Updated Boarding Questionnaire

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Brigantine Fundraiser Flyer

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Grief Support for Pet Owners

As pet owners, we must accept the reality that for every pet we love, we must ultimately face loss.The death of a beloved pet often results in significant feelings of grief. However, there is no right way to grieve.Pet owners may experience various emotions while grieving, including sadness, guilt, anger, denial, confusion, fear and even relief. All of these are considered “normal” reactions to loss.Other symptoms of grief following the death of a pet may include:CryingNumbnessFatigueDepressionLonelinessIrritabilityAnxietyWithdrawalInability to concentrateDifficulty eating or sleepingDreaming about the petHow can I help myself cope?While everyone copes with death differently, these suggestions may be helpful to you during the grieving process:Get out of the house. Go somewhere, even if it’s just for a little while.Exercise. This will help you feel better physically and emotionally.Eat well. Try not to eat too much or too little.If you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something else. Return to bed when you feel sleepy.Meditate or take a mindful walk.Break the routine that you had with your pet. For example, if you fed your pet or walked with them at a certain time every day, purposely choose a different activity for that time.Schedule time for your grief. Spend a certain amount of time each day focused on your loss. The time you spend on this could be five minutes or one hour. After the time is up, however, intentionally shift your thoughts and activities to something else (preferably something you enjoy).Talk to someone who understands your loss. This could be a friend, family member, veterinarian, counselor or support group.Talk or write about what you miss about your pet. For example, what has the experience of knowing this animal brought into your life? What have you learned from him/her?Accept your grief. Know that there is no easy way through grief — it will hurt.Recognize that this is a very vulnerable time for you. It is best to postpone major decisions, if possible, until your grief has subsided.For some, intense grief can also trigger substance abuse issues. Avoid self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.For the time being, put away remembrances of your pet that may upset you. Bring them out slowly as you start to feel better.Use your experience to help others cope with a similar situation.Dealing with guilt“You can’t always control circumstances. But you can control your own thoughts.”— Charles PopplestoneGuilt is a powerful and common response to pet loss. In fact, it is often the biggest emotional hurdle owners encounter after a beloved pet dies.Guilt is a reaction to the perception that we somehow failed our pet. Many owners who elect euthanasia experience some degree of guilt. While most owners say the ideal death for a pet would be for him/her to die peacefully and comfortably in their arms, we know this is very rare. Instead, we are faced with having to make difficult decisions on our pet’s behalf.Often, the time prior to a pet’s death is very difficult and exhausting. Many owners feel relief when their pet is no longer suffering; however, they may also harbor unnecessary guilt about these feelings.Knowing that small amounts of guilt can be a normal part of the grieving process can make these feelings easier to bear.Remember the 90/10 rule: Ten percent of life is made up of what happens to you. Ninety percent of life is determined by how you react to what happens to you.This means we have no control over 10 percent of what happens in our lives. For example, we cannot control a malignant tumor that will not respond to chemotherapy or a driver who seemingly comes out of nowhere and hits our pet. These are events we simply cannot influence.The other 90 percent is different. While we may not be able to control the death of a pet, we can control our reaction to it. This does not mean that feelings of grief are not legitimate, normal or healthy. It simply means that we have the ability to change the way we think and control our reactions. Using this skill can help you through the grief process, especially when experiencing feelings of guilt.Memorializing your petThroughout history, humans have commemorated the death of their pets. This is seen in the history of the ancient Egyptians and early Chinese emperors to the modern day existence of pet cemeteries and private crematoriums. For many, memorializing a pet is a critical part of grieving.This can be done in many different ways:Hold a service for your pet. Invite anyone to attend who may have loved him/her. During the service, you may choose to read a poem or say a prayer. You may use a photo of your pet for the ceremony; it is not necessary to have the body or ashes present.Light a candle for your pet at a certain time each day or a certain day each week.Make something that reminds you of your pet, such as a scrapbook.Place mementos of your pet in a special place, such as a decorative box.Make a donation in memory of your pet.If you have your pet’s ashes, you can place them in an urn or scatter them in a place that was special to your pet.Plant a tree or bush in honor of your pet.Consider writing about how the life and/or loss of your pet has affected you. People in a similar situation may appreciate knowing that they are not alone in their grief.Attend a pet loss support group.ResourcesThis handout was based on the book, “Saying Good-Bye to the Pet You Love: A Complete Resource to Help You Heal” by Lorri A. Greene, Ph.D., and Jacquelyn Landis. We encourage anyone seeking additional information about these or other pet loss topics to refer to this guide.Other helpful books include:“The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies” by Wallace Sife, Ph.D.“Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet” by Gary Kowalski“When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing” by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.“The Pet Loss Companion: Healing Advice from Family Therapists who Lead Pet Loss Groups” by Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio and Nancy Saxton-Lopez“Grieving the Death of a Pet” by Betty J. Carmack“Angel Pawprints: Reflections on Loving and Losing a Canine Companion” by Laurel E. Hunt“Angel Whiskers: Reflections on Loving and Losing a Feline Companion” by Laurel E. HuntFor more online resources, please see Helpful Websites for Pet Owners.
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Western, Eastern, Holistic and Integrative Medicine: What's the Difference?

