Examinations: All great veterinary care begins with an exam of your pet. The exam allows the doctor to see, to touch, and to listen to your pet. This one on one time also allows the doctor to ask you, the owner, specific questions about your pet. After taking a history and performing an exam, the doctor can then provide you with a treatment plan for your pet. For healthy pets, this will typically involve offering advice on current preventative medicine interventions that are designed to maintain your animalís good health. For pets with medical or surgical problems, after the exam, the veterinarian will be able to discuss with you any recommended diagnostic tests or any appropriate initial treatments for your pet.
Vaccinations and Preventative Care: Generally speaking, most cats and dogs need yearly vaccines along with their exams. Although we recommend exams, we do offer vaccine only appointments with our experienced technicians. For dogs, the recommended ďcoreĒ vaccines are DHLPP (commonly called the distemper-parvo vaccine) and the rabies vaccine. DHLPP stands for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and parvo. Since some dogs, usually toy breeds, can have an allergic reaction to the leptospirosis part of the vaccine, the veterinarian may want to do this vaccine in the morning or possibly skip it altogether. Other frequently advised canine vaccines are Bordatella (kennel cough), canine influenza (canine flu), lymeís disease, and rattlesnake vaccines. For our feline friends, the core vaccines are FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calici, and panleukopenia) and rabies. We also offer the Leukemia vaccine for outdoor cats. The decision regarding which vaccines to give your dog or cat should be discussed with the veterinarian, as the potential risks they face depend on your petís lifestyle.
Regarding preventative care, dogs and cats should both be on heartworm preventation. Heartworms are spread by infected mosquitoes biting and injecting baby heartworms into your petís skin, after which they migrate to the heart via the blood stream. These worms can eventually cause heart failure, severe respiratory problems, and even death. We advise all dogs to be tested once yearly for heartworms, even if they are on the monthly oral preventative, and always before restarting preventation after a hiatus. Cats generally are put on a topical preventative, and cats do not have to be tested beforehand. All pets should have yearly fecals (stool samples which are tested for intestinal parasites), and all, even the indoor pets, should be on flea and/or tick control. Fleas and ticks can carry diseases, some of which can be transmitted to humans, so protecting your pets also helps keep your family healthy.
Puppies and Kittens: We do have puppy and kitten packages. These packages provide preventative care for your puppy or kitten, and they include three exams with one of our veterinarians, the full set of start-up vaccines (DHLPP, Rabies, and Bordatella for puppies, and FVRCP, Feline Leukemia, and Rabies for kittens), two stool samples, a toe nail trim, a Feline Leukemia/Aids Test for kittens, and a free dose of heartworm and flea preventative for both kittens and puppies. We start the first vaccines at 8 weeks of age, but if you have a puppy or kitten who is younger than that, we sometimes start their vaccines a little earlier (feel free to ask us about whether this applies to your kitten or puppy). Once your puppy or kittenís vaccines are started, they generally get repeated at 3-4 weeks intervals, and continue until your kitten or puppy is 16 weeks of age. The packages provide you time with your veterinarian so they can team up with you to keep your new puppy or kitten healthy, and so they can help you problem-solve any of your young petís existing health issues. They also include advise to help you become more knowledgeable about proper training for your new kitten or puppy. These pre-paid packages do not include emergency exams, x-rays, surgeries, health certificates, or other treatments and medications except those listed above, but are excellent options for preventative care. Make sure you keep your puppies and kittens inside at home until all of the vaccines are completed (i.e until 16 weeks of age at the earliest). Please call us if you have any questions, and weíll be happy to schedule you an appointment. We canít wait to meet your new family member!!
