related conditions (weakness and muscle atrophy)
Urinary disorders (incontinence and renal failure)
Peri-surgical anxiety (amount of anesthetic needed for surgery)
Acupuncture is one of the many ways you can contribute to your pet’s overall wellness and health. Feel free to ask us for more information on ways acupuncture therapy could benefit your pet!
Waylon is our June patient of the month. She was riding in the back of a pick up truck when she fell/jumped out and shattered her femur. Although the vehicle was not traveling very fast, it was enough to cause some serious damage. Broken bones such as the femur or the humerus can actually be life threatening in some cases. Blood loss from lacerated blood vessels and bleeding from the medullary canal (the blood-rich bone marrow) can cause enough bleeding that an animal may die from that.
Luckily Waylon’s Mom is a former veterinary technician, so she recognized the signs of blood loss – altered mental state, pale gums, rapid breathing and heart rate – and got her into help right away. Waylon’s PCV or packed cell volume – a number that represents how many red blood cells are in the blood – dropped down to 26%. A normal PCV for a dog her breed and size would be about 50%. Waylon required a blood transfusion.
Once she was stable, the attention turned to her broken bone. The break was so severe that the leg needed to be amputated. Waylon had surgery to remove the injured limb. Following surgery she was able to walk great on three legs and continues to do very well. She is a hunting dog and will still be able to enjoy that job on three limbs.
Waylon’s story is an important reminder that any dog – no matter how many times they have ridden in the truck bed before – can fall or jump out of the back of a truck. We have even seen broken bones from vehicles traveling <10 mph. If at all possible, keep your dog in the cab. If that isn’t an option, keep your dog in a kennel that is strapped into the bed of the truck. Avoid having your dog loose in the back of the cab and attached by a leash – that could cause some very serious and obvious injuries as well. Each year we see several cases – some of them fatal- that involve accidents like this. We love that Bozeman is a town in which dogs are part of the family and go everywhere with the family – but it is so important to make sure they are safely secured while traveling!