The 9th Annual ACVO National Service Dog Eye Exam Event brings Veterinary Ophthalmologists and thousands of service animals together.

Garden City, Idaho – During May, WestVet staff members enjoy meeting some of southwestern Idaho’s four-legged heroes when service dogs receive a free eye exam as part of the ACVO National Service Animal Eye Exam Event. The 9th Annual National Free Service Animal Eye Exam Event takes place in May 2016Since its inception in 2008, more than 45,000 Service Animals in the United States and Canada have received complimentary vision screenings; last year 40 dogs were seen at WestVet.

The free exams are performed by Carrie Breaux, DVM, MVSc, DACVO, and Amber Labelle, DVM, MS, DACVO, Idaho’s only board certified veterinary ophthalmologists. The doctors evaluate potential problems which may interfere with the animal's ability to accomplish their tasks. Many of the problems that are diagnosed in service animals have been correctable.

WHAT A VISION SCREENING EXAMINATION ENTAILS. A detailed eye examination is performed on each service animal.  Drs. Breaux and Labelle not only evaluate the surface of the eye but the structures within the eye. Examination findings are discussed with each service animal's human partner. 

National Service Animal Free Eye Exam held at WestVet for area service dogs.

A dog may exhibit some symptoms of eye or vision issues. A handler/agent may notice that the animal begins bumping into things when outside of a familiar environment. However, other times there are no external warning signs that a problem is developing internally. A thorough exam provided by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist can offer a proactive approach to ensuring the health of Service Animals' eyes. Family veterinarians often refer both service dogs and family pets to a WestVet specialist if extensive therapy or treatment is deemed necessary.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 2016 EVENT. To qualify for a free vision screening, Service Animals must be classified “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization, or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. Certifying organizations may be national, regional, or local in nature.

Registration is held April 1—30 at  www.acvoeyeexam.org.

Upon successful registration, the handler/agent will receive a registration code and then may contact a veterinary ophthalmologist at WestVet at 208.345.1600 to make an appointment.

Exams take place throughout the month of May 2016; times vary and appointments are filled on a first come, first-served basis.

The goal of the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event is to provide as many free screening exams as possible to eligible Service Animals across the U.S. and Canada. Service Animals that qualify include guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and certified-current, registered therapy animals. Area Service dogs receive free vision screening exams at WestVet through the national eventThis year’s event is sponsored by ACVO® and Stokes Pharmacy, as well as several generous industry sponsors, and volunteer ophthalmologists. Participating ophthalmologists volunteer their services, staff and facilities at no charge to participate in the event.

ABOUT THE ACVO. The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists® is an approved veterinary specialty organization of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, and is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Its mission is “to advance the quality of veterinary medicine through certification of veterinarians who demonstrate excellence as specialists in veterinary ophthalmology.”

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WestVet’s new animal medical center, opening late 2016 on 50th and Chinden, will be one of the largest and most progressive veterinary centers in the Northwest.

Garden City, Idaho – Construction is now fully underway on WestVet’s new two-story specialty veterinary center.WestVet -- Idaho's most advanced veterinary animal care center  under construction The 32,000 sq. feet hospital—three times the size of the current space—will be one of the largest and most progressive animal care centers in the Northwest. WestVet serves pets from Idaho, Eastern Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah.

(Pictured above, groundbreaking for the new facility in Garden City, Idaho on March 17, 2016; left to right; WestVet owners, Dr. Jeff Brourman, Dr. Carrie Breaux, Dr. John Chandler, and Ann Selander, Hospital Administrator.)

“Our new hospital was carefully designed to enable our specialty team to better serve our patients, clients, and area veterinarians,” says Dr. Jeff Brourman, a board-certified surgeon, part owner, and WestVet Chief of Staff.

