When Is Surgery Needed for a Cruciate Tear in a Dog

Determining Factors: When Is Surgery Needed for a Cruciate Tear in a Dog?

When Is Surgery Needed for a Cruciate Tear in a Dog?

In dogs, cranial cruciate ligament disease (CrCLD) is a chronic disease marked by the degradation of the cruciate ligament, one of the primary ligaments that supports a dog’s stifle joint (knee). The disease eventually leads to the rupture of the cruciate ligament, which is similar to a person tearing his or her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).

Causes of CrCLD

Cranial cruciate ligament disease has a genetic predilection and is common to certain breeds, but other issues like excessive weight can exacerbate the problem. 50% of dogs that have a ligament tear in one leg will tear the ligament of the other stifle joint within six to twelve months. 

Clinical Signs of CrCLD

Although a chronic disease, the onset of symptoms (primarily lameness) is usually acute. A dog will suddenly hold up his or her leg. This lameness tends to appear worse with exercise and better with rest. 

CrCLD Diagnosis

To diagnose CrCLD, a veterinarian will perform a physical examination of a dog’s joint, which will reveal excessive forward movement of the tibia (called a cranial drawer). X-rays will also be taken to rule out other concerns. X-rays won’t reveal the ruptured ligament, but can show secondary changes, such as osteoarthritis or fluid within the stifle. 

Dog Knee Surgery: Treatments for a Cruciate Tear in a Dog

Dog's Canine x-ray

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)

Most pets require surgical repair following a cruciate rupture. Different techniques are available including lateral fabellar, tibial plateau-leveling osteotomy (TPLO), and tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) surgeries. Regardless of the surgical technique, exercise restriction and rehabilitation with dog physical therapy will be essential to the ultimate success of the pet’s surgery. Given the proper recovery care, most pets are able to return to normal function. 

Factors that Determine if Surgery Is Needed for a Canine Cruciate Tear

Surgery following a cruciate tear is usually the only treatment that enables a pet’s full recovery. There are, however, certain cases when surgery might not be recommended. A veterinarian will consider a long list of factors before recommending a dog for a TPLO procedure or another surgical repair.


For certain breeds (including golden retriever, Rottweiler, Neapolitan mastiff, Newfoundland, Akita, St. Bernard, American Staffordshire terrier, and mastiff), surgery is often inevitable. Larger breeds’ increased weight makes a non-surgical recovery less likely. Also, due to their genetic tendency, 50% of these dogs will tear the ligament of the other knee within six to twelve months. In these cases, attempting to manage CrCLD without surgery can wind up putting more pressure and strain on the other limb, which accelerates the second rupture and leads to the tear of both ligaments. 

Full vs. Partial Tear

Sometimes a dog’s cruciate tear might be only partial. This can be difficult to determine in pets since they’re not undergoing MRI exams as people would. In veterinary medicine, the diagnosis of a full or partial tear can be made by arthroscopy of the stifle but is more frequently estimated based on the palpation of the cranial drawer and clinical signs. 

Meniscal Tear

A piece of cartilage, the meniscus acts as a cushion in the stifle joint. The meniscus can tear at the time of a cruciate rupture or after. Often, it will catch during certain movements, causing additional pain. Patients with meniscal tears seldom regain full use of their legs without surgical correction.

Size and Excessive Weight

Dog Surgery

Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us how they feel following surgery. As a result, deciding which procedure is better for a dog must be based on the observational outcomes of both surgical procedures.

Short-Term Considerations

If large or overweight, a pet’s size can contribute to excessive strain on the joint. “One of the biggest factors I have seen in determining if rehabilitation alone, without surgery, will be successful is the size of the patient,” says Dr. Jessica Pizzillo, DVM, CCRP. “Very few patients over 35 pounds have desirable outcomes without surgery.” 

In addition, trying to help a dog lose weight while recovering from a cruciate rupture is challenging because part of the recovery involves exercise restriction. With surgery, we can fix the dog’s cruciate ligament, work through the normal recovery, and then begin an appropriate diet and exercise program for weight loss. 