There are many different means to the same end when it comes to veterinary medicine. At The Drake Center, we primarily use traditional Western medicine to treat our patients. However, we welcome the practices of other schools of thought, such as Eastern or Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), holistic and integrative medicine.   Western medicine is the most popular type of medical treatment in North America and Western Europe. This practice is often scientifically based and uses diet, medication and surgery to treat illness.   TCVM covers a diverse body of medical theory that originated in China and has developed over two millennia. It is based on the concept of balance (Yin-Yang) using acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, food therapy and Qigong. In Chinese medicine, diagnosis is made through recognition of “patterns” which are characteristic for areas of imbalance within the body. The goal of therapy is to restore the underlying balance.   Holistic medicine is a system of care that considers the animal as a whole being and encompasses a wide variety of alternative and complementary therapies designed to promote healing and overall wellness. Holistic practitioners look at the pet’s overall physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being before recommending treatment.   Unfortunately, each practice tends to focus on its own therapies at the expense of the others, rather than in addition to them. That’s where integrative medicine comes in.   Integrative medicine embraces the incorporation of alternative therapies into mainstream Western medical practice. This type of medicine combines many Chinese and holistic therapies, such as acupuncture, herbs and food therapy, with the positive attributes of Western medical techniques, like emergency medicine and critical care, advanced dental and surgical methods and highly sophisticated diagnostic tools.   At The Drake Center, we believe integrative medicine is the best option for wellness-oriented care. Though each therapy is different, Western, Eastern and holistic medicine are not mutually exclusive. Drawing from several veterinary disciplines, our integrative services combine conventional treatments with additional therapies that have a proven scientific basis and evidence of effectiveness.   Integrative treatments at our practice include acupuncture, electroacupuncture, laser therapy, herbal medicine and food therapy.   Acupuncture Acupuncture is the art and science of placing thin metallic needles in specific areas to encourage the body’s own healing and function. This practice is one of the key components of the system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCVM). In TCVM, all structures and functions within the body are described as having Yin or Yang characteristics. This balance between the Yin and Yang functions maintains balance within the body. It is believed that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a balanced state; therefore, disease occurs due to an imbalance of Yin and Yang.   Acupuncture is indicated for pain and inflammation, but can be very beneficial for any musculoskeletal or neurologic condition. Metabolic diseases can also be augmented with acupuncture. Common diseases treated with acupuncture include arthritis, back pain, tendon or ligament injury, lick granulomas, feline asthma, diarrhea and kidney disease.   Acupuncture may also be beneficial in the treatment of cancer patients or in addition to conventional cancer therapies, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Acupuncture can be helpful in reducing pain from cancer, alleviating side effects from conventional therapies, including nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and enhancing immune system function.   Modern research has documented that acupuncture points occur in areas of the body where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles and lymphatic vessels. From a Western perspective, stimulation of these points can have several physiologic effects on the body, including the local release of histamine to allow for increased blood flow. The needles can also stimulate nerve function, relieve muscle spasm and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid) to reduce inflammation.   Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly-trained veterinarian.    The length and frequency of treatment depends on the condition of the patient. We often start with one or two treatments per week for three to four weeks. A positive response is usually seen after the first to third treatments. Once a maximum response is achieved, the treatments are tapered until the greatest amount of symptom-free time elapses between them.   Electroacupuncture Electroacupuncture is the use of electrical current to stimulate acupuncture points. Needles are inserted into these points and connected by wires to an electrical stimulation device. The mild electric current is then passed between pairs of needles. One advantage of electroacupuncture is the ability to stimulate multiple pairs of needles simultaneously, precisely control the amount of stimulation and be able to reproduce the exact conditions of the treatment. Also, the intensity of the stimulation can be greater than manually manipulated needles.   Laser therapy Laser therapy uses deep-penetrating light to relieve pain through the release of endorphins and stimulates injured cells to heal at a faster rate without the use of pharmaceuticals or surgery.    Photobiostimulation, a chain of chemical reactions triggered by exposure to light, helps to decrease inflammation, reduce the pain of arthritis and stimulate cell growth and tissue healing in wounds.   At The Drake Center, we use laser therapy primarily for arthritic patients and post-op for pain and faster healing. This treatment can relieve painful, stiff joints, arthritic spines and the effects of hip dysplasia. Laser therapy can also be used to treat hotspots, burns and incision sites as well as everyday disorders like lick granulomas and chronic ear infections.   Herbal medicine Herbal medicine, also known as phytomedicine, is the use of botanical remedies to treat illness. Herbal healing is considered by many to be the oldest form of medicine and has been used by all races, religions and cultures throughout the world.   Herbal medicine can be used as an alternative or in addition to conventional medicine. Herbs are able to effectively treat many of the same conditions as traditional medicine and may even be helpful in the treatment of medical conditions that are not cured with conventional therapy. Herbs can reduce inflammation, relieve pain, inhibit tumor growth and prevent infection.   While most western drugs have one or two specific actions, an individual herb can have multiple uses within the body. These may include antioxidant, adaptogenic, antimicrobial, immunostimulant and immunosuppression functions. When used properly, herbal remedies generally have far fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs.   Herbal medicine is also quite beneficial in the treatment of cancer. Herbs may be used in addition to ongoing conventional therapies to offset the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, enhance the patient’s immune system and aid in tumor reduction.    Herbal therapy can also help reestablish the body’s balance after a pet is treated with traditional therapy and has been pronounced “cancer-free.”   Food therapy In Western medicine, food is assessed according to the amount of nutrients it contains, based on laboratory analysis before it enters the body.    In Eastern medicine, food is described as possessing certain qualities, such as whether it is warming (a Yang characteristic) or cooling (a Yin characteristic). The nutritional value of the food is described as the energetic properties the food exerts on the body according to its temperatures and flavors. Some foods even have a specific therapeutic effect and are said to enter certain meridian pathways to exert that effect on particular organs.   Food may increase the energy of (tonify) a bodily function or help to reduce the influence of a particular pathologic condition. For instance, sweet potato, from a Western perspective, gives pets rich antioxidants and fiber that acts as a probiotic. From a TCVM perspective, sweet potato is a neutral food that drains dampness from the body. This knowledge can help us choose a diet tailored to an individual patient’s personal energetic needs.   Food therapy may also be used as a part of a multi-modality TCVM approach for the treatment of some diseases, like cancer. This means a tailored diet is used in conjunction with acupuncture and/or herbal therapy.    Your initial integrative medicine consultation will be one hour in length. During this appointment, Dr. Boehme will thoroughly review your pet’s history and listen to your concerns. Together, we will then decide on an appropriate therapeutic strategy designed to maximize your pet’s health, happiness and well-being.   After the consultation, we encourage you to review the information and contact us right away if you have any additional questions or concerns. We will cover a tremendous amount of information in this first appointment. It is important that you are comfortable with and thoroughly understand the treatment plan we have developed for your pet. We look forward to healing such an important member of your family.   To book an integrative appointment for your pet with Dr. Kathy Boehme, call us at (760) 456-9556. Or you can book online here. 
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Ultrasound

Your pet has been scheduled for an ultrasound examination. The purpose of this procedure is to aid in making a proper diagnosis of the disease causing illness.  What is an ultrasound machine?An ultrasound machine emits ultrasound waves that penetrate into your pet’s organs. These waves are reflected back into the hand-held probe that is placed on the skin. The pattern of the reflected sound waves creates an image that is viewed on a screen. Is radiation involved?No. Unlike X-rays, radiation is not part of an ultrasound examination. Which types of disease are typically diagnosed with an ultrasound examination?The ultrasound examination permits a detailed view of many of the body’s organs. For example, the kidneys can be seen on X-rays, but only their size and shape can be determined. Ultrasound allows us to actually view the internal structures of these and other vital organs. An ultrasound examination is especially helpful for diseases of the heart. An ultrasound of the heart is called an echocardiogram or “echo.” Via ultrasound, the heart’s wall thicknesses and the size of its chambers can be determined. Visualization of the valves determines whether they are functioning properly. Motion can also be detected, which gives us an assessment of the heart's ability to move blood. Some diseases can be diagnosed with this method because they have a specific ultrasound appearance. Others, however, produce ultrasound findings that are not definitive. What is done in the latter instance?One of the important features of an ultrasound examination is the ability to find abnormal areas in the organs. This permits precise biopsy of those areas. A pathologist then examines the biopsied section of tissue under a microscope to gain more information. In many cases, the ultimate diagnosis is made by the pathologist. What steps need to be taken to prepare for an ultrasound exam?Special preparation is not necessary for an echocardiogram. If organs in the abdomen are to be studied, your pet should be withheld from food for 12 hours. The urinary bladder is best visualized if it is full of urine. Therefore, your pet should not urinate within three to six hours of the study, if possible. Is anesthesia required?If your pet is cooperative, no anesthesia or sedation is needed to perform an ultrasound on the heart or the abdomen. However, if biopsies are to be taken, a short-acting anesthetic will be needed to help prevent complications. Is it necessary to shave my pet's hair?In most cases, yes. It is important that the hand-held probe makes complete contact with the skin. Sometimes the hair can be moistened with alcohol, but most studies require hair removal. Which organs cannot be studied with ultrasound?Air is the enemy of ultrasound waves. Since the lungs are filled with air, they cannot be studied. An exception is made for a mass that is located within the lungs. Bone also stops ultrasound waves, so the brain and spinal cord are not seen with an ultrasound study. The skeletal system itself is also not examined with ultrasound. When will I know the results of the examination?Since an ultrasound study is performed in real time, the visual results are known immediately. In some cases, the ultrasound images are sent to a veterinary radiologist for further consultation. If this happens, the final report may not be available for a few days.
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Senior Care

