September 27, 2018 Your Pet's Oral Health: Beyond a "Dental" Dr. Wendy Illick
When you and the veterinarian decide a professional dental cleaning or other dental health treatments should be performed for your pet, there are often questions about what will actually happen during the procedure. We prepared this article to help answer some of those questions, and to explain the benefits of this important component of your pet’s wellness care.
So much more than “just a dental”
Many people used to refer to a veterinary oral exam and professional dental cleaning as simply “a dental”, and it was thought of as “just” a tooth cleaning. However, so much more happens during this procedure! The visit is NOT just about cleaning teeth, but about a complete oral health and cancer screening, as well as treating existing disease and preventing future oral disease for your pet.
A thorough examination of your pet’s mouth will always be done, and is one of the most important parts of the procedure. We will:
- inspect all visible teeth and record any that are missing, broken, or diseased
- measure and record gingival (gum) pocket depths for all teeth
- evaluate the gums, cheeks, tongue, under the tongue, and back of the throat for any signs of cancer or disease.
Since your pet is under anesthesia, this exam is far more complete and detailed than anything that could be accomplished in the normal exam room. Subtle changes, masses hidden under the tongue, and other crucial findings can be made on this exam which could be missed on a regular, awake exam.
Cleaning & Polishing
The veterinary team of technicians and doctors will perform cleaning and treatment of any disease found in your pet’s mouth. This usually includes scaling and cleaning away tartar deposits (almost all our pets have hardened tartar on their teeth) followed by a polishing to smooth the tooth enamel and make it more difficult for bacteria to adhere in the future. The equipment we use to clean your pet’s teeth is similar to, or sometimes exactly the same as, what is used for people in a dental office. The ultrasonic tool for removing tartar that we use has different tips and settings for cleaning above or below the gum line, and this is one of the most critical parts of the cleaning. A great deal of our pets’ dental disease is actually below the gum line. Without cleaning this crucial area, your pet’s plaque and tartar will come right back above the gum line, and the disease will continue deeper below the gum line to cause jaw bone disease.
Radiographs – Dental X-rays
Since so much dental and oral disease is not visible externally, we will take complete x-rays of the teeth to make sure we are not missing painful disease in your pet’s mouth. These radiographs are crucial to helping us find hidden disease, assess the health of the jaw bones, and make decisions on treatment of teeth that are diseased.
Sometimes teeth are so diseased that they may be loose and wiggly, or the bone around them may be infected or decaying (abscessed). These teeth are sources of disease and pain, and we often need to extract them to provide relief. Other teeth may have less severe disease; these may be able to be treated with options such as root planing, periodontal pocket treatment, or root canals and restorations.
What About The Anesthesia?
We wish our pets would all “open wide” for our dental procedures, but even people have trouble with this request! Anesthesia is the only way we can safely do the deep cleaning required for your pet’s oral health. For routine preventive cleanings, your pet’s total anesthesia time may be less than an hour, although if there are more advanced procedures or necessary extractions, it may take a longer. (Another reason to be proactive about dental care… clean early or treat later!)
Preanesthetic labwork is completed for each dentistry patient to help the doctor make the most informed decision on medications and tailor the anesthesia drugs to each individual. Your pet receives endotracheal intubation to ensure a clear airway for breathing and inhalant anesthesia. An intravenous catheter (IV) and fluids are used to maintain hydration and blood pressure. These are not “extras” at our practice – we consider these measures essential to a safe procedure.
Each patient also has a dedicated nurse anesthetist to watch over them before, during, and after the procedure. Monitoring includes ECG, blood pressure, oxygenation, pulse, respiration, and temperature. While no anesthesia is without risk, every patient gets our team’s absolute best care during their dental procedure.
A Note On Anesthesia Free Dentistry
Some in the grooming and veterinary world have started to offer “anesthesia free dentals”. These cleanings are not equivalent to the professional oral exam and cleaning we have reviewed above. While your pet is awake, practitioners cannot do a complete exam, check all the gum pockets, clean beneath the gum line, or take x-rays to make sure tooth roots are healthy. A great deal of disease can be left untreated in your pet’s mouth. You may wish to review the American Veterinary Dental College’s website on anesthesia free dentistry, which has reliable information if you are considering this option.
Please always feel free to discuss options for dental care for your pets with our doctors! We want you to be comfortable that your pet is getting the best preventive or corrective oral care possible for their health and wellbeing.
August 28, 2018
Home Dental Care – The Most Important Part of Your Pet’s Dental Health!
Dr. Wendy Illick
What would your breath smell like if you NEVER brushed your teeth? Maybe like your dog’s breath? Our pets’ mouths have bacteria and plaque just like our mouths, and often they have more, especially depending on what your dog likes to chew!
There are many things that you can do at home to support your pet’s dental health, to reduce buildup of plaque and tartar, and to prevent periodontal disease. None of these options require advanced or special skills, and any or all of them could make a big difference for your pet! Your bottom line could benefit as well, as home care may be able to reduce the frequency of professional dental cleanings for some pets, and often can prevent expensive tooth extractions or restorations later.
Brushing – The Gold Standard
Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth is the absolute best way to prevent tartar and gum disease. Making brushing a part of your pets’ daily routine will dramatically improve their oral health. Even occasional brushing can make a difference, but aiming for daily or several times a week will be far better than “whenever I remember” – try to find a routine that works for your household.
The brushing action is the best way to remove the bacterial film that builds up on the surfaces of teeth, which would otherwise develop into plaque and harden to tartar. Toothbrush options vary from traditional pet bristle brushes to smaller rubber finger brushes to ultra-petite brushes. Human baby toothbrushes with SOFT bristles can be used as well, and sometimes work well for cat mouths or very small dogs. Experiment to find what is most comfortable for you and your pet!
Pet-safe toothpastes in flavors like poultry, seafood, malt, and vanilla-mint are available to help make the process more enjoyable for your pet, and may contain enzymes to help clean the teeth as well. You should not use human toothpastes with pets as they frequently end up swallowing a good deal of toothpaste in the process.
Introducing your pet to brushing takes time. There are many excellent articles on getting started, but the basics are: start young if you can, start with very short sessions and work up, and make the experience fun and rewarding for your pet! Almost any pet can learn to have their teeth brushed and all will benefit from this special care you give them!