Age and Underlying Medical Conditions

Younger dogs with a tear are more likely to develop arthritis over time. As a result, it’s beneficial to fix and avoid future concerns. On the other hand, there are concerns with older dogs undergoing general anesthesia, which a veterinary must conservatively manage. In addition to age factors, underlying medical conditions such as Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism can predispose a pet to ligament rupture, but can also complicate strategies for surgery and anesthesia. 

​Clinical Signs

The most important factor in determining whether surgery is recommended is your pet’s overall condition and the severity of clinical signs and symptoms. “The number one factor that influences surgery is how well the pet is doing,” says Dr. Mark Beerenstrauch, DVM. “If we are trying to avoid a surgery, but a pet is still experiencing pain and discomfort, then we will move from a more conservative approach to a surgical correction.”

Although some pets with a cruciate tear can be managed with exercise restriction, pain medication like anti-inflammatories, and canine rehabilitation (dog physical therapy) and live a normal, active life, it’s the opinion of Dr. Bilicki, DVM, DACVS-SA, Diplomate ACVS, that surgery is the best way to go.

“Surgery is the fastest and most complete way to achieve full function with added benefits. Surgery alleviates inflammation, which causes direct damage to cartilage, and surgery allows the patient to work toward stopping the cycle of disuse and muscle atrophy to start building muscle mass, strength, and endurance as quickly as possible,” Dr. Bilicki says. “In my opinion, the moment we determine a patient has the cruciate disease — whether it is a partial, full, or chronic rupture — surgery is indicated.” 

If your dog suffers a cruciate tear, our team of veterinary professionals will work with you to determine the best course of treatment based on your pet’s individual health and medical concerns.

tta or tplo

TTA or TPLO? Which Surgical Method Is Best for My Dog’s Cruciate Ligament Rupture?

Dog Rehabilitation -TTA or TPLO?

Cranial cruciate ligament disease (CrCLD) is a chronic condition marked by the persistent degradation of a dog’s cranial cruciate ligament. A dog’s cranial cruciate ligament can be compared to a human’s anterior cruciate ligament, as it’s one of the primary ligaments supporting the stifle joint (knee). CrCLD eventually leads to a cruciate tear in a dog, and 50% of dogs with a ruptured ligament will tear the other ligament within the following six to twelve months.

Cranial cruciate ligament disease occurs for several reasons. Certain dog breeds are genetically predisposed to developing the condition, and factors like weight and activity can exacerbate the problem. Early on in the course of the disease, many clinical signs are minor or not noticed at all. When the disease advances or eventually turns into a full tear, a dog will show signs of lameness or suddenly hold up their leg. When the cruciate tears, it’s like a human’s ACL tear in a dog, painful and debilitating. This lameness usually worsens with exercise and seems to improve with rest.

A cranial cruciate rupture in a dog won’t heal on its own, and as a result, most pets require a surgical repair. Several surgical techniques for the condition have been developed including:

  • Lateral Fabellar Suture
  • Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
  • Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)

The two most commonly recommend corrective surgeries are the TPLO and TTA procedures.

The Differences Between TPLO and TTA

Dog's Canine x-ray

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)

The TPLO procedure was developed by Dr. Barclay Slocum in the 1980s. Dr. Slocum noticed that some dogs had an abnormal slope of the knee (tibia), which put added pressure on the ligament and predisposed dogs to developing CrCLD. Instead of fixing the ligament, Dr. Slocum decided it would be better to correct the abnormal slope. His surgical technique resulted in better results than previous surgeries. He patented his technique and the instruments he developed for the surgery, and veterinary surgeons all over the world use his technique today.

The goal of a TPLO surgery is to reduce the angle of the tibia’s slope. Prior to surgery, a veterinary surgeon will measure this angle in order to determine the scope of the surgical slope reduction. During the procedure, the surgeon uses a specially curved saw to make a cut (osteotomy) on the top surface of the tibia. The surgeon then rotates the cut portion of bone to create a more desirable angle. The surgeon will place a stainless-steel bone plate, which holds the two pieces of tibia together, until the osteotomy site heals after about eight to twelve weeks of recovery.

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)

This procedure was developed in Zurich, Switzerland in the early 2000s. TTA uses biomechanical principles to adjust the angle of the patellar tendon. This effectively neutralizes the tibial thrust, which occurs when a dog with cranial cruciate ligament disease bears weight on an affected joint.

