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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Preparing for a Pet Emergency, Tips from Dr. Kara Lindberg

Pet emergencies are always scary, but a little preparation goes a long way; in today’s veterinary blog, WestVet ER doctor Kara Lindberg has a few helpful tips for pet owners.

While impossible to predict every accident, emergency, or illness that could befall a pet, there are a few simple steps that owners can take to make it easier to treat your pet safely, efficiently, and effectively.

Use the following information to create an “in-case-of-emergency” file. This should be shared with anyone taking care of your pet, pet sitters or boarding facility. WestVet ER Veterinarian Dr. Kara Lindberg explains what preparations families can make before a pet emergencyThis information is also very helpful for owners should your pet require emergency veterinary care:

  • Your family veterinarian’s contact information. Include not only your doctor’s name and clinic, but also include phone numbers, hours of operation, clinic policy on emergency walk-ins, and a 24-hour hospital he/she recommends for after hours care.
  • A list of all current medications. Include the medication name, dosage, length of time used, and the routine your pet follows when taking the medication(s).
  • Phone number(s) for yourself and someone who can make medical decisions regarding your pet’s care. This is especially important if you will be travelling and unreachable for any amount of time. A designated caregiver—determined before you travel—can play a critical role in your pet receiving lifesaving veterinary care. A simple notarized statement can authorize your chosen representative to make these important decisions while you are unavailable.  
  • A list of any important medical history. Make note of any previous drug reactions, allergies, or pertinent medical conditions that your pet has experienced. All of this information will be vital for emergency veterinary staff members when treating your pet.
  • Microchip and ID tags numbers. Ensure your pet has a registered (and updated) microchip. Occasionally, pets do get separated from their people and this critical information will help your friend return home.  

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


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Keeping Pets Safe during the Fourth

In today’s veterinary blog a few reminders for keeping pets calm and safe as families celebrate Independence Day.

The July 4th holiday and celebration can be a scary and confusing time for pets. Lots of loud noises, bright lights, crowds of people—all of it could send your dog bolting out the door. Animal shelters around the country report that their kennels are filled to capacity with lost pets in the days following July 4th. Our Treasure Valley animal rescue organizations are no different. Keeping your pets safe on the 4th of July holiday, WestVet is a 24 Hour Emergency HospitalThe Idaho Humane Society (IHS) reports that following Independence Day their shelter is always bursting with pets. Even worse, some pets become injured when running away and require veterinary care and treatment.

To try and avoid these situations, here are a few suggestions:

  • Get in some early exercise. Provide an opportunity early in the day to help your pet burn off some energy, this may help them be more relaxed and ready to rest during the evening celebrations. This year may be extremely challenging for Idaho dogs to enjoy a good walk due to the extreme heat we have been experiencing. In the summertime, it’s never a good idea to exercise pets during the heat of the day. If you can, get an outdoor walk in early in the morning when it’s still cool, or find a way to play inside.
  • Indoors is best on the Fourth. Pets simply deal with the noise best if they are kept safely in the house. A crate can add an additional level of security for your pet.  
  • Background noise. Use music, television or a fan to help disguise firework noises.
  • Offer a special treat. A new chewy or interactive toy will keep a pet’s attention focused on something fun—and away from the outside festivities.
  • Keep pet identification current. Even with these precautions, pets may still get loose. Ensure that his/her ID tags include the most current contact information. Also, don’t forget to update the microchip information if you’ve moved or changed phone numbers since it was implanted.
  • Prepare for early (and late) fireworks. You may have to use caution in both the days leading up to the Fourth and the days following. Many people spread the fireworks out over the whole weekend.

If your pet goes missing on the Fourth of July. Here is some important information regarding hours of operation at the Idaho Humane Society shared on their website:

The IHS shelter will be closed on the 4th of July. If an emergency involving a pet such an injured stray or dangerous animal arises, an animal control officer can be dispatched by calling the Ada County Sheriff Dispatch at 208.377.6790. 

The Shelter opens at 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 5, 2015 for owners searching for their lost pets. If your pet is missing, please visit the shelter immediately to look for your pet and file a lost report.

Let’s enjoy this beloved summer holiday and keep everyone safe!

If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day. We will be open and staffed throughout the weekend of the Fourth of July. 


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