One of the critical aspects to any appointment with the veterinarian, be it for yearly vaccinations or for a specific health problem, is the complete physical examination.
The physical examination begins as soon as Dr. Leah enters the room. She is constantly observing your pet, noting his alertness, how he moves around the room, and how he reacts to people. You will be asked very important questions about your pet - the doctor needs to know if there are any changes in your pet's behavior, appetite or water consumption, if there is any unusual vomiting or diarrhea, if there are any new lumps or bumps and if your pet is on any medication for any current problems. She will want to know what diet you are feeding your pet, and if there are any other animals in the house. Dr. Leah will also ask you if there are any particular concerns or questions you might have regarding your pet and his care - this is your chance to "pick her brain" for helpful hints on any subject from nail trimming to weight loss.
The hands-on part of the physical examination is a full "nose-to-toes" using (nearly) all of the senses. Dr. Leah checks for any abnormal discharges from the eyes or nose, the teeth and gums are looked at for gingivitis and tartar build-up, and the mouth is sniffed for bad odor. Smell can be used to detect ear infections as well - a healthy ear should have essentially no odor - maybe just a little "doggy". Your pet's heart and lungs will be listened to, ensuring there is no heart murmur, abnormal rhythm or unhealthy lung sounds. The entire body is felt ("palpated") both on the surface checking for lumps and other problems, and more deeply in the tummy region to make sure the kidneys, liver, intestines and bladder are normal. Sometimes Dr. Leah will need to perform a rectal examination of your pet, checking the size of the prostate gland in dogs, or to empty the anal glands.
All findings during the physical examination will be explained to you - both the normal and the abnormal. Recommendations will be made for further diagnostic and treatment plans for the abnormalities, such as a dental cleaning or removal of a lump.
Vaccinations are vitally important to your pet's good health, as they are the key to preventing many diseases. Like many of the breakthroughs in human medicine, effective vaccines have been developed against many deadly viral and bacterial diseases. Vaccines remain an essential cornerstone of preventive health care in both human and veterinary medicine.
Below is a list of recommended vaccines for both dogs and cats, and a specific vaccination schedule to be followed. The actual vaccines administered may be changed to meet your pet's specific needs. Some factors Dr. Leah considers before beginning the vaccination program in you pet include:
Using the information gained from the physical exam and from asking you questions about your pet, Dr. Leah will suggest a vaccination program that will help keep your pet healthy.
Common, Dangerous and Preventable Feline Infectious Diseases:
Common, Dangerous and Preventable Canine Infectious Diseases:
Rabies is a federally reportable viral disease that affects all mammalian species. In British Columbia we are fortunate that bats are the only know reservoir of the virus in the province - it is estimated that approximately 8% of the bats submitted for testing are positive for rabies. All bats should be considered rabid until proven otherwise.
As a veterinarian, Dr. Leah must always consider the human potential for disease as well as the animal risk. Any person bitten, scratched or otherwise directly in contact with a bat or bat secretions should be advised to seek medical attention, as such a person may require rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (vaccination). Bats that have been contacted by a person or found in the house should be safely captured for submission, and the local health unit contacted.
If there is known animal exposure to a bat or other suspected rabid animal, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for guidance. Dogs or cats not vaccinated for rabies and that are known or suspected of being in contact with a rabid animal are subject to a six-month quarantine, which under most conditions, can be in the owner's home. This quarantine may be reduced to three months if the exposed animal's rabies vaccination is current. These animals should be revaccinated at the time of exposure.
Although the risk of transmission of rabies to dogs and cats from bats appears low, it is a definite concern for human health. Over the past two decades most human rabies deaths due to exposure in North America have been bat related.
DOG VACCINE SCHEDULE
CAT VACCINE SCHEDULE
Many problems in our pets can be related to the food they eat. From allergies to obesity, we can find or design a diet just right for your pet.
Owners should take advantage of the opportunity during any physical examination of their pet to talk to their veterinarian about the diet. There are many misconceptions and myths regarding raw vs. cooked foods, grains vs. meats and vegetables, and canned vs. kibble (dry) diets.