On average, pets age seven times faster than people. This means that most dogs and cats reach adulthood by age two and middle age by four. By age seven, most dogs—particularly larger breeds—are entering their senior years! Because dogs and cats age so rapidly, health problems tend to progress faster in pets as well. The risk of many diseases, including dental disease, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis and cancer all increase with age and have the potential to worsen within a matter of weeks. Even pets that appear normal can have an underlying problem, which is why regular visits to the veterinarian are crucial for older pets. Common medical conditions in senior pets include: Periodontal diseaseGingivitisInflammatory, degenerative and cancerous liver diseaseKidney failure, stones or infectionHeart diseasePneumoniaBronchitisEmphysemaArthritisHip dysplasiaBack diseaseDiabetes mellitusHyperthyroidismHypothyroidismCancerCataractsGlaucomaInflammatory bowel diseasePancreatitisColitis Early detection can help prevent disease and minimize suffering of an older pet. At The Drake Center, we recommend bi-annual exams and yearly wellness bloodwork for all pets eight years and older. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (760) 456-9556.
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Recognizing Pain in Dogs and Cats

Pain and suffering are clinically significant symptoms that can adversely affect an animal’s quality of life. Our pets share the same anatomical and biochemical pain pathways that we do; therefore, we can expect their level of discomfort with certain conditions to be similar to ours. Unfortunately, they cannot tell us with words how they feel or where they hurt, but they do give us clues about their level of discomfort. Determining how painful our pets are can be very confusing and difficult. Pets can be affected to varying degrees by their pain depending on their personality type, just like humans. While there is tremendous variation in the ways pets express pain—differing from species to species, breed to breed and even individual to individual—you can use basic cues to determine discomfort. Here, we list some behaviors that are indicative of pain in pets. Some painful animals show no signs, while others with anxiety or other behavioral problems may actually mimic signs of physical pain. Pain relief takes many forms in pets, including medication, nutraceuticals, acupuncture and physical therapy. It is important to remember that what works for one pet may not work for another. The first step in treating pain is recognizing and acknowledging it. Listed below are some of the signs associated with pain in pets. Painful individuals may have one, several or none of these symptoms. DogsTail between legsArched or hunched backLying flat for extended periods, reluctance to moveDrooped headProtection of painful areaAggression or irritabilityGrowling or biting, especially when painful area is touchedHiding or trying to escapeHowling, moaning or whimperingCarrying one legLameness or limpingUnusual gait or inability to walkReluctance or inability to jumpLittle interest in food or playChewing or licking painful area CatsTucked belly or legsArched or hunched head or backLying flat for extended periods, reluctance to moveDrooped headSlumped bodyAggression, irritability or bitingHiding or trying to escapeCrying, screaming or moaningHissing or spittingCarrying one legLameness or limpingUnusual gait or inability to walkReluctance or inability to jumpAttacking or hissing, especially when painful area is touchedFailure to groomDilated pupilsLittle interest in food or play
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Pet Insurance

Much like human medicine, veterinary care is in a constant state of evolution. New medical advances are available every day that once were not options for our pets. Because of these advances, our pets are living longer—and healthier—lives than ever before and pet insurance is becoming more common among owners who are looking for ways to proactively manage pet health care costs. Many companies offer pet insurance, but of course, not all are created equal. At The Drake Center, we recommend Trupanion, Petplan and Embrace. Each company reimburses pet owners based on a percentage of the veterinary expense rather than a pre-selected fee schedule. TRUPANION | www.trupanion.com | (888) 733-2685 Trupanion offers customizable plans with no payout limit and a 90 percent reimbursement rate. Each plan includes an adjustable per-incident deductible between $0 and $1,000. Additional benefits packages are also available. You may obtain a quote online or connect with a live representative 24 hours a day to guide you through the information. With an exam at The Drake Center, you may also enroll for a free 30-day trial. What is covered: Trupanion covers veterinary costs due to accidents, illness and injury, as well as hereditary and congenital conditions. This includes diagnostic imaging, surgery, hospitalization, nursing care and treatment, chronic disease management, cancer treatment and referral or specialty care. In addition, Trupanion covers prescription medications, supplements, therapeutic pet food, orthotic and prosthetic devices, mobility aids and non-routine dental care. Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, rehabilitation and chiropractic care, are also available for coverage with an additional benefits package. What is not covered: Trupanion does not cover exam fees or other routine costs, such as preventative care, parasite control, spay/neuter and routine dental care (scaling, cleaning and polishing). Pre-existing conditions are also excluded from coverage. PETPLAN | www.gopetplan.com | (866) 467-3875 Petplan offers three different levels of coverage. Payout limits range from $8,000 to $20,000 per year and reimbursement rates are between 80 and 100 percent, depending on the plan selected. You may choose a deductible of $50, $100 or $200 per incident, per year. You may obtain a quote online or connect with a live representative during the following hours: 7 a.m. to midnight (EST), Monday through Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturday or 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday. You can also save five percent by enrolling online. What is covered: Petplan covers veterinary costs due to accidents, illness and injury, as well as hereditary and congenital conditions. This includes diagnostic imaging, surgery, hospitalization, nursing care and treatment, chronic disease management, cancer treatment and referral or specialty care. In addition, Petplan covers veterinary exam fees, prescription medications, alternative therapies and non-routine dental care. What is not covered: Petplan does not cover routine costs, such as preventative care, parasite control, spay/neuter and routine dental care (scaling, cleaning and polishing). Pre-existing conditions are also excluded from coverage. EMBRACE | www.embracepetinsurance.com | (800) 511-9172 Embrace offers customized plans based on the annual maximum, deductible and reimbursement percentage you select. Annual maximum payout may be set at $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000, with a lifetime payout maximum of $50,000. Embrace provides reimbursement rates of 65, 80 or 90 percent with deductible options of $100, $200, $300, $500 or $1,000 per year. Additional benefits packages are also available. What is covered: Embrace covers veterinary costs due to accidents, illness and injury, as well as hereditary and congenital conditions. This includes diagnostic imaging, surgery, hospitalization, nursing care and treatment, chronic disease management, cancer treatment and referral or specialty care. In addition, Embrace covers alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, rehabilitation and chiropractic care. Prescription medications are available for coverage with an additional benefits package. An additional flexible health savings account may also be added to your insurance to cover wellness care expenses, such as annual exams, spay/neuter, vaccines, heartworm medication and routine dental cleanings. What is not covered: Embrace does not cover exam fees or other routine costs, such as preventative care, parasite control, spay/neuter and routine dental care (scaling, cleaning and polishing) without an additional benefits package. Pre-existing conditions, as well as expenses related to breeding and pregnancy, cremation and burial and illness or injury to the teeth or gums are also excluded from coverage. For more information about pet insurance options, please visit www.petinsurancereview.com. 
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Giardia

