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Spay & Neuter - For the Health of It

Spay & Neuter - For the Health of It

Spaying and neutering your pet is an important and beneficial thing to do. In this blog, one of our technicians, Cheyanne, answers common questions such as: Why is spaying and neutering important? When should I spay or neuter my pet? What does a surgery day look like? How long does it take to recover from surgery?

PREVENTATIVE ORAL SCREENINGS & CLEANINGS WITHOUT ANESTHESIA: HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

Kaycee.jpg

Hi, my name is Kacee and I am an LVT (Licensed Veterinary Technician) with Animal Dental Care. I have been performing PDCA’s on cats and dogs for almost 8 years. PDCA is short for a preventive dental cleaning and assessment, which is essentially a dental cleaning without the use of anesthesia. What I do does not equally replace a regular anesthetic dental, so anesthetic dentals cannot be dismissed altogether. A PDCA is a valuable tool to use in-between veterinarian recommended anesthetic dentals.

During your pets care with me, I will perform an assessment of the teeth before I begin my work, also checking under lips and tongue. Just as your dental hygienist does, I will use the ultrasonic scaler to clean their teeth of any tartar and plaque buildup. If they are too noise-sensitive I can often just handscale depending on the degree of the disease. I then polish, rinse, probe, chart all findings as I go and report to a veterinarian if needed. On average the procedure takes 20-30 minutes and the animals do surprisingly well. I work in a room alone, just me and the pet. Because it is just us two, the patient is not distracted by anything else, such as their family, other pets, or happenings in the treatment area of the hospital.  I have only been bitten once and it was when I was getting a dog out of a kennel. During a PDCA no one has gotten me yet! Fingers crossed…

In general pets who receive PDCA’s are recommended to see me every 6 months. However, small breeds and geriatrics are notorious for having a higher grade of dental disease and typically do better with PDCA’s on a quarterly schedule.

There are a few main differences between a PDCA and an anesthetic dental.

1.       The first and most obvious is that no anesthesia or sedatives are needed for a PDCA. I use a towel to swaddle-wrap cats and small/medium dogs. I sit on the floor and gently lay them in my lap just as you would an infant. Large dogs tend to just lay down and I put a leg around their rear end to keep them in position.  Some older dogs don’t like lying down, so I just have them stand up or sit down, however they are comfortable which is most important!

2.       There are no radiographs (x-rays) taken during PDCA’s. I am unable to see any pathology under the gums since it nearly impossible to take oral films on an awake patient. I do however, probe under the gums and feel for pockets, lesions, or any abnormalities in the tooth’s texture. If I find anything concerning, I immediately pause the procedure and discuss the findings with a veterinarian. The DVM listens to my concerns, examines the mouth and lets me know whether I should discontinue the procedure and recommend a regular anesthetic dental or continue with my cleaning.

3.       I cannot work on them all! Every pet I work on needs to be screened by a veterinarian before I meet them. This is to ensure they have no major pathology present and are of an agreeable temperament. Both factors play a vital role in the success of a PDCA. In addition, some pets do not tolerate even gentle restraint, and others are very anxious with the noise of the ultrasonic scaler. I do have an extremely high success rate, but some pets are just not suited to the procedure. Often the happy go lucky nice dogs are wiggly and the little shy ones do amazing! Honestly you just never know how they will do. I take my time with them and recognize they are nervous. I talk to them, give them little breaks and lots of love. I do my best to treat them like they are my own.

Click  here  to learn more about Animal Dental Care.

Click here to learn more about Animal Dental Care.

I have been working strictly on teeth for many years and it has taught me how important it is to keep up oral care. Generally speaking, a PDCA is a straightforward, in-and-out procedure but I can also find things that need further evaluation.  In the past I have found some crazy things like sticks lodged in palates, fractures under the gums, toy pieces stuck in between teeth, exposed pulp, and even hiding masses/growths. I will not clean your pet’s teeth if they need in-depth care that a routine cleaning cannot fix.  As for home care, I strongly recommend brushing your pet’s teeth. It’s hard I know, but don’t give up! The benefits are tremendous!

Interested in learning if your pet is a good candidate? Schedule an exam and screening here!

 

Why Does My Cat Sound Like An Elephant At Night?

Kitten hiding under bed

You’ve finally fallen asleep and suddenly your little fur ball sounds like an elephant running through the hallways.  How does a 7 pound cat manage to make so much noise?  Why do your feet turn into play toys?

Most of us think cats are nocturnal creatures, but did you know they are actually crepuscular?  This means if your cat sounds like herd of elephants in the dark of evening, you are likely encouraging their behavior.

The word crepuscular is derived from the Latin crepusculum, meaning “twilight.” Crepuscular animals tend to sleep at night, and reserve energy during midday, when the sun is at its peak. These species are active primarily during twilight (at dawn and dusk).
 

The last thing you want to do at midnight is pretend like this crazy cat isn’t there, but (unfortunately) that’s the best way to curb this behavior.  Getting out of bed and feeding your cat or playing with them only tells your cat that being awake at night is okay.

Here are some tips for keeping your cat asleep at night:

1.       Keep them busy during the day.  If you can’t stay home with them, there are plenty of battery operated toys available.  Be sure to research the safety of these toys before leaving your cat alone with them—you probably do not want to leave your cat with an electronic mouse but a stable toy would be okay.

A general rule of thumb, switch your cat’s toys.  Cats can get bored easily.  If they have a favorite toy, keep it consistent, but rotate additional toys. 

