Friday, 20 May 2016

Assistance with the Cost of Care

At St John’s Veterinary Hospital, we understand that veterinary bills can become quite expensive. When you’re beloved pet is sick it is an unwanted added stress to be worried about how much the tests and treatments are going to cost and how you’re going to pay for it. One of the most common questions we get is – do you do payment plans? Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, we do not. However there are options available to help with the costs of veterinary care.

While your pet is healthy

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – we all hope our pets will not be involved in an accident, or get seriously ill, but just in case having pet insurance can have you prepared for these situations. Having pet insurance can make the difference between being able to say “do what needs to be done” instead of “I can’t afford to do all of it” when the unexpected happens.

There are several different companies to select from, and different kinds of packages you can get with a variety of price points. Do some research to figure out what would work best for your family. Many of our team members invest in pet insurance for their own pets, and they would be happy to discuss the decision with you.

Some companies to consider: Trupanion, Pets Plus Us, Petsecure, PC Pet Insurance , Petplan

When your pet is sick

Sometimes despite our best intentions, our pets get ill before we can prepare for the possibility. Often when an accident happens we are left scrambling to sort out how to deal with the situation. Once your pet is sick, it is too late to get pet insurance to cover it.

This is where Petcard comes in – Petcard provides a 3rd party financing option for pet owners faced with veterinary expenses they are not prepared to deal with on the spot. Their website is very informative, and the application process is straight forward.

Again, we do understand that the costs of veterinary care can get quite expensive – we want to work with you to make sure that your pet gets the care it needs without exceeding your financial abilities. If you have any concerns about costs, please ask one of our team members about your options.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Behind the scenes: Dog Dental

Dogs and cats come in for dentistry for a variety of reasons – from just needing a cleaning, to having a broken tooth that requires removal, to having significant periodontal disease requiring a great deal of cleaning and removal of rotten teeth.

Hailey was in for “just a cleaning” – she had some accumulation of plaque and tartar, and her owners wanted to clean it up before it led to anything more serious.

Like any patient undergoing anesthesia, Hailey was checked over by a technician and had blood drawn for presurgical screening. Hailey is 6 years old, and while her exam and bloodwork were completely normal, we take an added precaution with our older patients and connect them to IV fluids to help support their blood pressure while under anesthesia.

Hailey isn't sure she WANTS an IV catheter....

But it is for her own good!

No matter how simple or straightforward the cleaning, full general anesthesia is always recommended to ensure we can do a thorough, and proper job with minimal stress to your pet. Hailey was induced to general anesthesia, and an endotracheal tube placed to protect her airway and deliver the anesthetic gas. 
Attaching the tube from the anesthetic machine to Hailey's endotracheal tube.
All set up on the dental table, where she is monitored by machines and by a nurse!

When you go to the dentist, a hygienist cleans your teeth and the dentist does the exam and makes decisions on any procedures that need to be done. Similarly, the veterinarian examines the mouth and decides if extractions are necessary, but a technician does all the cleaning and polishing.

Hailey didn’t require any extractions, her owners were being proactive and getting her teeth cleaned before the tartar and plaque has a chance to cause a need for extractions. The technician scraped off all the tartar and plaque, using a sonic scaler – which uses high pressure water to get those stubborn stains off the tooth enamel. Once this is done, just like at your dentist, the teeth must be polished. If we scrape the stains off the teeth and don’t polish, the surface of the teeth are left with groves that will allow plaque and tartar to accumulate more quickly. So we polish all surfaces of the teeth to keep them smooth and clean as long as possible!
Cleaning with the sonic scaler.

Polishing time!

Once this is all done, the patient is taken off anesthesia, and moved to ICU for recovery. We don’t remove the endotracheal tube until we are confident they are waking up, and we keep a close eye on them until they are able to sit up on their own.  For Hailey it was a pretty uneventful procedure, but for a dog with severe periodontal disease they may benefit from additional pain medication while recovering, and they may have some bleeding post procedure and need their face cleaned up before they go home.
Hailey's before and after shots!