What are giardia?Giardia are one-celled protozoan parasites often confused with worms because they infect the gastrointestinal tract. These parasites can cause diarrhea, though most pets infected with giardia do not experience this or any other signs of illness. When giardia cysts are found in the stool of a pet without diarrhea, they are generally considered a transient, insignificant finding. However, in very young or very old pets, giardia may cause severe, watery diarrhea that can be fatal. How did my pet get giardia?Animals becomes infected with giardia when they swallow the cyst stage of the parasite (e.g., ingestion of fecally-contaminated food or water or chewing fecally-contaminated objects). Once inside the pet's intestine, the cyst goes through several stages of maturation. Eventually, the pet is able to pass infective cysts in the stool. These cysts can live in the environment and infect other animals, including humans.  How is giardiasis diagnosed?Giardiasis is diagnosed by performing a microscopic examination of a stool sample. The cysts are quite small and usually require a special floatation medium for detection, meaning they are not normally found on routine fecal examinations. Occasionally, the parasites may be seen on a direct smear of the feces. A blood test is also available for detection of antigens, or cell proteins, of giardia in the blood. This test is typically more accurate than the stool exam, but it requires several days to get a result from the laboratory.  How is giardiasis treated?Giardiasis can be difficult to treat for two reasons: Giardia are often resistant to medication and can persist in the environment and lead to reinfection. The most common drug used to kill giardia is called Panacur (fenbendazole). Flagyl (metronidazole) is an antidiarrheal/antibiotic-type drug that may also be necessary to clear some giardia cases. Other drugs may be used if diarrhea and dehydration occur. Can humans become infected with giardia?Giardia can also cause diarrhea in humans; therefore, environmental disinfection is important. The use of chlorine bleach (one cup per gallon of water) is effective if the premises can be safely treated with it. Follow these steps if your dog has been diagnosed with giardia:Bathe your pet once a week for three weeks.Disinfect the pet's environment.Recheck the pet's fecal sample 14 days after the start of medication.Pick up feces immediately.Treat all animals in the household.
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Foxtails

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }   Featured Quote: These foxtails are everywhere right now. We've had so much great rain, which we appreciate, but it has created a plethora of fox tails everywhere. I want you all to be aware of how dangerous these are for your pets. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Dr. Drake, and this is Cici Hamlet, Dr. Hamlet's very cute dog who's a little nervous right now because she's afraid of these things behind me, which are called fox tails. These foxtails are everywhere right now. We've had so much great rain, which we appreciate, but it has created a plethora of fox tails everywhere. I want you all to be aware of how dangerous these are for your pets. When you're out taking hikes, if you could avoid these at all cost, these terrible little things have this sharp, pointy edge, which it can go in your dog's nose, in their ears, and especially between their toes. The best way to avoid them is to stay on the middle of the trail. Avoid letting your dog go off the trail for two reasons, fox tails and snakes also. We're just seeing lots of rattlesnake bites. If you could, when you're done doing your hike, wherever it is, just check between their toes. If you are on a hike and your dog starts to sneeze violently, it probably means one went up the nose, and you have to go to your veterinarian. You have to come in and see us and let us look for that fox tail. If they're holding their head like this, it means one probably went into their ear. That's a pretty painful situation that needs to be taken care of right away. Then the last possibility is if one gets in between the toes, it does take a while before it enters the skin, so check the toes. But if you forget for some reason or you missed one, they'll start to migrate up between the toes, and the dog will start to lick the foot. If they're really going after their foot, we probably need to see them for that, too. Besides just being really painful for a dog, if it goes up the nose or gets in the ear, if these things do enter the foot or they enter in the skin somewhere, they can actually migrate in through the body wall and get into the lungs. We've actually had dogs have to have major lung surgery and have part of their lung removed from these foxtails. While they seem benign, they're really not. Check your dog. Stay close, stay on the middle of the trail, and if you see any issues at all, please bring them in so we can take care of that before it becomes a problem.     Foxtails are annual grasses that are common in weedy areas around roads, paths and fields. These grasses are soft and green during the first few months of the year (January through April). In late spring, however, the heads begin to dry, creating a threat to your pet during the summer and fall. Photo: Raita Futo Flickr   There are more than 40 species of foxtails around North America. Most species have dense, cylindrical, often brush-like flower clusters that resemble the bushy tails of foxes. The heads have sharp points at one end and several microscopic barbs. These barbs allow the head to easily move in the direction of the point, but not the opposite direction. Foxtails can slip easily into holes, like ears and noses, but the tiny barbs make them difficult to pull out.   Foxtails cause problems for dogs and outdoor cats. If your pet has long or thick hair, foxtails embedded in the coat will eventually burrow through the skin and into the body. For pets with short hair, foxtails get started in between the toes and burrow into the feet.   Keep an eye on the following common foxtail problems: Nose foxtails: Signs include pawing at the nose, severe sneezing and possible bleeding from the nose. Symptoms sometimes diminish after several hours, becoming intermittent. Ear foxtails: Signs include tilting and shaking the head, pawing at the ear, crying and moving stiffly. Eye foxtails: Signs include squinting the eye, redness, swelling and mucous discharge. Throat foxtails: Signs include swallowing repeatedly, stretching the neck, gagging and coughing. Feet foxtails: Signs include licking excessively, redness of the toe web and possibly a bump or draining tract.   If your pet shows any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment immediately.     In addition to causing pain, localized abscesses and infection, foxtails can migrate and lodge in the lungs and other internal organs, making major surgery necessary. Even then, foxtails don’t show up on X-rays and are sometimes impossible to surgically locate and remove.   Prevention goes a long way Keep your pet out of fields with long grass Keep your lawn trimmed and free of weeds and brush Brush your pet's fur daily, feeling for any raised areas that may be harboring a foxtail Examine your pet's ears, armpits and groin area daily Have long-haired pets clipped short in the spring and summer  
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Food Allergies

