Our goal is to diagnose and treat the root cause of an issue early and when possible, avoid issues all together through discussion and proactive care. This is best for your pet, keeping them happy and healthy over the longest period of time possible. It is better for the client/owner because it is usually the most cost effective approach over the life of your pet. At Companion Animal Hospital we have a multitude of different tests and other diagnostic options here on site, available at a moment’s notice. We treat every pet as an individual and tailor the preventive care program specifically for your pet’s needs. You will not be “just a number” at our hospital! The preventive program typically includes:
The most important part of preventive care is the regular, very thorough, nose to tail Comprehensive Physical Examination with one of our veterinarians. We recommend all pets get Comprehensive Physical Examinations twice per year regardless of age. The number of examinations the doctor recommends for your pet per year may vary based on age and health conditions.
At these exams, the doctor will examine your pet’s eyes, ears, mouth, teeth and gums. Our doctor will feel your pet’s lymph nodes, listen to the heart for abnormal sounds or rhythm, and listen to the lungs. The doctor will palpate (feel) your pet’s abdomen for masses and discomfort, check the skin for any growths, external parasites, or other skin conditions. Another very important part of the examination is the client perspective! We recommend you come prepared to describe your pet’s current condition in detail, complete with any questions you might have. If your pet is exhibiting any lameness or signs of discomfort, a complete orthopedic and neurological exam may be performed.
You will also see one of our Technicians for 10-15 minutes to discuss your pet’s lifestyle (e.g. time spent outdoors, activities, environment, boarding, grooming and potential contact with other animals). This will help us recommend the best vaccination and parasite prevention protocol tailored to your pet’s unique needs, which may change year to year.
As dogs and cats age, they tend to develop more health issues similar to humans, but at a faster rate. Our goal at Companion Animal Hospital, is to identify those problems early and provide a treatment plan to manage or cure those problems. To do this, we recommend a Comprehensive Physical Examination for senior pets every six months. By examining our seniors more frequently we have a better chance of identifying and treating problems earlier. To help us identify problems which may not be readily apparent on physical examination we recommend all senior pets have bloodwork and urinalysis. This bloodwork evaluates your pet’s liver, kidneys, pancreas, electrolytes, protein levels, helps identify diabetes and assesses red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It’s like an internal physical exam. A urinalysis gives us an earlier indication of kidney disease to complete the health picture. If we identify problems on the physical examination we may also recommend chest or abdominal x-rays, blood pressure, or EKG (electrocardiogram). In addition, thyroid levels are tested in cats for early detection in seniors.
At our hospital, we know the importance of our household rabbits and small pocket pet friends. Our doctors treat rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, hedgehogs and chinchillas. These wonderful little friends are often times a child’s first pet and therefore are very important in teaching the correct ways to care for our special friends over their lifetime. This is a big responsibility for the parent that we understand and take very seriously. We have a significant part to play in helping the parent get this right the first time!
We encourage annual physical examinations for exotic pets. Most of the problems we see are the result of lack of knowledge regarding housing or feeding of these unique pets. Our goal is for each owner to fully understand the care their pet requires. We recommend spaying and neutering rabbits and can perform other needed surgeries for exotics such as bladder stone removals, tumor removals, and dental work to name a few.
Another important part of our preventive care program is vaccinating your pet to protect them from infectious diseases. At Companion Animal Hospital we believe in customizing your pet’s vaccination program to address the diseases your pet may have exposure to, based on his/her lifestyle. For vaccination to be effective your petmust be healthy therefore we always start with a comprehensive physical before administering any vaccines. Many low cost vaccine clinics skip this step! It is not uncommon for us to delay a vaccination due to a finding during a pre-vaccine exam.Here at Companion Animal Hospital, we take advantage of the latest technology in vaccine manufacturing by utilizing recombinant distemper vaccines for dogs and recombinant rabies vaccines for cats. We have done extensive research on the subject and feel they are the best vaccination option available today. If you have any questions or concerns regarding vaccination, our doctors will be happy to discuss this with you during your visit.
