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Rowan’s Dental Cleaning- February is Dental Health Month

As a veterinarian, I discuss the importance of dental cleanings for pets numerous times a day. How even though we, as humans, brush our teeth twice a day every day we still need to have our teeth professionally ultrasonically cleaned at least once a year. So think about your pet, who doesn’t brush their teeth twice a day, and let’s be honest spends a better portion of their day licking themselves….it’s no wonder 70% of cats and dogs over the age of 3 have some form of dental disease!

But sometimes words are not enough. I recently had the opportunity to read another veterinarian’s story of their pet’s dental cleaning and thought it was a great idea to share with clients that even veterinarians practice what their preach. My cat Corwin had his dental a few weeks ago, my dog Wilson had his in the fall but now it was Lady Rowan’s turn and here is her story…..

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Rowan is an 8 year old german shepherd mix so she is considered a senior. Like every other patient that comes into Beaver Brook Animal Hospital for an anesthetic procedure, Rowan had pre-anesthetic blood work done a couple of days before to make sure her internal organ function was healthy and could handle anesthesia. I was very happy to see her blood work was all normal!

Rowan started the day without breakfast which made her kind of sad but because anesthesia can cause nausea and vomiting it was important to fast her so that she wouldn’t aspirate food while under anesthesia.

rowan premed

She was then given a premedication injection which included a sedative to reduce anxiety as well as a pain medication. Her leg was then shaved and surgically prepped for her intravenous (I.V.) catheter so that she could receive I.V. fluids while having her teeth done.

rowan scaling

Anesthesia was induced by and monitored by our Certified Veterinary Technicians and her teeth were ultrasonically scaled. After her scaling, her teeth were checked for any gingival pockets. She did not have any – if any were found, dental radioghraphs would have been taken to see if she had any tooth root abscesses that would require tooth extraction.

rowan oravet

Her teeth were then polished to make sure any grooves that were put in her teeth by the ultrasonic scaler were smoothed to prevent tartar and plaque accumulation. A fluoride treatment was applied, followed by an application of a sealant called Oravet that would last for 2 weeks.

Rowan was then recovered with her technician continuing to monitor her vital signs in a nice warm heated kennel with Adaptil spray to reduce anxiety. Within a couple of hours she was back with her siblings – sleepy but in good health. That night she ate her dinner and had her dental CET chew like normal. The next day she was back to her normal bouncy poop eating self!

Vet Techs Rock

Every year we take a week to appreciate our veterinary technicians and this year we are celebrating from 10/16 to 10/22!  Veterinary technicians are the heart of the hospital and here are just a few reasons why they rock!


  • They educate clients every day. It’s not just pets they love but their fur parents also and spend lots of time in the exam room and on the phone discussing a patient’s cares and needs.
  • They are amazing phlebotomists! How many times have you gone in for blood testing and a technician hasn’t been able to find the vein?  Imagine hitting a vein in a 1 pound fur covered kitten…..that takes a lot of skill.
  • They are anesthetists and recovery nurses. Remember that video of the veterinarian singing to the recovering puppy?  That’s a daily occurrence in the life of a vet tech.  They sit and monitor vital signs during recovery and comfort pets as they come out of anesthesia.
  • Technicians are dental hygienists.
  • Oh yeah and they are radiology technicians also.
  • Did I mention they are ICU nurses as well?
  • Let’s not forget pharmacy tech. Technicians will spend as much time necessary discussing how medications should be administered and why they are being prescribed.


Veterinarians have known this forever – veterinary technicians are awesome!  Please take a moment next week to say thank you to your vet tech for all that they do for your fur baby.

Why Cat Friendly Practices Are the Cat’s Meow

Did you know you did not have to go to a cat exclusive practice to get a low stress, happy cat visit?  The American Association of Feline Practitioners in conjunction with partners such as Ceva created a certification program.  This certification program outlines specific requirements to develop a cat friendly attitude.

Here are some things you will find in a Cat Friendly Practice

  1. A cat exclusive exam room – Our cat exclusive room has cat perches as well as an aquarium
  2. Pheromones – Feliway is used throughout the hospital – in the waiting room, exam room, treatment area, and in cat boarding. Our staff also spray ourselves down with feliway three times a day
  3. High value treats – we have found very few cats turn their noses up to the squeezy liver treats we use
  4. Less is more – very little restraint is used while evaluating our feline patients
  5. Cat exclusive hours
  6. Soft fuzzy blankets and soft voices
  7. Exams where ever your kitty feels comfortable – yes even in the sink
  8. Pastel colors – some cats really do have “white coat” syndrome, so we may change into a lavender or blue lab coat
  9. Chill pills – sometimes some anxiety medication can make a world of difference
  10. A Feline Loving Team – not only does the staff do feline exclusive continuing education but we have a Cat Advocate that makes sure we meet all your cat’s needs







Dr. Monica doing an exam on Spooky Von Creeper

10 Signs that Your Pet is In Pain

Pets rely on us for many things including health care, but unfortunately, we don’t speak the same language and that can make some things tricky.  Our furry companions also want to please us so it is not surprising for us to see pets with broken legs fetching a ball or playing Frisbee.

