Pain Management

brentI always say we are fortunate to live in a society where we have the means and ability to take such good care of our pets. I know this is a cliché, but our pets are part of our families. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, ” my mom worries more about her little dog than she ever did about us kids”. Bottom line, we want our pets to live comfortable, happy lives.  One of the things we need to be aware of in our pets is the management of pain.  Dogs and cats, as well as all other animals, do feel pain.

In my 20 years of practice, the attitude toward pain management has continued to evolve.  We now understand how important pain control is for our pets’ well being, comfort, and ability to recover from an injury or surgery.  We have at our disposal many different medications, supplements, and procedures available to help alleviate pain.  I classify animal pain in two very broad categories.  These are not official, textbook type classifications, just my own simple way to decide how to treat an animal that I think is in pain.  The first one is trauma.   Whether it is from an injury or surgery, pain management is an important part of our protocol at Snake River Veterinary Center.  Even our routine dog and cat spays and dog neuters go home with pain medication.  In fact, it is standard in most practices and should be expected.  Pain causes stress in animals, which in turn causes the release of cortisol by glands in the body.  This actually slows the healing process. Alleviating pain decreases stress, stops the release of cortisol, and speeds the healing process.  We can all relate.    When you and I undergo painful injuries or procedures, we appreciate a little pain management too.  When we feel better, we recover faster.

The second type of pain is chronic pain from diseases such as arthritis.  You know, the kind of pain many of us feel as we get a little older.  Dogs and cats can also suffer from chronic pain.  Animals are tough and sometimes they don’t show their discomfort in the same way people do so it can be difficult to assess pain in our pets.  Some of the signs of pain may be as simple as they are reluctant to jump in to the car or on to the couch like they used to.  Maybe their appetite has decreased or they won’t chase the ball.  Sometimes they will growl or offer to bite someone if the think that person might cause them pain.  We often attribute a pets slowing down because of age. I often hear, “he is just getting old, Doc, I don’t know what to do”.  The good news is that we can manage the older pets’ pain, making them much more comfortable and returning them to their normal activities.  It may be as simple as periodic oral medication.  We can also prescribe supplements, special diets, and injections in more serious cases.  Each pet is different and we use different approaches for each individual. I would like to add a caution here, DO NOT use human over the counter pain medication on your pets.  Ibuprofen and Tylenol are toxic to pets.  Visit with a veterinarian before giving your pet ANY human medication.

As many of you know, I am an avid waterfowl hunter.  Due to this habit, I own a herd of Labrador retrievers.  My oldest and most reliable lab is named Addie.  She is 12 years old now and her and I have spent many hours together hunting ducks and geese.  She is my right hand “dog” so to speak and holds a special place in my heart.  She loves to go with me and is always a willing participant.  The passenger seat of the pick up is her spot and if you sit in her place, she will give you dirty looks, just  ask some of my hunting buddies.  Recently, I was going to take her with me for a ride in the pickup.  When I called her, she hid in her dog kennel and wouldn’t come near the pick up.  I thought it was just her being stubborn (one of her less desirable traits) but quickly figured out she didn’t want to jump in the truck.  An exam and x-rays  told me she was starting to get sore in her hind end.  She had already had knee surgery and years of hard work were beginning to take their toll.  I started her on an anti inflammatory and a joint supplement and within a few days she was acting much better.  Initially, I was concerned that her hunting days were over but she is feeling so much better that I think she will get to tag along again this season.  Of course, more as an observer than a hard core participant but at least she will get to go along which will make her very happy.

So, whats the “take home” message here?  First, if your pet is injured or undergoes a surgical procedure, expect them to be treated for the pain associated with the procedure.  Second, if you have an older pet that is beginning to slow down a little and is having a harder time getting around, there are things we can do to keep them comfortable and active.  Give us a call if you have questions and we will help you determine how to best help your pet.


SRVC has diagnosed a positive case of Heartworm Disease

Dr. Jenny Janitell

Recently at Snake River Veterinary Center, I diagnosed a case of Heartworm Disease. Since I have been in practice, a little over four years now, I have only diagnosed one other case at our clinic. Diagnosing this disease is a daily occurrence for veterinarians in the south, but not something we see every day in our area. Fortunately for us and our sweet patient, the owners have elected to pursue treatment.

