Love Deserves

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Anesthesia

lovely cat in human hands, vintage effect love for the animals
We utilize the safest available anesthetics to provide an extra margin of safety, especially for our older or high-risk patients. Using the most modern equipment, the patient’s vital signs are monitored during all anesthetic procedures.

Monitoring

We monitor our patients closely to keep them as safe as possible during procedures that require general anesthesia. A veterinary technician will continually assess your pet’s heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs to help prevent any anesthetic risk.

Please feel free to ask us about our patient monitoring protocol or any concerns you might have about your pet’s procedure. We’d be happy to discuss these matters in more detail.

General Anesthesia

For some procedures, your pet will need to be administered general anesthesia so that he or she will be unconscious and not feel pain. Many pet owners worry about their pets being administered general anesthesia. We can assure you that modern anesthesia is generally quite safe; to further lower any risk, we perform a physical examination and run blood work ahead of time to catch any underlying health issues. In addition, we follow a specific anesthetic protocol, including monitoring vital signs during the procedure, to ensure the safety of our patients.

We begin most general anesthetic procedures by administering a sedative to help the pet relax and decrease any anxiety and pain. We then administer an intravenous drug to provide complete anesthesia and place a breathing tube into the patient’s trachea (windpipe). To maintain the state of unconsciousness, we deliver a gas anesthetic in combination with oxygen through the breathing tube.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your pet receiving general anesthesia or about the procedure for which your pet is scheduled.

Local Anesthesia

If your pet is having a minor surgical or diagnostic procedure performed, we sometimes use a local anesthetic to help control pain. For example, when we perform a biopsy (in which a small portion of tissue is surgically removed so it can be examined), we often use a local anesthetic. Local anesthetics cause a loss of sensation in the area where the procedure is being performed. We sometimes use a sedative and/or anxiolytic (anti-anxiety medication) in combination with the local anesthetic to keep pets calm during a procedure.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your pet receiving local anesthesia or about the procedure for which your pet is scheduled.

Ultrasonography

View the puppy in the dog. Veterinarian doing ultrasound and analyze healthy of animal.
Ultrasonography (also called ultrasound or sonography) is a noninvasive, pain-free procedure that uses sound waves to examine a pet’s internal organs and other structures inside the body. It can be used to evaluate the animal’s heart, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, and bladder; to detect fluid, cysts, tumors, or abscesses; and to confirm pregnancy or monitor an ongoing pregnancy.

We may use this imaging technique in conjunction with radiography (x-rays) and other diagnostic methods to ensure a proper diagnosis. Interpretation of ultrasound images requires great skill on the part of the clinician.

The ultrasonographer applies gel to the surface of the body and then methodically moves a transducer (a small handheld tool) across the skin to record images of the area of interest. The gel helps the transducer slide more easily and create a more accurate visual image.

The transducer emits ultrasonic sound waves, which are directed into the body toward the structures to be examined. The waves create echoes of varying degrees depending on the density of the tissue and amount of fluid present. Those waves create detailed images of the structures, which are shown on a monitor and recorded for evaluation.

Ultrasound does not involve radiation, has no known side effects, and doesn’t typically require pets to be sedated or anesthetized. The hair in the area to be examined usually needs to be shaved so the ultrasonographer can obtain the best result.

If you have any questions about our ultrasonography service or what to expect during your pet’s procedure, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Emergencies

Black cat, black background
We handle our own emergencies, so you can rely on us to provide your pet with continuous patient care.

Screening Tests

Obedient brown Doberman dog with cropped ears lying outdoors on a cut green grass in a city park
Von Willebrand’s Disease
Knowing if your dog has this condition before an emergency situation arises can mean the difference between life and death. Similar to hemophilia in humans, von Willebrand’s disease can result in life-threatening bleeding. Many dogs that carry this disease in their genetic makeup go undetected until a minor surgery or small, superficial injury results in significant blood loss.

We offer testing for this disease, which is a highly inheritable trait in some breeds. As many as 50% of Dobermans are affected; other commonly affected breeds include German shepherds, German shorthaired and wirehaired pointers, golden and Chesapeake Bay retrievers, Pembroke Welsh corgis, poodles, Scottish and Manchester terriers, and Shetland sheepdogs. If you have an at-risk breed, we recommend that you have your dog tested.