2.       Play with your cat when you get home.  You are their favorite playmate!  Remember, use toys, not your fingers.  

3.       Feed your cat their biggest meal before bed. 

4.       As a last resort, close your bedroom door at night. 

 


Why Does My Cat Lick Me All The Time?

gray cat licking orange and white cat

Bonding--When a cat licks you, they are saying, “I trust you.”  They are comfortable getting close to you and giving you the same attention they would give their kitten.

Territorial--Cats lick each other as a means of social bonding.  They rely heavily on scent.  When they lick you, they are marking you with their smell.  In other words, they are saying, “this is my person.”

You might need grooming--If you are one of the lucky people who receive “baths” from your cat, you know their tongues feel like sandpaper.  A cat’s tongue is covered with papillae (backward-facing hooks made of keratin) which help them keep things clean.  They remove meat from bones and dirt from fur.  When your cat licks you, they might be saying, “you need help keeping clean.”

cat licking

They might like the taste of you--Sweat contains sugar and salts, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium. When your sweat evaporates, it can leave sweet or salty residue on your skin that animals can smell and/or taste

Anxiety--Some anxiety can be normal for cats—especially when their environments change—but any time a cat begins licking more excessively than normal, it is best to schedule an appointment with us.  Beyond extreme anxiety, medical concerns include:

  • Fleas, allergies, and skin infection; pain, excessive stress, to name a few. 
  • Male cats who excessively lick their genitals may suffer from urinary infection or obstruction—this requires immediate attention.

If your cat is licking more than normal, please call us or request an appointment online.

Helping you understand what your pet's surgery day might be like

Our Wednesday Surgery Team explains what a typical surgery day looks like.

Dr. Coleman and Gwen in our surgery suite.

Dr. Coleman and Gwen in our surgery suite.

It is often an emotional and scary thing to leave your pet with us for the day. We want to share with you what our typical day looks like and who cares for your pet. Dr. Kraabel and Sarah work in surgery on Wednesdays along with Dr. Coleman and her assistant Jess.  Kelsey, Gwen and Lindsay are our talented Licensed Veterinary Technicians in surgery on Wednesdays.  As has been blogged before, Gwen is also a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner.

Surgery days can consist of a wide range of procedures, from spay and neuters to dental cleanings and dental surgeries, growth removals and exploratory surgeries. Admission appointments typically occur in the morning.  Surgery days are notoriously unpredictable.  Procedures can take hours longer than anticipated and time set backs are common.  Dr. Kraabel’s career long attempts to tame these realities have been unsuccessful.  

The receptionist, who has scheduled the appointment, compiled an estimate for the owner and put all the paperwork together, leads owner and patient to an exam room.  Diane, Celine, and Kristen commonly help you on our surgery morning.

Kelsey or Lindsay typically perform the bulk of Wednesday admissions and go over any questions or concerns about the planned procedures. Once all the paperwork is completed and the owner has said their “See you soon”, patients go for a ride in the elevator and head upstairs.  We let them push the elevator buttons.

Sarah and Jess holding Hendrix and Chico after their procedures

Sarah and Jess holding Hendrix and Chico after their procedures

Upstairs, Sarah, Jess, or the technicians record the temperature and weight and set up a kennel for them. As intimidating as this process can be for our patients we take pride in doing our best to console the patient with calming touch, tone, and words of comfort. Cuddling is common. Each kennel is covered with a soft towel or blanket where the patient waits for the procedure, sometimes more patiently than others.  They often receive calming medication at this point, even if their procedure is later in the day.  For our extra worried cats, we place hide away boxes in with them and a towel on the front of the kennel. They need to have a safe and private place to retreat. We also use calming pheromones like Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs to help calm their mood.

Each patient receives a pre-surgical exam from the doctor where they look at gum color and listen to the heart. The technician or assistant draws blood, if the patient needs preoperative blood work. Blood work makes sure their kidneys and liver are working normally. The anesthetic machine and monitors are prepared and set up and materials are collated for the planned procedure. A combination of sedative and pain medication are given into the patient’s muscle.  Typically, the assistant gives the patient a big hug or wraps them in a towel for restraint and sedative is injected into the thigh or muscles alongside the spine. Then, we wait for our patient to relax and fall asleep.

Once they are sleepy, their technician places an intravenous catheter. It is always important to have venous access while a patient is under anesthesia. Intravenous anesthesia is given until they are completely asleep to allow the placement of an endotracheal tube. Gas anesthetic and oxygen are turned on and intravenous fluids are started.

Dr. Kraabel shows Lindsay a tooth that needs to be removed.

Dr. Kraabel shows Lindsay a tooth that needs to be removed.

At this point, they are prepared for their surgery and the procedure then takes place. As we said, it may vary greatly how long a patient is under anesthesia but there is not a time limit. The patient’s vital signs are monitored closely throughout surgery by one of the technicians who stays with the patient throughout their procedure. Once the surgery is complete, the support staff will sit with the patient, vigilantly monitoring vital signs until they are able to sit up and swallow. Technicians also focus on pain management and administer post-operative pain medication as needed. At times, internal temperatures may drop during surgery.  The assistants and technicians wrap the patients in warm blankets often cradling and cuddling with them creating a comfortable and smooth recovery period. While the assistant aids in recovery, the doctor records the surgical notes and the technician finishes up filling post-op medications and discharge instructions. 

This is when we will call and let the patient's people know that everything went fine.

Performing surgical procedures is complicated with an intricate collaboration of talented and empathetic caregivers. Each team member is part of the puzzle and has a role in making sure every patient receives the best standard of care and comfort. Be consoled in knowing that when you leave your pet with us, we strive to treat them as our own. 

 

Sarah Kwon, BS, DVM candidate class of 2021

Timothy R Kraabel, DVM, DABVP (Canine/Feline Practice); Vice President, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners