A healthy cat is a happy cat!
We offer comprehensive preventative medicine that is highly individualized to the need of each individual patient and family. We practice mindful vaccination, and offer blood titers when appropriate. There are many diseases against which cats should receive protection. However, many of these vaccinations are very effective and provide adequate protection for longer than labeled. A blood sample can be utilized to support if an animal has this protection without the need for an additional vaccine.
We strive to see each patient routinely at biannually to evaluate dental health, weight, perform a comprehensive physical examination, and perform tests as needed to check for heartworm, tick-borne disease, and organ function.
After the 14 step physical exam, no area has been more helpful to ensure wellness than laboratory testing. It is our challenge to pick up hidden problems that our physical exam cannot identify. This would include urinary infections, kidney disease, liver problems, pancreas, and digestive disorders and many others. Our in-house technology and expertly trained staff ensure quick, accurate diagnoses. We also rely heavily on our advanced diagnostic testing laboratories. Wellness testing should begin with baseline testing in the first year or two of adulthood then be done yearly after age 5 to 7 depending upon the breed. With over 254 breeds with at least one inherited disorder routine wellness testing can help identify the presence and help prevent problems. Increasingly we now have laboratories that can actually predict diseases based on DNA.
As well as constant continuing education (both in-house and travel based) we follow the guidelines set by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) for vaccinations & senior wellness, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) for Feline Lifestage Guidelines, the American Heartworm Society (AHWS) for heartworm prevention and the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) for parasite prevention and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for animal to human disease risks.
A 14 step comprehensive physical exam and breed and age-specific wellness testing is the most important thing we do for cats.
It is vital that we know your cat is free of problems (such as heart murmurs, oral diseases, ear and skin infections, fleas and ticks, and abdominal disorders) before any vaccine is administered or medication prescribed.
After a complete history is taken by one of our well-trained exam room assistants we will know where we need to focus to have the best outcomes.
Another vital component of the yearly (cats 1 to 6) and semi-annual (cats 7 and up) is laboratory wellness tests. Evolutionarily cats have been programmed to NOT show signs of illness and appear normal even when the underlying disease is present.
In each cat, we give a score to dental health, body condition, muscle, and pain score. We also record any problems or diagnoses identified in our database for future retrieval, outcome studies or health alerts or new medication availability.
Why do our cats need surveillance screening?
Firstly, our cats can’t speak, they cannot tell us if they feel off colour or unwell or have any other indicators of internal illness. We need to examine them every 6 months as well as run some routine screening tests to detect underlying disease BEFORE it is clinically apparent.
Secondly, cats will actively mask signs of illness until late in the course of disease. This stems from survival instincts in a pack or colony situation.
Combating cancer in cats on every veterinary front.
Cancer can be one of the most complex and difficult diseases to diagnose and treat, not to mention emotionally draining on every level for both you and your cat. Oncology leads the attack against your cat’s cancer, coming at it from all sides with traditional therapies, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy and chemotherapy to provide the best possible prognosis. Quality of life is critical to you, your cat, and to us, which is why we consider both pain management as well as psychological and social needs when treating your cat’s cancer.
Oncology combines knowledge, skill and experience with that of the surgery, radiology and alternative medicine specialists to create a comprehensive approach to treat your cat, and defeat the cancer.
Depending on the location, type and stage of your cat’s cancer, treatment will involve some combination of oral chemotherapy, intravenous chemotherapy administered in our hospital, radiation therapy, surgical removal or reduction of the tumor, acupuncture, immunotherapy, food therapy, and oral pain medication. Early, aggressive therapy is vital. Cancer comes in various forms.
While people and cats live for years, most of the cells that make up our bodies generally have lifetimes measured in days, weeks, or months. Growth occurs through division, or splitting, of cells from one cell into two. This division occurs at different rates, depending on the tissue, the age of the individual, and the need at hand. Cell division happens rapidly, but in a controlled way, in growing children or pets, or when a wound is healing.
When the natural order is upset, though, and cell division occurs in an uncontrolled way, this is termed cancer or neoplasia (literally new growth). In some cases this takes the form of a mass, such as an enlarged lymph node, or a visible skin lesion, these are tumors. There are some forms of cancer that do not form masses, however, but spread themselves throughout the body. These types of cancer are most commonly associated with blood cells, such as leukemia or lymphoma, and may require bone marrow testing, in addition to other tests, to diagnose.
Benign vs. malignant: Benign tumors are masses that grow slowly, and do not have a tendency to spread to other parts of the body. These are generally named with the Latin term for the tissue, and end with oma, which means mass. Lipomas, for example, are benign masses of fat cells. These types of benign tumors may only become important if they impact normal function. Benign does not necessarily mean harmless, though even a benign tumor inside the skull, growing very slowly, can put dangerous pressure on the brain.
Other tumors do tend to spread through the body. As these cancers grow, small clumps of abnormal cells will break from the main tumor, and spread to other parts of the body. In the case of sarcomas, this spread is through the blood vessels. Because capillaries have the smallest diameter, these clumps tend to end up here there are very large numbers of capillaries in the liver, spleen, kidney, lungs, and brain, and these areas are the most common for new tumor growth.