Here is a great video about dental disease that gives specific demonstrations and techniques for introducing your dog or cat to tooth brushing!
Dental Chews, Treats, & Toys
The chewing action dogs (and some cats!) enjoy can help them keep their teeth clean by physically rubbing off the bacterial film on the teeth. Some dental chews and treats may also contain other ingredients (like chlorhexidine) to help combat bacteria. The chewing action helps clean some surfaces of the teeth, though the benefits may be more limited than brushing as some pets may chew using some areas of their mouth. They may be “cleaning” only those areas. However, some cleaning of the teeth is better than none!
Dental chews and treats may also vary in how effective they are – there is no regulation to prevent a company from claiming their product is good for teeth even if they have never tested it. Treats that have received the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal have standards for product trials and are an excellent products with which to start. Other treats may also be effective, but one rule of thumb is if your pet is not actually chewing on the treat, they are likely not getting a lot of benefit from it!
Water Additives & Rinses
Water additives and rinses are used to try to decrease bacteria in the mouth of our pets. Water additives like Breathalyser® are put in the pets’ drinking water in small amounts, and act as a safe-to-swallow “mouthwash” each time the pet drinks. It doesn’t get easier than that!. Oral rinses like DentaHex® can be squirted over the pets’ teeth daily to help kill bacteria in the mouth as well, and are well accepted by many pets.
Food – The Other Daily Dental Care Option!
We carry food options that are designed specifically to help cats and dogs maintain healthy mouths. Helping your pet’s teeth and gums can be as easy as serving up the daily meal!
These foods are more than just foods – they use special kibble technology to help clean the teeth as the pet crunches their daily meal. The size of the biscuits and the structure of the “crunch” matrix all contribute to removing bacteria film. Some foods also help bind up substances that make tartar hard stick to teeth, slowing tartar buildup.
The dental foods are suitable for almost every pet, and can be fed lifelong. They work best when started young, or after a thorough cleaning, as they prevent buildup on clean teeth. They are still beneficial in ALL pets who can comfortably chew kibble to slow down plaque and tartar accumulation.
YOU Can Do It – And We’re Here to Help!
Hopefully there is something on this list that excites you to take an active role in protecting your pet’s dental health! Dental disease is such a common condition, and with a little effort on the home front, pet parents can make a BIG difference in their pets’ oral health!
Please contact us with any questions about getting started with home dental care for your pet! Our doctors and staff would love to help find the right match for you and your pet.
June 27, 2018
Is Anxiety Ruining Your Pet's Summer?
Dr. Wendy Illick
Summer brings celebrations that often feature fireworks, explosions, and gunshots. While these exciting events are fun to us humans, they are scary for our pets, who don't understand the loud noises and bright flashes. Even if the fireworks haven't started in your neighborhood yet, Mother Nature is delivering light shows of her own; featuring lightning, thunder, and barometric changes! Car rides or kennel boarding for summer vacation can also make this a scary time of year for many pets.
Team Up - Consult With a Veterinarian
Our veterinarians are here to help with behavior, training, and phobias as well as your pet's other health concerns. Call to schedule a consultation to discuss your pet's particular fears, triggers or problem behaviors and what solutions we have. Sometimes there are medicine-free solutions that can make things easier, such as a Thundershirt.
Pheromones - Pill Free Relief
Pheromones are chemicals processed through a pet's olfactory system (the same system that processes smell) that can have a direct calming effect on the brain without the use of oral medications. Specific products for both dogs and cats are available, and do a great job of replicating chemicals that have a calming effect on the brain. Check out Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats to learn more.
Nutraceuticals - Calm By Nature
Our ancestors made great use of nature to affect their mood, but there wasn't enough science to support their claims. Therefore, many natural remedies were written off as snake oil or voodoo. Nowadays, science has come a long way in proving nature's powers. Proteins from milk, such as those found in Zylkene, and amino acids from tea leaves and other botanical extracts found in Solliquin promote balanced behavior and relaxation. Consider adding them to your routine to help your furry family members be more comfortable.
This prescription medication for dogs is the first FDA approved medication for canine noise phobias. If the noises from fireworks or gunshots are your dog's primary anxiety concern this may be a good option for you. Speak with our veterinarians regarding this medication, which may not be suitable for dogs with heart conditions and some other medical conditions. Check out Sileo here.
Alprazolam, Trazodone, Gabapentin, and Other Medications
If your dog or cat needs additional anxiety support beyond supplements and pheromones, there are excellent options for anti-anxiety medications our doctors can prescribe. Each medication has its own best uses, and we will work with each individual pet to find the right medication and dose for them. Give us a call to set up a consultation!
February 27, 2018
Aromatherapy, Essential Oils, and Your Pet
Essential Oil use is on the rise amongst Americans. One study slated the industry to reach $11.6 Billion by 2022. Surprisingly, because humans have used plant materials, including oils, for thousands of years to heal ailments and enhance lifestyles through topical application and oral ingestion. In our modern times, we use them primarily for aromatherapy. Lavender, orange, and eucalyptus dominate as the most popular aromatherapy oils amongst Americans and if you’ve ever experienced the sweet, energizing smell of oranges spark you into a cheerful state of mind, you know why.
Another constant with humans is the desire to share our comforts with our pets. Essential oils can provide said comforts, but the dosing for animals varies greatly from what is recommended for humans. It is recommended that you do your homework before diffusing any oil in your home with your pets present, as some oils are toxic to animals even in small doses. Topical use is okay, under the guidance of an experienced essential oil practitioner.
Cats especially, should avoid essential oils. Their sensitive metabolic system and organs do not break down certain substances, and the effects of exposure can be as severe as liver and kidney failure. Other animals that require caution with oils are fish, birds, and pet rodents.
Tea Tree Oil should be avoided in most small animals due to its potency and documented health risks. Diffusing Tea Tree Oil should only be done when there are no animals present, and topical use should only be done under the guidance of an experienced essential oil practitioner.
