933 N Washington, Spokane, WA 99201
 
 
 
 
Hunter Veterinary Clinic Logo - Spokane, WA - Hunter Veterinary Clinic
 
 
By Appointment Hours:
Monday - Friday
7:30 AM – 12:00 PM
 
Walk In Hours:
Monday - FridaySaturday
2:00 PM -6:00 PM9:00 AM - Noon
 
 
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(509) 327-9354
 
 
 
 
 
 

Most Commonly Asked Veterinary Questions in Spokane, WA

 
One of the more difficult decisions for the average pet owner is to determine when they need to take their pet to the veterinarian for care.
Here are our general guidelines, however they should not be taken as rules. If your pet seems very ill, do not wait to have that animal evaluated.
 

When To Take Your Pet To The Vet

 
• If your male animal is straining to urinate, or licking the genitals excessively
• If your pet is struggling, or working hard to breathe, or your cat is breathing with the mouth open.
• If you pet is having seizures lasting more than 5 minutes, or is having multiple seizures within a single 24 hour period.
• If your pet is bleeding a lot it should be seen immediately.
• Any non-spayed female dog with a vaginal discharge that is yellow-green, green, or brown-bloody mucus.
• Kittens who have a discharge that sticks the eyelids shut, or very young kittens that have bulging eyes.
• If your pet has a rectal temperature of 106.0 or higher, or a temperature less than 99.0 Fahrenheit.
• If your dog has a distended abdomen, is retching, weak or depressed.
• If your pets collapses or faints.
• If your pet is panting excessively and feels hot to the touch.
• If your pet has eaten chocolate, mouse or rat poison, antifreeze, lily plants, mushrooms, bread dough, sugarless gum or sugar substitutes or any human medications.
• If your dog has porcupine quills. Do not cut the quill as it will be harder to remove intact.
• If your pet has fight wounds. These will become infected within 8 hours.
Your Pet Should Be Seen That Day or No Later Than the Next Day if:

• If your pet is vomiting, it should be seen by the second day of vomiting.
• If your pet is suddenly and recurrently sneezing.
• If your pet is unable to put any weight on a leg it should be seen by the second day of non-weight bearing lameness. DO NOT give human pain relievers without consulting a vet, many are toxic to pets or may interfere with products we want to prescribe.
• If your pet squints one or both eyes.

Your Pet Should Be Seen No Later Than the Third Day If:

• If your pet has not eaten for the previous 2 days .
• Pets with a green eye discharge or green nose discharge
• If your pet is putting some weight on the leg, but is still lame by the third day, or if the leg is swelling, it should be seen within three days of the start of the lameness. DO NOT give human pain relievers without consulting a vet, many are toxic to pets or may interfere with products we want to prescribe.
• If your pet is reluctant to eat, or seems hungry but backs away from the food bowl, it should be seen.
• If your pet still has diarrhea.
• If your pet is reluctant to jump up, jump down or use stairs.
• If your pet is painful.
Your Pet Should Be Seen Within a Week or So If:

• Your pet has a sudden increase in thirst, or are urinating frequently.
• If your pet is losing weight or the back bone is more prominent.
• If your pets ears are stinky, red or it is shaking its head a lot it should be seen soon. A delay may cause the problem to become much worse.
• All lumps and bumps, swellings or painful areas should be seen and evaluated.
• Dogs that are coughing for more than 7 days should be seen, sooner if there is a colored nasal discharge.
• If it has blood in the urine, or some blood in the stool. If there is a lot of blood in the stool it should be seen sooner.
• Your pet has broken teeth.
• There is a foul odor from the mouth
• The abdomen is distended
• If there is a change in behavior.
 

Aging Changes in Cats

 
Aging is a natural process that we all experience. However, it brings with it some changes that are not particularly desirable. Forestalling and controlling certain aspects of the aging process are possible if appropriate intervention is undertaken in a timely manner. The purpose of this document is to inform you of some of these methods for slowing the aging process.

The Cat as a Senior Citizen

Cats age at a different rate than humans. During the first year of life, a cat achieves adulthood. Therefore, that first year is equivalent to about 18 human years. After that, the cat ages in a fairly linear fashion. Each year then becomes the equivalent to about 5 human years. Based on that scheme, a comparison of feline and human years is as follows:
Capture
Based on this aging scheme, any cat over 10 years of age is deemed a “senior” cat. Common Changes in the Aging Cat Many senior cats get a bit lazy in their grooming habits. They often begin to develop mats in their hair coat. Therefore, frequent (1-3 times per week) brushing is important. Brushing collects the dead hair that would normally be removed by grooming, and it breaks down tangles before they become mats. However, occasionally it will be necessary to cut out a mat. Be very careful with scissors or clippers because many elderly cats have very thin skin that cuts or tears easily.