We believe regular screening of your pets for parasites and the diseases they carry is an important part of the preventive care program. An annual intestinal parasite exam checks for Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms, Tapeworms, Coccidia, and Giardia. These parasites can significantly impact your pet’s health and some can be transmitted to humans! We encourage you to bring in a fresh sample of your pet’s feces at the time of examination or anytime you have a concern. For dogs (and some cats), it is very important to be screened annually for heartworm disease Dogs are screened for this disease with a blood test. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, left untreated heartworms are fatal.
Companion Animal Hospital is happy to provide nutritional consultations. As part of our preventive care program we carry Science Diet Prescription Diets. Prescription Diets are not just designed to meet your pet’s nutritional needs but contain ingredients to help the most common disorders of dogs (Gastro-intestinal problems, Overweight tendencies, Osteoarthritis, Skin disease, Diabetes, and Urinary problems, etc.). These diets are prescribed by our doctors as part of your pet’s tailor made program when indicated.
Obesity is becoming more common in our pet population. Experts estimate 25% of dogs and cats are overweight. Obesity can contribute to joint disease, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and reduce life expectancy. If weight is a concern we can help with prescription weight loss diets by Science Diet and help identify ways you can increase your pet’s activity.
We also carry Science Diet Healthy Advantage diets specifically designed to provide optimal nutrition for the otherwise healthy pet. They have diets for both dogs and cats for all stages of your pet’s life and we have them in stock! We recommend these for your healthy pet(s) to help you make sure they have the proper nutrition. We know how confusing it can be to shop for pet food in a store. We recommend the Hill’s Science Diet products (both prescription and non-prescription) whenever we can because they have refined and in fact defined the concept of what great pet nutrition is for generations. Many of the standards in this industry we have today are a direct result of Hill’s and their scientific approach to these often complex issues. Hill’s is one of the few companies who do food trials with every diet they bring out before it comes to market for sale. That means they go the extra step to feed their diets for 6 months to insure pets actually do well on them! Just meeting the (much lower) AAFCO standards is not enough for Hill’s.
At Companion Animal Hospital, we offer the Avid® FriendChip™ Identification System. A microchip is a permanent way of identifying your pet. We chose Avid because they are by far the most popular chip used in the United States, so there is a very good chance that anyone scanning your pet will be able to identify the Avid FriendChipT. That is not the case with all brands! If your pet will be traveling outside of the country we may recommend a different chip depending upon where the travel will take them.
We implant the microchip under the skin and once your contact information is registered with Avid, your dog or cat can be traced back to you. We have a scanner that can detect and read microchips and we are happy to scan any found pet at no charge. Many shelters have scanners so if your lost pet is brought to one of those facilities you can be reunited.
When a pet is sick or injured, we always start with a thorough history and physical examination. This gives our doctors a lot of information about what might be wrong with your pet, but sometimes we need a bit more. Diagnostics can help us confirm what we suspect based on the physical examination or may help us find out what is wrong with a pet whose physical examination is normal. Following the physical examination, our doctors may recommend one or more of the following tests:
Bloodwork is a frequently recommended diagnostic tool typically run in house to assist in the diagnosis of sick pets and in the early identification of hidden illnesses in pets who otherwise appear healthy. We also recommend bloodwork for our patients undergoing anesthesia to minimize anesthetic risk due to undetected conditions. This helps us to provide them with the safest anesthetic experience we can by making any needed adjustments to their anesthesia, pain medications, or fluids, or even postponing a procedure if necessary. Bloodwork helps us to identify infection, anemia, diabetes, liver and kidney disease, problems with hydration, electrolyte disturbances, and potential clotting problems. Many of these conditions may not become apparent in how our pets act and feel until they have become significantly advanced. Early identification allows us to more effectively treat or manage these conditions to keep your pet happier and feeling healthy for as long as possible! This is true not only for our geriatric patients, but also in our young puppies or kittens, when we may first uncover a congenital abnormality on routine preanesthetic bloodwork prior to neutering. Hopefully, we find your pet’s bloodwork to be within normal limits. This allows us to establish a valuable baseline to which we can refer later in life to detect changes or problems.
The Urinalysis gives us information about kidney and bladder infection, diabetes, kidney and liver disease bladder cancers and other lower urinary tract problems. The Urinalysis also helps give more complete information on our senior friends. We also look at the concentration of the urine to make sure the kidneys are working properly. If we feel we need more information, we may send the urine to an outside Laboratory for further analysis or culture.
