Does your pet have BAD BREATH??

Written by: Dr. Michelle Roth

February is Dental Awareness Month.  We challenge you to flip the lip and look at your pet’s teeth.  If you are concerned with what you see, please contact us!  During the month of February we will be offering special pricing for dental cleanings.

pre dental

Stage 4 Dental Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as dental disease, is one of the most common diseases we diagnose in our patients. Gingivitis, tooth root exposure, gingival recession, and tooth mobility are all signs of dental disease.

Dental disease can range from minor to major and is scaled from 1-4.

Stage 1: Mild reddening and thickening of the gums (Gingivitis)

Stage 2: Generalized gingivitis with loosening of at least one tooth

Stage 3: Severe gingivitis with tooth root exposure and mobility of several teeth

Stage 4: Severe gingivitis with gingival recession, tooth root exposure and severe mobility present in teeth with more than one root (molars and premolars)

Plaque is the major culprit of dental disease and causes the most issues, but is not visible to the naked eye. Plaque is a layer of film on the teeth that houses a large population of bacteria. It can be present on the tooth surface that we see, but also on the teeth under the gums. When the plaque layer under the gums becomes too great dental disease will increase from stage 1 to stage 2 and beyond. The plaque layer also traps minerals that combine to form calculus or tartar. Although unsightly, tartar is not a major cause of dental disease but it can hide any issues underneath.

Not only does dental disease give your pet bad breath, but if left untreated, it can also have negative effects elsewhere in the body.  Since bacteria can enter the bloodstream from the mouth and circulate around the body several other body systems can be affected. Heart disease is one example where bacteria lodges in the heart and can cause thickening of the heart valves leading to heart murmurs.



Daily brushing of the teeth is the ideal way to disrupt the plaque layer and prevent formation of dental tartar. Using either a finger brush or toothbrush apply a veterinary approved toothpaste to the outside of all teeth concentrating on the upper molars and premolars (back teeth).

Daily chews and hard kibbles are great options because the mechanical action of chewing will break down the plaque layer and remove some tartar as well. Many products contain enzymes to help break up the plaque layer even more. The Veterinary Oral Health Council has a great list of options available at:


Dental Cleaning Procedure

Most patients will require a dental cleaning to remove the tartar and plaque layers at least once in their lifetime.  Many small and toy breeds will require this procedure several times throughout their lives to maintain a healthy mouth.

At WCVS we require pre-anesthetic bloodwork for all patients over 7 years of age and greatly encourage bloodwork for all patients needing a dental procedure. This allows us to make a more educated and safer choice in medications for your pet. Typical pre-anesthetic blood work will cost around $55, and should be drawn prior to the day of the procedure. At that time we will send home antibiotics for your pet. We start pets on

post dental

After the dental cleaning and multiple extractions

antibiotics 3 days before their dental procedure to reduce the amount of circulating bacteria.

On the day of the procedure your pet will have a catheter placed in their leg vein in order to administer medications and fluids. The teeth will be cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler by a Veterinary Technician or the Veterinarian. This process removes the tartar build up and also disrupts the plaque layer above and below the gum line. If we find any loose, broken, or overexposed roots on the teeth we will remove them to prevent any further damage to the healthy teeth. The teeth will then be polished to remove any remaining plaque layer and to smooth the surface of the teeth. The mouth will be rinsed and a sealant may be applied if you request it. Your pet will recover from anesthesia and be sent home the same day.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…

…A New Puppy!!!Golden Puppy

Written by: Danielle Willenborg, DVM

With the holiday season quickly approaching, kids are starting to think about what they want to ask Santa to bring them for Christmas. Many kids will ask Santa for a puppy of various shapes and sizes. Santa is a pretty great guy so for many kiddos, their wish will come true! The kicker is…now Mom and Dad have another “kid” to take care of. Puppies are great pets for many children and as your local veterinarian we just want to remind you of some of the costs that come with raising a happy and healthy puppy for your children to grow up with.

Just like kids, puppies require vaccinations during different stages of life. For a medium size dog (40-50 lbs full grown) we would suggest the following vaccinations.

8 weeks of age

– Exam $40.50

– DHPP primary vaccine $20.50

– Dewormer $5.00

– Start on heartworm prevention (have oral and topical options)

– Start on flea & tick prevention (have oral and topical options)


12 weeks of age

– Exam $40.50

– DHLPP primary vaccine $22.00

– Lyme primary vaccine $30.25

– Continue preventatives


16 weeks of age

– Exam $40.50

– DHLPP annual vaccine $22.00

– Lyme annual vaccine $30.25

– Rabies annual vaccine $20.00

– Continue preventatives


Though there are locations where you can get these vaccines yourself, or vaccine clinics where they perform these vaccines, that may not be the best thing for your pet. Handling of vaccines is crucial to their efficacy and if not handled properly they may not be effective at all. Also, never discount the value of a great physical exam, this our time to get our hands, eyes, and ears on your precious new puppy and ensure everything is in working order. We will also give you helpful tips on diet, grooming, potty training, and puppy training just to name a few.

