Why your dog kicks his back legs when you are scratching his sides or belly.

why do dogs scratch during a belly rubEveryone who has ever owned a dog is familiar with it, and yet every time your dog does it you still laugh.  When you scratch or rub your dog’s sides or belly, you will hit certain spots that make his or her back legs start kicking.  It seems so comical to watch your dog kicking their hind legs like crazy while you give them a belly rub, but did you know that there is a scientific reason that it happens? It is an involuntary reflex that is built into their instincts, just like it is your involuntary reflex to pull you hand away from a flame as soon as pain starts.  Your dog’s reflex is based upon self-preservation, just like yours is.

When your dog kicks their back legs during a belly rub, it is because you are triggering their brain to react to remove the source of the tickling sensation, because in nature this may be a tick, a flea or a dangerous parasite.  Veterinarian opinions on the reflex have been published in magazines like Popular Science, where noted veterinarians attribute the reflex to the same kinds of triggers that cause humans to pull their hand away from pain, even before they realize it.  If a person’s brain was to wait until the thought process realized that something is painful and potentially dangerous, then the damage has already been done.  Brains are wired to react even before the conscious mind realizes what is going on in certain dangerous situations, just like your eyes automatically closing when you hear a loud noise.  In dogs, the tickling sensation triggers their reaction to remove the source of the tickling, because it is usually something trying to harm the animal.

Many veterinarians use the scratch reflex to test for neurological issues in dogs, as when they stop reacting in this way it may illustrate neurological damage.  Very much in the same way that your doctor tests your reflexes using a rubber hammer on your knee, your veterinarian may scratch your dog’s sides or belly during an exam, looking for the kicking reaction.

So now you know.

Choosing the best Las Vegas veterinarian

las vegas

As a clinic that offers veterinarian services to the Las Vegas general public, one of the questions that is continually asked of the staff and doctors of Pet Health Hospital is “how do I choose the best veterinarian in Las Vegas?” While this question may seem easier for us to answer than you would expect (that answer being “we are the best veterinarian in Las Vegas,”) of course we want to consider all of the aspects that are going to be working together over the course of your pet’s life, all of which will play a role in answering the question for you.  Of course, the very first element to consider is Las Vegas itself, and the layout of the city with regards to your proximity to your veterinarian.  Las Vegas is a city that grew in different areas which were linked together by highways after they had already grown, and this can create issues with regards to traffic.  Unlike other cities, a veterinarian office that is physically within only a few miles of your home might take a significantly long period of time to travel to, due to the nature of the traffic on the roads and highways themselves.  The best way to decide if a veterinarian office is convenient for you is to actually make the drive to the office you have chosen, in order to see if there are traffic issues that might make you hesitant to take your pet to the veterinarian for routine exams and treatments.  Make the drive during high traffic times like rush hour, and see how long it takes to get there.  If you feel that the driving time is going to create inconvenience on your part, and you may be hesitant to take your pet in to see the veterinarian on a regular basis because of this inconvenience, then it may be better to choose a veterinarian office closer to your Las Vegas home, or one that is a faster drive on the highway.  This should not be the ultimate deciding factor in your decision, of course, but it will probably begin to play a role in the amount of times you are willing to take your pet to see the doctor.  You would be surprised at how many times people will wait to take their pets in for an exam until too much time has passed and an illness has taken hold, simply because they couldn’t make the time to get the pet into the car and drive to the vet.  Another factor in this decision is going to be the operating hours of the veterinarian office themselves.  Are they open at times that are going to provide you with an ability to take your pet to see them outside of your work hours.  Most people will hesitate to take time off work in order to take their pet to the veterinarian, because of fear of being scrutinized of for loss of vacation time.  It is therefore very important to find a veterinarian in Las Vegas that is open at times when you are not at work.  Another consideration is the amount of time they are able to accept emergency cases, if at all.  Many veterinarians are not equipped to take an emergency case at all, and the ones that are equipped will not usually be open 24 hours.  With that said, you will also need to find an emergency veterinarian within a few minutes of your home in order to take your pet there in the case of an emergency.  You would be amazed at how few emergencies involving pets happen during regular business hours, and in emergency times every moment counts.  This is why the emergency veterinarian that you choose should be the most convenient in proximity to your home, but the regular veterinarian you choose does not necessarily have to be so close, as long as you are willing to take the extra time.

