Companion Animal Veterinary Services
Because of the shorter lifespan of our pets, we stress the importance of an annual physical examination. Thorough check-ups and preventive care can help alleviate serious health problems. We offer a wide range of veterinary services to keep your companions feeling their best.
Our state-of-the-art surgical suite provides for the performance of a wide variety of surgical procedures. The most common soft tissue procedures we perform are spays, neuters, and mass removals. Other soft tissue surgeries are done for various reasons, such as removing foreign bodies from the gastrointestinal tract, removing neoplastic organs, removing bladder stones, and repairing damaged structures (e.g., diaphragmatic tears). Additionally, we often take biopsies of diseased tissue for evaluation by a pathologist. Biopsies help guide medical and surgical treatment.
Orthopedic procedures are also performed in the surgical suite, including fracture and soft tissue repair or stabilization. Our doctors’ method of cruciate repair is an extra-articular repair, where the stifle (knee) joint is cleaned out, closed, and stabilized. The second method of cruciate repair is the TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy). This method requires special training and is referred to a board-certified surgeon for performance at our hospital. If your pet is diagnosed with a torn cruciate, the two methods are discussed, and the appropriate surgery is arranged.
Alpine Animal Hospital works closely with the valley’s board-certified veterinary surgeons to provide additional surgical procedures as required.
Wellness & Preventive Care
Wellness exams refer to physical exams that assess the general health of our pets. By detecting problems early, we are much more likely to be able to intervene in a disease process before the changes to the body are irreversible. In addition to the physical exam, we will often use laboratory tests to understand how your pet is doing. Our in-house laboratory allows us to have the results of most tests the same day we see your pet. Other preventative procedures that are frequently associated with wellness exams include fecal exams and heartworm testing. These tests detect the presence of parasites within our furry friends that may be diminishing their quality of life.
The final part of our wellness program is to prevent infectious diseases with the judicious use of vaccines. We believe that vaccines are an important part of preventative medicine, but we also realize that not every animal will have the same vaccination needs. We base our vaccination decisions on a risk versus benefit philosophy and will customize our vaccine recommendations for your pet based on this philosophy.
At Alpine Animal Hospital, we are committed to maximizing the quality and longevity of your pets’ lives. Because the mouth and teeth are vitally important for general health, we emphasize dental health as a priority. Our dental department is staffed with specialty-trained individuals. They utilize a variety of specialized equipment and materials to provide both basic and advanced treatment options. Digital intraoral x-rays allow for rapid, accurate diagnoses. Our systematic service enables us to optimally meet our patients’ dental needs while tailoring their care to their people’s wishes. From periodontal prophylaxis to root canals, crowns, oral surgery, and orthodontics, our scope of care is sure to fulfill any need that may arise.
As with many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. An annual professional dental cleaning for your companion offers the best chance to avoid periodontal disease and resultant tooth loss. Additionally, we encourage you to take an active role in maintaining your companion’s dental health between professional dental cleaning procedures. That allows you to be familiar with their mouth so you will recognize problems such as broken, loose, or discolored teeth, bleeding gums, or oral tumors without delay. All animals deserve to have a functional, pain-free mouth, and we will help you ensure that yours enjoys that right as well.
At Alpine Animal Hospital, we follow the AAHA standard of excellence in our anesthetic protocols.
Most procedures require that your pet spend all or part of a day with us. With the exception of water, you will be advised to fast your animal for 12 hours prior to surgery. This fast reduces the risk of anesthesia-induced vomiting and aspiration. In preparation for a procedure, your pet will undergo a physical exam prior to anesthesia or sedation. This is important to evaluate the heart and lungs and prepare for any additional anesthetic issues (e.g., brachycephalic or ‘squish-faced’ breeds, or overweight animals present special considerations).
Pre-anesthetic blood work (serum chemistry panel, CBC, and coagulation panel) is strongly advised for all animals undergoing anesthesia. This blood work allows evaluation of liver, kidneys, clotting ability, and oxygenation ability. Injectable anesthetic drugs are metabolized by either the liver or the kidneys, so it is important to know if there is any compromise to these organs. If so, alternate drugs are used.
Based on collected information, your pet’s doctor will formulate an anesthetic plan for your pet that takes into consideration the procedure being performed, your pet’s age, health status, and any other potential complications to ensure their safety and long-term health.