We utilize our digital radiograph (x-ray) machine daily for such diverse conditions as evaluating the heart and lungs for pets with heart murmurs, cough or breathing difficulties; evaluating bones for fractures, arthritis, or tumors; looking in the abdomen for ingested foreign objects, masses, bladder stones; or even evaluating puppies or kittens in pregnant pets. Most pets do not need sedation to be x-rayed but there are times when we may recommend it, especially in nervous or painful pets. X-rays can provide vital and nearly immediate information. Digital images are much clearer and have more detail than traditional hard copy films. We can manipulate images to view areas of interest more closely with magnification. We can measure heart size or other objects on our images with a built in scale. Additionally, copies of digital radiographs can be sent with owners on a CD and can easily be transmitted to specialists for review.
An electrocardiogram (also known as an EKG or ECG) is a way for us to monitor the electrical activity of the heart as it beats. The EKG is a short and painless test we run in house. We have the flexibility to evaluate EKG’s here or send them electronically to be evaluated by a board certified cardiologist. The cardiologist can use their expertise to help our veterinarians make a customized Treatment Plan for the patient and decide what medications will be most helpful for your pet’s condition.
We may recommend an EKG after hearing an abnormally slow, fast, or irregular heart rhythm on your pet, or to screen for less obvious problems in a senior pet or a pet about to undergo an anesthetic procedure. An EKG helps us better ensure that the heart is healthy enough for anesthesia, and may guide us in the treatment of certain heart disorders, improving our patient’s length and quality of life.
We measure blood pressure in animals similarly to how blood pressure is measured in people. We use a blood pressure cuff and a pressure measurement gauge but unlike in people we use a special device called a “doppler” to amplify the sound of the pet’s pulse. Often we may need to shave a small patch of hair to hear the pulse accurately. Measuring blood pressure is especially important in pets with heart or kidney disease and in cats who may have primary hypertension or thyroid disease. Blood pressure measurement is also an important part of anesthesia monitoring. We do this routinely at our hospital.
Glaucoma is an increased pressure in the eye. It may be caused by cataracts, inflammation, or systemic diseases. Glaucoma can be very painful and if uncontrolled can cause permanent blindness. When measuring the eye pressure, we first numb your pet’s eyes so they do not feel the touch of the measurement device to the cornea. If Glaucoma is detected early it can often be managed with a combination of medications.
Pets with allergies have been on the rise for many years now. The rise is similar to humans over the last 20 years or so. Here at Companion Animal Hospital, we have the ability to do Allergy Testing and very often can have a big effect, helping with your pet’s allergies.
Dogs and cats with skin problems may have an underlying allergy to fleas, an ingredient in their diet, or to something in the environment (tree pollen, grasses, weeds, molds, or even dust mites). After ruling out other causes of skin problems, our veterinarians may recommend a hypoallergenic diet trial or blood allergy testing for environmental allergies. The purpose of blood allergy testing is not only to find out what your pet is allergic to, but to develop a desensitization program that can help control the clinical signs. This process can take some perseverance but the benefits can be significant, allowing your pet to live much more comfortably in many cases.
At Companion Animal Hospital we have special equipment that helps us make sure your pet receives optimal care, even in the face of an emergency. We can provide Constant Rate Infusions of fluids or medications using pumps like the one shown. This pump precisely regulates the amount of fluid or medication your pet receives and gives an audible warning if the flow has stopped or the infusion is complete.
We know that having a pet anesthetized for a procedure or surgery can make people nervous. Here at Companion Animal Hospital we use many devices and the most current protocols to make Anesthesia as safe and comfortable as it can possibly be. We use very safe Isoflurane or Sevoflurane gas anesthetics and utilize monitoring devices such as our Pulse Oximeter and Blood Pressure monitors to make sure your pet has optimal oxygen levels and heart rate throughout the procedure. All of our anesthetic patients have an intravenous (IV) catheter in place to allow a quick access for emergency drugs if needed and to supply needed hydration during their procedure. In addition, a veterinary technician is dedicated to monitoring your pet’s vital systems at all times during the procedure. Just as in the human hospitals we utilize a patient warming system to continuously circulate warmth around your pet to prevent hypothermia. Keeping anesthetized patients warm allows for a smoother, quicker anesthetic recovery. We also have a special device to quickly heat blankets for our patients as they wake up. Your pet has someone with him/her at all times until they are awake to maintain their safety and comfort them if they are anxious. One more thing, all of our anesthesia patients recovering have a real human (person) sitting with them until they have awakened (see below).