Spays and Neuters: Most of the time, we recommend that dogs and cats be spayed or neutered at 5-6 months of age. There are, in addition to preventing a pet from reproducing, other reasons to spay and neuter our pets. It can reduce the risk of our pet developing a mammary or testicular cancer, it can reduce the tendency of males to seek out females in heat, and, in some males, it can decrease aggressiveness. For existing clients, we can usually directly schedule an appointment for the spay or neuter, provided your pet is in good health. For new clients, we prefer to have a ďget-acquaintedĒ appointment. During this appointment, the doctor will do an exam, and check for heart murmurs or other health conditions that might put your pet at increased anesthetic/surgical risk, and they will also review the surgical procedure with you. Sometimes we can schedule the ďget acquaintedĒ appointment the same morning as the surgery if that is more convenient for you. In that scenario, the exam price is waived. Remember to ask about this option when calling if it would be more convenient for you. You also need to have your pet fast the night before the procedure (i.e. no food after around 10 pm the night before the surgery appointment).
Spay and neuter surgeries, especially for female pets, are major surgeries, and, as mentioned above, there are attendant risks (bleeding, anesthetic complications, infection, liver and kidney problems, etc). At Natomas Veterinary Hospital, we try to minimize the risks, and maximize safety, by offering pre-operative blood work for every patient. This allows us to check for health conditions that can be missed on exam, but that are nonetheless capable of increasing the risk of surgery (i.e. liver problems). We also recommend having an IV catheter placed, and having IV fluids running, during the procedure to allow us to rapidly administer medications, or fluids, intravenously if your pet does have any difficulties while under anesthesia (i.e. if they develop an abnormal heart rhythm or demonstrate a decrease in blood pressure having already established intravenous access can be lifesaving). We utilize pulse oximetry, electrocardiocardiographs, blood pressure and temperature monitors, and direct observation to monitor your pet while they are undergoing anesthesia and surgery. These are protocols not necessarily followed at every vet hospital, so when comparing prices, you need to ask what your pet is getting for the price you are paying. We do offer lower cost alternatives for pet owners who would like to perform, but canít afford, all the available tests and monitoring. However, this does increase the surgical risk, and needs to be acknowledged.
For clients who also want their pet microchipped, this can be done more comfortably during the spay or neuter since the microchip needles are relatively large, and the injection can be uncomfortable for some animals while they are awake. Please call us for any questions or concerns that you may have regarding our spay and neuter procedures.
Dentistry: Bringing your pet in for routine dental care helps to keep your pet healthier and happier! We perform dental cleanings year round during the weekdays on Monday through Friday, but we offer a 10% discount during the months of February and August. Please call ahead of time to schedule your petís appointment for a dental exam and dental cleaning. Our service - We have a state of the art dental machine with an ultrasonic water-cooled dental scaler/polisher and a high speed drill. Our dentals are done under anesthesia which allows us to properly examine and clean your petís teeth. Some animals may require blood work before or during the dental depending on their health. We maintain IV access, IV fluids, and monitor your petís cardiovascular status during the dental to minimize the anesthetic risk. We also have a dental x-ray machine to help us see under the gum line to better assess which teeth are safe to leave and which ones need to be extracted. Pain medications and antibiotics are administered during and after the procedure for animals who are having tooth extractions.
Euthanasia: End of life issues involving our pets are emotionally challenging, and it is very difficult to make a decision to euthanize a pet since they are a member of the family. For our established clients and patients, our ongoing relationship with you and your pet, and our understanding of your petís health challenges, facilitates discussion of euthanasia. When is it the right time? How will I know? How does euthanasia work? Can I be present with my pet during the injection? Do I have to be present during this process? What happens to my petís remains afterwards? How do I arrange bringing my beloved pet in? Specific answers to these questions may differ depending on your individual preferences, and your petís situation, and would be best answered by one of our staff members on the phone or by one of our veterinarians during an exam.
If you are considering euthanizing your pet, we recommend you call us and let the receptionist know that you think it may be time to euthanize your pet, and you want to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians so they can review your petís situation and again make sure that euthanasia is the appropriate choice. After evaluating your petís status, if you and our veterinarian decide that euthanasia is the best course of action, the veterinarian will usually sedate your pet and then place an intravenous catheter to make the injection process easier. Then a concentrated barbiturate is given intravenously. Next, your animal loses consciousness before their bodily functions stop, and this allows them to go very peacefully. You can be with your pet throughout the entire process, but you do not have to be present if this will be too uncomfortable for you. You will need to decide whether or not you want your petís remains returned to you.
