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Pet and Backyard Chickens at All West

Pet & Backyard Chickens at All West

There has been an increase of pet, backyard, and urban chickens in Bozeman in the past few years due to new city ordinances that allow such. More recently, Belgrade is working to pass an urban chicken ordinance to allow its citizens to also keep chickens. This has been an exciting thing for chicken enthusiasts in our area! With that, All West Veterinary Hospital has seen more chickens and answered more calls regarding chickens than ever before. We proudly offer excellent service and care for all avian creatures including chickens.

Chicken Keeping 101: Basic Husbandry

Keep your chickens in a clean, dry and well-ventilated (but not windy) coop.  Providing a predator proof coop and pen is very important to the longevity of your chickens! Bed your coop with pine shavings to absorb urine and feces; add straw in the winter for insulation. As a general rule of thumb, for backyard chicken keeping, birds need 4sq feet of indoor coop space and 10sq feet of outdoor/pen space. Crowding of birds can cause hen pecking, generally unhappy birds, and unsanitary living conditions. Provide a place in the coop for birds to roost (multiple areas and levels if more than three birds), and a nesting box (1 per 3 birds) to lay their eggs.

Ample food and water should be available at all times. A good “layer” feed should be available full time, and providing a selection of kitchen scraps to your birds is a great way to enhance their diets! When your bird is molting (biannual shedding of their feathers), be sure to provide food that has a higher percentage of protein, 16% or more. Feathers are made of nearly 80% protein! When a bird is molting, their egg production slows, and their body focuses on generating new feathers.  Foods for your chickens to avoid include citruses, overly salty food, onion, and overly starchy foods. It is important to have a free-choice calcium source, such as oyster shells, always available to allow for strong eggshell production. Free ranging can be a great pastime for your birds that might get bored being penned up all the time. Make sure that your birds are supervised to avoid encounters with neighborhood dogs or people who might not enjoy a chicken scratching in their garden.  If your birds are not free range, it is important to provide some opportunity for foraging to prevent boredom and aggression.

Be sure to inspect your birds regularly for parasites like mites and lice, which can be transferred from wild birds. These little bugs can stress your birds, reduce egg production, and are generally not good for the overall health of your bird. These little insects can usually be found in the fine fluff feathers around the chicken’s vent and under their wings and are very easily dealt with by dusting your birds with a powdered pesticide from the local farm store. Keeping the coop clean can also help to reduce parasite numbers, and adding diatomaceous earth to their dust baths can minimize parasites as well.  Always read the label when treating your birds with any products! And don’t fear: these disgusting little creatures are species specific, meaning you don’t have to worry about becoming infected with them yourself. Remember to always wash your hands before and after handling your chickens as their eggs and their feces can carry communicable diseases like salmonella.

Chickens do very well when consistently provided with all of the things to meet their basic needs. They make great companions for families with children and anybody who has an available backyard space. We look forward to hearing from our clients with any chicken questions or concerns! Happy chicken raising, and enjoy all those eggs!

This article was written by Megan McGaffigan Lang, an Equine Technician at All West Veterinary Hospital. She is an avid chicken enthusiast who has 5 of her own backyard pet chickens.  Photo credit poultryhaus.com.

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Geriatric Horse Care

With the Fall fast approaching here in Montana, it is time to take a good look at your horses and start preparing them for the long, cold months ahead. Geriatric horses particularly need to be prepared. A horse is considered “geriatric” when it is around the age of 20 years. Like people, some horses age better than others. Aging depends on genetics, conformation, and their overall care and lifestyle over time. It isn’t unheard of for horses to live to and beyond 30 in this day and age.  With longevity increasing, pay particular attention to any older horses you may have; how do they look – are they thin or overweight? Did your old gelding shed out well this summer? Is your old mare dropping any grain when she eats? Are you still riding old Rusty but he seems a little stiff these days? All the answers to these questions can indicate how you should proceed with the care of your aging companion.

Preventive care is an important part of horse ownership, especially for older horses. We recommend an individualized vaccination plan based on your horse’s exposure and lifestyle. Rotational deworming every two to three months can actually cause more harm than good, so we recommend a strategic plan with periodic fecal floats (a very affordable test to count how many and what type of parasites your horse may have). If your older horse did not shed out well, parasites could be the culprit. However in an older horse we also start to consider Cushing’s Disease, especially if the animal has a poorly muscled topline, recurrent infections, an unusually long hair coat along with a variety of other symptoms.

Dental health is a very important area of concern for maintaining your older horse. If your horse is a hard keeper, has trouble chewing hay, or has overall poor body condition, it is probably time for a dental float. Look for nasal discharge, foul odor of the mouth, or clumps of chewed up and spit out hay. Older horses can develop hooks on their teeth, which can make eating very painful. This coupled with a slower metabolism, and a poorer nutritional absorption rate which occurs with age is a recipe for an underweight horse. If you are supplementing with grain already and your horse has dental pain, your horse could be spilling grain out of its mouth and wasting the calories it needs (and your money).