WestVet’s services will rival that of some human hospitals; design elements of the ultra-modern specialty center include:

  • An advanced intensive care unit for critically sick patients.WestVet under construction to become Idaho's most progressive and advanced veterinary care center.
  • 5 state-of-the-art surgery suites, along with a designated anesthesia recovery area.
  • Cutting-edge imaging services such as CT and MRI.
  • A full physiotherapy suite equipped with electronic hoists for large dogs.
  • On-site comprehensive diagnostic laboratory led by veterinary pathologists.

In addition to treatment advancements, the new hospital comprises multiple means for owner-pet interaction. The ICU visitation area enables owners to privately visit critically sick or injured pets when they receive medical care. A family comfort room, complete with a home-living environment and outdoor sanctuary, affords families a more natural environment for visitation and peaceful euthanasia.

“I have no doubt that an owner’s interaction with a hospitalized pet improves its attitude, speed of recovery, and the ultimate outcome. Therefore, we focused design components on areas where we could help foster the human-animal bond during hospitalization.” 

As a referral center, WestVet maintains a close working relationship with family practice veterinarians. The specialist team offers monthly continuing education lectures on cutting-edge veterinary medicine practices. The new facility includes a large auditorium-style classroom for these presentations that will enable veterinary professionals to meet licensure requirements.

The site of the new facility is the 1-acre lot located at 50th and Chinden Blvd. in Garden City. Formerly the home of Cars USA, the property is adjacent to, and just south of WestVet’s current location.

The hospital design was a two-year undertaking. Brourman consulted with veterinary professionals and architects in the development of the progressive and innovative facility. The new state-of-the-art care center will allow WestVet specialists to better serve Idaho pets and area family veterinarians that utilize its services.

The present-day 11,000 sq. foot hospital, located on Sawyer Ave., in Garden City, was built in 2001 and expanded in 2007. However, as the need for veterinary specialty care has grown, WestVet’s veterinary team and support staff has expanded—making the current facility insufficient to serve the growing caseload. In addition to serving Northwest pets and owners, the state-of-the-art hospital will serve as a notable factor in recruiting veterinary students, interns, and residents to the Gem state.

Construction began last week and is expected to be completed in late 2016. During construction, WestVet remains open and will continue to provide 24-hour emergency care and the full spectrum of specialty services. As the new hospital is completed, Ann Selander, WestVet Hospital Administrator, is coordinating the logistics to ensure no disruption in emergency services and a minimal interruption in specialty care.

WestVet is locally owned by Dr. Brourman, Dr. John Chandler, and Dr. Carrie Breaux.WestVet will be Idaho's advanced and progressive veterinary 24/7 hospital It is Idaho’s only multi-specialty, 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital. In October 2015, WestVet achieved Level 1 certification from the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Society (VECCS). This distinction places the WestVet among the top 1% of veterinary hospitals in the country; only 18 veterinary emergency centers have earned that honor.

Current veterinary specialties provided at WestVet include surgery, internal medicine, emergency/critical care, ophthalmology, radiology, oncology, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, physiotherapy, pathology, and feline behavior. WestVet is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all holidays.

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Dental health in your pets – Sign and Symptoms of Dental Disease

Your pet’s oral health plays a crucial role in both their well-being and longevity, Dr. Kristin Walker, board certified veterinary dentist, shares a few signs of oral health problems in today’s veterinary blog.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has established February as National pet dental health month. February is National Pet Dental Awareness Month - Board Certified Veterinary Dentist Dr. Kristin Walker The AVMA reports that by the age of three, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats exhibit signs of dental disease—something that can be the catalyst for major health issues. Your family veterinarian is your first line of defense. He/she will thoroughly inspect your pet’s mouth during your annual visit, giving you a better chance to catch the dental disease early.

You know your pet best. Look at their teeth when possible; tartar may appear as a brownish-gold buildup on the teeth, close to the gumline. Redness or bleeding along the gumline may indicate gingivitis. Other signs of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Swelling in the mouth

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, schedule an appointment with your family veterinarian right away. A professional dental cleaning lead by licensed veterinary professionals removes not only the visible plaque and tartar on the tooth surfaces but also the bacteria under the gumline. This eliminates potential sources of infection to the mouth and other organs and protects your pet from pain and tooth loss.