Senior cats also lose the desire or ability to sharpen their nails regularly. The nails become very thick because the dead nail tissue is retained. Failure to sharpen nails can also result in the nail curling backward into the footpad. This will be most uncomfortable and will result in lameness and bleeding. The key to preventing these problems is to cut your cat's nails at least once each month.

Dental disease is common in older cats. The two most common forms of dental disease are tartar buildup, with resulting periodontal disease, and deep cavities near the gum line.

Tartar buildup is common in cats of any age, but older cats often have heavy tartar buildup due to years of dental neglect. The tartar irritates the gums, pushes the gums away from the roots of the teeth, and fosters growth of bacteria. Bacteria not only affect the mouth but they are also carried by the blood stream to other organs, most notably the kidneys. Tartar buildup and periodontal disease are very treatable with proper cleaning and antibiotic therapy.

Cavities that form at the gumline (gingiva) are called cervical line lesions. As they form, they may become covered by the gums; the gum then continues to proliferate over them. The cat's mouth is very painful when that tooth is touched and may have difficulty eating. The only realistic treatment is extraction of the tooth. Attempts have been made to fill these cavities, but invariably these teeth undergo further deterioration and need to be extracted a few weeks to months later.

Geriatric cats do not usually lose their eyesight, although it can become diminished, especially in dim lighting situations. However, the irises (the colored part of the eye that opens and closes) often begin to get a mottled appearance at about 15 years of age.

The ears often are afflicted with two problems. Hearing loss and outright deafness occur in many cats over 16 years of age. It is permanent. Excessive wax production is the more common problem. Many older cats have very waxy ears that need cleaning about once each month. A wax solvent may be used; it is put in the ears the first few days of each month or possibly every other month.
Arthritis occurs in the spine or legs of some geriatric cats. It causes them become reluctant, or even unable, to jump on and off furniture; they may be hesitant to climb stairs. We are limited in the drugs that can be used safely in arthritic cats, so a close examination and discussion of options is important.

Senior cats also develop certain diseases with increasing frequency. The most common of these are diabetes, chronic kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, and cancer. Each will be described briefly.

Diabetes (more correctly called diabetes mellitus) is a disease caused by the failure of the pancreas to produce adequate insulin. Insulin is required to move blood sugar (glucose) from the blood into the cells. It results in excess urine production, increased thirst, weight loss, and a ravenous appetite. Although these signs should be present in all diabetic cats, some of them may be missed. This is especially a problem when cats go outside because they may eat, drink, and urinate outdoors. If you have several cats and they all eat and drink together, increased thirst or urine production in one cat will easily be missed. Longhaired cats can lose a substantial amount of weight without detection, so weight loss can also be overlooked. If you suspect that any of these signs are occurring, you cat needs a blood test to determine its blood glucose level. It is most accurate if your cat has not eaten for at least 6 hours. This is a treatable disease.

Chronic kidney failure is the result of many years of slow deterioration in kidney function. Kidney infections, certain toxins, and congenital diseases may be part of this deterioration process, but aging is the major factor. Something has to wear out first, and in many cats it is the kidneys. Cats in kidney failure are actually producing an excess amount of urine in an attempt to remove waste products that are accumulating in the blood. This results in increased thirst. Gradual weight loss is also common, and loss of appetite occurs as the disease progresses. It can be diagnosed with some simple blood and urine tests. It is manageable if treatment begins before the kidney failure is advanced. While the process can be slowed and the cat made to feel better, the kidneys are not restored to normal.

Hyperthyroidism is due to an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This gland controls the body's rate of metabolism so metabolic functions are accelerated. The first sign is weight loss followed by an increase in appetite as the cat tries to "catch up." As the disease progresses (over several weeks to months), increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and lack of sleep may also occur. It is diagnosed by feeling for thyroid gland enlargement and some simple blood tests. The good news is that 98% of the time, the enlargement is not due to a cancer; therefore, this is a very treatable, and curable, disease.
High blood pressure, more accurately called hypertension, is fairly common in senior cats. Most of the time it is secondary to either chronic kidney failure or hyperthyroidism. However, it appears that a few cats may have "essential" or "primary" hypertension. This means that there is not an underlying disease; essential hypertension is common in humans. This disease is suspected in cats with the two underlying diseases and is diagnosed by measuring the cat's blood pressure. Because the cat's arteries are so small, a special instrument is required. The most common one used is based on the Doppler principle. Hypertension is very treatable.