Another important aspect of deciding on the right Las Vegas veterinarian for you is the clinic itself.  Is the staff friendly and helpful? Is the location clean and bright? Does it feel like a doctor’s office or does it feel like a kennel? Your veterinarian is a doctor for your pet, and as a doctor they should present themselves and their location as a medical facility.  When you call does the phone ring without being answered? Does the staff seem accommodating to your issues, and are they able to offer immediate help if necessary? All of these questions should be considered when choosing the best veterinarian, as they are going to be part of your ongoing interaction with the facility.  When you call or bring your pet into the facility in order to be examined, do you feel as though this is something that you would rather not be doing? If the answer is yes and there is something about the facility or the staff that has made you feel that way, then there is a very good chance that you will begin putting off visits in the future, which is disadvantageous to your pet’s care.  Anything that makes you feel that you would rather not be doing this is going to potentially make you hesitate to bring your pet into the office in the future.  Since regular checkups and care are the best methods for keeping your pet healthy, it is crucial that you not feel uncomfortable coming to the office.

Does the veterinarian or head technician give you the impression that your pet’s health is their main concern? Keep in mind that a veterinarian is a business, just like a doctor is a business.  Although making money is the goal of any business, a doctor or medical professional should not be making decisions about care based upon creating more profits for the business.  Unfortunately the regulations that govern the actions of human doctors are rarely applied to veterinarians and therefore there are many more that are “profit driven” than there should be.  If you get the impression that your veterinarian is trying to “upsell” you constantly on items that you and your pet do not need, then you may be realizing that the veterinarian is not putting the health and well being of your pet first.  At Pet Health Hospital, we have gone as far as to create our “wellness programs” which specifically concentrate on the regular and routine maintenance that will potentially assist in the avoidance of more costly surgeries and treatments.  This is good for the pet owner as it reduces costs associated with care as well as the potential heartache of having to make decisions on expensive treatments based on the ability to afford them, when they could have been avoided with some routine and inexpensive ongoing vaccinations and checkups.  Although we want to make money just like other veterinarians do, we would rather make less and have your pet lead a longer and happier life than to make more by not providing the education to our patients on how to avoid the expensive treatments.  We have seen too many people make the decision to put a pet down rather than pay for treatments that are hard to bear, and we do everything in our power to never have that choice need to be made by our patients.  The way to do that is by keeping them healthy.

Another consideration as far as choosing the best veterinarian in Las Vegas is the prices that it costs to use them.  The cheapest option is not always the best, as the ability to offer “bargain basement” prices usually comes with lesser care, of less experience.  Although lower prices are always a good thing on the surface, the experience level of the lead veterinarian and the staff, as well as the costs of the facility itself, are going to play into the decision due to the fact that lesser care is not the goal.  A concerned pet parent wants the best care that they can afford for their animals, and if paying a little extra so that the doctor can spend more time concentrating on their case instead of rushing off to another patient is going to keep your pet healthier.  One of the traits of a good doctor is attention to detail, and being rushed from patient to patient reduces the ability of the doctor to concentrate on those minute details that might catch illnesses earlier, crete better health plans or make your pet’s life better.

Does the veterinarian follow up? Many veterinarians in Las Vegas simply treat their patients then have the staff follow up to make sure that everything is going according to plan, if they follow up at all.  Pet Health Hospital provides a personal follow up from the doctor or involved staff member who was treating the animal when they came into the office.  This involvement in the process even past the point of prescribing medicine or treatment is one of the characteristics of any good doctor or veterinarian, as it allows the doctor themselves to discuss the follow up with the patients and get a sense as far as if it is going according to plan or not.  This personal interaction is what you would want for your family members that are humans, and you should expect no less from your veterinarian with regards to our pets.

