Care for Your Pets

Our pet care focus is on keeping your pet healthy and happy. We achieve that through performing thorough annual physical exams, preventative immunizations, and regular testing for viruses, parasites, and other specific conditions.  As pets live longer, more active lives, they can benefit from physical examinations at six month intervals and routine blood screening for early detection of common geriatric health conditions.

Pets often develop medical conditions that can be alleviated through dietary management. Together we can determine a dietary plan suitable for such conditions as heart disease, kidney or liver problems, obesity, or other ailments.

 PUPPY HEALTH CARE
Back to Top

Vaccinations

Distemper-Hepatitis-Parainfluenza-Parvo (DHPP)

All puppies need a series of vaccinations to help protect against potentially deadly diseases.  The DHPP vaccine protects against the 4 most common diseases your puppy may come in contact with on a regular basis.  We recommend vaccines every 3 weeks until your puppy is 16 weeks of age.  It is very important for puppies to receive their complete series of vaccinations to ensure their protection.  Tri-annual vaccines are required to provide continual protection against these diseases.

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies is required by law in the state of Minnesota because Rabies is a disease that is capable of being transmitted to humans.  We recommend that puppies receive their rabies vaccination as early as 12 weeks.  This vaccination is given 2 consecutive years and then every 3 years.

Bordetella (Kennel Cough Vaccine)

Kennel cough is an upper respiratory virus or infection that is easily transmitted when your puppy is in a large group of dogs.  Boarding, obedience classes, grooming, and dog shows are examples of high risk areas.  If your puppy is going to be any of these situations, we highly recommend giving the Bordetella vaccine.  Kennels and obedience facilities require bordetella be given every 6 months.

Lyme vaccine

Living in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, we are located in a high risk area for lyme disease.  If you are taking your dog to the woods, trails, or cabin, we would strongly recommend protecting your pet from this debilitating disease.  Even pets that never leave their yard are at risk because a main carrier of deer ticks are rodents. Initially Lyme vaccine is required each year for best protection for your dog.

Parasites

Intestinal

A stool sample is the easiest way to detect intestinal parasites and protozoans.  Commonly we find roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, cocoidia, and giardia.  All are easily treatable but can cause significant health risks to children, and health problems for your pet if left undetected and untreated.  We recommend frequent stool checks for puppies, and at least annual checks for adults.

Heartworm

Heartworm is a potentially life-threatening disease that dogs contract from being bitten by an infected mosquito.  Heartworm is present in our area and can be prevented by annual blood tests followed by monthly heartworm preventative such as HEARTGARD.  In this area preventative is given May through November.

 

Spay/Neuter

It is recommended that you spay/neuter your puppy at 6 months before its first heat cycle and before he/she starts marking territory.  Health benefits from spaying/neuter, especially reduced cancer risks, are increased when done before this age.

CAT HEALTH CARE
Back to Top

Vaccinations

RCP - Rhinotracheitis-Calicivirus-Panleukopenia

All kittens need a series of vaccinations to help against potentially deadly diseases.  The RCP vaccine protects against the 3 most common diseases that your kitten may come in contact with.  We recommend vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until your kitten is 16 weeks of age.  It is very important for your kitten to receive their complete series of vaccinations to ensure their protection.  Tri-annual boosters are required to provide continual protection against these diseases.

Rabies

Rabies is required by law in the state of Minnesota, because rabies is a deadly disease that is capable of being transmitted to humans by bite wounds.  All cats, even indoor cats, are required to be vaccinated for rabies.  The first vaccine is usually given as early as 12 weeks.  This vaccination is given two consecutive years and then every 3 years.

Feline Leukemia

We strongly recommend that cats who go outside, or have contact with cats that do go outside, be kept vaccinated against feline leukemia.  All cats should be tested at least once to determine if they are carrying either Feline Leukemia (FeLV) or kitty AIDS (FIV).  Both of these diseases are fatal if your cat contracts them.  Both diseases occur in our area and are transmitted from infected cats through cat fights, bites, bodily fluids, and from mom to kittens.  The FeLV vaccine is given in two boosters the first year and then once annually after that.  There is no vaccine for FIV.

