- Complete Physical Exams
- Care for Older Pets
- Vaccinations for Dogs and Cats
- Other Preventative Health Care
- Laser Surgery
- Spaying and Neutering
- Blood and Urine Diagnostic Tests
- Digital X-Rays
- EKG’s for Heart Disease
- Microchip Placement and Registration to Prevent Lost Pets
- Dental Exams
- Dental Cleanings and Polishing
- Dental Extractions
- Dermatology (Skin Disease)
- Flea and Tick Control Programs
- Prescription Diets
Complete Physical Examinations:
Our doctors and staff want to know as much about your pet’s health as possible. We will listen and ask questions about your pet’s health history. A comprehensive examination will be done: Examination of your pet’s mouth, teeth and gums, eyes, ears and nose. We will check your pet’s lymph nodes for enlargement. We listen to your pet’s heart and lungs by stethoscope. We palpate inside the belly for size and locations of internal organs. We will examine your pet’s skin, hair coat, nails and tail. Our goal is to examine your pet from the “tip of his nose to the tip of his tail” and everything in between.
The physical examination and your input regarding your pet’s health history will determine if further testing is required or what medications are needed to help your pet feel well.
We recommend a physical exam at least once a year as pets age quicker than humans. One year of a pet’s life is equivalent to approximately five years for humans. Early diagnosis typically makes treatment easier on your pet and less expensive to manage and treat
Care for Older Pets:
As our pet ages potentially more health issues arise. Many older pets have arthritis or dental disease. Some develop heart or kidney disease. We often do blood tests on our older patients to diagnose these conditions early before they are a major problem for your pet. They can be started on prescription diets and/or medications to keep them healthy, active and happy. For many of our older pets twice a year physical examinations are recommended.
Vaccinations for Dogs and Cats:
We vaccinate puppies and kittens as well as adult pets. We will examine your pets and their environment and potential exposure to these preventable diseases and decide which vaccines are most appropriate for your pets.
- We vaccinate all puppies and dogs against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus. This is all in one vaccine and often has a vaccine for Leptospirosis combined with it. Leptospirosis is a bacteria found primarily in wildlife that can cause serious kidney and liver disease in dogs as well as people.
- Lyme Disease is very prevalent in our area. It is transmitted to dogs and people by deer ticks. The larval form of the deer tick which is the size of a pencil point can transmit Lyme Disease. We have a very good vaccine for dogs that is 92% protective. As Lyme Disease is the most common infectious disease we diagnosis in our area, we recommend vaccinating your dogs to protect them. Lyme Disease can lead to arthritis and occasional fatal kidney disease. It is much easier to prevent than diagnose and treat Lyme Disease.
- Bordetella or Kennel Cough is a disease that causes severe coughing in dogs and can be deadly to puppies. It is highly contagious and easily spread from dog to dog. Although a dog with kennel cough could walk in your yard and spread it to your dog, it is more likely to be present where there is a higher concentration of dogs. Therefore, all boarding kennels require dogs to be vaccinated against kennel cough before boarding. In addition dogs that go to groomrs or dog parks should also be vaccinated to protect against kennel cough.
- Canine Influenza or Dog Flu is a less common disease but has more serious consequences, including death. Again it is more likely to be spread where there is a concentration of dogs. We recommend vaccinating pets that go to kennels, groomers or dog parks.
- Rabies is a deadly virus for dogs, cats, humans and in fact all mammals. Although not prevelant, it is still in the wildlife in Cecil County. There is no treatment for Rabies. It is required by Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania laws that all dogs and cats be vaccinated to protect against Rabies. This actually helps protect people as it creates a barrier between us and the wildlife. Our pets are more likely to come in contact with wildlife, including bats, than we are. Even indoor only cats are required by law to be vaccinated to protect against Rabies. I have had cats catch bats inside the home.
- Cats should also be vaccinated against Distemper and Upper Respiratory Viruses. Cat Distemper is not common but is usually deadly. The Upper Respiratory Virus can be debilitating to cats and deadly particularly in kittens. They can cause serious eye diseases as well as sneezing and sinus infections.
- Cats that go outside should be vaccinated to protect against Feline Leukemia Virus. Feline leukemia virus suppresses the immune system. There is no effective treatment for this virus and it will kill your cat. It can cause leukemia, anemia, tumors and other diseases. Feline Leukemia Virus is spread by direct contact with an infected cat to other cats. It does not affect humans, only cats. If your cat goes outdoors, it should be protected against this deadly virus. The vaccine is approximately 90% protective.
