Top Five Things Pet Owners Do Not Know About Their Pets | Family Veterinary Hospital of Stone Ridge

LWMJanFeb2015-smallfinal_Page_33Routine appointments with pet owners can often end in surprises, for the veterinarians and oftentimes for the pet owner. Veterinarians must be on the lookout for existing problems with the pet, and potential problems that can be avoided. The second part of most appointments is educating pet
owners about things they may not have known. The following are just 5 of the most routine topics that seem to catch pet owners unaware.

Pets Get Asthma and Allergies, too. Virtually every day vets are presented with pets exhibiting these symptoms, and practically all are caused by one culprit— allergies. Like April showers bringing May flowers, the increased pollen brings in a lot of suffering allergic pets to the vet. Management for your pet is very similar to management of people with inhalant allergies and eczema. Speaking as a mom with an eczema child, I can truly relate.

Water is our skin’s friend. One of my biggest pet peeve (as a vet) is to hear clients tell me that they were told not to bathe their pet but once every 2-3 months. This needs to be debunked. Bathing is one of the most important treatments in the allergy-suffering pet. Pets spend a lot of time outdoors.
Allergic pets not only inhale their allergens but wear it too—on their fur, when they are rolling around in the grass. Frequent bathing helps to wash off the allergens that may be making them itchy. It helps clean the skin and prevent a secondary skin infection resulting from constant scratching, licking or chewing.

Other allergy treatments include antihistamines, lotions and creams, antibiotics and antifungals for secondary skin infection and omega 3 fatty acids.

Virtually every day vets are presented with pets exhibiting these symptoms, and practically all are caused by one culprit— allergies. Like April showers bringing May flowers, the increased pollen brings in a lot of suffering allergic pets to the vet. Management for your pet is very similar to management of people with inhalant allergies and eczema. Speaking as a mom with an eczema child, I can truly relate.

Water is our skin’s friend. One of my biggest pet peeve (as a vet) is to hear clients tell me that they were told not to bathe their pet but once every 2-3 months. This needs to be debunked. Bathing is one of the most important treatments in the allergy-suffering pet. Pets spend a lot of time outdoors.
Allergic pets not only inhale their allergens but wear it too—on their fur, when they are rolling around in the grass. Frequent bathing helps to wash off the allergens that may be making them itchy. It helps clean the skin and prevent a secondary skin infection resulting from constant scratching, licking or chewing.

Other allergy treatments include antihistamines, lotions and creams, antibiotics and antifungals for secondary skin infection and omega 3 fatty acids.

Pets will eat the strangest things, and a good pet owner should pet-proof their home until they know what their 4-legged friend is willing to chew on. Yorkshire terriers seem to especially enjoy plastic. Second only to spays and neuters, retrieving objects from a pets stomach is the most common surgical procedure that a vet may do. Pets (cats as well as dogs) may ingest clothing, small toys, or objects which may have food on them, such as a spoon that may have been used to scoop wet pet food. Also, pets do not remember negative consequences of ingesting something they should not have.

It is not normal for pets to vomit, i.e. blaming that darn hairball again. If you have a cat, you know about hairballs. If you have a dog, you know about regurgitated food. While these may seem like normal behavior for pets, it could be indications of a need for a diet change or more severe medical problems. Even if your pet has always eaten the same food, over time your pet’s digestive system may become intolerant to what it normally eats. Your cat may need more oils in its diet to help pass hair it ingests. Your dog may have trouble chewing its food or swallowing due to soreness of its teeth caused by teeth cavities or fractures, resulting in your pet swallowing before the food is properly chewed.

What your pets can give you. Research has shown that owning a pet has a causal effect of lowering their owner’s blood pressure. Pets can also provide companionship, and in rare instances actually save their owners lives (like barking during a fire or protecting our homes.) However, a pet’s health is not completely independent of their owners. There are some diseases that can be spread from pets to humans, and from humans to pets.

Rabies is a well-known condition that kills many humans as well as pets worldwide. Vaccinating your cats and dogs, even if they are indoor pets is the law in many jurisdictions, and vets are often required to provide data to authorities concerning each pet’s rabies vaccine status. Due to the incredible risk of this deadly disease, a vet may refuse continuing care of an unvaccinated pet because of the risk posed to the staff. Being bitten or scratched
by an unvaccinated pet may mean quarantine of the pet for many weeks, and precautionary shots for the veterinarian and their staff until the pet is shown to be rabies-free.