So, what oils are safe, and what oils have the most benefits? By and large, Lavender is the most popular for aromatherapy and topical use. Dilution is incredibly important. One drop of oil can be mixed with water in a diffuser, or one drop of oil blended with carrier oil like coconut oil is ideal for topical use. This recipe can be used with any of the oils listed below as well.
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to do your homework. With thousands of blog posts and websites to visit, there is likely to be conflicting information amongst them. Reach instead, for a reliable book that has been a cornerstone in essential use in animals for over a decade:
Essential oils definitely have a place in your pet’s life, and may already be a part of it if you use oils regularly. Similar to our ancestors, we can use the power of plants to heal our pets and enhance their lifestyles, even in our modern society.
November 20, 2017
Ok, secret's out. We ALL feed our pets "people food" on Thanksgiving. Why be greedy? There's always a surplus of food, and wasting it only recalls memories of mom chiding about starving children in Africa. While some people can single-handedly clear the Thanksgiving leftovers in a few short meals, the rest of us seem to always ponder "Who's gonna help me eat all of this?".
Short answer, Your Pets!
Long answer, but not all of it. Here's a list, thanks to PetMD, of safe and unsafe Thanksgiving foods your pets (CATS LOVE TURKEY) can eat too.
#10 Yes to Turkey
Turkey can be a wonderful lean protein to share with your pet. You will just want to be sure to remove any excess skin or fat, stick with white meat, and make sure there are no bones.
#9 No to Alliums
Nothing with alliums (i.e., onions, garlic, leeks, scallions) should be ingested by your pet. While it is true that small, well-cooked portions of these foods can be okay if your pet is used to it, ingesting these foods in large quantities can lead to toxic anemia.
#8 Yes to Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes are a great, filling vegetable to share with your pet. However even though the potatoes themselves are not harmful to pets, be aware of additional ingredients used to make mashed potatoes. Cheese, sour cream, butter, onions, and gravies are no-no’s in a pet’s diet.
#7 No to Grapes
Many people are unaware that grapes, and subsequently raisins, can be toxic to pets. The fruit has been shown to cause kidney failure in dogs.
#6 Yes to Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is just fine for pets but watch the amount of sugar in it. It is probably best to only provide a small helping to your pet’s plate.
#5 No to Xylitol
While you may be making the healthier choice by cooking with artificial sweeteners over the real thing, sweeteners containing Xylitol are poisonous to animals, and potentially deadly to dogs.
#4 Yes to Macaroni and Cheese
If you know your pet’s stomach handles dairy alright, macaroni and cheese is a safe leftover to share. If you are unsure though, it may be best to just give plain macaroni. Cats often develop lactose intolerance when they become adults.
#3 No to Chocolate
Chocolate is a well known off limits indulgence for pets. During the holidays however, baking chocolate is used in recipes and sometimes forgotten about by the time the dishes hit the table. Make sure this holiday season that your pet does not ingest any chocolate, especially the baking kind.
#2 Yes to Green Beans
Plain green beans are a wonderful treat for pets. Fresh vegetables are a great addition to any diet. If the green beans are included in a green bean casserole though, be conscious of the other ingredients in it.
#1 No to Alcohol
Alcohol is definitely a big no for pets. What we people may consider a small amount can be toxic for a smaller animal. Also, keep in mind that alcohol poisoning can occur in pets from atypical items like fruit cake (the recipe may have called for rum or other liquor), as well as unbaked bread.
July 14, 2017
How Pet Insurance will Save You Money (And Your Pet).
Does your pet have their own savings account?
Follow up question: What is your plan if your pet gets cancer or hit by a car?
The answers are usually “No” and “I have no idea”, respectively. When I ask these questions in practice I’ve even received a few giggles from clients. One said “I don’t have a savings account for myself, what makes you think I would have one for my dog?”
The reality is if Pet Insurance isn’t a priority to you, then a savings account for an accident or illness is the only backup plan you can offer your pet in an emergency.
I’ll give you an example of Pet Insurance (literally) saving the day. This actually happened at our hospital:
A sweet, just married couple purchased an 8 week old poodle from a breeder and immediately signed him up for pet insurance. The choice to enroll the pup was an easy one to make; the owners were brand new to caring for an animal and did a lot of research on the strange things puppies tend to eat. They also realized purebred dogs have more congenital diseases than mixed breeds (remember, their puppy is a purebred poodle). Fast-forward to 6 months later: their adolescent poodle became very ill and received a heartbreaking diagnosis: Juvenile Leukemia. Usually at this juncture money becomes the main topic of conversation. Cancer treatment is expensive, no matter what species you are. So, euthanasia is often considered to prevent the inevitable suffering that accompanies cancer. Considering euthanasia for a puppy is a thought process wrought with sadness and confusion. Thankfully, this family’s pet was insured, so money was hardly the topic of conversation. Instead the pup went to a cancer specialist, a plan was made, chemotherapy ensued, and he lived to be 3 years old. That’s an extra two and a half years this family got to spend with their first ‘baby’! Walks, playtime, and cuddles were still an everyday thing, and even though he was a little slower due to the cancer, the bond remained strong .
So, back to my question. What’s your plan if your pet gets cancer or hit by a car? If you don’t have a savings account or pet insurance your options are about as slim as a cat in kidney failure. Our hospital has an insurance specialist on staff, perhaps it’s time to give us a call to discuss your options!
May 24, 2017
Guest Blog: Henry Matsumoto
Hi I’m Henry, the newest guest blogger here on Sanseilife.
Yikes! What a day. Here I am waiting for my Well Puppy exam. I am scared. Although the people are nice, the place smells like other scared dogs and cats.
The vet gave my Mom my exam for free since I’m adopted!
All my parts are where they’re supposed to be and doing what they should be doing. Everyone was appropriately impressed with my cuteness.
That shot today in my butt sure tuckered me out!
April 6, 2017
The Pet Mentality Manifesto
In order for us to meet the basic needs of our pets we must understand what those needs are. All too often we humanize our pets (also known as anthropomorphizing) and assign them what we think their basic needs are based on our own. Pop culture is a wonderful example of this – even in its most basic form. Exhibit A: Hamsters don’t drive Kias, Chihuahuas don’t eat tacos, and cats don’t eat lasagna.
So what are the basic needs of cats and dogs, and how can we meet those needs in today’s busy world, while keeping them safe?