Meet Baily

Heartworms are spread from mosquitoes and virtually 100% of unprotected dogs could contract them in high risk regions. The disease does occur in cats as well, but it is not as common. Although the  disease is common along the Ohio/Mississippi river basins and Atlantic/Gulf coasts, it is has been diagnosed in all 50 states.  The carrier of the disease is the mosquito and the life cycle is as such: As an infected mosquito takes a blood meal, the heart worm larvae are passed into a dog’s bloodstream. The larvae then travel to the heart where they molt into several other larval stages before developing into an adult. The process from infection, to development of adult worms, takes 6 months. Once an adult worm is present in the heart, they can then reproduce and new larvae called Microfilaria, circulate in the bloodstream. At this point, when a non-infected mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected dog, they are infected with the Microfilaria. The Microfilaria molt into different stages within the mosquito, and are then ready to be a source of new infection when the mosquito takes another blood meal.


Heartworm prevalence by region

All dogs and even cats should be tested for Heartworms annually. The test is simple as we only need a drop of blood from your pet, and it only takes 10 minutes to process. Heartworms can be prevented with use of a monthly Heartworm preventative such as Sentinel, Heartgard, Iverhart, etc. The treatment for adult worms however, is more challenging, expensive, and lengthy.

Bailey’s Positive Heartworm Test

As mentioned earlier, we recently diagnosed a case and have been given the privilege to treat her. She is a native of the south and is a rescue dog. We were performing our Wellness Special at the clinic which included a Heartworm screening test, when we diagnosed her. She showed no outward signs of the disease, as it was diagnosed very early. Some dogs that go undiagnosed develop heart failure and are more difficult to treat.

Treatment for her Heartworms began today. We would love to include all of you in the process as we move forward with her treatment. The American Heartworm Society recommended treatment protocol will take 120 days to complete.

Adult Heartworm courtesy of Four Rivers Veterinary Clinic

Today we administered a heartworm preventative called Sentinel. We pre-treated with an injection of benadryl and a steroid. We are observing her and enjoying her company throughout the day, to monitor for any signs of reaction. She will also go on an antibiotic called Doxycycline today and it will be given twice daily for 1 month. Heartworms can carry bacteria, so we must kill the bacteria first to try to minimize reactions. We also are killing the Microfilaria at this point with administration of the preventative Sentinel. The overall goal of this process is to kill the “babies” (Microfilaria), eliminate the bacteria, and then slowly kill the adult worms. If the adult worms are killed to soon or suddenly, they may cause a stroke or an anaphylactic reaction/shock.

Bailey’s first treatment

In 30 days, she will receive another preventative (Sentinel). In 60 days, we will administer a preventative, along with starting the adulticide injections to kill the adult Heartworms. She will be on steroids to prevent reactions and her activity level will have to be very restricted. At day 90 and 91 she will get another set of injections to kill the adults, and she will be tested at 120 days to see if our treatment was a success.

It is going to be a long and challenging road ahead for this sweet girl and her family. Please follow us as we move through this process and give support to “Bailey” and her family. We will post updates as she moves through her treatment protocol.

To conclude this blog, I hope I was able to bring some general awareness to Heartworm Disease and Prevention. Monthly preventives are highly recommended along with annual heartworm tests. If you have any questions, please feel free to call (208) 452-7950.

Jenny Janitell, DVM


Veterinary Spouses

brentI have been a large and small animal veterinarian for 17 years now, and for all of those 17 years I have taken call.  I don’t mind taking call- I enjoy being able to help clients and their animals when the need arises, even when it’s at 2 o’ clock in the morning. Sometimes I make the mistake of predicting whether or not I am going to be called out though.  Let me explain- there have been times when I look at my schedule in the morning and deem the day slow and therefore appropriate to schedule evening plans with my beautiful wife, Heather.  Let me tell you a story about how that sometimes work out.

One sunny morning as Heather and I were getting ready for work, I checked my schedule for the day and saw that it looked pretty easy.  I was going to be on call in the evening, but the last few nights had been quiet so I wasn’t expecting anything this particular evening either. As we were headed out the door, I asked Heather if she would like to go to dinner after work.

She looked to me as if she were unsure and said, “Tonight? I thought you were on call again. You know how it goes when we make plans when you are on call.”