Lastly the most common surprise among pet owners is two fold. Diagnose first and treat the symptoms second. Take the guess work out of the plan by prescribing with proper medication according to the Doctor, ordering x-rays and other tests when required and always follow up with a visit to your Veterinarian. It is all a part of as a part of preventive care your pet and your peace of mind.First, diagnosing a pet’s condition can be expensive, however prevention and early diagnosis is much cheaper than waiting too long. Asking a vet to guess rather than take that x-ray, or running the lab test, is akin to playing the lottery rather than saving for retirement. And your vet takes risks by “guessing”. Your veterinarian must be able to justify to the health department and DEA all treatments made and prescriptions written, and your vet cannot justify before a board of veterinarians that they had to “guess” on a diagnosis. Writing prescriptions for medication without an exam, treatments without proper diagnosis, these are all prescriptions for your doctor to lose his or her license. Also, it should be obvious now that just treating symptoms such as itching, vomiting, and sneezing are going to be more expensive in the long-run than getting that initial diagnosis of allergies, swallowing a foreign object, or having bad teeth corrected.

Veterinarians love challenges. It’s in our DNA as inquisitive pet lovers and doctors. We aim to make pet owners surprised only at how well their pets do with routine care.

By Dr. Hanh Chau, DVM, CCRT, CVA
Family Veterinary Hospital of Stone Ridge
703-327-8425

Remedy and Recommendations for Small Pets That Work| Dr. Hanh Chau & Dr. Betty Myers

LWMNovDec2014small_Page_30The DC area has many challenging career paths for the ambitious and well educated. From high-powered attorneys and lobbyists around Capitol Hill, to high-tech workers serving the financial firms or data warehouse “farms” sprouting around the suburbs like Loudoun County. One profession that has been consistently pushing the envelope in medical and technological advancement has been pet medicine. As the surrounding community becomes better educated on the range of medical treatments available for their own ailments, the
pet owners among them begin asking “would this work for my pet too?” In many instances, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Our pets can suffer from the same diseases, bacteria, allergens and injuries that can often be successfully treated when found soon enough. The doctors at Family Vet and Middleburg Animal Hospital routinely treat for cancers, broken bones, swallowed objects, diabetes, allergies, the list goes on.

We recently saw a small 9 year old dog that came in with shivering, vomiting and diarrhea and the pet owner noticed the belly was slightly enlarged. Blood tests were run which came out normal, so next X-rays were taken of the abdomen to try and identify any trouble. These were able to show fluid-filled bowel or uterus, and ultimately Dr. Chau was able to use ultrasound images (over several days) to see that a mass was growing on the uterus of the pup. Other causes of fluid buildup could have been trauma to internal organs, rupture of the bladder, or certain diseases. In this case, surgery was the recommended treatment, and within several days of the procedure by Dr. Chau, the dog was making a full recovery. Since this dog was a rescue, the owners were not able to have her spayed when she was a puppy, which doctors Chau and Myers recommend to all their clients with puppies and kittens, at approximately 6 months of age for dogs, and 5 months for kittens.

Veterinarians, and especially Dr. Chau and Dr. Myers, see many cases of paralysis in pets. Typically their patients are dogs, but occasionally they will also see immobilized cats, and even a few months ago a paralyzed Guinea Pig. A particularly interesting case Dr. Chau has been working on lately is a stray kitten that was being cared for by a good Samaritan. Recently this person noticed that the kitten appeared injured and brought her in to see Dr. Chau. This stray would have normally been nearly impossible to catch, except that it had suddenly lost all movement in its rear legs. The kitten was in bad shape: no sensation beginning at its mid-back meant not only could it not walk, nor even stand on 4 legs, it also could not feel or control its bladder or bowels. However, with the vast array of treatments available, from acupuncture, underwater treadmill therapy, spinal decompression exercises and medication and herbs, the kitten amazingly is regaining mobility! She is now using the litterbox on her own, has regained control of bowels and bladder, and walks (though still somewhat wobbly.) “Cat paralysis is less prevalent than dog paralysis” says Dr. Chau, since they get disc disease at a much lower rate than their canine companions.