What is a food allergy?Food allergies are one of the five most common allergies (or hypersensitivities) known to affect dogs and cats. Most people know someone who is allergic to a certain food. Similarly, all pets will occasionally react to something they eat. While this indicates sensitivity to a particular type of food, the symptoms often do not represent a true allergy—just mild gastrointestinal upset. Once the upset is associated with a particular food and avoided, the problem is usually resolved.Food allergy is different in that antibodies are produced against some part of the food, usually a protein. In a pet with food allergies, the immune system overreacts and produces antibodies to substances that it should normally tolerate. This excessive response is termed an allergic reaction. What are the signs of food allergies?Most pets with a food allergy have itching rather than vomiting or diarrhea as the primary clinical signs, though both may occur. Typically, dogs will display itchiness that is concentrated at the face, feet and occasionally the perineum. Cats tend to itch around the head and neck and may develop scabs (called miliary dermatitis) anywhere on the body. Additionally, some dogs and cats will show signs of itchiness concentrated at the belly and the base of the tail. The itching will usually be seen throughout the year (non-seasonal) and is often poorly responsive to steroid medications. Recurrent skin and ear infections (bacterial and yeast) and areas of hair loss can also develop as a result to the allergy, often in pets that are not itchy.  Are some ingredients more likely to cause food allergies than others?The most common causes of food allergies are proteins from dairy products, beef, lamb, venison or wheat. Each time an allergic pet eats food containing these substances, the antibodies react, causing inflammation, itching, vomiting and/or diarrhea. However, virtually any food ingredient can be responsible, including additives and preservatives. How is the condition diagnosed?Currently, there is no simple way to test for food allergies or to determine the exact component of food that causes an allergic reaction. Often, we can diagnose a food allergy by first treating for common causes of itchiness that create similar patterns, like fleas or sarcoptic mange mites. If a food allergy is still suspected, a strict diet trial must be performed to search for and eliminate the potential offending food allergens. How do I perform a proper elimination diet trial?To correctly perform a feeding trial, a food must be chosen to which your pet has never been exposed. Unfortunately, most dog foods share similar protein sources, dyes, preservatives and stabilizers. As a result, you cannot simply switch from one commercial food to another because it is bound to lead to exposure to some of the same allergens. In fact, some pets require multiple food trials with different diets in order to definitively diagnose and treat the allergy. Which food should I feed my pet during the diet trial?Many dermatologists recommend feeding a home-cooked diet with very specific ingredients in order to determine a food allergy. For example, one commonly used home-cooked diet is made up of equal parts canned pumpkin and kidney beans. This diet is very low in calories, so a large volume must be fed (start at one cup per 10 pounds of body weight and increase if weight loss is noted). Because of the low calorie and high fiber content, feeding three to four meals per day on this diet may be optimal. You should also expect your pet to need to go to the bathroom more frequently on a home-cooked diet. As an alternative to cooking, some commercial diets have been specially formulated with uncommon protein and carbohydrate sources. Since similar major ingredients found in commercial foods are the most common causes of food allergies, feeding a diet based on novel protein or carbohydrate sources (e.g., an exotic diet like fish and potato, venison and green pea, duck and potato or kangaroo and oat) or hydrolyzed protein should be an adequate choice for most pets. Feeding a hypoallergenic diet in which the protein has been pre-digested into units too small to induce an immune response can produce the same results. We typically recommend Science Diet z/d Ultra, Royal Canin HP or Science Diet d/d and have seen many pets show improvement. When a feeding trial is performed, the pet must only receive the special diet for a period of up to 12 weeks. While most pets with a food allergy show improvement within three to four weeks of starting the trial, it can take up to three months for some pets. In addition, a daily log should be kept noting the location and level of itchiness (on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being worst) in order to help document a response to the new food. What else can I feed my pet during the food trial?Feeding a strict trial diet means the food must be fed EXCLUSIVELY and your pet should not receive other vitamin supplements, treats, chews or table food UNLESS they are comprised of the same ingredients. One concern that many owners have is how they will be able to give treats to their pets while on the food trial. Providing pets with extra attention is a great alternative to treats (and may be better a choice if the pet is overweight), but there are other options as well. Many of the commercial novel protein/carbohydrate diets come in canned versions that can be baked and provided as treats. If you can find the ingredients, you can also create simple homemade treats compatible with many of the diets (e.g., pieces of raw or baked potatoes for a dog on a fish and potato diet). In addition, some commercial treats are comprised solely of the novel protein and/or carbohydrate sources (e.g., freeze-dried salmon and dried fish skins are compatible with a fish and potato diet). It is important to note that if your pet does manage to obtain ANY food that is incompatible with the diet trial, it may be necessary to repeat the entire trial. How is the condition treated?If the pet improves during the feeding trial, a properly balanced diet must be chosen for the pet. A limited-ingredient diet can lead to malnutrition and illness if fed for a long period; therefore, a home-cooked diet should be balanced by a veterinary nutritionist if a pet is to stay on it. Alternatively, you can try to switch the pet to a commercial diet based on the same ingredients. Novel ingredient and hypoallergenic commercial diets are properly balanced for pets to eat for years. As a result, they are good choices for diagnosis and long-term treatment of a food allergy. Can the problem be cured?The only cure is avoidance. Some pets will require medication during severe episodes, but most can be successfully treated with a hypoallergenic diet. Often, animals with food allergies also have allergies to other irritants in the environment like fleas or pollen. If at least some of the allergens can be eliminated (like fleas or food), inflammation in the skin can decrease significantly. This will provide tremendous relief, even if other allergy components (like pollen) may not be as easy to control.
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Flea and Parasite Control

Flea and internal parasite control is actually quite simple if you know which products to use. How the flea cycle works: A flea jumps on your pet and stays there for life. The female flea begins to lay eggs and will lay about 30 to 50 per day. These eggs drop off your pet and into the environment (i.e. your couch, carpet, bed linens and yard) and hatch into a flea in 14 to 365 days, depending on the environmental conditions. When your dog is on Sentinel (a monthly chewable tablet) and your cat is on Bravecto (topical solution), the flea eggs will never hatch. Therefore, there will be no flea cycle and no new fleas! These are the only products that will keep your environment flea-free. For dogs and cats with a current flea problem, we recommend using an adulticide in addition to Sentinel and Program. Available for both short-term and long-term control, these products begin killing adult fleas on your pet within 24 hours. For tick and adult flea prevention in dogs, we recommend Bravecto, a soft chew that protects against adult fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks. A monthly topical product called Activyl Tick Plus is also available. Every year, the doctors at The Drake Center review all types of flea and parasite control and choose the safest and most effective products available for your pet. We tailor a parasite prevention program for each pet based upon the number and types of animals in the house and the lifestyle of both the pet and the owner. For year-round flea and parasite control, we recommend: Sentinel for dogs Available in a monthly flavored tablet to be given with a meal Controls fleas by not allowing flea eggs to hatch Safe for dogs over four weeks of age Bravecto for cats Available via topical solution every 12 weeks Controls fleas by not allowing flea eggs to hatch Safe for cats and kittens over 6 months of age Revolution for outdoor cats Available in a monthly topical gel Kills fleas and prevents intestinal parasites and heartworms Safe for cats over eight weeks of age When flea adulticides are needed, we recommend: Capstar for dogs and cats Available in an oral tablet Kills adult fleas for 24 to 48 hours Safe for dogs and cats over four weeks of age Most effective when combined with Program or Sentinel Comfortis for cats Available in a flavored tablet to be given with a meal Kills adult fleas for up to 30 days Safe for dogs over 14 weeks of age Most effective when combined with Program or Sentinel Activyl for cats Available in a monthly topical gel Kills adult fleas for up to four weeks Safe for cats over eight weeks of age Most effective when combined with Program For tick and adult flea control, we recommend: Bravecto for dogs Available in a flavored chew to be given with a meal Kills adult fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks Safe for dogs over six months of age Activyl Tick Plus for dogs Available in a monthly topical gel Kills adult fleas and ticks for up to 30 days Safe for dogs over eight weeks of age
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Euthanasia

