Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital Earns Gold-Level ‘Cat Friendly’ Designation

While dogs may have the reputation for being the friendliest of the companion animals, cats actually outnumber dogs in U.S. households.

According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), more than 86 million cats, compared to 78 million dogs, reside with families in America, yet dogs seem to receive more consistent and regular veterinary health care than their feline counterparts.

To make the Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital (SAH) more comfortable for all of our (sometimes) furriest friends, SAH staff members have worked over the past five years to implement changes to make the hospital more “cat friendly.”

For their work, the SAH was recently recognized with a gold standard designation as a Cat Friendly Practice by the AAFP.

“Whether it’s a routine checkup or special visit, the staff at the Small Animal Hospital is committed to ensuring that cats get the best care. To further its dedication, the hospital recently implemented the Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program to offer pet owners more at every phase of the cat’s health care process,” said Dr. Jonathan Levine, professor and Helen McWhorter Chair in Small Animal Clinical Sciences (VSCS). “Through their work, the hospital staff has distinguished themselves as one of only a few teaching hospitals in the United States to earn the gold level designation.”

The Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program was pioneered by the AAFP to provide a framework for creating a positive practice environment for cats, including medical care that supports the cat’s unique needs and knowledgeable staff members who understand feline-friendly handling.

The Gold Standard status is awarded to practices that have incorporated the optimum level of Cat Friendly Criteria.

Practices that aspire to achieve “cat friendly” status create a “cat friendly” environment by completing a CFP checklist outlining required guidelines and submitting an online application for review by the AAFP.

The SAH has worked to achieve the designation by creating separate waiting areas for cats and dogs, as well as separate ward areas and cat housing, all of which reduces feline stress.

At a CFP-designated clinic, the veterinary staff incorporates cat-friendly features into the physical environment of the practice including special waiting rooms or waiting accommodations, feline-sensitive examination rooms and ward facilities, and equipment appropriate specifically for cats.

Staff members also approach cat care in a different manner. The staff learns how to understand the needs of the cat such as how to interpret a cat’s facial expression and body language.

Furthermore, the staff is well-trained in alternate techniques to calm an anxious cat and ensure that exams and procedures do not escalate anxiety.

“Texas A&M has a long-standing history of focusing on feline issues,” said Dr. Audrey Cook, associate professor and internist at the SAH. “Achieving AAFP Gold Standard recognition just builds on our commitment to providing excellent care to cats.”

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Interim Director of CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216

Texas A&M, MD Anderson Clinical Trial Helps Dogs, People

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Kristin Patrick drops off Sadie
Kristin Patrick drops off Sadie for her appointment at the Small Animal Hospital.

Look at Sadie Watson and you may not guess she has much in common with anyone at MD Anderson. After all, Sadie is a 9-year-old French bulldog and beloved family pet. But she’s also facing the same diagnosis as many patients in MD Anderson’s Brain and Spine Center: a brain tumor called a glioma.

Sadie’s owner Kristin Patrick and her husband, Robert Watson, also have two young sons, but Sadie was their “first baby.”

“When you love a pet so much, they become part of your family,” Patrick said.

But in July 2016, while Patrick and Watson were on vacation in Paris, Sadie had multiple seizures and eventually was diagnosed with the glioma.

When it came time for Patrick and Watson to decide how to treat their beloved pet, their perspective as both parents and researchers in the Texas A&M’s Department of Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology shaped their treatment decision-Sadie would undergo brain surgery to remove the tumor, donate the tissue for analysis, and enroll in an innovative clinical trial being conducted at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).

“Participating in science is essential to move these therapies forward for families,” Patrick said. “If our actual baby had a brain tumor-I can’t even fathom that.”

The clinical trial, it turns out, will have implications not only on Sadie; the same brain tumors that affect dogs are found in humans, too.

Using data from this clinical trial, physician-scientists from MD Anderson and the CVM are teaming up to help man and man’s best friend.

A Common Bond

“We have the same struggles in that these gliomas in dogs are really hard to treat,” said Dr. Jonathan Levine, professor, Helen McWhorter Chair and department head of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the CVM, where Sadie is a patient.

Current therapies simply aren’t very effective at treating high-grade gliomas, such as grade IV glioblastoma, and survival is poor in both humans and dogs. Scientists know that tumors from both species look almost identical on MRI scans and under the microscope. In 2015, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) created a comparative brain tumor consortium to evaluate canine brain cancer as a model for human disease.

“The big question is: Are human and canine high-grade gliomas genetically the same?” said Dr. Amy Heimberger, professor of neurosurgery at MD Anderson and co-leader of the Glioblastoma Moon Shot.

To find the answer, she’s leading a P30 grant funded by the NCI. Fittingly, Heimberger is also a dog-lover, with a pet collie named Duke, a west highland terrier named Winston, and a long-haired dachshund named Millie.

Levine and brain tumor genomics expert Roeland Verhaak, Ph.D., professor and associate director of Computational Biology at The Jackson Laboratory in Connecticut, are co-investigators on the grant. (Levine has a border terrier named Lucy. Verhaak has a Chihuahua named Lola.)

The P30 grant is the first large-scale, advanced-sequencing project to characterize genetic alterations in canine glioma and the first screening project to identify immune responses in these tumors. Verhaak is currently analyzing data from whole-genome and RNA sequencing of 90 tissue samples from dogs with brain tumors. The grant’s long-term goal is to develop a safe and effective immunotherapy for both dogs and people with high-grade gliomas.

“These dogs, not only do they stand to benefit, but they represent an amazing opportunity to understand the biology of brain tumors, to understand how tumors evade drugs, and to understand the immune response,” Levine said.

A Better Model & A Shared Hope

All new cancer drugs are tested for safety and effectiveness in the lab-often in engineered mouse models-before they are approved for clinical trials in humans or dogs.

“Pre-clinical studies can look fantastic in mice, but fall apart in humans,” Heimberger said.

For a cancer like glioblastoma, which less than 10 percent of patients survive for five years, this is exceedingly frustrating.

“I want to reduce the cost and futility of clinical trials,” she said. “When you have a patient facing something this dire, you want to offer them something with a good chance of success.”

The current model system is imperfect: mice do not grow brain tumors on their own. Their tumors are small, sometimes microscopic. They live in a sterile environment. And their immune response is biased, making it difficult to accurately assess immunotherapies.

Pet dogs, on the other hand, spontaneously develop large brain tumors. They have a natural immune response to cancer, and they live in the homes of their human families.

As the grant team analyzes the tumor tissue samples from Sadie and other dogs, they will look for genetic mutations and immune responses known to occur in human brain tumors. If the results show that canine brain tumors are indeed a good model for human brain tumors, then clinical trials in man’s best friend could reveal which new immunotherapies have the best chance of success in mankind.

“Cancer is horrible for anyone affected by it, whether that’s a dog or a person,” Levine said. “There’s a huge opportunity here to develop something that helps dogs and also helps people.”

This story, by Meagan Raeke, first appeared in MD Anderson’s Conquest magazine. The original article can be viewed here.

Dr. Stacy Eckman: Primary Care, Emergency Care, and All-around Care

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Dr. Stacy Eckman

From people to animals, clients to patients, and colleagues to students, Dr. Stacy Eckman touches the lives of many through her work at the Texas A&M; College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). To many she is a doctor, a teacher, and a mentor. She currently works as a clinical assistant professor in both small animal primary care and emergency services at the Small Animal Hospital. There, Eckman splits her time between routine care and emergency medicine, depending on where she is needed.

“In primary care, we try to make it as close to a regular, general practice as would be found outside of the university. We do a lot of routine wellness and healthcare, as well as acute injury and illness,” she said. “In the ER, it’s whatever comes in the door.”