LWMNovDec2014small_Page_31Dr. Chau recommends attempting treatment for paralysis on nearly all pets, as even acupuncture has been shown effective on all species, from large horses to even small birds. And in a recent study, the American Veterinary Medical Association published a study showing acupuncture to be the superior treatment over certain back surgeries in dogs (have over 80% success versus just 40% for surgeons.)

Spring is the “fighting season” if-you-will as ticks and humans battle: the former for a good blood-meal, the latter to keep from contracting Lyme disease as a result. Your veterinarian is now arming your pets (yes, dogs AND cats should be vaccinated) with a potent weapon, turning them somewhat metaphorically into Trojan horses. The vaccine administered to your pet will literally pass into the tick that bites your pet, and scientists say that the vaccine will bind with the bacteria WITHIN the tick’s gut that thereby renders it harmless to humans if that
tick should then feed on us. Spring is the best time to booster your pet against Lyme disease as most ticks are in the nymph stage which is the period they most often feed on pets, humans, or nearly anything warm blooded. The nymphs of ticks are nearly the size of grains of pepper, so don’t count on being able to see them and pull them as your preventative strategy. Dr. Chau recommends year-round prevention given Loudoun County’s designation as a high-risk area due to its abundance of diagnosed Lyme diseases in residents (approximately 8-times higher/more prevalent than the rest of Virginia.)

While we look forward to the coming winter to kill some pests and tamp down allergies, “no” we don’t think it is too early to start planning for the spring. Whether your pet is moving more stiffly or you notice that she chronically itches or wretches (not common in either cat or dog), we’re here to help and available Monday through Saturdays.

By: Dr. Hanh Chau, DVM, CCRT, CVA
and Dr. Betty Myers,DVM
Family Veterinary Hospital of Stone Ridge
24650 South Point Drive, Suite 140
Chantilly, VA 20152
703-327-8425
appointments@family-vet.com

Pets ARE Members of the Family – Dr. Hanh Chau

pets dr hahnToes, teeth, goofy grins and obnoxious smell, we tolerate them, love them, in ways we cannot tell.
We call them “fur babies” and use words like “adopt,” our own goofy happiness will never stop.

Then, one day, our family member gets injured or sick, and we laugh because otherwise we’d cry.
Your pet needs surgery or else she will die.

X-Ray, bloodwork, surgery and more, breaths are held, fear to your core.
The vet is great, the staff second to none,
4 hours later, the worst is now done.
Groggy and light; alive; DELIGHT! A lick or a purr, “better” you’re sure.

Sometimes though 4 hours turn to days, medicine is no guarantee, there are other ways:

Acupuncture, allery shots, endoscopy, ultrasound,
Perhaps a million dollars of equipment can be found,
Tucked into a vet’s office, to make your pet better,
Your vet is a pet lover, “DVM” on her sweater.

Share your stories of home, the sillier the better.
Pets who are smart still eat things they shouldn’t,
Pets (not so bring) will do things we wouldn’t.

Keep them from harm, feed them well and go play,
(But please get them insurance: the surgery for your pet may be this day.)

For your vet employs many,
And her license she must protect,
Don’t ask to skip tests,
Some diseases and injuries are difficult to detect.

Cost is inevitable, but consider this we ask please:
More is spent on multi-vitamins, than curing pet disease.
Your pet will feel better, guaranteed not worse,
(Did you know vets (who ARE doctors) get paid less than a nurse?)

4 feet, 1 tail, energy galore,
Comfort, food, those we adore,
Safety, family, who could ask for more?
Pets ARE family, (just on all fours).

Dr. Hanh Chau, DVM, CCRT, CVA

Letter to a Pet-Owning Nation

A veterinarian IS a medical doctor. Trained in surgery, internal medicine, diagnosis of diseases and acute injuries, administering anesthesia; an animal doctor is your best friend’s most educated and skilled expert.