Parasites

Internal parasites that commonly occur in kittens include roundworms, tapeworms and coccidia.  Other parasites are possible but not seen as commonly.  All are easily treatable.  Since it is possible for people (mainly children) to contract parasites from animals, we strongly recommend fecal examinations for all kittens.

Spay/Neuter

We recommend to spay/neuter your kitten at 5-6 months of age.  This way you spay females before they go into their first heat cycle and neuter males before they start behavioral spraying.  Female cats, that go into heat, will continue to go in and out of heat until they are spayed or bred.  Neutering a cat after it has already started to spray will help reduce the tendency but may not completely eliminate the problem because it has become a learned behavior.  Spay/neuter early to avoid these problems.

Declawing

We will discuss declawing with each owner on an individual basis.  Cats that are going outside should not be declawed.  It is a personal decision for owners of indoor cats whether or not to declaw their cat.  We would be happy to discuss this with you.

WHY ARE VACCINATIONS SO IMPORTANT?
Back to Top

Animals get immunity from collostrum (First mother's milk), but as they approach the 6-12 week age, maternal antibodies decrease.  We are unable to detect the actual time that maternal antibodies quit working, and they can be different for each pet, therefore we recommend starting vaccinations at 6 weeks.  Booster vaccinations are then given every 3 weeks until the kitten or puppy is 16 weeks of age.

SPAY/NEUTER
Back to Top

There are many reason for altering your pet.  Females, if altered before their first heat cycle, have a reduced risk for mammary tumors (breast cancer) and eliminate the possibility of uterine infections.  In deference to the old wife's tale, a female does not need to have a litter of puppies before being spayed to fully mature.  In males, altering reduces their risk of testicular and prostate cancers, and can help reduce behavioral marking (spraying).  Neutering does not affect the development of your pet.  We recommend both spaying and neutering be performed at 5-6 months of age.

SPAY (OVH) - Ovarian Hysterectomy

OVH is the surgical procedure in which the uterus and ovaries are surgically removed.  The procedure itself lasts 20 - 35 minutes.  Your pet is given a sedative to help relax them when they first arrive.  For the surgical procedure, an anesthetic is given intravenously and then they are placed on isoflourane gas during the procedure.  Their heart-rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and core body temperature are monitored by a surgical technician throughout the procedure.  Standard spays are given absorbable sutures so they won't need to return for a suture removal.  All spayed are monitored during the day of surgery and go home late in the afternoon the same day as surgery.  Take home instructions and pain medications to keep your pet comfortable will be given at the time of discharge.

NEUTER - Orchiectomy

Neutering is the surgical removal of the testicles and all reproductive capabilities.  The procedure lasts 10-15 minutes for cats and 20-30 minutes for dogs.  A sedative is given to your pet when it arrives to help it relax.  For the surgical procedure, an anesthetic is given intravenously, and then they are placed on isoflourane gas during the procedure.  Heart-rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and core body temperature are monitored by a surgical technician throughout the entire procedure.  Neuters are given absorbable sutures so a suture removal is unnecessary.  Neutering is performed as a same day procedure.  Take home instructions and pain medications to keep your pet comfortable will be given at time of discharge.

HEARTWORM
Back to Top

Heartworm is a very serious but easily preventable disease that is transferred by an infected mosquito.  Here are some commonly asked questions about heartworm.

How can my dog get heartworm?

Heartworm is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can affect your dog's heart and lungs.  The following is the heartworm life cycle:

  • Tiny immature heartworms (larvae) are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito into the tissues blood stream of your dog.
  • Eventually the worms occupy your dog's heart.
  • As the worms grow and reproduce, more immature worms (larvae) are released into your dog's blood stream.
  • When other mosquitoes bite your dog they ingest blood and the heartworm larvae traveling through it's blood stream.
  • Those now infected mosquitoes bite other dogs and the cycle starts again.

Is heart worm disease serious?

Yes it is very serious.  Heartworms interfere with the normal flow of blood from the right side of the heart to the vessels serving the lungs.  If left untreated, heartworm disease can significantly reduce your dog's quality of life, cause failure of the heart and other organs, and can ultimately lead to death.

