Medical Services

If your pet needs medical assistance, you can feel confident turning to us. Our knowledgeable staff and modern facilities are equipped to handle a wide variety of medical conditions, including emergencies. Because we can perform many diagnostic procedures in-house, we can often give you immediate answers and start treating your pet faster. In some cases, your pet may require hospitalization and further diagnostic tests. Please take a look at the more detailed descriptions of medical services we offer, or call us to discuss your pet’s needs.

Dentistry

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Dr. Cusick has a strong interest in Veterinary Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry. He feels the dental care of every pet is very important. Years ago, owners did a dental cleaning on their pets when they could no longer stand to be in the same room with the oral odor. Fortunately, over the years, that has changed because veterinarians have learned how important good pet dental health is to a long life with good quality.

A University of Pennsylvania study revealed that dogs with moderate dental disease release bacteria into their bloodstreams. This was discovered by collecting blood samples from a group of dogs before they ate breakfast. The same group of dogs had a second blood sample drawn after eating. Both blood samples were then put on a culture. The cultures that were run after the dogs were fed in fact grew bacterial organisms, which illustrates that an animal with moderate tarter, after eating, is releasing bacteria into its blood stream. Once in the blood stream, bacteria travel systemically from the brain, liver and kidneys to the heart and heart valves. As an animal becomes older the consequences become worse. All these risks can be decreased through routine dental care. Another important factor for our pets is

Another important factor for our pets is pain due to dental disease. Often owners come in assuming their pet’s dental health is fine when actually they – particularly cats – have significant pain. Cats are very good at masking pain. If an enamel lesion is touched with a dental instrument during an exam, a cat will jump. That same sensitive tooth under general anesthesia will elicit the same physiological response. After sealing or extracting a painful tooth, the cat’s quality of life vastly improves.

Each pet’s dental health will be evaluated at least yearly at their annual exam. Your pet’s dental health care will be based on its individual needs.

Dental care and cleaning will be performed under general anesthesia. An animal’s teeth cleaning, radiographs and extractions cannot be performed on an awake animal.

Dr. Cusick or one of the staff would be happy to address your questions or concerns.


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Radiology (X-rays)

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When we need to figure out what’s wrong with your pet, we routinely use x-rays to help identify the cause of the problem, rule out possible problems, or provide a list of possible causes. We may also use x-rays during a wellness exam to diagnose potential problems before they become serious.

X-rays provide valuable information about a pet’s bones, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, colon), respiratory tract (lungs), heart, and genitourinary system (bladder, prostate). We use radiology alone or in conjunction with other diagnostic tools. Interpretation of radiographs requires great skill on the part of the veterinarian.

To avoid a blurry image, pets need to remain completely still while an x-ray is taken. In some cases, we may need to sedate your pet or use short-acting general anesthesia.

If you have any questions about our radiology service or what to expect during your pet’s procedure, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Flea Control

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A flea problem on your pet means a flea problem in your home. Understanding the flea life cycle and methods for its control can be a daunting task. We will gladly assist you in this process. We can provide you with safe, effective flea prevention and if necessary, flea treatment. See the flea article in the Pet Health Library of our site.

Dermatology (Skin)

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Skin problems are common in dogs and cats and can be caused by hormonal disorders, allergies, infections, or parasites such as fleas and mites. These issues can be particularly difficult to treat and should be addressed promptly.

We can often diagnose a skin problem by simply examining your pet. Some dermatologic diseases or conditions do require additional diagnostic procedures to ensure a correct diagnosis. Depending on your pet’s symptoms and the results of our physical exam, we may run blood work or perform a urinalysis, skin scraping, or biopsies.

Contact us if you notice your dog or cat scratching excessively or if he or she develops any bare patches, scabs, scaling, redness, inflammation, lumps, or bumps.

Endoscopy

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This minimally invasive procedure allows a veterinarian to see inside a pet’s body and, when necessary, take biopsies (tissue samples) without having to perform surgery. Endoscopy is commonly used to examine the inside of the ears, nose, esophagus, colon, bladder, stomach, and other internal organs. Endoscopy can also be used to assist with minimally invasive surgeries and is particularly valuable in retrieving swallowed items.

To perform this procedure, the veterinarian inserts the endoscope (a long tube with a camera at one end) into the area to be examined. Incisions are sometimes required; however, the incisions used for endoscopic procedures are considerably smaller than those used in traditional surgery. This means a much less painful and quicker recovery for your pet.

Endoscopy does require that your pet be placed under anesthesia. As with all such procedures, we follow strict protocols and continually monitor your pet’s vital signs to help ensure his or her safety. Please see the descriptions under Anesthesia and Patient Monitoring for more information on what we do to keep your pet safe.

