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Not Your Average Root Canal…

Dr. Clark Hicken, DDS from Utah visited All West Veterinary Hospital to perform a root canal & place a cap on a grizzly bear’s broken canine tooth. The grizzly was from Animals of Montana. Dr. Dan Butterfield was in charge of keeping this guy under anesthesia during the procedure.

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A Little Bit on Giant Breed Dogs

At All West Veterinary Hospital, we see everything from Tea Cup Chihuahuas to Great Danes and all sizes in between. There are dogs, and then there are GIANT dogs. But, have you ever wondered if there are any special things that are important to know if you are considering adding a gentle giant into your family? Giant breed dogs are often known to be docile, for their tirelessly big hearts, and even bigger personalities. But what defines a giant breed dog? Generally, giant breed dogs are over 100lbs, can range in height, and have a somewhat shorter life span due to their size. Some common giant breed dogs are: Great Dane, Irish Wolf Hound, English Mastiff, Newfoundland, Great Pyrenees, Saint Bernard, and the Bernese Mountain Dog. Below are some extra things to consider about these types of dogs aside from: do you need to get a bigger pooper-scooper?

Food and Nutrition

Like any breed of dog, nutrition is extremely important for giant breed dogs. However many giant breed enthusiasts will emphasize the importance of high quality dog food, free of fillers and grains, especially in puppies. But wait! Remember high quality doesn’t mean higher protein! It is important to realize when your giant breed dog is a pup, that they will grow to be beautiful and large, just like their parents. They WILL reach their full genetic size potential in time, but be patient! It is best to keep their growth at a slow and steady pace. The best way to do this is commonly expressed among experienced giant breed dog owners as feeding a commercial kibble formula with no more than 22% as fed basis protein and 14% as fed basis fat. It is thought that this balance of fat, protein and correct calorie amounts allows for steady, slow growth and preventing things like knuckling over/bowing of the legs, growing pains, lameness, and other structural issues later in life. Make sure to read the label of the food you are feeding, it is often inappropriate to feed a “Large Breed” puppy food. Instead, look for “Giant Breed” formulas of puppy food specifically made with your giant baby in mind. Know your dog food! Feeding the right amount of calories from the beginning will create a strong body for longevity of the dog (and lessen your vet bills along the way).


Like nutrition, exercise is a very important part of a dog’s life. When giant breed dogs are young, their bones are not done growing and their body is working hard to create a strong structure to support their large and seemingly endless awkward frame. When I had my first Great Dane puppy, I was advised to not allow my pup to run distances on hard surfaces like concrete/asphalt and not to jump in or out of trucks/cars for the first year and a half of life. Avoiding these things helps strong bone growth and detour soft tissue injuries. The best type of exercise for your gentle giant is regular moderate exercise like hikes with plenty of fresh water, walks in the neighborhood, playtime with other dogs, or a good round of fetch.


When it comes to illnesses, Bloat is a very common ailment that tends to be specific to giant breed dogs as well as some deep chested dog breeds (like Poiners and German Shepherds). Bloat is a life-threatening emergency that needs to be addressed by your veterinarian immediately. Bloat is a general term for two conditions: the first is gastric dilation, which is when the stomach fills and distends with gas and fluid. The second is volvulus; this is when the distended stomach rotates or torsions around itself. This causes cut off blood supply, prevents fluid and air from escaping the stomach, and a “bloated” appearance in your dog. Aside from appearing to have an enlarged abdomen, additional symptoms are anxiety, pacing, profuse salivation, retching, and unproductive attempts to vomit. If you suspect your dog has bloat, it is imperative to seek veterinary help immediately. Lack to veterinary treatment can be deadly and dogs that are treated non-surgically have a large chance of a repeat bout of bloat.  Surgery can be performed to untwist the torsioned stomach and relieve the pressure of gas and fluid. If successful, the stomach will be stitched or “tacked” to the inside of the abdominal wall to prevent a repeat occurrence of bloat. Some things that are thought to help reduce the chances of bloat in your giant breed dog are:

  • 2-3 Equally portioned meals a day, with water in the kibble.
  • Feeding from a raised food bowl
  • Not allowing your dog to scarf food (discourage vigorous eating with large river rocks in the raised bowl, so the dog has to move the rocks to eat food, resulting in slower consumption of the food or a eat-slow designed bowl.)
  • Restrict access to water for one hour before and after meals.
  • No exercise for an hour before or after meals.
  • Never allow your dog to consume large amounts of water, especially before, during, or after exercise.  It is best to always have water available so that dogs can stay hydrated throughout the day, and not feel the need to drink too much at one time.