What are signs of heartworm?

At first, an infected dog may show little or no signs of infection, but as the heartworms grow and mature, they cause increasing damage.  Your pet may become listless, tire easily after exercise, develop an occasional to persistent cough, and become anemic.  In advanced cases, dogs often suffer congestive heart failure.  Complications may develop in the liver and kidneys.  The blood supply to the lungs and other major organs may become blocked.

How can I prevent my dog from getting heartworm?

A simple blood test can determine if your dog has heartworm.  Once we determine that your dog is heartworm free, we will prescribe a once a month chewable preventative medication that is given May 1st through November 1st.  It is very important that you give the preventative throughout the entire mosquito season to prevent the heartworm.

What if my dog does have heartworm?

A complete physical and medical examination is necessary to determine the health of your pet and the severity of the disease.  Blood tests and possible x-rays will be taken to assure treatment tailored to your dog's condition.

There have been significant improvements in heartworm treatment in recent years.  Depending on the severity of the disease, your dog will need to be hospitalized.  It will receive two injections given 24 hours apart.  During this time, your pet's health will be carefully monitored.  Other medications may be prescribed following heartworm treatment to kill immature heartworms in the blood, and very specific activity restriction instructions will be explained.  A follow-up blood test will be taken to ensure that your dog is heartworm free.

TREATMENT OF HEARTWORM DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOUR DOG IS IMMUNE FROM THE DISEASE IN THE FUTURE!!

My dog doesn't spend much time outside, does it need to be tested?

Yes.  Mosquitoes are everywhere including inside your house.  It is possible to get bitten anywhere.

Why are dogs tested for heartworm in the spring?

It takes 5-6 months for the adult heartworm to develop and release larvae into your dog's bloodstream.  If your dog was infected last season, we can usually detect larvae in the blood sample taken in the spring.

My dog was tested last year.  Do I need to bring him in again this year?

Yes.  Even one missed or belatedly given heartworm pill can result in infection.

Can I give medication left over from last year?

Only after your dog has a heartworm test.  Serious complications can occur if your dog has heartworm and you start medication.

Yearly testing and preventative is the only way to ensure that your dog will remain heartworm free.

DENTAL CARE
Back to Top

A minor dental infection can become major health problem….. Oral hygiene is critical for both dogs and cats to:

  • Maintain healthy teeth and gums
  • Decrease oral infections that can cause the loss of teeth and damage both heart values and kidneys. Bacteria from oral infections have a clear path to the animal’s bloodstream and vital organs.
  • Prevent the loss of teeth
  • Decrease mouth odor
  • Decrease oral pain
  • Prevent oral abscesses

The amount of tartar (dental plaque) is dependant on:

a. Animal size
b. Breed
c. Diet
d. Individual variation
e. Client care of their pet’s teeth

Warning signs of Dental Disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Red and swollen gums
  • A brownish crust of plaque on the teeth near the gums
  • Difficulty eating or decreased appetite
  • Bleeding from your pet’s gums when touched or when they eat.

Plaque is an accumulation of food, calcium, and bacteria. When plaque is present, bacteria remain at the gum line. When the plaque isn’t present, the saliva will more easily wash the bacteria from the gum line. Professional cleaning becomes necessary when clients are unable to keep up with home tooth brushing and dental care. Like people, animals need professional teeth cleaning on a routine basis.

General anesthesia is normally required to adequately clean the pet’s teeth. We recommend that animals undergoing a general anesthetic procedure have a blood profile prior to anesthesia. This is particularly important with middle age and older animals. The pre-surgical screen allows the doctor to look for organ dysfunction and anemia (low blood counts) that might affect the safety of the anesthetic. This can be done the day of the dental, or a short time prior to surgery.

We monitor anesthetized patients with a pulse oximeter or esophageal stethoscope. Post operatively our patients are carefully monitored as they come out of anesthesia.

Unless otherwise directed, any pet that will have a general anesthetic should be fasted after 7pm the night before the dental. Water should be taken up by bedtime. For the comfort of your pet, take them out of an extended walk in the morning to defecate.