In addition to balancing her attention between the distinctive worlds of primary care and the ER, Eckman also teaches veterinary students and interns in clinical and classroom settings. This level of multitasking can be a challenge, but it is something in which Eckman excels. In fact, she flourishes at this level of multitasking. Her versatility makes her an asset as both a veterinarian and a professor.

Life Before the CVM

Before Eckman plunged into the world of veterinary academia, she was no different than many aspiring veterinarians. She loved animals and dreamt of one day being able to help them by becoming a veterinarian. “I have a similar story to everybody else,” she said. “When I was a little kid, I loved cats and dogs. In particular, I loved cows.”

Growing up, Eckman wanted to be a large animal veterinarian specializing in cattle. Sadly, she was discouraged from pursuing her dream. She said, “I thought I always wanted to be a veterinarian, and I went to career day in high school and the veterinarian there said, ‘It’s terrible. It’s all this work, and it’s math and science. It’s a terrible profession,'” she said. “I thought, ‘Wow, maybe I should do something else.'”

Eckman took that conversation to heart. Dissuaded from her dream of becoming a veterinarian, she eventually attended Texas A&M; University as a civil engineering major. However, her dreams would not die so easily.

During a trip to her hometown, Eckman was helping a friend with her show steer when she realized that working with animals was what she really loved. “I just thought, ‘This is what I want to do,'” she said.

When she got back to Texas A&M;, Eckman headed to the CVM and met with Dr. William “Bill” Banks to discuss changing majors to biomedical sciences. “He sat me down and talked to me about what my goals were, and he said, ‘I think we can help you.'”

An Aggie through and through, Eckman ended up attending veterinary school at the CVM. “I drink the Kool-Aid for sure,” she joked, while wearing Aggie maroon scrubs.

“Since I was growing up and going through veterinary school, I was going to own my own practice in small-town America, and that’s what I was going to do the rest of my life,” Eckman said. “The reality of it is, the more time that I spend teaching, the more I really enjoy the other side of medicine, or the other side of what academia has to offer. So, it’s definitely been a trajectory that I never envisioned, but it has evolved into the plan.”

From Private Practice to the CVM

After graduating, Eckman began practicing small animal medicine in Corpus Christi, Texas. Although she wasn’t working on cattle as she had intended, she discovered her love of small animal medicine.

For four years, Eckman and Daniel, her husband and a fellow veterinarian, worked at competing practices in Corpus Christi. The two later joined together and purchased a small animal practice, where they worked for six years. Although working in private practice was rewarding for the couple, it was also difficult.

“Not a day went by that I didn’t enjoy private practice,” Eckman said. “People always ask me why I came back to the CVM if I enjoyed private practice so much. For us it was a quality-of-life issue. Because we were co-owners, we were the only two veterinarians there, we had a young family, so one of us was always at work.”

Initially, Eckman was hesitant to leave private practice. She loved the personal relationship that she developed with her clients, but she found that working at the CVM still allowed her to develop such relationships with her pupils and clients. Not only does she get to see her patients grow up from being puppies and kittens, but she also gets to see her students grow.

As she began to explore professional options, Eckman remembered how much she enjoyed teaching anatomy in veterinary school. So, she applied for a position at the CVM in the ER. From there, her career flourished.

“To me, it’s the best of both worlds,” she said. “I still have the patients and clients, but then I also get to teach students.”

Mentoring Students and Involvement in the CVM

 

 

As a mentor and teacher to first- through fourth-year veterinary students, Eckman now has the perspective of seeing students transform from starting veterinary school to entering the veterinary profession. She teaches a correlates course to the first- and third-year students, as well as a preventative care and wellness elective and communications to third-year students. Then, she guides the fourth-year students during clinical rotations. Both ER and primary care are required rotations for veterinary students, allowing Eckman to help mentor all the fourth-year students.

