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Veterinary Myths and Misunderstandings

Our latest blog post comes from our smiling face at reception, Lindsey. She writes about some common myths, mistakes and misunderstandings in veterinary medicine and what you can do to avoid these pitfalls!

Top 5 Common Myths and Misunderstanings in Veterinary Medicine
by Lindsey

During the past 3+ years I have worked at All West Vet, I have seen, heard and learned a lot. I realized that there are common mistakes that we all make when owning a beloved pet. The oversights are often due to our love for our pets, and so I have tried to compile the top 5 universal myths and mistakes we often make so we can all learn and laugh.

‘He’s not fat, he’s big boned!’
Unfortunately, more than half of the pets in American households are overweight or even obese! Because the majority of dogs and cats are packing on extra pounds these days, our minds are fooled into thinking this is normal. This can be difficult to see when you look at your pet every day, that’s why you should count on your veterinary team to help you determine a healthy weight for your pet. Your veterinarian can assess your pet with an objective tool such as the Healthy Weight Protocol to give you an accurate idea of what your pet’s weight should be, as well as a specific diet plan to get you to that healthy goal.

‘I only go to the vet when my pet is sick.’
Animals are tremendous masters of disguise; they don’t want to inconvenience us by letting us know they feel poorly. In some species, especially exotics, not showing illness is actually a defense mechanism. Sometimes, by the time owners notice signs of illness, a pet has been sick for quite some time. Annual preventative care exams allow you to catch diseases like arthritis and renal disease much earlier in the process, saving you money and your pet pain and stress.

‘The pet store employee told me to change pet food.’
Choosing a pet food can be confusing. Meanwhile, the person at the pet food store, even with the best intentions, doesn’t know your pet’s medical history the way your vet does. If your veterinarian recommends a specific diet for your pet, there’s usually an excellent reason. Diet plays a key role in your pet’s health, so make sure to include their number one health advocate in that decision.

‘Don’t be scared; give him a cookie!’
When a pet is exhibiting a fearful behavior, such as growling or snapping, it can be tempting to try and calm them down with attention. But rewarding a fearful pet with hugs, food and consolation can actually worsen the behavior by reinforcing it. If this behavior worsens over time, a pet might actually wind up in a shelter, and aggressive pets have lower chances of being adopted. If your pet shows any signs of fear or aggression, talk to a certified trainer, or your veterinary behaviorist ASAP!

‘My dog doesn’t need a leash, he’s trained!’
It’s important to be a good dog ambassador by obeying local dog ordinances about leashes and cleaning up after your pup. When you visit your vet, keeping your pet on leash is best no matter how nice your dog may be. You never know how other dogs will be, especially ones that are not feeling well. If you live in an area where leashes are required by law, you should obey that law without fail. Many people – and even dogs – are frightened of other dogs, and they can be very distressed by being approached by any canine, even a very friendly one. There are designated areas where dogs can run off leash, so if your dog is feeling the call of the wild, find a dog park and let loose!

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Grain Free Pet Food

Read the article below to learn more about what a grain free diet is and whether or not it is the best option for your pet.

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Pet Boarding at AWVH

It is almost summer and I am sure you are starting to feel the warmer weather and longer hours slipping into the days. Summer months let us take advantage of no school and no jacket; often we celebrate with family trips, sporting tournaments or weekend getaways! At All West Veterinary Hospital we hope you are able to do all of those things and more this summer. Keep pet boarding at AWVH in mind while you are away!

All West Vet offers a fun and safe boarding facility for dogs, cats and most exotic animals. Boarding is an excellent option for pets while you are away because your pet will stay in a place where they are welcome and loved. Sometimes hotels and camp grounds are not properly equipped for animals to come along. Pets also receive more attention and supervision at the kennel than when they are left at home alone with a friendly neighbor letting them out and feeding. Pets are monitored by the kennel and veterinary technician staff at All West for any health problems that need to be addressed.

