Tag Archive: arthritis


Hiking Hazards

Hiking Hazards, How to Keep You and You’re Pet Safe.

By: Dr. Ben Davidson

If you are anything like me, you love exploring this wonderful wilderness that surrounds us.  If you’reBen and Tater reading this, you must love taking your faithful four-legged companion with you.  There are a few things you can do to make the hiking experience much safer and more enjoyable for everyone.  Most importantly is controlling the severe elements that we experience on our treks.  In our area, these include the heat and the dry climate.  Our pets tend to walk at least 50% further than we do, running ahead, circling back, and chasing that chipmunk off the trail.  Between the extra exercise and their hair coat, they get a whole lot hotter than we do.  Try to hike in shaded areas, with water around to cool off in. Try to leave early enough to avoid the hottest part of our day, the afternoon.  Make sure you bring plenty of water and a good drinking bowl for them.  Even if it’s a cool day, they hike-with-dog-1need plenty of water.

Hopefully accidents and injuries won’t be a problem, and a few careful steps can prevent a lot of them, but just in case, a few simple additions to your first aid kit are a good idea.  The most common injury we see is pad wear, or blisters on the bottom of their feet.  Just like us, if their little feet aren’t accustomed to long walks, they can get very sore, or crack and blister.  Try to get your pet back into good shape before you take off on that long walk.  Also, wet feet are more prone to injury, so if you are hiking up to some beautiful alpine lake, make sure you plan on letting your pup dry out before heading back down.   It’s hard to prevent little nicks and cuts from them running through the bushes and jumping rocks, but if it is possible to avoid those situations, it’s probably a good idea.  Exercising a little caution and moderation, especially early in the season can also prevent injuries such as muscular and ligament strains, sprains and tears.  Like I said, some basic first aid may be necessary for some of the unavoidable problems.  A pair of tweezers for cactus, foxtails, or other thorns is useful.  Superglue or Pet_First_Aid_Kitany commercially available tissue adhesive can quickly repair a small cut on the fly. Saline eye flush (not a medicated Visine type product) is helpful in case they get something in their eye.  There are some really nice pet first aid kits available at the pet stores or at the large sporting good and outdoor stores.

Finally, just know where you are hiking. Do a little research into what toxins and wildlife you might encounter. If you’re headed off to the east, or just locally, you need to be aware of 45796878.GreatBasinRattlesnake07_05_05rattlesnakes. Up in the mountains it’s not as much of a threat, but still, if you hear that suspicious rattle, get Fido back to you and walk on bye carefully. Flea, tick, and absolutely heartworm prevention is important when out in the elements.  There are certainly other predators out there, and although these incidents are incredibly rare, it’s important to keep an eye out. If you are a horticulturalist and without question know the difference between toxic and safe plants, you are in a great place to go hiking. For the rest of us, don’t let your pets eat plants out there. They may be unsafe both in toxins and also by causing GI upset or obstructions.

Everybody have a great hiking season!

How to Help Your Pet Age Gracefully

By Sara Hogle, DVM use sh

The majority of dog breeds have reached their golden years by 7 to 10 years old with large and giant breeds becoming seniors earlier than small breed dogs. Cats are typically considered seniors around 10 years of age. Many dogs will experience some graying of the coat (especially around the muzzle or face) as they age but there are many, more subtle signs of aging to watch for.  Some owners will report diminished hearing in their geriatric dogs and cats. Often times older animals are noted sleeping more and tiring more easily when playing. These changes in activity tend to be very gradual in the healthy older dog or cat. Rapid changes in activity level, or excessive lethargy/sleepiness are often indicators of health problems and a visit to your veterinary is strongly recommended if this is noted at home.

senior dogsOther aging changes to watch closely for include excessive thirst, unexpected weight loss or gain, large changes in activity level or ability, and any signs of pain or discomfort. I recommend regularly evaluating your pets ears and mouth for odor or debris, feeling the belly for tenseness, pain, or bloating/distention, running your hands through the coat to feel for masses or lumps, and to screen for any eye or nasal discharge. Additionally, monitor your pet’s activity level and abilities on a daily basis. For example, if you start to notice hesitation, difficulty or reluctance to sit down, climb stairs, get in or out of the car, go for walks, changes in how they are posturing to urinate or defecate, or with a cat, difficulty or inability to get into or out of the litter box, these may all be indicators of pain and possible underlying arthritis, back problems (e.g. disc disease), or even cancer. If any of these changes in odor, activity, etc. are noted at home we strongly recommend a visit to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Many of the problems that our senior pets face can be managed and/or resolved more easily early in the course of disease, making early diagnosis very important.

Additionally, we recommend regular senior wellness exams, every 6 months ideally. Annual blood work, fecal examination Labwork when indicated, and urinalysis can allow for early detection of diseases. Many diseases can be managed and progression prevented by early detection and medical treatments. For example, cats may appear healthy and happy for a long period of time early in the course of kidney failure but kidney problems can be detected during this time by regular bloodwork monitoring in the older cat. If caught early kidney disease progression can be slowed or prevented keeping your cat healthy and happy at home. Once a cat is clinically sick from kidney disease it has progressed to a point where treatment is more challenging, more expensive, and the cat’s quality of life may be affected long term or altered due to the condition.

older-dogFinally, it is important to consider your aging pets changing dietary and exercise/comfort needs. We recommend feeding a complete and balanced, high quality diet specifically formulated for geriatric or senior pets. Some pets will require a specialty or prescription diet due to other concurrent illness, so we advise following your veterinarians dietary recommendations in these cases. Additionally, older dogs can have more difficulty effectively maintaining their body temperature, so keeping them comfortably warm (not hot) and dry is important. Arthritic dogs may benefit from ramps to get up steps and extra padding where they sleep and arthritic cats may require litter boxes with lower sides for easy access. If your older dog or cat is losing sight or hearing, removing obstacles and avoiding unnecessary movement of furniture, food/water dishes, etc. can help to reduce anxiety and maintain mobility and comfort in the home. If at any time you notice any unusual symptoms or evidence of pain/discomfort we strongly recommend an exam with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Ultimately, with you and your veterinarians tender loving care, support, and guidance we can keep your aging pet comfortable, happy, and healthy into their golden years.

