News / Blog

Vitus Vet App Features

Coming soon in mid to late April 2019!

We plan to better communicate with you! Our offices will be utilizing the Vitus Vet app. Please wait to log into the app until the set up is correct later this month.

Features we are bringing to you:

Text our office directly even with photos to ask questions
Get text picture updates to your phone while your pet stays with us
View reminders and vaccine status by each pet
See upcoming appointments
The ability to real time schedule appointments at each office
Add medication reminders for your pet’s medications and oral prevention
Quickly submit Nationwide pet insurance claims

We hope these features make it easier for all of us to better communicate and improve the care of your pet(s)!

Allergies

Allergies are responsible for many different symptoms in pets and are one of the most common causes for visits to the veterinarian. Pets can exhibit a wide variety of symptoms and differing severities depending on the underlying cause of the allergy. Often pets show signs of being itchy, these include scratching, licking, chewing and rubbing on surfaces. Occasionally pets will have runny eyes and mild respiratory symptoms like sneezing. Most pets have ear and skin symptoms: ear infections, redness between the toes, and/or scooting. The symptoms may be mild and perhaps not easily recognized, while others are more severe.

Environmental allergies, termed atopy, often result in itchy or inflamed skin, hair loss and recurring skin and ear infections. Food allergies may result in similar skin issues as environmental allergies but may also cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as a picky appetite, intermittent vomiting, or diarrhea. External parasites, most notably fleas, may also cause skin allergy symptoms. Skin allergy symptoms if left untreated may then predispose pets to skin and ear infections that often recur if the underlying allergy is not treated. These secondary skin and ear infections then cause even more itchiness.

Environmental allergens are either inhaled or enter to body through the skin. Inhaled allergens usually cause skin symptoms instead of the typically expected sneezing or respiratory symptoms. These allergens can be indoor or outdoor. More common indoor allergens include dust and dust mites. Outdoor allergens are extensive and include all regional grasses, shrubs and trees. Determining the cause of the underlying allergy can be done by testing, but is not the best course of action as we cannot control outdoor pollens well. We have other more successful treatments such as cytopoint or apoquel (see below).

Food allergies are different than environmental allergies but special prescription foods may help both types of allergies. Most people think pet store foods can be used to solve allergy issues. Others think grain free and boutique foods can prevent problems. There is a known link between grain free/boutique foods and acquired heart disease. Proteins in food, not grains or corn cause food allergies. The most common culprits of food allergies in dogs are beef, dairy, chicken, and eggs. One or multiple sources may be the underlying culprit for allergy symptoms. Using hydrolyzed protein foods, these concerns are resolved.

Often times allergies can be a little difficult to pinpoint the exact cause without specific allergy tests. Your pet may in fact have more than one type (seasonal, environmental, food, flea, etc). An accurate history and thorough physical exam are essential to determining if your pet has allergies, as well as diagnosing any secondary infections that also need to be treated. Testing is available for environmental allergies. Intradermal skin testing is the gold standard for allergy testing. Blood tests are also available and although these tests have improved over time, they may still produce false negative results and are shown to be at most 60% accurate.

The treatment options for allergies are as diverse as their causes and treatment may be required throughout your pet’s lifetime. Our veterinarians will work with you to select the appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic plan for their particular allergy symptoms. Treatment for allergies usually consists of immunotherapy, prescription allergy medications, flea medications, medicated topical shampoos and conditioners, prescription diets and nutritional supplements. Treatment for allergies may require a single medication or at times may require combinations of treatment options to provide the best relief from symptoms.

Immunotherapy, also called hyposensitization, involves giving regular injections or an oral solution to desensitize your pet to what they are allergic too. This does require either skin or blood allergy testing first to find out what your pet is allergic too. A lab then creates a solution containing smaller amounts of the allergen which in turn is administered on a schedule to your pet at home in an attempt to minimize the immune response. Improvement is variable and may take as long as 6 to 12 months. Some pets are eventually able to no longer require allergy medications, others may still require smaller dosages of allergy medications, and a few patients may not respond at all.

Apoquel and Cytopoint are the two newest and very effective prescription medications for allergy relief in dogs. These medications allow your pet to avoid the detrimental side effects of steroid therapy. Apoquel is an oral medication that is given daily to reduce allergy symptoms. Improvement often occurs in the first couple days. Apoquel should only be given to dogs more than 1 year of age. Cytopoint is a convenient injection that we administer and typically lasts 30 or more days. Cytopoint may be given to dogs of any age. Improvement also occurs in the first couple days after administration.