Does the veterinarian office have access to the latest equipment and advances in veterinary medicine?  Just like human medicine, veterinarians need to keep up with the latest advancements in the treatments of the illnesses of their patients, as well as the knowledge on how to keep them healthy.  This will extend to the equipment of the facility itself being new and well maintained, as well as the staff being knowledgeable on how to use it.  Does the veterinarian need to send you elsewhere to get procedures and exams that are beyond their capacities? While this is naturally going to be the case when treating something very specific that can be better handled in a facility that is dedicated to that single thing, the more routine aspects of pet medicine should be able to be handled in house.  This will extend to minor or routine surgeries, dentals, vaccinations and potentially some therapies.  You are going to be more comfortable if the veterinarian that you have grown to trust is the one also performing the surgery, so it is important to inquire if this is something that the veterinarian handles in house or refers to others.

With all of the discussion as far as choosing the “best” veterinarian in Las Vegas, it is a personal choice of who you are most comfortable with.  If that particular veterinarian is not available, are you comfortable with the next person in line who can treat your pet? These choices generally will come from referrals or convenience and then be solidified by “the way you feel about them,” and most time this gut instinct is going to make a good choice for you.  We consider ourselves to be the best veterinarian and animal hospital in Las Vegas, and we welcome you to visit us to allow us to prove it to you.

Veterinarian Provides Cancer Warning Signs

cancer in petsNobody ever wants to hear that their pet has cancer, and one of the best methods of swaying the odds in your pet’s favor and helping them to have a better chance of survival is to catch it as early as possible.  Regular check ups are a good way to give your pet a fighting chance through an early detection, but an exam once a year will still give the disease far too long to progress.  The best method for early detection of cancer is to pro-actively look for warning signs, and if you find anything that appears out of the ordinary to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.  The types of cancer that animals are susceptible to are the same kinds that affect human beings, the difference being that the rate of metastization is far faster in animals than is generally seen in humans.  Here are the top ten warning signs to look for in your pet that potentially could help in an early diagnosis of cancer.

  1. Odors that are unusual or overly strong.  Any foul or extra strong odors coming from your pet’s mouth, anus or nose could potentially be due to tumors growing in the area.
  2. Lumpy skin, on the top or underneath.  Rub your pet with your hands regularly looking for any lumps or bumps.  Cancerous tumors grow very quickly, so any new lumps that you find on your pet should be checked out by your veterinarian immediately.  If there is a discharge or blood in the area, you should book your appointment as soon as possible.  It is especially important to check your pet behind their ears or on their face, as lumps in these areas are especially important to watch for.  Lumps on pet’s bodies is not always a cancerous situation, but any lumps that form have the potential to be cancerous and need to be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid them growing.
  3. Losing weight.  Any sudden weight loss should trigger a visit to the veterinarian for a check up, as sudden weight loss should never happen during the course of a normal lifespan of a pet.  Gradual weight loss should only happen if the pet has been put on a diet, or the food they have been eating has less fat content.  Either way, unless you are trying to make your pet lose weight any changes should be checked out as soon as possible.
  4. Loss of appetite.  Pets will have days when they are not hungry, but any appetite loss that happens lasting more than a day is usually a sign of illness of some kind.  Cancer is a potential illness that will sometimes cause appetite loss, but even if it is not cancer, the fact that the pet is not eating should be checked into by a veterinarian because there is generally illness at the root of the cause.
  5. Being lethargic.  Many dogs and cats will spend extended times sleeping or simply laying around, but if you notice changes to the amount of time they typically sleep or play then you will want to see a veterinarian to make sure that illness is not causing their lethargic state.
  6. Coughing or shortness of breath.  Lung cancer is common in dogs and cats, so any increase in the amount of coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath that you notice may be an early sign of cancer.  A veterinarian appointment should be made to have their lungs examined.
  7. Changes in behavior.  If your dog or cat has changed in the way they interact with you, the way they walk (limping or hopping,) struggling to get out of bed, snapping at you or growling, then they might be in pain.  Although animals are very good at masking when they are in pain, paying careful and close attention to changes in their behavior can detect illnesses like cancer earlier.
  8. Open wounds or sores.  If your pet has a sore or a wound that is taking longer than usual to heal or has any strange characteristics like oozing or infection, there may be an underlying illness like cancer that is the cause.  Sores and wounds should be checked by a veterinarian immediately.
  9. Diarrhea or vomiting.  Either of these symptoms is caused by an underlying problem, and both can dehydrate your pet quickly and be potentially fatal.  If you notice vomiting or diarrhea take them to a veterinarian immediately.  If you notice a bloated abdomen or distention of the pet’s belly, you should also visit a veterinarian immediately as well.
  10. Paleness of gums.  If your pet’s gums or tongue become pale, it us generally a symptom of blood loss.  Any time this happens there is usually an underlying cause that needs to be addressed immediately by a veterinarian as blood loss can be fatal within minutes or hours if not treated.  It is wise to become familiar with the look and color of your pet’s mouth, so that you will notice immediately if a paleness starts to happen.  Cancer is one of many illnesses that causes paleness of gums.

If you notice any of the above symptoms, or any changes in the usual actions or personality of your pet, it is a wise idea to take them to the veterinarian to be checked out as soon as possible.  Catching illnesses and diseases like cancer as early as possible gives a better chance of survival and recovery, and can extend the life of your friend.  A little checking by a veterinarian can go a long way.  If you think that your pet is displaying any of the signs discussed here, or acting in a way that is unusual, contact our office as soon as possible to make an appointment.

Follow Your Veterinarian’s Suggestions

shutterstock_150549749Following veterinarian’s suggestions are the best way to keep your dog or cat healthy.  During visits to the veterinarian, your pet will usually get some vaccinations or a check up, but there will probably also be some advice given to the pet owner that is intended to keep the pet healthy and happy.  One of the issues that causes many problems with pet health is the people not following the instructions.  A good example is controlling the weight of your dog or cat, because it is not healthy for them to be overweight.  Veterinarians will go as far as prescribed diets and weight management plans in order to help animals shed the pounds, all in the name of reducing stress on the pet’s joints, helping with heart and liver health, and avoiding injuries and illnesses that being overweight contribute to.  Once the pet and the owner are at home, however, many times the diet and feeding amounts go out the window because the animal begs for food.  The compassion of the pet owner gets the best of them, and they start feeding treats to the pet of human food, giving them “just a little more” to eat at mealtimes, or mixing in “better tasting” food if the pet seems to not like the flavor of the reduced calorie diets.  Even though it seems as though you are being good to your pet, this is actually bad for them in the long run, and is not aiding them in being healthy and happy.  The short term happiness of the owner giving treats to their friend compromises the long term goals of weight loss for health reasons.

What you need to understand as a pet owner is that you know better than your pet does what is best for them, and your veterinarian is giving you plans on how to best help your pet for their own good.  Your dog or cat is always going to beg for food, and it is your responsibility as the parent to make them stick to their diet.  This type of mentality goes with everything that is prescribed by a veterinarian, none of which the pet is going to do willingly.  If treats did not taste good, the animal would not beg for them.  It is  a rare occasion where a pet will beg for medications as pills are generally not the best tasting things, but as the human you must keep the pet on the plan that the veterinarian has mapped out for their eventual better health.

Veterinarians can only create the plans to better health that pets need in order to live happy lives.  The failures of these plans are usually because the human parent deviates from the course because the pet wants it that way.  The best way for you to show love for your pet is to follow the veterinarian’s advice, and not give in to the habits that put them at risk…..even if they seem to want it that way.

The New Breed Of Las Vegas Veterinarian

shutterstock_138904226Many people ask the question “What makes one veterinarian in Las Vegas better than another?” The answer is actually far more simple than you would expect.  Most veterinarians offer the same services, exams, treatments, dentals, surgeries, vaccinations and medicines, but the philosophy behind the practice is generally the way to decipher what makes one veterinarian a better fit for you than another.  It all boils down to the veterinary staff and theri approach to the services that they are offering the public.

A veterinarian is a doctor for animals, and as a doctor he or she should always realize that they are in the business of healing the body and keeping the patient as healthy as possible.  One of the negative aspects of many veterinarians is that they realize that by treating only the illnesses and injuries, while not concentrating on providing the knowledge to pet owners about how to avoid those very illnesses and injuries, they will make more money.  It is far cheaper to take a few steps to avoid a preventable illness than it is to treat the illness once it has manifest itself, and although a doctor should be concentrating on keeping his patients healthy even if it ultimately makes him less money, that thought process sometimes gets lost in the pursuit of business and profits.  Providing an ongoing maintenance program that is designed to educate pet owners about the specific and low cost things that they should be doing at different times in their pet’s life goes against the concept of putting profits before patients, as it will generally earn far less money for the practice over time than charging for high cost treatments and surgeries.  This is the thought process that Pet Health Hospital was founded upon, putting the health and well being of the patients over profits for the clinic.

The best veterinarian is going to be convenient to you (which ensures that you will bring your pet in to the veterinarian for regular checkups and vaccinations) as well as being full service.  This means that the clinic will be fully staffed, clean and welcoming, as well as providing the majority of services that are typically provided by a veterinary office.  The extra features that make one veterinarian better than another is their dedication to providing the best treatment plans, education and health programs to your pet that are available.  The best veterinarians are going to want your pet to be healthy, over an above all else.  Pet Health Hospital is that kind of veterinarian, and we sincerely hope that we can be your choice for veterinary services in Las Vegas.

How to choose a veterinarian in Las Vegas

Las Vegas veterinarian

Choosing a Las Vegas veterinarian? Elvis thinks that Pet Health Hospital is top notch!

Anyone who is new to the Las Vegas area who is looking to find a new veterinarian for their pet is faced with an overwhelming amount of choices.  When asked the question “how do you choose a veterinarian in Las Vegas” the answer should be one that provides the following:

After asking friends who they recommend, visit the veterinary office in person.  Taking someone at their word is never a good idea, as the person who you have asked for a suggestion may have simply chosen the veterinarian that is closest to their house, or who is the cheapest.  If you are looking to make the choice that is best for you and your pet, it is always a good idea to make a list of the veterinary clinics that have been recommended by people you believe care for their animals in the same way you do, then visiting them in person.  Ask to take a tour of the clinic, and to speak to the lead veterinarian in person about what makes their clinic different and better than others.  If you feel comfortable that this is the best veterinary clinic for your animal, then book an initial visit.

Is the veterinary office clean and professional? A veterinarian is a doctor for your pets, so judge them in the same ways that you would if you were choosing a doctor for yourself.  If the office is not clean and professional, with a staff that is courteous and concerned about your pet, then choose a different veterinarian.

Convenience is always a concern, and should be taken into consideration if it is going to make you visit the veterinarian less often because it is too far away.  Choose a clinic that is convenient enough to your home to make the trips regularly, not only when your pet is sick or in an emergency.  Pet care is best when routine maintenance is performed, so make sure that the veterinarian you choose is not someone so far away that you would not make the drive regularly.  Additionally, request the address and phone numbers of the suggested emergency veterinary location.  If the clinic that is serving as your regular veterinarian does not keep 24 hour times, then you need to know who they suggest you see if an emergency takes place when they are closed.

Does the veterinarian seem to care? A veterinarian is a doctor, and should care about the health and well being of your pet above all else.  Talk to them and get a sense as far as their priorities, it will help you make a good choice.  There are many, many veterinarians in Las Vegas, and we want to be your first choice.