Canine Wellness

We believe that providing preventive medicine is the best way to keep your dog healthy for years to come. Regular preventive exams will establish a baseline of health, and allow us to detect medical problems early on. During your dog’s wellness exam, we can screen for underlying conditions such as heart murmurs, periodontal disease, abdominal masses, or hormonal imbalances. Our veterinarians will also discuss your pet’s lifestyle and address any questions or concerns you may have about his or her health.

At Foothills, we take client education very seriously. Your dog’s annual or biannual wellness exam is a perfect opportunity to update you on the most current protocols and advancements in veterinary medicine. Each year, the recommendations and standards for core vaccinations are updated, and we are here to help you learn about which vaccines your dog needs to prevent common illnesses and diseases.

We also have a full library of brochures and documents available with helpful information on topics like geriatric care, pain management, nutrition and exercise, weight management, training and behavior problems, dental care, heartworm disease, and parasite control. 


Feline Wellness

We believe that providing preventive medicine is the best way to keep your cat healthy for years to come. Regular preventive exams will establish a baseline of health, and allow us to detect medical problems early on. During your pet’s wellness exam, we can screen for underlying conditions such as heart murmurs, periodontal disease, abdominal masses, or hormonal imbalances. Our veterinarians will also discuss your cat’s lifestyle and address any questions or concerns you may have about his or her health.

At Foothills, we take client education very seriously. Your cat’s annual or biannual wellness exam is a perfect opportunity to update you on the most current protocols and advancements in veterinary medicine. Each year, the recommendations and standards for core vaccinations are updated, and we are here to help you learn about which vaccines your cat needs to prevent common illnesses and diseases.

We also have a full library of brochures and documents available with helpful information on topics like geriatric care, pain management, nutrition and exercise, weight management, behavior problems, dental care, Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Viruses (AIDS), and parasite control. 


Cardiac Care

At Foothills, our veterinarians can treat conditions such as congestive heart failure and hypertension.

Symptoms of Cardiovascular Conditions in Dogs and Cats

Pets with heart disease may have symptoms that seem unrelated to heart conditions including lack of appetite, lethargy, or fainting spells. Some pets may not show any visible signs until discovered during a routine examination. Other signs of cardiovascular problems include:

·       Coughing

·       Weakness

·       Exercise intolerance

·       Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

·       Rapid breathing at rest

·       Elevated heart rate

Diagnosis and Treatment

To obtain a diagnosis of your pet’s condition, we will examine his or her full medical history, and perform diagnostic testing such as blood work evaluation, chest x-rays, and echocardiogram. These tools can help us confirm the presence of an underlying heart problem and assess the severity of the condition. Depending on your pet's condition, we have various treatment options available and can refer to specialists both here in Montana and at university veterinary hospitals throughout the West. To discuss your pet’s cardiac care, plase call Foothills at 406-556-0604.


Dental Care

Preventive dental care is an important part of your pet’s wellness care, and our professional dental treatments will help keep your pet’s teeth clean and prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease. Our veterinarians will perform a preliminary dental examination during your dog’s or cat’s annual or bi-annual wellness exam. If she recommends a comprehensive professional dental exam and cleaning, it will include a thorough cleaning via ultrasonic scaling, along with polishing and probing around each tooth for periodontal pockets. Dental radiographs, extractions, and additional treatments may also be performed if determined to be necessary by your pet’s veterinarian.

In addition to comprehensive dental exams here at Foothills, at-home dental care can prevent plaque and tartar build-up on your pet's teeth, preventing the onset of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a serious infection that can damage your pet’s teeth and gums, and even cause infection and additional health problems. The following symptoms are indicators that your pet may have periodontal disease:

·       Discomfort while chewing

·       Difficulty swallowing

·       Pawing at the mouth

·       Inflamed or bleeding gums

·       Bad breath

At-Home Pet Dental Care

Caring for your pet's teeth at home is an important preventive measure that ensures good oral hygiene. At your pet’s next exam, we can show you how to care for and brush your pet's teeth at home. Our staff can also provide you with recommendations for specialty pet foods and treats that promote good oral health. For more information about at-home dental care or our professional dental care services, call us at 406-556-0604.


Digital Radiology

Digital radiology is an advanced diagnostic imaging tool used to examine your pet’s organs as well as the cardiopulmonary, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and urinary systems. This is a non-invasive procedure that allows our veterinarians to get an in-depth look at the conditions affecting your pet. Our digital radiology suite enables us to locate foreign objects, diagnose fractures and joint abnormalities, screen for abnormalities in the internal organs (such as cancer), and perform dental x-rays.