Steroid therapy may be needed in certain situations. Oral steroids are much less frequently prescribed now with the availability of Cytopoint and Apoquel. Steroids are often very effective by suppressing the immune response in allergic pets; unfortunately steroids also commonly result in more significant side effects. Observable side effects often include excessive drinking, excessive urinating, excessive hunger and behavior changes. Steroids may also predispose your pet to organ problems, infections and diabetes.

Cyclosporine is another medication used in treating allergies in pets. This medication suppresses the immune system as well but avoids the concerning side effects of steroids. Apoquel and cytopoint tend to be more effective, quicker onset, and don’t have the side effects of cyclosporine.

Antihistamines may be recommended for cats and dogs but are at most 30% effective. Antihistamines may not be reliable in significantly controlling symptoms when used alone and are often more effective if used in conjunction with prescription medications, as it is the prescription medications that have the great efficacy.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplements are often prescribed to help reduce allergy symptoms in combination with other treatments. These dietary supplements are given daily and may reduce skin inflammation associated with allergies and thereby improve the effect of other allergy medications. These supplements are often continued for long durations, or in some situations indefinitely, as they require at least 4-6 weeks to be effective. Using over the counter fish oils contain primarily omega 6 fatty acids, which defeat the effects of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids have also shown benefits for joint, kidney, and heart disease in addition to the skin benefits.

If you are concerned about your pet possibly having environmental or food allergies, please make an appointment with one of our veterinarians today! Let us help your pet take the itch out of allergies.

Essential Oils can be Harmful to Pets

There are many proclaimed health benefits to essential oils in people. Many people want to provide the same care for their pets as they would for themselves. Be cautious when considering the ‘same as people’ plan with pets. Essential oils are toxic to cats, which lack a liver enzyme that would enable them to process essential oils. These oils are also toxic to birds. Dogs don’t have so much difficulty but any pet getting into spilled essential oils can result in problems.

When considering essential oil diffusers, do not use one that can have oil spillage if a pet were to knock it over. There is also a major distinction between active and passive diffusers. Passive diffusers allow the scent to be placed in the room while active diffusers create micro-droplets, which are toxic to cats and birds.

If you elect to use essential oils for your own preference, use only passive diffusers if there are any pets in your household. Lavender has been shown to have a beneficial calming effect on pets. It is for this reason we use lavender candles in our office to help promote fear free visits. (LINK to MARCH FEAR FREE BLOG Post)

To read more about this from Dr. Malinich, click here.

Fear Free

Family Pet Veterinary Centers strive to provide your pet a Fear Free experience. What does that mean? We make every effort to lessen the amount of fear, anxiety and stress that may be associated with your pet’s visit. A Fear Free Certified veterinarian is present at each of our locations.

Pets may be fearful or anxious when already leaving the comfort of their own home, traveling in a vehicle for a visit, or may experience these problems when in the new environment of a pet hospital setting. These disturbances may result in negative emotional and possibly physical changes that can persist or worsen over time. Signs of stress may not always be obvious. Please observe your pet for any of the following signs.

We encourage you to contact us or take steps to reduce the level of anxiety your pet may sustain prior to or during travel to one of our hospitals.

We take pride in providing the best physical and emotional care for our patients by giving them a more comfortable and caring experience. We use learned modalities and changes to the hospital environment to improve our approach for each pet during each visit, thereby reducing the anxiety and fear your pet may have typically experienced.

Our teams are dedicated to creating an exceptional and rewarding experience for you and your pet. We look forward to sharing our Fear Free practices with you and your furry family member.

3-D Imaging

When people get sick, they can tell their doctor what they feel to help determine the best course of action. For pets, the veterinarian’s exam and diagnostic tests are even more important as pets cannot verbalize what’s wrong.

On a daily basis, veterinarians use tests such as bloodwork, x-rays, and ultrasounds to get information to help find solutions to pet ailments. Family Pet Veterinary Center and Animal Dentistry Referral Services in Norwalk, IA have new technology to help find answers faster: 3D imaging.

Our equipment is called the PICO. It is the smallest scanner currently made in the world and can image tissues as thin as 0.09mm! We are the third installed PICO in the USA and currently the only 3D imaging unit in Iowa.

3D imaging is like a human CT scan or MRI, but it uses 60-90% less radiation than conventional CT, takes 75% less time, and has up to 1481 times more detail than conventional CT. It can be used to image bone or soft tissue depending on the settings, then makes a true 3D image of the layers of the scan. This technology often allows veterinarians to run one or two tests to get more answers than 3-6 separate tests with the goal to get more accurate answers faster.