A veterinarian can open a living being, retrieve a swallowed sock, pair of underwear, or pieces of a shoe, sew the animal back up and send it home shortly afterwards. A veterinarian can set broken bones, diagnose and treat cancer, and look at a heart and diagnose palpitations, murmurs enlargements and failure. A veterinarian frequently treats kidney and bladder stones, Cushings disease, cancer, diabetes and Lyme disease.

A veterinarian is often the last person a pet sees before passing away. A veterinarian has the heart-aching responsibility of ending a pet’s suffering when little hope remains of recovery. A veterinarian helps pet owning families say goodbye, often with many of the family in attendance up until the last moment, without regard to “business hours” or “appointment schedules.” A veterinarian struggles internally with many cases, between performing best medicine and performing affordable medicine. A veterinarian has a greater risk of divorce, suicide, and financial ruin than most if not all other medical doctors.

A veterinarian is one of the most popular professions that children say they want to be when they grow up. Yet, in the United States there are only 28 vet schools, less than 1 per state. States like Virginia and Maryland “share” their medical school at Virginia Tech. According to the New York Times, there is just 1 veterinarian for every 10 human-medical doctors in the United States.

Many veterinarians are on the front lines of the US’s defense against contagious diseases, protecting the nation’s food supply, and are officers in the US military. There are veterinarians in Congress and some have been in the Senate. Increasingly, veterinarians are the only medical doctor in many rural towns.

A veterinarian is a small-business owner, employer, medical expert, confidant, and community icon. A veterinarian is the child who got straight-A’s throughout school, succeeded in even the most difficult subjects, could easily have gotten into human-medical schools, yet always knew from a young age that to be a veterinarian was the only road for them. However, statistically, a child is more likely to grow up and be in professional sports than be a veterinarian, both being just a sliver of the US workforce (less than 1/10 of 1%).

A veterinarian uses ultrasound, x-rays (or radiographs in medical terminology), endoscopes (the snakelike tube that lets one see inside a body without surgery), microscopes and lasers. Perhaps because veterinary medicine is predominantly pay-as-you-go, with fewer than 5% of pet-owners having pet insurance, veterinarians are forced to be on the leading edge of medical treatment methods, tracking human medical research studies, monitoring health treatment options overseas, and likely willing to treat using alternative medicine when they see convincing data of effectiveness (without the need to wait for medical insurance companies to sign-off). Veterinarians are increasingly learning acupuncture in medical school, since research has shown that in some cases it can be up to 80% effective in treating spinal paralysis compared iwth just 40% with surgery. Veterinarians are increasingly becoming specialized as allergists, internists, rehabilitation therapists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, pathologists and more.

Despite the increasing power and success of veterinarians and their tools to identify illness or injury in a non-talking patient, veterinarians are asked almost daily to skip diagnostic tests and/or guarantee a positive outcome from a medical treatment. Veterinarians are often challenged with questions like “Why can’t you do surgery for just $60?”, and most carefully explain why doctors don’t always require pain-blocking medicine, or pre-surgical tests to make sure a patient won’t die during surgery. As a veterinarian, Dr. Chau carefully explains why the pet the family purchased for $50, now requires hundreds of dollars of treatment, and the circumstances of how a family “received” the pet (often a gift) has no bearing on the cost of its care.

A veterinarian is a spokesperson for animals. A veterinarian, by many federal, state and local laws, is a “safe haven” for pets. They identify when a pet is suffering or ill, and can make recommendations that can greatly impact the quality and length of life. Veterinarians take their responsibilities seriously, are accountable to the state’s board of health professionals, and are sworn to uphold a high code of ethics.

Veterinarians are humanitarian to their core. They demonstrate the best of human virtues by treating patients with dignity, doing no harm, and relieving suffering. As an advocate for what is right and just for an animal that a family chooses, a pet could do no better for a “best friend”.

Dr. Chau demonstrates the best of human virtues, she is and does what is right. She is your family household pet’s best friend and looks forward to serving you and your 4-legged, furry friend in one of her two locations in Loudoun County – Middleburg and Chantilly, VA.

Dr. Chau

Dr. Hanh Chau, DVM, CVA, CCRT

Family Veterinary Hospital of Stone Ridge
24650 Stouth Point Drive, Suite 140
Chantilly, VA 20152
703-327-8425
appointments@family-vet.com

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