If you are concerned that your pet is behaving acutely abnormally, whether or not you suspect a dental or oral problem, it is always appropriate to consult your veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day

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Obesity and Pets – How extra weight harms your Pet

Extra weight impacts your pet's quality of life and longevity, in today’s veterinary blog, Dr. Teri Dowdell outlines how obesity can affect a pet’s health and how you and your pet can both get on track for a healthier new year.

Overweight pets are prevalent in the United States where obesity ranks as the most common nutritional disorder in dogs and cats. In 2015, 54% of companion animals were determined to overweight or obese, but their owners didn’t recognize it. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, reports that more than 90% of owners perceived their pets to be of normal weight.

That’s where a professional opinion counts. The first step in determining if your pet is at a healthy weight is a physical exam from your family veterinarian. He/she will know the appropriate weight for your pet’s age, stature, and breed. In addition, a licensed veterinarian will have insight on the nutritional needs and the best diet for your beloved pet.

Dr. Teri Dowdell, WestVet Veterinary physiotherapist, helps pets recover physically after surgery, prepare for agility work, and lose weight, among other needs.Pet's obesity can harm their health and their longevity - tips from Dr. Teri Dowdell, veterinary physiotherapist She says that ideal body condition is not just for aesthetics--it really is a matter of good health. A few common diseases linked with pet obesity include:

  • Osteoarthritis. Extra weight increases stress on joints, leading to pain and eventually, joint degeneration. It becomes a circular problem, as a pet with joint pain will decrease activity, leading to obesity. An important note: the single most effective component in managing arthritis in an obese pet is weight loss; appropriate weight loss often leads to medication reduction or elimination.
  • Intervertebral disk disease. Extra pounds do not cause disks to degenerate, however, the weight creates greater force and could exacerbate a sub-clinical condition--often resulting in a veterinary emergency. 
  • Decreased life span. Obese pets live shorter lives by an average of 2.5 years.
  • Diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. In cats, weight management is especially important to decrease the risk of diabetes mellitus; obese cats have a 50% decrease in insulin sensitivity.
  • Hepatic lipidosis in cats. When an obese cat goes off food for any reason, body fat is mobilized and may infiltrate the liver, resulting in organ failure. Critical advice: never starve your cat for weight loss!
  • Respiratory Issues. A significant fat layer makes taking deep breaths more difficult. In small dogs, obesity is a risk factor in tracheal collapse; some cases of this disorder can only be successfully managed with weight loss.
  • Increased anesthetic risk. In association with respiratory complications as deep breaths are more difficult for obese pets, anesthetic medications further decrease the body’s ability to breathe deeply. These conditions, along with the fact that many anesthetics are fat soluble, often mean an obese patient may take longer to recover from surgery.
  • Exercise and heat intolerance. Particularly critical during summer months. 
  • Heart disease.Using physiotherapy and veterinary help when your pet is obese, WestVet's Dr. Teri Dowdell.
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Urinary tract disease.
  • Impaired immune response.
  • Skin diseases. These ailments often arise due to difficulty grooming; some animals may even develop pressure sores.
  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury. Although knee and joint disease in dogs are considered multifactorial, joint stresses from added weight plus the pro-inflammatory properties of fat may make significant contributions to the eventual rupture of the ligament.
  • Some forms of cancer. Obese dogs and cats are statistically more likely to suffer from cancer.

It doesn’t take a lot of extra weight for your dog or cat to be labeled obese, with their smaller bodies, even a few extra pounds that may look “chubby” or “cute” could put your pet at risk.

Strategies for weight loss differ between dogs and cats. It's important that you keep an open dialog with your family veterinarian for the best results. In addition, consult your veterinarian to ensure that there are no medical reasons for your pet's weight gain.