Did you know that monitoring your pet immediately after anesthesia is just as important as monitoring during the procedure itself? As your pet recovers, one of our trained staff members, a TLC nurse, will sit with your pet until he or she is awake and calm. We continue monitoring your pet’s vital signs, to ensure their breathing, oxygen level, blood pressure, and heart rate remain in healthy ranges. We continuously assess their comfort, administering additional pain or anxiety medications as necessary. Just as we would want for our own pets, your pet is gently reassured as they awaken to make sure their recovery is as smooth and pleasant as possible. We find TLC nursing to be a great benefit to our patients, awaking calm and comfortable in most cases, substantially different than the patients waking up alone.
We have a dedicated surgical suite for our surgical patients. This helps to minimize infection and enables us to significantly control the surgery environment and eliminate unnecessary risk factors. We have a heated table and utilize our patient warming system to maintain your pet’s temperature while under anesthesia. Our veterinarians are highly skilled soft tissue surgeons. They perform many different types of surgeries ranging from spays and neuters to growth removals, abdominal surgery, and wound repair. Depending on the type of surgery we may also recommend referral to a specialty surgery center or someone who we know has a special interest and high skill level in a specific area or surgery. Elective procedures are normally performed on Tuesdays and Thursdays but you could see surgery being done almost any time here, as need dictates.
Neuter and Spay surgeries are the most common examples of elective surgeries. We perform these on a regular basis, usually on Tuesday and Thursday. Here at our hospital, we do these surgeries in the exact same manner, with the same protocols and to the same standards as any other anesthetic procedure we do. We take the same precautions and use the same equipment and prescribe pain and other medicines in the same safe way that we routinely perform every procedure.(see Anesthesiology above)
With elective surgeries (spay & neuters in particular) there is a long history in the profession of discounting to promote population control. We too have discounted our services to this end. However, we are not willing to compromise our standards of practice and thereby potentially the safety of our patients in order to try to compete with a lower price! We at the companion Animal Hospital practice at a high level of up to date/current medicine. Typically there is a wide range of practice standards in any market. The problem is elective surgeries/procedures are sometimes price shopped by clients trying to get the best “deal”. When clients shop these procedures they can find some significant pricing differences which leads to the obvious question of “Why is there a difference in your pricing from ABC Veterinarian? Don’t all veterinarians practice to the same standards?”
It is our experience that not all veterinarians practice to the same standards and it can be very difficult toascertain the differences on the telephone. That is why we come out and tell you what we do during anesthesia, talk about our pain medication philosophy and offer tours of our facilities as a normal course of business. We want you to know what goes on at our hospital. We want you to know our standards of care and the significant lengths we go through to keep your pet(s) safe during an Elective Surgery/Procedure or any other procedure.
We strongly suggest you question anyone with a substantially lower price on these services. Please see our For Your Information piece titled Consumer Guide to Elective Surgery for questions to ask when calling other veterinary hospitals. “Everything’s included” may not be what you think it is.
Here at Companion Animal Hospital we will continue to charge a fair price for what we do and therefore continue to provide what we believe is the best overall value to our patients/clients, safely. That’s what our clients want and have come to expect from us. We think most people have this same expectation when they can know the differences. We believe the best type owner is the well educated owner. They tend to make the best decisions for their pets in their situation.
The veterinarians at Companion Animal Hospital place the utmost importance on the comfort of your pet. We are proud to have been pioneers in Northern Michigan of the current generation of pain management over the last 10 years (our profession has come a VERY long way in that time!!!). Our doctors were the first in our region to be part of the I.V.A.P.M. the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, the leading pain management organization in our country and perhaps the world. We pride ourselves in being proactive in managing your pet’s pain, whether it is related to a single event (such as a surgery), or is a chronic condition (like an aging pet with arthritis). We provide individualized protocols for your pet’s individual needs!