Prior to surgery, pre-operative measurements will be taken, using stifle radiographs (x-rays of the knee). Pre-operative measurements are used to determine the size of surgical appliances needed for the patient’s procedure. During surgery, the surgeon performs an osteotomy, a cut in the bone. Using an advancement cage and internal fixation device, the surgeon then moves the tibial crest forward from its original position.

How to Decide between TTA and TPLO

Dog Surgery

Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us how they feel following a surgery. As a result, deciding which procedure is better for a dog must be based on observational outcomes of both surgical procedures.

Short-Term Considerations

TTA can have a potential advantage over TPLO in the immediate post-operative period, as dogs subjectively sometimes appear to be more comfortable and bear more weight because the TTA involves a less invasive osteotomy or cutting of the bone. Full-weight bearing, however, has been shown to be better with a TPLO at six months of age.

Long-Term Considerations

Again subjectively, some surgeons believe that TPLO is better for more active or athletic dogs. Recently published literature reviews, however, were unable to clearly identify a superior surgical procedure, and studies have shown that TPLO and TTA achieve the same level of function by 12 months after the surgery.

Risk of Potential Complications

Surgery complications aren’t common for either procedure, but according to Dr. Mark Beerenstrauch from Pet Health Hospital, DVM, “Complications can occur with any procedure, and vigilant post-operative exercise restriction, as well as following instructions for recommended rehabilitation and exercises will minimize these risks.”

Some potential complications of TPLO and TTA surgery include the following:

  • Post-operative patella luxation
  • Tibia fracture
  • Implant loosening
  • Implant-related infection

Infection of the implant is one of the more common complications associated with these procedures, although implant infection risk is low at 7.4%. If an infection does occur, a dog’s implant would need to be removed. Removal of implants from a TTA surgery can be much more difficult and have a higher risk of bone fracture, compared to the relatively easy removal of a TPLO plate. This is one significant advantage of TPLO over TTA.

Ultimate Procedural Outcomes

Overall, veterinary literature still remains inconclusive regarding the best therapeutic option to treat a cruciate tear in a dog. A dog’s outcome, much like complications, is largely determined by the experience of the surgeon, the quality of post-operative care, and adherence to recommended rehabilitation (dog physical therapy) protocols.

“I tell clients to do the procedure that your surgeon does,” said Dr. Bilicki, DVM, DACVS-SA, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). “They offer that surgical procedure because they’re good at it, and they like the results they achieve.”

Following either surgery, working with a certified canine rehabilitation specialist will ensure your dog is on the right track to regaining mobility. “While studies have not been able to clearly determine which procedure is superior, it has been demonstrated that both procedures have improved outcomes with post-surgical rehabilitation,” said Dr. Jessica Pizzillo, DVM, CCRP.  With dog physical therapy, dogs can achieve the best possible outcomes of TPLO or TTA procedures.

“Kissing Bugs” and Chagas Disease in Dogs

Kissing BugsOver the past few weeks there has been a lot of discussion on the internet about American Trypanosomiasis Parasitic Infection that is brought on by the bite of a parasitic insect known as the “Kissing Bug.” While this disease is far more common in areas like South American, there have been cases of infection reported recently in roughly all of the states in the southern region of the United States. While this is getting widespread attention, it is worth noting that this parasitic infection has actually only been noticed in about 25 human cases since the fifties, and there is speculation that all of those cases were actually a result of travel outside of the US. The bites from the “kissing bug” draw blood and also transfer the parasites into the hosts bloodstream, causing a variety of problems including potential death. While this is certainly news, far less discussion is happening regarding that this type of infection is far more common in dogs in the US. The condition is called Chagas disease, and it is an illness caused by the zoonotic protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, contracted through a variety of manners including a blood transfusion. Once the parasite multiplies and eventually ruptures out into the blood circulation, it spreads to various organs including the brain and heart. Chagas disease is commonly associated with sudden inflammation of the heart muscle. Chagas disease is typically in in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia, California, New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland. Recently there have been cases reported in nearly every state in the southern half of the US. If you find a suspected kissing bug in your home or around your dog’s area, it is important not to kill the insect by squishing it. Instead, trap it in a container while being careful not to be bitten by it, as it is very important for it to be accurately identified by a veterinarian in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

Symptoms of Chagas In Dogs

There are two forms of Chagas disease in dogs: acute and chronic. One of the main problems with detection and treatment is a long asymptomatic period (where no symptoms develop), which can last years in some cases. There is a progressive multiplication of the parasite, eventually leading to the degeneration and inflammation of the heart. This heart issue can eventually cause heart failure and death.