Here are 10  signs that your pet may be in pain:

  1. An Abnormal Gait – limping or favoring a leg is a good indication that something may be painful
  2. Behavioral Changes – if your normally laid back cat is hissing or growling when you pet a certain area, there is a good chance that area is painful
  3. Appetite changes – when a pet is in pain it is not uncommon for them to not want to eat
  4. Lethargy
  5. Unwillingness to jump, use the litterbox, or stairs – cats that suffer from arthritis sometimes have a hard time doing these things because of pain
  6. Shaking or trembling
  7. Increased respiratory rate or panting
  8. Hiding
  9. Vocalizing
  10. Posture – hunching over or other abnormal positions can be a sign of guarding a painful area

Not every pet is the same, but knowing some of these more common signs can help you get your pet the help and pain relief they need.

Taking the Pet out of Petrified: What’s all the fuss about Fear Free Vet Visits?

People my age may remember a time when Dentists expected us to just grin and bear it when it came time for their appointments, maybe were even ridiculed if they mentioned they were”scared” or if something was particularly painful. These days you hear all about taking the fear out of dental visits – calming music, ipods, videos, some even offer pre-appointment sedatives. Well veterinarians have finally realized we have been doing the same thing to our patients and a big change is coming.

Manning the charge are people like Dr. Marty Becker, the late Dr. Sophia Yin and behaviorist Karen Overall among others. Taking “the pet out of petrified” has become their anthem and we are so excited to learn their tune.

The concept is pretty basic – train our puppies and kittens to be non-fearful and less anxious and maybe even learn to LOVE coming to the vet. How do we do this? Well a lot of research has gone into this and some things are pretty easy and some are more involved.

1. Pheromones, pheromones, pheromones! There is a dog specific pheromone called Adaptil and a cat specific pheromone called Feliway. These sprays or wipes dramatically reduce anxiety in our pets. We recommend using them at home to start the process and we continue it throughout their entire visit – diffusers are in the rooms and the staff spray themselves as well as the tables and all the surfaces of the exam room.

2. Yummy treats. A hungry pet is more likely to like us if we have really yummy treats for them – fast them prior to coming in so that they can be more receptive to the high value treats we will be using.

3. Don’t baby talk you pet. Baby talk can actually make your pet more anxious; just use a calm soothing normal tone voice.

4. Our snazzy cat room has an aquarium to preoccupy your pet as well as some great perches that will make them feel more relaxed. And we plan to switch to LED lights which don’t have the hum that makes cats anxious.

5. Our exams are done where the pet feels most relaxed. We do not put big dogs on the table so that they are less anxious and many cats have been taught that jumping on a table will get them punished.

6. Less restraint. We tailor our approach to each pet to make them more relaxed.

7. Use of anxiolytics. If we have a pet that is too anxious we will send home anti-anxiety medication to relieve the stress and if that doesn’t work we will sedate completely to relieve the panic attack.

8. Pastels. Some pets may be fearful of the dreaded white coat so the doctors may switch to pastel smocks to accommodate an especially fearful patient. Studies have shown that a pastel color palette is more soothing to our pet patients.

We are very excited about this change and hope to bring a new, calming, soothing experience to your pet that will lead to many years of happiness.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and September 28th marks the one year anniversary of the death of pioneering veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Sophia Yin, to suicide.

Dr. Sophia Yin was an amazing woman and veterinarian. She was one of the major forces behind positive approach training as well as fear free or low stress handling and veterinary visits. Her death shocked the community – it is a tragic loss we will feel forever. A loss that I believe is preventable. We need to start discussing mental illness openly. We need to start being kind to one another.

Animal health care workers are at great risk for secondary traumatic stress disorder which is more commonly known as compassion fatigue. It is believed that STSD is one of the main reasons why veterinarians are four times more likely to die by suicide than people in other professions. A staggering statistic that we all need to work to change.

A depressing subject, I know, but one that is really important and personal to me. Here are some head turning statistics that I hope will at least make one person reading this do something that may save a life.