To which I replied, “I am sure it will be okay, but I will check in with you this afternoon.  How does Mexican sound?”

Skeptically she said, “Ok. Mexican sounds fine.  Talk to you this afternoon.”

So, off I went down to the clinic, where the day breezed by.  I saw some puppies that I had delivered by c-section a few weeks before for their first puppy vaccines, worked on a horse’s teeth out in the barn, and did a few vaccine and wellness appointments.  Overall, it had been a great day at the clinic.  At 4:30, I called Heather to tell her that the schedule was empty for the rest of the day, and that I should be by to pick her up in an hour.

At 4:40 my receptionist Holly called up to my office to tell me there was a client on the phone who had some questions about her goats.

I spoke with the client about the sick goats and before I knew it I was in my pick-up and on my way to Middleton to examine the sick caprine (that’s vet speak for goats).  When I got to Middleton I quickly called Heather again to tell her where I was and that I might be a little bit late.

Just as the sun dipped below the horizon, and I had packed up my supplies with a feeling of satisfaction from doctoring the goats and giving their owner a detailed home care regimen that would result in happy, healthy animals in no time, I called Heather again.

“Hi honey!  I am just leaving the client’s farm, and I will be by the house in 30 minutes to pick you up.”

She replied, “Do you still want to go?  It’s after 7:30 and you are working tomorrow aren’t you?”

“Of course I still want to go, I am starving!” I said.

Again, with just a hint more skepticism in her voice, “Ok. See you in a few.”

As I pulled into my driveway, my cell phone quacked (my ringtone is a duck quacking, and I am positive everyone around me loves to hear it as much as I do) and it was one of my large animal clients who had some questions about a bull that wasn’t doing too well.   I spoke with him for 15 minutes or so about what do. He didn’t seem to think I needed to go out to his place, so I gave him a few pointers and headed in to get Heather.

Honestly, as I walked in the door, I half expected her to tell me to forget about it, as it was now a quarter after 8.  But, there she was gathering up her purse, ready to go.  We decided to take my vet truck to dinner, mostly because I had parked it in the driveway right behind where Heather’s car was in the garage.  Heather opened the passenger side door and was met with a seat full of dirty coveralls, medication bottles, and papers. As she transferred the mess to the back, she jokingly said, “Don’t worry- I will take care of these.”

I replied, “Thank you, I’m sorry I didn’t get that stuff put away.  I was just…”

“Brent!” She yelped.  “WHAT is this?”

“Oh, that. That’s goat poop I need to drop by the clinic for a fecal analysis.  I’m sorry.” I felt awful, I really should have had that in the back, but I hastily tossed it on the console as I was leaving the clients.

20 minutes later, we were seated at our favorite Mexican restaurant and had just given the server our order.  I was just about to dig into the delicious chips and salsa that had been placed on our table when we arrived when my cell phone started quacking again.  I listened carefully to the message, took down the person’s phone number, and called her back.

As I hung up the phone Heather asked, “Should we ask for our food to go? Do we need to head down to the clinic?”

“No,” I replied, “She has a lab that is whelping, but it sounds like things are going okay to me. I told her to call back if she has any more concerns.”

The waitress brought our food and we ate our dinner without interruption, save one long-time client whom I know very well that was also dining there who stopped by our table to offer up some kind words.  He said something along the lines of, “Thanks again doc for fixing up my old dog and how on earth did you convince her to marry you?”

We paid our tab and headed back to the truck. Yawning, I asked Heather, “You want to watch a movie when we got home?”

She asked, “Do you think you will make it through a movie?  Your day has been a bit busier than you expected.”

“I’ll be fine, but I do have to stop at the clinic and check on a kitty that is hospitalized first.  Do you mind driving, my cellphone is quacking.”

By the time we got home it was nearly 10:30. We got settled in on the couch and fired up Netflix to see what was on.

Heather stopped on a comedy that had just been released, and said, “This looks good- do you want to watch this? Brent?”

She tells me my only reply was the soft sound of my snoring.