“Mentoring is one of the reasons why I came back-to see that light-bulb moment when it all comes together in the students’ mind,” Eckman said. “It’s really fun to see them come in as first-year students, when they don’t have a lot of confidence or opportunities to talk to clients. But I love to see how they evolve in their fourth year, and even as their fourth year progresses, they gain so much confidence in themselves and in their ability to communicate. It’s fun to watch.”

Through her role as veterinarian in the primary care service, Eckman mentors fourth-year veterinary students who are practicing their clinical skills and preparing to enter the profession. “We’re there for support, but we want them to truly be the doctors,” she said. “They can spread their wings and make a decision about something but still have the luxury of referring back to us and asking, ‘Is that OK? Should I do that?'”

The cases students see in primary care are a learning experience. “We try to make it the best example possible for the students, to show them that this is what it’s going to be like when they get out,” Eckman said. “We start seeing appointments at 8 a.m., then we take a break in the middle of the day for rounds to discuss the cases and specific topics. We continue to see appointments until about 5:30 or 6:00, and that’s kind of our typical day in primary care.”

On the other hand, the ER rotation can be much higher stakes, and students are watched closely by supervisors, such as Eckman, so that the patients receive the best possible care.

“We are highly invested in the students’ education, and I think that’s really, really important,” she said. “I think we, as faculty, take great pride in the fact that they’re getting a degree from Texas A&M;, and there’s a lot of weight that goes behind that. It’s more of a family atmosphere. We’re all in this together, and we can all move forward together.”

Beyond Teaching

To further ensure that students receive a quality education, Eckman is involved in administration. Currently, Eckman is involved in the selections committee and the committee on expanding class size. “The administrative piece is interesting. There’s different aspects of it that I find just as interesting as the teaching and practicing,” she said.

For Eckman, the future is now, and that means continuing to do what she is doing.  The descriptors she’s earned-teacher, mentor, doctor-are ones that she hopes will stick with her for a long time.

The CVM’s Primary Care Service provides routine medical care, including regular evaluations, sick care, treatment of minor emergencies, and senior care. It is a core service of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) and focuses on providing the best and most well-rounded care for pets along with practical experience for our fourth-year veterinary students.

The Emergency and Critical Care Service is a fully functional service with the capabilities of the entire hospital and has a veterinarian and support staff in the hospital to receive patients 24 hours a day. The service provides ongoing care for critically ill or injured pets, as well as those recovering from surgery. The emergency service also provides immediate initial evaluation, stabilization, and treatment for ill or injured pets.

The Texas A&M CVM receives visit from the Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – On March 2, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, a unit of Texas A&M; AgriLife Research, co-hosted Dr. Monique Eloit, director general of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Eloit’s visit facilitated the exchange of ideas for how the University and OIE can work together on global animal health challenges and built on Texas A&M; University and AgriLife’s numerous international collaborations. Joining Eloit at the meeting were Sujiro Seam, consul general of France at Houston and his scientific attaché, Robin Faideau. The meeting was facilitated by Dr. Jim Butler, an international livestock consultant.

Dr. Monique Eloit with CVMThe visit began with an overview of OIE and Eloit’s work, including opportunities for scientific partnership between the OIE and universities. Eloit was then briefed on IIAD by Dr. Gerald Parker, interim director; Dr. Melissa Berquist, associate director; and Dr. Elizabeth Parker, chief veterinarian. The Institute was established in 2004 as a Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence and, in 2014, was recognized by the OIE as a Collaborating Centre in the specialty of biological threat reduction.

Dr. Allen Roussel, professor and department head of large animal clinical sciences, provided an overview of the CVM and summarized the CVM’s various opportunities for collaboration. Additionally, Dr. Linda Logan, director of International Programs, informed Eliot of the CVM’s programs outside of the United States.

Eloit’s visit concluded with a walking tour of the CVM’s facilities, such as the CVM Small and Large Animal Hospitals and the Diagnostic Imaging & Cancer Treatment Center.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to have the director general visit our college and discuss ways in which the Texas A&M; University System can participate in global animal health,” Roussel said. “It was also wonderful to be able to show our facilities and capabilities to French diplomats from the consulate. This meeting opened doors for IIAD, the CVM, and the entire university to increase our participation in the global society and global one health.”

“Dr. Eloit’s visit was a fantastic opportunity to build a partnership between the CVM and OIE,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine. “It was a pleasure for our team to hear about the OIE’s efforts to protect animal health, and to share how the CVM is serving every Texan every day.”

OIE was established in 1924 based on an international agreement between 28 countries to work collaboratively to stop zoonotic diseases that were devastating their livestock. The OIE was initially founded to stop infectious diseases of livestock, such as Rinderpest, also known as cattle plague. The organization promotes sharing scientific knowledge and best sanitation practices to combat animal and zoonotic diseases. In 1994, the World Trade Organization adopted the OIE’s guidelines on sanitation management and OIE’s recommendations were designated as the international reference on animal and zoonotic diseases.

Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences to Host 22nd Annual Open House

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) will host its 22nd annual Open House on Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Open House is an exciting, student-run event where the public can explore one of the nation’s top veterinary schools inside and out. The Texas A&M University veterinary medical students enjoy the opportunity to sponsor an event that provides the public an educational and entertaining experience that emphasizes the roles veterinarians and animals play in our society.

Open House features exciting indoor and outdoor exhibits, a variety of hands-on events, and tours of several areas in both the large and small animal hospitals that otherwise are inaccessible to the public.

Visitors to the Small Animal Hospital have the opportunity to observe live spay and neuter surgeries and explore specialty rooms such as cardiology, oncology, and zoological medicine. Veterinary students will answer questions about specimens in the pathology, parasitology, and anatomy rooms.

One of Open House’s most popular events is Teddy Bear Surgery, where children can experience veterinary medicine first-hand by entering a real operating room and performing surgery on their favorite stuffed animal.

Children will be interested to learn about various breeds of dogs at the dog exhibit and will experience exotic animals as part of this year’s “Zoomagination” animal encounters. Outdoor events include demonstrations in agility and search and rescue, and the whole family can visit the outdoor petting zoo and watch a farrier make horseshoes.

Indoor events include observing an ultrasound in the large animal hospital and learning how x-rays are made. You will also have the opportunity to “Picture Yourself a Vet,” and have your photograph taken with different animals. Informational events include exhibits by animal-related organizations from throughout the state and a variety of talks given by veterinarians. Previous topics have included “A Day in the Life of…” and “What should I feed my pet?” Prospective veterinary students will also have the opportunity to attend Q&A; sessions with both admissions committee members and current veterinary students.

Open House is FREE, welcomes people of all ages, and does not require registration. The veterinary students of Texas A&M University invite you to attend this fun and unique event. There is so much to do and something for everyone at Open House, so bring your family and friends. See the Open House website for schedules, maps, and more!

Hole In Dog’s Heart Repaired at Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Dec. 6, 2005 – Thanks to a rare medical procedure, a pet standard poodle has had a hole in its heart repaired by a cardiac catheterization technique performed at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Veterinary cardiologists and human cardiologists, who have done this non-invasive procedure more than 300 times on humans, performed the repair at Texas A&M on Peschi, who was born with a hole in her heart. Four more dogs – all of them related to Peschi – have similar heart defects. Owners were told by doctors at Texas A&M that their dogs’ quality of life would decline without the procedure.

The ground-breaking procedure – technically called non-invasive catheter based atrial septal defect occlusion – was performed Friday for the first time ever in Texas. A procedure using a similar device was believed to have been conducted at Purdue University within the past year.

Peschi, a 5-year-old standard poodle, was born with a heart defect called an ASD – atrial septal defect. It means there’s an opening between the heart’s two upper chambers and if not repaired, the leak will likely result in the development of exercise intolerance, breathing difficulty and eventually premature death.