There are a number of benefits with digital radiology compared to traditional film radiology. Digital x-rays produce a much higher image quality compared to a film x-ray, and the digital technology gives us nearly instant access to your pet’s results. This enables us to diagnose and treat your pet faster, so your pet can return home as quickly as possible. Radiation exposure to your pet is minimized as digital radiology requires far less radiation compared to film x-rays. Digital radiology is also friendly for the environment because there are no chemicals to contaminate water systems.

Digital Dental Radiology

Digital x-rays can also be used to take digital photos of your pet’s teeth and gums during their dental exam. In addition to a comprehensive oral exam, digital dental x-rays can reveal dental diseases that are difficult to detect with an oral exam alone. Digital x-rays give us the ability to examine the anatomy of your pet's teeth, roots, gums, and surrounding bones. With this, our veterinarians can quickly spot and diagnose bone loss or hidden disease that may be present.


Health Certificates

Health Certificates are necessary to obtain before traveling with your pet within or out of the country. It is important to get information on what paperwork your pet will need to have completed well before your travel departure date.

Domestic
If you are planning to travel by plane with your pet you will need to have them examined by your veterinarian in advance, especially if it has been more than a few months since their last health check or if your pet has any health problems. Travel by airplane can pose a health risk to pets so it is important to discuss these matters with your veterinarian preceding travel. Be sure to check with the airline you are using for your travel to see which documents are needed prior to the flight.

International
If you are traveling to a foreign country, you may need to provide a specific international health certificate endorsed by a government-approved veterinarian. The precise requirements for travel vary by country and it is your responsibility as a pet owner to ensure that you meet all the criteria for your chosen destination. Requirements may include written evidence of certain vaccinations, blood tests or anti-parasitic treatment that has been completed within a specific period of time. It may take several days or even weeks to get test results or obtain the correct paperwork so plan well in advance. You may attain the specific requirements from the government website for your destination country. It is also a good idea to ask about any quarantine necessities, especially if your endpoint is an island. 


Humane Euthanasia

All of us at Foothills know how important your pet is to you and your family. Whether your pet has experienced a long-term illness or recent trauma, we are here to help you sort through the various medical options best suited for your family and your pet. We can help you make the decision to provide your companion with a peaceful and dignified end of life.

When a pet’s quality of life is in question, knowing when it is the correct time for euthanasia is one of the most difficult decisions facing a pet owner. The decision to euthanize your pet is an act of love, friendship and selflessness – a gift you give to your loyal companion. Please know that we will stand beside you as you make this decision, answering all of your questions, discussing quality of life issues, and offering guidance so you may make the right decision for your pet and your family.

When it is time to say goodbye to your beloved pet, together with you we will lovingly ensure that your pet’s final journey is gentle, peaceful and compassionate. You will be given a comfortable, private room where you, family members and your pet may spend as much time together as needed. We provide detailed information to you about the process of euthanasia so you will understand the process and will be prepared.

You and members of your family may choose to be present during the euthanasia. After your pet has passed away, you may stay with your pet for as long as you choose. Or if you decide not to be present during the euthanasia, rest assured we will respect and support your decision and treat your pet as we would our own.

We will coordinate cremation for you in accordance with your wishes. It is important to us to walk the final journey with you and your pet and be there for you in every way possible.

Pet Loss

The death of your companion animal may be one of the most significant losses of your life. With this profound loss comes grief and its associated emotional and physical manifestations: sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, helplessness, crying, fatigue, or changes in appetite and sleep patterns. It is important to know that these feelings are normal, and that grieving is a necessary part of the healing process.

The loss of a pet can be especially hard on children and may often be trivialized or overlooked. The ASPCA’s website has advice and resources on how to help children cope with loss of a beloved pet.

Grieving

Grieving is the natural way that your mind and body adjust to a loss and heal your emotional wounds. We strongly encourage you to allow yourself to grieve in a way that gives you the most comfort. Allowing yourself to feel the sadness, anger, anguish, and loss will aid the healing process. Conversely, repressing your feelings may actually prolong your sadness and the time for recovery. During this time you may need the emotional support of family, friends, your veterinarian, and perhaps a grief counselor.

The amount of time required to heal varies considerably, ranging from days to years. Although you may feel that you have finished grieving, feelings of sadness may re-emerge with a holiday, your pet's birthday, or the anniversary of your pet's death. For this reason, some experts suggest that you give yourself, at a minimum, one year to grieve.

Housecall Euthanasia

If you decide you would like to say goodbye to your pet in the privacy of your home, please call our office to make arrangements 406-556-0604.