 Simple changes you can implement in your pet’s routine to help reverse weight gain:

  • Substitute lower calorie treats. Your pet may find raw carrots or green beans may be just as satisfying. WestVet physiotherapy and rehabilitation center offers help for obese pets and postoperative care.
  • Ensure everyone is onboard with the new diet and treat protocol… especially children!
  • Therapeutic diets can be helpful, especially when significant weight loss is needed.
  • Increased exercise should be part of the strategy; substitute walk or play time for snack time.
  • Introduce interactive toys that will engage your pet.
  • Place the food bowl upstairs.
  • Utilize a digital pet activity monitor to determine if your pet is moving enough.
  • Physiotherapy has been shown to be very beneficial in reducing lameness associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Frequent weight evaluations are key. Weigh your pet often and remain in close contact with your family veterinarian to ensure that the amount and rate of weight loss are appropriate.

Weight loss can be difficult—but don’t give up. The long-term happier healthier results are worth it!

If you have concerns about your pet’s weight, it’s always appropriate to consult with your family veterinarian. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day. 

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2016 Resolutions for Pets and their People in the New Year

With a bright, shiny new year laid out in front of us, it’s a good time to consider big (and little) resolutions—and how to involve your pets in the 2016 goal-setting. In today’s blog, some ideas where a little change in your life and could result in a big improvement in your furry friend’s life.

Daily exercise. Get out and about with your dog, every day. If you’re trying to shape up or train for a competition, your dog could be a willing fitness partner. WestVet New Year's resolutions for pets - Keep everyone healthy and Happy in 201630 minutes of walking, running, hiking, or cross-country skiing a few times a week will benefit both of you.

For feline friends, playtime is a must. The time that your cat spends chasing and batting a toy benefits his/her waistline and temperament. Veterinarians maintain that a pet’s healthy weight is critical for long-term health and mobility. Bonus: pets think of the work out as play time, they’ll not only be tired, but more content!

No people food – and a measured meal.  Using a specific scoop when dishing up your pet’s food dish can save some extra calories. Your family veterinarian will have important input on both the type and amount of food your pet needs for his age/breed/size. Table scraps are always a "NO." Human food contains too much sugar, salt, fat, etc., for four-legged friends. Don’t forget to track the treats dispensing. If you, your partner, the dog walker, and the kids all dole out a treat or two, it will be too much. Consider counting out a daily portion; when the treats are gone—they’re done for the day.

Schedule the day. Pets thrive on routine. You may find that as meals, walks, and play time happen at the same time, your pet is one step ahead of you. Disruption in the routine is particularly stressful for cats. Ordinary life changes like a new baby, houseguests, remodeling, moving and/or the addition of a new pet can result in an unhappy and misbehaving feline. Your veterinarian will have some ideas on ways to help alleviate distress and help ease your cat into the new family dynamic. In addition, WestVet’s Dr. Hazel Carney provides behavior consultations if your kitty is suddenly stressed, aggressive or anxious, and/or not using the litter box.

Book the annual veterinary visit. The yearly physical exam performed by your family veterinarian is critical to your pet’s good health. Veterinary records track a pet’s weight, vaccines and preventative care medications, and any other significant changes. Call and schedule your pet’s 2016 appointment today!

Seek specialty care when needed. A veterinary specialist could save your pet’s life; they partner with your family veterinarian to provide the highest level of care available. Pets often benefit from seeing a specialist if they are not responding to treatment or have an aggressive or advanced illness.

Take a training class (or two). If your pooch could benefit from some better manners, 2016 could be the year to enroll in a training course. Many of the best dog trainers often say that training for your dog is actually training for YOU on how to be consistent, firm, and clear in commands and expectation. Bonus: the time spent together will strengthen the relationship and bond with your pet.

Update collar and contact information. Ensure that your pet has a well-fitting collar with current ID tags. If you and your pet become separated, these ID tags and a current city pet license are the quickest means to a happy reunion. Many pet microchip companies enable pet families to update contact info online in a matter of minutes. 

As you embrace the New Year and its promise of change and personal improvement, include your pets and make it a great year for all of you. Happy 2016!

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