A common phrase heard in exam rooms is "I don't know why Fluffy's teeth are so dirty - she eats only dry dog food, and we don't give her any people food at all!" There are several different issues brought up by that statement. One common misconception is that all dry food cleans pets' teeth. There is only one dry food that is proven to help clean soft plaque off animals' teeth - Hill's Science Diet t/d. The kibble is designed with interwoven fibers that don't crumble like traditional kibble, and so actually will scrape the teeth and stimulate the gums. Wet food doesn't necessarily create bad teeth and gums (a lot of it is genetic), and in some cases wet or soft food is preferable for the pet to eat.
The second part of the above statement is regarding the feeding of "human" food to dogs and cats. For the most part, there is nothing wrong with adding raw or lightly steamed vegetables (NO ONIONS!) to the food you feed your dog. A little plain white or brown rice, some plain pasta, low-fat cottage cheese or plain yogurt can really jazz up an otherwise bland meal, adding flavour and nutrients. Faced with a picky eater? Try some lean (cooked) ground beef or chicken mixed in to the regular diet - most dogs dig right in. When introducing new foods in to the diet, start with one at a time and pay attention to what your dog really likes, and if anything upsets his tummy. If he develops loose stool or vomits after a new addition, put that on the "DON'T FEED" list and try something else. Cats may like a bit of variety as well, but tend to be more sensitive to diet changes. If you know your cat has a delicate stomach, stay away from too many vegetables or dairy products. Dr. Leah's cat Armley will eat almost anything - including tortilla chips, lettuce, peas, and carrots! (Don't tell anyone she lets her cat eat tortilla chips!)
Cats, dogs and exotic pets all have extremely different nutritional requirements, and as pets age their requirements change constantly. Most good-quality pet food manufactures make diets specific for the type of animal and their life stage. top
Radiographs, or x-rays as most people call them, are black and white pictures of what's under the skin. Veterinarians, just like human doctors, use x-rays to "see" the bones and internal organs if a problem is suspected. Radiographs can show broken bones, dislocated joints, stones in the kidneys or bladder, foreign objects in the stomach, enlargement of the heart, or fluid in the chest, among other problems.
Prior to any drugs being administered, Dr. Leah gives each animal a physical examination. Your pet is carefully checked for abnormal teeth, problems with the ears, and any lumps or bumps. She listens to the heart for evidence of a murmur or irregular beats, which may cause problems when your pet is anesthetized. Finally, the sex of your pet is confirmed, and males are double checked for both testicles in the correct position.
If any abnormalities are detected, she will contact the pet's owner and discuss the problem and solution.
Your pet will be given a mild sedative, which will help her to relax. There is also a pain-killer (analgesic) in the shot so she will be more comfortable after the surgery.
The technician and assistant inject a small amount of anesthetic into one of the veins in the leg. This anesthetic will help your pet to relax fully so she can be given the gas anesthetic.
We use only isoflurane mixed with oxygen for gas anesthesia. Isoflurane is the safest inhaled anesthetic that is available. It is a little more expensive, but we feel that safety is priceless when it comes to your pet.
The isoflurane is breathed in by your pet by way of an endotracheal tube, a hollow tube placed in the airway. The technician carefully monitors the proper mix of isoflurane and oxygen during surgery.
Once your pet is fully anesthetized, the technician will shave the area for surgery (in this case the belly is being shaved for a spay). The fur is removed and the surgical area is scrubbed with a special disinfectant soap. After the scrub your pet is moved into the operating room where she is placed on the table in the correct position, and alcohol and an iodine spray is applied to the skin before the surgeon begins.
While this has been happening, the surgeon (Dr. Leah) is preparing herself for surgery. She washes her hands very carefully with a special disinfectant soap before putting on the sterile surgical gown and gloves. Notice she is wearing a cap and mask - just like in a human hospital, it is important that there are no germs in the surgery!
The technician has prepared the surgical instruments necessary for the procedure. Each instrument pack is individually cleaned, dried, wrapped and then sterilized in a steam autoclave. We use one pack of instruments for each animal - there is no sharing allowed!
