Medical Services

Dental Services

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Shelter Island Veterinary Hospital can provide for all of your animal’s dental care needs.  From simple cleanings to root canals, we are here to provide everything your pet needs to live a longer, happier, healthier life.

We offer *Free* oral examinations by our Veterinary Nurses to evaluate your pet’s dental health and to educate you on how to best care for your pet.  Your pet’s teeth and gums will be evaluated, and a treatment plan will be recommended.  Maybe you need to learn how to brush your pet’s teeth.  Our staff would be happy to give you tips on how to be successful in this process.  If your pet’s gums are red, bleeding, or if there is an unpleasant odor, your pet may need a thorough dental prophylaxis (or dental “cleaning”).  After consultation with the doctor, an estimate will be provided to you for complete care of your pet’s teeth.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop gum disease by the age of three years. Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition affecting dogs and cats. Infection and inflammation of the gums and supporting tissues of the teeth are caused by bacteria present in plaque and calculus (tartar).

The problem begins when plaque and calculus are allowed to build up on a pet’s teeth, especially below the gumline. Bad breath, bleeding and inflammation of the gums, receding gums, loosening and the eventual loss of teeth are characteristic of the condition. Preventative Cleanings to keep the teeth clean is important to prevent gum disease.

Dental Problems in Dogs and Cats Include:

  • Halitosis (Bad Breath)
  • Gingivitis (Red, Bleeding or Swollen Gums)
  • Periodontitis
  • Cavities
  • Dead or Discolored Teeth
  • Loose Teeth
  • Broken Teeth
  • Abscessed Teeth
  • Supernumery (extra) Teeth
  • Resorptive Lesions
  • Oral-Nasal Fistulas
  • Feline Stomatitis

Broken teeth are no laughing matter! Broken teeth are common in pets.  Dogs can break their teeth by chewing on inappropriate items such as rocks, bones, treats (antlers, hooves, etc) and ice cubes that are too hard.  Trauma can cause broken teeth as well, such as a fall or collision with a wall, vehicle or other object.  There are 2 types of “fractures” (the description of a broken tooth).  The first is an “uncomplicated” fracture meaning the inside structure or root canal is not exposed.  For this type of fracture, a dental radiograph is taken to evaluate the viability of the tooth.  When there is no evidence that the tooth has died or is infected, a sealant can be applied to the tooth to protect it from becoming infected.  The other type is a “complicated” fracture where the inside of the tooth is exposed.  These teeth may bleed when they are broken, but often times your pet won’t even tell you that he or she has hurt themself.  When the tooth is broken the nerve and blood vessel inside the tooth are exposed to the outside world.  This is very painful. Bacteria enter through this tiny opening and can enter the bloodstream through the blood vessels that supply the tooth.  Eventually, the tooth will die and become infected.  It is rare to see a pet who won’t eat because of a broken tooth.  It is our pet’s instincts that tell them to either swallow the food without chewing, or just chew on the other side.  Frequently these animals may lose interest in play and sleep more.  However, as our animals age they tend to lose interest in playing and sleep more, so oral pain is usually attributed to aging.  However, once these pets are treated it is all too common for us to hear “my pet hasn’t been this playful in years!”

Complicated dental fractures can only be treated in 2 ways.  The first is to extract the tooth.  The second is to have a root canal performed.  Some “uncomplicated” fractures can be treated by applying a “patch” or sealant to the tooth while complicated fractures can be treated with extraction or referral to a dental specialist.

Do you have questions about your pet’s dental health? Call us anytime or stop by for a complimentary oral exam by one of our veterinary staff.

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.

We are proud to offer digital radiology (x-rays that are captured digitally rather than on film). This state-of-the-art technology allows us to provide you with a quicker diagnosis for your pet. Plus, it uses less radiation than traditional x-rays.

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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To ensure a proper diagnosis, we often need to examine your pet. We begin a medical assessment by looking at your pet’s eyes, ears, and skin and checking his or her cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, and skeletal systems for any abnormalities. We will perform blood and/or urine tests as necessary to check your pet’s kidneys, liver, pancreas, and endocrine system, including the thyroid and adrenal glands. Based on your pet’s condition, we may recommend further diagnostic tests, such as radiography (x-rays), endoscopy (internal scoping), ultrasound, or biopsy.

If you’re concerned that something may be wrong with your pet, please call us to schedule a medical assessment. Depending on the symptoms, we may ask you to bring in your pet right away.