Laser therapy for pets
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
In recent years, our society has become more concerned about the food we eat, the medications we take and give to our pets and children, and what we are exposed to in the environment. There has been some mistrust of traditional medicine and people have looked for other ways to treat both their ailments and their family’s ailments. Many of these treatments fall into the category of alternative medicine. I believe there is a place in human and veterinary medicine for both traditional and alternative medicine; in some cases a combination may be best for a pet.
As a veterinarian, my goal is to recommend what is best for a pet. I do not want to put an animal on a medication that may harm it or perform a surgery that may put it through unnecessary stress and pain. I always try to recommend the best treatment and then offer alternatives. For example, the best treatment for an older pet with arthritis may be an anti-inflammatory medication. However, a particular animal may be sensitive to the medication and develop stomach upset or an increase in liver values. I might first offer a joint supplement and a joint therapy diet as an alternative therapy for the arthritis, and use the anti-inflammatory pills only as needed.
A recent addition to my practice gives pet owners another option to help treat their pets’ ailments. I now offer laser therapy for pets. Laser therapy has been used in human medicine for making precise surgical incisions, for treating dermatological conditions, for treating certain cancerous conditions, and for helping perform various other surgical procedures.
Laser therapy is light that is emitted at a certain wavelength in a concentrated beam. The laser therapy offered in my practice is from a lower intensity laser used in physical therapy in human medicine. It can be used for a number of conditions in veterinary medicine.
Laser therapy works by stimulating the metabolism and improving the health of the body’s cells. Stimulating the cells metabolism helps to promote healing, decrease pain, decrease inflammation, improve circulation, reduce scar tissue, improve nerve function, and stimulate acupuncture points.
The only risk laser therapy poses is if the pet looks directly into the beam of light. To prevent this, both the person administering the laser and the pet receiving the treatment wear protective eyewear.
This mode of therapy is a noninvasive treatment for various conditions. With every surgery that is performed at my clinic, including routine spays and neuters, the treated animals will now receive complimentary laser therapy treatment of the surgical incision prior to going home. Other conditions that may benefit from this treatment include hot spots, ear infections, skin infections, wounds, cuts, abscesses, allergic skin conditions, burns, ACL tears, hip dysplasia, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and paralysis. The practice is offering a package deal for older animals that are having issues with arthritis. The recommendation is for a pet to receive laser therapy every other day for six treatments followed by maintenance treatments based on the severity of the condition.
I have seen major improvements in some of my patients undergoing this therapy. Two different dogs that were brought in for neck pain were almost back to normal the next day after a laser treatment. One little dog that received laser therapy on post ACL repair and knee cap surgery is healing very quickly and ahead of the normal expected schedule. Another elderly female dog with long term hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis is now able to get up and down from a lying position with much less effort. I have already seen some major improvements in many pet’s conditions. Call the clinic at 366-7440 for more information about laser therapy. It is a simple, inexpensive form of therapy that has major benefits for a pet!
Join us as we celebrate National Pet Week from May 4-10. What can you do? It’s easy — cherish your pet, celebrate that special bond between you and show your pet some love with the gift of good health. Just as people rely on annual checkups, proper nutrition and dental care, your pet does as well – with help from your furry friend’s family doctor – your Veterinarian!
National Pet Week was created in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Auxiliary to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The importance of veterinary care for our feline friends
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
It’s a Monday morning. My family’s 15-year-old kitty Breezy is due for her annual blood work at the clinic. I head out to the garage to find one of our many pet carriers. Of course I can’t find one and my husband has already left for work. I’m already running behind for the morning! I finally grab one from the attic. I bring it downstairs and of course all the kitties go running. They know what the carrier means – a disruption in their normal routine and a trip to the veterinary office. They don’t like it – even when the vet is their own mom! I drag Breezy out from under the bed, and struggle to get her in the carrier; hind end first, while I am trying to tuck all four of her sprawling legs into the carrier. Finally we are off in the car. My entire 22 mile drive to work is disrupted by the constant yowling coming from the carrier! We get to work and she is fine; she has survived the trip. She does not appreciate her blood draw, but it is very important because in her older years she has started to drop in weight. Everything, however, turns out OK but she is happy to go back home at the end of the day.
