Surgery: On the Cutting Edge

You have probably heard of laparoscopic surgery.  You know, the kind of surgery where the surgeon makes an itty-bitty incision and uses a camera to perform a procedure.  In human medicine, many surgeries are routinely performed like this.  You may not know, however, that more and more veterinary practices are performing this type of surgery.  Oakland Veterinary Referral Services is happy to be able to offer laparoscopy and arthroscopy (within the joint) techniques for a wide variety of surgical procedures.

What does that mean for your pet?

  • Smaller incisions mean less pain, less trauma, and overall less invasive surgeries.  There is evidence to show that a laparoscopic procedure can reduce pain after the procedure by up to 65%!
  • Improved visibility for the surgeon means an overall safer surgery and a shorter time for your pet to be under anesthesia.
  • Shorter procedures and smaller incisions mean a faster recovery for your pet, with many being able to be discharged from the hospital on the same day as the procedure!
  • Studies show that pets are 70% more active in the first 3 days following surgery when a procedure is performed laparoscopically vs. traditionally.
  • No plastic cone! Those big, awkward plastic cones that are so uncomfortable for your pet aren’t necessary after laparoscopic surgery.

With all of these benefits, laparoscopic surgery is being recommended to make surgery easier for both pets and their owners.

What types of surgeries can be done laparoscopically?

Liver biopsies  are the most common.  Others include preventative gastropexy to prevent bloat, tube placement for nutritional support, and staging of disease.  We can also explore joints in a minimally invasive, safe manner. This technique allows us to help you make the best decisions possible for your pet by gathering information in the least traumatizing way possible.

Contact us today to find out more about laparascopy or the types of procedures that can be completed in this way.  Your pet will thank you!

Have a Happy, Safe Holiday Season!

Oakland Veterinary Referral Service wishes you and your furry family a very happy, and above all safe, holiday season this year!  Don’t forget the following during your festivities this year:

  • Dangerous objects

Christmas trees, holiday decorations, and wrapped gifts can all be dangerous items that your pet is not used to having around.  Keep decorations and candles out of the reach of playful paws and wagging tails.  Decorative ribbons, string, and tinsel should also be kept away from pets.  Electrical cords can pose a danger as pets may chew on them or become tangled in them.  Before bringing any plants into your home, be sure to check the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants to avoid problems.

  • Hazardous treats

Food and goodies of all kinds abound this time of year!  Beware of treats containing chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, and the artificial sweetener xylitol.  Table scraps, particularly those that are fatty or rich, can cause stomach upset ranging from mild vomiting or diarrhea to severe pancreatitis.  Don’t forget about alcohol, either.  That punch or eggnog might be irresistible to your pet, but can cause serious problems upon ingestion.

  • Scary situations

Pets don’t always take to the holidays like humans do.  A houseful of noisy strangers can be a disturbing event for shyer animals.  Make sure that they have a quiet, safe place to “hide” away from the hub-bub.  It is also a good idea to make sure that all pets are wearing identification and/or are micro-chipped with your current contact information in case they slip out the door with Uncle Bob.

Ceva – Future Leader Dog for the Blind!

What’s better than a snuggly, happy puppy?  A snuggly, happy puppy with a job description that includes helping others!  Oakland Veterinary Referral Service’s very own Dr. Theresa DePorter has had the honor to help train a puppy named Ceva to become a Leader Dog for the blind.  Ceva earned her name from Ceva Animal Health, who has sponsored her care and training.

Dr. DePorter with Ceva at Leader Dog School

Dr. DePorter with Ceva at Leader Dog School

Dr. DePorter, along with an experienced Leader Dog trainer, took on the important task of
training Ceva to be the best guide dog possible.  Tremendous dedication was required as Dr. DePorter spent the first year of Ceva’s life exposing her to all sorts of situations and locations similar to what she will face on duty.  This has helped Ceva to build a foundation that will allow her to be comfortable and confident for her future owner.   Because a guide dog is expected to keep her owner safe in any range of situations, Dr. DePorter took Ceva many places throughout her training including restaurants, veterinary conferences, and even New York City!  This taught Ceva to be very good at ignoring distractions, even tasty ones!

