for your pet
We understand that your pet is a member of your family. As such, you want the best medical care, and you deserve to understand all of the options available to you. We spend time getting to know you and your pet so we can work together to figure out which treatments will work best for your pet’s personality and your lifestyle and budget. We also spend time explaining what is happening and will provide written treatment options for you to take home and discuss with the rest of your family so that the best decision can be made.
When you bring your pet for a wellness exam at AWRC, we will provide a comprehensive examination.
Eyes: We will look into your pet’s eyes with an ophthalmoscope, and will use a lens to examine the retina. The retina provides valuable clues to your pet’s health. If indicated, we can offer further testing when a problem is found.
Ears: We will look into your pet’s ears with an otoscope and exam the ear drum. If it looks like an infection might be present, we can offer testing to determine what type of infection is present and how best to treat it.
Nose: We will check your pet’s sniffer for changes in moisture, architecture, and color that can offer clues to illness elsewhere in the body.
Mouth: We will examine your pet’s teeth, gums, palate, tongue
Lymph node:– We will carefully palpate all your pet’s lymph nodes to see if the immune system might be responding to a threat.
Skin: We will check your pet’s skin from the nose to the tip of the tail. We will make sure that your pet is free of external parasites such as fleas or ticks, and free of infections such as bacteria, yeast, and other fungal diseases. If a problem is found we can offer advanced dermatological testing to find the cause and come up with a solution. We will examine the overall health and moisture of the skin and
Auscultation: We will listen to your pet’s heart so that we can determine the heart rate and rhythm, check for murmurs, and assess pulse quality. We will then listen to the lungs for changes in breath sounds and to assess respiratory rate. If a problem with your pet’s heart is found, we can do a full cardiac workup right here at AWRC. Next, we will listen to your pet’s belly to make sure that there are normal intestinal sounds, known as borborygmi.
Palpation: We will palpate your pet’s abdomen so that we can feel the internal organs and determine if they are normal. We are able to palpate the spleen, liver, kidneys, bladder, and intestines. We will be checking to make sure that no masses are felt and that all the organs are smooth and normal in texture. We will also palpate your pet’s body for masses that may be on the skin or under the skin. If these masses are found, we will be taking measurements of them and recording them in your pet’s medical record in addition to notes on how the mass looks and feels on that day. If a mass in the abdomen is palpated, we will recommend x-rays and ultrasound to evaluate them, and these diagnostics can also be done at AWRC.
We take vaccinations very seriously at AWRC. We work very hard to stay current on recommendations from leaders of the field including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and private holistic research veterinarians such as Dr. Jean Dodds. From all of these organizations come one single truth- we are over-vaccinating our pets. We now know that vaccines are proven to last longer than initially thought and that not every pet is at risk for every disease. We understand that choosing to vaccinate our pets should be based on an individual risk assessment that should be discussed with the pet parent and the veterinarian at each annual exam. You can read more about Dr. Dodd’s research by clicking here:
When vaccinations are indicated, we proudly offer vaccines that are highly purified with minimal or no adjuvant. We have studied and chosen each of the vaccines in our hospital
Many of our “core” vaccinations for dogs and cats are now given every 3 years and titers can be offered as well in lieu of vaccinations in many circumstances. We use Kansas State University for our vaccine titer testing.
Do you have a plan in place if your pet should get lost? A microchip is the easiest way to reunite your pet with you. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, and a syringe is used to inject it underneath the skin, usually in the area between the shoulder blades. The procedure takes just seconds and does not require any sedation. If your pet is picked up, any veterinarian or shelter will scan for a chip first- it is a lifelong ticket home to you. Schedule your appointment today!
Diagnostics & Treatment
When your pet is acutely ill, you need answers now. We offer full in-house lab capabilities including Complete Blood Count, Chemistry and electrolyte panels, thyroid levels, pancreatic enzyme levels, urinalysis, parvo testing, giardia testing, and fecal parasite testing. We also use the 4DX snap test which checks your dog for heartworms and 3 important tick-borne diseases- Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma. For cats, we offer the feline triple snap test to check your kitty for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLv), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and heartworms.
When other specialized testing is indicated, we utilize many additional laboratories all around the country to find answers about your pet.
Cytology and histopathology- What is this bump?
When a skin lump is noted, a needle is used to take cells out of the lump and the material within the needle is sprayed onto a microscope slide. This is called fine needle aspiration. The cells are stained and examined under a microscope. This examination is called cytology. Dr. Pittman is very capable of examining most cytology samples right here at AWRC, giving you answers quickly. Occasionally, she will choose to send out a sample for a pathologist to review.