Microchipping

Our veterinarians highly recommend microchip implantation for all animals. These safe and inexpensive chips dramatically increase the chances of being reunited in the event your pet is lost. At Foothills, we can microchip your dog or cat during their annual exam or another convenient time for you.

What is a Microchip?

A microchip is about the size and shape of a grain of rice, and is placed underneath your pet's skin between the shoulder blades. Microchip implantation takes only a few minutes and is safe for your pet. Each microchip ID is unique and links to your vital contact information such as your name, address, and phone number. Once a microchip is implanted, you register your pet’s information in a national pet recovery database. Animal hospitals and shelters routinely scan found pets for a chip, and contact owners to reunite them with their pets.

Many microchip manufacturers also have support services that are available 24/7 and will actively search for pets as soon as they are reported missing. For more information microchipping and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit the AVMA website. The Pet Microchip Lookup website is another great tool for locating owners of lost pets using your pet’s unique microchip ID. If you have any additional questions about microchipping your pet, please call us today to speak with a staff member 406-556-0604.


Pet Dermatology Care

Skin problems, such as inflammation and infection, can cause excessive scratching which can make your pet miserable. If your pet is suffering from any of the symptoms listed below, please call us today to schedule an exam:

·       Excessive scratching or face rubbing

·       Excessive licking of the feet, legs, or abdomen

·       Localized or generalized hair loss

·       Biting or chewing at the skin

·       Recurring skin infections

·       Dull, greasy, scabby, or smelly coat

·       Chronic anal sac problems

·       Abnormally shaped or frequently cracking nails

Allergies are a common underlying cause of skin problems in dogs and cats. Our veterinarians can diagnose and treat a variety of dermatological conditions such as:

·       Food and contact allergies

·       Allergic reactions

·       Parasites (fleas and mites)

·       Autoimmune-related skin diseases

·       Infectious diseases (bacterial and fungal)

·       Hormonal diseases (like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease)


Pet Nutrition Counseling

The food and treats you feed your pet are essential for maintaining their overall health. As your pet grows older, his or her nutritional needs will begin to change because each life stage requires a specific balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, and carbohydrates. At your pet’s next wellness exam, the Foothills staff can help you choose the food and treats that are right for your dog or cat.

Our staff can review your pet’s age, breed, daily activity level, eating habits, and existing medical conditions to implement a nutrition plan tailored to your pet. Our goal is to help guide you in selecting the best food options for your dog or cat, and our nutritional counseling services and products will help your pet stay in good health.

Prescription Diets

Prescription diets are formulated and designed to meet specific nutritional needs required for certain illnesses and conditions including diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, obesity, arthritis, allergies, pancreatitis, cancers, and many more. We carry Hill’s, Royal Canin, and Purina options.

Weight Management Diets

Weight management diets help with maintaining a lean body weight in order to help your pet live a longer, healthier life. We will help you choose the right foods to help your pet maintain the correct body weight determined by factors based on his or her specific needs.

Pet Nutrition Alliance Resources

The Pet Nutrition Alliance (PNA), which is comprised of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition (AAVN) among other organizations, promotes the importance of nutrition in the health of animals worldwide. The PNA’s website has a wide array of resources to help answer many common questions about pet nutrition and tools to help you manage your pet’s nutrition.


Surgery

At Foothills Veterinary Hospital, we understand that whether routine or emergency, leaving your pet for surgery can be stressful and unnerving for both you and your companion. That’s why you can rely on us to provide quality, compassionate care throughout your pet’s entire stay.

Before Surgery

Your pet will be examined and anesthetics will be hand-selected depending on their breed, age, health, and lifestyle. With your consent, blood tests will also be done before any anesthesia is given to confirm that your pet’s organs are functioning properly and that your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia.

During Surgery

During surgery, we have a highly trained staff member devoted to keeping an eye on your pet’s vitals. Their main priority is monitoring your pet’s blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, respiratory functions, body temperature, and maintaining proper oxygen levels for your pet. Communication is also an important part of the surgery process, and our staff will keep you fully informed about your pet’s surgery, progress, and recovery.

After Surgery

If necessary, our comprehensive pain management plan may include at-home pain medication to keep your dog or cat as comfortable as possible. We are more than happy to walk you through every step and explain everything you need to know for post-surgery care at home.

Our Surgical Procedures

Foothills provides the following surgical procedures for small animals:

General Surgery: General (or soft tissue) surgery is associated with the skin and organs. Soft tissue surgery includes tumor removal, cystotomy, intestinal foreign body removal, splenectomy, spay/neuter, and more.