Every dog that has a dental procedure done leaves with a cleaner mouth, great smelling breath, and a mouth currently free of plaque and tartar! However as soon as they leave the building later that day, bacteria has already begun to repopulate in the mouth. To prolong the benefits of a dental procedure, owners can start brushing teeth, or giving dental treats or diet, or using food or water additives to reduce the build up of plaque. Brushing daily is the number one way to keep your pet from needing their teeth cleaned under anesthesia, but anything you can do to slow down the build up of plaque will lengthen the amount of time you can wait before another cleaning is necessary. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Behind the scenes: Cat Spay

When it’s time for your female cat to have her oavriohysterectomy - removal of ovaries and uterus, or spay surgery - you bring her to clinic, leave her here for the day, and pick her up in the evening… do you wonder what happens to your feline friend?

Here’s a behind the scenes look at what goes on at St John’s Vet when you drop your kitty off!

When you arrive at the clinic and pass your pet off to one of our receptionists, they bring your cat out to our treatment area and put an ID collar on them, as well as a label on their carrier - we have a lot of patients come through our clinic during the day and we are careful not to get any confused! It’s not uncommon to have several cats of the same colour in the wards in one day!

Lucille 2 getting her ID collar in place!

Once your cat has been properly labeled, the receptionist will weigh them, set them up in a kennel, and write them up on the patient board so our technicians know they have arrived and what they are here for.

One of our technicians, with the help of an assistant, will then look over your pet - make sure it is a girl (don’t worry, if we call you to say your girl is a boy you are not the first person to make this mistake!), that there are no obvious health concerns, and collect some blood for presurgical bloodwork. If they find anything concerning on their check or on the bloodwork, they will alert the surgeon before proceeding to the next step.

We typically collect blood samples in cats from a vein in their back leg.

If all is well, your cat will get a “good to go” circle on the patient board so the technician responsible for preparing surgical patients knows that the procedure is going ahead. When the time is right, the technician will prepare a “pre-medication” to give the pet. For a cat spay, this typically involves a combination of a pain medication and a sedative. This helps relax your pet prior to surgery, as well as begins the important process of pain management to make sure your pet is as comfortable as possible on their big day.

Pre-medication is given into the muscle, Lucille 2 thought this was kind of rude - but it is for her own good!

Once the technician has given the pre-medication, a “P” is written in their “good to go” circle so the surgeon knows who is ready and waiting. The surgical assistant will lay out and prepare everything the surgeon needs to get your cat ready for surgery, and the surgeon will prepare the medication used to make your cat sleepy enough for surgery.

To get your cat ready for surgery, the surgeon gives an injection into the vein of an anesthetic drug.

Dr. Brown-Bury administering the "induction agent" - the drug used to make Lucille 2 sleepy enough for surgery.

Once the pet is asleep, the veterinarian places a tube down the trachea - the tube in the throat used for breathing - and connects this “endotracheal tube” to an anesthetic machine. The anesthetic machine delivers oxygen and a drug that is inhaled by the pet to keep it asleep for surgery. By doing this, your cat stays asleep until we disconnect the machine, even though the injection we gave will wear off in a few minutes. Also, because we have a tube going into the lungs, we can easily help your pet breathe if they are not breathing well during surgery. This is the safest way to maintain the “anesthetic plane” - amount of sleepiness - for surgery.

Lucille 2 is completely asleep at this point!

Once your pet is deeply asleep, we apply lubrication to their eyes so they don't dry out (they won't blink while under anesthesia!) and we shave their belly in preparation of surgery. For a spay surgery we do open up their belly, so we want things as clean as possible. We shave a wide area so we can be sure no fur gets into our work area, or “surgical field”. We’ll also trim their nails now, because there’s nothing easier than trimming a cat’s nails while they’re asleep!
Applying tear gel to Lucille 2's peepers.

Pedicure time!

Belly all shaved and bare, we'll use a vacuum so ensure no fur clippings stick around.

Now your cat is ready to be moved the to surgical suite. All the prep work up until now has been done in our treatment area, which is clean but certainly not sterile. Our surgical suite is a separate room dedicated just for surgery. There is a separate anesthetic machine, fresh blankets, and dedicated warming pads that do not leave that room - so the assistant will disconnect the patient from the anesthetic machine in treatment, leave behind the blanket they were on that may have bits of fur and nails, and place the cat on a fresh blanket and reconnect them to a new anesthetic machine. Once the patient is in position and secured to the table, the surgical assistant will give the surgery field a good scrub with special soap, and prepare the skin with 3 solutions to ensure as little bacteria as possible remains in the area the surgeon will be working.
We use tape and ties to keep Lucille 2 in the proper position while she sleeps.

