Exciting news! We now offer a variety of regenerative medicine options for your dogs experiencing painful or restricted movement throughout their day-to-day lives. These procedures are still quite new, but have already been showing positive changes and results with our patients who have undergone treatment. Platelet rich plasma and stem cell therapy can be used to reduce pain and inflammation in arthritic or otherwise injured joints or to help heal damaged muscle, ligaments, and tendons. It is amazing to see how far veterinary medicine has come.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): A sufficient volume of blood is collected from the patient and the platelet fraction (high in growth factors and molecules to help facilitate reduction of inflammation) is harvested and injected into the affected joint(s). PRP provides pain relief for arthritic joints for as long as 9 months. It is a mildly invasive procedure.
Stem Cell Therapy: Stem cells are harvested from bone marrow or fat tissue of the patient. Stem cells have the ability to repair any type of tissue they introduced into. Stem cells work more efficiently when combined with PRP. Stem cells have the ability to regenerate damaged tendons and ligaments. This therapy can provide pain relief for as long as 11 months. It is a moderately invasive procedure.
One of our staff pets, a 7-year-old spayed female Siberian Husky, underwent PRP injections into her hips today. Her name is Maquita. She has had a history of hind end lameness after exercise. Radiographs revealed she does have arthritis developing in her left and right hip joints. She has had multiple chiropractic and acupuncture treatments in the past, which did help alleviate the pain and inflammation but did not help to facilitate long-term arthritis relief. She also needed to be given an oral anti-inflammatory medication as needed to help control the pain. We are excited to watch the progress of her recovery after her PRP therapy.
Click here for more information about veterinary regenerative medicine.
A bike can excite some dogs and terrify others. Some dogs will gladly run alongside a bike while others would like to viciously destroy the bike until it can’t move anymore. And then there are the other dogs that are nervous and confused about the bike so they choose to run away from it in the opposite direction.
Having a fear of bikes can be dangerous for the dog and the bike rider. Often when a dog tries to attack a moving bike, they can end up getting hurt or the rider of the bike may end up crashing (which can lead to terrible injuries!). Sometimes the rider of the bike may even get nipped at or bitten by the fearful dog. It is a good idea to train your dog to be comfortable around bikes, especially in our town of Squamish, where there seem to be just as many bikes around as vehicles.
To train your dog to be comfortable around bikes, try the following:
Introduce your dog to a bike that isn’t moving and watch their reaction– then you will know how much training work you have ahead of you. Get your dog to practice sitting and staying next to the bike. Reward your dog with treats or their favourite toy.
Next, have someone slowly ride the bike around while your dog is on leash. Have them ride on the other side of the yard or street. Continue to practice obedience (sitting and staying) around the slow moving bike. Pretend that you don’t even notice the bike. Work on keeping your dog’s attention and reward calm behaviour with treats or their favourite toy.
Once your dog is ok with the idea of a slow moving bike, practice walking your dog on leash in one hand while pushing the bike around with your other hand. Go at a slow pace and teach your dog that there is no reason to be scared of bikes. Reward your dog with food or their favourite toy when they are calm and relaxed around the moving bike.
When your dog becomes ok with the idea of a bike in motion, keep them on leash and have somebody ride by at a faster pace. Once your dog is able to ignore the bike, have them increase their biking speed. Your dog may be ok with the bike at a slow speed but may become agitated when the bike goes speeding by. Continue to reward calm behaviour with treats or their favourite toy.
Purposely walk by strangers on bikes. Continue walking while keeping your dog’s focus and pretend like the bike isn’t there. If you are tense and nervous around the bike, your dog will pick up on it and be tense and nervous as well. The calmer you are, the better your dog will be. Don’t forget to reward calm behaviour with treats or their favourite toy!
Training your dog in new situations is not a quick process. Continue working with them as often as possible. Your dog’s behaviour will regress if practice is not maintained. Once your dog is completely comfortable around bikes, try taking them out on a bike ride with you! Just remember that all trails are shared and full control of your dog is necessary to prevent injuries to themselves or other people.
With spring transitioning into summer, there are many types of pollen and other allergens circulating throughout the air and environment. Many dogs and cats have seasonal allergy issues, just like us humans do. Allergic reactions can be brought on by both inhaled allergens and contact allergens.
Dogs and cats show typically their allergy symptoms in their skin and ears. You may notice pets scratching or licking themselves more than usual this time of year. Having an itch you can’t get rid of can be very uncomfortable. You may also notice a funny odor coming from their ears. Often allergic reactions can be accompanied by bacterial or fungal infections that require medication in order to put a stop to the clinical signs.
There are many different treatments for allergies. Not all treatment plans will work the same for each pet. Some of the most common treatments include the following:
- Bathing with appropriate medicated shampoo
- Topical medication such as antibacterial or anti-inflammatory cream
- Oral medication such as antibiotics, steroids or antihistamines
- External parasite treatment (flea bites are very itchy and many pets can have are hypersensitive to flea saliva)
Some allergic reactions can be brought on by the food that your pet is eating. It is often difficult to narrow which ingredient your pet is allergic to. Your veterinarian may suggest trying a hypoallergenic diet for six to eight weeks. Allergy testing (via bloodwork) is available and very informative, but can also be quite expensive.
