2014 Holiday Safety Tips: Avoiding Veterinary Emergency Visits

The holidays are filled with families, friends, fun, and occasionally, an emergency veterinary visit; here are a few safety tips to keep your pets home and healthy.

Holiday Décor.  Live Christmas trees need water--your pet may think this new decorative bowl is a perfect place to get a sip. Not so. If the water is stagnant it will become a breeding ground for bacteria. If a pet drinks it he/she may end up with diarrhea and/or nausea (not a fun way to celebrate the holidays with a house full of company! ). In addition, other Christmas plants can be harmful. Avoid Veterinary Emergency Visits During the Holidays. Tips to Keep your pet safe.Holly, if ingested, may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause those same issues, as well as cardiovascular problems. Several varieties of lilies can cause numerous internal issues for cats. You may find it's best to use silk floral decor to ensure that none of your pets take a nibble when you’re not looking.

The feast. Human food is only for humans. We have seen pets that helped themselves to an unattended plate, nosed through the trash, and/or opened a food-related present under the tree (with their keen sense of smell, dogs can sniff out the wrapped goodies pretty easily). Common food exposures during the holidays include: chocolate, bread dough, fruitcake, alcohol, and medications. Remind your guests to keep their medications safely packed away during their visit.

Careful with the cocktails. If your pet sips an unattended alcoholic drink, he or she could become weak, ill, and even slip into a coma—possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A house bursting with guests. While many guests will offer extra attention and affection to your pet, some people or children are wary of pets. It’s best to keep furry household members away from the noisy festivities. Pets that are not accustomed to children may become easily startled or frightened. This could result in a nip, a bite, a scratch, or a hiss—and tears and contention all around. Tips to keep your pets safe during the holidays; WestVet 24/7 Emergency Veterinary HospitalKeep everyone happier by kenneling your four-legged friends in their own space, complete with fresh water and a place to cuddle. Another potential issue arises when visitors bring their pets. Pets innately become territorial if feeling threatened from a visiting pet, a situation ripe for a fight and an animal injury.

Tinsel, lights, and candles. Curious cats love glittery things. Ingested tinsel can be extremely dangerous. If eaten it may result in an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration, and possible surgery. Open flamed candles could burn your pet and/or be tipped over and cause damage to your home. Also, watch the strings of lights--no nibbling or playing with electrical cords!

Give great (and safe) gifts. Choose safe pet toys. If your dog likes to tear her toys apart, be aware that squeakers and plastic eyes/noses could become lodged in an animal's esophagus, stomach, or intestines. This includes cats who shred their toys. If particles and pieces become stuck internally, surgery may be required.

Snow globes. Keep these knickknacks in a safe place. Some snow globes contain ethylene glycol— a highly toxic substance to pets. If broken, the sweet smell may attract your pet to lick it up, leading to a potentially fatal intoxication.

Many of these tips were adapted from the ASCPA’s holiday safety tips. During the holidays they receive numerous calls from pet owners. If your pet ingests something they should not have, you may contact the Animal Poison Control Center at their toll free number 1.888.426.4435 with questions. In addition, WestVet remains open 24/7 to provide emergency and critical care to pets during the holidays.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our Treasure Valley friends, we hope it is a joyous and happy time for you and your family!

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With her head lodged in a pipe for twenty-four hours, the Boise Fire Department provided crucial support in cutting through the pipe and safely extricating the dog.

Garden City, Idaho – A 3.5-year-old Jack Russell Terrier is recovering after quite a memorable weekend. “Baby Dog” was discovered with her head wedged into the joint connection of a steel pipe. Saturday afternoon she did not return home after walking along with her owner on horseback. Melissa Tabor of Melba, says that she and her two dogs often ride and walk together along their property and it’s not uncommon for Baby Dog to linger and head home shortly after. This time, however, she did not return. Melissa searched their route and property and could not find her. With the cold, rainy weather, she was very concerned about the dog and feared the worst.