Dietary concerns often come up in conversation with regards to maintaining the geriatric horse. In my experience, working at a large sport horse boarding facility that seemed to specialize in retired geriatric horses, many of the animals needed help supplementing calories in their diets. Our go-to solution diet for the senior-horse-citizens in addition to their hay rations is: a few heaping scoops of pelleted grass hay and a scoop or two of Purina Equine Senior, once or twice a day. This concoction is soaked in water, which creates a nice mash that is very palatable for horses that might not have all their teeth. If horses are hard extra hard keepers or are still in work, a stabilized rice bran pellet can be added to the mix to raise the fat content of the meal. This formula does wonders for keeping horses at an ideal weight and body condition throughout the winter. When choosing a grain product to supplement into your horse’s diet, make sure to read the label! Some feeds are “complete feeds”, meaning an animal can be sustained wholly on that product (no hay needed). It is important to note that foliage plays a very important role in the digestive process of a horse but if necessary “complete feeds” can be the diet for a horse that can’t eat and process hay.

Don’t forget the opposite issue: an overweight older horse. This may simply be because your horse is getting too many calories and/or not enough exercise. A horse that needs to lose weight should consume 1-1.5% of their body weight in hay each day. For these horses, weighing their feed can be helpful to be sure they are not getting too much. If the right amount is being fed, contact us and we can look into some other causes for an overweight horse, such as equine metabolic syndrome which could have some other important consequences for your horse. Remember that an overweight horse needs just as much management and concern as a thing horse!

Lastly, when maintaining your geriatric horse this winter (and all year!) consistent exercise is very important to keep joints in working order. Arthritis is a common ailment that can hinder the mobility of any older animal. Many arthritic horses do well with consistent exercise at a level that the horse can maintain and enjoy. Things that can help combat the effects of arthritis are oral supplements like Cosequin, but perhaps more effectively, injectable products like Adequan. I have personally experienced great results with my own geriatric horse and Adequan coupled with a regular exercise program.

For advice, service, and suggestions with your older horse and the coming winter, All West Veterinary Hospital is always available to serve you and your equines. Good luck this winter and stay warm!

This article was written by Megan McGaffigan Lang, an Equine Technician at All West Veterinary Hospital. She is the owner of “Arthur”, a 21 year old Belgian Warmblood who is still actively schooling and showing in the Dressage arena.

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Pretty Penny, our August Patient of the Month!

Meet Penny, our August patient of the month.  Penny is a spunky, fun loving, 4 year old pit bull who belongs to one of our small animal assistants, Elise.  Seven weeks ago, Penny was diagnosed with a high-grade Mast Cell Tumor in her nose. Elise noticed in May that Penny had been sneezing a lot and that the inside of her nose seemed to be a little swollen. Penny met with Dr. Karyn Cook to address the original concern of sneezing.  Antibiotics didn’t seem to make a difference so after two months of sneezing Penny met with Dr. Karyn again. Dr. Karyn suggested Penny be sedated and have her teeth checked, thinking it could possibly be an abscessed tooth; she also recommended a nasal biopsy to rule out anything odd.  Dr. Shari Bearrow took on the task of taking skull radiographs, a biopsy of the nose and checking her teeth. The radiographs were normal and her teeth were healthy so the doctors were relying on biopsy results to make a plan. We all assumed the biopsy would come back as an allergy and that Penny may just need to be on oral medication seasonally.

When the results came back on July 8th, Elise was devastated. High-grade Mast Cell Tumors can act very aggressively and the prognosis was guarded. After Dr. Shari consulted with pathologists, Penny was given six months to live if immediate action wasn’t taken. Chemotherapy alone would not give her much time and Penny and Elise would have to travel to Colorado State University to pursue either radiation therapy or a ‘nosectomy.’  Three weeks after the initial news, Penny and Elise drove out to CSU to meet with a team of specialists and make a plan. Penny underwent a CT Scan and a rhinoscopy and after nearly eight hours at CSU, Elise sat down with a wonderful team of specialist and ultimately decided that pursuing a ‘nosectomy’ would give Penny the best chance of survival.

On August 5th, nearly one month after the initial diagnoses, Penny went in for a four-hour surgery to remove a large portion of her nose as well as remove her left lymph node because the cancer had begun to spread. She stayed in CSU’s Intensive Care Unit for two days before being released.  Once home, Penny struggled to adjust. Her nose was painful and swollen, she continued to lick at it and by doing so, pulled apart the sutures and had to have Dr. Karyn preform a ‘repair surgery’ a week after returning home.  Since the repair surgery, Penny and Elise have taken it one day at a time. Penny continues to be a little more herself each and everyday, she’s even doing hot laps around the house when Elise gets home from work! With Penny healing up well, she will begin Chemotherapy with Dr. Shari this week. It will be an eight-week course of treatments and by the end, we all hope Penny will be cancer free!  She’s been in the very best of hands at CSU and now at All West Veterinary. Her battle isn’t over, to keep up with Penny’s fight, visit her Facebook page, “Penny’s Big Fight” and watch her kick cancers butt!

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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).

Exercise

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.

Bloat

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:  https://www.akc.org/press_center/july_4_tips.cfm

PET-FRIENDLY FOURTH OF JULY TIPS

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 www.akcreunite.org .
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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.

http://www.drheatherloenser.com/blog

 

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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.

http://www.thehorse.com/articles/28909/spring-turnout-tips-for-horses

 

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