Acute Chagas (dogs younger than 2 most typically)
Exercise intolerance
Difficulty walking
Lymph nodes swelling
Increased heart rate
Congestive heart failure

Chronic Chagas (older dogs typically)
Exercise intolerance
Increased heart rate


Chagas may occur when an insect, such as a kissing bug (Triatominae), bites the dog on the skin or lips and leaves infected feces in the wound. It can also occur when a dog eats feces from an infected animal like an opossum, raccoon, and armadillo.


If you notice symptoms of any kind, immediately visit a veterinarian and ask for an examination, as well as an order of a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, serology and an electrolyte panel — essentially the typical procedure for a suspected parasitic infections.

X-Rays can potentially show Chagas issues, and an echocardiogram may show chamber or wall abnormalities. These types of abnormalities are often seen in sudden or chronic forms of the disease.


Typically, supportive treatment of heart complications (e.g., heart arrythmias) is the main way to treat Chagas, as there is no known cure. Although several drugs have shown some promise, there is no valid associated treatment that reverses the symptoms.

Living and Management

Unfortunately the veterinarian may suggest euthanization as a means of preventing suffering due to the grave prognosis associated with chronic Chagas. Dogs diagnosed with acute Chagas are generally listed as “guarded” meaning that there is a poor prognosis and a general expectation of failure over time.

Pet Breed Specific Care

Pet Health Animal Hospital is a different kind of pet medical facility. We were founded on the idea that if we can prevent an illness or disease in an animal using minimal cost vaccinations and exams, it is better Read more

Las Vegas Veterinarian

In Las Vegas, there are many veterinarians. We feel we are the best choice for your pet, and we feel that if you come by our animal hospital to take a tour and see our facilities, you will feel the same way. However, for those who do not have the time to come by and meet us in person, here are a few reasons that we hope you consider when you are deciding which facility in Las Vegas should provide the medical care for your best friend.

Dr. Beerenstrauch (Dr. B to his patients) has been practicing the art of veterinary care for many years, and is not new to Las Vegas. He worked for many years as the lead veterinarian at another animal hospital in town, and developed a reputation for being one of the most knowledgeable and caring doctors available. When he made the decision to leave that clinic and start his own practice, he began a journey into developing what he feels is the best of the best as far as animal care, putting many of the philosophies of traditional human medical care into practice in his new facility. For nearly a year while the clinic was being constructed, Dr. B hosted a weekly radio show broadcasting from here in Las Vegas involving the care of animals, and over the course of that time had many specialists and visionaries within the animal community on the show as guests to help educate the public on the appropriate care of their pets. The show grew quite popular, but ceased broadcasting once the new facility was opened, due to a lack of available time. Since that point, Dr. B has dedicated his time to creating the Pet Health And Wellness Programs for Dogs and Cats, whereby specific breed and age conditions are considered in order to provide preventive health programs which are followed by pet parents from the time they first adopt their pet to it’s final days. These programs are designed after human health and wellness programs which serve to avoid disease and injury through inexpensive, preventive treatments and vaccinations. The point is to avoid the health issues that are known to be specific for different breeds and animals in order to provide them with healthier and happier lives.

Pet Health Hospital is a different kind of veterinarian in that we do not only concentrate on healing animals when they suffer injuries or health issues, but instead we provide our customers with the plan to prevent the conditions we know effect each breed. The Wellness Programs are mapped out the first time your pet visits us, giving us a blueprint to follow of regular maintenance that will help prevent many known issues. Just like human beings are being provided with ways to improve their health and therefor avoid disease, we apply that same philosophy to pets. The Wellness Programs are of no additional charge, and are simply a series of reminders beyond the simple vaccination schedules that are sent out, giving the pet parent the ability to take charge of keeping their pet healthier.

If you would like more information about our clinic or our Wellness Programs for pets, stop by and say hello.

