Treasure Valley in Triple Digits: Keeping your Pets Safe and Cool

With the hottest June on record for SW Idaho—and more triple digit temps this week— our veterinary blog offers summer safety tips on avoiding heat related injuries and trips to the veterinary emergency hospital.

It’s been one HOT week in the Treasure Valley. When the thermometer shoots this high—it’s critical for pet owners and caretakers to keep pets cool, hydrated, and safe. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are two heat-related health problems considered to be veterinary emergencies that require immediate treatment. Both are life threatening if not treated.  

HEAT EXHAUSTION/HEAT STROKE. If your dog becomes lethargic or seems to be experiencing breathing problems seek veterinary care immediately. Panting is the mechanism that enables dogs to cool down. They exchange internal body air for cooler outside air—clearly an inefficient and ineffective process when the outside air is extremely hot.

Initial Signs/Symptoms:

• RestlessnessHeat Stroke/Heat Exhaustion in Dogs - WestVet 24 Hour Emergency Hosptial
• Panting
• Increased respiratory rate
• Increased heart rate
• Excess salivation
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea

As heat exhaustion symptoms progress, a dog’s body temperature increases and the physical signs become even more serious, including:

• Weakness
• Staggering
• Gasping
• Gum color may become brick red, then purple or blue (cyanosis)
• Seizures
• Coma
• Death

Treatment. Dogs suffering from heat exhaustion require immediate veterinary attention—even if his/her condition does not seem serious. Cool water (but not iced water) can be used to begin to decrease body temperature during your trip to the veterinarian. Soak towels in cool water and wrap around your dog.

In many cases, heat exhaustion is preventable. Never leave your dog unattended in your car. A cracked window will not prevent your dog from overheating, even in milder temperatures. In addition, pets should have access to abundant shade and fresh water while outdoors in the summer time. The best advice is to limit outdoor time to short periods, avoid strenuous exercise, running, and hiking during the heat of the day, and offer lots of fresh water—more than he/she typically drinks.

Very young pups and senior dogs have a higher risk of developing heat stroke. Brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed dogs such as Pugs and Bulldogs), obese animals, long-haired dogs and those with black or dark furry coats are also more susceptible.

DEHYDRATION. When dogs lose body fluids faster than they can replace them, he/she may suffer from dehydration. The most common causes of dehydration are severe vomiting and/or diarrhea, inadequate fluid intake, fever, severe illness, or heat exhaustion.

A prominent sign of dehydration in a dog is the loss of skin elasticity. When the skin along the spine is gently pulled up, it should quickly spring back into place. In a pet suffering from dehydration, the skin will stay upright when pulled back, remaining in a ridge along the back.

Another sign of dehydration is dryness of the mouth. Your pet’s gums should be wet and glistening. When dehydrated they become dry and tacky. Saliva is thick and tenacious. In an advanced case, the eyes are sunken and the dog exhibits signs of shock, including collapse.

Treatment. A dog who is visibly dehydrated should receive immediate veterinary attention. Intravenous fluids are critical to replace body fluids.

If you are concerned that your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion or dehydration, it is always appropriate to consult your veterinarian right away. If your family veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day. No appointment is necessary for veterinary emergencies.

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When Your Pet Needs Surgery

In today’s veterinary blog Dr. John Chandler, board certified veterinary surgeon, outlines how you can help prepare your pet for surgery and what to expect when your pet is hospitalized at WestVet.

Bringing your pet in for surgery can be extremely stressful. Many pets have never stayed a night away from their owner and some people feel apprehensive about leaving a pet with “strangers in a strange place.” WestVet doctors and staff are sensitive to this anxiety and we will try to make the circumstances as comfortable as possible for both you and your pet.

How Can Owners Prepare a Pet for Surgery?

  • Do not feed your pet after 10 pm the night before surgery unless otherwise directed by your doctor or technician. Dr. John Chandler - WestVet Surgeon - How to Prepare you pet for surgeryFasting decreases nausea and the risk of vomiting while under anesthesia. Exceptions can include patients with conditions that affect glucose regulation (diabetes, insulin-secreting tumors) and very young patients.
  • It is typically okay to withhold morning medications the day of surgery.
  • If your pet is on medication that cannot be withheld, and must be taken with food, please ask your doctor or technician how to proceed.
  • Gather all current medications and bring them to the hospital with the pet. We will often administer them during the hospitalization period.
  • Bathe or groom your pet at least 2 days prior to the surgery date. Bathing can sometimes remove a protective layer of epithelial cells and increase infection rates. Also, never shave the surgical site.
  • If your pet has an orthopedic condition, it is typically advised to decrease the activity level prior to surgery.

What Can Pet Owners Expect on the Day of Surgery?