“We learned a lot from this experience and from here we can make a few equipment adjustments and move on,” said Dr. Sonya Gordon, a cardiologist in the Small Animal Hospital who assisted with the heart repair. She was aided by colleague Dr. Matthew Miller, also a cardiologist at the hospital.

“We’re all still learning and there’s a learning curve to this, but it has been a good day for us,” she said following the procedure.

Dr. Ronald Grifka, who has performed the same procedure hundreds of times at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, said that a dog’s heart is about the same size as that of a small child.

“The device is shaped sort of like an Oreo cookie with two discs at each end that serve as a wedge to block the hole in the atrial wall,” Grifka explained.

The entire procedure took about six hours to complete. Peschi went home the day after the repair and is doing well, Gordon said. “We may possibly try to schedule some of the other dogs for the procedure before Christmas,” she added.

Peschi belongs to Ronnie and Guinnette Peebles of Houston. “We believe this surgery is a stepping stone for other dogs with this type of defect,” Mrs. Peebles said. “We hope this will lead to more awareness of this rare defect.”

Small Animal Zoological Medicine Service at Texas A&M Offers Comprehensive Care for Exotic Pets

COLLEGE STATION – August 9, 2005- A new and improved Small Animal Zoological Medicine Service, under the direction of Dr. David Phalen and Dr. Jean Paré, is now available at the Small Animal Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University.

The service offers comprehensive care to a wide range of exotic animal species that are kept as pets. Pet owners who are seeking primary care for their exotic animal, and clients referred by their veterinarians are both welcome. “Animals treated will include pet and aviary birds, raptors kept by falconers, racing pigeons, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and small exotic mammals such as ferrets, rodents, rabbits, hedgehogs, prairie dogs and sugar gliders,” according to Phalen. “We will also treat less traditional species that may be privately owned or in zoo collections including fish, large cats, bears, coatimundis, lemurs and macropods (wallabies, wallaroos, and kangaroos). At this time, the service cannot accommodate venomous reptiles or privately owned monkeys.”

The service is also seeking veterinary referrals related to avian behavioral problems, avian and exotic pet surgeries, reptiles, neoplastic diseases and ornamental fish, said Phalen. “We are also providing an ambulatory service to accommodate the needs of aviaries, reptile collections, and other small exotic pet production facilities.”

Phalen has an international reputation as an avian veterinarian and for his research of infectious diseases of birds. A Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners – Avian Specialty, Phalen holds a PhD in avian infectious diseases from Texas A&M. He has been a member of the College’s Zoological Medicine Section for more than 12 years, and has also been in private practice.

Paré is a Diplomate of the American College of Zoo Medicine and has expertise in the medicine and surgery of a wide range of exotic animals including birds, reptiles and fish. He was in private practice before completing a 2-year Clinical Residency in Wildlife and Exotic Animal Medicine and Surgery at the Ontario Veterinary College of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and a 3-year DVSc in Zoo Animal Medicine and Pathology at the Toronto Zoo. He served as a clinician at the Calgary Zoo prior to being a clinician and professor of zoological medicine at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin for the last seven years.

A full-time registered veterinary technician experienced in handling avian and exotic species completes the staff.

The Small Animal Zoological Medicine Service will be working closely with other members of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, including behaviorists, radiologists, oncologists and surgeons to provide a comprehensive referral service. The service will have access to state-of-the-art imaging facilities at the college, including a new digital fluoroscopy unit and CT helical scanner.

Appointments may be scheduled Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and a 24-hour, 365-day a year emergency service is also provided by the Section’s faculty members. “Our goal is to offer the finest care and quality service to our patients, clients and referring veterinarians,” said Phalen. “The service has its own exam room, surgery suite and separate treatment areas designed to provide optimum environmental quality and bio-security for the various species that may require hospitalization.”