We are excited to have recently added the ability to perform digital dental x-rays for our patients. This allows us to take x-rays of your pets mouth and see the results on a computer with-in seconds. This enable us to treat small, but often painful oral lesions and inprove your pets quality of life. 

Dentals may be dropped off between 7:30 - 8:00 am the morning of surgery.

SURGICAL SERVICES
Back to Top

We provide both routine and complex surgical services. Our philosophy is to consult thoroughly with clients prior to surgery discussing options, answering questions and giving an accurate estimate of the cost of the procedure.

We recommend that animals undergoing a general anesthetic and surgical procedure have a blood profile prior to anesthesia. This is particularly important with middle age and older animals. The pre-surgical screen allows the doctor to look for organ dysfunction and anemia (low blood counts) that might affect the safety of the anesthetic. This can be done the day of surgery or a short time prior to surgery.

For most procedures we use isoflurane, which is a safe anesthetic with a quick recovery. Many of our surgeries are outpatient procedures, and patients can be discharged after 4 pm the day of surgery. We recommend that you schedule an afternoon discharge appointment with the doctor or a technician who can then answer questions about the procedure and the appropriate care of your pet after surgery.

Anesthetized patients are monitored to check heart rate with a pulse oximeter that has an oxygen saturation meter. Post operatively our patients are carefully monitored as they come out of anesthesia by our caring technicians and doctors. A ventilator is available for chest or trauma surgeries and is also used for some critical care patients to assist an animal in breathing.

Any pet that will have a general anesthetic should be fasted by 7 pm the night before surgery. Water should be removed by bedtime. For the comfort of your pet, make sure to take it out on an extended walk in the morning to defecate. Surgeries may be dropped off between 7:30-8:00 am the morning of surgery. An anesthetic and surgery consent form must be completed prior to surgery or any anesthetics. Please provide a daytime phone or cell number where you can be reached the day of surgery and let us know when your pet ate and drank last. This form can be down loaded from the web site’s section on forms.

PRE-SURGICAL HEALTH SCREENING
Back to Top

Pre-anesthetic / Pre-surgical health testing is always recommended for pets of any age to identify hidden metabolic disease that may increase risk during anesthesia.  Screening is required on all pets that are 7 years of age or older.

A standard pre-surgical screen checks your pet's blood sugar, kidney and liver function, and for anemia or dehydration.

The veterinarian may also recommend other tests by assessing what is best for your pet.

OBESITY
Back to Top

Obesity in pets is an increasingly common problem that affects up to 40% of dogs and 30% of cats in the United States.  The most important factor leading to obesity is excess intake of calories and/or decreased physical activity.

Causes of weight gain are:

  • Overfeeding - Pets may become overweight when they have unlimited access to the food bowl.
  • Overfeeding puppies and kittens - Feeding too much at an early age created fat cells that stay with the pet throughout its life.
  • Overeating - Many of today's commercial foods are high in salt and/or fat to improve the taste, which results in excess consumption.
  • Feeding Habits - Pets that are fed home-cooked meals, table scraps, and treats are prone to weight gain.
  • Lack of Exercise - Weight gain can occur when your pet takes in more calories than he uses.
  • Age - Older, less active pets are prone to weight gain.
  • Gender - Female pets are likely to become more overweight than male pets.
  • Spaying/Neutering - Pets that have been altered are twice as likely to become overweight.  The energy requirements for your pet after altering reduces by 20%.  This is important to be aware of, but the positive reasons to spay or neuter your pet are overwhelming.

There are several significant health problems that can develop due to obesity.  The most common problems being diabetes, osteoarthritis, breathing difficulties, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, skin problems, liver disease, plus anesthetic and surgical risks.  One study has even correlated the beginning stages of mammary cancer in dogs with early obesity.

Obese cats are two times more likely to develop skin conditions because the cat has difficulty, or is unable to groom itself.  Obesity can slow wound healing, and excess weight can damage the joints.  Extra weight increases the pressure on joints, which can in turn worsen an existing arthritic condition.

What do you do if your pet is overweight?