Let’s start with dogs, because they’re better understood by veterinarians and the general public. Dog’s needs start with good food, clean water and warm shelter but don’t end there. They need mental stimulus as well. The type of mental stimulus will vary from breed to breed. For example, a Jack Russell terrier needs stimulus for at least 4 hours a day (seriously) in order to keep a healthy mentality. JR’s were bred to seek and hunt vermin like rats and mice and without a “job” to do, their mental state becomes anxious. Jack Russel Terriers need walks, toys, and playmates to stay mentally stimulated because, thankfully, vermin eradication is a human job now.
A Greyhound, on the other hand, needs stimulus for maybe an hour a day, at the most. They are inherent couch potatoes, ask any Greyhound owner, and running a track wasn’t what they were initially bred for. These dogs served as royalty companions up until humans noted that they can run really fast and created the dog racing sport. A Greyhound is perfectly happy going for a walk around the block then plopping down on a soft dog bed with a chew toy, snuggling up with a cuddle buddy, or having their coat gently brushed. Mentally, it’s what they want and need.
Now let’s move to cats, nature’s tiny serial killer.
If that statement left you with question marks, let me clarify that outdoor cats are tiny serial killers because they are given the opportunity to kill small mammals with calculated precision. Indoor cats want to hunt too, but are not given the chance. Hunting isn’t necessarily what they were bred for, it’s just the way they are. It’s as natural as breathing for them and in order to stay mentally happy, cats need to seek, capture, and eat.
This is where the paradigm of owning a cat comes in. Cats need to hunt, but should stay indoors for their own safety. Some veterinarians that specialize in ethics argue that cat ownership goes against a feline’s natural instincts entirely and should never be owned as pets. It’s a minority opinion but there’s some truth there. So, how do pet owners provide an outlet for that basic hunting instinct? Something to consider is the food bowl. If a cat’s instinct to hunt for food is squashed by regular meals in the food dish, maybe we should get rid of the food dish? Now, I’m not saying we should starve our kitties into hunting for non-existent mice and rats; that’s silly and impossible. I’m suggesting rather, we try a different form of feeding that stimulates a cat to hunt. Enter the NoBowl Feeding System. It’s literally toy mice stuffed with food (much like a Kong toy), scattered throughout the home. Now, cats can seek, capture, and eat indoors without the risk of being hit by a car or attacked by a larger mammal.
Now that we know the mental needs of our pets, it’s up to us to uphold our end of the pet-ownership bargain and provide the stimulus their instincts demand. To me, denying a pet of their basic mental needs is the same as denying a person the opportunity to exercise, eat well, and socialize.
If you’re looking to beef up your pet ownership, give us a call. We can tell you based on your pet’s health, breed and size what mental stimulus would benefit your pet. It’s a conversation worth having, and can benefit not only your pet, but every other animal and person your pet interacts with.
February 10, 2017
Spring Cleaning for Your Pet: Grooming Basics
What I'm about to tell you might ruffle some feathers, but that's OK. I'm willing to take the blow-back. But first, let me preface by saying that I was a professional dog groomer for 4 years.
Are you ready? Here it is: Dog Groomers are the hardest working animal professionals out there.
Ok, it's not quite a controversial statement as say, Dog Groomers are the hardest working animal professionals out there and they deserve to be paid twice what they currently make... but I digress. Could you imagine paying $80 to groom your Shih Tzu? I can't, and I was a groomer!
What makes the job so hard though? Mike Rowe's TV show Dirty Jobs spent their 3rd ever episode answering that question. The answer: Majority of dogs are dirty and don't particularly enjoy the grooming process.* There's anal glands to express, matted hair to comb, and a finite amount of patience your client's dog will put up with. While most of this is best left to the pros, there are little steps you can take at home to keep your pet (and groomer) happy.
Bathe Yo' Dog
Start with a good quality shampoo. Don't settle for bargain brands because it's your pet's skin that suffers. Instead, opt for high-quality, concentrated, shampoo like Natural Groomer. Quick tip: Concentrated shampoo means more bang for your buck and a cleaner animal. By diluting this shampoo you can scrub your pet's skin easier and it rinses like a dream. We currently have two shampoos from NG in stock at the hospital, stop by for a sniff test.
Pro Tip: Scrub your dog by making your hands into a 'rake' (think Michael Jackson's hands in the Thriller music video). This permeates the hair and gets the soap to the skin. Singing 'Thriller' to your dog while bathing has been proven to be beneficial to dogs as well... in my experience.
No Matting No Cry
Mats are the bane of a dog groomer's existence. Commonly, owners don't realize that their dog is matted to begin with, and also don't understand the very limited amount of patience animals have when brushing them out. This causes a lot of miscommunication among groomers and clients; especially if the mats must be shaved out of the coat. To prevent these painful little buggers, brush your dog daily. Use a long bristled brush with a gentle touch and have plenty of treats nearby. Also, please be understanding of your dog groomer if they must shave the mats out. They don't happen overnight and are easily preventable. Do your duty as a pet owner and brush at home, or accept a bald dog without complaint.
Clipping and Snipping: Avoid an Injury!
So, you're feeling brave and got some pet clippers. Good for you! You've also bathed and dried your pet (I mean bone-dry. Never clip a damp dog.) and you have your treats and brush ready. Your dog might even be curious as to what you have planned! Go get 'em tiger! But first, heed my warning. Clippers are sharp and can cause serious injury. Scissors or shears should NEVER be used by anyone other than a dog groomer or experienced home-groomer. That being said, here are some tips to reduce your risk of a nick or cut on your freshly bathed baby.
Pro Tip: Check your blade's heat output. The friction of the teeth moving against the clipper blade causes friction, which creates heat, which left unattended, can burn an animal. Press the blade against the inside of your forearm. Too hot? Cool it down using alcohol or a clipper lubricant.
Pro Tip: Clip WITH the grain. Going against the grain of the hair actually cuts it shorter than intended. Too close can mean skin irritation too. Like mowing the White House lawn, sometimes more than one pass over the hair is necessary to achieve an even cut.