Read more about dentistry 3D imaging here. (LINK to 3D dental imaging.pdf) We are happy to answer any questions if you’d like to stop by our Norwalk office to see the technology.

Exotic Cheek Teeth

As noted in the 3D imaging of exotics post, the incidence of dental issues in small exotic mammals (rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rodents, hamsters, and ferrets) has been estimated near 90% in many studies. Sadly most exotic patients have hidden dental disease, which is difficult if not impossible to accurately assess during awake oral exams.

Anesthetized oral exams provide more information but imaging is necessary for the same reasons it is essential in dogs and cats. Due to small patient size, intraoral x-rays are less successful. Extraoral x-rays often have overlap of anatomic structures again making diagnosis challenging. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why 3D imaging needed in exotic patients. Read more about our high definition volumetric imaging capability with 0.09mm detail here.

The most common dental diseases in ferrets are periodontal disease and tooth fracture. One study showed 74% of ferrets fracture their canine teeth.

As for the almost 90% of rabbits and rodents (and chinchillas, guinea pigs), the most common dental disease is related to tooth alignment and resulting over growth of cheek teeth. These patients have continuously growing teeth that require free choice timothy hay and limited pellets so the natural act of chewing can keep the teeth aligned. The majority of these pets get cheek teeth overgrowth. As it progresses, hooks and sharp points develop on the opposing teeth. As the elongation continues, the roots project near the nose, eyes, and mandibles and can be the reason for eye and nasal issues. The incisors often elongate secondarily to cheek teeth elongation. Treatment to return the cheek teeth to appropriate height is done with fine grinding burs often to the level of the gums so that the gums will recede back to normal levels. The key is not to take too much away too fast as the internal aspect of the tooth can be exposed. Incisors should not be cut with nippers (single cut) as tooth fracture is a common occurrence.

Unfortunately, after grinding/smoothing/’floating’ regrowth will occur. Most cheek teeth need retreatment every 3-6 months. The first thing owners worry about with this condition is anesthesia. While anesthesia is not without risk, there are multiple cases of rabbits (and others) having 50+ anesthetic episodes for this condition over their lifetime and dying of unrelated causes.

As tooth elongation continues or trauma to teeth occurs, infection or disease often happens at the root tip. Extraction or surgical root tip resection is needed:

Contact us to learn more about exotic dentistry issues.

Exotics

As described in a recent post, dental conditions are often hidden and painful. The following posts are going to help describe conditions that pets can get as well as treatment. Many people I talk with are surprised how we can help pets with dental conditions and save teeth whenever possible.

As noted in the exotics post, the incidence of dental issues in small exotic mammals (rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rodents, hamsters, and ferrets) has been estimated near 90% in many studies. Sadly most exotic patients have hidden dental disease, which is difficult if not impossible to accurately assess during awake oral exams.

Anesthetized oral exams provide more information but imaging is necessary for the same reasons it is essential in dogs and cats. Due to small patient size, intraoral x-rays are less successful. Extraoral x-rays often have overlap of anatomic structures again making diagnosis challenging. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why one study showed the diagnostic accuracy of CT (3D imaging with less than 0.2mm detail) was superior in 80% of patients with regard to diagnosis and prognosis, and in over half of patients for guiding treatment.

Imaging exotic patients allows a three dimensional view of the patient as seen in this video:

For all species, imaging of ears and nasal structures is best with 3D imaging. One study of inflammatory rhinitis showed 55% of the cause was related to dental conditions.

Read more about our high definition volumetric imaging capability with 0.09mm detail here.

Oral Tumors

As described in a recent post, dental conditions are often hidden and painful. The following posts are going to help describe conditions that pets can get as well as treatment. Many people I talk with are surprised how we can help pets with dental conditions and save teeth whenever possible.

While only 6% of malignant tumors of the body occur in the mouth, additional growths classified as benign occur. The trouble with the benign classification is that although they may not spread to other parts of the body, they are often locally invasive, painful, and destructive. The other trouble with both benign, benign-locally invasive, and malignant tumors is that many types of them look quite similar. As stated in the prior section, all types of gingival enlargements should be biopsied to help ensure the best treatment. Biopsy samples should be sent to an ORAL pathologist. Dr. Cindy Bell (KSU) currently is the leader oral pathology. Speaking from experience, it appears her reads tend to be more definitive than others. She is down to earth and will actually talk to veterinarians about treatment or help provide connections to speak to a veterinary dentist about the case.