A neighbor walking the following morning discovered the pooch’s predicament.WestVet Emergency Hospital provides care for dog stuck in pipe After the neighbor alerted Melissa and her boyfriend, the three attempted to free her from the pipe, but Baby Dog was stressed and her head was wedged very tightly. The trio loosened and removed the section of pipe and brought it – with her still attached – to their shop to make another attempt. Melissa says they tried several different methods including using vegetable oil as a lubricant, but Baby Dog’s head was stuck too tightly. “After twenty-four hours with her head in the pipe she had some swelling and we could not safely remove it,” she said. “Baby Dog was clearly exhausted from the ordeal and we knew we were going to have to get some help.”

Melissa brought the pipe and her dog to the WestVet Emergency Hospital on Sunday. Upon arrival, Dr. Andrea Oncken, Board Certified Veterinary Criticalist, determined that while the dog’s condition was stable, she was suffering from dehydration and shock. The ER team anesthetized Baby Dog, hoping that she would relax and enable the crew to gently remove her head from the pipe. WestVet helps dog with Emergency Vet Visit - Pipe has dog's head stuckWhen these attempts were unsuccessful, the Boise Fire Department was contacted.  

The B.F.D. Truck Crew 6 and Battalion Chief Gifford responded to the call. They looked at the dog’s situation and determined that they could cut the pipe and free her. WestVet and the Boise Fire Dept. team up to free dog with head stuck in pipeDue to the noise and sparks, the entire operation was moved outside. WestVet staff ensured that the dog was kept warm and out of harm’s way during the cutting and within an hour she was free! She remained overnight at WestVet to receive fluids and ensure her condition was stable. She will return to her family today. In the meantime, as the hospital celebrity, she is enjoying lots of extra attention and love from the WestVet team. This morning Melissa said that she is thrilled with Baby Dog’s recovery and prognosis, and that her next adventure is definitely a bath—after utilizing different lubricants to extricate her head, she’s in need of a shampoo and a scrub.

This is not the first time that Baby Dog has made the local news. The Kuna Melba News reported in March 2013, that Baby Dog and her housemate “Little Dog” slipped Melissa’s truck into gear while attempting to get some doggie treats from the dashboard. Fortunately the pair of Doggie bandits only caused minimum property damage. You can read that story HERE.

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Total Hip Replacement: Dorado, the rescue dog’s story

A Titanium Hip Restores Movement, Health, and Quality of life to a Local Pet –The story of Dorado’s Total Hip Replacement at WestVet. 

Today's blog was written by Christy Hovey and printed in the 2014 winter edition of the Urban Liaison Magazine.

Torn ligaments, damaged or unstable joints, and fractures are a few ailments that can leave your pet limping and in pain. While oral medicine may temporarily relieve symptoms, surgical repair helps minimize long term problems. WestVet is proud to offer the expertise of three board certified veterinary surgeons, Dr. Jeff Brourman, Dr. John Chandler, and Dr. Sean Murphy. They provide surgical procedures that can repair traumatic injuries, correct congenital abnormalities, and treat bone and/or joint disorders. 

Richard and Charlotte of Boise know firsthand the importance of prompt specialized care. WestVet offers Total Hip Replacement for Dog's with pelvic and spinal pain.They first saw four month old Dorado’s picture online when she was listed as one of many mixed-breed puppies born in the Navaho Reservation of southeastern Utah. After transport to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter near Kanab, Utah, they applied to adopt her. Richard says, “Dorado soon began to fill the big hole we had in our hearts from the passing of our previous dog, Dakota.”

Soon they noticed that Dorado had an odd, sideways movement in her hindquarters while running. In addition, she showed little interest or ability in normal puppy play.  X-rays at Intermountain Pet Hospital revealed severe hip dysplasia in both hips with very little bone structure in her left hip. The prognosis was the onset of crippling pain, heavy doses of pain suppressants, and ultimately, an early death. Richard and Charlotte immediately turned to WestVet for help.

They met with Dr. Sean Murphy, a surgeon who had impressed them with his conservative treatment recommendations regarding their previous pet. Dr. Murphy recommended that Dorado’s left hip be surgically rebuilt with titanium after she reached age one and her bones were fully formed. In November 2013, Dorado had the surgery that transformed her life. A team led by Dr. Sean Murphy and Dr. Jeff Brourman performed the total hip replacement; she remained overnight at WestVet for monitoring.