We require all animals that board with us to be up to date on parasite prevention and current on vaccinations. If your animal is not up to date the staff at All West would be happy to set you up for a pre-boarding appointment. During the appointment feel free to ask the kennel staff to show you around. We are proud of our boarding establishment and would love to share it with you before you decide to board your animal.

While boarding your dog here you have an array of activities to choose from:
-Individual walks for 30 minutes as frequently you would like
-Group play for 30 minutes with other dog-friendly dogs under direct supervision from one of our well trained kennel technicians
-Individual play for dogs who would prefer fetch over walks, but don’t care for other dogs as much

We can’t wait to see you and your pet here this summer. We hope this answered many questions you may have about boarding. If not please feel free to call us to schedule an appointment in advance or voice any concerns. We would love to hear from you!

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Puppies (and potty training…)!

Puppies!!!! Everyone loves them and there is so much joy and excitement that comes with your new family member but there is also a lot of work and frustration that comes with training your new puppy, especially potty training. My name is Krystle and I am one of the small animal technicians here at All West Veterinary. I’ve been with the hospital almost 5 years so I have definitely seen the frustrations of many owners and I myself have had my share of frustrations with training my puppy, Waylon. Luckily working at All West gave me the knowledge of how to properly and quickly potty train her, and it worked! Within a week and a half the accidents inside the house were very few and far between and shortly after that they stopped completely. Today I want to share with you the tips to help make housebreaking your new puppy a little easier and quicker.

To start, the ideal age to train your puppy is 7 ½ to 8 ½ weeks old. The puppy is young enough at this age for you to teach him/her where to eliminate before they decide on their own personal favorite place. You still can train your new puppy even if it is older than 8 ½ weeks it just may take a little longer. The biggest key is patience! Take your new puppy outside 6-8 times a day for him/her to eliminate, the ideal times to take them out is after they wake up, after play sessions and 15-30 minutes after a meal. Remember, many puppies need 15-20 minutes to sniff and move around before they eliminate. Use key phrases like “go potty” or “do your business” every time you take your puppy outdoors. It is best to take them outside to an area with very minimal distractions. Once your puppy eliminates outdoors make sure you praise your puppy and repeatedly say “good boy/girl”, treats can also be very effective for this. Make sure your praise is outside immediately after the puppy eliminates, not after coming inside as this may make the puppy think it is being rewarded for coming inside. It is highly recommended not to use potty pads in the house as this only trains your puppy it is okay to go in the house. Take the possibility of a few accidents in the house and stick with directing your puppy outdoors to do his/her business.

When you are not home it is a great idea to keep your puppy confined to a crate small enough that they can’t eliminate on one side and get away from it. Most dogs won’t eliminate in a place they sleep, but keep in mind that your puppies’ bladder and bowel capacity is limited so they need to be let out approximately every 4 hours. Make sure to supervise your puppy when he/she is in the house and out of their crate so that if they do start to eliminate you are there to correct them and get them outside. If your puppy does have an accident in the house, don’t go get the puppy and rub his/her nose in it. This doesn’t do any good because the misbehavior has already happened. Instead, try and catch the puppy in the act. If you see the puppy getting ready to house soil, don’t swat it, instead stomp your foot, shake a can filled with pennies, or startle the puppy by yelling “outside!”. If your puppy does eliminate in the house you want to make sure to thoroughly clean the areas where the puppy has eliminated. If you do not clean these areas thoroughly your puppy may return to it and house soil again.

Feed your puppy at set times every day to create regular intervals at which your puppy will need to eliminate. If you are having troubles getting your puppy to let you know when they need to go outside you can train them to ring a bell on a door. To do this, suspend a small bell from your door knob low enough that your pup can use his/her nose or paw to ring it. Each time you take your puppy outside make them ring the bell with their nose or paw, you can use your hand to gently guide them how to do this. Praise your dog after they ring the bell and take them outside. Repeat this until your puppy is doing it on his/her own. You can also spread a little peanut butter on the bell and let your puppy outside when they ring the bell while licking it. Most puppies can take until they are 14 to 20 weeks old to be fully potty trained, be patient and consult with your veterinarian if you’re having difficulty potty training your puppy.

