While a veterinarian's physical exam can tell us a lot, sometimes technology has to give us a hand in finding out what your pet needs. We are equipped with several things to help us figure out what's causing your pet trouble.
We are equipped with a brand new, state-of-the-art Butterfly IQ Vet Ultrasound.
What is ultrasound? Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body, helping us to visualize what might be going on internally.
What is ultrasound used for? You're probably familiar with the ultrasounds that women get when pregnant. While we don't typically use ultrasounds to preview pregnancies in pets, the concept is the same. We use ultrasounds to get a better look at your pet's spleen and other organs, to collect a sterile urine sample for a proper urinalysis, to check cardiac function, and more.
Does it hurt? Ultrasound is safe, non-invasive, and does not use ionizing radiation. Some pets may find the process uncomfortable, as we occasionally have to position them on their backs, but the procedure itself is not painful.
Is there a certified ultrasonographer on staff? No. But don't worry! If we see something unusual, we can always submit a recording of the ultrasound to a specialist for interpretation.
We are equipped with Digital Radiography!
What are Digital Radiographs? Radiographs are also called "X-rays." These images are captured through low levels of radiation to get a look beyond the surface. Digital Radiography uses this same technology, but converts the image into a digital format - allowing us to store these high-quality images electronically, view them on high-resolution digital screens, and quickly submit them to the specialist should a referral be necessary. We can even email copies to you!
What are radiographs used for? Radiographs are often the best way to evaluate the condition of your pet's heart, lungs, or abdomen. It's also going to be the fastest way to evaluate any potentially broken bones.
Does it hurt? The procedure itself does not hurt, but if we need to take radiographs, there's a good chance your pet is already experiencing some discomfort or pain - especially if the issue is related to a limp or injury. If your pet is painful, we will likely recommend some sedation or anti-anxiety medications to ease their discomfort and get the best images possible. After all, it's imperative that your pet sit still for the imaging, and this is not always possible without medications.
Is there a certified radiologist on staff? No. But don't worry! We've partnered with VitalRads and can have your pet's radiograph(s) viewed by a board-certified radiologist quickly. There is an extra fee for VitalRads interpretation, but if we're recommending it, we an assure you that it's for good reason
In-House Blood Panels
We are equipped with an impressive in-house laboratory, courtesy of Abaxis!
What can you do? We can run CBCs, Comprehensive Chemistries, PCVs, and other routine diagnostic tests like Heartworm testing, FeLV testing, Parvovirus testing, Blood Glucose monitoring and Blood Glucose Curves, and more.
Is it expensive? The cost for a Wellness Profile can range between $100-$125 if performed in-house. Other basic tests vary in price, and we recommend calling us for a quote.
When do you recommend/require it? We require bloodwork before most anesthetic procedures. Whether or not that labwork can be completed in-house or through the lab depends entirely on the patient and the procedure in question.
How long does it take? Wellness profiles run in-house typically only take thirty minutes to run!
We are equipped with a microscope and everything we need to run basic in-house cytologies.
What is a cytology? A cytology refers to collecting a sample and viewing that sample under a microscope. Whether the sample is of debris in the ear canal, the cells within a mass, or fecal matter, we can use these samples to get a better idea of what's going on internally. The video above is of an ear mite found on a Ear Cytology.
Is there a certified cytologist/pathologist on staff? No. But don't worry! We can always send the cytology sample to the lab for review by a board-certified pathologist.
Allergy & DNA Testing
She is the poster child for allergies, and a great example of how allergy testing can be life changing.
Mattie presented with allergy symptoms at just six months old - which is unusually young for allergies. It started with excessive itching, chewing of the feet, and uncommonly large and smelly bowel movements. We started with the usual first steps: Benadryl, Zyrtec, special shampoos, a diet designed for sensitive stomachs, et cetera. After six months without relief, we tried Apoquel.
As many of you know, Apoquel is a wonder drug - and it did great things for Matilda! But it was SO EXPENSIVE, and while it helped with her itching, it did not help with her bowel movements. So, we moved forward with allergy testing. After all, Apoquel only treats allergy symptoms.
We sent a sample of her blood to a lab that specializes in allergy testing (Spectrum Vet), and the results were eye-opening. We determined that Miss Matilda was allergic to most of the plants in Flagstaff's environment, which we suspected, but we also determined that she was very allergic to the food we had been feeding her!
Now, contrary to popular belief, grains are NOT the most common food allergy and there is absolutely no reason to feed your pet a grain-free food unless your pet has a proven grain-allergy. Matilda did have some grain allergies, but her most serious allergens were to proteins. And unfortunately, most food allergies are to protein sources.
We found that Mattie was allergic to chicken, turkey, venison, eggs, corn, and oats. The lab provided a detailed list of "safe" food options, but that list was shockingly short. We knew lots of foods contained chicken, but the number of foods that contained oats or oatmeal was truly surprising. Treats were even worse! Nearly all of them included oats!
Ultimately, we decided to put her on a strict hypoallergenic diet (Purina Pro Plan Veterinary HA - Vegetarian) for six months. It typically takes 6-8 weeks for diet changes to truly take effect, and given the severity of Mattie's allergies, we decided to give her a solid six months on the new diet so that her body (especially her skin and GI tract) could truly heal.
During this same six months, we also started her on antigen therapy. Antigen therapy is available as either injections or oral drops. It is used to help your pet build a tolerance to the environmental allergens they suffer from. It does not make the allergies go away - but it makes them less and less severe over time.
With these tools, we were able to get control over Mattie's allergies, and we were able to transition her to a more affordable commercial diet (thanks to the food list provided by the lab). Today, she is happy, healthy, only gets mildly itchy during allergy season, and no longer needs Apoquel!
Interested in allergy testing for your dog or cat? Give us a call so we can discuss the testing options! You can also find more information here: https://spectrum.vet/for-pet-parents/
Interested in DNA Testing, too?
At first glance, DNA testing is simply fun. You never really know what your mutt is made of, and so many people make generalized assumptions based on basic visual cues - like coat pattern. For example, Mattie (pictured above) was listed as a "Heeler mix" by the rescue she was adopted from. We tested her DNA using the Royal Canin GHA test, which determined there was no heeler at all! We understand where the assumption came from, though, with those pretty red freckles she has.
Royal Canin's GHA test determined that Matilda is most likely: Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler, Corgi and Pomeranian, with a small percentage of indistinguishable breeds mixed in. She's truly a mutt!
In addition to testing for specific breeds, the GHA test also looks for genetic mutations that could have a negative impact on Matilda's health. For example, it tests for the MDR-1 mutation. This mutation causes extreme sensitivity to some drugs/medications, and is most common in herding breeds, like Border Collies. Another mutation that the GHA test looks for is the mutation that causes Von Willebrand disease - which is a serious clotting disorder (similar to hemophilia). For some pets, this information is literally "life or death," and it's why we recommend DNA testing even for purebred dogs!
For more information, click here: https://www.royalcanin.com/us/dogs/genetic-health-analysis