For more information on the Small Animal Zoological Medicine Service or to schedule an appointment, call 979-845-4300.

Veterinary College Expands Small Animal Dentistry Service

COLLEGE STATION – March 3, 2006 – As the lifespan of pets continues to increase, the field of dentistry is becoming one of the fastest growing service areas within veterinary medicine, says Dr. J.R. “Bert” Dodd, clinical associate professor and veterinary dentist at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University.

Dr. J.R. Dodd

The Small Animal Pet Dentistry Service is now offering full-time dental services for dogs and cats. Dodd offers routine cleanings as well as oral surgery, periodontal evaluation and treatment, endodontic therapy, restorations, orthodontics, oral evaluations and digital radiology.

“Dental disease can contribute to generalized systemic disease in veterinary patients – it’s not merely a localized or cosmetic problem,” says Dodd. “In fact, dental disease is the No. 1 disease entity affecting adult pets.”

In a study done by the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop some degree of periodontal disease by three years of age. This may include gingivitis, periodontal infections, malocclusions, fractured teeth, oral tumors or painful cavity-like lesions.

Bacteria in the mouth associated with periodontal disease can spread to vital organs including the liver, kidneys or heart and lead to infections in these organs, according to Dodd. “Bacteria are released into the bloodstream every time a pet chews or plays with toys,” he says.

“Good dental care can have a very positive effect on a pet’s overall health,” Dodd believes. “Ideally, all pets should have their teeth brushed daily and have annual dental examinations and/or cleanings to ensure they have the best possible health.”

A 1979 graduate of Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Dodd opened the Hiway 620 Animal Hospital in Austin in 1981. He is a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College and a Fellow and past President of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry.

Teaching veterinary dentistry to other veterinarians, veterinary students and veterinary technicians is one of his passions as he lectures throughout the United States. Dodd says he is available to veterinarians for dental consultations and as a resource regarding dental equipment.

Dodd is assisted in the dental service by Tommy Koenig, RVT, AVDT. “Tommy has been with me for the past 18 years in Austin and is now with me here full-time at the college,” says Dodd. “He is invaluable in providing educational lectures and equipment training for veterinarians.”

Dodd also works closely with other members of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences – including behaviorists, radiologists, oncologists, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, internists and surgeons – to provide a comprehensive referral service. The service has access to state-of-the-art dental and diagnostic (radiography, CT and ultrasound) equipment in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH).

Located in the VMTH’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, the Small Animal Pet Dentistry Service can be contacted for appointment scheduling Monday-Friday at 979-845-2351. Referrals are not required. For more information visit vetmed.tamu.edu/services/dental.

CVM Hires Small Animal Surgeon

COLLEGE STATION, TX – The College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University is known for being a leader in veterinary medicine and research, as well as being a clinic that takes extraordinary care of our small animal patients. Dr. Jacqueline Davidson, small animal orthopedic and soft tissue surgeon, has recently been added to our staff to provide the particular type of care that some of these small animal patients need.

“I have been in a Clinical Track position in the Department of Veterinary Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the college since September 1, 2009” said Davidson. “As a clinical-track full-professor, my appointment is designated to be approximately 70 percent instruction, 20 percent service, and 10 percent scholarly activity. The instructional effort is a combination of clinical, didactic and laboratory instruction of professional students, interns and residents. The service effort includes all non-student teaching and non-scholarly related activities required to enable and enhance the activities of the department, hospital, school and university. The scholarly activity effort includes publishing book chapters, case reports, journal articles, and presenting continuing education programs that demonstrate my clinical expertise and experience with large numbers of cases.”

Dr. Davidson has been at Louisiana State University for the past fifteen years before coming to Texas A&M. She has been especially focused on rehabilitation in small animals as a sub interest for the past few years. As well as her work in surgery, Dr. Davidson does work with small animals in pain management and postoperative care, and is also trained in acupuncture and spinal manipulation for both small and large animals.