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Pet Adoption

Hi, my name is Amy Sharp and I have been at All West for a year now. For the first 9 months of employment here, I worked as an after hours assistant and spent a lot of time with animals in our boarding facility and hospitalized patients at night. However, in the past 3 months, I have transitioned to being a small animal assistant where I work more closely with routine vet visits and clients. Had I been asked a year ago about adopting an animal I probably would have gratefully declined, however only months after working at All West I discovered how difficult it is to work with animals, know their stories and not want to help a creature in need. Which leads me to this; a year ago my husband and I owned a very low maintenance 3 year old terrier mix.

Now we are the proud parents of a 3 year old terrier, a young chocolate lab and 2- (yes 2!) 6 month old sibling kittens. Now, you may be thinking that we are crazy to have added that many animals to our lives so quickly, and you are definitely correct- our home is quite often a madhouse because of these furry children! Nonetheless, it’s quite a challenge to see these helpless creatures come into our care needing a home and not have them pull just a little on your heartstrings.

Several of our staff can relate to this as many of them have also taken home an animal or two either from the hospital or from a client in need of rehoming their pet. At this point you may be wondering how I gained 3 pets in such a short period of time-here’s my story….

While I was in my first month of training, I heard word about a client of ours whose chocolate lab was pregnant with 11 puppies, all of which had not yet been spoken for. At the time, my husband and I had not been planning on getting another dog, yet this seemed like the perfect opportunity if it was something I could convince him was a good idea. I pitched it to him with the idea that he or she could be raised to be the perfect hunting dog- that was all I needed to get him on board. We went to visit the puppies at 2 weeks old and Fischer won us over within 15 minutes. We brought him home the first week of May when he was 8 weeks old and decided our hands were full and our family of fur children was complete.

Five months later I was working in reception when a client came and asked me about a young kitten outside of the hospital. I had no knowledge of there being any strays frequently hanging around the building so I just brushed it off as a cat from a neighboring business. About an hour after the client initially informed me about the kitten she returned to tell me she tried several times to catch 2 kittens but had no such luck. Just before my shift ended that night I went outside to try and snag a peak of these kittens and to my surprise saw 2 adorable kittens that couldn’t have been more than 3-4 weeks old. My heart dropped as we were expecting a dramatic temperature drop that night and I knew if I didn’t catch them they would surely freeze. To my surprise when I went out to grab them they fled in terror. It took 2 other techs cornering them to finally catch them and put them safely in a carrier, but they came home with me that night.

My intention was to take them to Heart of the Valley, however a day turned into a weekend, a weekend into a week, and then they just became part of the family. At the end of the day sometimes I really cannot believe how many animals we have; yet I can’t say I regret taking any of them in. They have a good home, are all healthy and receive a lot of love and that is what we work towards at veterinary hospitals all around.

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Great success with Hills J/D dog food