Just as with people, allergies can be frustrating for your pet. Be sure to bring them in to see their veterinarian if you suspect they are having issues with their skin or ears. Treatment of allergies has a much greater prognosis if caught early. Your pet will give you a giant kiss to thank you!
Heat exhaustion can be fatal if not treated immediately. The weather is warming up out there – be extra careful with your dogs. If your dog over-exercises on a hot day or is stuck inside a confined space with no airflow such as a parked vehicle, they can suffer from heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when the dog’s ability to regulate its body temperature is lost.
The following tips will help protect your pets from heat exhaustion:
- Keep plenty of cool, clean water in a spill-proof container available to your pets. When outdoors, your dog may enjoy a baby pool filled with fresh water to lie in when it is very hot out.
- Bring pets inside, especially during the hottest hours of the day. Be particularly careful with senior and overweight pets as they have more difficulty regulating their body temperatures.
- Brush your pet’s coat to keep it free of mats. Do not shave off your pet’s coat completely because bare skin can get burnt in the sun. Fur protects your pet from the heat and insects and retains cooling water after a refreshing swim or wetting down from a garden hose.
- Exercise your pet during the cooler morning and evening hours. Avoid the hot pavement that can burn and blister your dog’s footpads. On hot, humid days, avoid jogging or running with your pet.
- Don’t take your pet with you when you head out to run errands. The temperature inside a parked car can kill a pet in a matter of minutes – even when you park in the shade and leave the windows cracked open.
The following are signs of heat exhaustion:
- Loud, rapid panting
- Rapid pulse
- Excessive salivation
- Elevated body temperature
- Glazed look in the eyes
- Pale, tacky gums
- Staggered walking
If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion, cool your pet down immediately by placing them in the shade and sponging or hosing them down with cool water (especially on the head, footpad and groin area). Give your pet small amounts of water to drink. If they drink too much water too quickly, they may vomit. It is recommended to have to your pet examined by their veterinarian if you think they are experiencing heat exhaustion.
Foreign body ingestion is a favourite pastime for many of our pets. Dogs and cats often ingest things they shouldn’t. We will never know what drives them to do this but they sometimes seem to think it is ok to ingest rocks, toys, tennis balls, socks, underwear, bones, needles and thread, string, fishing hooks, Nerf gun darts, pieces of carpet, rope, garbage, etc. Sometimes the object will pass through their intestines without complication. Sometimes the object will pass through only causing a mild upset stomach or diarrhea. Other times, the object will become stuck in the stomach or intestines and cause a life-threatening blockage.
The following is a story about a dog that seems to have a different palate for flavor than most other dogs:
Snoopy is a 2 year old Havanese mix weighing 12 pounds. He had been vomiting intermittently for one week and had minimal interest in food. He hadn’t had a bowel movement in quite a few days. He is normally very energetic but was feeling quite depressed when he came to see us.
Upon exam, it was found that Snoopy had a mild fever. His blood work showed no abnormalities. His abdomen was quite painful on palpation. We suspected that he had a foreign body stuck in his intestines or stomach that was preventing food from passing through. A firm “object” was palpated in his intestines and he cried when this area was touched. We proceeded to take radiographs of Snoopy’s abdomen, which led us to take him directly into surgery.
From Snoopy’s small intestine we removed a hard, rolled up piece of carpet. From his stomach, we removed this:
An extremely long, long, long piece of rope?! How?! Why?!
Snoopy made a full recovery and is now back to bouncing and running around like he used to. He was up and eating 12 hours after surgery. We all hope he has learned his lesson about ingesting anything but dog food.
As your pet begins to age, their organ systems are often affected. Having annual exams and bloodwork performed on them will help your veterinarian to proper evaluate your pet’s health status, internal organs and catch any disease processes early. Some common disease processes that occur in senior pets include:
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Dental disease
- Intestinal disease (irritable bowel disease, colitis)
- Endocrine disease (thyroid issues, diabetes, adrenal gland disease)
What are some benefits of senior pet wellness bloodwork?
Comparing Baseline Values
Comparing current bloodwork results to baseline results from previous years will help identify subtle changes to your pet’s health. If all test results are normal, then you have piece of mind that your pet is healthy, inside and out.
Identify Unseen Disease at an Early Age
Not all disease processes show signs on the outside before making changes on the inside of your pet. Identifying disease before clinical signs appear allows for a better chance of a successful outcome and can often lessen the cost of treatment.
There are many common age-related illnesses, which require medication. Bloodwork can help determine whether or not a medication will be safe for your pet.
Senior pets often require anesthesia more frequently than younger pets for common procedures such as dental surgery or skin growth removal. Bloodwork is a vital part of pre-anesthetic evaluation of all pets.
What can you look for as some signs of aging in your pets?