The next morning, Richard and Charlotte were able to see their pup, and images of her brand new titanium hip. Dog's restored to movement and health after Total Hip Replacment Surgery at WestVetThey brought her home with detailed instructions on the necessity of close confinement; daily, slow increases in exercise; and follow-up physical therapy. The goal was to ensure the new prosthetic structure would bond with her bones appropriately.

For four months, they followed WesVet’s discharge instructions for progressive therapeutic activities at home, during which Dorado received physical therapy at WestVet. They say, “Dorado loved her visits to WestVet for physical therapy, including massage and walking on an underwater treadmill. Dr. Murphy gave Dorado her puppyhood back. Our young dog, now two-years old, can blast around at high speed. The combination of technology, skill, and knowledge that the staff at WestVet brought to bear in helping our pup to have a good life was remarkable, and we are so grateful.”

WestVet specialists will work with you and your family veterinarian to determine the right course of action for your pet. You don’t have to go through your pet’s illness alone. The WestVet team of veterinary specialists reminds us that, “We hope you don’t need us, but if you do, we’re here to help.”

WestVet board certified surgeons provide the following orthopedic veterinary surgical services:

  • Patella luxationsDog with congenital hip problems receives total hip replacement at WestVet
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Osteochonritis dissecans (OCD)
  • Hyperextension injuries Internal plating for fracture fixation
  • External skeletal fixation for fracture repair
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • Arthrodesis Carpal, tarsal bone injuries and luxations
  • Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO)
  • Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)
  • Lateral fabellar suture technique
  • Femoral head and neck excision

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WestVet ER Vet Authors book: Did My Dog Eat A Rock?  Did My Dog Eat A Sock?

This fun, informative book not only walks pet families through the adventures of a veterinary visit due to ingesting a nonfood item, it also makes a great gift this holiday season. 

One thing a WestVet team member would readily tell you about Dr. Laura Lefkowitz—she loves working as an Emergency Veterinarian. Common Veterinary Emergency is a dog eating a nonfood item, visit WestVet for 24/7 ER care.Something else, she has many talents and her latest creative venture proves just that. She recently wrote and published a fun, informative book for pet owners who may find themselves in a veterinary hospital exam room with their pet.

One common emergency occurs after a pet ingests a nonfood item. Dr. Lefkowitz, who has worked as an ER veterinarian for more than ten years, 

says she has seen more than her fair share of household items on the inside of a furry family friend. “The array of objects that I have seen animals eat is simply amazing—stuffed toys, pillows, dentures, carpet fragments, a shish kebab skewer, toy cars, underwear, socks—even a toothbrush; it’s an endless list as any member of the veterinary community can attest.”

Her goal for the book was to help families understand treatments utilized in this situation.ER Veterinary Signs for when a dog has eaten a foreign body. WestVet 24/7 ER.“I wanted an easy-to-read, educational tool that explained to owners and families the medical and surgical processes that may be performed if an object gets stuck inside their dog,” says Dr. Lefkowitz.“And that it is a serious medical situation.”

“If an owner suspects a dog has eaten something unusual, or if a dog repeatedly vomits, veterinary care should be pursued as soon as possible. An object stuck in an animal for too long can tear through the intestinal wall and this can quickly deteriorate into a life-threatening situation.”

Using actual X-ray images, Dr. Lefkowitz illustrates that a hard plastic or metal object (like a small toy)Pet Emergency, Dogs eating non food items can be a life threatening ER. is usually easily visible on an X-ray. However, if a pet munches on fabric, strings, cloth, or rubber items, an X-ray alone is often not sufficient enough to distinguish the foreign object from the dog’s intestinal tract.

“The book provides veterinarians a quick means to demonstrate how easily some objects are to find and how difficult others can be—an extremely critical point as a pet’s family must then decide whether or not to pursue surgery.”

The book demonstrates Dr. Lefkowitz’ love of her job and desire to educate the public.

 “I truly love being an ER veterinarian! I enjoy the wide variety of medical problems that I treat. I find it satisfying to provide the needed medical care to help a really sick or injured animal. I also enjoy alleviating an owner’s concerns and educating them about their animal’s disease.”