4 Reasons To Choose Pet Health Animal Hospital As Your Veterinarian In Las Vegas

There are many different reasons to choose one animal hospital in Las Vegas over another, with the most important reasons obviously being convenience in traveling from your home and the experience levels of the veterinarians on staff at the location.  There are many reasons, however,  to choose one veterinarian over another that go far beyond the obvious, and it is for many of these reasons that we feel we should be your choice of animal hospital if you live in the Las Vegas area.  The following list of 4 reasons to choose us over another animal hospital, even if another one is closer to your home:

1. Knowledge of the Las Vegas area, and the special effects on pet health that Las Vegas has.

Las Vegas is a unique city, and even though all cities are unique from a cultural or architectural standpoint, the weather and climate in Las Vegas makes us unique from a health standpoint.  The pethelthanimalhospitalhot temperatures combined with the dry climate, along with the fact that many of our suburban neighborhoods are literally filled with plants that are not native to the Las Vegas area and which are being supported by climate control and landscaping systems in order to survive creates a completely unique ecosystem that is only found here.  From the standpoint of living beings that spend a good amount of time outside and exposed to the elements, Las Vegas has a set of health issues for pets that is all it’s own.  Allergies are completely unique here, and just like humans are effected by allergies to plants and environmental elements, so are animals.  Your pets are breathing the same air that you are, air that is filled with allergens and pollution from cars, and just like you have periods of the year when you feel the effects of allergies, so do your pets.  In addition to these elements, your pets probably spend more time closer to the ground than you do when they are outside going to the bathroom, wandering around your yard, or playing.  Infections that can be produced by organisms living on plants and the ground can have an adverse effect on pet’s health, as their feet, noses, skin and tongues are continually exposed.  You may notice your dog or cat licking their feet or fur more than when you lived in other places of the country, and there is a good chance that this is being caused by irritation to their systems from the climate.  Combine the allergies that may be increased in your pet with dry skin from the heat and you produce animals that have health issues that are very specific to the Las Vegas area.  Our veterinary staff has lived in the Las Vegas area for decades, and has grown accustomed to looking for the potential health risks that are unique to the Las Vegas area as symptoms when your pet feels sick.

ScorpionIn addition to the natural climate of Las Vegas, we also have a unique mix of insects and other small animals.  Interaction from a curious pet in the yard (or even inside your house) can produce stings and bites that cause reactions ranging from pain to being deadly if an allergic reaction happens, poison is injected or blood is lost.  Scorpions and black widow spiders, along with camel spiders, brown recluses, tarantulas and wasps are quite common in areas of Las Vegas, and a curious pet can be stung or bitten by any of these insects quite easily.  When a sting from an insect happens to your pet, they will probably begin exhibiting immediate signs of pain or discomfort, and need to be taken to the veterinarian immediately in order to begin treatment if there is a necessity.  Most times you will not find the insect that has stung your pet, so the level of treatment that is necessary must be assumed to be a high level until they are examined by a veterinarian who knows the local insects and who has seen stings or bites like this one before.  Quick and accurate diagnosis may be critical to saving the life of your pet.  Our veterinary staff is familiar with the local insects and animals in Las Vegas, and understands what to look for in order to make the fast and accurate diagnosis that is crucial in an emergency.

2. We literally wrote the book on pet lifetime care programs.

Dr. B has had years of experience honing his veterinary skills by working in other animal hospitals in the Las Vegas area as well as other areas of the country, and has developed a completely Canine Health - generalunique take on veterinary science and pet care.  His belief that it is more beneficial to the pet as well as the owner to not only understand the benefits of preventative health care for animals, but also to be a guide through the process over the course of your pet’s life will lead to longer lives and healthier situations, ultimately costing the pet owner less money over the lifetime of the pet.  Not only understanding that preventative vaccinations, examinations, checkups and wellness exams will be crucial to your pet leading a happier life, Dr. B put together the “Canine Wellness” and Feline Wellness” programs that are exclusive to Pet Health Animal Hospital.  These programs are free for Pet Health clients, and provide a road map to healthier pets by taking into consideration the breed, age and health factors that are both unique to the animal as well as being know to effect the breed itself as a whole.  By combining these elements into a unique plan that will span the life of the animal, the Pet Health Wellness programs provide pet owners with the understanding and knowledge necessary to get the preventative steps completed at specific times of life. The idea is to have ongoing, low cost maintenance done in an attempt to avoid costly surgeries or treatments that come with ailments that are known to be preventable.  While the attempt to prevent the illnesses in pets might make less money in the long run than the treatment of expensive illnesses, Dr. B believes it is worth it.

