Author Archives darcy56

Chinese Herbal Medicine Treatment for Small Animals

Posted by darcy56 on March 30, 2015  /   Posted in blog

Herbal formulations can be prescribed to your pet to maintain health and to treat numerous disease processes. Chinese herbal medicine also compliments acupuncture to allow a more complete approach to patient care. The goal of many herbal treatments is to increase the effectiveness of modern Western medicine and to promote a good quality of life in patients with debilitating diseases. Animals suffering from medical disorders affecting the cardiovascular, dermatological, respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological and endocrine systems are good candidates for treatment.

Chinese herbs are prescribed to balance a patient’s body and to treat a particular disease pattern or illness. Herbal medicine, although natural, is a still a drug and can be very potent. Chinese herbs can cause problems if they are inappropriately prescribed. Therefore, it is necessary for your animal to have a comprehensive TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) assessment with a trained veterinarian to ensure the herbal formula is appropriate for the patient’s individual constitution.

Herbal medicine may be prescribed in a powder, capsule or teapill form. Teapills are a compressed, small size and more palatable option for smaller patients such as cats. Selecting the appropriate delivery formulation is essential to treating your pet successfully with herbal medicine. For extremely picky eaters, there are flavoring options and ways to disguise the taste of medicine. The most common side effect is gastrointestinal upset, which is often treated by simply decreasing the dosage of the herb. Our office utilizes Chinese herbs manufactured by reputable herbal suppliers in the United States; therefore, we are confident in the quality of the products prescribed to our patients.

Herbal prescriptions are not designed to be an immediate treatment solution and many formulas may take a month to reach full efficacy. Generally speaking, acute excess conditions such as a sprained muscle or bruise may respond quickly to herbs, while chronic conditions such as arthritis may take weeks to show positive clinical response. Chronic conditions may require lifetime herbal administration while acute issues may only need treatment for a month or less. Additionally, herbs can often lessen side effects of certain medications. For example, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy may experience less nausea, more energy and improved appetite if treated with herbal therapy. Chinese Herbal Medicine can be an excellent adjunctive therapy to western treatment modalities and significantly improve a patient’s overall quality of life.

Dental Disease

Posted by darcy56 on February 12, 2015  /   Posted in blog

dog dentalWhat is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is inflammation of some or all of a tooth’s support. When compared to gingivitis, periodontitis indicates bone loss. If left untreated, periodontitis may cause loose painful teeth as well as internal disease.

What causes periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is caused by plaque (bacteria). Bacteria are attracted to the tooth surface within hours of the teeth being cleaned. Within days, the plaque becomes mineralized and produces calculus. As plaque ages and gingivitis develops then periodontitis (bone loss) occurs.

What are the signs?

Halitosis or bad breath is the primary sign of periodontal disease. Dogs’ and cats’ breath should not have a disagreeable odor. When periodontal disease advances, inability to chew hard food as well as excessive drooling with or without blood may occur.

Learn more

Winter Pet Tips

Posted by darcy56 on February 12, 2015  /   Posted in blog

Brrrr—it’s cold outside! The following guidelines will help you protect your companion animals when the mercury dips.

Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray may be exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can easily become lost. Make sure your dog always wears ID tags.

Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape.

Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.

Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

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Cold Laser Therapy

Posted by darcy56 on September 10, 2014  /   Posted in blog


Cold laser systems emit infrared light that penetrates deep into the skin/tissue layers and stimulates the tissues at a cellular level to promote healing and tissue repair. It also stimulates the release of the body’s natural, pain killing and anti-inflammatory chemicals/hormones to facilitate pain relief and decrease inflammation. This non-invasive therapy is painless and treatment sessions last only 10-15 minutes.

Cold laser therapy promotes:

  1. Increased circulation/immune stimulation
  2. Increased metabolic activity/tissue regeneration and nerve stimulation
  3. Muscle relaxation
  4. Accelerated cell reproduction and growth (wound healing)




Respond Systems

Photo courtesy of Respond Systems Inc.

