Does my senior pet really need blood work?

Senior Wellness BoxerDogs and cats age more quickly than their human companions.  That being said, when a pet reaches seven years old, it is considered a senior – with the same types of health risks that humans face at advanced ages.  One thing that many veterinarians recommend is a senior blood panel.

There are many reasons a blood panel can be helpful.  If done consistently, annual blood tests can help a veterinarian track and evaluate the overall condition of a pet’s vital organs and health.  In addition, blood tests can help a veterinarian detect early signs of many serious health conditions such as: kidney disease, diabetes, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, and liver disease.

Senior profiles are more comprehensive and will provide a more thorough evaluation of your pet’s current health.  These panels can also provide a good look into the body’s response to medications and anesthesia.  There are different types of blood tests that can be done, all performing different functions.  A CBC, complete blood cell count, looks for adequate red and white blood cell numbers and checks their present condition.  The chemistry profile looks at various organ enzymes, glucose, proteins, electrolytes, and cholesterol.  Finally, senior panels also look at thyroid function, making sure it is not over or under active.  In addition, your veterinarian may need to check your pet’s urine for signs of disease.

Routine blood work is useful in many applications: to establish a baseline on a healthy pet to compare to later, to help diagnose a pet that is “just not right”, and in geriatric pets.  Speak to your veterinarian today to see if a senior blood panel is right for your best friend – it is the best gift you can give.


Deployment with Urban Search and Rescue

In September 2013, Laura McLain Madsen, DVM of Holladay Veterinary Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT had an amazing experience deploying with FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) to the flooding in Colorado. She has been working with the search dogs and handlers for about six years, and then officially joined US&R Utah Task Force 1 in 2012 as team veterinarian.

Some of the hundreds of pets who evacuated with their owners on Army helicopters.

Some of the hundreds of pets who evacuated with their owners on Army helicopters.

There are 28 US&R task forces across the country, each comprised of several hundred people and a dozen or so dogs. Unlike smaller search and rescue teams that are focused on finding people lost in the wilderness, urban search and rescue teams are large teams with heavy-duty equipment to focus on rescuing people trapped in urban environments after large-scale disasters. The disasters to which US&R deploys include terrorist attacks (World Trade Center), hurricanes (Katrina), earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. Each task force is capable of deploying within four hours of a disaster, with all the equipment, supplies and personnel necessary to be self-sufficient for 72 hours.

Most of her teammates are firefighters, since they already have training in rigging, extrication and rescue. The team is also comprised of physicians, structural engineers and canine handlers.

Laura McLain McLain, DVM, and “Zeteo,” a search and rescue dog.

Laura McLain McLain, DVM, and “Zeteo,” a search and rescue dog.

The team was called up shortly after midnight on September 13, 2013.  Dragging herself out of bed, Dr. McLain got her uniform and equipment, and drove to the warehouse. She performed pre-deployment exams on the four dogs, and filled out their health certificates. The team spent most of that day convoying to Boulder in a long line of semis, trucks and vans. All roads into Colorado were closed that crossed into the state through a highway patrol roadblock. The team finally got to the Boulder Airport around 6:00pm, where they set up their base of operations, alongside the US&R task force from Nebraska.

As a team veterinarian, Dr. McLain’s primary goal was to keep the search dogs healthy so they can do their job of finding any individuals that were trapped. All of the Utah team dogs remained healthy for the entire deployment, but one of the Nebraska team dogs became ill, with profuse diarrhea and dehydration. The Nebraska task force does not have a veterinarian (less than half the task forces nationally have DVM’s) so Dr. McLain treated him as well and he was back to work the next day.

Dr. McLain was also called on to examine pets of evacuee, where there were long lines of evacuees coming off helicopters. 20 Army Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters flew back and forth between the canyons and the airport, evacuating residents and their pets. Some helicopter loads had more animals than people. Of course there were many dogs and cats, but also a fair number of exotic pets: parrots, turtles, small mammals, geese, fish, and even a monkey. Overall, the pets were amazingly healthy and happy. A few dogs had minor abrasions and lacerations from the flooding that were treated.

The deployment lasted a week. Dr. McLain expressed that despite being sore, soaked, and mentally and physically exhausted, it wasan invaluable experience for her and all of the other team members involved.


From rubble to renewal: Riverview Animal Hospital comes to the rescue

A family in Durango, CO family was enjoying an evening at home when their house exploded from a gas leak. Their 9 year old daughter, Cameron Kelley, drug herself out of the rubble while suffering from a fractured leg. Her mother and father, Tim and Karen Kelley, were uncovered about 4 hours later from under 4 to 6 feet of debris. Both Tim and Karen suffered severe injuries and were transported by helicopter for emergency treatment.