3. We are convenient to every area of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas veterinarian

Las Vegas veterinarian

Although it could be argued that there is a closer animal hospital to your home no matter where you live in Las Vegas, we have positioned our clinic to be centralized as much as possible so as to be an option that you would consider.  Our location at 8520 West Desert Inn Road #1 in Las Vegas is within a 30 minute drive from as far north as Nellis Air Force Base (19 miles away) and is less than a 20 minute drive from as far southwest as Mountain’s Edge.  Although the option to go to a closer clinic always exists, we hope that you will consider that we are worth the extra travel time.  Our staff is the most knowledgeable in the city, our facility is modern, clean and fully equipped to do everything from surgery to boarding, and our staff has proven for years that we really do care about your pets.

4. We work with Las Vegas shelters and rescues.

Many shelters and rescues have a favorite animal hospital or veterinarian that they tell people to visit after they adopt an animal.  Many times, that clinic will provide some discount on service or some gift to you as a thank you for adopting from the rescue they are partnered with.  At Pet Health Animal Hospital, we wanted to go further than that and offer a package of free or low cost services to your newly adopted pet, no matter what shelter or rescue you chose.  Our “Adoption Rewards” program is open to anyone who adopts a pet from a Las Vegas shelter or rescue within the first three Adoption Reward Program2months of ownership.  This means that no matter where you adopt your pet from (as long as it is a licensed rescue or shelter) we will provide you with a really great start by making your medical responsibilities as inexpensive as possible.  We even go as far as to pay for your first month pet insurance, so if a medical issue arises you will not have to consider taking that animal back to the rescue because you cannot afford it.  Our goal is to get as many animals rescued as possible in Las Vegas, and reduce the unbelievably large numbers of animals sitting in cages at shelters.  It is our way of giving back to the Las Vegas animal community, so if you adopted a pug from Southern Nevada Pug Rescue or you adopted a pit bull from The Animal Foundation, we have you covered.  Come in and get your gifts.

There are many reasons that people in Las Vegas choose one animal clinic over another.  There are many animal hospitals in our town that have been here for years and are part of a network of clinics that are owned by the same people or companies, making them able to advertise themselves for more than smaller or newer animal hospitals like ourselves.  We are not trying to be the biggest or make the most money.  We are trying to create a new idea in what a veterinarian is and what healthcare for your animals should entail.  We want to create a higher standard for veterinarians and animal clinics to follow because we really do believe that your pets deserve better.  We ask you to choose us as your animal hospital in Las Vegas, and if you do we are sure that you will be convinced.

Live In Las Vegas And Have A Pet? Call Us First!

There are many Las Vegas veterinarians to choose from, all with different specialties and areas of expertise.  The most obvious reason that one Las Vegas resident would choose to bring their pet to a specific veterinarian is proximity to their home or work place, due to the fact that it is easier to make regular trips to a nearby location than it is to drive all the way across town.  The second most important aspect of why you should choose a particular veterinarian is their knowledge of veterinary science and their personality.  A veterinarian who is passionate about their work and truly caring about your pet’s well being is going to provide a much better experience for both you and your pet than one who is simply collecting a paycheck.  While most veterinarians are passionate about their work, we at Pet Health Animal Hospital provide a level of caring and understanding about your pet’s health that is rarely seen in other clinics where money comes first and service comes second.  We care about the well-being of your pet even more than the money you pay for services, and we prove it every day with our “Canine Health” and “Feline Health” programs, in addition to the free services we offer to those who adopt pets from our local shelters and rescues in Las Vegas.