As a 24 hour hospital, WestVet offers the services of more than 20 doctors and 100 staff members to care for your pet. “Rounds” occur twice daily, 8 -9 am, and 5-6 pm at shift changes. This time is set aside for doctors and technicians to discuss hospitalized patients, ensuring that vital information about each patient is shared with the new caretakers. Typically, doctors are unavailable during these times, with the exception of emergencies. However, a technician may be available to answer questions.

Drop off your pet by 7:30 am on the day of surgery. Although your pet’s procedure may not begin until later, several crucial things must be done prior to surgery including pre-anesthetic lab work, placing IV catheters, pre-clipping hair from the surgical site, administering anti-nausea medication, and/or obtaining x-rays.

Additionally, we set the surgical schedule the evening before. WestVet Surgeon Dr. John Chandler explains how to prepare your pet for surgery.It often changes throughout the day depending on emergencies, cancellations, and unforeseen changes to preoperative patient conditions or diagnostics--thus your pet’s procedure may begin earlier. 

Lastly, it is difficult to predict exactly how long scheduled procedures may take. Therefore, it is most efficient for WestVet surgeons to have all patients present early in the day.
Please keep in mind that emergencies in any area of the hospital can affect the timing of surgical cases as the entire hospital shares the well-trained anesthetic technicians and imaging equipment.

You will receive a call from your pet’s doctor once they are recovering from surgery. On occasion, a technician will call immediately postoperative and the doctor will call later in the day (usually this occurs when the doctor is extremely busy or has an emergency).
The majority of surgical patients will spend the night in the hospital. We recover most patients on a constant rate infusion of pain medication (similar to a morphine drip). The best way to prevent pain is to never let the patient become painful. Our postoperative pain management protocols work very well in allowing patients to recover from anesthesia comfortably, and slowly be transitioned to oral pain medications once they are awake and eating small amounts of food. This also decreases the amount of postoperative nausea and anorexia. Your pet will be monitored closely overnight by our team of technicians and ER doctors.
You are welcome to call and get updates on your pet anytime. Please be aware doctors may not be available if they are with another patient or in Rounds. The day after surgery you may call after Rounds (9:00 am) to get an update on the daily care plan and potentially schedule a time to pick up your pet that is convenient for your family. Upon arrival, a technician will review all written dismissal instructions and medications. Before you take your pet home, please be sure you understand all of the instructions—do not hesitate to ask any questions.

At WestVet we strive to make you and your pets as comfortable as possible. We realize that surgery and hospitalization can be a stressful and worrisome time. Please ask questions if anything is unclear. We thank you for allowing us to work with you and your pets.

Please see your family veterinarian for a referral for a consultation with a WestVet surgeon. If you have any questions regarding surgery for your pet, contact us at 208.375.1600.

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Congrats to the WestVet 2015 Interns—and Good Luck!

In today's veterinary blog, a fond farewell to our 2015 interns; WestVet is the only veterinary hospital in Idaho that offers postgraduate training and one of only four private specialty hospitals in the Northwest that offers a rotating internship.

The WestVet intern Class of 2015 is concluding their journey with us and heading out into the world to pursue careers in veterinary medicine or enter into a residency program to pursue specialty credentials. In 2007 WestVet accepted the challenge of providing postgraduate education as a teaching hospital. We offer a one-year rotating internship and a one-year specialty internship in surgery; Washington State University and Oregon State University offer similar programs.

These new doctors--graduating at the top of their class in vet school—work alongside our specialists and emergency and critical care team for an entire year. They rotate through each department for hands-on training and mentoring in surgery, internal medicine, radiology, dermatology, pathology and ophthalmology.WestVet Class of 2015 Interns conclude their work with us.

This year our four small animal surgical interns are, from left to right, Dr. Mike Orencole, Dr. Amanda Levesque, Dr. Kara Lindberg, and Dr. Laura Niman.

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Kara Lindberg will remain with WestVet. She will work as an Emergency and Critical Care Veterinarian and begins these new duties with us in a few weeks.

Dr. Curtis Brandt, WestVet Emergency and Critical Care Veterinarian and local Photographer, shared these photos of the team as a commemorative gift to honor their time in Boise. WestVet offers a one year rotating internship and one year surgical internship to vet graduates.We wish them the best as they head off to new challenges. Good luck!

The 2016 class arrives Monday, having graduated from Veterinary School last weekend. It’s always inspiring to work with these fresh, talented people and watch them grow throughout the coming year. 

Read more about WestVet as a teaching hospital and the process for selecting interns HERE.

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Unique Glass Pieces Create a Beautiful Pet Memorial

In today’s veterinary blog, a WestVet client and friend who incorporates deceased pet’s ashes into blown glass, creating a beautiful memorial for pet owners.

Our patients inspire us with their determination to get better, their unconditional love for their people, and their unique and quirky dispositions. But our clients, the people we meet and work with, inspire us just as much. One of our talented clients donated original glass work for the Audrey Pet Foundation inaugural fundraiser in May. Tiana Glenn is fairly new to glass work.WestVet client Tiana Glenn creates unique glass art as a pet memorial After enjoying a one-hour glassblowing class (a gift from her husband) a few years ago, she uncovered a hidden talent and developed a new hobby. (The paperweight pictured at left is one sample of her work). She enjoys making decorative items, but not long ago came upon an idea which enables pet owners to have a glass memorial art piece in honor of their pet.

