Classes for Pet Owners at WestVet: Dog First Aid & Common Veterinary Emergencies

In today’s Veterinary blog, WestVet invites area pet owners to join some of our staff members for Community Education Classes.

WestVet is pleased to partner with Boise Schools Community Education program to provide classes Treasure Valley pet families. Our fall 2015 courses include:

American Red Cross Dog First Aid. Led by WestVet’s Nursing Directors Pam Knowles and Erica Mattox.  In this important course, you will learn the critical skills that may save your best friend's life, including what to look for in a pet emergency and how to provide basic first aid for the four-legged members of your family, such as:

  • Understanding basic pet owner responsibilitiesWestVet offers Dog First Aid Classes for Treasure Valley Pet Owners
  • Administering medicine
  • Managing breathing
  • Cardiac emergencies
  • Managing urgent care situation
  • Identifying symptoms of stress and/or illness
  • Treating wounds
  • Treating electrical shock
  • Caring for eye, foot and ear injuries
  • Preparing for disasters

Participants will practice CPR skills, rescue breathing, muzzling, and bandaging work.

Two sessions available; register HERE. For more information about the American Red Cross Dog First Aid Course, click HERE.

Our staff who teach this class have earned additional veterinary technician credentials—both are certified as Veterinary Technician Specialists (Emergency & Critical Care). WestVet is the only veterinary hospital in Idaho to employ Certified Veterinary Technicians with additional Veterinary Technician Specialty training in emergency and critical care.

Classes include youth, students ages 14+ are welcome.

Common Medical Emergencies for Pets. Led by an emergency veterinarian with more than ten years of experience working in ER medicine. Dr. Laura Lefkowitz will teach pet owners about some of the more common emergency cases that are treated at a veterinary hospital. The presentation will help you recognize early warning signs that your pet may be having a serious medical problem, as well as provide some simple interventions you can do until you can get to a veterinary hospital.

Class available to youth, students ages 12+ are welcome. Classes with Community Education include a tour of the WestVet Emergency Hospital.  

Our employees volunteer to teach with Boise Schools Community Education; all tuition supports this important program in the Treasure Valley.

If you have any questions, you may contact them at 208.854.4047.

We hope you will join us for class this year!


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Dr. Carrie Breaux on Treatment for a Pet’s Ingrown Eyelashes

Similar to humans, pets can suffer from a variety of eye ailments, in today’s veterinary blog, Dr. Carrie Breaux, describes how an ingrown eyelash should be treated.

There are many times that pet owners wish their pet could talk—particularly when they are ill or feeling pain or discomfort. Eye problems are one example where early detection and treatment can prevent more serious problems. Veterinary Ophthalmologist Dr. Carrie Breaux offered some guidelines on “Entropion,” a disorder that occurs when a pet’s eyelashes grow inward.

Entropion most commonly affects a pet’s lower eyelid, but it can also occur with the upper eyelid. Dr. Carrie Breaux, WestVet Veterinary Ophthalmologist offers eye care to Idaho's petsThis disorder results in problems ranging from minor irritation to severe discomfort to severe damage to the eyeball. It can even affect your pet’s eyesight.

Early treatment and veterinary care crucial. It makes sense that the longer the eyelid rolls inward, the more irritation and discomfort for the patient. In addition, pets suffering from Entropion innately squint more due to the irritation—a response that actually worsens this condition.

Entropion is most common in younger dogs. There are some temporary procedures that not only manage it, they also allow a young patient a chance to outgrow the condition altogether. Veterinary Ophthalmologists serve pets with eye problems, full care at WestVet.However, severe and chronic cases may require extensive surgery to re-position the eyelids and protect the pet’s long-term sight.

It’s important to note that any breed of dog can be affected by this eye ailment.

If you notice an increase in your pet’s tearing, squinting, or discharge, it is always appropriate to consult your family veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day. We offer the services of two veterinary ophthalmologists to care for your pet's eye health.


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What is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons?

WestVet Board Certified Veterinary Surgeons work with your family veterinarian to provide the best care for your pet

Pets suffering from severe health problems or injuries may be referred to a veterinary surgeon; in today’s veterinary blog we discuss how a board certified veterinary surgeon could benefit your family.