  • There is one death by suicide every 40 seconds
  • Over 800,000 people die by suicide every year
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for 15 – 24 year olds.
  • Suicide is the 3rdleading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-44 years.
  • Suicide is the 10thleading cause of death in the US for all ages.

But here is the good news:

  • 80% -90% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication

Let’s help someone. A smile. A kind word. A hello. Suicide attempt survivors have said that if someone would have just smiled at them or asked them how they were they probably wouldn’t have made the attempt. How hard is it to smile at some one? Food for thought.




Is there really a vaccine controversy?

Vaccines. Vaccines. Vaccines. Many clients have a hard time wrapping their head around my medicine approach. I have many clients who think an antibiotic shot will fix anything (even if it isn’t an infection) and have many clients who think garlic prevents fleas (it doesn’t by the way and is actually toxic). So when I try to explain to a client who likes a more holistic approach that I “believe” in and recommend vaccines, I am sometimes met with shock, maybe even dislike.

Here’s the thing, I believe in integrative medicine. That means when I myself start feeling sick I’ll grab the Echinacea or ginger tea coupled with Emergen C and lots and lots of fluids. But if it goes from something simple and viral to I feel like I want to die. I am heading straight to my doctor to see if antibiotics or any other kind of medication is warranted.

I myself am vaccinated against Rabies and Tetanus and when I went to veterinary school in the Caribbean and my doctor recommended Hepatitis vaccines I got them without hesitation. If I wasn’t too old for Gardasil I would have gotten that as well. Vaccines are preventative medicine – there’s no “believing” in them, they aren’t Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. We have come so far in eradicating certain illnesses that it is so upsetting to see them coming back because of complete misinformation.

I recommend all vaccines to my clients based on their life style and let my clients make an educated decision, but I do push my clients to at least do the bare minimum core vaccines of Rabies and Distemper.

I recently saw a Jimmy Kimmel video with medical doctors regarding vaccines and thought it was hilarious and spot on. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend googling it.

Dr. Monica Dijanic
Medical Director

April is Prevent Lyme Disease Month in Dogs

The weather is finally looking like spring.  As we start enjoying the outside more, so is the bug population.

April is National Prevent Lyme Disease Month in dogs, a topic that is near and dear to us here in the Northeast. Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by a single celled spiral shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi.   The organism is spread primarily by the deer tick with deer and mice being the primary reservoir. Lyme disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states and dogs are 50% more likely than humans to get it. In 2007, Lyme disease was the cause of most pet insurance claims for infectious diseases according to VPI Pet Insurance statistics.

Common symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, joint swelling, pain, loss of appetite, lethargy and arthritis. Although not as commonly seen as those mentioned, Lyme disease can lead to heart disease, neurological disease, and kidney disease.

Is Lyme disease Preventable in Dogs?

With a multi-modal approach, yes. Most importantly is prevention of tick bites. This can be done by

  • Avoiding areas where ticks congregate
  • Checking your dog daily for ticks and immediately removing any found.
  • Using a good quality SAFE tick preventative and/or repellant

The second step is vaccination. There are a multitude of efficacious safe vaccines available for dogs. Check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is vaccinated and has a good preventative on board.

Dr. Monica Dijanic
Medical Director, Beaver Brook Animal Hospital

You heal with light?

When I was first told that a laser uses light to do all sorts of healing I thought to myself “yeah right”.   It sounded like a neat tool to integrate in our practice where we use a lot of complementary medicine but it wasn’t high on my purchase list – heating pads, oxygen cage, digital X-ray seemed like better medicine and a better investment.

But then I started talking to my colleagues and started going to seminars…I was still skeptical. It just seemed like such a little machine couldn’t possibly due the amount of healing that they were suggesting. My partner and I discussed it and thought with the versatility of using a therapeutic laser with acupuncture and the financing opportunities available it was a no brainer to go ahead with the purchase.

We started using our laser at the end of December, approximately 4 months ago, and I have been utterly amazed with the results. I am at the point where I don’t know what I would do without it. Pictures are much more dramatic so here’s Blackie’s story.

This is Blackie and he got hit by a car. Not only does he have this visible soft tissue trauma. But he also has a broken 5th toe on his right front leg, a broken metacarpus on his left front leg and a broken ulna on his left front leg. His previous owners were unable to give him his antibiotics or pain medication and he came to us with a severe infection.

We soaked his pus filled bandages off his legs and started treatment. He received antibiotics and oral anti-inflammatories and was started on daily foot soaks, honey dressings and Laser therapy. After one week his right leg is almost totally healed and he is now putting weight on his left front as well.

Before laser therapy

Before laser therapy

blackie 3-24

1 week post laser