Health Maintenance Services

Internal MedicineInternal Medicine

To best protect your pet's health and overall well-being, the medical team at St. Francis' Pet Hospital offers a broad range of veterinary services. While our focus is on disease prevention and wellness care, you can also rely on our skilled, compassionate staff when your pet is sick. To that end, an important part of our practice is the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of diseases that can affect your pet's internal organs and body systems.

Our experienced veterinarians, supported by our advanced diagnostic technology, have expertise in diagnosing and treating complex internal medicine cases such as kidney, heart, respiratory, immune-mediated and endocrine diseases.

Allergies and Skin Problems in Dogs and Cats

Allergies are quite common in dogs of all breeds and backgrounds, typically due to fleas, but can also be the result of food or an inhaled irritant like dust or pollen. Most allergies appear after the pet is six months of age, with the majority of affected dogs over age two. The most common symptom associated with allergies is itching of the skin, either localized or generalized. Other symptoms include respiratory distress (coughing, sneezing and wheezing) or digestive problems causing vomiting, flatulence, or diarrhea.

Flea allergy is the most common allergy in cats. A normal cat experiences only minor skin irritation at the site of the bite. The flea-allergic cat, on the other hand, has a severe, itch-producing reaction when the flea's saliva is deposited in the skin. Just one bite causes such intense itching that the cat may severely scratch or chew itself, leading to hair loss and open sores or scabs on the skin. The area most commonly involved is over the rump or base of the tail.

It is important to be able to identify the first signs and symptoms of allergies and dermatological conditions. These include:

  • Scratching, licking, chewing or biting the skin, feet and ears.
  • Red, raised, scaly areas on the skin
  • Bumps, crusts or pus filled vesicles on the skin
  • Increased skin pigmentation
  • Thickened skin
  • Loss of hair
  • Salivary staining (brown color)
  • Head shaking

If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, please make an appointment to have him or her seen by one of our veterinarians at St. Francis' Pet Hospital. We will evaluate your pet, determine the most effective method of treatment, and explain how you can prevent future problems. If left untreated, allergic reactions and skin conditions can become serious medical concerns.

Pet Nutrition and DietYour Pet's Nutrition

Proper nutrition, a balanced diet and fresh, clean water are essential ingredients for your pet's overall good health. As your pet's caregiver, nutrition is the most significant health variable that you control.

Feeding your pet the highest-quality food you can afford is one of the best ways you can contribute to his or her health and vitality. Although the differences between premium and budget varieties may not be apparent on their nutrition labels, they are in the quality of the ingredients. Both may contain the same amount of protein but be very different when it comes to digestibility and nutritional value. Making the best nutritional choices for your dog or cat not only affects general health, but will also help improve the quality and length of your pet's life.

To support your efforts, the doctors at St. Francis' Pet Hospital perform a thorough body condition evaluation during every physical examination, and give recommendations based on what we see. We can also provide you important information on proper serving size, nutrient needs, and feeding strategies for your individual pet. We will also help you navigate pet food claims so you can make the most informed choices.

Prescription Diets

Some pets have serious nutritional challenges or chronic conditions that benefit from a special diet. When that is the case, we may recommend a special prescription diet. Making this change can have a significant positive impact on your pet's overall health and well-being.

Prescription diets benefit medical conditions, such as liver disease, bladder and kidney disease, digestive problems, renal failure, food allergies, diabetes, and more. St. Francis' Pet Hospital carries a diverse inventory of prescription foods and high-quality nutritional products. If your pet requires a prescription diet we do not carry, we can easily order it for you.

Glaucoma Prevention

Glaucoma is a common condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eye increases, resulting in damage to the optic nerve, followed by loss of vision and blindness. There are two types of glaucoma. Primary, or chronic, glaucoma is hereditary or develops as your pet ages. Secondary, or acute, glaucoma develops as the result of an injury or illness. Because secondary glaucoma can progress rapidly, it is considered an emergency situation.