Acupuncture for Animals

Frequently Asked Questions

Kim Luikart, DVM, cVMA

Certified Veterinary Medical Acupuncturist

Dr Luikart

 

 

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body via the insertion and manipulation of very small, sterile needles into the superficial tissues of the body.  Each treatment is carefully tailored to your pet’s unique situation.  Treatment plans are based on a thorough medical history review, careful physical examination and assessment of musculoskeletal and neurologic systems, as well as any additional diagnostics that may be required.  Our practice incorporates the cutting edge of neuroscience to provide a treatment that is a powerful adjunct to other therapeutic 100_5180modalities.

 

How does it work?

Acupuncture invokes neuromodulation by stimulating nerve endings and inducing local and distant changes in the body. Acupuncture enhances blood and lymph flow at the local level, relieves myofascial trigger points, modulates traffic in the spinal cord and peripheral nerves, causes release of anti-pain and anti-inflammatory molecules from the brain stem and local tissues, and improves balance between the sympathetic (stress response) and parasympathetic (rest response) nervous systems.

 

Anatomic and physiologic studies confirm the presence of specific “afferent” nerve endings at acupuncture points, which transport input to the peripheral nerves, associated spinal cord segments, and brain.  This information is processed and endogenous regulation results in improved circulation and organ function, analgesia, muscle relaxation, and normalized immune function.  Dr. Luikart and other medical acupuncturists study these connections and choose acupuncture sites according to the desired neuromodulatory effect.

 

Effects include:

Improved nerve function

Relaxation of muscles and fascia

Improved circulation and faster healing

Control of pain and inflammation

 

What types of conditions can you treat?

Nearly any medical condition can benefit from acupuncture.  Some of the most common conditions treated include:

Arthritis

Neurologic injury (such as intervertebral disc disease)

Digestive disturbances (gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, colitis, diarrhea, constipation)

Allergies (itching, ear infections, chronic licking)

Urinary dysfunction (cystitis, incontinence)

Post operative/trauma recovery

Chronic pain (from injury, surgery, or other disease process)

Behavioral problems

In addition, many hospitalized pets can benefit from daily acupuncture treatment while in our hospital.

 

Does acupuncture hurt?100_4659

Most pets find their treatment enjoyable, or at least tolerable.  Some pets even fall asleep during treatment. We try to maintain a relaxed and nonstressful environment as much as possible.  Some pets however, may be very sensitive, and we never force treatments on any pet.

 

Are there any side effects?

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as a safe treatment for many health problems.  In the hands of an appropriately trained professional, acupuncture is very safe.  On occasion, some pets may seem lethargic or even a little worse for a day or two after the first treatment.  This usually passes and the pet feels much better.

 

What is a typical treatment like?

First Appointment: On your first visit, Dr. Luikart will book an entire hour to spend with you and your pet.  This visit is very important, because every case is different and we need to thoroughly understand your pet’s specific situation.

Dr. Luikart will perform a complete physical examination, including a careful evaluation of your pet’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems.  One of medical acupuncture’s main tenets is that appropriate treatment stems only from appropriate diagnosis.  Therefore, Dr. Luikart may recommend further workup prior to setting a treatment program, which could include diagnostics such as bloodwork or radiographs.

Dr. Luikart is trained in osteopathic myofascial palpation and trigger point diagnosis.  This helps to identify fascial restrictions and painful spots, directs attention to specific joints or body parts, and guides the selection of points for acupuncture treatment.

Finally, Dr. Luikart will proceed with needling.  We often go very slow and easy on the first treatment since we do not want pets to find the treatment stressful.  First treatments may only involve needling of 3 or 4 points, although this is highly variable.  The success of treatment does not depend on the number of needles used.  Often we may use adjunct therapy at this time such as laser or massage.  The needles often stay in for 10-15 minutes, and we may incorporate electrical stimulation in some patients.  Once the fascia has relaxed, and the tissues have responded, the needles may fall out on their own, or Dr. Luikart will remove them.

Follow up appointments: During subsequent appointments, various parts of the initial visit will be repeated, but normally follow up treatments will take about 30 minutes.

How many times do animals need to be treated?

100_4960-001Often 2-3 treatments lasting 20-30 minutes are given in the first 2 weeks, then the frequency is tapered to what is appropriate for each case.  Depending on the type of illness, severity of symptoms, and overall health of the pet, this may be once weekly, once per month or two, or simply as needed.

 

 

Does acupuncture always help?

Not always.  Like any treatment, we see a few miraculous cases and a few do not respond at all.  The majority of pets will get some significant benefit.  Acupuncture does not replace regular veterinary medicine and other treatment modalities, and we do encourage a thorough diagnostic workup prior to initiating treatment.  Every animal is different and the benefits may increase over time.  Acupuncture is a valuable adjunct tool for many problems and can often reduce dependency on more invasive or side effect prone treatments.

How much does acupuncture cost?

The initial consultation and treatment as described above is $180, and all follow up visits are $70.

Hospitalized patients are treated on a case by case basis and prices range from $45-65 per treatment.

Please call our hospital to schedule an appointment with Dr. Luikart or give us a call for more information.