My story is a common one I hear from many of my clients and just a few reasons why I don’t see these clients’ kitties! I see dogs on a routine basis; vaccines, yearly blood tests, and preventatives. But many times, I do not realize that these same clients have one or more cats in their households. A feline pet’s health is just as important as a canine pet’s!
Some other explanations from clients for bringing in these kitties:
1. My cat is strictly indoors; it doesn’t need vaccines.
2. My cat is strictly indoors, it won’t get fleas.
3. My cat hates coming to the vet and gets very stressed when we try to bring it.
4. I cannot catch my cat to bring it to the vet.
5. My cat gets sick in the car.
Indoor cats may be at just as much risk for picking up deadly viruses as a dog. Many of the respiratory viruses I vaccinate against can be spread by aerosolized secretions. In the warmer months, any stray cats wandering around the home may expose a pet cat to these respiratory viruses even just through an open window. More importantly, rabies is a public health concern because humans can contract the deadly virus through contact with a rabid animal. Rabies can be carried by dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and bats. If bats live in and around your home, and if a bat has come into it, it’s possible your cat has been exposed to the rabies virus. It is very important for your health and your cat’s health that the cat receives a rabies vaccine every three years. New York State law provides that if your cat happens to bite a person and is not vaccinated, it can be put to sleep.
Even if your cat is indoors, it can still pick up fleas and intestinal parasites from fleas. A pet dog may bring in the fleas, or they may hitch a ride on human shoes or pant legs. Once a female flea receives a blood meal from the pet, she can lay thousands of eggs which can all hatch and turn into a flea infestation even on an indoor cat! I still recommend monthly prevention against fleas because fleas can make a pet anemic, cause severe secondary skin infections and skin allergies, and can carry intestinal parasites.
Many pets hate coming to the vet. I assure you we will do everything in our power to make your pet more comfortable when they come to visit. We will give your pet attention and treats to try to put them at ease. If the pet is extremely stressed we may give it a sedative to make the experience more relaxing for the animal, you, and us!
I have also recommended for some pet owners to desensitize their cats to the experience. This might include putting your cat’s carrier in a common area with treats and food so they become comfortable with it and don’t always associate the crate with a trip to the veterinarian. I also recommend bringing cats in for a visit for petting and treats at any time so they don’t always associate the veterinary office with injections and examinations. Ask if your veterinarian carries a product called Feliway. This comes in a variety of forms sprays, wipes, and wall plug-ins and contains natural cat pheromones to help put the cat at ease.
If you have difficulty catching your cat, put it in a smaller area such as a bedroom a day or two before its appointment. Move its food, litter box, and the crate to the smaller area as well. It may be easier to catch the cat before its appointment instead of chasing it all over the house an hour before its visit!
If your cat gets sick in the car, pick up its food the night before its appointment. This way the cat won’t have a stomach full of food. We are also very good at cleaning out the carrier for you in case it still gets sick!
It is very important for a cat to have a physical examination by a veterinarian at least once yearly. Many underlying conditions may go unnoticed. I might just pick up on a slight drop in weight, which may be normal for your cat, or may be a significant finding requiring further testing. Older cats in particular are prone to developing kidney disease, heart disease, or thyroid disease. A veterinarian might just feel a slight enlargement in the thyroid gland. If these conditions are caught early, the cat can receive proper treatment and live a longer happier life! Call us today to schedule an appointment for your feline friends.
Finding the right food for your pet — some thoughts from a veterinarian
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
In recent years, many more types of pet foods have become available on the market. Choices include organic, natural, holistic, homemade, grain-free and raw diets. Where do we begin as pet owners? When choosing a diet for your pet, it is important to consider the following factors that may help make your decision.
1. I recommend finding a diet that meets AAFCO (The American Association of Feed Control Officials) procedures through animal feed testing trials and is formulated for one life stage. A diet that is labeled for “all life stages” cannot adequately provide the proper nutrition when each stage of life requires such a different nutrient profile. Be aware that many diets are labeled to “meet” the standards set by AAFCO, but have not actually undergone pet feeding trials to be proven as an adequate diet. Read labels carefully!
2. I recommend feeding a diet from a company that has a proven record, that has consistently safe formulations without recalls, and that has a veterinary nutritionist on staff helping to formulate animal diets. These companies’ pet foods are what a veterinarian will typically recommend for your pet. Veterinarians are not paid to recommend these diets. I solely recommend based on experience and knowledge of how my own pets and clients’ pets have been feed on these diets.
