Cleft Palates in Pets

Dr. Kristin Walker, WestVet’s board certified veterinary dentist, has successfully treated  numerous cleft palate deformities; she has details about how it can affect a pet’s health and general treatment options in today’s veterinary blog.

A cleft palate is a birth defect, often diagnosed in very young puppies, that creates an opening between the mouth (oral cavity) and nose (nasal cavity). Treating a cleft palate in pets with a board certified veterinary dentistThe cleft palate may affect the lips, hard palate, soft palate or a combination of those locations. The opening can prevent puppies from properly nursing and allow for food and fluids to enter the nasal cavity and airway, potentially leading to serious complications.

Brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short noses such as Pugs, Pekinese or French Bulldogs) are most commonly affected by cleft palates. While purebred dogs and cats have a higher incidence, the malformation can be possible in any puppy or kitten.

Symptoms of a cleft palate can vary depending on the age of the puppy, but can include:

  • Difficulty nursingDr. Kristin Walker is a board certified veterinary dentist who treats pets born with a cleft palate
  • Stunted growth/failure to thrive
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing/gagging
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Pneumonia due to food aspiration

Your family veterinarian can diagnosis a cleft palate through a visual examination. Young puppies often require dedicated care and tube/hand feedings until old enough for surgery (usually 4-5 months of age) to repair it. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the defect but typically involves creating tissue flaps within the mouth that are sutured over the defect. Surgery is best performed by a veterinarian with advanced training in oral surgery, such as a board certified dentist or surgeon.


If you have any concerns about your pet’s dental health, whether or not you suspect a cleft palate, it is always appropriate to consult with your family veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day. 

Comment →

Dr. Katy Campbell joins WestVet surgical team

In 2012 Dr. Katy Campbell completed a one-year internship at WestVet; our team of doctors and specialists were delighted when she agreed to join our animal surgical center permanently.

WestVet is pleased to announce that Dr. Campbell joined our team in September, following her three-year surgical residency.Dr. Katy Campbell, Diplomate candidate american college of veterinary surgical services Her educational achievements include undergraduate work at George Fox University in Newberg, OR (2004 -2008) and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. 

Just prior to graduation from vet school, she was selected from a highly competitive applicant pool for a one-year Rotating Small animal Internship (2012-13) at our specialty hospital. While working at WestVet she exhibited a professional demeanor, affinity for surgical services, and warm and communicative interaction with clients and our entire team.

2013-2016 brought Dr. Campbell to Pennsylvania where she completed a three-year surgical residency at the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center. Her research paper, accepted for publication in the Journal of Veterinary Surgery, is entitled “Outcome of Tibial Closing Wedge Osteotomy in 55 Cranial Cruciate Ligament-Deficient Stifles of Small Dogs.” Up next, as a Diplomate candidate, Dr. Campbell must successfully pass board examinations in the area of veterinary specialty, something slated for spring of 2017.

Veterinary Specialty Care. 

When specialized veterinary expertise is required, your family veterinarian may refer you to a specialist. Our specialists serve as a valuable resource in providing advanced medicine and care as he/she collaborate with your family veterinarian on specific treatments.

The letters following a specialists’ name indicate their area of focus beyond veterinary school and the specialty college. For example, "DACVS" stands for Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons. It is listed after the name of a board certified veterinary surgeon who has met all of the requirements. 

WestVet is pleased to offer the services of 18 veterinary specialists who provide 11 specialty disciplines that are recognized by the American Veterinary of Medical Association. Dr. Campbell joins three other board certified veterinary surgeons and our highly-skilled technicians and support staff at WestVet.

Dr. Campbell has received numerous honors throughout her educational pursuits, both in the classroom and on the basketball court, you may read her full bio HERE. Dr. Katy Campbell joins WestVet Surgical Center

She and her fiancé Justin, and their active Labrador Retriever “Bear” are all outdoor enthusiasts. When she’s not working, you may find the three of them enjoying the many recreational activities that the Treasure Valley has to offer.


We were delighted when she agreed to return to join our WestVet surgical team. Dr. Campbell is seeing patients four days a week.

Comment →

Disaster Preparedness for your family and pets; tips from ER Vet Kara Lindberg

September is designated National Disaster Preparedness Month as a reminder of the unexpected events that disrupt our lives and home; in today’s veterinary blog we are sharing a few ideas on ensuring your pets are also prepared for an emergency.  

September, National Preparedness Month, focuses on family preparations for emergencies or disasters for the region or community where we live and work. Whether natural disasters such as tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, or man-made calamities, entire regions can be affected for weeks. It’s always wise to have emergency plans in place for your family – and to include your pets in those plans.