Our surgical patients receive individualized pain management protocols that may include pain-relieving preoperative medications, a variety of injectable pain medications during the procedure itself, local anesthesia at the surgical site (e.g. for declawing and extraction of teeth), and injectable or oral post-operative pain medications. Protocols can vary dramatically depending on a patient’s age and overall health, organ function, and the nature of the procedure being done.
Although an animal does not necessarily have to be elderly to experience chronic pain, we are very sensitive to detecting subtle clues that may be evidence of joint problems, particularly in our aging pets. A pet in pain often does not let us know in a way we might expect. In fact, our pets are very good at concealing any sign of pain or weakness (instinctually). Whimpering, whining, and crying out are actually rather uncommon. Instead we often find an animal is simply less active, avoids situations like going up and down stairs or jumping into the car, is slower to rise, seems a little stiff, is less playful, sleeps more, may pant more, and may be more irritable or restless. We also may be able to isolate painful areas on physical exam, and may recommend radiographs (x-rays) or other diagnostics to better determine the cause and best treatment. Often a multi-facetted approach to pain management gives the most positive results.
Pain management commonly involves oral medications given either regularly or on an as-needed basis, but certain natural or supplemental products, or combinations of the above may be used. Weight management, special foods, changes in exercise or routine, and changes to your pet’s environment may also be helpful. We also have a relatively new laser treatment available that treats inflammatory conditions, including arthritis and back pain and helps relieve pain and stimulate healing.
People tend to be familiar with joint problems in dogs (like hip dysplasia in large breeds), but did you know other animals, such as cats and rabbits, also can develop arthritis? A decrease in activity, trouble getting in and out of the litter box leading to house soiling, and no longer jumping onto furniture or counters as your pet commonly used to do may indicate underlying joint pain. We have multiple ways to manage these conditions in our non-canine companions as well!
Laser therapy is a surgery free, drug free and noninvasive treatment to reduce pain, reduce inflammation and increase speed of healing. Our therapeutic laser uses a beam of laser light to deeply penetrate injured and inflamed tissues. There, it is absorbed by damaged cells and used to stimulate cells to promote healing, reduce inflammatory compounds, increase pain-reducing compounds, and block certain pain pathways. Laser therapy is often used for both new and chronic joint and muscle injuries (i.e. arthritis, back pain), but also can assist in wound healing, reduce pain and speed healing after surgery, and even reduce inflammation of internal organs associated with certain disease conditions.
Therapeutic protocols are tailored to your pet’s specific needs, and often involve a series of treatments typically performed by a technician. Treatments are painless – your pet experiences a gentle and soothing warmth – and generally take only minutes. Most patients will notice improvements within 4-10 treatments. Laser therapy has been scientifically proven to be successful as a sole or additional treatment in many situations and conditions. Laser treatments may also enable the reduction of some drugs used for some conditions. Our veterinarians and technicians are happy to discuss this promising option with you further if you think your pet may be a candidate for therapeutic laser.
Dental health is very important for pets not only to eat but to communicate, grasp things, and explore their environment. Left untreated, dental disease can progress and lead to major health issues! Here at Companion Animal Hospital, we have taken a special interest in dental issues and dentistry from the very beginning. It is the single largest issue affecting some 80% of dogs over 2 years old and it IS PREVENTABLE! Our doctors have dedicated a great deal of time and continuing education into diagnosing and solving dental issues for your pet(s).
We utilize an ultrasonic scaler to remove the tartar from the teeth and under the gum line and then use a rotating device and special tooth paste to polish your pet’s teeth. We finish the procedure with an application of fluoride. We have a dental radiograph (x-ray) machine similar to our own dentists that allows us to evaluate disease below the gum line where it is not visible. This helps us better to decide if a tooth can be saved or needs extraction. We are also able to apply bonded sealant to healthy teeth that have a chip that exposes the sensitive area of the tooth. If any teeth need to be extracted due to loss of attachment to the underlying structures we remove those during the dental cleaning procedure as well. We have many different products for at home dental care that are very effective and simple to use. See the February Topic of the Month for more information.