Classifications of the following image growths may be plasma cell tumor, peripheral odontogenic fibroma, focal fibrous hyperplasia, papillary squamous cell carcinoma, lymphoma, pyogenic granuloma, canine acanthomatous ameloblastoma. I’m sure there are a few I’ve missed as well. Take note – the word epulis was not used to describe any of the growths. Epulis is a poor descriptive term. Most previously classified epulides are either peripheral odontogenic fibromas or ossifying fibromas. Also note, that all of the below images look similar and most of them are severe, locally invasive, or symptoms of additional disease.

Many of these tumors require wide margined surgical excision; meaning large parts of the jaw(s) are removed. When taking off parts of the upper jaw, large holes can be made but the lip can cover and make the outcome be quite cosmetic for many cases.

A mandibulectomy finish is shown below.

Studies show client satisfaction following mandibulectomies and maxillectomies in dogs is 85%, and was proportional to the postoperative survival time. It has been thought that cats do not do well after these types of surgeries. Surprising to many, a similar percentage of clients with cats after a mandibulectomy procedure said they would choose the same course of action given the circumstance despite the fact that 75% of the cats had mild to moderate adverse effects (tongue location, drooling, difficulty grooming, jaw alignment issues) for the rest of their lives.

This mass (behind the canine and is subtle) was found very early and had a great outcome. Other larger ones of this type usually do better with adjunctive radiation therapy. Some masses even if found later in the course of disease have great surgical outcomes. For oral tumors it has been shown that all do much better with wide margined surgical excision with or without chemo therapy/radiation as compared to chemo therapy/radiation without surgical excision.

Determining surgical margins is important. 3D imaging with contrast can help make this determination in some cases. Read more about our high definition volumetric imaging capability with 0.09mm detail here. Information on 3D imaging of exotics and imaging of nasal issues can be found here.

Ginigival Hyperplasia

As described in a recent post, dental conditions are often hidden and painful. The following posts are going to help describe conditions that pets can get as well as treatment. Many people I talk with are surprised how we can help pets with dental conditions and save teeth whenever possible.

While the above images look drastic, this particular patient was much-improved 1 year later:

With the mild regrowth, retreatment is still needed, but there has not been destruction to the point of tooth loss. Left untreated the excess tissue traps food and hair between the tissue and the teeth resulting in loss of supporting structures and eventually teeth.

The above images and statements have been referring to gingival hyperplasia. Technically it cannot be said what this tissue is without biopsy results. We can say for certain is that there is gingival enlargement (GE). Whether the gingival enlargement is due to hyperplasia or hypertrophy, or whether the enlargement involves extensive thickening of the tissue, the goal is the same: return the structure and function of the area to a healthy sulcus (the space between the gum and the tooth).

Here are some additional examples of gingival enlargement before and after treatment.

Though sometimes quite focal, often these lesions are generalized, particularly in breeds that show a familial tendency, such as Boxers, Bulldogs, and Collies.

Gingival enlargement can also be caused by hormonal changes or different drug administration (e.g., cyclosporine, amlodipine) in some patients.

Some gingival enlargements may actually be growths or tumors and seem like other non-concerning changes seen in other patient. This is why all types of GE should be biopsied. Biopsy samples should be sent to an ORAL pathologist. Dr. Cindy Bell (KSU) currently is the leader oral pathology. Speaking from experience, it appears her reads tend to be more definitive than others. She is down to earth and will actually talk to veterinarians about treatment or help provide connections to speak to a veterinary dentist about the case.

Check out the oral tumor section to learn more.

Salivary Gland Issues

As described in a recent post, dental conditions are often hidden and painful. The following posts are going to help describe conditions that pets can get as well as treatment. Many people I talk with are surprised how we can help pets with dental conditions and save teeth whenever possible.

Accumulation of saliva or stones in the salivary ducts can occur due to trauma, foreign material, or infection. Many times these causes are unseen (and become termed idiopathic = unknown cause) and happen days to weeks earlier than the symptoms. Salivary duct stones (sialoliths) do not cause accumulation of saliva as seen in the image.

Surgical treatment is needed. The surgical approach can be a challenge and may not remove all of the salivary tissue as intended, though Main Street Dental Clinic and Animal Dentistry Referral Services have some ancillary techniques to treat these. Sometimes a second surgery is still needed.

Using the special techniques on a follow up surgery is less successful as anatomical landmarks are less visible hampering the outcome.

Contact us to learn more about salivary gland issues.