Pets—similar to people—can suffer from a wide spectrum of illnesses or injuries, some of which are best treated with a specialist. If your pet is referred to a WestVet Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon, rest assured that he or she will receive the highest level of surgical care available. A surgeon will review the history of issues your pet is having, perform a thorough physical examination and based on this information make recommendations for diagnostic tests and treatment. Our surgeons work closely with family veterinarians before and after surgery to ensure continuity of care for your pet.

A Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (DACVS) or board certified veterinary surgeon is a veterinarian that goes through extensive training consisting of a one year internship and 3-year surgery residency program following veterinary school. They then must publish a research article and pass an extensive board certification exam. Only on completion of all of these steps can someone be called board certified or a “Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.”WestVet Board Certified Surgeon, Dr. Sean Murphy, specializes in Dog knee and back surgery Board certified surgeons are designated with “DACVS” behind their name. The WestVet surgeons (Drs. Brourman, Murphy, and Chandler) are the only small animal board certified surgeons in Idaho. 

Consultation with a WestVet surgeon is by referral only. If you have any questions regarding surgery for your pet, contact your family veterinarian.


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Pet Summer Safety: Avoiding Common Veterinary Problems at the ER

Dr. Laura Lefkowitz, WestVet ER vet, shares common reasons pets are treated at our emergency hospital during the summer and tips on how you can avoid a trip to the veterinarian.

While dogs benefit both physically and mentally from daily exercise, summertime adds extra considerations for pets. Excessive heat, your pet’s age and physical fitness, rattlesnakes, and even other dogs are just a few of the situations that could lead to a veterinary visit.  

Overheating or Heat Stroke. It’s critical to consider outside temperatures before exercising with dogs. Dr. Laura Lefkowitz offers summer safety tips for pets in the Treasure Valley. The canine body cooling system functions differently--and less efficiently--than humans, as dogs cool off primarily through panting. They can rapidly overheat and as they love to play, dogs typically won’t make a conscious decision about when to stop.

When a dog becomes overheated he/she could suffer from heat stroke—a devastating and often irreversible condition. Dogs can progress rapidly from an excessively high body temperature (often greater than 106 degrees) to developing edema of the brain, with seizures and coma. This may be followed with symptoms of intestinal hemorrhaging, cardiac arrest, kidney failure, and a high incidence of death.

How hot is too hot? Veterinarians routinely treat dogs for heat-related exercise incidents when outside temperatures reach 80 degrees. With triple digits temperatures, it is simply unsafe for dogs to run or hike during the heat of the day.

To help prevent heat stroke, wet your dog down before and during the activity and offer lots of drinking water throughout. Watch for signs of overheating. These include walking slowly, lying down, walking off balance, panting heavily, or collapsing. Heat stroke occurs in increments and can usually be prevented if you intervene. If your dog is overheating, immediately soak him/her with cool water and seek veterinary care as quickly as possible.

Contrary to popular belief, heat stroke does not only affect animals exercising on hot days but also those intolerant of high heat, for example:

  • large breed dogs 
  • overweight dogs
  • dogs that are excessively furry
  • Nordic breed dogs genetically designed to live in snow
  • “smush-faced” dogs, (pugs, mastiffs, boxers, bulldogs, etc.) these breeds often experience difficulty expelling heat and cooling down

Senior dogs. For owners, it’s easy to assume that our dog is capable of the same length and speed of walks/hikes enjoyed in previous years.WestVet is Idaho's only 24 hour animal Emergency Hospital and Veterinary Specialty Center However, a dog’s body ages faster, and one year older may result in significant changes. Signs to look for include walking slower, an asymmetrical gait, limping, difficulty rising or lying down, yelping with sudden movement, or reluctance to get up at all.

As veterinarians, we commonly see older animals that are stiff, sore, or limping after an exuberant day of outside play. Use common sense to determine how aggressively you allow your dog to exercise. Dogs, like humans, will tire easily if they are not physically fit. Start slowly. Increase the duration and intensity of your walks/hikes as your dog’s mobility and stamina allows.