3. It is important to understand labeling. “Natural” diets are diets free of synthetic preservatives, colors and additives. Be cautious using these diets as they have a much shorter shelf life than other diets and must be used in a relatively short period of time. “Organic” means the ingredients in the food have been processed through organic farming. Organic farming meets specific requirements, which include no use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. “Holistic” has been used for a variety of diets and is not a regulated term, but is essentially a marketing term used to sell a diet. “Grain-free” does not mean carbohydrate free. These diets still contain some form of carbohydrates in a starch form. Any dry dog food cannot be made without a starch to help bind it together. Understand as well that grains are not bad for your pet! Grains provide a source of fiber, nutrients and even pro-biotics for gut health.
One more side note. “Meat By-products” are not bad either. By-products actually are the organ meats of the animal, which provides a good source of nutrition for your pet about equal to, if not better than, meat from animal muscle.
4. Homemade diets can be used but I recommend following a strict recipe formulated by a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist that is properly balanced to meet your pet’s nutritional needs. Many pets can experience malnutrition if these diets are improperly fed. You cannot just feed your pet table scraps or what you are eating for dinner. It is important they get the proper ratios of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals which need to be balanced in a homemade diet.
5. Avoid raw meat diets because raw meat often harbors harmful bacteria like e-coli, salmonella, and clostridium. These bacteria can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and systemic infection. Some pets may not show clinical signs associated with these bacteria, but they may still shed the bacteria in their stool exposing their owners to the harmful bacteria. The basis of a raw diet is to “feed your dog like their ancestors once ate.” First of all, wild canids are actually omnivores meaning they eat more than just meat. Also we have domesticated these pets to the point where their GI tracts cannot handle the high levels of protein that may be difficult to digest.
Above all I recommend taking your veterinarian’s advice regarding a diet for your pet. Be cautious with all the marketing ploys used to entice the buyer. These might be the ingredients listed, the name of the food, the colors and shape of the food, and the companies’ claims on the internet. Ingredients listed on the back of a bag of food may sound great for your pet, but the food may not have gone through any testing recommended by AAFCO. Many pets do not do well on these diets and you as a pet owner may not even be aware of it. These pets might just have a softer stool because the food is difficult to digest. Some pets have increased kidney values which can cause permanent damage. I have also seen some pets develop crystals in their urine or stones in their bladder possibly from eating one of these diets. Some diets have inadequate levels of minerals like calcium which can filter into the urine and cause bladder stones. In the past month I have had to remove life threatening bladder and urethral stones on two different dogs because the stones had become lodged and were causing a blockage. These pets are usually put on a diet that keeps the ph of the urine neutral and provides the proper balance of minerals.
Finally avoid feeding table scraps and free choice because these can both lead to obesity in your pet. Obesity can predispose your pet to heart disease, joint osteoarthritis, diabetes, urinary issues, and more. Do not always follow the recommendations on the back of the bag as the amounts recommended are always higher than what your pet actually needs. Talk to your vet about how much you should be feeding your pet.Veterinarians want what is best for your pet and have extensive experience with pets and diets! I feel it is important to choose a diet based on your pet’s life stage, its medical needs, and its lifestyle. I can help you choose the proper diet and amounts for your pet to provide the proper nutrition for your pet’s overall health!
Pets Need Dental Care Too
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist , Observer Today
Timmy, a sweet little 6 -year-old Papillon rescued from a breeding kennel, came to the clinic for an exam in 2011. He had a high grade heart murmur and severe dental disease. On blood tests, he was positive for heartworm disease and he was very anemic. He was also carrying the intestinal parasite, whipworms. He went through very expensive treatment for heartworm and whipworms and came back to us in four months for his dental cleaning. He had a mouth full of infected, abscessing teeth and recessed inflamed gums. He had over 20 rotting teeth extracted from his mouth. A week later he had already gained over a pound of weight back and his heart murmur had disappeared! He has had other dental cleanings since and is happy to have been rescued into a loving home and be given a much better quality of life!