If something is concerning, surgery to remove the lump may be recommended. After surgery, the lump will then be placed in a jar of formalin and sent to a pathologist for further examination. This is called histopathology. Histopathology can often provide a definitive diagnosis of the mystery lump and help us predict the impact that it will have on the body.
We offer the following testing for dermatological workup:
Skin scraping – A blade is used to gently scrape the skin so that we may look for mites such as demodex or scabies that may be living on the skin or within the hair follicles.
Skin cytology – a piece of clear tape is used to lift skin cells and hair off the surface of the skin. The cells and hair are examined microscopically to determine their level of health and also to look for the presence of yeast, bacteria, or parasites such as lice.
Fungal culture – Hairs are plucked or brushed from the skin and placed on a dermatophyte test medium to check for the growth of ringworm. Growth is allowed over 2 weeks and then microscopic examination of the growth is performed to identify the fungus.
Ear cytology – A cotton swab is used to take a sample of the ear canal and smeared onto a microscope slide. The cells are stained and examined for the presence of yeast and bacteria.
We offer the following testing for eyes:
Tonometry – A tool called a tonovet is used to check the pressure of the eye. A high pressure would be indicative of glaucoma, and a low pressure is indicative of uveitis (inflammation).
Shirmer tear test – a small strip of paper is placed within the lower lid of the eye and a measurement is taken to understand if tear production is normal for a specified amount of time
Flourescein stain test – a drop of colored liquid is placed in the eye and flushed out. If a corneal scratch or ulcer is present, it will take up the colored liquid and allow us to visualize how deep and wide the defect is.
An ophthalmoscope will be used to examine the cornea, lens, and, with the addition of an indirect viewing lens, examination of the retina and its vessels. Pupillary light responses will also be assessed.
Digital x-ray imaging of the thorax (chest) will allow us to view the size and shape of the heart and pulmonary vessels, look for masses in the lungs or near the heart, look for lymph node enlargement within the chest, check for pulmonary edema or effusion, and evaluate the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus.
Blood Pressure – Just like for a person, a small cuff is applied to the patient, usually around the tail or the leg and doppler is used to determine the systemic blood pressure.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) – This test is used to check for rhythm disturbances. Small alligator clips are applied to the pet and a machine records the heartbeats and rhythm, usually over a period of about 2 minutes. The results are sent to a cardiologist for review.
Echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. We are able to measure the thickness of the heart muscle and the diameter of the chambers. We can examine the valves of the heart and assess blood flow using color flow doppler. We will also calculate the fractional shortening, a measurement of how well the heart is functioning. Common diseases diagnosed with echocardiography include Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, chronic valvular diseases, and endocarditis (infection of the heart valves). With this knowledge, along with the other components of the overall heart workup, we will be able to tailor a treatment plan for your pet right here at AWRC.
Our state of the art Idexx digital x-ray system allows us to take images of your pet with 40% less radiation to the patient than conventional systems. Because it is digital, we are able to take fewer x-rays, and we are not exposing our patients or staff to chemicals previously used in x-ray development. Our staff is highly trained in how to protect themselves and their patients from extraneous radiation. We are able to accurately collimate the image area to avoid exposure to adjacent tissues.
Ultrasound – Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. High-frequency sound waves are transmitted from the probe through a small amount of gel and into the body. The probe collects the sounds that bounce back and a computer then uses those sound waves to create an image. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation, thus there is no radiation exposure to the patient. Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs. Most patients do not need to be sedated for the procedure making ultrasound a very safe and effective diagnostic tool. With our ultrasound, we are able to examine the abdomen and heart, and will be adding musculoskeletal imaging later in the year.
AWRC offers a unique blood test panel that detects inflammation and markers for cancer in canines. This test can provide valuable information about the health status of the pet before clinical signs of the disease are observed. If cancer is suspected, there is also a Biomarker screen that can aid in the diagnostic workup and also in therapeutic monitoring. The two tests can be supported with a canine Vitamin D test. Sufficient levels of Vitamin D are critical for assuring immune system health. The Cancer screen test is recommended for all pets who are aging. Early detection is the key to survival for pets as with humans when fighting most cancers.
For cats, we offer Feline-specific Haptoglobin test for the objective determination of systemic inflammation. It is used to detect hidden inflammatory disease and monitor treatment and recovery. There is additionally a Feline Biomarker test for suspected cancer; it is also useful for the differential diagnosis of intestinal lymphoma and inflammatory bowel disease when intestinal biopsies are not desired or cannot be performed.