Cancer is another common disease in senior cats. There are so many forms of cancer that it is impossible to list specific clinical signs. The signs will be determined by the parts of the body that are affected. Therefore, weight loss, anemia, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and coughing are all possible. However, it is unlikely that all of those would occur in any one cat.
Detection of Geriatric Diseases

Early detection is the key to successful treatment of all of these diseases. Most of them can be controlled or cured if diagnosed early enough. We recommend a panel of tests for our senior patients. These tests begin with a thorough history of your cat's past and present health. Next, a good physical examination is performed. Finally, we perform a blood and urine panel that includes specific tests for diabetes, chronic kidney failure, and hyperthyroidism. Blood pressure is determined. If any of these tests have questionable results, other tests are added including chest x-rays (radiographs), ultrasound studies, and possible biopsies of suspected abnormal organs. If you wish for your cat to have this Geriatric Panel of tests, please schedule it with one of our receptionists.
 

Aging Changes in Dogs

 
Aging is a natural process that we all experience. However, it brings with it some changes that are not particularly desirable. Forestalling and controlling certain aspects of the aging process are possible if appropriate intervention is undertaken in a timely manner. The purpose of this document is to inform you of some of these methods for slowing the aging process.

The Dog as a Senior Citizen

Dogs age at a different rate than humans. During the first year or so of life, a dog achieves adulthood. Therefore, that first year is equivalent to about 18 human years. After that, the dog ages in a fairly linear fashion. Each year then becomes the equivalent to about 7-8 human years for a medium to large breed dog. Giant breeds (Great Dane size) are seniors by 5 years of age, medium to large breeds reach that status by 7 years, small breeds are seniors at about 9 years and toy breeds by 10 years of age.

Common Changes in the Aging Dog

Senior dogs are less active, resulting in excessive nail growth. Without regular trimming the nails may grow around and back into the footpad, may break in the quick, or may turn to the side. This will be most uncomfortable and will result in lameness and bleeding. The key to preventing these problems is to cut your dog's nails at least every other month.

Dental disease is common in older dogs. The most common forms of dental disease are tartar buildup, with resulting periodontal disease. Tartar buildup is common in dogs of any age, but older dogs often have heavy tartar buildup due to years of dental neglect. The tartar irritates the gums, pushes the gums away from the roots of the teeth, and fosters growth of bacteria. Bacteria not only affect the mouth but they are also carried by the blood stream to other organs, most notably the kidneys and heart. Tartar buildup and periodontal disease are very treatable with proper cleaning and antibiotic therapy.

Geriatric dogs do not usually lose their eyesight, although it can become diminished, especially in dim lighting situations. In older dogs cataracts may form leading to blindness.
Hearing loss and outright deafness occur in many dogs over 12 years of age. It is permanent.

Arthritis occurs in the spine or legs of most geriatric dogs. It causes them become reluctant, or even unable, to jump into the car or on a bed; they may be hesitant to climb stairs. We have several effective drugs that can be used safely in arthritic dogs, so a close examination and discussion of options is important.

Obesity is common in senior dogs due to a reduction of activity. Out of habit we tend to maintain a feeding program from when our pets were more active and needing more calories. With the reduction of activity these calories go toward fat production. In addition, poor thyroid gland function can lower the dog's metabolism resulting in weight gain that is difficult to reverse with diet alone.vA nutritional management program tailored to your pet will reduce obesity, help with arthritis, and assist in managing other common diseases.
Senior dogs also develop certain diseases with increasing frequency. The most common of these are diabetes, chronic kidney failure, heart failure, Cushing's Disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Each will be described briefly.

Diabetes (more correctly called diabetes mellitus) is a disease caused by the failure of the pancreas to produce adequate insulin. Insulin is required to move blood sugar (glucose) from the blood into the cells. It results in excess urine production, increased thirst, weight loss, and a ravenous appetite. Although these signs should be present in all diabetic dogs, some of them may be missed. This is especially a problem when dogs are outside because they may eat, drink, and urinate outdoors. If you have several dogs increased thirst or urine production in one dog will easily be missed. Longhaired dogs can loose a substantial amount of weight without detection, so weight loss can also be overlooked. If you suspect that any of these signs are occurring, your dog needs a blood test to determine its blood glucose level. It is most accurate if your dog has not eaten for at least 6 hours. This is a treatable disease.

Chronic kidney failure is the result of many years of slow deterioration in kidney function. Kidney infections, certain toxins, and congenital diseases may be part of this deterioration process, but aging is the major factor. Something has to wear out first, and in many dogs it is the kidneys. Dogs in kidney failure are actually producing an excess amount of urine in an attempt to remove waste products that are accumulating in the blood. This results in increased thirst. Gradual weight loss is also common, and loss of appetite occurs as the disease progresses. It can be diagnosed with some simple blood and urine tests. It is manageable if treatment begins before the kidney failure is advanced. While the process can be slowed and the dog made to feel better, the kidneys are not restored to normal.
Heart failure. Many small dogs develop a mitral murmur as early as 6 years of age; most of them will have a murmur by 10 years of age. The murmur is audible through a stethoscope and may progress in intensity as the disease progresses. Another early sign of mitral valve disease is a chronic dry, hacking cough. This occurs because the enlarging left atrium puts pressure on the bronchus (a branch of the airway); this compression leads to a cough. The presence of a murmur does not mean that heart failure is imminent. But, as time goes on, the leak becomes more severe and more blood goes backwards. This results in reduced pumping efficiency and, eventually, congestive heart failure. From the time a murmur develops, it may be a few months to several years until heart failure occurs. Heart disease is treatable.