Have fun with your pet while grooming at home. Pets look to you as a caretaker, not a stylist, and should be reassured with treats and a soft voice during the grooming process. Be patient too. Animals can read us better than we read ourselves and will know when you've reached your limit. Sometimes it's OK to stop a groom session halfway through and take a breather. Your dog will thank you.
*Dogs that are regularly groomed every 8 weeks tend to 'put up with' a grooming, but that does not mean they're happy about it. I have the same sentiments when I get my bi-annual haircut.
Note: This is not a replacement for professional dog grooming or groomer advice if your dog needs it.
December 20, 2016
Happy Holidays from Clear Creek Animal Hospital!
October 13, 2016
The 'Golden' (Retriever) Years - Top Concerns for Senior Pets
Getting old is a bitch sometimes (pun intended). There's worry about mobility, cognizance, and a multitude of other "what ifs" that accompany a pet's owners as they reach their senior years. What exactly designates a pet as 'senior' though? We know that their lifespan in years is very different from our own and can vary from species to species. Generally our companion animals reach a maximum age of 15 year old. There are exceptions to the rule; Nutmeg, the world's oldest cat turned 31 this year and Maggie, the world's second-oldest dog, passed away at the ripe age of 30 this last April
Pets reach their senior designation at age 9, typically. Veterinarians usually determine this status based on a physical examination and consultation with the pet owner as well. The top concerns for Senior pet owners are usually mobility, cognizance, and diet.
Like humans, animals can develop diseases as they approach the Golden Years that limit mobility; such as arthritis and joint degeneration. Overweight pets are at a very high risk for developing these diseases earlier than 9 years old though. Controlling an animal's weight is just as important as monitoring our own and luckily, there are a plethora of drugs and nutraceuticals that are available for mobility diseases that can help improve a pet's quality and enjoyment of life. Consultation with a veterinarian is always recommended before starting a supplement or drug regimen.
Whoever said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks was wrong. Aging animals need brain stimulation just as badly as they need food water and exercise. Brain engaging activities don't have to be physical in nature either. If a pet's mobility is compromised, there are wide variety of puzzles and games that keep pet's brains working hard. Food puzzles are usually a hit with dogs, and cats can enjoy Catnip toys or a feather to bat around and chase.
As pets age their diet usually changes from one that met the nutritional needs as an adult to one that meets their needs as seniors. Usually at a senior age pets that are slowing down require less food to avoid becoming obese. Senior cats also require diet consideration if their kidneys are beginning to fail - a common disease in senior felines. Diet and nutrition should always be discussed with your veterinarian before switching. We carry a huge variety of Royal Canin brand foods that suit the needs of senior pets at our hospital.
There's a reason why they're called the Golden Years. At this point in our pet's lives they have seen and experienced so much, and they ask very little of us to keep them satisfied. This, to me, makes a pet Golden. The unconditional love that they'll continue to give us, even as their little bodies begin to degenerate, is something we can all strive to achieve as we age.
August 2, 2016
Introduction to ePetHealth
In keeping with our commitment to provide excellent patient care, we are excited to introduce a New and User Friendly online service, ePetHealth. This technology offers you 24/7 online access to your pet’s medical information. This service allows you to view or print the necessary information needed in an emergency, when traveling, boarding or taking classes.
Here are a few additional benefits.
- My Clinic - Contact the clinic via ePetHealth, even after hours, for appointment request, medication refill request, boarding reservation or to ask a general question. We will be notified immediately of your request. Imagine how much time this can save you!
- Alerts - Allows you to better manage your pet’s important medication doses by setting up email alerts. These alerts will signal it is time for your pet’s next dose and how many are remaining.
- Reminders - An email reminder will be sent to you 30 days prior to any upcoming vaccines and/or examinations due dates. Your pet’s health and care is important to us, which is why we want your pet to stay current with examinations and preventative care. This service also sends you reminders when you have an appointment scheduled with our practice.
- Educational Materials - Your ePetHealth portal provides you with a library of educational materials including pet health videos, articles, breed information and interactive features.
How Do I Get Started?
To begin using the service simply visit ePetHealth.com, enter your Email address where you received this message, and click the 'first-time login?' link located in the Login section. Next, you will be emailed an activation link and guided through the registration process. You will be asked to create a private password and select a secret question and answer you wish to use. Finally, an email will be sent to you confirming that your account is active and you can begin accessing the great features of your portal.
Your friends at,
Clear Creek Animal Hospital
May 31, 2016
Living on Both Sides of the Holistic Medicine Debate
For most of my early years as a Veterinary Technician I stood firmly with Western medicine’s vantage point and thought that “all of this Holistic Medicine” had the potential to be harmful. I was also wary of anyone’s opinion who thought that holistic medicine had somehow “magically” healed their pet. I needed cold-hard facts and science to back anything I was going to suggest to a pet owner. Slowly, I came around to some researched topics like Aromatherapy and Nutraceuticals and then began dabbling in both for my own health. With the benefits I recognized for myself, I began to understand the views of all of those people I had judged for years. A lot of difficult questions began to arise that made me rethink what health and medicine should be.
During my long transformation I learned about the need for daily meditation practice and began living a more holistic lifestyle. When the opportunity to interview and shadow a holistic veterinarian arose I took it and was able to inquire about her uses of acupuncture, Reiki (pronounced ‘ray-key’), homotoxicology and homeopathy. It was utterly fascinating to witness the transformations her patients experienced with each of their visits and knew that it was time to pursue official studies within the holistic animal community. It is now 8 years later and here I am, a certified Animal Reiki Master and Practitioner.
I still firmly stand in my belief that continuing education and the promotion of professionalism in the field are a MUST because both sides of this equation need to be balanced. It is vital to understand that holistic medicine IS in fact the balance of the two sides. Holistic AND traditional medicine instead of Holistic VERSUS Traditional medicine.
If you are interested in learning more please stop in and we can have a conversation or start with these simple terms:
Holistic Medicine: the practice of medicine that combines understanding the health of the whole being by incorporating both the physical and spiritual/emotional states or in short the “whole” picture.
Homeopathy: a system of medical practice that treats a disease especially by the administration of minute doses of a remedy that would in larger amounts produce in healthy persons symptoms similar to those of the disease (Merriam-Webster definition) treating like with like.