Our “Canine Health” and “Feline Health” programs are maintenance programs designed to keep your pet healthy over the course of their lifetime, and do everything in our power to avoid surgeries and expensive procedures.  The idea behind the programs is to use the knowledge that we have gained over many years of practicing veterinary medicine to keep the pet parent coming back for regular and routine maintenance procedures at specific times.  This type of schedule is specific for your pet’s breed and health, and involves preventative vaccinations, exams and treatments that we know effect your type of pet over time.  By doing everything in our power to avoid the disease of condition that we know effects your pet’s breed, we can avoid the disease itself in many cases.  This translates to far lower costs associated with the lifetime care of your animal, as well as potentially having to make a decision based upon money if your animal is sick.  Our goal is to avoid the expensive procedures by doing ongoing low-cost procedures, keeping your pet healthier and happier over the course of their lifetime.  We don’t make as much money in the long run, but we get to have patients who are healthier….which makes us happy.  The “Adoption Rewards” program that we offer provides free or low cost procedures to those who adopt an animal from a Las Vegas shelter or rescue, giving those animals who may have lacked good veterinary care previous to your finding them a better chance of living a healthier life.  We don’t think you should have to return an animal to a shelter because you find out that it is sick, so instead we make it affordable by giving you many services for free as a thank you for adopting.  Las Vegas shelter pets need a hand, and we want to give it to them.

Because of our dedication to veterinary medicine,  we find that many of our pet parents are willing to drive a little further to visit us.  We appreciate the fact that pet parents have seen our dedication, and are willing to come a little further than they normally would to visit us instead of a close clinic. We thank you for your dedication, and promise that we will continue to provide the best animal medical care in Las Vegas.

What is wellness care and illness prevention in veterinary medicine?

“Pet patients over profits.”

wellness care illness prevention veterinary medicineHealthcare in animals is as important as it is in human beings to pay attention to if long and happy life is to be enjoyed, both on the part of the patient as well as the pet parent. What this statement is referring to is the ongoing need to make decisions that are monetary with regards to the wellbeing of your pet, and the mental pain and stress that accompanies those types of decisions. Although insurance plans for pet medications are available, many people do not take advantage of the protections that are offered by a small monthly payment. In large-scale medical events that require expensive surgeries, treatments, and therapies, the decisions to not treat the animal due to out-of-pocket costs, and the eventual suffering or potential death of the pet are decisions that potentially could have been avoided through the maintaining of a small monthly payment. Unfortunately, not nearly enough people choose to protect themselves in this way, leading to poor health and suffering on the part of their pets.

A new concept in animal healthcare is “pet wellness programs” very much like the ones that are seen with human subjects. In this type of system, expensive treatments and therapies are avoided as much as possible by the leveraging of knowledge bases with regards to different species and breeds and applying this knowledge toward preventing illness and disease instead of simply treating it once it is manifest. Years of veterinary science have created an extensive body of knowledge that reaches far beyond the understanding of the bodies of pets in general, but additionally the specific medical issues that manifest in individual breeds at different points in their lives. Because many of these medical issues can be avoided through preventative maintenance involving screenings, vaccinations, and management programs, the concept of preventing the issues before they begin at a far lower cost than attempting to cure the disease or condition once it has presented itself has continued to grow in popularity over the past few years. Although the concept may be the opposite of the “profit motive” that is present in any business, the embracing of the idea of healing and creating bodies that are healthy and pain-free has been embraced by a growing number of veterinarians across the country. While the obvious desire to make as much money as possible will always be the primary concern for many animal doctors, those who embrace the “patients over profits” motivation are creating programs that are completely unique, and that have not been seen in the past.

Dr. Mark Beerenstrauch began his career in medicine many years ago, born from a love of animals and the desire to provide the best life possible for them. Through years of experience working within the traditional veterinarian clinics of Las Vegas, he began to realize that the concept of illness prevention that he observed being crafted within many large businesses and healthcare companies in order to reduce costs associated with lost time off work and medical treatments in people could be applied in theory and practice to his animal patients. When research as to the viability of a program that would statistically reduce the instances of large-scale treatments through low-cost ongoing maintenance began, Dr. Beerenstrauch found a surprising lack of detailed examples existing anywhere in the country to model his programs from. Literally nobody in the veterinary world was doing it, either due to a motivation of increased profits tied to the more expensive procedures or potentially the lack of understanding of how such a program could be implemented effectively. Dr. Beerenstrauch realized that he would need to do the research and create the programs themselves.