Electing euthanasia is one of the most difficult decisions pet owners face. The thought of ending a beloved pet’s life is never easy; it is a considerable and deeply personal choice. It is important to take the time to educate yourself on the subject and consider the options carefully. Doing so can help you avoid any feelings of guilt or regret, leaving you at peace with the decision you have made on your pet’s behalf. What is euthanasia?Euthanasia literally means “good death.” It is the practice of intentionally and humanely ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. This is done via an intravenous injection of euthanasia solution, which is typically an overdose of pentobarbital or sodium thiopental. This overdose results in very quick and painless respiratory and cardiac arrest. When to consider euthanasiaChoosing euthanasia for your pet can be an extremely difficult and distressing decision. Some factors, however, may help determine when your pet’s time has come. Consider, for example, whether the pet is in incurable pain or continual discomfort that is not alleviated by medication, whether treatment of the pet’s condition is no longer possible and whether his/her quality of life has significantly diminished. Your veterinarian can offer advice, guidance and support during this time and together, you can make the best decision for your beloved pet. Other questions to consider may include:Is your pet enjoying the activities that he/she used to? Is he/she eating, walking and playing as appropriate for his/her age and ability? Does your pet seem to enjoy interaction with other pets and family members?Is your pet able to eat and drink normally? Is he/she eating his/her normal amounts? If your pet needs to be assisted, is your pet getting adequate fluid and nutrition?Is your pet able to urinate and defecate normally? Is your pet still housebroken or having more accidents?Is your pet in pain? Is pain adequately controlled with medication? Preparing for the appointmentIt is important to be completely prepared once euthanasia has been elected for your pet. Remember that every pet owner experiences the death of a pet differently. It is normal to experience a wide range of feelings during this time, but preparation can help you cope with the next step. When you feel it is time to schedule your pet’s euthanasia, be sure to tell the receptionist that you would like to schedule an appointment during a “quiet” time of day, like early morning or evening. At The Drake Center, all necessary paperwork and payments are handled ahead of time to minimize stress during this difficult time. Arrangements for aftercare are often also determined beforehand, but can be made during or after the appointment if you prefer. Most owners choose to leave the deceased pet with the veterinarian for cremation. If you elect to have the pet cremated, you may choose routine interment, in which the animal is cremated communally and the ashes are spread together, or personal cremation, in which the animal is cremated individually and the ashes are returned to you. Another important decision to make regarding this appointment is whether or not you would like to be present during the procedure. The choice to be present for the administration of the euthanasia solution is deeply personal and varies greatly from one pet owner to another. Many people simply cannot bear to witness their beloved pet’s passing, while others feel it is important to support their pet through his/her final moments. Some owners may even choose to wait until the euthanasia has been performed before saying a final goodbye to their pet in private. Remember, the grieving process is different for everyone and each is respected just the same. Some pet owners prefer to leave the hospital as soon as possible after their pet has been euthanized, while some may stay with their deceased pet for a significant length of time after the procedure. Some owners cry with their veterinarian over the loss of a beloved pet, while others may act detached. All of these are considered “normal” reactions to death. What to expectEuthanasia can be frightening if you do not know what to expect. Before the procedure, your veterinarian will explain the process in detail and answer any questions you may have. Though it can be unsettling to think about, the more knowledge you have about this procedure, the more at ease you will be when your pet’s time comes. The euthanasia solution is made up of barbiturates designed to overdose animals quickly and painlessly by stopping the heart and breathing muscles. These are given intravenously to ensure the rapid onset of cardiac arrest, which generally occurs within 30 to 60 seconds. In order to administer the solution, the veterinarian must gain entry into the pet’s vein. In many cases, the pet will be taken back to the treatment area of the hospital to have an IV catheter placed before the actual injection is given. A veterinary technician will shave a small patch of hair on your pet’s foreleg and place the catheter before bringing him/her back into the exam room for euthanasia. Placement of an IV cathether allows the veterinarian to administer the euthanasia solution more efficiently and ensures the process is as smooth as possible for you and your pet. Sometimes, the veterinarian may also elect to sedate the pet before the euthanasia solution is given. Similar to an anesthetic injection prior to surgery, this painless injection will heavily sedate the pet so he/she rests peacefully. Some owners prefer to take a few quiet moments during this time to say goodbye before the final injection is given. Others may say goodbye to their pet during this time and leave the veterinarian to finish the procedure. Remember, this decision is entirely up to you and what you feel most comfortable with. When you are ready, the veterinarian will administer the euthanasia solution. A veterinary assistant may help hold your pet or you may do this, if you wish. Within a few seconds after the solution is injected, the pet will take a slightly deeper breath and finally lapse into what appears to be a deep sleep. The total time it takes to complete this process is only a few minutes, oftentimes less. Finally, the veterinarian will listen to the pet’s heart and confirm that he/she has passed away. Though every animal is different, there are a few things to be aware of and prepared for as death occurs. In most cases, you will only notice a peaceful release of tension as your pet slips away.The animal’s eyes will not close once he/she has passed away. This can be quite unsettling for some people. You may choose to leave the room during the injection and return to view the body only after the veterinarian has closed the eyes.There may be a last gasping breath or twitching. This is a muscle spasm that the animal is not aware of.The animal may vocalize, though this is uncommon.The heart may continue beating for a short period after breathing has stopped.The urinary bladder and bowels may be released. Letting goWhile most pet owners would prefer their beloved pet to pass away peacefully in sleep, this is a rarity. The vast majority of the time, it is best to choose humane euthanasia because the final stages of life can be painful and uncomfortable for your pet. During the gradual decline of your pet’s health, it is important to work with your veterinarian to determine the best way to care for him/her, including making the very tough decision about when to let him/her go. All the doctors and staff at The Drake Center have had their own personal experiences of loss and empathize greatly with the stress and difficulty you are experiencing. Remember, you are not alone—we are here to guide you through this process, including counseling you on how and when to make the final decision. GriefThere is no easy way through grief. It can be especially difficult when you have to go back to normal life and find that you are still grieving your lost pet. There are many different ways to deal with all these feelings. Additional resources may be helpful for you as you navigate this process. 
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Emergencies and First Aid

What kinds of emergencies can occur with pets?Animals can experience several kinds of medical emergencies, from trauma, like an automobile injury to acute internal problems, like an intestinal blockage. The following emergencies are the most serious and require immediate attention: Massive injuries to the bodySeizuresBurns and scaldsHeat strokeBites and fight woundsContinuous vomiting and/or diarrheaEclampsia (milk fever)Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (watery, bloody diarrhea)Bloat (gastric dilation)Any severe difficulty in breathingCardiac failureMassive hemorrhageProfound shock from any causeAnaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction)Penetrating wounds of the chest or abdomenComa and loss of consciousnessPoisoning What should I do if an emergency occurs?Keep calm.Contact the veterinary hospital, appraise them of the situation and get first aid advice.Keep your dog or cat warm and as quiet as possible. Also keep movement to a minimum if there is possible trauma.  Obtain a suitable container for your pet, such as a strong cardboard box. Carefully maneuver the pet onto a blanket or thick towel so he/she can be placed into the box or directly into the car.Get to the veterinary hospital as soon as possible, but remember to drive carefully! How can I give my pet first aid?Automobile injury: Make sure your pet has a clear airway, but do not put your hand in his/her mouth if he/she is conscious. Cover wounds with the cleanest material available. Handle your pet with care, supporting his/her body as much as possible. Carry him/her in a basket, box or cage to the veterinary hospital.Massive hemorrhage: If the hemorrhage is located on a limb, apply a tourniquet above the wound just tight enough to significantly reduce the flow of blood; this will need to be loosened within 20 minutes. Place a pad of cotton or wool over a gauze dressing and apply it to the wound. Bandage it firmly and/or simply apply direct pressure.Seizures: First, prevent your pet from falling or otherwise injuring him/herself. Do not put your hand in his/her mouth at any time. Try to keep your pet as quiet as possible; keeping him/her in a dimly-lit room will also help his/her recovery.Burns and scalds: Soothe the burned area by running cool water over it or covering it with wet towels. This process will also help remove caustic substances, like acid or alkaline, if these are the cause. If loss of skin occurs, cover the area with the cleanest material available.Eclampsia (milk fever): This condition is usually seen in female dogs three to five weeks after giving birth. It is rarely seen in cats. Symptoms include excessive panting, wild eyes, muscle spasms, weakness and seizures. First, remove your dog from her puppies to prevent further nursing. Call your veterinarian immediately. Eclampsia is easily treated, but can be fatal if it is not addressed right away.Heat stroke (excessive panting and obvious distress): This condition most often occurs when a dog is left in a hot car with little or no ventilation. Place your dog in a tub of cool water. When you are ready to transport him/her to the veterinary hospital, wrap him/her in a cool, wet towel.Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (watery, bloody diarrhea): Seek veterinary attention immediately. This is a serious condition.Bites and fight wounds: Clean wounds with cool water and seek veterinary attention.Poisoning: Induce vomiting with one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide or one teaspoon of salt given orally. Keep a sample of the vomit for testing. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING if your pet has ingested corrosive material such as strong acid, alkali or petroleum-based products. If corrosive or toxic material is on the skin, wash it profusely. Bring a sample of the suspected poison with its container to the veterinary hospital.Eye injury: If the cornea is penetrated or perforated, it will be very painful. Prevent your pet from scratching at his/her eye and creating further damage. If the eyeball is out of the socket, keep it moist with saline solution (commonly used for contact lenses) and protect it from direct injury. Seek veterinary help immediately.Shock: Shock is a complex body reaction to a number of situations. These include acute loss of blood volume such as hemorrhage, heart failure and other causes of decreased circulation (e.g., severe and sudden allergic reaction and heat stroke). If not treated quickly and effectively, shock may cause irreversible injury to body cells and can quickly become fatal. Signs include heavy, often noisy breathing, rapid heart rate with a weak pulse, pale (possibly even white) mucous membranes (e.g., gums, lips and under the eyelids), severe depression or listlessness and cool extremities (e.g., limbs and ears). Your pet may also vomit. Keep your pet warm and quiet and seek immediate veterinary assistance.
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Dental and Periodontal Disease