Depending on the procedure, your pet may undergo general anesthesia or a basic sedative that will last a short time. All animals undergoing general anesthesia have an intravenous catheter placed and are supported by intravenous fluids during the procedure. General anesthesia can lower blood pressure, which in turn can damage organs. Fluids help maintain adequate blood pressure. The catheter also allows immediate access to a vein for administration of anesthetic drugs and other medications, including antibiotics.
During general anesthesia, the patient is monitored continuously by a Certified Veterinary Technician. These technicians are specifically trained in anesthesia and keep records of the animal’s vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, ECG, body temperature, and oxygenation. This monitoring allows rapid adjustment of the anesthetic protocol to maintain both an appropriate level of anesthesia and appropriate patient condition.
Once the procedure is completed, the patient is moved to the intensive care area of our hospital. These cages are in the hospital’s central treatment area and allow for constant monitoring by doctors and technicians. Most animals return home from procedures the same day and are given discharge instructions that include a pain management plan, details regarding home care, and follow-up care recommendations.
What is laser therapy?
Laser therapy is a non-invasive treatment designed to reduce pain and inflammation while also speeding up the healing process. This treatment is quickly becoming standard of care in both human and veterinary medicine.
Our staff members administer laser therapy via a handpiece that emits this therapeutic infrared light in a fast, drug-free, and soothing treatment. The light can treat surface problems such as wounds, as well as deeper structures, penetrating through fur, skin, and fat if necessary to reach the damaged tissue.
The therapeutic infrared light targets the mitochondria in damaged cells and stimulates them to regenerate, and stimulates them to return to optimal function. This regenerative process is called photobiomodulation (PBM). PBM does not impact normal cells but can help damaged cells to recover from injury faster.
Laser therapy can be utilized as an adjunct to existing treatments, often reducing or replacing the need for pain medications.
What are treatments like?
Laser therapy treatments are fast and pain-free, making them well-tolerated by most pets. There is no clipping or shaving required for the treatment area. When your pet arrives for therapy, they will be situated in a comfortable position and may be outfitted with laser-safe goggles. You will also receive laser-safe eyewear to use during treatment if you remain with your pet during therapy.
Treatments take approximately 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the treatment area’s size and the condition being treated. During this treatment, your pet will experience a soothing warmth that often relaxes patients and sometimes makes them go to sleep!
Some conditions require several treatment sessions for optimal outcomes. When your pet’s condition is evaluated, your veterinarian will discuss their recommendations with you.
Can laser therapy help my pet?
Laser therapy is an effective treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including:
- Skin Conditions
- Pain & Inflammation
- Pain Relief
- Post-Operative Recovery
- Geriatric Care
- Lick Granulomas
- Dental Conditions
- Abdominal Disorders
- And Much More!
A health certificate is a certificate of veterinary inspection where the signing veterinarian endorses that your pet is healthy and free of any transmittable diseases.
When traveling between states within the continental United States, a health certificate needs to be issued within ten days of travel. It must be accompanied by an exam by your veterinarian.
When traveling outside of the continental United States, please contact the hospital as soon as possible to inquire about your destination’s requirements. Many countries have very specific requirements that can take a month or more to complete.
Emergency & Critical Care
Alpine Animal Hospital offers after-hours emergency care from 5 PM to 9 PM on Monday through Thursday.
For emergencies that occur outside of those hours or for severe conditions that may require extensive treatment or observation, we refer clients to Valley Emergency Pet Care. Their address is 180 Fiou Lane, Suite 101, Basalt, CO, and their phone number is 970-927-5066.
Alpine Animal Hospital has the necessary equipment and facility to stabilize, treat, and maintain emergent and critical patients during business hours. Our staff is trained and experienced in the treatment of a variety of emergency and critical care cases, including trauma, acute disease, and chronic disease complications. Many of our technicians are also certified by the Red Cross in animal first aid and have experience working in veterinary emergency clinics. We also work closely with Valley Emergency Pet Care to treat our critical patients and transport stable animals that require 24-hour care to their facility for overnight monitoring.
The following symptoms are definite emergencies and require immediate medical attention:
- Difficulty breathing, blue tongue or raspy breath sounds
- Swollen or distended abdomen, with or without productive vomiting
- Inability to urinate or defecate, especially if straining. (Cats may repeatedly go to the litter box, lick at the genital area, and/or vocalize).