  1. Osteoarthritis
  2. Joint pain
  3. Tendinopathies
  4. Edema and congestion
  5. Ligament sprains
  6. Muscle strains
  7. Puncture wounds
  8. Trauma
  9. Post-surgical pain as well as post-orthopedic surgical recovery
  10. Neck and back pain
  11. Hip dysplasia
  12. Burns
  13. Chronic, non-healing wounds (including fractures)
  14. Lick granulomas
  15. Lipomas
  16. Otitis
  17. Hot spots
  18. Pyoderma (skin infections)
  19. Acupuncture (for patients not amenable to dry needling)


Respond Systems

Photo courtesy of Respond Systems Inc.

  1. Osteoarthritis
  2. Joint pain
  3. Tendinopathies
  4. Fractures
  5. Navicular Disease
  6. Laminitis
  7. Muscle strains/soreness (sore backs)
  8. Non-healing wounds
  9. Acupuncture (for patients not amenable to dry needling)
  10. Neck and back pain

What to expect:

No sedation and minimal restraint is required. The experience is usually pleasant and non-stressful for patients. Improvement is often seen after the first visit; however, most patients require several treatments (3 to 8) for the greatest benefit. A sample treatment schedule might be every other day for one week (3 treatments), followed by once or twice weekly for two weeks, and then follow-up therapies as needed.

Preventative Care Exams

Posted by darcy56 on May 10, 2014  /   Posted in blog

402737_10150572127392865_2120126679_nWe all know that we should see the doctor on a regular basis even if we are feeling healthy, but our pets should too! Regular checkups every 6-12 months (depending on your pet’s age and medical condition) are a must for all adult dogs and cats. Puppies and kittens should be seen every few weeks while they are growing rapidly and completing their introductory vaccines.

Why do we want to see your pet so often? It’s not just for the purrs and face licks, we promise! Regular checkups help us help you to keep your pet happy and healthy. We are looking for early, subtle indicators of disease or discomfort that may go unnoticed at home – the sooner we can intervene, the better chance we have of treating the condition. We are looking for those early-onset cataracts, that tiny new growth on the shoulder that might need to be removed, that slight back pain – and much, much more. But what exactly goes on during a nose-to-tail exam? Read below to find out!

The veterinary technician and veterinarian will speak with you to obtain a medical history of your pet. This includes information about their diet and exercise, any changes in energy level or behavior, changes in appetite or thirst, or changes in urinary and defecation patterns. We will also inquire about any unusual symptoms your pet may be showing at home such as coughing, scratching, or limping. This information helps us put together a more thorough picture of your pet’s health, and will help us to tailor medical recommendations.

Your veterinarian will listen to your pet’s heart and feel their pulses to check the rate and rhythm. We will also listen for any unusual sounds such as a heart murmur, which could be an indication of cardiac disease. We will listen to the lungs and trachea for signs of allergy, infection, fluid buildup, or other abnormality.

Inside the mouth, we will assess the health of your pet’s teeth and gums. The gums should be moist and pink (unless your pet has pigmented gums). We are evaluating them for gingivitis, abscessed teeth, fractured or badly worn teeth, or unusual growths on the gums or tongue. The majority of pets have significant periodontal disease by the time they are only three years old, and they often suffer in silence, so regular oral evaluation is very important.

330721_10150953813422865_1961850580_oYour pet’s ears will be checked for inflammation and pain, as well as for swelling or discharge that could indicate infection. Ear infections are a very common problem, and if not caught and treated promptly can cause severe pain and even impair hearing. An eye exam will be performed to look for cataracts, congenital defects, growths inside the eye, aging changes and retinal abnormalities. We will also look for signs of pain, glaucoma or inflammation.

The weight and body condition of your pet will be assessed to determine if they are overweight or underweight. Their skin and hair coat will be evaluated for infection, hair loss, itching, dry skin, unusual color change, or growths on or underneath the skin. Your pet’s limbs and back will be gently palpated and their joints flexed and extended – we are looking for signs of arthritis, pain, decreased mobility, or other orthopedic or neurologic abnormalities. We will palpate lymph nodes to ensure that they are not enlarged or painful, which are potential indicators of disease.

Abdominal palpation helps us assess whether your pet’s internal organs (such as liver, spleen and kidneys) are the appropriate size, or whether they feel too big or too small, which could indicate disease. We will also check for pain on palpation of those organs and of the intestines. For dogs, depending on your pet’s age, gender and medical history, a rectal exam may also be performed to check their prostate (males only), and/or anal glands.