We offer the services of Dr. Kate Holan for abdominal ultrasounds. Dr. Holan is a true expert in small animal ultrasounds performing thousands in private practice and at Michigan State University. Dr. Holan is Board Certified in Small Animal Internal Medicine and is currently the Section Head of Small Animal Internal Medicine and an assistant professor at Michigan State University. This level of experience and expertise is seldom available in Northern Michigan! We are very pleased and fortunate to be able to offer the services of such a fine professional, here at our hospital, to clients/patients here in Northern Michigan.
Typically your pet’s Doctor will assist Dr. Holan and consult on your pet’s case in an effort to get you the best information possible, so you can make the best decisions possible. We and our clients have found this combination to be extremely valuable in providing excellent information and ultimately better direction and options for patients. Dr. Holan also performs ultrasound guided biopsies for our ultrasound patients when indicated.
We offer Chemotherapy services for cancer patient’s right here in Northern Michigan. Typically, cancer patients are referred to the Michigan State University Oncology Center at Michigan State University (one of the most advanced Oncology Centers in the country to be worked up then referred back for follow-up treatments here at home.
Dr. Izo completed a special education with the Michigan State University oncology center and Dr. Kavran was trained in chemotherapy during her time at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Izo was the first in Northern Michigan to complete this training. This has allowed us to continue chemotherapy protocols locally for patients who are given a treatment plan through Michigan State University, thus saving clients frequent trips downstate. We partner with MSU doctors to continue the monitoring of the patient. We can also tailor plans for our own patients. With animal chemotherapy we strive to provide great quality of life for the remainder of your pet’s life. We do not encourage continuing a protocol that is making a pet or owner worse off than the disease itself.
Perhaps the most difficult decision we have to face as pet owners is when to consider the option of euthanasia for our animal companions. At Companion Animal Hospital, we feel strongly that euthanasia is an invaluable service we can offer our dear pets to relieve suffering and allow them a dignified passing when the timing is appropriate. We understand how difficult it can be to assess a pet’s overall quality of life and determine if euthanasia is in fact in your pet’s best interest. Our doctors are here to help you decide if euthanasia or perhaps another treatment option would best serve the needs of you and your pet. We want you to know that each of us has been through this heartbreaking situation and we strive to handle this process in as supportive and compassionate manner as possible. Our doctors will make sure you understand this humane process thoroughly and help you decide if you wish to be present for the procedure. Be assured your pet will be treated gently and respectfully. Burial and cremation services, including individual cremation with return of your pet’s ashes, are available as well.
Here at Companion Animal Hospital we are strong believers in the benefits of continuing education. Our doctors and professional staff have a strong record of continuing education participation over a long period of time. Simply stated it is a significant part of who we are. Some are surprised to find out that the State Of Michigan does not have requirements for veterinarians on continuing education. We have always participated in continuing education because we wanted to. Doing so has helped us stay on top of the many changes in our industry over the years.
The staff is fantastic. They were very attentive with my newly adopted fur baby, answered all of my questions and let me know the cost of treatments and meds upfront so there were no surprises at checkout. Top notch and highly recommended!
~ Heather I.
I wouldn’t take Cody anywhere else. Dr. DeSimone and your staff are extremely knowledgeable, compassionate and caring of not only my four legged babies but their Mom as well. Thank you for everything.
~ Carol R.
Oh my goodness not sure you could have done anything differently. You all were kind, accommodating, thorough, and excellent listeners. You ALL are FABULOUS!
~ Elizabeth B.
Sumo has severe cardiovascular issues that were discovered by a very thorough DeSimone and through this, led to treatment that saved his life. Beyond excellent care. Cannot recommend highly enough.
~ Ramona C.
The doctors and tech team are so kind and compassionate. They have great bedside manner and have really mastered the idea of relaxing the environment but still being direct and clear. We brought our French lop in for a sick visit after having some respiratory issues. The staff handled both her and us with such compassion and care. They even called a few days later to ensure we weren’t having issues administering her medications and to check in. They will exclusively be our vet going forward!
~ Nicole R.