Reiki: a system of energy healing founded by Dr. Mikao Usui in 1922 that channels universal life force energy to induce a level of relaxation and meditation allowing for your body to perform its natural healing functions.
Nutraceuticals: the use of diet to help heal and regulate homeostasis within a body based on that body’s specific dietary needs. (the reason why veterinarians have prescription diets)
For more information on Reiki within the animal community please visit the S.A.R.A(Shelter Animal Reiki Association) website:
There is information about what to expect during a session and how it might benefit your pet.
Please remember that with any form of medicine the right tools in the wrong hands can be dangerous but the right tools in the right hands can transform you and your pet’s health.
April 21, 2016
Online Pet Pharmacies - Too Good to Be True?
We've all seen the advertisements, whether on TV or online. "Pet meds at discount prices!" "Trusted, safe, and cheaper than your vet!" "No prescription required!" While online pharmacies may appeal to pet parent's wallets, the hard reality is that if a pharmacy's prices are too good to be true, they probably are.
While there are a handful of reputable online pharmacies in the US, many are in fact breaking Federal, State, and International laws. Often they are sending consumers outdated, counterfeit, mislabeled and incorrectly formulated medication. There is no guarantee the medication will work for your pet, and illegal pharmacies will not refund your money.
In order to keep your pets safe, we strongly recommend buying medication directly from your veterinarian. Human pharmacies sometimes carry the medications we also offer as well. While there are still risks when purchasing from a human pharmacy, (Licensed Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians are not usually educated in veterinary medicine, only human medicine, and will sometimes change dosing based on what they think is appropriate), it is still a safer option for pet owners that request a prescription.
Here are some GREAT reasons why purchasing medications from a veterinarian is the better choice:
- Our medicines are safe. We properly store our medications and never sell expired medicine. We buy our medications from Federally approved manufacturers that pass vigilant government tests insuring their safety.
- We're here to help you, as best we can. If there is ever an issue with your pet's medication you can count on your veterinarian to talk to you about the issue. But, because we can't be certain what ingredients are in online pharmacy medications, it can be very difficult to diagnose and treat problems brought on by bad medication.
- Same-day pickup! Waiting for your pet's prescriptions in the mail can take days, and sometimes weeks if there is a shipping error. Shipping medications in temperatures that are too hot, cold, or humid can also ruin the effectiveness of the medicine. If we have it in stock, you can get your pet's medications the same day and rest assured it was handled by veterinary professionals.
- Small Business Support. It may come as a surprise that our medication prices are equal to, if not less, than online and human pharmacies! When you purchase from Clear Creek Animal Hospital you are supporting our staff, our doctors, and our business. You are helping us care for more sick patients, and supporting our goal to provide care to our community.
In the past, we have agreed to price match online pharmacies, but instead have adjusted our prices to match theirs. While this is certainly a 'hit' to our business, we feel that providing safe medications to pets is more important than profit.
December 23, 2015
Giving to Pets is Best!
Around the holidays we tend to show our own furry family members how much we love them by giving them a new toy to shred, a new treat to gobble down and a warm bed to sleep in. And for all of this we get a look of contentment and love from those big black eyes.
In working with so many rescue organizations that rely on foster parents to house their adoptable pets we know first hand how important donations can be. Every blanket, towel and treat is used with love and care for all of those homeless pets. The more you can give during this holiday season the more you help a family who is lovingly fostering a pet or two…or three!
Stop by the clinic and make a donation of used blankets, towels, toys or treats so that all of these wonderful animals can enjoy the holiday too!
October 26, 2015
Something in the Air
There’s something special about autumn. The chill in the air, the smell of wood-burning fire, the sound of the leaves crunching on the ground, and the tastes of the season’s harvest all stir up memories of autumns past and evokes sense of change.
We at Clear Creek Animal Hospital have certainly felt the change in the air and are recognizing this as a good time to make some changes around the hospital as well. We hope that before next spring our clients will be experiencing Clear Creek Animal Hospital at its peak performance; which will also become our new standard.
Our goals are to elaborate on our strengths; great medicine and excellent service. In order to do so we will be incorporating more complimentary and holistic treatments including Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, and Healing Touch Therapy (Reiki). Our hospital will also be certified as a “Stress Free” practice, creating a more positive experience for the pets – including the pets being hospitalized for surgery or medical treatment. Clients will also be treated to new educational modules, such as a client portal on our website and iPad apps in the exam rooms that better explain their pet’s health.
There will also be changes in how our hospital functions. There will be new faces, including our newest relief doctor, Dr. Bill Kieger. Your favorite staff members are not leaving Clear Creek Animal Hospital, but may be in a different department than they were previously.
We are very excited to begin reaching our goals in order to provide you with the best veterinary medicine possible. We love our patients and our clients equally and look forward to helping you keep your pets healthy throughout the duration of their precious lives.
January 21, 2015
To Be or Not to Be a Veterinarian?
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a veterinarian? Well I am going to try and give you a sneak peek into the everyday life. I am also going to give you some information about how to become a veterinarian and what all it entails.
Whenever I state that I work at a veterinarian hospital it is always followed by “Awhh that must be so fun! You get to play and cuddle with adorable pets all day long!” I just have always followed that statement by “Ohhhh it has its moments…”
Imagine being the only veterinarian on a Friday morning filled with phone calls and worried owners needing to get their pets in before the weekend, along with working your normal routine and appointments. Then the morning slowly turns into something like this: Three surgeries, four appointments and about five other pets getting dropped off of with vomiting, diarrhea, limping and just not doing well. Our team has to get all of that done before 1pm in order to get ready for the afternoon appointments. This is Dr. Lindsey’s day in a nutshell.
So, as you can tell, Multitasking is a complete must. Veterinarians are the only ones that can diagnose and prescribe medications. That being said every single animal that comes in our hospital must be examined by Dr. Lindsey and that takes at least 30 minutes per animal, and she sees about 15 patients a day. That’s about 3,750 pets a year! This is just the beginning of what a veterinarian does.