If you have any questions about our endoscopy service or what to expect during your pet’s procedure, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Cardiology (Heart)

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Although heart problems are found more often in older pets, these conditions can affect pets at any age. Heart disease is usually a life-threatening condition, but early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can extend your pet’s life. If caught soon enough, some forms of heart disease can be cured.

Heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF), which occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood effectively. If an animal is suffering from CHF, fluid usually accumulates in and around the lungs and sometimes in the abdomen. Congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the heart valves), arrhythmias (rhythm disturbances), and heartworm disease can all lead to CHF.

Call us if your pet starts breathing rapidly or coughing, loses his or her appetite, tires easily, seems weak, or has trouble exercising. We can discover many heart problems during a physical exam. Additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), radiographs (x-rays), and ultrasounds, are usually needed to accurately identify the cause of the heart disease or failure.

Tonometry

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It is crucial for your pet’s vision that we detect and treat glaucoma and other problems with intraocular pressure (pressure within the eye) as quickly as possible. We can test your dog or cat’s eyes for excess pressure easily and safely. The test, performed with a device called a tonometer, is not painful and does not require sedation.

If not treated immediately (within hours to days), glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness. Pets that have suffered eye injuries should have this test performed. In addition, we recommend that breeds that are prone to developing glaucoma come in for regular measurements so we can monitor eye pressure and begin treatment before any problem becomes irreversible. Please call us to discuss whether your pet may be at higher risk for glaucoma.

Call us right away if you notice any of the following problems in either or both of your pet’s eyes: dilated (enlarged) pupils, clouding of the cornea (the normally clear outer layer of the eye), red or bloodshot eyes, one eye protruding or appearing larger than the other, squinting, or tearing. Because glaucoma is painful, your pet may react by rubbing or pawing at the eyes or rubbing his or her head against the floor or furniture more than normal.

Ultrasonography

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Ultrasonography (also called ultrasound or sonography) is a noninvasive, pain-free procedure that uses sound waves to examine a pet’s internal organs and other structures inside the body. It can be used to evaluate the animal’s heart, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, and bladder; to detect fluid, cysts, tumors, or abscesses; and to confirm pregnancy or monitor an ongoing pregnancy.

We may use this imaging technique in conjunction with radiography (x-rays) and other diagnostic methods to ensure a proper diagnosis. Interpretation of ultrasound images requires great skill on the part of the clinician.

The ultrasonographer applies gel to the surface of the body and then methodically moves a transducer (a small handheld tool) across the skin to record images of the area of interest. The gel helps the transducer slide more easily and create a more accurate visual image.

The transducer emits ultrasonic sound waves, which are directed into the body toward the structures to be examined. The waves create echoes of varying degrees depending on the density of the tissue and amount of fluid present. Those waves create detailed images of the structures, which are shown on a monitor and recorded for evaluation.

Ultrasound does not involve radiation, has no known side effects, and doesn’t typically require pets to be sedated or anesthetized. The hair in the area to be examined usually needs to be shaved so the ultrasonographer can obtain the best result.

If you have any questions about our ultrasonography service or what to expect during your pet’s procedure, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Endocrinology (Hormones)

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Identifying endocrine problems as early as possible is important in dogs and cats. These serious, potentially life-threatening conditions are much more manageable when caught early, allowing us to begin proper treatment.

The endocrine system is made up of a group of tissues (mostly glands) that release hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones regulate metabolism, growth, development, and reproduction and are dispersed to different areas of the body, depending on the hormone’s function. When a hormonal balance is disturbed (by a tumor or autoimmune disease, for instance), an endocrine disorder can develop. “Hyper” refers to an excess of hormone, and “hypo” refers to a deficiency in a hormone. Treatment varies depending on the disease.

There are several common endocrine disorders found in dogs and cats:

  • Diabetes mellitus is caused by a deficiency in or resistance to the hormone insulin.
  • Hypothyroidism, which is often diagnosed in dogs, indicates that the animal has low levels of thyroid hormone.
  • Hyperthyroidism, which frequently affects cats, indicates that the animal has high levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism) and Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) can also affect both species, although Cushing’s disease is rare in cats.

Contact us if your pet begins panting excessively, develops any skin issues (such as hair loss or dull coat), or shows any changes in behavior, energy levels, appetite, weight, water consumption, or urination.

Medical Assessment

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A complete medical assessment begins with a thorough physical examination
whereby your pet’s eyes, ears, skin, cardiovascular, neurological,
gastrointestinal and skeletal system are examined for any abnormalities. Blood
tests can be performed as necessary to assess the proper functioning of your
pet’s kidneys, liver, pancreas, and endocrine system including the thyroid gland
and adrenal glands. Urine tests can detect similar problems. Depending on your
pet’s condition, we may recommend further diagnostic tests such as radiography
(X-rays), endoscopy (internal scoping), ultrasound or surgery.