In addition, lameness or gait abnormalities often reflect underlying medical issues such as arthritis. If your senior dog takes medication for pain or joint mobility, be sure to administer it the days before and the days following extensive exercise. If he/she exhibits signs of slowing down or painful movement, it is always appropriate to seek advice from your family veterinarian. In addition, there are numerous physiotherapy options, including massage, laser therapy, acupuncture and hydrotherapy that can restore mobility and reduce your dog’s discomfort.

Dogs meeting other dogs. Be careful around unfamiliar dogs. WestVet doctors frequently see dogs that get in scuffles while outside. If approached by another dog, notice both dogs’ body language. If you see raised hairs, intense staring, silent posturing, growling, dilated pupils or overt aggression, this may signal the other dog is unfriendly. We regularly treat dogs injured by another dog while hiking (regardless of whether the dogs were leashed or not).

Be especially careful with little dogs. Small dogs are not always perceived to be a dog; they may be seen as “prey,” like a rabbit or squirrel. You may want to pick up your small dog if unfamiliar dogs approach you.

Protecting paws. If your dogs are walking over coarse or rocky terrain, you may want to invest in protective boots. Some overly exuberant dogs that run on cement or rocky surfaces create painful ulcers on their paw pads. Another paw issue is “cheat grass” which grows abundantly in the Treasure Valley. These small barbs can become lodged in feet pads, ears, and eyes, they can migrate under the skin, creating painful abscesses that are difficult to treat. Always perform a thorough exam of your dog, especially between his/her toes for cheat grass awns after hiking. Pay attention to your dog following a hike; if you notice excessive licking at their paws, inspect them thoroughly.

Avoiding a snake bite. Rattlesnakes are also a potential problem in Ada County. The first course of action to help prevent a bite is a leash. If your dog explores off leash, enroll him/her in a rattlesnake avoidance program held intermittently in the Boise area. If your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake, seek veterinary care immediately as Antivenin may be needed. Be aware that emergency veterinary treatment for a snake bite can be expensive.

Most of all be safe and have fun!

If you are concerned that your pet is behaving abnormally, 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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What to Expect When Visiting the Veterinary Oncologist

Cancer can be a scary diagnosis for pet owners, in today’s veterinary blog, Dr. Carrie Hume outlines what to expect when visiting WestVet’s Animal Cancer Center.

It is a fairly common diagnosis for cats and dogs, but treating cancer in pets is highly individualized depending on breed, age, gender, and past medical treatments. We asked Veterinary Oncologist Dr. Carrie Hume to outline the basics of what  to expect when visiting WestVet for animal cancer treatment:

"For your first appointment, I begin with your pet’s medical history. WestVet  Animal Cancer Treatment Center with Dr. Carrie HumeThe owner and I discuss the past medical history and what changes he/she has noticed in their pet more recently. We go over any tests that have already been performed and talk about additional testing that may be indicated.

There are several tests that I routinely perform to confirm a diagnosis of cancer.  A needle can be used to obtain cells from masses/tumors found on the outside or inside of the body. Internal organs can be visualized with x-rays, ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans. Blood and urine can be analyzed to assess organ function and to look for cancerous cells that may be circulating in the blood.

The results of these tests often determine the extent of cancer and often dictate what treatment options are available. Once all of the information is collected, the owner and I discuss all of the treatment options and decide what plan is best for that particular pet.

If you are concerned that your pet is coughing extensively, has suddenly developed lumps or bumps under the skin, or has been ill for some time, it is always appropriate to consult your family veterinarian for an exam."

Dr. Carrie Hume works closely with veterinarians around the Treasure Valley and Intermountain West. WestVet Diagnostic Laboratory serves veterinary clients throughout the Intermountain WestShe utilizes the highest level of veterinary diagnostic tools and imaging services available in the industry at our hospital. In addition, our on-site WestVet Diagnostic Laboratory provides timely results for patients diagnosed with cancer or undergoing cancer treatments.

If you have any questions about veterinary oncology care and treatment options, you may call WestVet at 208.375.1600.


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