TLC – Where Dentals are More than just a Cleaning!

UntitledWhen you drop you beloved pet at TLC for a dental cleaning, they receive the best personal care possible. We only schedule 2 dentals on a surgery day so that we can focus on each individual pet and give then the time we need to make sure they leave with a nice, clean, healthy mouth. We pride ourselves on quality not quantity.

When they arrive at the clinic for their cleaning, they are given a premed that helps them relax. Once that takes effect, we put in their catheters and draw blood. Normally, the blood work is done prior to the dental cleaning, but we are able to do it the same day if needed. The blood work tells us that all organ systems are functioning properly and you pet is in good shape to be placed under anesthesia.

UntitledsWe then give them an induction medication and place them under gas anesthetic. We then use an ultrasonic tool that uses vibrations and water to scale the tarter from the tooth and then a different probe is used to get under the gum line. We use a stain on the teeth to make sure we are getting all the tartar off, even the small pieces that are hard to see.

We have dental radiography to help give us a complete picture of your pet’s mouth. This allows us to see what is going on inside the teeth and aids in telling us if the teeth should be removed. If extractions are needed, you pet receives a pain injection and sometimes a nerve block. Dr. Richardson will then remove the infected, diseased teeth with precision and care. We have a synthetic bone graft particulate that helps fill the hole the tooth left. She will then suture the area with dissolvable suture.

PerioDisease1AThroughout this whole procedure, the surgery technician is monitoring heart rate, oxygen level, temperature, blood pressure, ECG and gum color. Your pet is kept on a heating pad and we have warm towels close by. The technician monitors the whole time as well as staying with your pet until they are extubated and awake. Their recovery is in a nice warm cage with blankets and warm towels. When they are awake and able to walk, then we release them.

Patients will go home with pain medications when they have extractions. The surgery technician will go over all aftercare instructions with you when you pick up your pet. You’ll be given a copy of these instructions to take home as well. These instructions also have the contact information for the local VCA Animal Emergency Clinics, just in case something happens and we are closed. Our staff will follow up with you the next day as well to check on your pet.

Each pet receives the individual attention they deserve. When you schedule 10 or more dentals in a day, it becomes more like an assembly line and your pet is one of many instead of an individual with specific needs. At TLC, we know your pet and we love and care for them like they were our own.

By: Candace Ivey

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Leptospir-what?

received_2030996850485694So what does this have to do with me and my pets? Leptospirosis is zoonotic meaning that it can be transmitted to humans and other animals!
The most common way that this bacterial disease is passed on is through contaminated water, but it can also be passed through soil, mud and direct contact with an infected animal’s urine.
Nowhere is safe from leptospirosis, there have been cases found all over the world! Most infections take place during rainy periods, but it can still be passed along during dry times.
black-rat-300x212Virtually all mammals can be a carrier of leptospirosis. Some animals can be a carrier, but be asymptotic, meaning they show no signs or symptoms. Others will show signs of fever, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, organ failure, jaundice, and coughing. They do not have to have every symptom to be positive for having leptospirosis.
If you are ever concerned that your pet may have leptospirosis or possibly has been exposed to it, please contact your veterinarian. There are blood and urine tests that can be done to test for the infection.

Leptospirosis can be treated once it is detected, but the earlier it is caught the better chance of survival. The pet will typically be placed on IV fluids to help support kidney function, started on antibiotics, and treated for the symptoms that the pet is showing at that time.

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Prevention is key! There is a vaccine available to prevent the leptospirosis disease. The vaccine can be started as early as 12 weeks of age. It will need to be boostered once in 3-4 weeks after the initial vaccine. After that, it is updated annually.
received_2030996927152353Whether your dog goes camping every weekend or is a stay-at-home pup, we  recommend that every dog is vaccinated, regardless of their lifestyle. Just because your dog stays in the yard doesn’t mean he isn’t at risk. Remember, leptospirosis can be carried by a variety of animals, most of which you can find in your own back yard!
Big or small it, can effect them all!!
By: Leslie Amaral

Setting the Record Straight

Greetings Clients,

We do this job because we love animals, and we work long hours every day to help pets and owners live happy lives together. If there’s ever an issue we’re happy to discuss things and work out a solution, but when false information results in threats against our staff from people who have never even stepped foot in our clinic, it’s time to set some things straight.

You may have seen the post shared on various review and social media sites blaming our clinic for issues encountered by an elderly dog, and if you have, we understand why you might be concerned. We remain respectful of our clients’ rights to privacy and while we cannot go into specifics about their medical records, the claims in that post are not accurate.