Carcinomas follow a similar path, but through the lymphatic system, and spread first to lymph nodes. Regardless of the route, this process is referred to as metastasis, and cancers that display this behavior are malignant. There are other differences between sarcomas and carcinomas, but the important thing to know is that malignant cancer, whether sarcoma (such as lymphosarcoma) or carcinoma (such as squamous cell carcinoma) is serious, and early treatment, before metastasis, is important.
A note on cancer naming: If benign cancers end with oma, and malignant cancers end with carcinoma or sarcoma, then lymphoma and melanoma should be benign. Unfortunately, common usage has altered some of the names, and this can be confusing. When there is no benign form of a tumor, such as lymphosarcoma or melanosarcoma, physicians and veterinarians tend to drop the sarc or carcin because it makes the word easier to say. Thus, Hodgkin’s lymphoma is malignant cancer, not benign as the name would indicate.
Common types of cancer:
Skin cancer: Because skin is the largest organ in the body, it should come as no surprise that the skin is an area where cancer is commonly found. There are several types of skin cancer, though, and they require different treatment. Mast cell tumors, melanosarcoma (often called malignant melanoma, or just melanoma), and squamous cell carcinoma are common forms. There is even cancer that starts in blood vessels, hemangiosarcoma (hem=blood, angio=vessel), that spreads to the skin.
Lymphatic cancer: Cancer of the lymph nodes and, less frequently, of the circulating blood, occurs relatively commonly in dogs and is more common in some breeds than in others. Some cancers, as noted above, also spread to lymph nodes.
Bone cancer: Osteosarcoma, a malignant bony tumor that occurs most often in large breeds, accounts for more than 80% of bony tumors. While osteosarcoma responds to chemotherapy, it also tends to spread or metastasize at an early stage, so rapid diagnosis and combined therapy with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are critical to the outcome. While amputation before metastasis? is the core of traditional therapy, ASG, along with many surgery centers around the world, focuses on limb-sparing procedures where appropriate. Limb-sparing procedures remove the diseased bone, and replace it with a bone graft. These procedures are especially valuable in patients that are not good candidates for amputation.
The future looks bright!
Twenty short years ago, there were not many options when diagnosed with cancer, for people and pets alike. But cancer diagnosis, treatment and surgery continue to make huge improvements, and conditions that were not treatable twenty years ago can potentially be sent into remission today. And the treatment regimens of chemo, radiation, and surgery are much kinder than they were then, too (and getting better all the time).
No one wants to have themselves, family or cats diagnosed with cancer. It is both physically and emotionally draining, and painful for the patient, family, and doctors. But it is no longer hopeless. We will be right there beside you, guiding you, helping you make good treatment decisions, and helping your cat through this challenging time.
Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology, and diseases of the eye.
Eye health in dogs and cats is often overlooked until there is an obvious problem, typically because pet owners are uncertain as to what would constitute a true veterinary crisis. At Valley Veterinary Hospital, we work closely with cat owners to identify the source of eye symptoms and to develop a treatment plan that meets the needs of the cat and owner.
Obvious symptoms of an eye problem in your cat include watery or mucoid discharge; decreased vision or blindness; and excessive blinking, squinting, redness, puffiness, and pawing at the eyes or face. Any pet that demonstrates eye pain symptoms such as tenderness, discharge, excessive tears, or sensitivity to light should be brought to your veterinarian at once.
Glaucoma, tumors, and abscesses behind the eye may cause a bulging appearance, while dehydration, certain nerve conditions, weight loss, and even tetanus may cause the eye to seem sunken. There are many conditions that may cause the eye to simply appear irritated, such as dry eye (KCS), infections or eyelash or eyelid problems, or a foreign object or small tumor in the eye. And a discharge of any kind is cause for concern.
Our veterinary team is skilled at diagnosing and treating a variety of diseases and conditions of the eye in both dogs and cats. Common eye problems that are addressed and treated surgically at Valley Veterinary Hospital include:
Repair of entropion (rolling in of the eyelids)
Repair of prolapsed glands of the membrane nictitans (cherry eye)
Removal of eyelid tumors
Repair of an incomplete tear duct (your pet seems to be crying all the time)
Below is a list of diseases and conditions of the eye that require treatment:
- Lid Laceration
- Distichia/Ectopic Cilia
- Cherry Eye
- Lid Masses
- Entropion/Ectropion Correction
- Keratoconjunctivits Sicca (Dry Eye)
- Pannus (Chronic Superficial Keratitis)
- Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy
- Foreign Body
- Corneal Perforations
- Lens Lacerations
- Lens Luxation
- Cataract Evaluation and Surgery
- Infections and Inflammation
- Retinal Dysplasia
- Retinal Hemorrhage
- Retinal Detachments
- Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Medical and Surgical Management
- Acute Glaucoma Treatment
- Eosinophilic Keratitis
- Herpetic Keratoconjunctivitis
- Other Services
- Blindness Evaluation
- Intraocular Tumors
- Iris Melanoma
- CERF Exam-Breed Certification Eye Exam
- Uveitis (Inflammation)
- Retrobulbar Masses
Should your cat’s eye problem require specialized care, we have a great working relationship with a veterinary ophthalmologist in an office not far from us.
A critical eye problem that is left untreated can lead to serious damage to your cat’s eyes and health. Your cat is unable to tell you what is wrong, but any of the symptoms listed previously is an indication that veterinary assistance is required. Never delay when it means risking your cat’s eyesight.
Learn about cataracts in pets from the experts at the AAHA website.