When Your Pet Is Hospitalized
Beaver Lake Animal Hospital
When Your Pet Is Hospitalized
You have visited us because your pet is ill. We have made several recommendations. Medicine is an art as well as a science. There are few absolutes. In veterinary medicine, we do not have the benefit of our patients telling us outright what they feel, and how long it has been since they were normal. We rely on the information you have given us, as well as our physical exam and objective data. We put it all together to see what is most likely the problem.
Many times we do not have a firm diagnosis. For these pets, we treat them according to the most common problems seen consistent with the pet's species, age, breed, sex, environment, and other factors. In addition, we treat symptomatically for the signs given. The information you have provided about your pet's history is very important. The more you have detected and can tell us, the more likely we are to diagnose the problem. We try to question you about pertinent information we need to make decisions on. Many times the onset of disease is insidious. We recognize that owners may not have realized when their pet was showing a sign of physical change, or illness. It is not uncommon for owners to just dismiss a bit of lethargy or changes that come on slowly, or other signs as just old age, when in fact there is an illness, or a syndrome which can be corrected with medication or other treatment. It may not be until the pet is very ill that medical attention is obtained.
We may recommend referral to a board certified veterinary specialist. We have very good rapport with specialists in all fields of veterinary medicine and surgery. You may request such referral, even if we have not yet made that recommendation. If you wish a referral to a specialist, please let us know. We can arrange for a specialist to evaluate your pet's condition and treatment plan. Here are some explanations as to why we recommend certain diagnostics and/or treatments as well as guidelines about hospitalization for your information.
Radiographs (X-rays) are used to determine size, shape, placement and density of various organs, in addition to detecting foreign bodies. Radiographs are key in detecting heart and lung diseases or evidence of trauma, tumors, and renal or urinary bladder stones. Obviously radiographs are used to characterize spinal and other bone problems. Survey or scanning radiographs are taken initially. Special views may be needed to detect certain problems. Special chemical agents may be used to better delineate special organ anatomy in contrast radiographs. Beyond standard radiographs, further imaging may be of benefit. Molecular Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) scans may allow more in-depth evaluation of your pet. We refer for these services; please ask if you desire this level of service. We may recommend the service for your pet.
Ultrasound allows for best evaluation of heart disease, allowing characterization of the heart muscle, as well as valves. Further, an ultrasound can give information on liver, spleen and renal problems. An ultrasound can detect tumors, distorted blood or bile vessels. Ultrasound guided biopsies can be obtained in certain instances. We refer to specialists for ultrasound abilities. Many times the specialist will be able to come to our hospital to perform this service.
General blood profiles allow evaluation of the internal animal. We can perform organ function tests, electrolytes and a complete blood cell count in the hospital within only about 15 minutes. We can send samples in to the lab, and have results the next morning. Evaluation of electrolytes allows us to detect certain diseases, as well as indicating what your pet needs to correct the imbalances. In general, blood tests available to us do not detect' cancer. If a pet has cancer, then there may be changes in test results, but changes in results may be from a number of causes. If abnormalities are found, further diagnostics may be recommended.
These basic profiles give us initial information about your pet. This information allows us to build a better treatment plan, rules in or out certain diseases (narrows down the list of possible ailments) and helps us determine the short term prognosis.
Profiles may be repeated to determine response to treatment and to allow adjustment in the treatment plan and prognosis. Even if we have a diagnosis, lab values give us objective data. For instance, in many known toxicities, it is important to determine if damage has occurred internally.
Specific blood tests are secondary tests indicated based on the profile results, initial physical exam, initial response to treatment as well as the information provided by the owner. There are hundreds of tests that can be completed. Many of these more specific tests are more costly than general blood profiles/tests. If you wish a firm diagnosis, we can many times perform other diagnostic tests. Most tests only rule in' or rule out' certain diseases. Some tests, but only a few give us a firm diagnosis. We will apprise you of your choices for further diagnostic options if they are indicated. We will recommend any we feel are indicated.