If any abnormalities are detected on your pet’s physical exam, we will discuss potential additional diagnostic testing and treatment options at the appointment. We may also recommend blood, urine, or fecal testing to more fully assess their overall health, and will discuss preventative options for heartworms, gastrointestinal parasites, fleas, and ticks.

If you have any questions about what we are doing during the examination process, please feel free to ask us!


Posted by darcy56 on May 10, 2014  /   Posted in blog

What are Vaccinations?

Vaccinations are a very important tool in keeping your pet happy and healthy, by providing significant protection against a number of contagious infectious diseases. Vaccinations work by presenting the immune system with antigens, tiny pieces of a bacterium or virus (pathogen). While the antigens cannot by themselves cause infection, they stimulate the immune system. This stimulation helps the immune system to remember the antigen(s) for later use if needed. If the immune system is later exposed to the actual virus or bacterium, it recognizes the antigen(s) and mounts a full response to the entire pathogen. The goal of vaccination is to prevent illness altogether, or reduce the duration and severity of symptoms should the animal be exposed.

What Vaccinations are Commonly Available?

Vaccinations are generally divided into two categories: core and non-core. Core vaccinations are generally recommended for all animals of a given species to protect them against diseases considered to be especially serious or potentially fatal. These diseases are known to be present throughout North America and present significant concerns for transmission. Non-core vaccines are reserved for cats and dogs that are specifically at higher risk for certain infectious diseases based on age, location and lifestyle.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has published guidelines for which canine vaccines are considered core versus non-core, while the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has published similar guidelines for pet cats. These categories break down as follows:
• Canine Core: Rabies (required by law); Distemper; Hepatitis; Parvovirus
• Canine Non-Core: Leptospirosis; Lyme; Bordetella (commonly referred to as “Kennel Cough”; Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)
• Feline Core: Rabies (required by law in most states); Panleukopenia; Herpesvirus; Calicivirus;
• Feline Non-Core/Core: Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
o Traditionally considered non-core but recommendations are gradually changing, particularly for kittens

As noted above, vaccination recommendations are made in large part based on an animal’s lifestyle. Age, breed, and medical history are also taken into account. A dog who attends training classes with other dogs regularly, boards while its owners are away, goes to the groomer, or is otherwise regularly exposed to other dogs is considered at higher risk for Bordetella and CIV; vaccinating against these diseases is thus generally recommended for those dogs. At Deepwood, we consider Leptospirosis to be a core vaccine, because it is a contagious disease that can not only cause severe (potentially fatal) liver and kidney disease, but can be transmitted from an infected dog to their owner(s). In the Mid-Atlantic, Lyme Disease is widespread, and for many dogs vaccinating against Lyme is also recommended.

It has long been recommended that outdoor or indoor-outdoor cats receive yearly FeLV vaccinations, but newer guidelines suggest that owners may wish to consider vaccinating indoor cats as well, at least as kittens, so that if they find themselves outdoors they have a higher level of protection.

What About the Risks?

Vaccinating your pet is a medical procedure, and as such, does carry some inherent risk. Every pet is different, and not all pets should have the same vaccine protocols. Vaccine reactions and side effects are uncommon, but they do occur, and you should always monitor your pet after vaccinations for any signs of trouble. The vast majority of vaccine reactions are mild and self-limiting, such as: mild discomfort and/or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, and/or slight reduction in appetite. Such reactions, if they do occur, typically last no more than a few hours, but if they are prolonged, a recheck with your vet may be warranted. More serious reactions are considered allergic or hypersensitivity reactions, such as vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of the face or feet, or difficulty breathing (the last of these is extremely rare). Allergic reactions should be addressed by a veterinary professional as soon as possible. They generally respond well to outpatient supportive care, although in rare instances more aggressive treatment is needed. If your dog or cat displays any unusual symptoms after receiving vaccinations, please call us right away!