Being on call is a very important part of being a rural, mixed practice Veterinarian.  At Snake River Vet we are very proud of the fact that there is a veterinarian available 24 hours a day almost every day of the year to help our clients and patients.  I am so lucky to have a wonderful and supportive wife that patiently sticks through evenings like the one I just described.  Moreover, she is a willing (and cute) makeshift technician when middle of the night calls turn out to be involved and extra hands are needed.  It’s not easy being a veterinary spouse, but Heather takes it all in stride.

Be Cautious Buying Over The Counter Pet Medications From Big Box Stores

These djenniferays, there are many pet medications that you can buy at big box stores and big online pet pharmacies.  For example, you could head on down to Wal-Mart and pick up some topical flea and tick medication for your dog or cat.  I would advise against this.  Why?  Because we don’t know if they originated from a reputable source or know how the products have been handled while at the store warehouse, in transport, and when they arrive at the store.  If they haven’t been stored at the proper temperature or they sat for too long, the products could lose their effectiveness and potentially cause your pet serious health problems.  In fact, I have treated several pets who as a result of using the over the counter products, had to be hospitalized and required intensive care.

We sell many pet medications right in our clinic and even more conveniently on our online store.  When you purchase your pets medications from SRVC either in clinic or online, you know you are getting quality, veterinarian recommended, guaranteed products.  To access our online store just go to and click on the online store link at the top right corner. From there, you will be instructed on how to obtain a username and password.  Purchasing your pets’ medications could not be easier.

I encourage you to call our clinic at (208) 452-7950 if you have any questions about our online store or pet medications available at big box stores.

The story of Rose

jenniferAs veterinarians, we see many cases on a daily basis. These may include wellness exams and updating vaccines, surgeries, herd health checks, and treating sick patients. In practice, there are some unique cases we come across that impact us in a way that we never forget.

About two years ago, I treated a sweet little dachshund named Rosie for both parvo virus and pneumonia. She required a lot of intensive care and late night treatments. Over the course of her stay at our hospital, I grew very attached to her, not only because she was a dachshund but because her personality was so endearing. She was a sweet girl that always showed  grattitude by looking directly into your eyes. With a week of hospitalization, she got better and was able  to return to her family. I was so happy to have a successful outcome and see such a sweet girl get a second chance.

Later that year, I recieved a phone call from Rosie’s family saying that they were no longer able to care for her and needed to find her another home. She was timid in their household and had some behavioral issues that they did not have time to work through. They remembered that I had dachshunds and wanted to call me for help before listing her on Craigslist. I was grateful they contacted me, and without hesitation my husband and I became Rosie’s foster parents.

Having three dachshunds of our own, we knew that we could only foster Rosie until we found her a new forever home.  Rosie was our first foster dog. We grew to love her just as our own and she became a part of our every day life. Being around other dachshunds helped her develop into a more confident individual. She became very close with the others and learned from them. Over the next few months, we knew Rosie would be traveling to her new home in Montana. She would be the only dog and get a lot of love and attention.

As the departure date grew near, my heart ached. My mom and sister met me half way to take Rosie to her new forever home. It was apparent how attached we both were to one another, and I felt so guilty she would have to re-enter into a state of unknown. As I handed her to my sister, she stared deeply into my eyes as if she knew I was leaving her. It broke my heart. I literally felt like I was giving away my own child. I sobbed the entire way home, feeling as if I did the wrong thing. Knowing how broken I was over the situation, my mom (who also has three dachshunds) decided that she would keep Rosie with them until we could be reunited at Christmas.  I felt bad to have to call the the family that had agreed to take Rosie, but at the same time I coud not have been more relieved. I am what you may call a failed foster mom. I never knew how difficult it would be and do not think it is in my best interest to do it again.

It was hard knowing it would be several long months before I was reunited with Rosie, but I knew she was in good hands. They love dachshunds or “bear dogs” as my dad has nicknamed them, and Rosie was no exception. As Christmas grew near, I was so excited to see Rosie, as we were planning on having a permanent addition to our family. The one thing I hadn’t planned on or expected was for my family to grow as attached to Rosie as I had. Seeing how much she loved my mom and dad and how comfortable she was with them, I could not take her. She had found happiness again and in my heart that was all I wanted.

So over this process, I have learned that I am a failed foster parent, and my parents were also failed foster parents while fostering Rosie for me. It is a hard job, and I give props to those that can do it successfully. Rosie melted my heart, and she is a patient I will forever remember and love.