Orthopedic Surgery: femoral head ostectomy, ACL surgery, uncomplicated fracture repair

Dental Surgery: We perform advanced tooth extractions and oral tumor removal.

Emergency Surgery: Typical emergency surgeries we perform are wound and laceration repair, foreign object removal, splenectomy, and gastric volvulus and dilation correction.

If you have any questions regarding our surgical procedures, please call us at 406-556-0604.


Veterinary Therapeutic Laser

Foothills is happy to offer therapeutic laser treatments for dogs and cats. Therapeutic laser is a safe, noninvasive treatment that does not require anesthesia. Our veterinarians use therapeutic laser to treat a wide range of injuries and illnesses that can have a negative impact on your pet’s health and quality of life. It can also increase your pet’s joint flexibility and relieve joint pain, particularly in senior dogs and cats.

How Does Therapeutic Laser Work?

The therapeutic laser produces a high-intensity beam of light that deeply penetrates tissue without causing damage or a physical incision. A biological response is induced by the laser which leads to reduced pain, reduced inflammation, and reduces the healing and recovery time. Treatment protocols are unique to each patient and condition, and will vary in time and cost. Typically, most pets experience an improvement in their condition within the first few treatments. In addition to other methods of treatment, we can provide therapeutic laser to enhance your pet’s current treatment plan. To learn more about therapeutic laser treatments, please call us at 406-556-0604.


Ultrasound

An ultrasound is a painless, non-invasive, and safe diagnostic tool that allows our veterinarians to visualize the internal organs of your pet. Ultrasound gives our veterinarians a better view of your dog or cat’s liver, spleen, kidneys, lymph nodes, and more. At Foothills, our skilled veterinarians can use ultrasound to diagnose a number of conditions and illnesses quickly so that the appropriate care or treatment can be started right away.

An ultrasound works by using high-frequency sound waves to produce a real-time, three-dimensional image of your pet’s internal organs.  These high-definition images allow our doctors to see how the organs inside of your pet are functioning at the time the ultrasound is performed.

With the help of ultrasound, our doctors can quickly locate tumors, cysts, stones, inflammation and enlarged organs within your pet’s abdomen. Ultrasound can also be used to confirm pregnancy by allowing visualization of the heartbeats of puppies and kittens in utero.

Call us today to find out more information on how our veterinarians utilize ultrasound to help your pet live a longer, happier, and healthier life! 406-556-0604.


Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupuncture may be defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. Each acupuncture point has specific actions when stimulated. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years to treat many ailments. The Chinese also use acupuncture as preventative medicine. Acupuncture is used all around the world, either along or in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of conditions in every species of animal. Clinical research has been conducted showing positive results in the treatment of both animals and humans, and the use of acupuncture is increasing. Acupuncture will not cure every condition, but it can work very well when it is indicated.

For Which Conditions is Acupuncture Indicated?

Acupuncture is indicated for functional problems such as those that involve paralysis, noninfectious inflammation (such as allergies), and pain. For small animals, the following are some of the general conditions which may be treated with acupuncture:

·       Musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis, intervertebral disk disease, or traumatic nerve injury

·       Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma

·       Skin problems such as lick granulomas and allergic dermatitis

·       Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea

·       Selected reproductive problems

For large animals, acupuncture is again commonly used for functional problems. Some of the general conditions where it might be applied are the following:

·       Musculoskeletal problems such as sore backs or downer cow syndrome

·       Neurological problems such as facial paralysis

·       Skin problems such as allergic dermatitis

·       Respiratory problems such as heaves and “bleeders”

·       Gastrointestinal problems such as nonsurgical colic

·       Selected reproductive problems

In addition, regular acupuncture treatment can treat minor sports injuries as they occur and help to keep muscles and tendons resistant to injury. World-class professional and amateur athletes often use acupuncture as a routine part of their training. If your animals are involved in any athletic endeavor, such as racing, jumping, or showing, acupuncture can help them keep in top physical condition.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Although acupuncture has its roots in ancient times before modern scientific methods were available with which to study it, many important studies have been done to indicate how acupuncture works and what physiologic mechanisms are involved in its actions. Using functional MRI (fMRI), to examine 15 different points, the basic tenets of acupuncture have been proven. Those are that acupuncture is based upon the point selected, the method of stimulation, and the duration of stimulation. Stimulation of these points result in specific changes in the central nervous system. It was shown that acupuncture points that have pain relieving properties associated with them tend to activate specific pain-association brainstem regions. The National Institute of Health developed a consensus statement about acupuncture and its efficacy. NIH said that there was compelling evidence that acupuncture was useful in the management of osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal pain.