In October, Ceva “graduated” to Leader Dog, where she will continue her training before being placed.  This is the equivalent of her heading off to college!  Dr. DePorter misses Ceva, but is very proud of her.  We are all excited for Ceva to continue on to help someone in need.  Feel free to follow Ceva along with us on her very own Facebook page!

All About Xylitol and the Danger it Poses to Your Pet

The emergency and critical care doctors at OVRS would like to remind pet owners how dangerous Xylitol, an artificial sweetener is for dogs and cats.  The emergency and critical care doctors have reported an increased number of pets being treated for eating xylitol, used as a sugar substitute in foods, including sugar-free gum, sugar-free mints, chewable vitamins, tooth paste and oral-care products. Xylitol is also available in a granulated form at your local grocery store for baking and beverage sweeteners.

Question: Why is xylitol so dangerous for dogs and cats?

Answer: Ingestion of xylitol primarily affects insulin release throughout the body. Insulin causes an increase of glucose (blood sugar) uptake into the liver, muscle, and fat cells resulting in decreasing blood glucose levels.

Xylitol strongly promotes the release of insulin from the pancreas into circulation leading to a rapid decrease of blood glucose levels. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur within 30 to 60 minutes of xylitol ingestion with levels as low as 0.1g xylitol /kg body weight.

Hypoglycemia may compound further into liver toxicity, liver damage, and ultimately liver failure. Ingesting amounts of xylitol greater than 0.5 g xylitol /kg body weight increases the risk for developing liver toxicity.

Sugar-free chewing gum is the most common cause of dogs that present to the emergency room. However, the recent introduction of xylitol as a substitute for sugar in grocery stores has increased the potential for toxicity.

Xylitol is perfectly safe for people, but because of different metabolisms, it can be fatal for dogs and cats. A simple piece of cupcake or cookie could kill an animal if the danger is unknown and not addressed immediately.

Question: What are the signs my dog might have eaten xylitol?

Answer: Immediately after ingestion, vomiting may occur. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) develops within 30 to 60 minutes, resulting in lethargy and weakness. These signs may quickly develop into ataxia (trouble walking), collapse, and seizures. Prolonged blood clotting times as well as skin and intestinal hemorrhaging are clinical signs associated with liver toxicity that may develop within hours and warrant a very poor prognosis.

Question: What do I do if I think my dog has eaten xylitol? What is the treatment and prognosis?

Answer: If xylitol ingestion occurs, consult your veterinarian immediately. Inducing vomiting to remove the xylitol is imperative, but close monitoring of blood sugar levels and intravenous infusions of glucose (sugar) may also be needed depending on the amount ingested and how quickly the problem was recognized.

The prognosis for dogs with hypoglycemia is good with immediate and proper treatment, while the prognosis for dogs that have developed liver toxicity is poor. Large ingestions of xylitol (a relatively small amount of the product) that are not caught immediately can result in fulminant liver failure and death despite aggressive supportive care. This can occur in less than 36 hours in dogs that are otherwise young and healthy.

If your dog or cat is exhibiting any of the signs listed above of having eaten xylitol, please contact your regular vet or OVRS immediately.

The Dog Days of Summer

If you haven’t noticed yet, it is a little warm outside lately.  Did you know that pets can very easily become overheated?  And that heat stroke is a major cause for an emergency veterinary visit in the summer?  That doesn’t mean you and your pet can’t enjoy the outdoors, though.  Do the following to ensure that your pet stays out of the hospital this summer:

  • Never leave your pet in an enclosed area such as a car for any length of time, even just a few minutes.  Temperatures can rise quickly, resulting in severe heat exhaustion.
  • Always be sure your pet has access to fresh, cool water.  This may mean planning ahead and bringing a portable dish and water bottle dedicated to Fido.
  • Make sure your pet can get out of the heat if s/he wants to do so.  This may mean a shady spot in the yard or the ability to retreat indoors if the sun becomes too intense.
  • Try to do outdoor activities early in the morning or in the evening when temperatures tend to be lowest.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of overheating.  These may include heavy panting or difficulty breathing, drooling, and weakness.  Unchecked these can progress to diarrhea, vomiting, lack of responsiveness, and seizures.  If you think your pet is suffering from heat stroke, contact your veterinarian right away.

If you have any questions contact us or reach out to your primary veterinarian.