Research indicates that the more vaccines a pet receives at a single visit, the higher their chance of a vaccine reaction. This pertains primarily to small and medium-sized dogs. While a 60-lb Labrador Retriever can generally handle four vaccinations at one time, the same can often not be said of a 5 lb Yorkshire Terrier. Vaccination protocols for smaller dogs generally involve spreading the vaccine visits out with no more than 2-3 vaccines at once, to minimize the chance of reactions. If your pet has previously experienced a vaccine reaction, you can take the following steps down the road to decrease the chance of it happening again:

• Spread out vaccines. If your pet had a reaction after receiving more than one vaccine at once, next time consider having your vet give vaccines individually. This decreases the stimulus for the immune system.
• Pre-medicate with diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Talk to your veterinarian or vet tech about whether your pet should receive an antihistamine dose at home prior to their appointment, or whether an injection should be given at the visit (before vaccinations). Do not give any medication without first speaking to a veterinary professional.
• Skip it. Some pets have immune systems that react badly to specific vaccines. The decision to eliminate any vaccine from your pet’s protocol should be made only after a thorough discussion with your veterinarian of your pet’s particular lifestyle, as well as of the pros and cons of giving versus not giving the vaccine.

In extremely rare instances, vaccinations can trigger immune-mediated conditions that affect the body, leading to severe and potentially fatal illness. The risk of these conditions occurring after vaccination is very low, and does not outweigh the benefit of protection provided. However, if your pet already has a documented immune-mediated condition, a modified vaccination protocol will likely be recommended. This also applies to animals receiving chemotherapy affecting their immune system, as well as animals with other conditions that may alter their body’s ability to process vaccinations.

Vaccine-Associated Sarcomas/Fibrosarcomas are a rare tumor of connective tissue that have been documented to occur at the site of vaccination in some cats. While this response to vaccination is exceedingly uncommon, it generally necessitates a prompt, aggressive surgical response, and the tumor may recur if not completely removed. Again, as the risk is extremely,. low, it is considered to be outweighed by the tremendous benefits of protection against infectious diseases. However, if you are a cat owner and have questions or concerns about Vaccine-Associated Sarcomas, please do not hesitate to discuss the issue with your veterinarian.

Pets and Dentistry

Posted by darcy56 on May 10, 2014  /   Posted in blog

The most common disease affecting dogs and cats is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that can affect both soft tissues (such as the gums) and hard tissues (such as teeth and surrounding bones) of the mouth. This condition is entirely preventable, yet by age three, it affects the majority of cats and dogs.

Periodontal disease includes both gingivitis (inflammation, reddening, and bleeding of the gums), and periodontitis (loss of soft tissue and bone surrounding teeth). It develops as bacteria in the mouth form plaque, a filmy substance that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Within 2 days, minerals in saliva begin to harden the plaque, turning it into a thick calculus (tartar) that is firmly attached to teeth. The plaque and tartar also extend under the gumline. This “sub-gingival” plaque and tartar are what cause the most significant disease, as plaque bacteria secrete toxins and stimulate the local immune system. The immune system tries to kill the bacteria, but in trying to do so, it damages the soft tissues and bone around the tooth, and even the tooth itself. In general, heavier plaque and tartar buildup correspond to more serious inflammation, although some animals (especially cats) can have severe inflammatory disease with only a small amount of plaque and/or tartar.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can become quite severe, and can cause painful conditions including infected tooth roots, jaw fracture from bone loss, and oronasal fistula (a hole through the palate from the mouth into the nasal passages). Additionally, the bacteria and chronic inflammation present in the mouth are known to affect the heart, liver and kidneys.

The most common sign of periodontal disease that cat and dog owners notice is halitosis (bad breath). Other symptoms include bleeding gums, dropping food, sensitivity when touched around the mouth, a change in preferences for food texture, or shifting food around in the mouth. However, many severely affected animals show their owners no signs or only very subtle signs at home, and do not seem overtly painful. Without regular checkups and oral evaluations, progressive periodontal disease may go unnoticed. However, periodontal disease can often not be fully assessed without the use of a general anesthetic, as we are unable to probe the teeth, take radiographs (x-rays), or fully determine whether teeth may be loose in an awake animal (or even one lightly sedated).

If periodontal disease is noted during your pet’s oral exam, a full dental cleaning will be recommended. To prepare for this process, your pet must have a full physical exam and pre-anesthetic blood work. Depending upon their age and medical history, additional diagnostic testing may be recommended. A treatment plan estimating the cost of a dental cleaning will be prepared for you, but please be advised that as noted above, it is often not possible to completely and accurately determine an animal’s level of periodontal disease without general anesthesia.

