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Other options for your pets – Specialised services

At Hampton Park Vets, we pride ourselves on offering a complete veterinary service. As well as the routine medical and surgical treatments that you’re probably well aware of, we also offer a range of more specialised services. These provide your pets with other options, so that we can choose the best for your pet as an individual, not just a follow a “standard protocol”. In this blog, we’ll explore some of these newer options!

 

Laser therapy  What is it? 

Laser therapy is a non-invasive treatment. It uses light energy of a specific frequency which allows it to penetrate different depths of the skin. The laser light penetrates the skin giving the desired effects by accelerating the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) within the cells. ATP is what our pets’ cells use for energy. This means that the cells can operate more efficiently, healing faster than they would otherwise be able to do. 

The sessions last 3-20 minutes. No sedation is usually required although your pet may have to wear safety glasses (or “doggles”!). The treatment can be performed multiple times in a day or at particular intervals to maximise the effect. 

How can this treatment benefit your pet?

Laser therapy aims to stimulate cell repair, regenerate nerve tissue and increase the blood supply to specific areas increasing the rate of healing. This can increase the rate of recovery and improve the prognosis following injury. It can dramatically reduce pain and inflammation, and we routinely use it after surgery (e.g. after neutering).

Other conditions that we often find respond to treatment include arthritis and muscle damage, as well as some skin conditions such as inflamed ears (otitis externa).

Are there any risks associated with this treatment?

If you apply laser treatment over the top of a tumour, some studies suggest that it can accelerate the rate at which the tumour grows. Very hot lasers can cause burns - however, we use a “cold laser” that does not heat the tissues and so burns cannot occur.

When used properly, it has no known side effects, and is often much safer than medical management of pain and inflammation with painkillers.

 

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment What is it? 

Platelets are a type of blood cell that causes blood to clot at the site of a wound preventing your pet from continuing to bleed following an injury. They contain a range of growth factors and help to control the formation of new blood vessels in injured areas. 

We can produce PRP by collecting a blood sample from your pet and putting it into a centrifuge. This separates the blood into its different components allowing us to separate the platelet-rich plasma from the remainder. The treatment includes some white blood cells which help to control the immune response and communicate the level of response to pathogens needed. The processed plasma is injected directly into the joint or painful area. This often requires sedation. 

How can PRP be used on your pet?

This treatment has been shown to increase the healing rate of injured tendons and joints. The platelets, when injected into a wounded area, can help with cell migration and proliferation and create new blood supply. These all speed up the rate of healing by creating new cells in a new, less hostile environment encouraging the repair of the joint or even tendon tissue. 

It can be a great alternative to operating in older dogs as there is no anaesthetic needed. It can also be used in conjunction with conventional medications and joint supplements to improve your pet’s welfare without needing to increase the number of drugs - with potential side effects - required to keep them comfortable.

Risks associated with this therapy

As with any injection, there is the risk of transmitting an infection into the body although this risk is relatively low. The joints may swell following the injection too, but this is usually temporary.

PRP is a minimally-invasive technique, and improvements can last as long as a year after only one or two injections, meaning that the risks are very low.

 

Stem cell therapy  What is it? 

Stem cells are generic cells that have not differentiated or become specialised to have a particular function yet. To help manage specific conditions, we can adapt the expressed genetics and behaviour of these cells causing them to act a certain way performing specific roles. This means we can use stem cells to produce new tissues which can replace old, damaged or diseased ones.

How can stem cell therapy be used on your pet?

We use stem cells to help manage patients with severe arthritis. When injected, the stem cells promote the repair of damaged tissues, and some will even transform into new cartilage cells, helping to regenerate the joints. We see improvements after about 3 weeks, and the effects can last as long as 3 years.

Are there any risks associated with this treatment?

Putting any foreign material into the body can be dangerous and risks the chance of rejection by the body. However, because we use your pet’s own stem cells, rejection doesn’t happen! 

There have been one or two cases where stem cell treatments have caused tumours to form, but this is not something that seems to be an issue in dogs and cats being treated for arthritis.

  

What are the benefits of being registered with a veterinary practice that offers these services?

Many of these services require specialist machines and personnel to operate them. The machines are expensive to buy hence why not every practice has them. This means many pets are referred to us for these treatments. 

