Medical Services

Medical Assessment

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

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

Endocrinology (Hormones)

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

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

There are several common endocrine disorders found in dogs and cats:

  • Diabetes mellitus is caused by a deficiency in or resistance to the hormone insulin.
  • Hypothyroidism, which is often diagnosed in dogs, indicates that the animal has low levels of thyroid hormone.
  • Hyperthyroidism, which frequently affects cats, indicates that the animal has high levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism) and Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) can also affect both species, although Cushing’s disease is rare in cats.

Contact us if your pet begins panting excessively, develops any skin issues (such as hair loss or dull coat), or shows any changes in behavior, energy levels, appetite, weight, water consumption, or urination.

Radiology (X-rays)

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

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

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

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

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

Dental Care

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Most pets will need to have their teeth cleaned by the time they are three-years-old. By age three, tartar is evident on the teeth, particularly the molars. By this time, gingivitis is most likely present as well, which is the presence of red, swollen gums that are painful.

Pets go under general anesthesia to have their teeth cleaned because they will not tolerate having their teeth cleaned while they are awake. All patients receive a pre-op physical exam which allows us to address any physical concerns prior to anesthesia. They will receive pre-op blood work to check liver, kidney, red blood cells, and blood sugar. We check these levels on the day of the dental to help ensure safe anesthesia.

If any abnormalities are detected, they will be addressed and resolved prior to the dental. Most dental patients have an IV catheter placed prior to anesthesia, except for the healthy, young cats; their medication goes into the muscle. This gives IV access throughout the procedure to administer IV fluids and/or medication. All patients are intubated (tube placed in the windpipe) and maintained on gas anesthesia and oxygen. They are monitored throughout the procedure. We also monitor with an EKG, pulse oximeter, blood pressure cuff, and thermometer.

Our patients are placed on a heated table to help maintain body temperature. An experienced certified veterinary technician examines each, individual tooth and measures any pockets. The teeth are hand-scaled, ultrasonically scaled, and then polished. Any abnormalities are checked by Dr. Nelson. If a tooth needs to be removed, a nerve block is administered and Dr. Nelson will remove the tooth. Our dental patients are given antibiotics and pain relief if extractions are performed. Our dental patients come in the morning and are able to go home in the afternoon.

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Flea Control

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

Dermatology (Skin)

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

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

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

Cardiology (Heart)

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

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

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