Some animals show no signs of the disease but are carriers of this genetic problem. If these dogs are allowed to reproduce, they can pass the disease on to their offspring. If you are a breeder, we strongly recommend testing for von Willebrand’s disease before breeding your dogs. Please call us to schedule this test.

Renal Dysplasia
Renal dysplasia is a disorder in which the kidneys do not develop normally. It most commonly affects Shih Tzus, Lhasa apsos, and soft-coated wheaten terriers. Dogs usually become clinically ill before one year of age.

Unfortunately, this genetic disease has no cure; many affected dogs will develop kidney failure. Management options are extremely limited and generally expensive. Although some dogs are only carriers of this disorder and have normal kidney function, they can still pass the trait onto their offspring.

If you’re a breeder, testing for renal dysplasia can significantly reduce your chances of breeding this inherited problem in your dogs. Please call us to schedule this test.

Hip Dysplasia
Canine hip dysplasia (abnormal development of the hip joint) begins when the hip joint in a young dog becomes loose or unstable. If left undiagnosed and untreated, this instability causes abnormal wear of the hip cartilage and ultimately progresses to osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Signs of this condition are pain, reluctance to get up or exercise, difficulty climbing stairs, a “bunny-hopping” gait, limping, and lameness, especially after periods of inactivity or exercise.

Hip dysplasia most commonly affects large- and giant-breed dogs; however, smaller dogs can also be affected. Although genetics often play a role in this disorder, young dogs that grow or gain weight too quickly or get too much high-impact exercise are also at risk. Being overweight can aggravate hip dysplasia.

We can help prevent or slow this condition by monitoring food intake and ensuring that your dog gets proper exercise as he or she ages. We can also screen your dog for hip dysplasia, using one of two methods. The earlier we can diagnose hip dysplasia, the better the possible outcome for your dog.

OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) Certification:
We can x-ray your dog’s hips for hip dysplasia at 2 years of age. We will forward these radiographs to the OFA, where board-certified radiologists will evaluate and grade your dog’s hips for OFA certification. Correct positioning of your dog is essential for proper radiographic evaluation, so a general anesthetic is required to make the procedure less stressful for him or her.

PennHIP Method:
We can x-ray your dog’s hips using the PennHIP method for evaluating hip dysplasia in dogs, which can be performed much earlier (at 16 weeks of age) than OFA certification. Requiring a general anesthetic, it involves x-raying your dog’s hips in three different positions to measure how loose the joints are and determine the presence or likelihood of osteoarthritis. If you are a breeder, consider using this test to help you select good breeding candidates at a younger age. If your dog competes athletically, consider using this technique to evaluate the future soundness of your dogs or puppies.

Please call us to discuss your dog’s risk of developing hip dysplasia, to schedule a screening, or to discuss treatment options.

Dentistry

domestic cat teeth close-up
Our dental services include teeth cleaning and polishing, tooth extractions and minor oral surgery.

Imagine what your mouth would feel like if you never brushed your teeth or went to the dentist. For many dogs and cats, this is a painful reality. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by the age of 3. Dental (or periodontal) disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets.

Common signs of dental disease include:
  • Yellow or brown buildup (tartar) on the teeth
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Changes in eating or chewing habits
  • Pawing at the face
  • Loose teeth
  • Depression
Even if your dog or cat doesn’t have these symptoms, we recommend that you have a veterinarian evaluate your pet’s dental health at least once a year. Bacteria and food debris accumulate around the teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay can result in irreversible periodontal disease, tooth loss, and possibly expensive oral surgery.

Dental disease can also affect other organs in the body: Bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream and cause serious infections in the kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart. If these problems aren’t caught and treated quickly enough, they can result in death. A physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if infection in the mouth has spread.

Schedule your pet’s dental exam today! We can also help show you how to brush your pet’s teeth and recommend foods and treats that will help combat plaque and tartar buildup.

Radiology

Xray of dog
When we need to figure out what’s wrong with your pet, we routinely use x-rays to help identify the cause of the problem, rule out possible problems, or provide a list of possible causes. We may also use x-rays during a wellness exam to diagnose potential problems before they become serious.

X-rays provide valuable information about a pet’s bones, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, colon), respiratory tract (lungs), heart, and genitourinary system (bladder, prostate). We use radiology alone or in conjunction with other diagnostic tools. Interpretation of radiographs requires great skill on the part of the veterinarian.

We are proud to offer digital radiology (x-rays that are captured digitally rather than on film). This state-of-the-art technology allows us to provide you with a quicker diagnosis for your pet. Plus, it uses less radiation than traditional x-rays.