Hi my name is Melissa and I have been large animal technician at All West for 6 years. While horses are a huge part of my life, I’m also an avid dog lover and have a slight obsession with German shorthaired pointers. I have three of my own, Chase who is 11 years old, Dylan, 7yrs and Oak, 5yrs. True to form, they all have an abundance of energy and like to go, go, go all day long. Luckily I have a lot of land for them to do so on and they revel in running and hunting and exploring it day in and day out. The oldest one, Chase, has been non-stop since the day he was born. Even as a small pup he was catapulting off stairs and taking on feats far beyond his size but that didn’t stop him and he has yet to stop, even as an old man. Due to his curious nature, he had an unfortunate run in with a porcupine several years ago and he got stung in the front leg requiring surgical removal of the quills, a few of which had gotten into his joint. Dr. Dan Butterfield got them all removed and had him back on the go in no time but over time, he has developed arthritis in that leg and had become quite sore on it in the last year, especially after a long day of play. Years of hard use on all of his joints had also started to take its toll and he was getting increasingly stiff in the mornings. For the first time, I saw him start to slow down and it was really hard to watch him limp and be sore. I started him on the joint supplement, Dasuquin with MSM, and that definitely helped if I used it at the high dosage but there were still days where I would also have to use a NSAID to keep him comfortable. About 2 months ago I was encouraged to try a new dog food made by Hills called J/D that is specially formulated for joint disease in dogs. Our Hills representative reported that they have had a lot of success with this food for dogs with joint issues. Her opinion was that the dogs would no longer need supplements once they were on this food. I doubted that I would be able to maintain Chase’s soundness on the food alone but I agreed to try it. I kept him on a lower dose of Dasuquin for the first couple weeks of using the J/D diet but he was doing so well, I decided to discontinue all the supplements and Chase is doing amazing! He is completely sound and runs and goes now as much as he did as a young dog, in fact he usually is still going when my two younger ones have already passed out for the night. I’m truly amazed at how well he is doing and feel the Hills J/D diet has been a huge part of his transformation. I would recommend this food to absolutely anyone who has a dog that needs some joint support, your dog will thank you!

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Extensor Tendon Lacerations

Meet Risky. She is one of my all time favorite patients. Risky is a 12 year old Morgan mare who I met in August of 2013 when she likely took a risk trying to get to some greener grass on the far side of a fence and wound up with a couple of pretty good lacerations on her hindlimb.

When Risky came to the hospital it was clear that she had completely transected both her long digital extensor and lateral digital extensor tendon. The job of these muscles and associated tendons is to extend the toe, which prevents the horse from knuckling over at the fetlock joint. Without these tendons, Risky was having difficulty placing her foot and walking, and really had to hobble in on three limbs. In addition to the tendon injuries, Risky’s wound was several hours old at the time she was found and so it was a bloody, contaminated mess.

As bad as it looks, Risky was really lucky for a couple of reasons. First, the wound was located on the dorsal, or front aspect of the limb. Had the injury happened on the plantar, or back side of the limb, our chances of saving her would have been much, much lower. The other thing Risky had going for her was that her wounds were not near a joint. Joint infections in horses are very serious and potentially life-threatening, any time a laceration occurs near a joint, it should be looked at by a veterinarian right away.

Risky was initially treated with a wet to dry pressure bandage to debride the wound and bring down the inflammation. She was also started on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Several types of splints were used until we found one that was comfortable for Risky that she walked well with and tolerated well. Risky’s wound was also treated with PRP – platelet rich plasma – which is a regenerative medicine that involves harvesting a small amount of Risky’s blood then concentrating some components of it that may aid in wound healing and applying it directly to the wound.

Little by little, we saw improvement with her wound. The most important thing Risky needs is simply time to allow her tendons to scar down so that her limb functions normally and for the skin to close.

Risky’s owners have been extremely committed to her care and have been very diligent in the wound cleaning and bandaging, managing Risky’s periods of exercise and confinement, and keeping her a happy horse until she can go back to her normal routine with her herdmates.

Although Risky will always have a couple of scars, we expect her to make a complete and full recovery. We look forward to seeing Risky being ridden this summer! See our facebook page for more photos and check back for updates on her progress.

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Learn about raw and fad diets from our technician Krystle!

Hello everyone! My name is Krystle Ashley and I am one of the small animal technicians here at All West Veterinary. I am coming up on 5 years with the hospital and I have learned a lot through my years. When I started at All West I was given the task of ordering our dog and cat foods and this is where my interest in small animal nutrition started to blossom. I have done my share of research along with attending a seminar covering the facts and myths surrounding the food we feed our beloved pets. I would like to share with you today some of those myths and facts. Recently certain food trends have popped up including raw food diets, grain-free diets, no by-products, meat as the first ingredient and so on and so forth. But you should always keep in mind; when searching for a proper food to feed your pet it is always a good idea to discuss with your veterinarian what diet is best for your pet and try to stick to well known brands that have been around a long time.