A rehabilitation exam is more comprehensive than an exam performed in a general checkup. Although a thorough general examination is also done, additional features of a rehab exam include a comprehensive neurological and orthopedic exam. Dr. Pittman will palpate each joint carefully for signs of soft tissue injury or arthritis and then measure the range of motion. She will also palpate all the major muscle groups and measure their girth to determine if certain muscles are weaker than others. Smaller muscles may indicate neurological denervation of muscle or muscle loss if the pet has been shifting weight to the other side of the body to avoid a painful joint. A gait analysis is also done. Finally, a fitness test can be done to determine where your pet needs to improve in order to function better. Once the examination is complete, a home exercise program is made to target your pet’s specific problem areas.
If you want to learn more about rehabilitation exams, click below:
Surgery & Hospital Care
When your pet is sick, it is important to receive care from someone you trust. We will get your pet’s treatment started immediately so he can be zooming around your house in no time. We offer dedicated dog and cat hospitals, so that each species experiences less stress. Because we do not routinely board animals, our hospital wards are quiet and very clean. We incorporate many methods to reduce stress and ensure that patients are exposed to natural sunlight, as we believe strongly that this helps the healing process. We give them opportunities outside of their cage throughout the day as well as opportunities to visit with their families. Our staff is highly trained in emergency and critical care medicine and can care for even very complicated illnesses. Because we do not have staff overnight, if we feel that your pet needs round the clock intensive care, we will refer you to a trusted overnight ICU.
Whether it is time for a routine spay or neuter or a more urgent and unexpected situation such as a foreign body removal, we can perform most soft tissue surgeries right here at AWRC. For more complicated procedures and for all orthopedic procedures, we will refer you to a trusted veterinary partner.
We offer a well-stocked integrative pharmacy including Traditional Chinese herbs, Western herbals, homeopathics, topicals, whole food supplements, neutraceuticals, and conventional medications.
Did you know that many online pharmacies carry counterfeit products? We are proud to partner with Vetsource, a trusted online pharmacy that will ship your pet’s medications directly to your door. Simply place your request by using the link on our website under the Vetsource tab. Dr. Pittman will approve your request, and your prescription will be on its way to you, saving you a trip to our office.
A healthy mouth is an important part of your pet’s overall health and longevity. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums and travel to vital organs such as the heart and kidneys. Routine professional dental care is an important part of your pet’s health and wellness, just as it is for you. Once your pet’s teeth have been cleaned, we will work with you to develop a home dental health plan that is right for you and your pet so you can help maintain those pearly whites! Our dental procedures are scheduled on surgery days, and we use the same intensive monitoring protocols and care that we do for any surgery patient. Take charge of your pet’s dental health today!
Weight Loss Program
Pet obesity is a leading cause of health problems in our companions. Obesity causes added stress on the joints, creates inflammation in the body, and can lead to multiple metabolic and endocrine diseases. If your pet has put on a few extra pounds, we will perform a comprehensive examination on your pet and then work with you to create a healthy diet plan and start on an exercise regimen. The underwater treadmill is a valuable tool. It will boost metabolism and increase cardiovascular strength and endurance. Walking in the water takes the stress off the joints, allowing your pet to exercise without restriction or pain. We will develop fun custom exercises to help your pet improve strength and balance. Losing the weight and getting healthy again increases your pet’s chance of a long and healthy life with you.
Senior pets have a special place in our hearts here at AWRC. As our pets age, their needs change. They require more frequent checkups and routine lab screening tests to detect disease in the body. It is our mission to improve the quality of life for our senior patients through nutrition, advice on supplements, exercise, and TLC. When you schedule a senior health exam, we do a full rehabilitation exam to look for painful areas, tight muscles, and joint problems. We can recommend bloodwork that will screen for common diseases in aging pets. We will recommend treatment options based on your pet’s individual needs at the current life stage so we can keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible.
Service Dog Program
Anyone who has worked with or lived with a service dog can testify that they are truly special. At AWRC, we recognize how hard they work and that they have unique needs. The physical and emotional demands of a service animal are significant. We recommend twice yearly checkups and massages on these wonderful companions to ensure that they are comfortable performing their day to day duties with their people.
For police, military, and search and rescue dogs, we thank you for your service! Please ask a team member about a special discount to say thank you for your daily sacrifices.