April is National Heartworm Awareness Month

Read about Sam's story and help raise awareness about heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is life-threatening, difficult to treat, and is present in our area. Numbers of affected pets across the country steadily increases each year. Click here to view the American Heartworm Society's Heartworm Incidence Maps. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitos carrying the microscopic heartworm larvae. Mosquitos are tougher than a lot of us think and can thrive even in cold or dry areas. As the disease develops in pets, adult heartworms can grow 10 to 12 inches in length and make their home in the right side of the heart and lungs. Giving your pet a monthly preventative for heartworm and intestinal parasites is like buckling your seat belt each time you drive in you car. It is a relatively simple measure that can prevent a considerable amount of damage. Annual heartworm testing is recommended in order to verify that prevention is working properly or diagnose an infection so that treatment can begin promptly.

We diagnosed Sam, a local dog from Simi Valley, with heartworm disease last September. Sam had formerly lived in northern California and was on a diligent regimen of off-brand monthly heartworm prevention. Despite this, his heartworm test came back positive and we confirmed the diagnosis with additional testing. Ultrasound showed that Sam had heartworms in his pulmonary artery.

Sam HW tx We began treatment with the only FDA approved adulticide used to treat heartworm infestations. This medication is sometimes difficult to acquire given the national demand for it. It also can cause side-effects. Sam received a series of three injections over the span of a little more than a month. During his treatment Sam experienced varying degrees of inappetence, lethargy, and diarrhea. It is extremely important that a patient's blood pressure is not elevated during heartworm treatment and for a considerable period afterwards. An elevation in blood pressure can be life-threatening as the dying heartworm could cause a blockage in a major artery. In light of this, Sam was limited to very strict confinement for two and a half months which was just as difficult on his mom than it was on him, if not more.

We want to strengthen and lengthen the bond between you and your pet. Please consider heartworm testing and prevention. Also, contact our hospital for promotions surrounding National Heartworm Awareness Month.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Tom and Libby dentalHave you ever wondered what goes on once a pet is dropped off at our hospital for a dental cleaning? In honor of National Pet Dental Health month, we are happy to discuss the process with you. Once a pet is dropped off early in the morning, they receive a full doctor's examination including a weight and temperature reading to continue to ensure anesthetic safety. Next, a technician will administer an injectable medication with a mild sedative effect that will promote your pet's comfort and help manage any potential pain throughout the day. This medication is short acting and often repeated 2-3 times during the course of the day. As another anesthetic safety precaution, an IV catheter is placed in order to administer IV fluids for some time before the actual procedure begins. Once a pet is under general anesthesia and intubated, the technician performs a full set of dental radiographs for the doctor to review which can uncover many otherwise hidden dental health problems such as retained roots, bone loss, and underlying abscess. Next, the technician will use an ultrasonic scaler to remove any tartar on the teeth and under the gumline. Since the scaler leaves microscopic scrapes on the tooth enamel, the technician will polish the teeth to prevent future plaque and tartar accumulation. Along with providing the ability to regulate breathing, the endotracheal tube that was placed at the beginning of anesthesia will prevent the airborne tartar and bacteria from being inhaled. Your pet's safety is even furthered by the comprehensive monitoring occurring throughout the entire procedure. While under general anesthesia, a pet's heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen level, blood pressure, and temperature at the very least are continuously monitored and recorded. If teeth extractions are performed, then additional post-extraction radiographs, pain medicine, and local nerve blocks are also performed. At the time of patient discharge, we will give you before and after pictures, dental radiographs, and detailed instructions for after care for your pet.  Finally, we recommend a complimentary recheck one week after the dental procedure to check the mouth and discuss at-home dental care. Please contact us if you have any questions about your pet's dental health or would like a complimentary preliminary dental assessment performed. You can also learn more by visiting our Dental Care page.