Her most memorable veterinary emergency case? She said that although she has seen a lot of crazy things, one dog’s predicament stands out. “A client brought their coffee table in and I quickly realized that her dog was attached to the table! Somehow, he had managed to get his leg stuck in the steel latticework of the table’s legs. In fact, the dog’s limb was so jammed and swollen that we had to call the local fire department to cut the steel off the dog (once he was anesthetized).” The dog made a full recovery; the coffee table? Not so much.

The comical illustrations throughout the book are simply delightful. They were created by a talented, local Boise illustrator and were intended for both children and adults to enjoy. Dr. Lefkowitz plans to collaborate with him again to create a series of educational, fun books for veterinary exam rooms and for pet owner’s enjoyment.

With the holiday season upon us, this book makes a great gift for pet owners, your favorite veterinarian, or another member of the animal industry. You may purchase Did My Dog Eat A Rock?  Did My Dog Eat A Sock? HERE  or at Northwest Pets. Visit her Facebook page “Ate A Rock" to share your stories of what your crazy pet may have eaten. You’re welcome to post photo of your pet along with your story.

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Adopt a Senior Cat and Change a Life (or Two)

November has been designated as “Adopt a Senior Pet Month;” in today’s blog post we have gathered some good reasons for you to think about when considering adopting a senior cat. 

First, you’ll know what type of cat you are getting. Kittens are still developing personality-wise, so it may be difficult to determine whether they will grow up to be a snuggle-bunny or an aloof lone ranger. With a senior cat, what you see is what you get. It’s important to note that the shelter environment might be stressful, so the cat you are considering may exhibit timidity or fearful behaviors that will diminish once he or she is settled in a peaceful, forever home. 

Fully mature, senior cats are typically mellow fellows. You’ll avoid the rambunctiousness with curious kittens, including the naughty things that can get these mischievous creatures into trouble. However, senior cats do still enjoy playing both with their people and/or their housemates, so definitely plan on many fun moments ahead.

Avoid all of the house training fiascos. Senior cats come pretty well-trained to use the litter box and the scratching post. Be sure the litter box for your senior cat has a shallow front entrance for an easy entrance and exit, and is big enough to make turning around easy. (Read more about your cat’s dream litter box HERE.) 

They make fantastic couch surfers. Senior cats, as professional sleepers, are superb at curling up for a nice, long nap. This means you’ll have a furry companion nearby while you’re reading a book, binge-watching Netflix, or working from home—any activity that goes well with a little purring in the background. 

If you’re hesitating due to concerns about the length of time you would have to enjoy your cat companion, consider this, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) defines a senior cat as ages 11-14, and geriatric felines as ages 15 and older. It is not uncommon for a healthy cat to live into their late teens/early twenties—so you can enjoy many good years and make many new memories with a senior cat.Adopting a Senior Cat. Tips from Dr. Hazel Carney, feline behavior and veterinary medicine specialist. Dr. Carney shared this picture of Tootsie on his 24th birthday (and you can see how clearly thrilled he is to be celebrating)!

Adopting a senior cat from a shelter most likely means that it has been spayed or neutered, received a full physical exam, and key vaccinations and medications. With a kitten, it becomes your responsibility to complete the entire series of vaccinations, de-worming, veterinary exams, etc. Remember, most veterinarians recommend that your cat undergoes an annual physical exam with your family veterinarian. If additional health concerns arise, he or she may recommend a shorter timeline.

The most important reason to adopt a senior cat? They are often the most difficult pets for shelters and rescues to place in a new home. Think about it—you can save a cat’s life! Your warm and loving home will enable this senior cat to live its golden years in peace and dignity. Plus, you’ll receive companionship, friendship, and appreciation from your new friend in return.

There are many pets awaiting forever homes in the Treasure Valley at area animal rescues and shelters. We have compiled a list of adoption centers HERE. If you have room in your heart and home, perhaps there is a senior animal that could become part of your life this November.

Dr. Hazel Carney, Feline Behavior and Medicine Clinician, has co-authorized veterinary guidelines on cat litter box behavior problems. If your cat is suddenly not using their litter box in favor of your carpet or behind the couch, you may schedule a phone or in-person consult with her. Please call 208.375.1600. Find more information available on our feline medicine page HERE

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