- Ingestion of toxin, including but not limited to chocolate, marijuana, rodenticides (D-con), drugs, xylitol (artificial sweetener), nicotine, and household cleaners. BRING THE CONTAINER WITH YOU!
- Traumas such as being hit by a car, falling from a height ,or experiencing a blunt force (even if the animal is not showing any ill effects)
- Collapse/inability to stand or walk.
- Loss of balance or consciousness, convulsions or seizure activity
- Penetrating wounds such as bite wounds, gunshot, or stab wounds
- Bleeding that does not stop within 5 minutes (Apply pressure using a clean cloth while on your way.)
- Vomiting or diarrhea with blood.
- Heatstroke: heavy panting, weakness, temperature greater than 104 degrees.
Desensitization is the process of teaching your pet that a specific stimulus (nail trim, ear cleaning, injection, etc.) is non-threatening over time. This process’s results can be very rewarding, but it can take a lot of patience and time. If desensitization attempts happen too quickly, you can make the problem worse, so it is important to move at the pet’s pace. As part of our Fear Free initiative, we have developed Victory Visits to help if your pet has certain triggers they find particularly frightening. Our veterinary technicians are able to spend one on one time with your pet during our Victory Visits to help formulate and introduce a desensitization plan.
If you have any questions or would like assistance in formulating a desensitization plan for your pet, please call us to ask us about our new Victory Visits! These visits will help desensitize your pet to a range of events, from nail trims to subcutaneous injections for things like insulin, fluids, or joint supplements, or simply a visit to the vet!
We believe the desensitization process is best started at a young age, so we have included 3 Love the Vet Visits in our Healthy Puppy Packages to help your new little furry friends learn to accept and enjoy treatments/procedures at the hospital!
Watch the video below and call us for an appointment at 970-963-2371.
Preparing Your Dog to Visit the Vet
In many cases, non-invasive examination of body systems is an integral part of arriving at a diagnosis or in monitoring disease progression. The need is obvious in assessing orthopedic conditions but may be less obvious in cases such as chronic urinary tract infections. In this instance, it is necessary to rule out underlying causes such as bladder stones or bladder masses to effectively treat the animal.
The two facets of our diagnostic imaging service are ultrasound and computed radiography. Depending on the problem, one modality may be more appropriate than the other; sometimes, they are used in tandem to gain the most information (e.g., heart disease).
Ultrasound uses high-frequency, pulsed sound waves to penetrate and reflect images of body structures. Ultrasound is particularly useful in assessing organ texture and structure, identifying masses in soft tissue, and viewing inside hollow organs (bladder, heart). Digital images are stored and can easily be transmitted (via c/d or email) to owners or to board-certified radiologists for evaluation.
Our digital radiography system does not rely on film to capture images. Images are captured and available in under 8 seconds. The image can then be manipulated and enhanced for a better review. Like the digital ultrasound images, digital radiograph images can be copied to a disc or emailed to owners or boarded radiologists for additional evaluation.
Nutritional Support & Weight Loss Guidance
Alpine Animal Hospital believes maintaining proper weight and nutrition will help our patients achieve longer, happier, more pain-free lives. In the United States, it is estimated that roughly 60% of cats and 56% of dogs are overweight or obese, and this trend is only increasing. Suppose you have concerns about your pets’ weight. In that case, the Alpine Animal Hospital team will help put together a weight loss program including adequate nutrition, exercise, and medical interventions (if needed) to help your pet achieve their ideal weight.
Heartworm & Parasite Control
At Alpine Animal Hospital we pride ourselves on providing you, our clients, with the most up to date and relevant medical information for your feline and canine family members. With that goal in mind, new studies on the increasing prevalence of heartworm in Colorado, including the Western Slope, has led us to adjust our recommendations for testing and prevention of this potentially fatal and easily preventable disease.
So how is this information relevant to us here in the Roaring Fork Valley? Even if you and your dog are not leaving the valley, there are plenty of people and organizations bringing dogs here from all over the country, and unfortunately, they may be bringing their parasites with them. Garfield and Pitkin counties do have heartworm cases reported, and we are also home to mosquito species that serve as heartworm carriers. A 2019 study recommends that “veterinarians in Colorado should no longer base heartworm testing and prevention recommendations on only historic heartworm risks and prevalence (Drake 2019).” The authors encourage veterinarians to follow the recommendations laid out by the American Heartworm Society.