What kinds of dental problems do pets have?Dental disease is as common in dogs and cats as it is in humans. Cavities make up the majority of dental problems in humans, but pets most commonly suffer from plaque buildup. This buildup often causes inflammation of the gums around the base of the teeth (gingivitis), which is a continuous source of discomfort and pain. If untreated, this will ultimately lead to periodontal disease with infection, bone loss and tooth loss. What is plaque?Plaque is a gummy substance that forms on the teeth within a few hours after a meal. When plaque is not removed, mineral salts in the saliva cause hard tartar or calculus to form. This calculus is irritating to the gum tissue. By-products of the bacteria also erode the tooth’s support structures, eventually causing pain and disease. What does plaque do to the teeth?If plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth, several things may happen:The plaque will mechanically push the gums away from the roots of the teeth and cause degeneration of the bone around the teeth. This is a painful process that allows the teeth to loosen in their sockets and infection to enter the root.Infection will accumulate in the mouth, resulting in gingivitis, tonsillitis and pharyngitis (sore throat). Although antibiotics may temporarily suppress the infection, the problem will return quickly if plaque is not properly removed.Infections within the mouth can be picked up by the blood stream and carried to other parts of the body. Kidney and liver infections, as well as infections involving the heart valves, frequently begin in the mouth. How can I prevent tartar formation on my pet's teeth?After your pet's teeth have been cleaned, you may take a few steps to help to reduce the process of plaque and tartar buildup. Feed Prescription Diet t/d. This diet has been shown to greatly reduce tartar buildup. It is a dry food composed of pieces too large to be swallowed whole. While chewing the kibble, special fibers literally scrape the plaque off of the teeth without damaging the enamel. By removing plaque as it forms, tartar formation is greatly diminished.Tooth brushing is another effective means of removing plaque before it turns into tartar. We recommend the use of toothpaste and brushes made especially for pets. This needs to be done at least twice weekly (preferably daily), though not all pets may tolerate it.Use a "mouthwash" that is added to your pet's drinking water. This type of product reduces the bacterial count in the mouth, resulting in improved breath.Clean the teeth at the first sign of tartar buildup. This will prevent damage to the gums and roots. What is periodontal disease?Periodontal disease is inflammation of some or all of the tooth's support. Periodontitis may also indicate bone loss. If left untreated, periodontitis will cause loose, painful teeth and may lead to an internal disease. What are the signs?Halitosis, or bad breath, is the primary sign of periodontal disease. Dogs’ and cats' breath should not have a disagreeable odor. When periodontal disease advances, inability to chew hard food as well as excessive drooling with or without blood may occur. How is periodontal disease diagnosed?Bone loss from periodontal disease occurs below the gumline. In order to evaluate the stage of the disease, as well as the best treatment, your pet must be examined under general anesthesia. In addition to a visual examination, X-rays and instruments to measure bone loss are used. How is dental disease treated?Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. Grade one (out of four) dental disease is usually associated with plaque and mild calculus or gingivitis. It can usually be treated with consistent daily tooth brushing and oral care at home. Grades two through four will require cleaning below the gumline under anesthesia. With grades three and four, oral surgery is often necessary to scale deep below the gumline or to remove affected teeth. What is involved in cleaning my pets’ teeth under anesthesia?Proper cleaning of the teeth requires complete cooperation of the patient so plaque and calculus can be removed properly. Therefore, anesthesia is required to thoroughly clean the teeth. Although anesthesia always carries a degree of risk, modern anesthetics and advanced monitoring equipment greatly minimize this risk, even for older animals. Usually, the risks associated with the dental disease far outweigh any risk from anesthesia. In addition, medications may be dispensed for use after the cleaning to treat and help prevent dental disease progression. What is the prognosis for periodontal disease?Early dental disease and mild gingivitis are treatable and curable with daily tooth brushing. Periodontal disease is not curable, but can be controlled once treated and followed up with strict home care.
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Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT)

Most clients do not realize that the quality of dental services vary tremendously from one veterinary hospital to another. Dentistry at The Drake Center has evolved over the years as our doctors have become more educated about oral health and the overall impact dental and periodontal disease can have on the well-being and comfort of our patients. Because each veterinary care facility offers a different level of dental care, comparing services on price alone does not necessarily allow you to fully evaluate the treatment your pet will receive. At The Drake Center, a team of three staff members work to provide the safest and best possible care for your pet.A veterinarian oversees the entire dental procedure, performing extractions and dental surgery as needed.A registered veterinary technician (RVT) takes dental X-rays and performs the cleaning.An additional assistant monitors anesthesia. A Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT) procedure at The Drake Center includes: General anesthesiaGeneral anesthesia is required to perform a thorough oral exam and cleaning as well as obtain dental X-rays.Anesthetic monitoring equipment includes EKG to monitor the heart, blood pressure monitoring, pulse oximetry to monitor oxygenation and ETCO2 to monitor carbon dioxide levels. Anesthetic safety and supportive techniquesThe use of an IV catheter allows for fluid support and rapid medication administration, if necessary.A Bair Hugger blanket is used during the procedure to support core body temperature, which is essential for safe anesthesia and recovery. Full-mouth dental X-raysRadiographs (X-rays) are obtained to further detail the health of the teeth below the gum line and determine the extent of periodontal disease. Studies show that less than 50 percent of all dental problems in dogs and cats can be identified without dental X-rays.Full-mouth dental X-rays are especially important for small breed dogs and cats or those pets with a history of periodontal disease. Dental cleaning and treatmentA registered veterinary technician (RVT) performs the dental cleaning procedure, which includes ultrasonic and hand scaling, polishing and complete dental charting. Oral surgery and extractionsAfter the dental X-rays are reviewed by the veterinarian, recommendations for extractions or oral surgery are discussed with the owner by phone.All oral surgery and extractions are performed by the veterinarian.Pre-emptive pain control, including dental nerve blocks and systemic pain medication, allows your pet to remain comfortable during and after recovery. What to expect after the procedure:Our staff will review tooth brushing and home care recommendations with you to maintain your pet’s oral health.Most pets are sedate for the evening following a dental procedure, but will return to normal behavior the next day.We may recommend feeding a soft diet for a few days for pets requiring oral surgery. These pets are also sent home with pain medication and antibiotics.  Want to learn even more about dentistry at The Drake Center? Watch our dental services video.
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Annual and Bi-Annual Wellness Exams