A sterile cloth, called a drape, is placed over your pet. The drape has a hole in the middle through which Dr. Leah will perform the surgery. The drape keeps the hair out of the surgical area during the procedure, and is held in place by special clamps.
surgery is finished, the isoflurane is stopped and your pet will breathe
pure oxygen for several minutes, until she begins to wake up. She
is placed in a warmed recovery area and watched closely until she
can sit up, and then goes back to her ward with a snuggly blanket
to rest until it is time to go home. top
The Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospital is pleased to announce the arrival of aesculight state of the art surgical laser technology!
What is laser surgery and what are the advantages?
Traditional surgery with a scalpel or scissors can bruise or crush tissue.
When we use the laser, only an intense beam of laser light touches your pet.
The laser has the unique ability to vaporize or “erase” tissue and it can be used to make incisions as well as to erase unhealthy tissue.
The laser seals nerve endings, so patients are much more comfortable during and after surgery.
The laser kills any bacteria in its path which can mean reduced infections post-operatively.
It also seals lymph and small blood vessels, so there is less swelling and bruising after surgery.
Our practice has made this substantial investment in order to offer you the best possible healthcare for your pet.
Dr. Montgomery will be able to tell you if your pet is a candidate for laser surgery and will help you decide if this is the best treatment option for your pet.
The proper technical term for the surgical alteration of an animal is "neutering", regardless if it is male or female. The spay, or ovariohysterectomy, is the surgery performed on female animals in which both ovaries and the complete uterus is removed. The castration, or orchidectomy, is the surgery performed on male animals. In this case, both testicles are removed. Most people, however, refer to "spay" for females and "neuter" for male animals, but we will be as technically correct as we can.
For female dogs and cats that are being spayed, a small incision (cut) is made in the middle of the belly, just below the belly button. It is through this small hole that the ovaries and uterus will be removed. The ovaries are clamped and the blood vessels tied with suture, and then the end of the uterus near the cervix is clamped and tied as well. The inside of the belly is checked carefully for bleeding and if everything looks fine, the muscle layer is sutured (sewed) first, followed by the fat layer then finally the top layer of skin. The sutures (stitches) on the inside are special dissolving material so they do not need to be removed, however we will need to remove the skin sutures in 10 days.
Female dogs generally spend the night in the hospital, so they can rest and will be more comfortable when they go home the next day. We usually discharge the female cats the evening of surgery, provided a responsible person will supervise them.
The procedure for male dogs and cats is a little different. Both testicles are removed through a single small incision and the blood vessels and the vas deferens (sperm cords) are tied with sutures. In dogs we close the inside incision with suture and put sutures in the skin as well. Cats usually do not need sutures in either the inside layer or the skin.
Male dogs and cats generally are discharged the evening after surgery, provided a responsible person will supervise them.
Your pet may require an Elizabethan collar ("lampshade") so that it is not able to lick or chew at the sutures, preventing infection and additional surgery for your pet and cost to you. top
The "traditional cure" for cats that scratched furniture, carpets, or people is the declaw surgery. A declaw, or onychectomy, is the amputation of the last bone of the toe, including the nail. Usually the surgery is performed on the front paws only; in very special circumstances it may be performed on the rear feet as well.
The skin incision is closed with a dissolvable suture; the paws are not bandaged. The cat is given a mild analgesic and usually by the evening after surgery they are up and walking around, unaware they have just had surgery.
Once back at home, we recommend using a non-clumping cat litter for 2 weeks while the feet heal. Usually the cats leave their feet alone and do not lick or chew too much, but if your cat is chewing or licking at her feet or seems to be having trouble walking please contact our hospital immediately.
Cats that have had either surgery on their feet have a reduced ability to defend themselves and climb trees or fences; these cats must be kept indoors or be at higher risk of serious injury from other animals. If your cat has a tendonectomy it will be necessary to trim the toenails on a regular basis; we can do this for you if it is difficult. top
Tail Docking and Dewclaws (Puppies)
Certain breeds, such as the Schnauzer, Miniature Pincher and Rottweiler, are born with long tails but the breed standard is for short (docked) tails. The surgery is done within the first three days after the puppies are born, and is performed without anesthetic.