At these first few visits we will also get your puppy started on a prevention regimen that fits your puppy and your lifestyle. We suggest year round prevention of heartworms as well as fleas and ticks. Here is a basic breakdown of a yearly cost of both preventions based on a medium sized dog.

Heartworm & Intestinal worm prevention – $100-$125 – approx. $10 per month

Flea and Tick prevention – $150-$200 – approx. $15 per month


If your puppy is larger the cost will likely be more and if your puppy is smaller the cost could be considerably cheaper, but at least this can give you an idea. Though these numbers may seem large the treatment of diseases that can be prevented from these is much larger in cost. For example, heartworm treatment can cost up to $1500, that’s a lot of prevention you can purchase for that amount. There are also several online pharmacies that you can purchase your puppies medication from, however, we do caution this because even though the product box may look exactly the same, that does not mean it’s the same on the inside. We want to ensure that only safe medications, that we would use in our own pets, is what is going into your pet.


Next step will be getting your puppy fixed.  Breed and size will determine when this is done. As a general rule, we wait until the pet is 6 months of age before performing one of these surgeries.  If you have a large or giant breed dog we often wait much longer. Here is an estimate for a medium size dog.

Ovariohysterectomy/spay (female) – $145

Castration/neuter (male) – $120


In general, all puppies will also benefit from some sort of training classes as well. The amount and type will depend on what you want to achieve with your puppy. The goals that you have set will often determine the price of the training sessions.

Short courses (approx. 6 weeks) – $150

Lifetime packages – $600-$700


Even though this list may seem a little daunting, a puppy can be the greatest gift a child can ever get. All of us here at West Central Veterinary Services want to help you keep that puppy healthy and around for many years of fun, laughter, and memories.

Giving Blood and Saving Lives

Written by: Dr. Jenny Hochstedler 


Hi!  My name is Ellie.  I usually spend my days perusing my yard and hay field, keeping it safe from vermin such as moles, birds, and squirrels.

My brother Gibbs is usually right by my side.  We like to chase each other and play keep away with sticks.  I want to tell you about the day my mom took me to work with her.  She’s a veterinarian.  I knew that it must be important because she was in a bit of a rush.  She petted us both when she got out of her big red vet truck.  She put Gibbs in the outdoor kennel, then got my harness and put it on me.  She only uses the harness when we are going for a ride somewhere.  Gibbs was pretty upset that I was in the truck and he was not.  I was pretty excited!

We went into the vet clinic.  On the way there, mom said that there was a really sick dog and the only way to save her was to give her a blood transfusion.  My friends at the clinic held me tight and told me I was a good girl while I got a shot in my leg.  I got really sleepy.  When I woke up from my nap, they said I had saved another dog’s life!


A note from Dr. Jenny:

Blood transfusions are where we take blood from one dog and give it to another.  Whole blood may be needed when there is severe blood loss, like in the case of blunt trauma, or the loss of red blood cells from a disease.  In this particular case, my patient was diagnosed with immune mediated hemolytic anemia.    The picture to the left is a normal blood smear.  The red blood cells are normal in size and shape.  In this disease, the dog is producing antibodies against their own red blood cells.  Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to all the tissues.  When the antibodies attach to the red blood cells, the red blood cells die.  The picture to the right is where the red blood cells are stuck together because of the antibodies that have attached to them.

Ellie was sedated so that we could collect a large amount of blood via her jugular vein.  It is very important that she not move during the procedure, hence the need for sedation.  The collection bag is rotated carefully to prevent any clotting from occurring.  Ellie’s blood was immediately given to the sick dog at a slow rate.  She was monitored carefully to make sure she did not have a reaction.  The donated blood provided enough red blood cells to fulfill the oxygen needs of the dog while we implemented the appropriate treatment to stop the immune system from killing the red blood cells.

 Ellie’s sedation was reversed.  She was a little tired that day but was back to her normal self in no time.  Gibbs was more than happy to see her come home!