Remember, there is stress associated with each procedure we perform. If we do not feel a particular test is in the best interest of your pet, we will not recommend it.
Urinalysis provides information about the kidneys, urinary bladder and various diseases. Urinalysis is frequently completed as a basic diagnostic to be interpreted in light of blood profile results. Often the urine will be cultured to rule out typical urinary bladder and kidney infections.
Hospitalization is recommended when your pet is depressed, dehydrated, pale in color, having breathing difficulties, has vomiting and/or diarrhea, or for other reasons. When your pet is hospitalized, they can rest. We know you do not want to leave your pet. But, you want your pet to feel better as soon as possible, don't you? The sooner medical support is given, the healthier the body stays. Lack of medical care, particularly fluids can lead to multisystem, and even irreparable damage. If at home, many pets feel the need to be with you as you move from room to room, and worry about you and your activities. This takes energy. Most pets that are hospitalized for illness rest and sleep while here. We will let you know if your pet does not fit into this category. Most dogs that are crate trained are relaxed in the hospital. Again, most pets relax after their owners have left the clinic.
When in the hospital, we can monitor required parameters repeatedly as indicated. Attitude, temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate, as well as membrane color, or certain blood values may need to be repeatedly evaluated. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of appetite, thirst, vomit, diarrhea and urination can be noted.
Pets that are hospitalized can be treated with the preferred form of medication and fluids. Some medications are best given or are only available as injections.
Supplemental heat can be provided to return hypothermic (low body temperature) animals to their regular temperature, until they are able to control their own body temperature.
We are able to assist pets to empty their bladders if they are unable to do so for themselves.
Please note, we are not a 24-hour hospital. We do not have staff working 24 hours daily. We do however regularly hospitalize pets overnight. On rare occasions we use the services of Alpine Animal Hospital if we feel a pet needs constant 24-hour intensive care that Dr. Bennett cannot provide at night. We will inform you of this option if we feel your pet is likely to require a greater level of care than we can provide. This service is also available upon request. Requests should be made during regular office hours.
Fluids are given to correct and prevent dehydration. Fluids are used to maintain blood pressure, particularly during surgery. Fluids are also given to assist the body in excreting body wastes through the kidneys. Dehydration seems a benign problem. But, in fact, dehydration compromises all the body systems. Regardless of its cause, dehydration can lead to destruction of kidney cells. Renal disease seriously compromises a being and can shorten their lifespan. Dehydration compromises the immune system and the nervous system. Along with dehydration, an animal is more likely to have electrolyte imbalances. Electrolyte levels are critical for proper function of muscles (the heart is a muscle) and the nervous system.
The rule of thumb is, if a pet has become or may become dehydrated, fluids should be provided.
Fluids may be administered in one of several ways. IV (intravenous) fluids are the healthiest way of providing fluids for your pet. A flexible, nonpainful catheter is placed, usually in an arm or leg vein. Jugular catheters may be placed if indicated. The fluids are applied directly to the circulatory system, allowing for almost immediate correction of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Fluids can be provided at a specific rate based on the your pet's needs. Changes can be made in the type of fluids given as well as the rate given as needed. Pets on IV's must be hospitalized.
Subcutaneous (SQ) fluids may be administered. These may be used for animals that will not be hospitalized, or their need for fluids is minimal. SQ fluids may be given as an alternative if the pet will not tolerate leaving an IV in place or if finances dictate the course of treatment. Some animals come in so severely dehydrated, that blood vessels are so flaccid that placement of an IV catheter is impossible. SQ fluids are given initially to allow return of blood pressure, and therefore facilitate IV catheterization a while later.
Intraosseous (IO) fluids are administered into bone marrow. This form of dehydration is reserved for severely dehydrated animals, as well as tiny pets, such as young kittens and puppies.
Blood or plasma transfusions are given to restore red blood cells, and/or plasma proteins. These treatments are similar, or in the same category as fluid administration. Pets will be typed and cross-matched prior to blood transfusion. A similar, man-made product Oxyglobin