The American Heartworm Society recommends that dogs be tested once a year for heartworm and be provided with a monthly heartworm preventative year-round. Since heartworm is increasing in Colorado, we as a team think that testing your dog and providing year-round prevention regardless of whether they leave the valley or not is the best way to ensure they do not contract heartworm and are protected from a variety of intestinal parasites.
The heartworm prevention medication we typically prescribed contains other deworming medications that treat a wide range of intestinal parasites. This means that if heartworm prevention is given year-round that your dog will be protected from roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. The hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms that our dogs get can infect us as well. These parasites are transmitted by fecal-oral contact. This is especially important for households with young children who put their hands in their mouths after playing outside. The most effective way to prevent the transmission of these zoonotic (animal to people) parasites is to provide monthly prevention.
In conclusion, heartworm is increasing and changing in Colorado, and so we want to increase and change our testing and prevention efforts to best protect the dogs in our community. Giving a monthly heartworm preventative year-round protects against heartworm and intestinal parasites that can infect humans. We hope that this information helps you make the most informed choice about heartworm and parasite prevention for your furry family member so you can hit the parks and trails with no worries about worms!
Home Health & Hospice
Alpine Animal Hospital provides home health and hospice care to animals and owners in need. This ranges from routine care to more advanced consultation and planning for long term treatment under the guidance of one of our veterinarians. Our veterinary nurses can provide and monitor your pets’ care and answer your questions while instructing you on how to provide some of the care yourself if you desire to do so. As part of our Fear Free initiative, often bringing a pet to the clinic can be more damaging/stressful, so we make ourselves available to come to you!
Unfortunately, cancer is diagnosed fairly often in companion animals. However, there have been many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of certain cancers, enabling many animals to live longer, quality lives. Some cancers in animals are curable.
Diagnosis usually involves diagnostic imaging and blood work and often involves cytology and histopathology. It is important to identify the type of cancer and to stage it, i.e., determine if it has spread, before discussing treatment. Depending on the type of cancer, various treatment options are available. Some types respond well to surgery, while others require chemotherapy, and yet others need specialized treatment such as radiation therapy or limb-sparing surgery, or perhaps a combination of these modalities.
We are experienced in administering several types of chemotherapy here. Animals undergoing chemotherapy, as a rule, don’t tend to have the marked side effects that we associate with chemotherapy in people. The most common side effect is an upset GI tract. We support our patients with medications and acupuncture to try and prevent or minimize nausea and diarrhea. Many chemotherapy drugs can cause a lowered white blood cell count, which can predispose the animals to infections. Therefore, we conduct a CBC prior to each chemotherapy treatment to try and minimize any side effects that may be caused by too low of a white blood cell count. Additionally, periodic serum chemistries are advised to monitor kidney and liver function during the course of chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy necessitates a trip to Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center (http://www.csuanimalcancercenter.org) in Fort Collins. We are fortunate to have this facility close, as they provide on-going support for us and for our clients and patients. Additionally, they keep us informed of current clinical trials for which our patients may qualify.
Dealing with cancer in our companion animals can be difficult. We are here to support our patients and clients medically, surgically, and emotionally, from diagnosis through treatment.
If you notice any of the common signs of cancer (growths, change in appetite or weight, sores that don’t heal, odors, persistent lameness, or difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating), please contact us. Early intervention gives us the best opportunity for prolonging life and preserving its quality.
Comfort Room & Garden
Sometimes it is time to say goodbye to our companions. At Alpine Animal Hospital, we understand that is a difficult process and try to provide an environment that is comforting and will allow your family to spend the private time you need. We have a room that we reserve specifically for you at that time, and when the weather permits, an outside garden for the same.
We also provide other means of remembrance, such as a clay paw imprint of your loved one, and if you would like to leave a memory, we have a Comfort Tree where you can write your pet’s name on a leaf and hang a photo.
Chronic Pain Management
Alpine Animal Hospital supports a multi-modality approach to managing chronic pain in our patients. As patients age, they shouldn’t have to hurt throughout their daily lives. Luckily, we now have many options to help control our patients’ pain and discomfort. The staff at Alpine Animal Hospital will work closely with you and your pet to provide pain management options and treatment plans, including:
- Pain Medications and Anti-inflammatories
- Nutritional support and Supplements
- Joint Injections
- Regenerative Medicine including IRAP, PRP and Stem Cell Therapy
- Shock Wave Therapy
What is animal chiropractic?