Zoey’s Diagnosis of TWO Endocrine Disorders

Written by: Dr. Shelby Norris

Meet Zoey. She is an adorable little pittie mix that came to us when she was having trouble keeping her food and water down, as well as having some weight loss and a long-standing history of hair loss and suspected allergy issues. When I met with Zoey’s mom, the first distinction I had to make was – Is Zoey vomiting or regurgitating?

These may sound like the same thing, but they are actually very different and can signify different disease processes. Zoey’s mom explained that pretty much after every meal or every drink of water, she would bring all of the contents back up and she couldn’t hold anything down. Based on this information, I determined that Zoey was regurgitating, or immediately expelling her food back up. The food had no time to stay in her stomach and hadn’t even begun to digest at all. If it had, then this would have been called vomiting.

With Zoey having regurgitation along with her hair loss, I started talking to her mom about the possibility of some endocrine diseases (Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism) that can have a rare side effect called “megaesophagus” or an abnormally enlarged esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. When it enlarges, it can harbor food after an animal eats. When the animal’s body realizes the food bolus is unable to reach the stomach, it gets rid of it the only other way it can – regurgitation! We decided to run some baseline bloodwork to see if Zoey could be suffering from any of these endocrine diseases.

The next day, I checked Zoey’s bloodwork and sure enough, there was evidence supporting not one but TWO endocrine diseases! Zoey’s bloodwork showed that she might have Addison’s disease (also called hypoadrenocorticism; an underactive adrenal gland, not enough steroids and other hormones produced by the body which can result in inappetence and weight loss) as well as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland, not enough thyroid hormone produced which can result in poor temperature control, hair loss, etc). The frustrating part for us was that if she did have both of these diseases, we would have to confirm and treat the Addison’s first as it can have an effect on thyroid levels. I called Zoey’s mom with the news, and she agreed to a confirmatory test for Addison’s. We performed the test, and she was confirmed to have Addison’s disease. We started her on treatment, which is a mineralocorticoid injection every 25 days and oral glucocorticoids. Once we stabilized her medication dosages, Zoey’s mom started seeing a little improvement, but we definitely felt like she still had room to improve. The regurgitation was a little better but was still happening pretty frequently and she still had a drastic amount of hair loss. At that time, we decided it was time to perform the confirmatory test for her thyroid.

We got the results a few days later and there it was – she was hypothyroid too! TWO endocrine diseases in the same dog! We added a thyroid supplement to her medications, and about a month later we started seeing dramatic improvement. Her hair that had been missing for so long was coming back! Even her tail was starting to show signs of a little fuzz growing in. What about her regurgitation? Her mom was happy to report that she was keeping all of her food and water down as well as gaining weight back. She also said she has been acting much brighter and happier at home.

Below are some pictures of Zoey before and after starting her treatments. We are SO happy for her! She looks great!









Cold Laser Therapy and Pets

West Central Veterinary Services

By Dr. Hilary Slaven

Cold Laser Therapy:  What is it?

A laser is a machine that produces energy in the form of light.  This light can be emitted in specific wavelengths and moved through an instrument.  This instrument is applied to the furry friend (horse, dog, cat) and the light affects the tissue underneath.

dr-laura-and-cold-laser-therapy-small Dr. Laura Couch, certified canine rehabilitator, WCVS Rockville

How does it work?

Low level lasers increase the blood supply and increases cell growth.  This allows for faster, less painful recoveries from injury and after surgery.  This also means that tissue heals with less scar tissue and fewer post-operative complications such as pain and swelling and prolonged discomfort.  Successful treatments can involve anywhere from one post-operative treatment to several treatments over several days or weeks, often in addition to physical therapy.

Which health problems could benefit from cold laser therapy?

  • Wounds (including surgical incisions)
  • Tendonitis
  • Edema
  • Osteoarthritis

Who do…

View original post 51 more words

Horses and Intestinal Worms: What you need to know!

West Central Veterinary Services

By Dr. Danielle Willenborg

“It’s spring, that means I deworm my horse, right?  Maybe not!”

Intestinal parasites are something that horse owners have been concerned about for years.  Many believe that they should deworm adult horses at least twice a year, once being in the spring of the year.  That may not be the case anymore, and if you are deworming when it is not needed then you may be causing more harm than good.

Strongyles.in_.mucosa-1 Large Strongyle larvae in the horse gut tissue.

bots-gasterophilus.jpg Bots in the stomach of a horse.

The most common intestinal parasites we worry about as veterinarians are:  large strongyles, small strongyles, and bots.  The two most concerning in the springtime are the strongyles.  Large and small strongyle larvae are picked up off the grass when horses are grazing, they are ingested and travel through the gut where they then reproduce and eggs are…

View original post 311 more words