Cushing's Disease is a disorder in which the adrenal glands overproduce certain hormones. Another medical term disease for this disease is hyperadrenocorticism. Spontaneous Cushing's is common in dogs over 6 years of age. The average age of onset is approximately ten years of age. The most commonly reported clinical signs associated with Cushing's Disease are a tremendous increase in appetite, water consumption, and urination. Lethargy (lack of activity), panting, and muscular weakness are also seen in many cases. Problems related to the skin and hair coat include thin, easily bruised skin, loss of hair (alopecia), and excessive pigmentation. Many of these dogs appear to have a bloated abdomen. Cushing's disease is usually treatable.

High blood pressure, more accurately called hypertension, is fairly common in senior dogs. Most of the time it is secondary to chronic kidney failure, heart failure or diabetes. However, it appears that a few dogs may have "essential" or "primary" hypertension. This means that there is not an underlying disease; essential hypertension is common in humans. This disease is suspected in dogs with the underlying diseases and is diagnosed by measuring the dog's blood pressure. Because the dog's arteries are so small, a special instrument is required. The most common one used is based on the Doppler principle. Hypertension is very treatable.

Cancer is another common disease in senior dogs. There are so many forms of cancer that it is impossible to list specific clinical signs. The signs will be determined by the parts of the body that are affected. Therefore, weight loss, anemia, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and coughing are all possible. However, it is unlikely that all of those would occur in any one dog.
Hypothyroidism

Poor thyroid gland function is common in older dogs. Typical signs include weight gain, lethargy, intolerance of cold weather and hair loss near the hips. Diagnosis is achieved via blood testing and treatment is supplementation of thyroid hormone by mouth.
Detection of Geriatric Diseases
Early detection is the key to successful treatment of all of these diseases. Most of them can be controlled or cured if diagnosed early enough. We recommend a panel of screening tests for our senior patients. First, a thorough physical examination is performed. Next, we perform a blood and urine panel that includes specific tests for diabetes, chronic kidney failure, and liver disease. Blood pressure is determined and an EKG is done. If any of these tests have questionable results, other tests are added including chest x-rays (radiographs), ultrasound studies, and possible biopsies of suspected abnormal organs. If you wish for your dog to have this Silver Whiskers Comprehensive Evaluation, please schedule it with one of our receptionists.
 

Additional Pet Resources

 
Using Laser Pointers to Exercise Your Cat

http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/vetmed/Medicine/Video-Pointers-for-laser-pointers/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/814054?contextCategoryId=45677

Making Cat Carriers a Better Experience for Your Cat

http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/vetmed/Feline+Center/Take-the-scary-out-of-cat-carriers/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/814053?contextCategoryId=45677

Helping Dogs with Thunderstorm Anxiety

http://veterinaryteam.dvm360.com/firstline/Veterinary+team/Better-behavior-with-Steve-Dale-Helping-dogs-with-/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/787945?contextCategoryId=45677

Encouraging Senior Cats to Eat

http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/vetmed/Feline+Center/How-to-encourage-senior-cats-to-eat/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/781719?contextCategoryId=45677

Dog Housetraining Tips

http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/Medicine/Elimination-training-tips/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/742253?contextCategoryId=45677

Why Punishment Fails in Training

http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/vetmed/Medicine/Client-handout-Why-punishment-fails-what-works-bet/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/592134?contextCategoryId=45677

Treating Elimination Disorders in Cats

http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/Feline+Center/Helping-veterinary-clients-understand-and-treat-ca/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/729119?contextCategoryId=45677

http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/Feline+Center/Treating-feline-elimination-disorders/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/724409?contextCategoryId=45677

Your Pet's Physical Exam and What the Vet is Checking

http://veterinarybusiness.dvm360.com/vetec/data/articlestandard//vetec/172013/811229/article.pdf
 

Payment Options

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We know that you may have some concerns about the cost of paying for your pet's medical care, and to expand your options, we offer CareCredit health care financing to pay for your pet's medical care needs. Please ask our staff about the application process if you would like to pursue this convenient financing option.
Contact Hunter Veterinary Clinic for any additional questions or pet inquiries you may have.