This article was written by Megan McGaffigan Lang, an Equine Technician at All West Veterinary Hospital. She is an experienced (and obsessed) giant breed dog owner and dog-mom to three canine kids: Sully a Great Dane, Finley a Pointer Mix, and Kobe, a Springer Spaniel Mix.

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Pride – July Patient of the Month

Pride is a 10 yo Palomino gelding that got himself into a bit of trouble playing around with a paddock mate a couple of weeks ago.  While horsin’ around, he reared up and came down on the edge of the roof of his shed – which was quite high – so it must have been an impressive rear!  Pride ended up with a large horizontal laceration on the ventral surface of his neck.  He cut partially or fully through several muscle groups in his neck – the sternocephalicus, brachiocephalicus and sternohyoideus muscles.  He also cut through is right jugular vein.  His wound was only inches from his pulsating carotid artery and scraped the surface of his trachea, or windpipe, but luckily did not go through it.

Pride’s owners were very fast acting, and quickly wrapped an ace bandage and applied pressure to the wound which very well could have saved his life.  They brought him into All West Veterinary Hospital right way.  Dr. Jeneé was on call and met them at the hospital.  She ligated the jugular vein that was cut (horses only need one – even racehorses!), placed a drain and sutured the muscles and skin back together.  Then a pressure bandage was applied around his neck to help reduce swelling and prevent more bleeding.

Although a lacerated jugular sounds like a scary thing, and it certainly can be life threatening – the quick action on the part of his owners prevented him from losing too much blood.  Pride did not show any signs of shock from blood loss at the hospital.  In fact, he was just excited to get his treatment over with so he could head to his stall for dinner.

Pride was monitored overnight in one of our camera stalls and he did great.  He went home the next morning with antibiotics, pain/inflammation medication and a bandaged neck.  He has been doing great at home and his sutures should come out this week.  He is a really sweet boy and was great to work with.  We hope from here on out we only see Pride for preventive care!

Would you be prepared if your horse was in an emergency?  Keeping bandage materials on hand is a great idea.  Additionally, making sure that you have access to a trailer and working with your horse so that he loads easily is crucial to getting him timely care.  It is nice to have some pain medication on hand, however it is a good idea to call and speak to a veterinarian before giving any medications.  In some instances, horses are better off without them.  For example, banamine can inhibit platelet function which is necessary to form a blood clot, so when bleeding is a concern, your veterinarian would probably like to see the horse prior to it getting any medications.

Whenever there is a question, give us a call.  We have an equine veterinarian on call 24/7 to answer questions and see cases in the hospital and in the field!  Check out our Facebook page for sequential pictures of Pride’s injury and recovery.

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Fourth of July Safety Tips

As we approach the 4th of July holiday, keep in mind there are some things you can do to help ensure that your pet stays happy and healthy.  Although it is tempting to bring pups along for all the family fun, sometimes the safest thing to do is leave them at home in a secure and familiar environment.  In addition to the anxiety that pets may experience with all the loud fire work noises, this time of year carries a higher risk for other problems in dogs too – such as ingesting potentially dangerous foods and suffering heat stroke.  So brush up on these tips from the AKC so that you can keep your pets safe.

You can find the full article at:


As we prepare for barbeques and fireworks this Fourth of July, The American Kennel Club, a not-for-profit organization which maintains the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world, offers tips on how to keep your pets safe and calm during this Independence Day.

  • It is safer to keep your pets at home during Fourth of July celebrations instead of bringing him to your neighbor’s party. Keep your pets in the house, rather than in your yard. He will be a lot happier indoors, and not tempted to leap over a fence to find you.
  • Dogs can be startled by the loud noise of fireworks. Once the festivities begin, keep your pet in a safe room where he can feel comfortable. If he is crate trained put him in his crate covered with a blanket to make him feel secure.
  • Block outside sights and sounds by lowering the blinds and turning on the television. Play soothing music in the background to counteract the cacophony during the “rockets’ red glare.
  • If your pet seems overly anxious, spend some time with your pet, speaking soothingly to help them to relax.
  • Avoid scraps from the grill. While tempting to our pets, any sudden change to your pets’ diet can cause stomach upset. In addition, some certain foods like onions, avocado, grapes and raisins can be toxic .
  • Human products can be dangerous to animals . Avoid spraying your pet with insect repellent and only use special sunscreen that is intended for animal use. Keep your pets away from matches and lighter fluid. They can be extremely irritating to the stomach, lungs and central nervous system, if ingested.
  • Should your dog get scared, escape and run away, help find him with microchip identification. Collars and tags can fall off so make sure you have permanent ID with a microchip. Keep contact information current with your recovery service provider. For more information and to enroll your pet in a 24 hour recovery service visit .
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Heat Stroke and Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs

This is a really great blog post that we are sharing from an emergency veterinarian in New Jersey.  It is important to understand the signs of heat stroke, so you can prevent it before you find yourself in a scary situation with your four legged friend.  You might be surprised that heat stroke can occur even if it does not seem that hot out to you.  Because dogs cannot dissipate heat the same way people can, dogs with compromised airways (such as brachycephalics and those affected by laryngeal paralysis) can overheat just from exercise or being too worked up.  If you are noticing some of these symptoms in your own dog, give us a call and we can discuss the best way to care for them.