Using the ashes from a pet that has passed, Tiana creates an original art piece to serve as a special way to honor your sweet friend and as a visual reminder of their place in your home and heart.

 She was inspired to create memorials after reading an article about an artist creating glass urns for people who had passed. “I thought, ‘What if you could just make a display piece instead of an urn?’ After discussing the idea with her glass blowing partner, Tiana learned that not only could this be done—it had been done before.

She went to work, first experimenting with designs that used ashes of her own beloved pets. “As I experimented,WestVet client Tiana Glenn utilizes pet ashes to create a pet memorial from blown glass I learned that when you incorporate ash into the glass blowing process, there is a chemical reaction which transforms the ash into a beautiful white color, surrounded by tiny bubbles.” You can see what it looks like in this heart-shaped piece left.

Even better, the process only requires a little bit of ash, enabling owners to make multiple pieces for family members and still scatter the remainder in a special place. So far she’s had a very positive response. “One person had a piece made for each of his children that had grown up with their beloved dog. Another requested a paperweight for her husband utilizing ashes from his beloved hunting dog and she gave it to him as a gift for their anniversary.”

Her work reflects that Tiana understands the important role pets have in our lives. Currently, her home has two dogs. “I've almost always had rescue dogs. WestVet pet memorials - unique blown glass items from Tiana GlennOur nine-year-old Beagle Bella and a 13-year-old Schnauzer Barkley are best friends. We adopted Barkley when he was 3 from an elderly couple in Coeur d'Alene. Bella came from Eagle when she was about a year old. I still send Barkley's previous owner (a 92-year-old WWII Vet) Christmas portraits every year.” 

If you’d like to take a peek at her work, check out her website HERE

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Life Saving Surgery enables Yellow Lab to Return Home

Dr. Jeff Brourman, WestVet Chief of Staff, Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon saved the life of a yellow Lab

When it was determined that “Pearl” was suffering from a large tumor in her chest, Dr. Jeff Brourman recommended surgery to remove it and hopefully prolong a good quality life for the yellow Lab; in today’s veterinary blog, we share her story.

She’s described as the “sweetest yellow lab in the world.” After her stay at WestVet—we agree!

Eight years ago this little pup was hand-picked from the litter. Elle Sheedy, (Elle Sheedy Realty) tells us her husband has both a love of the breed and a knack for picking Labs with personality and strong innate hunting skills and little Pearl had both. In addition, their darling puppy was the offspring of a great hunter, her mother, Sassy (which her people tell us, happens to be a character trait little Pearl inherited– a little sass!)

We love the story on how she received her name “Pearl.” Dr. Jeff Brourman performs life saving cancer treatment on Yellow Lab.After eating Elle’s pearl earring, her people spent a few days carefully watching the excrement to retrieve it. Their pastor sealed the deal when he told them this sweet Labrador soul will someday greet them in heaven at the pearly gates.

Ellie described Pearl this way:

“For me, her outstanding qualities are her loyalty and attentiveness to me and my feelings. She stays by my leg as much as possible. Her eyes follow me; waiting to come to my side should I need her. When I've been sick or sad she refuses to leave my side. When she is around me my heart is at peace—and she seems to know it.”

Pearl was diagnosed with a life threatening tumor in her chest cavity. Dr. Jeff Brourman, Board Certified Small Animal Surgeon, recommended surgery as the best course of treatment to restore vitality to Pearl and prolong her life. Elle said that although it was a difficult and heartbreaking decision to proceed, she is happy that they did so. “The intricacy and the expense of the surgery was a concern,” she said. “But seeing how full of energy she was in spite of the tumor lodged between her heart and lungs eased my fears. It became apparent to me that I could not refuse the blessing of the expertise that Dr. Brourman and the staff at Westvet were offering.”

However, during surgery, Dr. Brourman discovered that the tumor was adhered to Pearl's heart and lungs. This meant that the surgery risk was elevated. Elle credits Dr. Brourman and his team of doctors and surgical technicians in pulling Pearl through the five hour operation.

“Afterwards, during the crucial first few hours of her recovery, I was allowed to visit Pearl in the trearment area. WestVet staff was kind and watchful. I knew Pearl was getting the most skilled care. This knowledge was always tempered with the potential heartbreak should she pass. The next day I was able to feed her. The following day she was out of danger and had recovered enough that I was able to bring her home where she continues to get brighter and brighter with each passing hour.”

“There are no words to express my appreciation WestVet staff. You are all so generous to give Boise's furry family members such wonderful care!”

Thank you, Elle for sharing this wonderful story with us. We’ll be keeping tabs on Pearl’s progress!

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