Annual and bi-annual exams with one of our doctors are actually a complete head-to-toe physical for your pet. An exam includes ocular, aural and oral examination, body condition score, abdominal palpation, heart and lung auscultation and overall body palpation.Ocular exam: Looking into your pet’s eyes allows us to visualize current or potential problems in the external and internal eye.Aural exam: Ear infections are very common in dogs. A dog’s ear canal is very long and deep; often, we find infections in a dog’s ears that the owners were unaware of.Oral exam: A look at your pet’s teeth and gums can give us an idea of potential dental problems as well as your pet’s overall health. For example, did you know you can tell how a pet is feeling by the color of his/her gums?Body Condition Score (BCS): The BCS is a scale (1-9) that allows us to assess your pet’s weight. This helps us formulate a diet and exercise plan that best suits your pet’s body, activity level and lifestyle.Abdominal palpation: Palpation is the act of feeling with one’s hands. By doing an abdominal palpation, we can actually feel some of the pet’s liver, kidneys, intestines, spleen and bladder. Most importantly, we can find abnormalities that warrant further investigation on perfectly normal and healthy pets.Overall body palpation: This allows us to scan the body for abnormalities, such as enlarged lymph nodes or tumors.Heart and lung auscultation: Auscultation is the act of listening to the internal sounds of the body with a stethoscope. This allows us to listen for normal rates and rhythms, as well as pick up murmurs and arrhythmias in otherwise normal and healthy pets. The exam is also a time for you to discuss any concerns and ask questions. Just like you, we want your pet to have the healthiest life possible. Discussion topics should include behavior, sleep patterns, family interactions, diet, weight and/or grooming concerns and exercise plans. For pets with chronic diseases, recheck exams are vital. This is the time for the doctor to recheck the physical problem, reassess the pet’s illness and make a treatment plan to manage it. At The Drake Center, our doctors personalize every exam based upon the pet’s needs and the family’s concerns. We believe that pet owners make the best decisions when they are well-informed and it is our goal to provide you with the information you need. Our practice is based on a relationship-centered philosophy built on the trust and respect of every human and animal that walks through our doors. This philosophy involves listening to you, the client, and working together to help you make the best choices for your family. How to Schedule Your Pet's Annual or Bi-Annual ExamIf you are ready to schedule an appointment for your pet's annual or bi-annual exam, please contact us today. Simply call us at (760) 456-9556 or schedule it online here!  
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Anesthesia

Fear of anesthesia is one of the most common reasons owners decline necessary dental cleanings or other procedures for their pet. To help our clients ease these fears, we have provided a detailed description of our anesthetic services. At The Drake Center, you can be assured that your pet will be well cared for before, during and after anesthesia. Initially, each patient is given a thorough physical exam to assess his/her general health. Cardiovascular and respiratory health are particularly important. We will also perform blood tests to make sure liver and kidney functions are normal, since these organs are going to metabolize the drugs we use for anesthesia. If all of these tests are normal, any potential risks of anesthesia will be minimal. When the benefits of the procedure outweigh the minimal risks of anesthesia, we will recommend going ahead the procedure. It is important to note that repeated anesthetic procedures are necessary for complete treatment in some cases (e.g., severe dental problems, certain surgical procedures or radiation therapy). The risk of anesthetic complications is not increased for patients that undergo multiple procedures. Before a patient is completely anesthetized, he/she is given pre-medications to help sedate him/her and provide pain control before the procedure is started. Pre-medication is important because it aids in a smooth induction and recovery from anesthesia, as well as reduces the amount of drugs needed during the actual procedure. After the pre-medication is given, an IV catheter is placed into the patient’s vein. This allows us to use fluids during the procedure. These fluids help us to control the patient's blood pressure and support organ function while under anesthesia. In addition, IV catheters provide rapid access to the circulatory system. This enables us to administer supportive medications as well as prevent or treat any complications that may arise. Once a patient is anesthetized, we assess multiple parameters to ensure his/her safety: An electrocardiogram (EKG) measures the heart rate and rhythm. A pulse oximetry monitor measures the oxygen content of the blood. This allows us to know if blood perfusion (delivery) to the tissues is adequate.A blood pressure monitor measures systemic blood pressure. This is one of the most important tools we use to make sure blood flow to vital organs is being maintained. If the pressure is low, we can use IV fluids to maintain ideal blood pressure.A respiratory monitor measures the rate and pattern of respiration. End tidal carbon dioxide measurement is another tool we use to make sure respiration under anesthesia is appropriate.A Bair Hugger blanket is used to maintain the patient's body temperature. This is critical for a smooth anesthetic treatment. A registered veterinary technician (RVT) is assigned to care for each anesthetized patient. All of the above parameters are measured every five minutes by the technician during the procedure. When the procedure is complete, the patient’s temperature, heart rate, respiration and pain control are evaluated every 15 minutes during the recovery process. When your pet comes home after an anesthetic procedure, you can expect him/her to be groggy and quiet. Some pets may appear agitated and vocalize during the first night. In older pets, this can last a few days. It is very common for pets to refuse food the night of an anesthetic procedure. In some cases, we will send home sedatives if the patient is particularly active or agitated. Most pets are back to their normal activities within a day or two. We hope that this information helps you feel more comfortable with anesthesia so that you can make informed decisions about your pet’s care. Please let us know if you have any questions or additional concerns. 
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Acupuncture

What is acupuncture? Acupuncture is the art and science of placing small needles in specific areas to encourage the body’s own healing and function. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for at least 2,000 years to treat a variety of ailments. Whether used alone, coupled with Chinese herbal formulas or in conjunction with Western medicine, acupuncture can be a wonderful complementary therapy. What is electroacupuncture? Electroacupuncture is a method of treatment that uses electrical current to stimulate acupuncture points. Needles are inserted into these points and connected by wires to an electrical stimulation device. The mild electric current is then passed between pairs of needles. What can I expect at my appointment? Your pet is made comfortable on a mat on the exam room floor or table. Fine needles of varying lengths are gently applied to specific acupuncture points. Some pets show slight discomfort as the needles are inserted, but this feeling quickly dissipates. In general, most of our patients find the acupuncture treatment to be quite relaxing. Some pets may even become sleepy after treatment. The initial visit may take up to one hour. Follow-up appointments are approximately 10 minutes; 40 minutes is needed if electroacupuncture is prescribed. Which conditions does acupuncture work best for? Acupuncture is indicated for pain and inflammation, but can be very beneficial for any musculoskeletal or neurologic condition. Metabolic diseases can also be augmented with acupuncture and herbal therapy. Common diseases treated with acupuncture include: Arthritis Back pain Tendon or ligament injury Lick granulomas Feline asthma Diarrhea Kidney disease How does acupuncture work? From a Western perspective, the needles stimulate the local release of histamine to allow for increased blood flow. The needles can also stimulate nerve function, relieve muscle spasm and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid), to reduce inflammation. When shouldn't acupuncture be used? Acupuncture does not treat cancer or cell death (e.g.,transected nerves), but it can help quality of life by treating other areas of the body compensating for cancer or chronic disease. Acupuncture is contraindicated in pregnant animals or directly around tumors. Is acupuncture safe? Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly-trained veterinarian. Side effects are rare. You may see your pet become very sleepy within 24 hours of acupuncture treatment. This frequently indicates that some physiological changes are developing and is often followed by an improvement in your pet’s condition. How many treatments are needed? The length and frequency of treatments depend on the condition of the patient. A pet with a simple sprain may only need one treatment, whereas an animal with a chronic condition may require several or several dozen treatments. Patients often start with one or two treatments per week for three to four weeks. A positive response is usually seen after the first to third treatments. Once a maximum response is achieved, the treatments are tapered until the greatest amount of symptom-free time elapses between them. What about long term-treatment options? Integrative medicine can be very beneficial for pets with chronic disease. Often, the underlying condition has developed due to multiple factors. Lifestyle changes to resolve or control the condition, such as diet or environmental enrichment, may also be recommended.
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