There are, of course, surgeries and dental cleanings that a veterinarian must perform. Dr. Lindsey has a big interest in dentistry and will spend anywhere from 2-4 hours on one dental cleaning with extractions. Dentals don’t get the respect they deserve, if a patient needs an extraction a veterinarian must not rush to get that tooth out. They must slowly work the tooth out of the head so the root of the tooth doesn’t break and get infected.
Being a veterinarian means you have to work long hours in a noisy environment. Vets who work in a group practice often take turns being “on call” at night or on the weekends. Veterinarians who work in private, solo practices often work longer hours, including on the weekends. Vets deal with emotional and worried pet owners on a daily basis. They also face the risk of being injured, bitten and scratched by frightened or aggressive animals.
On another more sensitive subjective a veterinarian must have exceptional bedside manner. Bedside manner is a term describing how a healthcare professional handles a patient and client in a doctor- patient relationship. This will be needed and used when pet owners come across difficult choices and look for the veterinarian’s advice. A veterinarian must be understanding but must also be a voice for animal.
Now that I have given you a slight peek behind the curtains of what goes on in a vet’s life. I now will give you the educational stance. To start towards your veterinarian degree you must first have your bachelor’s degree in science in order to apply into Veterinary College. At this point it would be a very good idea to get into the actual field and work at local shelters and animal hospitals. After you have your bachelor’s degree you must then attend Veterinary College for an additional four years! Phewwww talk about hard work and dedication! Not to mention admission into veterinary school is competitive, and prospective students must have excellent grades. Once veterinarians graduate from school, they must pass a test to earn their license to practice and must take an oath that swears they will use their scientific knowledge for the benefit and protection of animal health and welfare. They solemnly swear to relieve animal suffering, advance medical knowledge, promote public health, and practice their profession with dignity, conscientious, and abiding by veterinary medical ethics.
If you are wanting to look into this profession just keep in mind it is a lot of work but yields great emotional rewards. If you would like some help to point you in the right direction please feel free to get in touch with us and we would be more than glad to help.
November 26, 2014
I'm thankful for...
The season for binging is upon us. Binging on food, football, spending, you name it. Whatever it may be it's probably done in excess during the holidays. I'm not impervious to the binge-lifestyle. It seems like the only time I'm not judged for binging on something, usually dessert, is when I'm in the company of my pets. Honey Badger don't care if I eat another slice of cake. In fact, she'll keep my lap warm while I eat it. (Yes, I named my cat Honey Badger and yes, I ate two slices of cake. It was German Chocolate and it was delicious.)
Through observing the lack of judgement from my pets I realized how thankful, how truly grateful I was to have my pets. I'm sure you've all felt the same at one point in time, and I would like to reflect on the reasons why I am so thankful for my pets.
They're the best snuggle buddies. They're warm, they're cuddly, and they're soft. In the winter they keep you warm. I think it's mutual warmth sharing, as I'm sure our pets find us soft and cuddly too. Bad day? Snuggling with your pet can help you feel better.
They're happy to see you! Studies show that when a dog sees his owner after an extended period of time oxytocin floods the brain. This phenomenon is also experienced when human mothers bond with their newborns. Next time your dog greets you full-force remember that he is falling madly in love with you, or at least his brain chemicals are simulating it.
Pets just wanna have fun. Dogs and cats enjoy playtime as much as us humans. Games like fetch and chase strengthen the human-animal bond and enforce a trusting relationship. They are also great exercise! Endorphins are released in both humans and animals during a workout, making the reward even sweeter.
Zero judgement. Like I mentioned before, your pets love you. No. Matter. What. This is a very rare thing in today's world and it is the biggest reason why I am thankful for my pets. While it can be challenging and expensive (pet owners spend roughly $1 billion each year in veterinary services, food, and to care for a creature that requires much more than food and shelter, the unconditional love that they provide in return is more than enough repayment.
October 8, 2014
Becoming a Foster Parent
As you may know, Clear Creek Animal Hospital works with a lot of different animal rescue groups and on very many occasions I will foster the ones having difficulties finding homes. The idea of fostering an animal can be confusing, so I decided to explain it for you.
Fostering is honestly the best thing a pet parent can do. First off, it makes your own pets more sociable and happy; I mean, they get to have a new playmate all the time! Or if they have a hard time with meeting other pets they get the experience to learn how to do so, making every new foster a learning experience. Who doesn’t want a well-rounded pet?
Another amazing perk is you don’t have to pay for ANYTHING. Instead the rescue group gives you the food needed and will pay for any of the medical expense. Speaking of medical expenses, say your foster has not been feeling well and you have been taking them to the vet, that’s more knowledge in your pet owner handbook that you get to keep for your own pet(s).
Another part of this whole fostering thing is you get to pick what type of pet you’re interested in fostering. For example you just adore puppies and think they are just so darn cute and fun, you can foster those younger guys. Don’t want those messy puppies? Then pick what type of age range and even breed you are looking for. I myself like to foster the special needs dogs; I just know that not everyone can be cut out for dealing with a deaf/blind pet.
The most amazing thing you get out of fostering is the fact that you’re taking in a pet that will be forever grateful to you. That being said, by you fostering will honestly save a life! That’s right. By simply giving a temporary home for a pet that opens up more room for other possible pets to come in. Please keep in mind a lot of these pets come straight from different shelters across many states and have been abandoned. They can be very shy with some anxiety when you leave. With the right person they can quickly turn into an amazing, loving pet that can go up for adoption very soon. (Personally I have never had an aggressive or untrainable pet and I have fostered probably over 40 different pets).
Then comes the adoption part. You don’t know how many times I get asked “How can you let them go after you saved them!?” Honestly, I know it’s difficult to let them go to a new home. But you have to remember we can’t have them all (haha). I know that if I keep just one more pet I won’t have the time to foster anymore, and that another pet just isn’t fair to my other furry children. I always make sure that my foster pet is going to the best possible home that will love them forever!
But let’s say your foster pet is just so perfect that you can’t live without them. That’s OK it happens! We call it ‘foster failing’ - sounds worse than it is. It’s simple: you fell so head over heels with them that you failed at fostering and you now want this pet for the rest of their days. Just be sure that if you take on this pet that you can still help out with the rescues because they would hate to lose you as a foster parent and the help you give them. Even I have failed at fostering and she now is my own personal dog that I love to pieces.