By registering with us, these brand new, gold-standard treatment options are an immediate option and can be started with no delay compared to if you had to be referred. Being registered with us means we already have access to your pets health notes and history speeding up the process. The sooner procedures are started, the better the prognosis!

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Dental Health for Pets

As people we are recommended to brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day, floss, use a fluoride toothpaste and visit our dentist regularly, to keep our pearly whites in good working order. Do you ever consider why we don’t do the same for our pets? Traditionally pets would see the vet about their teeth only if they had an obvious or serious dental problem. However, it is now recommended that pet’s, like their owners, have a regular dental routine with check-ups.

 

Gum disease is reported to be 5 times more common in dogs than humans. Cats’ dental health is no better with 85% of cats over 3 years old predicted to be suffering from dental disease. In the following article we hope to give you some top tips for keeping your pet’s teeth and mouth in tip top condition.

 

So, why is dental health so important in pets? Firstly, good dental health can help prevent dental disease that may eventually lead to tooth loss. Dental disease is caused by bacteria that start to build up and form an invisible plaque over your pet's teeth every time they eat. Once plaques are present, calculus (visible mineral formation, also known as tartar) can form. Both plaque and calculus will irritate your pet's gums and lead to the development of gum disease. Gum disease starts as mildly inflamed gums but will progressively become more painful and start to affect the teeth and surrounding bone. Eventually dental disease will result in tooth loss.

 

Dental disease can be very painful for pets. The pain may even progress to a stage where they become reluctant to eat and start to lose weight as a result. Another common side effect of dental disease is very smelly breath. The smell in some cases can be so strong it can be smelt without going near their mouth.

 

Advanced dental disease will require veterinary intervention. This will usually involve general anaesthetic to remove the affected teeth and clean the remaining teeth. Removal of teeth, especially such fragile teeth weakened from disease, can be a very tricky and time-consuming procedure. This means general anaesthetic is required for a much longer duration, increasing the costs and risks of the procedure. Removing teeth also presents a very real infection risk since the mouth is impossible to sterilise for surgery.

 

As well as surgery costs dental disease will have increased medical costs. Drugs will be required to provide pain relief as well as treating any infections. As a result, we strongly advocate prevention rather than cure if at all possible!

 

Luckily, there is plenty you can do to help your pets maintain good dental health, starting with tooth brushing. Just like us, our pets should have a regular tooth brushing regime. It is best to start them early to familiarise them with the toothbrush and toothpaste but if you introduce it slowly and carefully, any age animal can learn to tolerate - or even enjoy! - it. Our vets and nurses are happy to help if you need some advice on where to start with introducing toothbrushing. Using a finger brush can really help and these are easily available nowadays, here and at many pet shops. You should always use a toothpaste designed for pets and these come in a variety of flavours. Some pets may prefer some flavours to others so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what suits your pet best.

 

If your pet really won’t tolerate toothbrushing then there are water drops and powders for mixing into food available. Although these won’t be able to replace tooth brushing, they will be better than nothing in pets where tooth brushing is not an option. Similarly, many commercial diets are available that are specifically designed to aid in dental care.

 

Many people opt to offer dental chews to help with dental health. However, it is important to bear in mind that the purpose of these chews is to encourage chewing that promotes dental health. So, if your pet swallows the chew whole then it is unlikely to be effective. Another thing to bear in mind with dental chews is that they can be very calorific. This means that you may need to reduce the amount of food in their meals in order to weight gain if dental chews are provided regularly. Although chewing things like dental chews can be beneficial for dental health, harder objects such as rocks or pebbles should be avoided as these can lead to tooth fractures that may result in tooth loss.

 

Finally, don’t forget to get your pets teeth checked regularly by your vet. This can easily be combined with annual vaccine boosters or even more regularly as required. For many insurance companies, claims on dental treatments will require for your pet's teeth to have been checked regularly by the vet. Early stages of dental disease such as mild gum disease and calculus build up may require a routine scale and polish under general anaesthetic. It is recommended to address these early stages as soon as possible to reduce the time required under anaesthetic and prevent progression of the disease.

 

Overall, dental disease is a serious disease for our cats and dogs but with plenty of options to help control and reverse the disease process. Remember if you have any questions regarding dental health in your pet then do not hesitate to pop in and have a word with one of our vets, you could even book your pet in for their next dental check up with us at the same time.