Within the Las Vegas veterinary clinic that is run by Dr. Beerenstrauch (Pet Health Hospital of Las Vegas) two specific programs have been implemented in order to assist pet owners in reducing the costs associated with treatments and keep pets healthier and happier. These have been named the “canine health” and “feline health” programs, and their purpose is to provide an easily followed map of healthcare procedures that should be completed at different stages of each species’ life cycle, starting with birth and ending with death. The generalities of wellness care for each species have been sub-divided into numerous “breed-specific” and “health-status-specific” areas, which have all been structured to provide a guideline of specific wellness-oriented programs that are individualized for the specific animal. When a pet parent arrives with a new pet for the first checkup at Pet Health Hospital, a complimentary assessment and ongoing maintenance plan is provided based upon the general knowledge of the particular animal’s health state, age, breed, and various other factors. If followed, this plan should statistically save pet parents money over time through avoidance of many of the commonly known ailments that the particular breed of animal will face. Of course, every disease cannot be prevented, but by doing everything that veterinary science has learned over the animal’s life which potentially assists in avoiding the disease through optimum health, Dr. Beerenstrauch maintains that over time pet owners will spend far less money on average, and also avoid those hard decisions that may have to be made as far as treatments that are not affordable by the owner. In essence, Pet Health Hospital is implementing a form of pet insurance by simply showing people how to keep their pets healthy.

The innovative wellness programs that have been implemented at Pet Heath Hospital are free of charge and are in place in order to provide an understanding of the specific aspects of healthcare that are unique to a breed by pet owners. Dr. Beerenstrauch believes that by providing an easily understood roadmap, along with an explanation of why routine maintenance is beneficial from the standpoint of a healthy pet as well as a monetary saving to the owner, he can create a body of patients that maintain a healthier life cycle and avoid the potentials of suffering through preventable health maladies that could have been avoided for pennies on the dollar when compared to extensive therapies or surgeries. The motivation of creating both healthier and happier animal patients as well as human owners satisfies the reasons he went into veterinary medicine in the first place. “Patients over profits” is alive and well at Pet Health Hospital, and you can benefit from it by making your first appointment.

Las Vegas Veterinarian


Las Vegas dog and cat veterinarian

Las Vegas is one of the most exciting cities in the world, with thousands of visitors every month as well as millions of permanent residents.  Medical care is necessary for all of these people, and medical care is equally important for their pets.  Luckily, Las Vegas veterinarians like the highly trained staff at Pet Health Hospital make it an easy choice for those who call our city home.  While there are hundreds of veterinarians in Las Vegas all offering the same types of services, Pet Health Hospital has differentiated itself by concentrating on wellness in animals, instead of just treating the illnesses.  What this means is that we are taking a completely unique approach to veterinary medicine, and although prevention does not have the high costs that are associated with surgeries and high-end treatments, we feel that it is in everyone’s best interest to prevent the diseases and injuries that we have the ability to.  This will create happier and healthier patients, as well as happier pet-parents.

What makes our type of veterinary services different than everyone elses? It all starts with our Canine Health and our Feline Health programs, which were created by our founder and lead veterinarian, Dr. Mark Beerenstrauch.  These specialized programs take the very things that veterinarians know about each specific breed of dog and cat, and map out a lifetime care program specifically for that particular pet by considering the breed, age, and many other individual factors.  With this plan in place, it makes it easy for the pet parent to stay on top of the vaccinations, exams and potentially treatments that will keep their particular pet in tip top health.  Instead of taking a blanket approach to veterinary medicine where all animals are treated the same, we take a scientific approach that allows us to plan for all of the potential health problems that your particular pet might face, based upon the type of animal they are.  By preventing common ailments that are breed-specific, we can help our Las Vegas animal population to be significantly healthier that areas where such programs do not exist.  By maintaining better health in our patients, we create a healthier community.

Contact us today to ask about our programs, and allow us to prove to you that all Las Vegas veterinarians are not the same.  Once you experience the difference, we are confident we will be welcoming you to the Pet Health family!

Veterinarian Provides Cancer Warning Signs

VETERINARIAN PROVIDES CANCER WARNING SIGNSNobody 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 checkups are a good way to give your pet a fighting chance through 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 metalization 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 are 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 a 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 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 is 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 the 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.