This is fostering in a nut shell. I hope we opened your eyes to trying something new and incredibly rewarding. If you have any questions on how to become a foster parent please call us today! We will be more than happy to point you in the right direction and answer any questions you may have. Check out the photos below of my most recent foster, Shugar Mama and her 8 puppies!
July 15, 2014
Introducing Children to Animal Husbandry
Do you have a budding veterinarian at home? Many children and teens to aspire to work in the animal care industry when they grow up. The allure is there; we spend our work days with animals of all shapes and sizes, and we heal sick animals back to health. It’s an incredibly gratifying job. If you are a lucky parent to a child that has expressed interest in animal health getting them involved in the industry may be easier than you think.
A vet visit is a wonderful place to start. When children come to our vet clinic and express an interest in medicine we make sure to involve them in the conversations we have pertaining to their pet. Observing us care for patients through job shadowing can provide a wealth of knowledge, and an unforgettable experience. Older children between the ages of 8 and 12 are welcome to shadow us, even in the treatment area, during your next vet visit.
Younger children don’t have to miss out on the knowledge either! Young children between ages of 3 and 8 are encouraged to bring along a stuffed animal to vet visits for a “check up.” Kids are welcome to try on stethoscopes, give “shots”, and “medicate” their cuddle buddies. Sometimes children worry about their pets when we become involved with treatment. To help alleviate these feelings we encourage children to let us treat their stuffed animal too. Kids that have their cuddle buddies “treated” go home with a post-care sheet to help them better understand what their stuffed animal, and their pet, have gone through.
After-care at home is important for children to understand, especially if a pet is post-surgery. Involving your child with feeding, watering, and keeping your pet comfortable is a wonderful way to enable their nurturing instincts. Supervision is required, but simple tasks such as scooping food, bringing food and water dishes to the pet, and replacing bedding to keep your pet comfortable are all feasible, and measured successes to your child.
Children caring for their pets is a wonderful bond that we love to nurture here at Clear Creek Animal Hospital. We hope that your future veterinarian learns much about pet health as they grow, and will return with their pets for a fun experience with our team.
June 20, 2014
What is a Vet Tech?
Humans have nurses, pets have Vet Techs. Right? This seems like a pretty good assumption. A Vet Tech does to pets what nurses do to humans; they follow doctor’s instructions and administer treatments.
What if I told you that they're also anesthesiologists? AND pharmacists?
After developing our hospital’s job descriptions and working in every possible position of our veterinary hospital (excluding doctor) I have come to the conclusion that veterinary technicians must be born with super powers. How else could they be responsible for so many aspects of your pet’s care?
Veterinary Technicians have one thing in common. All have a passion for animals. The really good ones have a passion for helping animals and their owners. Caring for pets in addition to people make vet techs the ultimate public servant. Not many people can say they have helped treat an animal in an emergency situation - while holding the owner’s hand, while administering medication, while taking orders from the doctor. Yet, this is what your Vet Techs live for! There’s super power number one: The Power of Multitasking.
Now, back to that whole anesthesiologist bit… Vet Techs are trained in school (Certified Technicians have an Associates in Applied Science degree) and on the job in the following categories:
Anesthesia, Pharmacology, Parasitology, Physiology, Venipuncture, Nutrition… the list goes on. Vet Techs gain a bouquet of knowledge in so many aspects of pet healthcare it’s a wonder their brains can contain so much knowledge! This brings us to Vet Tech Super Power number two: Infinite Brain Capacity.
Our vet techs at Clear Creek Animal Hospital have a special quality that I keep a sharp eye out for when hiring. That quality eventually evolves into another super power, probably the most powerful one of all. Let me break down an all too common scenario Vet Techs deal with on the daily. It’s easy to get upset when an animal bites you. It’s even easier to get upset after it pees, poops or vomits on you AFTER biting you. The worst is when it just plain does not like you and you’re pretty sure it's doing it just to spite you. But there are Vet Techs that have been through hell with a difficult patient, then will show buckets of compassion to the same scared, helpless animal. I think that most people don’t: A) Have the bravery to handle an animal that WILL bite you, and B) Don’t have the compassion or patience to press on, even after the poop hits the tech. Super Powers number three and four: Mega-sized Heart Space and Mother Teresa Patience.
I think that it is too often that technicians are referred to as “just techs”. Yes, they may not be doctors, but they are responsible for the bulk of your pet’s care when they are in the hospital. So let’s give the Vet Techs out there a hand (or paw) for all of their hard work and dedication. As they say in this industry “they don’t do it for the pay!” so they’re doing it for the health of your pet. Hats and surgical caps off to you, Vet Techs!
May 21, 2014
Bottle Feeding Kittens
(Old Spice Commercial Guy’s Voice Over)
Imagine yourself on a boat.
Under a tarp.
In the middle of summer.
Hungry and alone.
Why are you here? You don’t know.
But guess what? It’s not really you. Instead, you are a kitten.
A few years ago I fostered a kitten that had been found in these conditions. Only a few days old, and her eyes were not even open yet. The person who found her was being paid to clean someone’s boat and stopped her work to rush kitten over to the closest clinic she knew of (mine). This women had a million questions about how to care for the kitten and if it was even worth trying to save its life. I explained to her all of the ins and outs of feeding an orphaned kitten and as I spoke her eyes got wider and wider. The look on her face seemed to tell me she could not do it all. So, I took it upon myself to foster this bitty baby. I had done bottle feeding before but nobody this young. I estimated that she was only 5-7 days old and her chances were slim. But she had a strong will and took to her bottle right away! She grew bigger and bigger and eventually went to live with the woman who had originally found her.
Bottle feeding can be extremely challenging but is also equally rewarding when you get to see those babies move on to their new homes. There is a lot involved. You must feed them every 2-4 hours regardless of your own sleep schedule, and depending on their age, even stimulate them to go pee and poop since they cannot do that on their own until they are a few weeks old. Most shelters need a lot of foster parents in their network to take care of all the bottle babies that come in the warmer months of the year. If you are interested in helping any of these wonderful organizations then please go to the shelters and fill out a foster care application. Oh, and here are some ridiculously cute pictures of the kitten I just told you about. Enjoy!