The doctors at Burr Ridge Veterinary Clinic have a special interest and expertise in cardiology, dermatology, and oncology and can perform many diagnostic services related to these areas. We partner with board-certified veterinary specialists to whom we can refer you and your canine or feline family member when complex medical issues merit additional attention. And, when 24-hour attention is needed, we’ll recommend an emergency clinic that can provide round-the-clock veterinary care. Finally, veterinary care team members are trained to administer therapeutic laser to treat patient injuries, help surgical incisions heal more quickly, reduce pain, and improve patient mobility.
Recognizing signs of heart disease before they become serious help give your pet a better chance at a good quality of life. In addition to listening to your animal companion’s heart with a stethoscope, we use cardiac-related diagnostic equipment to assess and document heart health including Doppler ultrasonography, an electrocardiogram, and an echocardiogram. And, when continuous cardiac monitoring is needed, we’ll send your pet home fitted with a Holter monitor. Our Doppler blood pressure monitor uses ultrasound waves to detect blood flow in a peripheral artery which can be heard via the probe and a speaker. Just like in humans, a blood pressure cuff is attached to a front limb and inflated until arterial blood flow is occluded. The cuff is then slowly deflated and the pressure is recorded when the first audible arterial pulse is heard. Typically, three measurements are recorded so the doctor can determine an average systolic arterial pressure.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) records fluctuations in electrical currents running through the heart and may show any abnormalities in the heart’s rate or rhythm. An ECG collects and records these fluctuations using special non-pinching clips attached for 30-45 seconds to each of Fluffy or Fido’s four limbs. A printed report is generated which our doctor will review to determine if the heart is functioning normally or if there are cardiac arrhythmias (irregular or abnormal heart rhythms). When necessary, we can send this report electronically to a board-certified cardiologist who will review the information and recommend treatment options and/or medications.
An echocardiogram, also called a cardiac ultrasound, is a sonogram of the heart that is painless and non-invasive. Ultrasound technology uses sound waves produced by a transducer located inside a probe that is gently pressed against the patient’s skin. These sound waves travel through the body and are reflected in different layers of body tissues which produce images on the ultrasound screen. This procedure allows our doctors to visualize the heart, its structure, and physical condition, as well as blood flow. It can determine heart shape and size and the thickness of heart walls, pumping capacity of the heart and blood flow patterns, and possible abnormalities of heart valves and the pericardium (the sac surrounding the heart). This series of digital images are permanently saved and linked to your pet’s computer record and can be transmitted electronically to a board-certified radiologist or local referral specialist for further review.
If one of our doctors decides a continuous record of your pet’s heart rhythms is needed, he or she may recommend the use of a Holter monitor. A Holter monitor is a battery-operated portable digital device that continuously measures and records heart activity, typically for 24 to 48 hours. The monitor fits into the pocket of a vest that is temporarily wrapped around your pet and connected to small electrodes that attach painlessly to the skin. Once the Holter monitor is returned to the clinic, the continuous recording can be uploaded and viewed by a board-certified cardiologist. The cardiologist can then determine if arrhythmias are occurring on an ongoing basis, the heart is getting enough oxygen to meet its needs, medication is needed, or any medications being given are working. Our doctors will share this information and any recommendations with you once the cardiologist’s report is received.
Dogs and cats with skin conditions may excessively lick, scratch or chew their legs, feet or other areas of the body. Veterinary dermatology services help pets with bacterial, yeast or fungal infections, allergic reactions to the environment or food, parasite infestations or immune system deficiencies. Our doctors diagnose skin conditions by carefully examining the affected area(s) and will perform in-house cytology to review samples taken from the ears, legs, feet, and elsewhere under the microscope. Once the condition is identified, we’ll prescribe medications to take home that same day. We may also recommend a dietary trial if food allergies are suspected. If left untreated, allergies and other skin conditions can make four-legged family members very uncomfortable and may lead to more serious medical conditions, so a doctor visit is required before medications can be dispensed.