To avoid a blurry image, pets need to remain completely still while an x-ray is taken. In some cases, we may need to sedate your pet or use short-acting general anesthesia.

If you have any questions about our radiology service or what to expect during your pet’s procedure, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Flea Control

Infected or allergic dog scratching and itching its back on ground
A flea problem on your pet means a flea problem in your home. Understanding the flea life cycle and methods for its control can be a daunting task. We will gladly assist you in this process. We can provide you with safe, effective flea prevention and if necessary, flea treatment. See the flea article in the Pet Health Library of our site.

Dermatology

Blue eyed Cat
Skin problems are common in dogs and cats and can be caused by hormonal disorders, allergies, infections, or parasites such as fleas and mites. These issues can be particularly difficult to treat and should be addressed promptly.

We can often diagnose a skin problem by simply examining your pet. Some dermatologic diseases or conditions do require additional diagnostic procedures to ensure a correct diagnosis. Depending on your pet’s symptoms and the results of our physical exam, we may run blood work or perform a urinalysis, skin scraping, or biopsies.

Contact us if you notice your dog or cat scratching excessively or if he or she develops any bare patches, scabs, scaling, redness, inflammation, lumps, or bumps.

Cardiology

Boston terrier puppy running through the yard.
Although heart problems are found more often in older pets, these conditions can affect pets at any age. Heart disease is usually a life-threatening condition, but early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can extend your pet’s life. If caught soon enough, some forms of heart disease can be cured.

Heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF), which occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood effectively. If an animal is suffering from CHF, fluid usually accumulates in and around the lungs and sometimes in the abdomen. Congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the heart valves), arrhythmias (rhythm disturbances), and heartworm disease can all lead to CHF.

Call us if your pet starts breathing rapidly or coughing, loses his or her appetite, tires easily, seems weak, or has trouble exercising. We can discover many heart problems during a physical exam. Additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), radiographs (x-rays), and ultrasounds, are usually needed to accurately identify the cause of the heart disease or failure.

Endocrinology

Funny red kitten. Ginger red kitten on window. Long haired red kitten.
Identifying endocrine problems as early as possible is important in dogs and cats. These serious, potentially life-threatening conditions are much more manageable when caught early, allowing us to begin proper treatment.

The endocrine system is made up of a group of tissues (mostly glands) that release hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones regulate metabolism, growth, development, and reproduction and are dispersed to different areas of the body, depending on the hormone’s function. When a hormonal balance is disturbed (by a tumor or autoimmune disease, for instance), an endocrine disorder can develop. “Hyper” refers to an excess of hormone, and “hypo” refers to a deficiency in a hormone. Treatment varies depending on the disease.

There are several common endocrine disorders found in dogs and cats:
  • Diabetes mellitus is caused by a deficiency in or resistance to the hormone insulin.
  • Hypothyroidism, which is often diagnosed in dogs, indicates that the animal has low levels of thyroid hormone.
  • Hyperthyroidism, which frequently affects cats, indicates that the animal has high levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism) and Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) can also affect both species, although Cushing’s disease is rare in cats.
Contact us if your pet begins panting excessively, develops any skin issues (such as hair loss or dull coat), or shows any changes in behavior, energy levels, appetite, weight, water consumption, or urination.

Medical Assessment

Adorable brown and white basenji dog smiling and giving a high five isolated on white
To ensure a proper diagnosis, we often need to examine your pet. We begin a medical assessment by looking at your pet’s eyes, ears, and skin and checking his or her cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, and skeletal systems for any abnormalities. We will perform blood and/or urine tests as necessary to check your pet’s kidneys, liver, pancreas, and endocrine system, including the thyroid and adrenal glands. Based on your pet’s condition, we may recommend further diagnostic tests, such as radiography (x-rays), endoscopy (internal scoping), ultrasound, or biopsy.

If you’re concerned that something may be wrong with your pet, please call us to schedule a medical assessment. Depending on the symptoms, we may ask you to bring in your pet right away.

Nutritional Counseling

Bowl of dry kibble dog food and dog's paws and neb over grunge wooden floor
Giant Breeds
Giant breeds such as Great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, and giant schnauzers have unique dietary requirements. Very few commercial puppy foods offer the ideal mix of calcium, energy, and protein levels that these breeds need. We can provide you with feeding recommendations that will encourage your dog’s maximum growth potential without causing developmental problems. For added convenience, we also stock veterinary-approved diets for giant breeds.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns regarding your dog’s nutrition or if you would simply like to discuss this topic with us.