While some signs of aging in your pets are obvious (such as graying of hair or decreasing energy levels), there are other changes that may go unnoticed. Senior pets may look and act normally while coping with the following:
- Aching joints
- Tooth pain
- Loss of awareness for surrounding hazards
- Cloudy vision
These are common conditions that are associated with osteoarthritis, dental disease, cognitive dysfunction and the loss of hearing or vision.
What can you do for your senior pets?
Watch for subtle changes in your pet’s behavior or less interaction with your family, as this may signal an underlying discomfort in your pet.
It is a good idea to schedule annual physical exams that include complete geriatric bloodwork and a urinalysis. Early detection and prompt treatment of disease can significantly prolong and impact the quality of life for your senior pet.
What is the importance of a full geriatric blood panel?
Dogs and cats can often “hide” clinical signs of underlying disease and may not show signs of illness until the disease or disorder is well advanced. Testing blood and urine allows us to:
- Detect disease early
- Adjust treatment where there is underlying organ dysfunction
- Obtain baseline data
Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Many of you may have big family gatherings for dinner; some of you may just enjoy a little quiet time with your pets. With all the yummy turkey, gravy and stuffing smells travelling throughout your home, your pets may find it hard to resist not drooling and giving you their best sad-eyed begging for food look. No matter how cute they are, they do not need to stuff themselves with human food.
Allowing your pet to ingest a large amount of Thanksgiving food can lead to stomach upset, constipation, diarrhea or vomiting. It can also put your pet at risk for pancreatitis. Allowing them to chew on bones (raw or cooked) can be fatal. Small pieces can break off and tear or puncture the digestive tract and large pieces can get stuck and cause a blockage in the digestive tract.
Be sure to inform all of your guests of your house rules for your pets. Take your energetic dogs for a long walk before guests arrive. Tired dogs are often (but not always!) better behaved. Allow shy dogs and cats to have a quiet place to go and hide if they are too stressed by all of the houseguests. It is a good idea to ensure that all pets are wearing their ID collars incase they escape from your home.
Do you have a painful pet? Although they can’t talk to us, our pets have other ways of letting us know that something is bothering them. Below are some things you can look at to help recognize sigs of pain in your pets:
Look at your pet’s posture. Do they prefer to lying to sitting or standing? Are they sitting or resting in an abnormal position? Are they shifting frequently while resting?
Check in with your pet’s “talking” habits. Are they crying and whining? Are they quiet when they would normally be happy and barking?
Watch your pet walk. Are they limping? Are they stiff or slow to get going (especially after resting)? Do they have trouble getting up after laying or sitting down? Are they lagging behind on walks? Do they tire a lot faster than usual on walks?
Watch your pet’s breathing. Are they panting excessively? Does each breath come mostly from the pet’s chest or abdomen?
Analyze your pet’s activity level. Are they no longer able to do the things they used to do? Are they reluctant to go for walks or climb stairs? Are they restless? Do they shiver or shake out of nowhere?
Monitor your pet’s responsiveness. Do they cry or bite when you try and handle them? Do they keep themselves withdrawn from situations?
Watch your pet’s eating habits. Has their appetite decreased? Do they not want to eat at all? Do they eat their meal slower than they used to?
Keep an eye on your pet’s grooming habits. Do they look unkempt? Are they licking or chewing excessively in one area?
There are many things we can do to help control or eliminate pain in your pet. After consulting with your veterinarian, they may recommend some anti-inflammatory medication and rest for your pet or they may even request x-rays to further see what is going on inside your pet. Chiropractic medicine and acupuncture are also very common (and extremely helpful!) to have done for your pets.
You found some lumps and bumps on your pet… now what?
- Book an appointment with your veterinarian.
- Your veterinarian will assess them mass (along with a full physical exam of your pet) and take a fine needle biopsy from the mass.
- A fine needle biopsy can be done while your pet is awake. The area of skin over the mass is scrubbed clean and then a needle is quickly poked into the mass. A sample of cells is drawn up through the needle into a syringe. The sample of cells is then put onto a microscope slide, fixed and stained. The veterinarian then analyzes the cells under the microscope.
- Depending on the type of cells seen under the microscope, recommendations will be made by your veterinarian to have the mass surgically removed or to continue to monitor its size and shape (if a mass does not show cancerous cells under the microscope then it is usually ok to monitor the mass as long as your pet is comfortable). Sometimes masses will become an irritant to your pet and if they lick or chew at it, it will become infected.
- If the mass is surgically removed, it can be sent to the lab for complete analysis. The lab will be able to report back about the type of mass, the aggressiveness of the cells and whether or not they think more tissue needs to be removed from your pet (if they think the mass has a high chance of re-growth).
- If a mass has been surgically removed, your pet is not allowed to lick or chew at the stitches. They need to stay calm (short leash walks only for dogs!), clean and dry until the surgical site has completely healed (usually 10-14 days). A cone collar is used to keep your pet from being able to get at their incision. They are able to eat, drink, sleep, walk around, poop and pee with their cone collar on.