Symptoms of glaucoma to look for include:

  • Redness in the eye
  • Tearing or discharge
  • Eye sensitivity to light
  • Pain
  • Cloudy-looking eye
  • Bulging eyeball

The experienced veterinarians at St. Francis' Pet Hospital recommend your pet receive a routine glaucoma exam as part of his or her regular wellness care. The exam is not only an effective screening measure for chronic and acute glaucoma, it can also help set a baseline measurement of your pet's normal intraocular pressure (IOP). Establishing an IOP baseline is important because the normal measurement can vary between species, breeds, and even individual pets.

This is a noninvasive, simple procedure that should not cause your pet any pain or discomfort. We apply a mild anesthetic eye-drop to ensure your pet's comfort during the exam.

Behavior CounselingBehavior Counseling

Even with the right training and lots of attention and love, your dog or cat can develop bad habits or unwanted behaviors. Please don't make the mistake of believing you and your family must live with these problems or worse, consider giving up your pet.

The staff at St. Francis' Pet Hospital offers behavior counseling for many of your pet's problems, including inappropriate urination or defecation, urine marking, aggression, nipping and biting, separation anxiety, inappropriate chewing and barking, digging, chewing, and introduction of new pets into the household.

Causes of behavior problems can be environmental, such as a schedule change or introduction of a new baby or pet; learned, as a result of unintentional positive reinforcement; or genetic. Furthermore, any painful disease or condition, or degenerative changes associated with aging, can cause or contribute to behavior problems.

For example, a pet that is fearful of children may become more reactive, irritable, and aggressive as conditions such as dental problems, arthritis, or an infection make him or her more uncomfortable or less mobile. Addressing the underlying medical problem or providing pain relief, along with behavior modification techniques, can often resolve some of these problems.

Our assessment begins with your pet's clinical history and a thorough medical examination. Before beginning behavior therapy, any medical problems that have been diagnosed will be treated. Dr. Parell has a Bachelor's in Animal Behavior, and can also refer to trusted local trainers to help with these issues.

Laser Therapy

Reducing pain and promoting healing is one of our medical team's top priorities. To that end, we have invested in a class IV therapeutic laser, which we use on our patients following surgery or an injury and to help manage a range of chronic and acute conditions.

Laser therapy is a painless, FDA-approved medical procedure that uses low-level lasers to stimulate the natural healing capabilities of the body's cells. This form of laser therapy is effective at promoting healing on a cellular level, as well as decreasing inflammation after surgery or injury, or in areas of the body affected by chronic illnesses such as arthritis or acute conditions such as otitis. It can also be used to increase joint mobility and relieve aches and pains common to geriatric pets.

During each treatment the energy from the laser increases circulation, drawing water, oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. In addition, it can accelerate tissue repair and cell growth, improve circulation and nerve function, reduce scar tissue formation and help the immune system fend off infection. Laser therapy causes no adverse effects on healthy cells.

As the injured area returns to normal, function is restored and pain is relieved, allowing your pet to quickly return to his or her normal activities.

Laser TherapyWhat Conditions Does Laser Therapy Treat?

Wound healing, including:

  • Post-operative surgical incisions
  • Contaminated or infected wounds
  • Burns
  • Snake bites

Skin conditions, including:

  • Dermatitis
  • Cat bite abscesses
  • Eczema
  • Ulcerated or non-ulcerated eosinophilic granulomas
  • Frostbite
  • Panniculitis (subcutaneous inflammation)
  • Pododermatitis (inflammation of skin on feet),
  • Pyoderma (pus in the skin)
  • Seborrhea (dandruff)

Pain caused by musculoskeletal disorders such as:

  • Cruciate ligament injury
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of motor control
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Post-operative fracture repair
  • Degenerative joint disease

What You and Your Pet Can Expect

Pets typically do not need to be sedated for laser therapy treatments and the experience is usually pleasant and comforting. Most pets do not need to have their fur clipped.

Improvement is sometimes seen after the first treatment; however, most pets require several treatments to achieve maximum benefits. Generally, 4-8 treatments produce the best results. The length and frequency of treatments varies with your pet's condition. Your veterinarian at St. Francis' Pet Hospital will recommend a laser treatment plan specific to your pet's condition.

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