The general approach in treating an overweight pet is to reduce the caloric intake while increasing the energy output.  This can be accomplished by feeding a high-fiber, low-fat, less calorie-dense food and beginning a controlled exercise regimen with your pet.  There are various ways to reduce the caloric density of a pet food, consult your veterinarian.

The most important part of a successful weight reduction program is a total commitment by everyone in the family to help your pet lose weight.  Below are some basic ideas for success.

  • Feed a low calorie, high fiber food specifically formulated for weight reduction.  For example, Science Diet Light, Prescription Diet w/d, or Prescription Diet r/d.
  • Science Diet has also formulated a "South Beach" (high protein - low carbohydrate) diet for cats called m/d.
  • Divide the total amount to be fed each day into 3 or 4 smaller meals.
  • Keep the pet out of the room when preparing or eating food.
  • Do not feed your dieting pet with other pets.
  • Exercise your pet regularly if recommend by your veterinarian.
  • Keep a record of your pet's weight and chart it over time.

What do you do after your pet has reached its optimal weight?

Once your pet reaches a healthy weight, your goal is to prevent the extra pounds from coming back.  Periodic checkups, combined with nutrition formulated to prevent weight gain (like prescription w/d) will help maintain optimal body weight.  Weight loss will improve your pet's appearance and health as well as his enjoyment and length of life.

SENIOR PET CARE
Back to Top

The goal of our practice is to help your loving pet age gracefully. Our overall goal is to improve the quality of your pet’s life, as well as how long they live. Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer and healthier than ever. We have more diagnostic tools and treatment options to help your pet stay healthy and happy.

Older dogs and cats are more likely to encounter health problems than younger pets. Pets age at a much faster rate than humans. Dogs and cats age approximately seven years for every human year and larger breeds can age even faster. So it’s important for us to examine your senor pets more often.

Aging Signs to Watch Out For:

1. Increased / decrease water intake
2. Having to urinate frequently
3. Increased / decreased appetite
4. Shortness, fatigue, exercise intolerance, or labored breathing
5. Loss of vision or hearing
6. Loss of teeth and gum disease
7. Altered mental state and changes in behavior

a. Disorientation or confusion
b. Sleeping more
c. Decrease in purposeful activity
d. Inappropriate urinating or defecating in the house
e. Less interaction with owners
f. Persistent vocalization

8. Change in appearance and grooming patterns
9. Frequent constipation and or diarrhea/vomiting.
10. Change in weight: gain or loss
11. Coughing
12. Change in sleeping patterns
13. Difficulty standing, jumping up, or climbing stairs

If your pet shows any of these signs, please schedule an appointment for an examination and consultation.

Common Health Conditions of Senior Pets

  • Periodontal disease: Inflammation of the teeth and gums may lead to pain, infection, tooth loss, bad breath, kidney and heart damage, and as a result, decrease, and, as a result, decrease your pets life expectancy.
  • Obesity: As your pet’s metabolism slows, weight gain can increase his or her risk of arthritis, disc disease, and diabetes.
  • Endocrine disease: Aging pets often experience changes in thyroid, pancreas and adrenal gland function that can negatively affect the heart, the digestive system, as well as the liver and kidney.
  • Kidney and liver disease: Failure of these organs can lead to chemical imbalances, anemia, comprise immune function and blood clotting defects as well as altered mental capacity. Kidney disease is a leading cause of death in cats.
  • Heart disease: Pets with heart disease can experience difficulty breathing, fatigue, exercise intolerance and lethargy. Medications may help make your pet more comfortable.
  • Arthritis: Arthritic joints are not only painful, they make it difficult for your pet to climb stairs, run or even jump into your lap.
  • Loss of vision or hearing: Older animals are at risk for cataracts and nuclear sclerosis—a natural aging process that clouds the eye. Diminished hearing is also common.
  • Cancer: Early detection may improve the prognosis. Many treatments are available and most have very few side effects.
  • Behavior changes: Pets suffering from canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome may appear disoriented, forget their housetraining, sleep more and interact with family members less.