In western medical terms, acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes. For example, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasm, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid). Although many of acupuncture’s physiological effects have been studied, many more are still unknown. Further research must be conducted to discover all of acupuncture’s effects and its proper uses in veterinary medicine.

Is Acupuncture Painful?

For small animals, the insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. The larger needles necessary for large animals may cause some pain as the needle passes through the skin. In all animals, once the needles are in place, there should be no pain. Most animals become very relaxed and may even become sleepy. Nevertheless, acupuncture treatment may cause some sensation, presumed to be those such as tingles, cramps, or numbness which can occur in humans and which may be uncomfortable to some animals.

Is Acupuncture Safe for Animals?

Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly trained veterinarian. Side effects of acupuncture are rare, but they do exist. An animal’s condition may seem worse for up to 48 hours after a treatment. Other animals become lethargic or sleepy for 24 hours. These effects are an indication that some physiological changes are developing, and they are most often followed by an improvement in the animal’s condition.

How Can My Pet Benefit from Acupuncture?

The success of the treatment will vary according to the skill of the veterinarian, the condition being treated and the number and frequency of acupuncture treatments. The length and frequency of the treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation (dry needle, electroacupuncture, aquapuncture, etc.) that is used by the veterinary acupuncturist. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may need several treatments.

How Safe is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture should never be administered without a proper veterinary medical diagnosis and an ongoing assessment of the patient’s condition by a licensed veterinarian. This is critical because acupuncture is capable of masking pain or other clinical signs and may delay proper veterinary medical diagnosis once treatment has begun. Elimination of pain may lead to increased activity on the part of the animal, thus delaying healing or causing the original condition to worsen.

In general, acupuncture can be effectively combined with most conventional and alternative therapies. Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists have the comprehensive training, knowledge and skill to understand the interactions between different forms of treatment and to interpret the patient’s response to therapy.

The American Veterinary Medical Association considers veterinary acupuncture a valid modality within the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery.

How Should I Choose a Veterinary Acupuncturists for My Pet?

There are two important criteria you should look for in a veterinary acupuncturist:

1.     Your veterinary acupuncturists must be a licensed veterinarian.

2.     Your veterinary acupuncturist should have formal training in the practice of veterinary acupuncture.

In most countries, states, and provinces, veterinary acupuncture is considered a surgical procedure that only licensed veterinarians may legally administer to animals. A veterinarian is in the best position to properly diagnose an animal’s health problem and then to determine whether the animal is likely to benefit from an acupuncture treatment, or whether its problem requires chemical, surgical, or no intervention.

Because of the differences in anatomy, and the potential for harm if the treatments are done incorrectly, only a properly trained veterinarian should perform acupuncture on animals. The proper training for a veterinarian would include an extensive post-doctoral educational program in veterinary acupuncture. The more your veterinarian knows about traditional Chinese philosophies and the western scientific basis for acupuncture the more you can be assured that your animals will be treated properly.  


Veterinary Laboratory

If your pet requires diagnostic testing, our laboratory allows us to thoroughly evaluate his or her health in times of emergency and illness, or during a preventive wellness exam. Our advanced diagnostic equipment allows us to receive your pet's test results quickly so that we can provide fast, comprehensive treatment for your dog or cat.

Our on-site veterinary laboratory features diagnostic testing for the following:

·       CBC (Complete Blood Counts)

·       Blood chemistry panels

·       Urinalysis

·       Fecal testing for intestinal parasites

·       FELV/FIV testing

·       Electrolyte evaluation

·       Cytology of skin and ear samples

If your dog or cat requires specialized testing, we have relationships with excellent independent laboratories that are capable of accurately performing any specialized tests. For more information about our on-site laboratory diagnostic testing, please call us at 406-556-0604.


Veterinary Pharmacy

The in-house pharmacy at Foothills is well-stocked with a wide selection of the leading medications, treatments, and therapeutic diets for your dog or cat. Our in-house pharmacy carries:

·       Prescription medications

·       Flea, tick, and heartworm preventives and treatments

·       Nutritional supplements

·       Prescription diet food

Refilling Your Pet’s Prescription

Our pharmacy makes it easy to refill your pet’s prescription medications! Our knowledgeable staff members are able to provide you with accurate dosing instructions, information about possible product interactions, and any potential side effects that may affect your dog or cat.

You can rely on us for all of your pet’s veterinary pharmaceutical needs, and we guarantee that all medications are stored in optimal conditions to ensure the health and safety of your pet. If you have questions about refilling your pet’s prescription medication, call us today at 406-556-0604.