During regular operating hours, our doctors are available to see most emergency cases but may recommend you take your pet to an emergency clinic immediately if it’s in extreme distress. Please call us if your companion animal experiences severe bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, lameness or lethargy, heatstroke, is choking or unable to pass stool or urine, has ingested a toxin, sustained an eye or traumatic injury, has difficulty breathing or is unconscious. Alerting us to Fluffy or Fido’s clinical signs will help us prepare equipment and instruments that may be needed once you arrive at the clinic. Depending on your pet’s condition, we may immediately transfer him or her to our treatment area for a doctor to examine. Once an exam is completed, we’ll share the doctor’s findings with you and discuss care and treatment options. BRVC does not have overnight staffing so pets admitted to the clinic on an emergency basis may need to be transferred to a 24-hour clinic where they can receive round-the-clock monitoring and care.
If a pet emergency arises when our clinic is closed, we recommend calling the emergency clinic closest to you before leaving your home as many clinics are experiencing staff shortages.
Cancer occurs when body cells replicate at an abnormally fast and chaotic rate and form a mass known as a tumor. According to The Veterinary Cancer Society, cancer is the leading cause of death in 47% of dogs and 32% of cats. There are many factors that influence the development of cancer such as genetics, hormones, suppressed immune systems, toxins, and the environment. Common cancers found in dogs and cats include lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast or spindle cell tumor, osteosarcoma, melanoma, carcinoma, and leukemia.
BRVC’s oncology services include drawing blood, extracting cells for cytology, and removing diseased tissues for microscopic examination to help determine the type of cancer present. Whenever possible, our doctors will review these samples in-house and discuss their initial findings with you. Following sample review by a board-certified pathologist, we’ll discuss your pet’s prognosis and treatment options. Treatment can be as simple as our doctors surgically removing a growth or tumor or may include chemotherapy administered here at the clinic. When necessary, we’ll refer you to a board-certified oncologist or board-certified surgeon but we’ll always be available to answer your questions and help you and your beloved family member navigate this complex disease.
BRVC’s veterinarians work with a network of board-certified specialists to make sure your pet receives the very best of care. We can provide referrals to veterinary experts with specialized knowledge of and additional training in animal behavior, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, ophthalmology, pathology, and surgery – many of whom are within a relatively short driving distance of the clinic. Each of these specialists will keep us updated on his or her findings, prognosis, treatment options, and progress so we have the information needed to support you and your pet in any possible way.
Therapeutic Laser Treatment
Therapeutic laser is a non-invasive, pain-free, and drug-free treatment used for a variety of conditions that can be performed in conjunction with existing treatments. Used for many years to treat world-class athletes and thoroughbred racehorses, BRVC’s veterinarians routinely prescribe laser therapy to treat patient injuries, help surgical incisions heal more quickly, reduce pain, and improve patient mobility.
Laser therapy uses deep-penetrating light to promote a chain of chemical reactions known as photobiostimulation. This process helps relieve pain through the release of endorphins and stimulates injured cells to heal at an accelerated pace. Laser-treated wounds typically heal 33%-50% faster than the time required for normal healing. In addition to promoting faster healing of traumatic and surgical wounds, laser therapy is used to treat muscle, ligament and tendon injuries, ear infections, hot spots and open wounds, and anal gland infections.
Chronic conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, back disease, and injury, or degenerative joint diseases typically respond well to therapeutic laser treatment. More severe cases may require a series of treatments to realize the full benefits. Laser therapy diminishes pain by reducing inflammation through vasodilation (the opening of blood vessels) and also by activating the lymphatic drainage system. The result is a reduction in swelling which decreases pain. The laser also stimulates nerve cells that block pain signals from being transmitted to the brain and, as noted above, stimulate endorphin production which further counteracts pain.
Therapeutic laser treatment is totally pain-free and very comforting. As the laser is administered, pets may feel tingling, a gentle warmth, or no sensation at all. It is also drug-free, which is especially important for patients who may suffer medication side effects. In addition, laser therapy is an excellent way to assist older pets who often have aches, pains or decreased mobility. Our doctors will advise if they believe your pet may benefit from therapeutic laser treatment, performed by trained members of our veterinary care team. He or she may recommend a single treatment or series of treatments and will review progress with you on a regular basis.