For first-time clients who are calling us to euthanize a pet, please understand that our staff need to take a detailed history and perform a comprehensive examination of your pet, and the veterinarian needs to make a professional assessment as to whether or not euthanasia is the appropriate choice for your animal, as there may be other options. This can make it even more challenging for you, the caring pet owner, since you are meeting us for the first time, and you have already pondered putting your animal to sleep, and you may not be emotionally prepared to hear the veterinarian tell you it is not quite time to euthanize your pet. Try to remember that veterinarians are animal advocates, and the last thing they want to do is to euthanize a pet for the wrong reasons, especially if there are other options that you, the owner, were unaware of.
Please feel free to call us to answer any additional questions you may have.
Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services: Our hospital is equipped to provide diagnostic and therapeutic services to care for your pets' complete health care needs based on information found on the history and exam. If at any time we are unable to give your pet the best possible care, we can refer you to one of a number of veterinary specialists in the area for further evaluation and treatment. For after hour emergencies, there are several 24 hour emergency hospitals in the greater Sacramento area that we refer to (please see the section on Emergency Care below).
Surgical Services: Our surgical suite has dedicated ventilation, with laminar air flow and HEPA air filtration, which allows us to maintain a cleaner surgical environment. This reduces the chance of your pet developing a peri-operative wound infection. Dr Kirsch has well-trained staff to assist her and her colleagues while they are performing surgery on your pets. We also have access to traveling board-certified surgeons for more complicated elective surgeries such as anal gland removal, and orthopedic surgeries. With planning, these surgeons can perform more specialty surgeries here at Natomas Veterinary Hospital with our doctors administering anesthesia and continuing more personalized client contact.
Anesthesia: Anesthesia is tailored to each individual patient, and your animalís doctor has to consider such factors as your petís species, breed, age, sex, general health, weight, and cardiovascular and metabolic condition. Sometimes your veterinarian will advise pre-anesthetic testing for your pet in an effort to minimize the risks of anesthesia. While under anesthesia, your petís cardiovascular and respiratory status will be monitored with one or more of several types of equipment, which allows your Veterinarian to keep a closer watch over how your animal is doing during the procedure. The specific type of equipment will vary depending on the procedure, and the factors listed above. Most of our anesthetic procedures are done with propofol and isoflurane consistent with the UC Davis Veterinary School Protocols. For older patients, patients with more potential health problems, and for exotics we also have sevoflurane, a more expensive but better good option for these more ďat-riskĒ patients. Pulse-oximeters, blood pressure and respiratory monitors, temperature probes, and electrocardiograms (ECGís) are some of the types of equipment used for this monitoring.
Radiology Services: We have new X-ray equipment that provides high quality radiographs to aid in the diagnosis of many disorders. Our machine can accommodate small and large pets, so we are able to obtain X-ray images of small animals like lizards and birds, as well as large dogs such as St. Bernardís. Elective x-rays are scheduled on a drop-off basis to give us time to get quality images without disrupting other scheduled appointments. In emergency situations, we may have to break out of scheduled appointments to perform X-rays after the clinical assessment of the injured or sick animal. This can assist us in making treatment decisions as soon as possible.
Electrocardiography Services:We provide electrocardiography (ECG) services on-site, as well as consultations with cardiology specialists.
Ultrasound: We have an excellent ultrasound machine that we use routinely in pregnancy exams, cardiac work-ups, abdominal work-ups (including investigations of possible bladder stones), and ultrasound-guided biopsies. Dr. Kirsch has been studying ultrasonography for several years, and has a special interest in this area of medicine. We also have a great crew of referral radiologists who travel to our hospital to further assist with cardiac, abdominal, neck, and orthopedic ultrasound exams, and to consult on other challenging radiological cases.