Senior Exam Diagnostic Tests

  • Physical examination: Our doctor can check for physical signs of cancer arthritis, heart and lung disease, dental disease or cataracts.
  • Complete Blood Count: This test helps identify infections, anemia, and certain types of cancer as well as problems with bleeding and the immune system.
  • Serum chemistry profile: This blood test can help pinpoint diseases of the liver and kidney, and endocrine disorders such as diabetes.
  • Complete urinalysis: A urine sample can help test for kidney disease, diabetes, urinary tract infections and bladder stones.
  • Fecal exam: A fecal (stool) sample can be checked for internal parasites and bacterial overgrowth.
  • Other tests: Depending on your pet’s overall health, our doctor may recommend additional tests such as blood pressure measurement, radiographs, electrocardiography (ECG), ultrasound, thyroid or adrenal gland testing, as well as liver, pancreas and small intestine function tests.

MICROCHIP IDENTIFICATION
Back to Top

  • Permanent, Life Long Identification
  • Safe
  • Greatly increases the chances of retrieving a lost pet
  • The database for lost pets is nationwide, managed by the American Kennel Club, accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through an 800 number.

A small electronic id chip with a unique # code can be easily implanted under the skin of your pet for positive identification in the event that your pet becomes lost. Our doctors use a special syringe and needle to place the microchip under the skin, between the shoulder blades. The process does not require any sedation or anesthesia and is a short procedure (similar to giving a vaccination), however it does require an appointment and can be performed while your pet is here for other services. The microchip has a unique, unalterable code that can be read with a special microchip scanner.
A separate, one time fee is sent along with a form identifying your pet and it’s microchip number to the American Kennel Club (AKC) to register your pet with their recovery database for lifetime enrollment. In an effort to unite lost pets with their owners, most animal control facilities across the country have these microchip readers. They scan the chip, then call the AKC to determine the owner’s name and phone number and help unite the lost pet with it’s owner. Microchiping is permanent, so your pet can be identified, even if their collar is lost.

It is important to notify your veterinarian and the AKC of any change in your name, address, phone number, or change of ownership of your pet. The AKC’s phone number for lost pets is: 1-800-252-7894.

HIP DYSPLASIA
Back to Top

Hip dysplasia is a developmental disease affecting the pelvis and hip joint of many breeds of dogs.  There is a higher incidence in larger dogs but all breeds and mixed breeds can be affected.  This condition is a genetic disease, but environmental factors can accelerate the likelihood of your dog showing symptoms.  The signs vary from decreased exercise tolerance to severe crippling.  They include:  a reluctance or inability to go up or down stairs, difficulty in rising from a sitting or laying position, bunny hopping gait when running, stiffness early in the morning that improves as the dog warms up, change in disposition due to pain, lameness after exercise, wobbily gait, a clicking sound when walking and many others.

In dysplastic dogs, the hip joint is a weakened structure that is more subject to being injured by normal activity such as jumping off a couch, or rough housing with a playmate.  Frequently, this results in a sudden onset of lameness that in the mind of the owner was caused by the injury, when actually the underlying dysplasia made the joint more susceptible to injury.

There are other conditions that may appear similar to hip dysplasia, therefore, a complete orthopedic and radiographic examination is required before arriving at the conclusion that the signs are caused by canine hip dysplasia.

We recommend to screen for hip dysplasia at six months of age with a simple hip x-ray.  An x-ray can easily be performed on your pet at the time of their spay or neuter.  If x-rays indicate that your dog is pre-disposed to hip dysplasia, the veterinarian will make specific recommendations for future care.

For Breeding Dogs

Since hip dysplasia is a genetic disease, it is HIGHLY recommended that hip x-rays be taken by those individuals considering breeding their dog.  The x-rays are submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) to be evaluated, rated and registered.  Preliminary hip x-rays can be taken anytime prior to 24 months of age, but official registry cannot be done until after 24 months of age.  OFA functions as a voluntary diagnostic service and as a registry of the hip status for dogs of all breeds.  Their main objective is to advise, encourage, and establish control programs to lower the incidence of orthopedic diseases in breeding programs.

If you have any questions regarding screening or OFA, please ask out staff or veterinarians.