Preventative Health Care:
Heartworm Diseaseis a major concern for dogs in our area. The heartworm lives inside the dog’s heart and produces tiny larvae in the dog’s blood. When a mosquito bites a dog with heartworms, it can then bite your dog and transmit the heartworm. Your dog does not needd contact with another dog to get heartworms. We check your dog’s blood for heartworms with a simple test in our hospital. Testing requires a few drops of blood and takes less than 10 minutes. As long as your dog tests negative, we place your pet on heartworm preventative. The preventative is given in a chewable treat once a month. The Interceptor heartworm preventative also helps prevent roundworms, hookworms and whipworms which dogs and puppies can pickup from the soil.
Intestinal Parasitesare of concern for dogs and cats in our area. Nearly all puppies and kittens have intestinal worms as they get them from mom when ursing. Therefore, we will deworm your puppies and kittens or check for intestinal parasites with a fecal exam. We recommend all dogs and cats be checked at least once a year for intestinal parasites by doing a fecal exam on their stool. Please bring in a stool sample for testing on your pet’s annual exam.
Fleas and Ticksare very important to receive protection against. Once a month medications are available for fleas and ticks. Fleas and to some extent ticks are the most common cause of skin disease in dogs and cats. Fleas also carry tapeworms. Ticks transmit Lyme disease which is the most common infectious disease treated in our area. Ticks also carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasma, Erlichia, Babesia and a number of other diseases which can be devastating to our pet’s health. By killing fleas and ticks on your pets you are preventing them from bringing the fleas and ticks into your home as people can also get diseases from ticks. We do have blood test to screen your dogs for Lyme Disease, Anaplasma and Erlichia as well as other tick borne diseases.
Although we still do traditional surgery, where applicable we prefer to use the surgical laser. We feel laser surgery with all its benefits provides the best possible care for your pet.
Some of the Advantages of Laser Surgery include:
Less Pain – The laser seals nerve endings as it cuts.
Less Bleeding – Laser energy seals small blood vessels during surgery which results in less bleeding and less time required for the procedure. This is even more noticeable during more involved surgeries such as spays and large tumor removals or where tissues have a large blood vessel supply.
Less Swelling –With laser technology only light comes into contact with tissue and it seals lymphatic vessels resulting in less swelling.
Less Infection –The laser energy sterilizes as it is used killing bacteria that can cause infection.
Quicker Recovery –With less pain, bleeding and swelling your pet will recover quicker. The removal of small skin tumors and growths is now easier and quicker with laser surgery. We can often remove these when the patient is already anesthetized for a dental cleaning.
Spaying and Neutering
We recommend spaying and neutering all dogs and cats. We usually do this surgical procedure at approximately six months of age to avoid unwanted pregnancies and behavioral problems.
Spaying, or a complete ovariohysterectomy, is the removal of both ovaries and the uterus from female pets. Neutering is the removal of both testicles from the male pet.
Spayed and neutered pets are more content to stay at home and less likely to wander and get into trouble. There are also medical reasons for these surgeries. Neutered male dogs do not get enlarged prostate glands when they get older. Neutered male cats do not have the strong urine odor and do not get into as many fights. Unspayed female dogs and cats can get an infection in their uterus called pyometra (pus in the uterus). Pets that develop pyometra become very ill and without emergency spay surgery can die. Spaying is a much less complicated as well as a less costly surgery when done in a healthy pet with a healthy uterus. Unspayed female dogs have a high risk for mammary gland tumors (breast tumors) when they get older. Dogs spayed before their first heat, usually six months or less, do not develop breast tumors. Dogs spayed before their first three heats (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 years of age) have a very low risk for breast tumors. The risk increases exponentially after the first 3 heats.
In addition to preventing unwanted puppies and kittens, we want your pet to live a long and healthy life.
We recommend Laser Surgery for all our spays and neuters.
Diagnostic Blood and Urine Testing
Many pets are brought in for exams for not eating well, being less active, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Since we cannot ask our patients how they are feeling or what the problem is, we often do tests to check their blood and urine. Blood tests can indicate if there is an infection. We can learn about their liver, kidneys and pancreas. Some dogs and cats develop diabetes which can be diagnosed with blood and urine tests. The urine also gives information about the kidneys as well as diagnose bladder infection. We also look at protein levels in the urine and blood. There has been recent development of a blood test that helps diagnose heart disease in dogs and cats. Some diseases affect the electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and chloride) in the blood.