“The veterinary medical college at Texas A&M is such a collegial place” said Davidson, “it is current and progressing. They have a clear vision for where they want to go in the future and are active in taking strides toward that goal. The atmosphere in the whole Bryan and College Station area is also friendly; it makes mundane things such as going to the grocery store a pleasant task.”

“Miracle Foal” Survives Traumatic Brain Injury

COLLEGE STATION, TX -After a month of surgeries and careful treatment, Reno, a three month old Quarter Horse/Welsh Pony colt, is going home. On June 19th, Reno was brought to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) after he sustained blunt force trauma to the head, with bone chips embedded in his brain. Today, Reno is finally going home thanks to the teamwork and dedication of multiple specialists at the CVM.

reno-group-2-ppThe owners, Jody Baton and her daughter Whittany of Kilgore, Texas, brought Reno to the CVM for treatment as quickly as possible after the referring veterinarian, Dr. Robert Thoni identified a skull fracture with an x-ray image. Baton is no stranger to the Large Animal Hospital, 11 of her horses have previously been brought here for specialty treatment or surgery.

“It’s like a family reunion when I come in. These veterinarians are angels,” Baton said.

When Reno arrived at the CVM, he was very depressed and had difficulty walking. Dr. Keith Chaffin, professor of equine internal medicine, was assigned to lead Reno’s case. After rapid stabilization therapy, Reno was immediately sent for MRI and CT scans.

“The magnitude of brain swelling was much worse than we predicted, and the CT scan showed more than 20 bone chips embedded in the brain,” Chaffin said. “We couldn’t have known the extent of Reno’s injuries if it weren’t for the new Diagnostic Imaging and Cancer Treatment Center. What we can now do with brain and head injuries is state-of-the-art and we can better diagnose and develop therapeutic treatments, and Reno is a great example of that.”

Reno’s only chance for survival was surgery. Baton did not hesitate in making the decision to proceed.

“He is an extraordinary colt, and we didn’t think twice about agreeing to surgery because we knew he would be in good hands,” Baton said. “Besides, how do you put a price tag on a family member?”

Dr. Joseph M. Mankin, clinical assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the CVM Small Animal Hospital, performed the surgery.

“What sets the CVM apart is our access to other specialties, the team effort for Reno has been phenomenal,” Chaffin said. “This type of surgery was somewhat unchartered territory for the Large Animal Hospital, and Dr. Mankin did an excellent job.”

Mankin removed about 25 bone fragments, a piece of skin with hair, and most alarming for the team, a pus pocket. The pus pocket indicated infection was already present, and an increased possibility for more extensive infection post-operatively. But an infection in the brain wasn’t the team’s only concern after surgery, Reno reacted violently as he awoke from anesthesia. The team was forced to anesthetize him again. This scenario repeated itself twice more and on the third attempt Reno was able to wake calmly. However, Reno tore the top side of his urinary bladder during the process, and needed surgery to repair the tear. Dr. Carolyn Arnold, assistant professor of equine soft tissue surgery, led Reno’s second surgery that week.

Reno’s bladder surgery and recovery went well, and there were no violent episodes. But post-surgery, colic and a fungal infection of the tongue slowed his recovery. Gastric ulceration was the cause of colic and he responded to therapy with a proton pump inhibitor. The tongue infection was caused by candidiasis, and was successfully treated with antifungal agents.

“Reno just had crisis, after crisis, after crisis,” Chaffin said. “He was a challenging case, but a very special little foal.”

A month of careful monitoring and the teamwork of the specialists at the CVM Large and Small Animal Hospitals allowed Reno to make a full recovery. Baton, who stayed by Reno’s side almost the entire month, was joined by her two daughters and mother to take Reno home, as part of their family.

“We are just so very thankful for everything A&M has done for Reno and our family,” Baton said. “We call him our miracle foal.”