Any time an animal is brought to us for anesthesia, we warn the owners of the risks involved. The anesthesia process is discussed in detail and owners are also educated on any possible alternatives. The decision to sedate an animal is an informed one that has been mutually agreed upon by the animal’s owners and the veterinarian. In addition, clients are required to sign an anesthesia release form on the day of surgery.

We have extensive processes in place to ensure that anesthesia is as safe as possible, including running pre-anesthetic bloodwork, starting early antibiotics, and running IV fluids. We limit the number of procedures on our surgery schedule so that we can spend the proper amount of time with each patient. During every anesthesia procedure, our patients are individually monitored the entire time, including during recovery, by a nationally certified veterinary technician. Patients are required to swallow repeatedly before we remove their breathing tube following the procedure. If an animal has aspirated during surgery, it is usually very obvious and fluid will generally come up with the breathing tube. When this is the case, we contact the owner immediately, discuss any potential concerns and immediately take measures to prevent any further complications. Many patients experience in-clinic anxiety just like many humans do at the doctor’s office and this will often be displayed in the form of panting. This does not indicate that an animal has necessarily aspirated.

Patients that are recovering from anesthesia are monitored by our doctor and technician for several hours prior to being discharged to the owner. We ensure that patients are alert and can ambulate on their own without exception. As with humans, animals individually recover from anesthesia at different rates. There are many nights that we are here well after closing time so that we can ensure that our patients have recovered properly. Our surgery technician personally discharges the anesthesia patients to their owners. They are verbally given specific after care instructions and are provided with a form that not only lists these instructions but also provides contact information for the emergency clinics should any concerns arise overnight. On the rare occasion that an animal in our care appears to be having difficulties recovering from anesthesia, we have promptly sent them straight to the emergency clinic for overnight observation and care.

It is important to note that we receive direct communication from the emergency clinic any time one of our patients is seen there, in fact, we frequently consult with their doctors directly. They ensure that we are well aware of their diagnosis and treatment plan. If they were to diagnose a patient with aspiration pneumonia, they would document that information and would make sure that we were aware. We work very closely together to make sure that we are all on the same page and our patients receive the best possible care. Though the internet is often an excellent tool, it does not have a degree in veterinary medicine and cannot be trusted for medical information or for diagnosing a pet.

When an owner enters our clinic and begins to verbally attack our staff in an aggressive and threatening manner, it makes it very difficult for us to do our jobs properly. Though we understand that emotions run high when you are concerned about your babies, we cannot ensure that they get the care that they need if we are unable to communicate with you. Even then, we pride ourselves on being honest and ethical and we make sure that we conduct ourselves in a professional manner at all times. Anyone who has been a client at our clinic for any length of time can testify to this fact.

It is terrible to lose a pet. They are friends, companions, and our fur babies. We understand the grief that accompanies such a loss, and we regret that anyone must experience it. However, we cannot stand by and allow people who have never even heard of TLC Animal Hospital to attack and abuse our staff when we’ve done nothing wrong. We care deeply about the animals that come through our doors, as well as their owners. If we made a mistake we would correct it immediately. That said, in this case we firmly believe that we did everything in the safest, most medically correct way possible. We are 100% confident that the State Board and any other governing agency that reviews this case will agree that there was no malpractice or mistreatment on our end.

Thank you for your continued support of our clinic. We feel confident that anyone who knows us knows that these allegations are false, medically unfounded and grossly exaggerated. We believe in transparency and we are always open to hearing how we can improve further, and we’re here to talk person-to-person if there is ever an issue. We will continue to dedicate ourselves to our patients and all of the amazing clients that we have been fortunate enough to get to know over the years.

If you have any further questions, we would be happy to discuss them with you. You can reach someone at our clinic directly any time by emailing tech@tlcah.com or calling us at 281-282-9944.

Best wishes,
Your TLC Animal Hospital Team

The Benefits of Water Fountains for Cats

cat3We’ve all seen cats drinking in weird places. No, not your local dive bar – I’m talking the kitchen sink, the bathtub, that dripping faucet in the bathroom, or even the toilet.