Dr. Kara Lindberg, WestVet Emergency Veterinarian, shared some thoughts on emergency pet preparations below:

  1. Microchip/Current ID. Ensure your pet has a registered (and updated) microchip. Preparing your pet for an emergency - Tips from WestVet Animal ER HospitalWhen pets get separated from their people, whether during an emergency or an unexpected escape through an open fence, this critical tool can help your friend return home.  
  2. Information file or folder for each pet. This easy-to-grab folder can include a pet’s health information and medical history, vaccination records, an updated photo and your family veterinarian’s contact information.
  3. Emergency pet kit. If a natural disaster requires that your family must evacuate your home, grab pet supplies and store them in a crate/kennel to take along. Consider things that your pets needs, such as a food and water bowl, food and current medication supplies for several days, a leash, waste disposal bags, and comfort items (a favorite toy or blanket).
  4. A designated caregiver in your absence. If you are traveling and unreachable whether during an unexpected calamity or for an extended vacation, a designated caregiver can play an important role in your pet receiving lifesaving veterinary care. Before leaving, designate your chosen representative through a simple notarized statement authorizing him/her to make important decisions for your pet in the case of a large disaster or a smaller veterinary emergency that requires medical care.
  5. Explore resources and ideas.The website Ready.Gov and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  offer a wealth of information on preparations for all the people and pets in your care in the event of an emergency.  


If your family veterinarian is unavailable, the WestVet Emergency Veterinary Hospital is always open and able to help your pet 24 hours a day. In emergency situations, no appointment is necessary, just come directly to our hospital. 208.375.1600

Comment →

Dog Hydration 101: Is my dog getting enough water?

Water is an essential ingredient for healthy pets–and humans; in today’s veterinary blog, how proper hydration can keep your pooch healthy, how much water is enough, and a few ideas to encourage your pets to drink up.

With the heat of the summer in full swing, one proactive veterinary tip that we repeat often is to ensure your pets have access to clean, cool water to help avoid heat-related injuries or ailments.

So, how do you know if your dog is drinking enough and well hydrated?

Water requirements for pets depend on several factors:

  • Size. Healthy dogs drink between ½ and 1 oz of water/per pound daily. For example, a 65-lb dog would need 33--65 ounces (¼ to ½ of a gallon).WestVet Pet Education blog: Keeping my dog hydrated and drinking water.
  • Diet. Dogs that eat a moisture-rich diet may meet some of their water intake needs through food, and therefore, drink a little less. Conversely, dogs that eat primarily dry food may require slightly more water.  
  • Age. Puppies require small amounts of water every few hours and close monitoring to encourage drinking it. Seniors dogs may need a little more, as well.
  • Activity level. Active dogs will need more water. If you’re out and about enjoying the Treasure Valley foothills with your pet, bring along a bowl and water and offer frequent short water breaks.
  • Weather conditions. On hot day dogs use water to stay cool. Offer plenty, in a few different areas around the home and yard.

How hydration keeps your dog healthy.

Similar to people, water offers multiple health benefits by:

  • Facilitating digestion and metabolic processes.
  • Transporting oxygen through a healthy blood flow.
  • Flushing out toxins from vital organs
  • Regulating body temperature (dogs pant to cool down, this process dispels water through their tongue)

Be aware, that upon occasion, certain illness could incite excessive thirst in your dog. Cushing’s disease, cancer, liver/kidney ailments are a few underlying health issues that affect a dog’s water intake. If you notice a significant change in your dog’s water consumption, a thorough exam by your family veterinarian can identify areas of concern.

If you have a “picky drinker” try adding a little broth to his/her water to make it tasty and appealing—just be sure to use a low sodium broth. WestVet Pet Education-- How do I know if my dog is getting enough water?Get creative! Offer the garden hose, a water bottle, or ice cubes to encourage your friend to drink up and stay hydrated.

Keep your canine companion (and yourself!) well-hydrated during these end of summer days. 


If you have concerns about your pet’s water intake, dehydration, or a sudden change in appetite/thirst it is always appropriate to see your family veterinarian; if your veterinarian is unavailable WestVet provides 24-hour emergency veterinary care to pets in the Treasure Valley.


Comment →

Boise dog restored to full activity following a leg amputation

The Idaho chocolate Labrador Retriever--minus one front leg--joyfully continues his love of water play, not slowed down a bit; in today's veterinary blog we were thrilled to share this video update from Atlen's person following successful treatment and surgery at WestVet.

When an owner faces a scary diagnosis for a pet, one concern is always a good quality of life. One Boise family faced that hurdle and they wondered, would a leg amputation slow down their beloved water-loving Chocolate ‎Lab‬?


Watch Atlen; 9 months post-op from a life-saving surgery from Dr. John Chandler--chasing the ball and swimming like a champ! Alten is an 8.5-year-old Chocolate Lab who saw two specialists at WestVet. Dr. Carrie Hume, a veterinary oncologist, and Dr. John Chandler, a veterinary surgeon.

 A priority of his treatment was to be pain-free and have a good quality of life. His person tells us that these goals were achieved! With continued exercise, good nutrition and regular veterinary care with his family vet, Atlen will have many more summers to play in the water!

It's always inspiring to see how pets strive to heal from ailments or injuries -- particularly when their people remain engaged and encouraging. We'll be looking forward to another video from Atlen.



Alten - Super Chocolate Lab on the GO! from WestVet Animal Emergency on Vimeo.

Comment →