The procedure is quick - the tail is cleaned and alcohol and iodine applied, then a clamp is put across the tail where it will be cut. The clamp squishes the tissue and helps to stop the bleeding. Once the tail is removed, dissolving sutures (stitches) are used to sew the end of the tail. The puppy's stump is cleaned again and the pup is returned to mom for comforting.
Sometimes breeders will request that the dewclaws, which are the "thumbs" of the feet, be removed as well. After cleaning the foot and applying alcohol and iodine, a small clamp is placed where the dewclaw is attached to the foot. The toe is removed with a scalpel blade and a tiny dissolving suture is used to sew up the incision.
Once the pups are reunited with their mom she gives them a sniff and a lick, and tucks them in to her belly for warmth and comfort. They settle down quickly and usually are having a snack of milk before too long.
Some people feel the procedure is cruel and that we are harming the puppies by doing this surgery without anesthetic. You may read elsewhere that because the puppies are so young they do not feel the pain - but in our experience, that is not the case. The puppies do cry when the clamp is placed and again with the suture. But the sensation is probably no worse than having your ear pierced, a procedure that many parents have done on their young children. Having seen and performed many tail docks and dewclaw removals in 3-day old puppies, Dr. Leah believes the long-term benefits outweigh any short-term discomfort. And having seen many of these puppies when they are a little older for their first vaccines, there doesn't seem to be any lasting effects or memory of their experience. top
When your pet is admitted to the Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospital for a dental cleaning, she will receive a complete physical examination prior to any anesthetics or drugs being administered. If pre-anesthetic blood testing has been performed, Dr. Leah will review the results again and determine the safest anesthetic protocol possible. Your pet will be given a mild sedative to help her relax prior to the procedure. She will then be anesthetized and an endotracheal tube (breathing tube into the major airway) is inserted. The endotracheal tube allows us to administer the gas anesthetic (isoflurane) that keeps your pet asleep and also protects her from breathing in the nasty bits of plaque and tartar we are cleaning off her teeth.
The average small dog or cat is under anesthetic for approximately 30 minutes; larger dogs, pets with very heavy tartar deposits, or those needing extractions or other oral surgery may be anesthetized for up to 90 minutes.
Most pets will need to have 5-7 days of antibiotics at home following a dental cleaning. We request that you bring your pet back in one week later for Dr. Leah to check her mouth, answer any questions you might have, and for the Animal Health Technician to review home dental care. top
Feline Rhinoplasty (Nostril Enlargement).
While at first the idea of sending your kitty in to the hospital for a "nose job" may seem a little over-the-top, for some cats and their owners it is just the right solution for a number of respiratory problems.
Certain cat breeds are born with a very squished in face, particularly Persians, Himalayans and Exotic Short Hairs. Often these cats have trouble breathing through their nose because their nostril openings are too small. Cats that are affected by this problem snort and wheeze a lot, snore when they are sleeping, are more prone to upper respiratory infections and often don't grow as well as their litter mates. While the snorting and snoring is usually more of a problem for the owner, chronic airway obstruction and poor growth are real problems for the cats themselves.
Dr. Susan Little, of the Bytown Animal Hospital in Ottawa, has developed a procedure that allows the nostrils to be surgically enlarged. Dr. Leah has performed many of these procedures and with very good success. Owners and breeders have travelled from all over the Lower Mainland and even Washington State to have this procedure done at the Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospital.
Like all surgical procedures, your cat will be given a thorough physical examination, and any other problems will be addressed. The kitty is given a general anesthetic and a very small amount of hair is clipped from the edge of the nose on both sides. The area is prepared as for any surgical procedure and the face is covered with a sterile drape, with just the nose poking through. Two small incisions are made on either side of the nostrils and a crescent-shaped piece of skin is removed. The amount of skin removed depends on how tightly the cat's nostrils are closed. After the piece of skin is removed, very tiny dissolving sutures are placed along the incision closing the wound. These sutures help to bring the nostrils up and out, opening the airway, making it easier for the cat to breathe.
Most owners notice a difference in their kitties right away, with a significant decrease in snorting and snoring. As a result, the energy level of the cats improves and they will usually gain weight. While no surgery can be guaranteed, to date Dr. Leah has seen very good results with this procedure. Please phone or email the hospital if you would like more information. top
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