Instinctively, our feline friends are hard wired to prefer running water over standing water simply because all of today’s domestic cats are descended from the same ancestor: the African wildcat. In the wild, standing water wasn’t as fresh and posed more risk of sickness than running water did. These practices passed on from generation to generation and are still seen today in our pets at home. Regardless of the reason why cats prefer running water, getting adequate water intake is important for your cat’s overall health, and to maintain a healthy urinary tract.

catCats are designed to get their necessary water from the prey they eat. Many pet guardians feed their cats dry food which has water content of about 10%, compared to approximately 70-80% in most canned food. Cats that eat a dry kibble diet rather than wet food will drink more water to compensate, but still run the risk of becoming dehydrated. Anything you can do to encourage your cat to drink more water will help. Cats that are only given standing water often drink far too little and this may result in disorders of the urinary tract, including bladder stones or chronic feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and as a result, any existing small urinary crystals aren’t completely flushed out and can develop into gravel and then larger stones (so-called struvite stones, for example).

cat2In severe cases, a urinary stone can completely obstruct the urethra, which means that urine – and hence the body’s toxic wastes – can no longer be eliminated from the body and backs up into the kidneys. This blockage is life-threatening. An increased intake of water helps prevent urinary tract disease because the urine contains a lower concentration of the mineral substances that can cause these disorders. And a larger volume of urine makes the cat empty his or her bladder more frequently, which in turn means that the minerals responsible for forming urinary stones spend less time inside the body and the body’s own toxic substances are successfully eliminated in the urine.

A drinking fountain re-circulates and filters the water, making it fresher-tasting and encouraging your cat to drink more. It also adds movement which attracts the cat’s eye as well as an appeasing sound that entices them to investigate, play, and ultimately drink from them. Because the water in a drinking fountain goes through a charcoal filter to remove odors and impurities, it is healthier for your cat than stale water that has been standing and collecting debris. Also, a pet water fountain will provide the running water that your cat prefers without the wastefulness of leaving your tap running continuously.

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by: Kaitie Barczak

The Lowdown on Food Allergies & Diets

1Is your pet having ongoing skin or gastro intestinal issues with unknown causes? Have you exhausted all the other causes such as infection, parasites, or anatomy issues? Is your pet’s Veterinarian now recommending a food trial? If so, below is the lowdown on food allergies, what exactly a food trial is, how to properly execute a food trial, and what food options there are.

 What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs after eating a certain food. Ingredients in pet food may be combined or changed into substances recognized by the immune system as foreign invaders to be attacked. The target of this attack include the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or other organ systems, but in dogs and cats it is the skin that most often suffers the most. The classical signs of food allergies in pets can be itchy lesions on the face, limbs, anal area, and ears. Some other symptoms are ongoing diarrhea and/or vomiting. Symptoms start when the pet is less than 6 months old or starts when the pet is older then 5-6 years old. Food allergies can develop even if a pet has been eating the same food for years with no issues. It takes time for them to develop the allergy. Symptoms do not happen seasonally like with airborne allergens, they are always present.  It is also noted that corticosteroids do not help with most food allergy issues.

The pet food companies have done a great job of advertising “grain free” diets, but unfortunately the pet usually is having a reaction to both the protein and/or carbohydrate in the diet. Grains are not bad for our pets. There is no simple test to see exactly what is causing the reaction. To solve the problem the culprit must be removed from the pet’s world. This is why we do food trials.

What is a food trial?

Before beginning a food trial we want to make sure all other possible culprits have been ruled out (parasites, infections, anatomy issues). If there is any secondary skin infection from the lesions, they must be cleared before starting the trial.

A food trial is when a hypoallergenic diet is fed for a period of time deemed by your Veterinarian. If the symptoms resolve, you then switch the pet back to its original food for 2 weeks to see if the symptoms return. If we see relapse, it is recommended to return to the food trial diet and staying on the food indefinitely.

There are no other ways to diagnose a food allergy. Blood tests are not helpful. Blood tests can detect antibodies against certain food proteins but this does not mean that the pet has an allergy. It could just mean the pet has eaten that type of protein before.

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What is involved in a food trial?

Food trials are VERY strict in order to see accurate results and everyone in the household must be on board with the instructions. This means the pet shouldn’t have any other protein sources besides the test protein. This includes rawhides, flavored chew toys, flavored chewable medications including heartworm/flea preventions, flavored vitamins, and all treats. Chewable medications will need to be switched to non flavored tablets/capsules and chewable heartworm/flea preventions may need to be switched to a topical brand.