During the dental procedure, your pet will be given a general anesthetic and will be closely monitored throughout their procedure with pulse oximetry, blood pressure monitoring, and temperature checks. They will receive intravenous fluids throughout the procedure. Your pet will receive a full oral exam during which the technician and/or veterinarian will evaluate for missing or broken teeth, loose teeth, evidence of tooth root abscesses, abnormal growths, and other unusual findings. Any such findings will be charted in the pet’s record. The teeth will be scaled both above and below the gumline. Scaling below the gumline cannot be properly done without the aid of general anesthesia, and it is one of the most important aspects of the dental cleaning, since it is sub-gingival plaque and tartar buildup that cause severe disease. Following the scaling, the teeth will be polished. Dental radiographs (x-rays) are generally warranted, as some teeth look normal above the gumline but are diseased below the gumline. If treatment of a specifically diseased tooth is required, this may include treatment such as extraction, or instilling antibiotic gel in an effort to save the tooth. Sometimes a diseased tooth can be saved with a root canal performed by a local dental specialist; if your pet is a candidate, we will discuss this with you. After their procedure, your pet will be closely monitored in our recovery area. Most dogs and cats return home the same day as their dental procedure, although if an animal is particularly groggy or it is especially late in the day, we may recommend that they spend the night with us.

After your pet’s dental cleaning, they may go home on pain medication and/or antibiotics. If tooth extractions have been performed, they will have to eat soft food and avoid certain toys for a few weeks. Once they have fully recovered, regular preventative dental care at home is urgently needed. Without it, an animal’s periodontal disease will quickly return. Animals that have had a dental cleaning have established oral disease, and that they will need additional cleanings in their lifetime, but with proper home oral hygiene, you may be able to reduce the frequency of needed cleanings. By far the best at-home preventative option is daily or at least every-other-day brushing teeth with pet-specific toothpaste. Special rinses and gels, and in some instances, special diets or chews may also be of benefit, although they have not been shown to be as effective as brushing the teeth.

Therapy for Horses

Posted by darcy56 on May 09, 2014  /   Posted in blog

Equine sports medicine is cutting edge. This makes equine veterinary medicine both exciting and challenging to keep up with. One of the neatest new therapies on the scene that has been gaining popularity over the last decade is a field called regenerative medicine. Here are the highlights:

A very common range of injuries seen in equine athletes include tendon and ligament tears and strains, not unlike what human athletes deal with. These types of injuries can be challenging to fix because the connective tissue that surrounds joints and connects bone to bone and bone to other structures does not have fantastic blood supply and once damaged, never heals back to its original strength. The concept of regenerative medicine is to employ certain types of cells and cellular products to heal these tissues close to their original strength.

The three most common types of regenerative medicine therapies are stem cells, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein (IRAP). Each works in a different way and can help with connective tissue healing.

Your Dog’s Nutrition

Posted by darcy56 on May 09, 2014  /   Posted in blog

Your dog’s nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. Your friends at Deepwood Vet Center can help you select the right food for your dog, determine how much food to feed so your dog and plan for optimum nutrition.

Determining just how much food your dogs should be eating is not simple. Calculations must take into account their size, metabolic rate, the amount of exercise they typically get, the environment they live in, and, of course, the caloric content of all the foods they eat. The feeding guides on pet food labels are limited, you will want to ask your vet at Deepwood for the best food and feeding regimen.

Microchip Your Cat

Posted by darcy56 on May 09, 2014  /   Posted in blog

Having your cat micro-chipped will help animal shelters and animal control officers reunite you with your cat if ever he or she becomes lost. If your cat went missing the chances of him/her making it back home are slim, with modern technology, you cat can be chipped and you can have the confidence that even if your feline friend escapes your home and wanders away, she/he will be able to find a way home with a helping hand and magic chip reading wand!

  • Deepwood Veterinary Clinic

    Deepwood Veterinary Clinic
    7300 Ordway Rd.
    Centreville, VA 20121
    (703) 631-9133
    email: [email protected]
  • Office Hours

    Open 7 Days a Week, 8am - 8pm
    Monday - Saturday by Appointment
    Sunday for urgent/emergency care

  • Map and Directions

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