August 22nd is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

Stitch and NB w logosDespite outnumbering dogs as pets, cats are far less likely to receive routine veterinary care. As a result, at a time when veterinary medicine is better than ever, cats are getting sick often with preventable diseases. Cats are also extremely good at masking pain and illness so its not always apparent when they are not feeling well. It's astounding that feline veterinary visits have declined by 30% since 2001. Schedule an examination for your cat within the next two weeks (offer ends (9/5/15) and mention this e-mail in order to enter into our gift basket drawing. The basket includes an MVH gift certificate, a Feliway diffuser to keep your cat happy at home (retail value of the diffuser is over $50), treats and more. Did you know that we are a certified Cat Friendly Practice? This means that we do everything we can to minimize a cat's stress surrounding veterinary visits. For more information and for tips to getting your cat comfortably to the vet, click here.

Uncover Hidden Health Problems

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Ten percent of pets that appear healthy to their owners and veterinarians during their regular visits actually have underlying disease. Blood and urine tests are types of preventative veterinary care and are crucial in determining the overall health of your pet. Preventative care includes things like regular examinations, vaccines, fecal tests for parasites, blood and urine testing, and even blood pressures. While physical examinations are very important, the picture of your pet’s overall health is not complete without some diagnostic tests such as blood and/or urine testing. Often, we are able to detect illnesses with these tests before any outward signs are present.

We recommend annual blood testing for all pets. When pets become older and more prone to various diseases, we recommend blood testing that is more comprehensive. Blood testing generally includes complete blood counts which screens for conditions such as anemia, infection, inflammation, stress, and Leukemia. General blood testing also includes biochemistry tests that check the blood sugar level and checks for signs of kidney and liver disease. More comprehensive blood tests can help detect thyroid, pancreatic, and heart disease among other things. We also recommend annual testing for heartworm disease which is a simple blood test that is included in many blood panels but can easily be added to any blood panel.

We recommend annual urine testing for middle-aged and senior pets as well as for pets that are prone to urinary problems. Urine testing can tell us many things and can even detect early kidney disease before blood testing can. Urine testing can also show if any signs of urinary infection, stones, or crystals are present among other things. In honor of American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Responsible Pet Ownership Month in September we are donating a portion of every preventative blood and/or urine test performed in the month of August to Ventura County Animal Service’s (VCAS) ongoing effort to educate about responsible pet ownership and help keep pets out of shelters.

The Tooth About Cats and Dogs

Dental Month 2014Dental care is very necessary for the overall health of your pet. 70-80% of dogs and cats suffer from painful and inflamed gums. 50% of cats have areas of infection along the gum line that invade and infect teeth called oral resorptive lesions and 24% of dogs have tooth fractures. One noticeable sign of dental disease is bad breath. Dogs and cats should not have continuous bad mouth odor, which can be a product of infection. Although dental disease does cause significant pain and severe local and body-wide infections, most pets do not show outward signs of pain.   Regular dental examinations and cleanings are needed to improve the comfort and increase the lifespan of our pets. At least 60% of plaque and tartar resides under the gum line. Furthermore, infection under the gum line can spread to the liver, kidneys, and heart. Dental cleanings under anesthesia are necessary to conduct safe and thorough dental work and to eliminate pets' pain during the procedure. Intubation, which is done under general anesthesia, is also extremely important during dental cleanings since it protects the trachea and prevents any bacteria or oral debris from being inhaled into the lungs. Along with the American Veterinary Dental College and the American Animal Hospital Association, we understand non-anesthetic dentals to be unacceptable and below the standard of care. Aside from being dangerous, non-anesthetic dentals are also often illegal.   At-home dental care is very important to maintain and promote your pet's health and it can also greatly lengthen the intervals between teeth cleanings. Ideally, you should brush your cat or dog's teeth 1-2 times per day beginning when they are very young so they become used to it. For more information on brushing your pet's teeth please visit the "Dental Health" section of our website located under "Services." Aside from or in addition to brushing your pet's teeth, we offer other great options for at-home dental care such as an antibacterial oral rinse, chews, treats, and food. Not all dental products are safe and effective for pets. For a list of dental products accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council please visit www.vohc.org/accepted_products.   We are so happy to promote National Pet Dental Month in February by continuing our ongoing effort to educate pet parents regarding dental health and provide them and their pets with the best possible level of care. If you have any questions regarding your pet's dental health or at-home dental care please contact us.    
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