No one thought about the family pets until the next day. The family’s friends organized a team to look for Rocko, a chocolate lab, and Tippi, the family cat. After being trapped for more than 16 hours, Rocko was discovered and pulled to safety, although in serious condition. He was rushed to Riverview Animal Hospital where Dr. Randy Hays and his staff treated him for burns, ocular trauma, heart issues and liver trauma, during his 5 day stay in the hospital.

The hospital received numerous phone calls from people across the country wanting updates on Rocko and wondering how they could donate to his medical expenses. Rocko has since made a full recovery but did lose vision in one of his eyes. One of the bigger surprises was finding Tippi, the cat, 17 days after the explosion. He had lost nearly half his body weight and had some minor liver inflammation. His hair was burned so badly and embedded with insulation that the staff had to shave him, so his primary doctor, Dr. Stacee Santi, crocheted him a sweater to keep

Thanks to the incredible care and compassion from the staff at Riverview Animal Hospital, Tippi has also fully recovered and has joined the rest of the family at their temporary home in Durango as they focus on healing and savoring every moment they have together.

Eastern Shore Hospital gives ‘Beef ’ a second chance

In the wee hours of the morning, a yellow lab mix puppy, who was likely less than six weeks old, was abandoned at the doorstep of Eastern Shore Animal Hospital in Painter, VA in a National Beef box.

The puppy was seizing and while staying at the hospital had vomited a large amount of wild cherry pits. The hospital immediately posted an awareness message on their Facebook page to educate their clients on the dangers of toxic plants and tried to track down the puppy’s owner.

Within hours, the hospital had their entire community talking about “Beef ” as they were inundated with feel good messages. While the puppy was in critical condition, the hospital continued to keep their fans updated on the status and progress through social media. When she began to become more mentally alert and physically stable, the hospital even posted a video to their Facebook page to show her improved condition. Watch the video here.

Beef made a full recovery and was adopted by a family in Lynchburg that renamed her Koda. What a great way to engage the power of social media to educate clients about the dangers of ingesting harmful substances, as well as find a new home for a puppy in need.  Let’s all wish them luck because Koda is a lively lady now that she has made a full recovery!

Parasite Control

Intestinal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms can be a troublesome concern, especially for very young animals. Most puppies/kittens are born with worms and dogs/cats remain susceptible to the harmful parasites throughout their lives. Worms live inside your pet, making the symptoms difficult to pinpoint, and are therefore detected through a fecal analysis. Internal parasites can not only harm your pet, but many can also be transferred to children and adults, making them sick as well.

Your hospital performs a fecal analysis on all new puppies and kittens. If your pet does have a parasite problem, your veterinarian can provide you with different medications and treatments to remedy the problem and steer your pet back to good health. Preventive care and prescription heartworm medication are key, because of the damages presented by intestinal parasites to both pets and people.

As a pet parent, you should ensure your pet is receiving the safest and most effective ongoing preventive care.

Flea and Tick Control

Like most pet owners, you probably enjoy spending quality time with your pets both indoors and out. Don’t leave them at risk for any unwelcome visits from pesky parasites like fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks can be very damaging to the human-animal bond, particularly when flea invasion gets out of control or when ticks hitch a ride with your pet. Not only can these unfriendly parasites make your pets extremely uncomfortable, they can pose grave health risks.

Since fleas can survive a cold winter by feeding on unprotected pets and ticks are active whenever it is warm enough outside for them to crawl about their surroundings, preventive measures should be taken year round. By undergoing measures to inhibit these outbreaks, the diseases these parasites transmit to pets and people can also be mitigated or prevented.

There are many safe and effective flea and tick control products available, and your veterinary team should be able to help you choose the correct preventive regimen based on your pets risk factors and health status. Once a year, it is important to discuss with your veterinarian which external pest control products are ideal for your household, based upon the everyday life of your pet.

Senior Pet Care

Thanks to the advancements in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer than ever. However with this increased lifespan comes an increase in the variety of conditions and diseases that they are susceptible to including osteoarthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, cancer and diabetes. And because pets age faster than we do, health problems can progress much more rapidly.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, scheduling regular veterinary examinations is one of the most important steps pet owners can take to keep their pets healthy. AAHA recommends that healthy senior dogs and cats (age 7+) visit the veterinarian every six months for a complete exam and laboratory testing.

Your senior pet’s wellness exam should include the following:

•Health Consultation
•Physical Examination
•Diagnostic Tests
•Intestinal Parasite Test
•Overall Wellness Recommendation
•Vaccinations (if necessary)
•Blood Work

A visit to your veterinarian is imperative if you notice any of the following:

•Unexplained weight loss
•Excessive drinking and/or urination
•Loss of appetite or lethargy
•Behavior changes
•Diarrhea or vomiting
•Skin lumps, bumps or irritation
•Bad breath, plaque on teeth or bleeding gums
•Ear odors, redness, scratching or head shaking