Myth 1: Raw foods are great for your pet! They help them live longer and are closer to what they eat in the wild.
Fact: Feeding raw meat, eggs and bones can be dangerous for your pet because of the excessive levels of nutrients like protein, calcium and phosphorus. Raw diets also increase the risk of fractured teeth, gastrointestinal perforation and exposing your pet, yourself and your family to E. Coli and Salmonella. Also, many times raw diets are not balanced for your pet’s specific needs. Recent research shows that some of the changes in digestion between wolves and dogs were a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs. Wolves in the wild, which typically only live for a few years, eat foods that are not optimal for pets that we hope will live long and healthy lives.

Myth 2: By-products are bad, low quality ingredients.
Fact: Many by-products are excellent sources of nutrients for pets. With extremely rare exceptions, all pet foods contain by-products. A by-product is simply something produced in the making of something else. For example, Vitamin E is a by-product of soybeans. By-product meal includes highly nutritious organ meats, such as liver, kidney and heart. When you see a package saying by-product next to an ingredient, don’t just assume the worst.

Myth 3: Grain-free pet foods are better for all pets and corn is just a filler.
Fact: There is no nutritional foundation to support a grain-free diet, and foods that have grains are just as digestible as grain-free foods. The term “grain-free” is misleading, as all grain-free foods contain carbohydrates from other sources such as sweet potato which has more carbohydrates than corn. Corn is not a filler and is a nutritionally superior grain compared to others used in pet foods. Corn is also highly digestible when cooked. Many people are also turned off from corn with the concern that it is an allergen; however, most allergies are related to beef, dairy, wheat and fish.

Myth 4: Meat-first foods are better.
Fact: Healthy pets need nutrients and complete balance of amino acids from both meat and non-meat sources. Meat is not the only source of protein available, either. Other ingredients like corn can provide proteins as well. Just because the meat isn’t listed as the first ingredient doesn’t mean that it is not a large part of the makeup of that diet.

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Sammy and Allison – The Welcoming Committee!

Hi, my name is Allison Cruz. I have worked as a receptionist for All West Veterinary Hospital for 9 months. My favorite part of this job is greeting the clients and their pets.

I had the pleasure of having my Queensland heeler, Sammy, come in for an office visit to see Dr. Brooke Trey. Sammy loved everybody here, mostly because they gave her love and cookies. During the exam, Dr. Brooke recommended that Sammy have her teeth cleaned in the near future. She showed me the tartar buildup on Sammy’s canine and molar teeth as well as gum inflammation. We scheduled a dental cleaning for the next day.

I brought Sammy in bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 9 o’clock the next morning. Sammy did not get breakfast that morning since she would be put under anesthesia so she was much more bushy-tailed than normal. Dr. Brooke cleaned her teeth in a short amount of time and Sammy woke up without any complications. Her teeth were white and clean again.

Dental care is extremely important for pets. It is never too early to start preventative oral care for your pets! Since Sammy’s visit, I have started giving her C.E.T chews, which help to break off tartar buildup, and I brush her teeth regularly with enzymatic pet toothpaste. We offer these products, along with the T/D Science Diet food that was designed for oral care, in the reception area of the hospital. We look forward to seeing you and your pets at All West soon!

Ski Jore Jump

Ski-Jore at the 320 Ranch!

Melissa and her horse, Amity, with her partner, Emily

Melissa and her horse, Amity, with her partner, Emily

There were big jumps and sharp turns on the course!

There were big jumps and sharp turns on the course!

The 320 Ranch held their annual Ski-Jore event last weekend in Big Sky. It is a great event that brings together equine and human athletes to maneuver a snowy course of poles and jumps while making a run for the fastest time. Skiers are towed behind horses, and All West technician Melissa “Mo” competed in the event for the first time this year with her horse Amity and her friend Emily. They did a great job and everyone involved had a lot of fun. Dr. Jeneé was on hand to provide care for the horses if needed.

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