Our final scrub has iodine in it, which we'll clean off after surgery so your pet isn't yellow when they go home!

While the assistant is doing this, the surgeon is preparing themselves as well. The veterinarian scrub their hands with special soaps and put on a surgical gown and sterile gloves. Both surgeon and any assistants in the room wear caps and masks as well. In these ways we are doing our best to prevent any infections complicating the healing your pet will need to do after the procedure.
A sterile drape covers Lucille 2 so the surgeon only touches the scrubbed belly or the sterile drape.

Making the first cute through the skin!

An assistant is monitoring Lucille 2's heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and other things. They do this with machines as well as with their own hands, eyes, and ears!

Once the surgery is done, the assistant will turn off the anesthetic drug, but leave the oxygen connected to your pet while they clean up the skin around the surgical incision.  While they do this, another assistant is preparing a kennel in our ICU for your pet to recover in. This kennel will have a cozy blanket, and a heated disc. Patients often get a bit cold during surgery and their body temperature will be a little low while they recover - warming them up helps them recover more quickly. The assistant in ICU will also check with the veterinarian about pain medications to be given after surgery and get these injections ready. We don’t want your cat to feel any discomfort.
The endotracheal tube doesn't come out until the patient is awake enough to swallow. We want to protect the airway as much as possible!

Lucille 2 is feeling pretty weird right now, but she has done very well!

The veterinarian will then write up your pet’s file - describing what techniques were used, what suture materials were used, and what medications they would like to go home with your pet. They will also decide when your pet should be ready to go home, so that when one of our team members calls to say all is well, they can let you know when to come get your little kitty!
Lucille 2 getting an injection of antiinflammatory medication once she was awake enough to sit up - she just had he belly cut open, and we don't want her to feel any pain!

As much as a cat spay is considered “routine” and a procedure that happens for us almost every day, it is in fact a major surgery and a big deal for you and your pet. Please do not hesitate to ask us any questions you may have before you leave your precious one with us - we want you to be comfortable with the care your pet is receiving!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

What does it mean to be AAHA Accredited?

The St John’s Veterinary Hospital has been an AAHA Accredited hospital since 1991.

What is AAHA? AAHA Stands for American Animal Hospital Association. While every clinic in Newfoundland and Labrador must meeting the Veterinary Clinic Standards set out by the College of Veterinarians, meeting AAHA’s standards for accreditation is not mandatory.

We chose to hold ourselves to this higher standard, so that our clients can be assured that their pets will receive excellent care. To maintain our accreditation, our hospital receives regular comprehensive evaluations. The practice is evaluated on approximately 900 standards, covering every aspect of the hospital, from physical set up, to equipment, to staff training and procedures. These standards cover patient care, pain management, anesthesia, dentistry, emergency and critical care, surgery, pharmacy, laboratory, diagnostic imaging and more.

From the AAHA website:

AAHA-Accredited Hospitals: Champions for Excellent Care

Did you know that accreditation for animal hospitals is voluntary? Surprising, isn’t it? Nearly 60 percent of pet owners believe that their pet’s veterinary hospital is accredited when it is not. In actuality, only 12-15% of animal hospitals have gone through the accreditation evaluation process by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). We are proud to call ourselves an AAHA-accredited hospital.

In the United States, all human hospitals that serve people with Medicare must be accredited through an accrediting body; they undergo regular reviews and quality checks to ensure they meet standards of quality for every aspect of medical care. However, not all animal hospitals choose to pursue the AAHA-accreditation process since it is not required by law. When it comes to pet health care, accreditation is voluntary. The accreditation process is rigorous and time-consuming, and not every veterinary hospital wants to go through the lengthy process.

Accreditation by AAHA means that an animal hospital has been evaluated on approximately 900 standards of veterinary excellence. To maintain their accreditation, hospitals undergo a rigorous review by veterinary experts every three years. State and provincial regulations can vary widely – in fact, some states don’t routinely inspect hospitals, only going in for an inspection when a complaint is filed by a pet owner. AAHA accreditation is considered the standard for veterinary excellence, and does not vary between states or provinces (AAHA accredits hospitals in both the U.S. and Canada).
We are an AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital. That means we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Pets are our passion. And keeping them healthy is our #1 priority. Here, we strive to deliver excellent care for pets. Because your pets deserve nothing less.

Learn more about AAHA accreditation and why our accreditation is important to you and your pet. Visit