A common hormonal problem in middle-aged to older dogs is hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone). Older cats can have hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone). Both conditions can be diagnosed with blood tests and both respond well to treatment. Less common hormonal diseases are Cushings disease and Addisons disease. In Cushings disease too much natural steroid is produced; where Addisons disease has too little steroid. More involved blood tests are required to diagnose these diseases. Both diseases respond to treatment.
We often perform blood and urine tests in our middle-aged to older pets to look for early signs of disease. If we diagnose the problem early it is easier and less expensive to treat. In some cases, treatment may be as simple as placing your pet on a prescription diet.
We do blood tests frequently in our patients, depending on their age, prior to anesthesia for surgery or dental procedures to make certain they will not experience any problems with the anesthesia.
Digital X rays
We have updated X-ray equipment which produces digital images on a computer screen. In addition to digital images being of better quality, we can send your pet’s X-rays to a specialist online or produce disks for further evaluation by radiologists.
EKG’s for Heart Disease
We have equipment to perform EKGs to evaluate your pet’s heart. We can also send the EKG to cardiologists for further evaluation and treatment recommendations. During anesthesia and surgery, we monitor your pet’s pulse or heart rate as well as oxygen level to the tissues.
Microchip Placement and Registration to Prevent Lost Pets
We recommend implanting a microchips under your pet’s skin to assist in recovery. A collar and name tag are important but they may come off. Microchip implantation is a simple procedure that can be done as an office appointment. There is a permanent identification chip under your pet’s skin. Microchip registration with Home Again, a company available 24/7, will assist by calling you when your pet is found.
Many pet owners do not look inside their pet’s mouth. The mouth is an important area to examine in dogs and cats. In puppies and kittens we are looking at the baby teeth which are usually replaced by permanent teeth by approximately six months of age. During your puppy and kitten visits we are watching how the permanent teeth come in. We examine young dogs and cats for alignment of their teeth. As dogs and cats get older we are looking for dental and gum disease. Some pets, particularly small breed dogs, start developing dental disease at 2-3 years of age. Dental and gum disease is the most common problem we see in middle-aged to older dogs and cats. Our pets may still be eating but their gums are red and sore.
We are also looking for tumors and growths in the mouth. Some of the most aggressive cancers are in the mouth.
Dental Cleaning and Polishing
Since most dogs and cats teeth are not brushed our pets need to have their teeth cleaned and polished similar to when we visit our dentist. Many dogs and cats over 4 years of age have some dental disase causing bad breath. Some small breed dogs start developing dental disease at 2-3 years of age. The older a pet, the more likely to have dental and gum disease. Infection around the teeth and gums can spread to other organs causing disease in the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Clients often call a few weeks after their dog’s teeth have been cleaned and tell me their pet is acting “like a puppy” again. We don’t realize the infection of their teeth and gums was so painful for them and affecting their entire demeanor. Since our pets will not hold their mouth open for cleaning of their teeth, dental procedures require general anesthesia. We monitor their heart during this procedure.
Some puppies and kittens do not lose all their baby teeth and have the permanent teeth next to the baby teeth. We extract the baby tooth to prevent damage to the permanent teeth. Some teeth have to be extracted due to infection of the gum and the tooth. If we extract the infected tooth and allow the gums to heal we can prevent the infection from spreading to surrounding gums and teeth.
Dermatology (Skin Problems)
Skin diseases are a common problem for dogs and cats. Fleas and sometimes ticks are often part of the problem. Many pets also have skin allergies. Occasionally dogs and cats have diseases that humans can get such as ringworm or mange. A common hormonal disease affecting dogs’ skin is hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone).
We will examine your pet and do necessary tests to determine the underlying cause of your pet’s skin problem so we can began appropriate treatment.
Flea and Tick Control Programs
Fleas and ticks are common in our area. In addition to causing skin irritations and infections, fleas and particularly ticks transmit other diseases. The most common infectious disease we see is Lyme Disease carried by the small deer tick. We will customize a program for your pet to prevent fleas and ticks from being a problem.
We have special diets to help prevent or treat disease. Many cats are on a prescription diet to prevent cystitis (infection of the bladder). We have other diets to help with treatment of diabetes, allergies, kidney and liver diseases. We can also prescribe a diet for your overweight pet.