Laboratory: We have in-house laboratory equipment that allows us to perform a variety of diagnostic tests on your animal. This includes standard serum chemistry tests, serology and hematology tests, urinalysis, canine heartworm and parvovirus tests, feline FELV/FIV tests, and tests to rule out parasites. We also utilize commercial veterinary laboratories for specialized diagnostic tests and consultations. We have the ability to run blood testing before anesthetic procedures for those clients that are interested.
Pharmacy: We maintain an inventory of medicines, medicated shampoos, nutraceuticals, and flea and heartworm preventative products to meet the needs of your pet. However, your pet needs to have an up to date exam, and has to complete any relevant diagnostic tests, before the veterinarian can prescribe or dispense prescription medications. For refills, or for written prescriptions, please phone ahead of time to reduce your waiting time. Our veterinarians try to okay any prescription refills and requests quickly, but if they are in surgery or busy with appointments, you may risk waiting a while by dropping in. Call ahead whenever possible. Thanks!! Veterinarians, unlike some physicians, are not allowed to call in prescriptions out of the state of their licensure. For any online pharmacy prescription requests, we are able to give you a written prescription and you can mail the prescription to the company of your choice.
Dietary Counseling: We offer recommendations about your pet's nutritional needs from birth to adulthood, as their dietary requirements for growth, weight maintenance, and performance change as they mature. We have prescription diets for those patients with special dietary needs.
Behavioral Counseling:Pets can develop a variety of behavioral problems. Dogs typically go through chewing and digging phases as they transition from puppy to adult, but this becomes an issue if they destroy furniture, carpets, yards, etc in the process. Dogs can also start barking excessively or become overly aggressive. Cats can cause trouble if they start scratching furniture or carpets, or if they begin spraying or soiling your house. These behavioral issues can be difficult and frustrating problems to deal with. However, before you give up and assume that there is nothing that can be done to solve your petís apparent behavioral quirks, please call and set up an appointment to have your pet seen by one of our Veterinarians. There is a slight chance that your pet may have an unrecognized medical problem and the ďbehavioral problemĒ is in fact normal behavior for their medical condition. If your pet does have a behavior issue, most often a solution can be achieved using behavioral modification. For some behavioral conditions, medications can also be helpful.
Boarding: We offer pet boarding predominantly for clients whose animals have medical problems, and it may be limited during holidays and other busy times of the year. Please call to discuss your situation, and we will try to accommodate your need. When we can board your animal, you will be able to drop off or pick up your pet during regular business hours Monday through Saturday. We are not staffed to have pets dropped off or picked up on Sundays, but staff will check and feed your animal every day of the week while they are at our facility.
Bathing: We provide bathing and grooming as appropriate to meet the needs of your pet while they are under our care. Cleaning ears, removing matted hair, expressing anal glands, and trimming toe nails are examples of typical medical grooming activities. We may refer you to an animal groomer if your pet simply needs a bath and a haircut to stay clean and healthy looking.
Emergency Care: We treat emergencies during regular office hours. Life and death emergencies will be evaluated and treated before scheduled appointments. Less urgent cases will be seen, but may be have to be worked in between scheduled appointments. If your pet does have an urgent need to be seen, we prefer that you call first to make sure that our Veterinarian is on the premises and that they are not performing surgery. This allows us to be prepared to evaluate and treat your animal. Since we are not open overnight or on Sundays, some emergencies may need to be referred to nearby emergency hospitals. If you have an after hours emergency, and you call our main telephone number, the message on the answering machine will tell you which emergency clinics we recommend that you contact to have your pet evaluated and treated. The message contains the phone numbers of those clinics. Alternately, on our website (on the emergencies page), we have listed the emergency clinics that we recommend you call for after hours emergencies.
Natomas Veterinary Hospital 4551 Gateway Park Blvd, Suite 2 Sacramento, CA 95834 (916) 925-3535
Comprehensive care for dogs, cats, and exotic pets in a friendly, upbeat environment