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Niko! June Patient of the Month!

Meet Niko, our June patient of the month! Back in April, Niko’s Mom and Dad noticed him yelp while he was chewing on a toy, he also seemed lethargic. The next day he could not pick up a tennis ball and was having trouble eating, but he could still drink okay.

They brought him to All West Veterinary Hospital and saw Dr. Shari Bearrow. She recognized that his symptoms were consistent with a disorder called masticatory muscle myositis (MMM). Masticatory refers to chewing, so this means that the muscles involved in chewing were affected. Myositis means inflammation of the muscle. So Niko’s muscles that control chewing were inflamed and painful.

The cause of this disorder is not well understood. It is an immune-mediated condition, meaning the body in a way attacks itself. In this case, the body is attacking a specific muscle fiber found in the muscles involved in chewing. Dr. Bearrow recommended a test to confirm the diagnosis, and sure enough this was Niko’s problem.

Some dogs with MMM develop symptoms so severe that they cannot even open their mouths. Many will have significant muscle atrophy over their cheeks and foreheads, and sometimes the muscles are actually destroyed and replaced with fibrous tissue. It is important to make a quick diagnosis so treatment can be started before muscle damage becomes too advanced.

The main treatment goal for MMM is to stop the inflammatory cycle. This was accomplished by putting Niko on a steroid as soon as MMM was suspected, and over the last month and a half his dose has been gradually decreased. The other component of his treatment is acupuncture, which he receives weekly.   The goal is to be able to wean him off of steroids sooner than if he was just being treated with the medication alone.

At Niko’s acupuncture appointments, he lays down on a doggy bed and gets a massage while several needles are placed at specific points on his face, head and neck to help relax muscles, improve blood flow and relieve any pain he may be having.

Niko’s treatment could last a couple of more months, but he is doing very well and we are so happy to see him improving.

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Transitioning to Spring and Summer Pasture

It is important to be strategic whenever you make a change in your horse’s diet, but especially when you are moving him onto spring pasture.  In the last month, we have seen a lot more cases of colic after horses have been moved to grass quickly.  Too much pasture time in the spring, especially an abrupt change puts your horse at risk not only for colic, but also laminitis.  Read the article below to find out what you need to know to decrease the risk for your horse.


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Equine Nutrition – What You Need to Know!

Ever wonder if your horse is getting all the nutrients it needs?  Ever wonder if he is getting too much of a good thing?  This article does a great job explaining what matters most in a horse’s diet, and how following a few simple principles can improve his health, and help to avoid costly veterinary visits for things like colic!  The most important take home message – Keep it Simple!


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Canines Sniffing out Cancer

We just came across this really interesting article that talks about how dogs can use their noses to detect tumors in humans.  It is truly amazing how skilled our pets are.  We have known for years about all the health benefits owning a dog can have, but this is just one more piece of proof that there is no limit to the talents of man’s best friend.

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Acupuncture at AWVH

Acupuncture is a new service offered at AWVH that is an adjunctive therapy for treating many ailments experienced by animal species.  Dr. Jeneé Daws has completed over 160 hours of continuing education and is certified to perform acupuncture on large animal, small animal and exotic species.  The course she took focused on integrating scientific medicine into the practice of acupuncture.

Acupuncture has a wide variety of indications.  Its main goals are to improve pain control and speed healing.  Acupuncture is helpful in many animals with muscle pain, orthopedic pain, neurologic conditions and gastrointestinal disease.  It can even be used during general anesthesia to decrease the amount of inhalant anesthetic used. An abbreviated list of some conditions that acupuncture may help to improve:

  • Arthritis
  • Nerve injury or paralysis
  • Back and neck pain
  • Wound healing
  • Incontinence/urinary disorders
  • Eye conditions
  • Weakness
  • Soft tissue injury
  • Muscle spasms and pain
  • Kidney disease
  • Gastrointestinal disease such as constipation and diarrhea
  • Cancer pain
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Reproductive disorders

This horse is receiving acupuncture and electroacupuncture to help speed nerve healing following facial nerve paralysis.  You can see that the left side of his face is droopy – his ear, his lip and his muzzle show that he does not have the ability to move the left side of his face.  Acupuncture will stimulate his nerve to begin working sooner and restore the movement in his face faster than if we just let it heal with time.

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