As stated above, the pet is put on a hypoallergenic diet for at least 3 months. No other food/treats can be fed. If symptoms resolve then the pet is put back on their original diet for 2 weeks. If symptoms resume then we can diagnose a food allergy. The pet can then return to the hypoallergenic diet indefinitely. Some owners opt to not go back to the original diet because they do not want their pet to go through the horrible symptoms again. They will just continue the food trial diet indefinitely.

A food trial is very easy in that all you have to do is feed the hypoallergenic diet, but owners tend to find it hard to not feed other treats. Owners will state that the food trial failed, but in reality they were not being as strict as needed.

What are current food trial options?

There are three different types of diets that can be used in a food trial: a novel protein, hydrolyzed protein, or a home cooked diet.

Novel proteins are most commonly used in food trials. They are diets that contain a single protein source and single carbohydrate source. The most important part of choosing a novel protein, is that it has to be one that the pet has never come in contact with before. For example if you choose a venison and sweet potato diet, the pet must not have eaten either one of these protein/carbohydrates in any other food (treats, dry food, canned, etc). It takes years for a pet to become allergic to a food source, so the pet should not be allergic to something new. Pet food companies are starting to make a huge variety of flavors of food/treats, so it can be very hard to find a diet for the pet if the owner tends to feed a variety of different flavored food/treats.

Examples of novel protein diets include venison and potato, fish and potato, egg and rice, duck and pea, and even kangaroo. Several of these diets have been released to the public markets, so it is very important to choose ingredients for the trial that is not found in the pet’s regular diet. Public markets tend to sell these novel protein food for a lot less then Veterinary prescription diets, but they cannot guarantee that there are no additional proteins mixed in. Contamination easily happens because the machines are not thoroughly cleaned with each new batch of food made. Veterinary prescription diets can guarantee that the product does not contain any contaminants. The the machines are thoroughly cleaned/disinfected between batches of food. Most Veterinary prescribed diets have a 100 percent guarantee. This means that if the pet does not like the food, it can be returned for a refund.

Hydrolyzed proteins are diets that contain the smallest amount of molecules of a protein so that the body cannot detect them.  Basically, the immune system is tricked into no longer recognizing the protein so it does not trigger a reaction. The downside of hydrolyzed protein diets is that it is not as palatable as it would be with the protein in its original form. Examples of hydrolyzed protein diets include Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d, Purina HA HypoAllergenic Canine Formula, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Hypoallergenic. These diets also have a 100 percent guarantee. If the pet does not like the food, then it can be returned for a refund.

Home cooked diets are rarely used in food trial diets. It can be very inconvenient for the owner to have to cook the pets every meal and important vitamins/minerals are easily left out of the diet. If an owner wants to pursue a home cooked diet a nutritionist should be involved so that they can make a balanced diet for the pet. Recipes for appropriate diets can be purchased through BalanceIt, rpetdiets.com, or by any nutritionist listed at the American College of Veterinary Nutrition web site.

So how do you find out exactly what protein/carbohydrate the pet is allergic to?

2The process to find out what exact protein/carbohydrate a pet is allergic to is not a simple task but it can be done. It can be a very lengthy process. To do this, you add a single/pure protein source (such as cooked chicken, tofu, wheat flour or any other single food) to the test diet with each meal. If the pet begins to show allergic symptoms within two weeks, then that protein source causes an allergic reaction. You must return to the test diet until the allergic symptoms stops and then you can try another pure protein source. If no symptoms show after two weeks of feeding a test protein, then the pet is not allergic to that protein.

What if a diet is unsuccessful?

To determine if a diet was truly unsuccessful we need to make sure the owner was 100 percent compliant (meaning they only fed the test food), parasites are under control, infections are under control, and that the food trial was done for long enough time. If all those boxes are checked, then it is strongly suggestive that an inhalant allergy is the culprit. If this is the case, biopsies by dermatologist is recommended.

By: Jamie McAfee

Sources:
Brooks, Wendy C. “Food Allergies.” Veterinary Partner, 2001,      http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=652

H, Heidi. “Royal Canin Veterinary Diet® Canine Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Dog Food.” Canine Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Dog Food | Royal Canin Veterinary Diet, 10 Aug. 2015,  http://www.royalcanin.com/products/royal-canin-veterinary-diet-canine-selected-protein-adult-pr-dry-dog-food/1396

“Allergy – Food Allergy in Dogs.” vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/allergy-food-allergy-in-dogs

Clinical Nutrition Team. “What Every Pet Owner Should Know about Food Allergies.” Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School, 30 Jan. 2017, vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2017/01/food-allergies

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