Animal chiropractic philosophy is based on evaluating the relationship of the spinal column as it relates to the nervous system through evaluation of biomechanics and movement of joints in the entire body. Chiropractic care is the treatment of Vertebral Subluxation Complexes (VSCs), which are areas of restricted mobility at joint spaces. Adjustments are made to remove these restrictions, allowing joints to move in their normal range of motion for an animal’s optimum health. Joint mobility restriction can lead to pain, muscle tension, stiffness, and reduced performance. It can also disrupt the flow of information and nutrients via pinched nerve, blood, and lymphatic vessels, which can reduce the optimum function of nerves, muscles, skin, and all other organs of the body.
Chiropractic care can reduce the onset of arthritis by keeping joints of the body mobile. This makes it a perfect preventative therapy for animals with conformational abnormalities that create abnormal pressures in joint spaces due to non-traditional angles of the limbs, as well as compensatory changes of the spine. Chiropractic care is very frequently used as a treatment for acute or chronic pain syndromes that are caused by biomechanical problems. Remember, joints are supported by lots of anatomical structures, but 80% of support for joints is muscle. That animal not only needs the primary pain treated with veterinary medicine from a primary doctor but should get chiropractic to “reset” the rest of the body, which will encourage normal joint movements and prevent secondary/compensatory problems. Chiropractic care is not meant to replace traditional veterinary care, but to work with it for your pet’s optimum health. We are willing to work with other primary care professionals to provide optimum care to your pets.
Animals that are ideal candidates for preventative chiropractic are those that are very active, those that compete, protection/guard dogs, breeds prone to back problems (ie, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, giant breed dogs) and animals that have obvious conformation faults (toed out, toed in, overly straight back legs, kyphotic posture.) Pet parents may notice changes in their pet including decreased activity, changes in preferred activity type, irritability when pet in certain places, or behavioral licking over joints/areas they can reach.
Dr. Meg Bacon will be available 1-2 times a month at Alpine Animal Hospital for animal chiropractic services. Professionals that are performing animal chiropractic in Colorado are required to be a licensed veterinarian or chiropractor that has undergone additional training in animal chiropractic. Dr. Bacon graduated from Options for Animals College of Animal Chiropractic, and she also completed testing to be certified by the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association.
- Treatment plans are made based on an individual animal’s needs and owner wishes.
- Initial appointments take around 45 minutes and include getting to know your pet, history overview, conformation evaluation, gait evaluation, musculoskeletal exam, joint motion palpation and chiropractic adjustments. A follow-up is usually recommended for 2-4 weeks later based on your animal’s needs, and then further scheduling intervals that could be more spaced out can be considered.
- Follow-up appointments take 20-30 minutes and include recheck gait evaluation as necessary, brief musculoskeletal recheck, joint motion palpation and chiropractic adjustments. An animal’s maintenance schedule is determined based on a variety of factors including conditions being treated, an animal’s exercise regime or job, and the goals of the chiropractic treatment determined by the owner with the Doctor. Ultimately, how an animal responds to the chiropractic treatments determines the recommendation of spacing of maintenance care for optimum health.
- What are common symptoms of pain that can be due to a VSC? Undefined lameness or gait changes, Reluctance to move in certain ways like going on stairs or getting in and out of cars, new sensitivity to touch, dogs that lie on only one side, behavior changes, lick granulomas over limbs and joints, and reduced performance
- What are common causes for a VSC? Collars/harnesses, repetitive sport movements, birthing difficulties (mom and puppies), reduced/altered movement secondary to age, conformation, disease, or surgery, long car rides, and trauma.
- What are common indications for chiropractic? Conformation abnormalities, arthritis, spondylosis, cauda equina syndrome, undefined lameness, incontinence, muscular wasting, muscular asymmetry, existing irreversible conditions like hip dysplasia cause significant limb and spine compensations, discopathy (only after appropriate x-ray/MRI investigation), neuropathies, sporting/athletic dogs to optimize performance, geriatric animals to improve quality of life, and post-operative dogs to the surrounding areas to increase healing and treat compensatory muscle tightness