As a veterinarian, one of the best things I can do for a pet is to help the owner maintain his or her pet’s dental health. Performing the necessary dental cleanings, dental extractions, and sending that pet home comfortable and free from painful and infected teeth brings much satisfaction; I have done what is best for the pet. I have seen pets with periodontal disease across the spectrum: from mild tartar buildup, to loose abscessed teeth. These abscessed teeth can be so severe that the infection has eaten into the pet’s jawbone or sinuses. Many times the owner does not know what is happening to the pet’s teeth, because some pets hide the pain well. You may see your pet chewing on one side of their mouth, swallowing food whole, pawing at their mouth, or crying when eating. In all cases of dental disease, the pet will have bad breath. This is usually the first clue to let you know your pet needs its teeth cleaned! Dental disease can also lead to a showering of bacteria into the body, affecting the internal organs. An area to which the bacteria may attach is the heart valves. This can cause a dangerous condition called bacterial endocarditis, and will eventually lead to permanent damage to the pet’s heart. Many times we can not hear a heart murmur with this condition and it may go unnoticed initially!
We recommend having your pet’s teeth checked on a regular basis. Your cat can develop severe gum disease or cavitations in their teeth called resorptive lesions. Resorptive lesions are similar to our cavities and can cause loss of the protective enamel of the tooth. When the sensitive dentin underneath is exposed, it can be very painful and these teeth should be removed. Dogs are more predisposed to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the buildup of tartar along the gum line of the teeth. This tartar can cause painful recession and inflammation of the gums, loosening of the teeth, and abscesses. Once the heavy tartar builds up, it should be scaled off while the animal is under a general anesthetic.
Just as it is important for us humans to have teeth cleaned every 6 months, it is important to have a pet’s teeth cleaned on a regular basis. A dental cleaning at our clinic includes first a thorough dental examination prior to the surgery. The pet is started on an antibiotic five days prior to the dental. The pet is admitted the morning of surgery and examined again to assure that it is safe to undergo an anesthetic procedure. Blood work is drawn to check the pet’s blood cells, kidney levels, liver values, and blood sugar. When the blood work is determined to be OK, the pet is sedated for the procedure. The sedation includes a pain injection like Morphine to keep it comfortable during the procedure and on wakeup. An intravenous catheter is placed for fluid administration and an intravenous induction drug, tailored specifically for your pet, is administered putting your pet completely asleep. A tube is then placed directly into your pet’s windpipe and anesthetic gases and oxygen are administered during the rest of the procedure. During the procedure, your pet’s heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide status, and temperature are all monitored. Each pet receives its own dental pack and a thorough dental scaling is performed using an ultrasonic scaler. Each surface of the tooth is scaled for 2 minutes and scaling is also performed under the gum line. Each tooth is probed thoroughly looking for any pockets or cavities. At this point we may choose to take dental radiographs of any questionable teeth and extractions of bad teeth are done by the doctor. Any open sockets are sutured closed, we may do an antibiotic infusion on any small pockets, and the remaining teeth are all polished thoroughly. Finally, the mouth is cleaned and a fluoride treatment is placed on all tooth surfaces. Your pet is sent home with pain medications and a home dental plan. We then recheck your pet in 7-10 days to check how the gums are healing. Many times I’ve rechecked pets after dental cleanings to have the owner tell me how he or she never really realized the pet was suffering until the procedure was done. I hear comments like “She’s acting like a puppy again!” or “He has so much more energy and I never knew his teeth were the problem!”
Do not be enticed by dental cleanings that are advertised by someone other than a veterinarian. The person is performing a medical procedure on your family pet without a license; it is illegal! Such people are not trained properly to do a procedure like this and may not have the proper equipment. It is important to have a dental procedure done under general anesthesia to thoroughly exam all the teeth in the pet’s mouth. General anesthesia is extremely safe as long as it is done properly and the animal is monitored correctly.
Be sure to ask your veterinarian about how they monitor the pet while it is under anesthesia. There can be wide variations in the care that is provided for your pet. Without full anesthesia and a full exam by a trained professional, many conditions can go unnoticed. Scaling, polishing, and probing your pet’s teeth can be painful for the pet if it is awake.
For the month of February the clinic is offering $25 off a dental cleaning and a free dental kit to help start dental home care for your pet. Home care is important as well and might include daily brushing with pet safe toothpaste, mouth rinses, dental chews and treats, and even a dental diet! Call to set up your appointment today and ask about what dental products we offer. Also stop down to try some free samples of some dental products.