Puppies & Kittens
It’s easy to get confused or overwhelmed by all the pet foods on the market. We can help you weed through the choices and find a puppy or kitten food that will meet your growing pet’s specific nutritional needs. We even carry many nutritionally balanced, veterinary-approved brands in our clinic.

Feel free to ask us for a food recommendation or to contact us with any nutrition questions or concerns you might have. We’re happy to help!

Pocket Pets – No Reptiles No Birds

Rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and other small mammals have become popular pets as increasing numbers of pet owners come to understand the unique bond that can form with one of these special creatures. But did you know that small mammals need some of the same routine wellness care that dogs and cats need?

Do you know if your pet should be spayed or neutered? Do you know if any vaccinations are recommended to help maintain good health? Do you have questions about proper nutrition, cage cleaning, grooming, or any other aspects of care and husbandry?

Dr. Alexander is well trained in the care and husbandry of small mammals and can give you the information you need to keep your “pocket pet” looking and feeling great.

Why not call to schedule a wellness visit? We can perform a physical examination, answer any questions you may have about your pet, and discuss whether any changes in diet or at-home care are recommended to help ensure the health and longevity of your pet.

Behavioral Services

To a dog, the veterinary hospital can be a stressful place full of unfamiliar sounds, smells, and equipment.Frequently they are poked, restrained, or put into positions that aren’t customary. It’s no surprise that over time your pet may start to show signs of stress while at the vet.

Happy Visits
Happy Visits are a service we provide for our patients at no charge to decrease, or keep them from becoming, fearful of veterinary visits. During our happy visits, we avoid any potentially stressful events such as needle pokes, temperature taking, or restricting their movement such as they would experience during a traditional vet visit.

Generally, these upbeat visits consist of large quantities of Easy Cheese, peanut butter, and squeaky toys but this can be anything that is considered “the best” from your dog’s perspective. The goal of frequent Happy Visits is to build trust between us and your pet.

The trust we build with your pet during these frequent sessions can be used later on to desensitize them to things they find stressful such as nail trims, vaccinations, and restraint. Desensitization is a way for us to present stressful things in smaller, controlled sessions to your pet while positively rewarding them for being brave. In some instances, we may even get your dog to enjoy what used to make them fearful!

Before starting a Happy Visit the veterinary staff will judge your pet’s comfort level. Depending on what your pet is comfortable with, we may walk them around this hospital, visit exam rooms, or just stay in the lobby and play! Hopefully we will do a little more at each session than the previous one until your pet is comfortable being in the veterinary hospital. Like most training sessions, Happy Visits are recommended in frequent, short sessions to keep your dog focused and from becoming overstimulated or bored. Visits typically last about 5-10 minutes and are recommended as frequently as is convenient for you, typically weekly to monthly.

It is not necessary to schedule these free 5-10-minute visits, but it is highly encouraged to avoid the hospital’s peak hours. Having your pet in a full lobby or waiting for extended periods of time may be stressful for them and adversely increase anxiety. If this occurs, it is best to schedule for a different time. The best days to schedule are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10AM-3PM, but give us a call anytime to see if we’re available.

Victory Visits
To help decrease your dog’s fear level at the vet, or to prevent them from becoming fearful, we recommend Victory Visits. A Victory Visit is a scheduled, personalized, training session with our Training Partner to acclimate your pet to gentle control and veterinary equipment. Each dog’s comfort level is unique and what they are reactive to varies, so their first session includes both a consultation and training plan. Trust and positive association take several visits to acquire. For many pets we are trying to undo years’ worth of negative experiences. At each visit we take small, gradual steps toward our end goal. These small improvements may seem insignificant at first, but they will be the building blocks for larger improvements down the road.

Like any training, these sessions take a lot of mental energy for your pup so sessions are limited to 30 minutes, except for the initial consultation. The more frequently these sessions occur, the more trust and positive associations we will build. Each pet’s progress will depend on their previous experience, personality, age, and amount of training.

If your doctor has previously recommended any anti-anxiety medications for veterinary visits, please give them accordingly before visits. Likewise, if your pet is less stressed when wearing a Thundershirt® or with nutraceuticals on board, please use those! Ask about our Non-drug Option for Anxiety Handout for nutraceutical ideas.