Mon - Fri: 7:00am - 6:00pm
Sat: 9:00am - 6:00pm
Sun: Emergencies

Medication Disposal

Sometimes pet owners find themselves with expired, unused, or unwanted pet medications.  We often get questions about disposal of these medications.

The FDA has a helpful website that covers different ways to dispose of unused or expired medications.

The best choice for disposal is through a DEA authorized collector in your area.  Using the search feature of this link, you are able to find pharmacies that will take back the medication for disposal.  Here in Billings, there are several names on the list and the Billings Clinic Atrium Pharmacy has a unwanted medication drop box which available 24/7 and is located in the wall near the Atrium Pharmacy, across from Deaconess Chapel.  Riverstone Health Pharmacy will also take medications during their normal business hours.

Thank you for helping keep medications out of the wrong hands by disposing of them properly!

Welcome Dr. Darleen Miller

We are excited to announce Dr. Darleen Miller will be joining our team October 21, 2019!

Please join us in welcoming her to Best Friends!

Welcome Dr. Chelsea Uffelman

We are excited to announce Dr. Chelsea Uffelman will be joining our team May 1, 2019!

Please join us in welcoming her to Best Friends!


Hirschil – Pet in the Spotlight

Meet our newest tough guy “Hirschil,” a 6 week old German Shepherd who came in to see us because he had been vomiting and was lethargic.  His parvovirus test was negative, but he was a very sick little pup!

On his physical exam, Dr. Galvin could palpate (or feel) a distinct abnormality in his abdomen, so we recommended a barium x-ray study.  To do a barium study, we give an oral bolus of barium (which shows up bright white on x-rays) and then take a series of x-rays at specific times to watch the barium move through the intestinal tract.  Hirschil’s barium series showed an odd pattern of intestinal dilation and bunching (seen in the picture to the right).

Because of the abnormal intestines (on palpation and barium x-ray series) and his very poor clinical condition, we recommended exploratory abdominal surgery.  During his surgery we discovered that Hirschil had an intestinal intussusception, a condition where the intestines telescope inside themselves.  In the picture to the left, you can see the telescoped section of small intestine.  Without prompt medical and surgical intervention, he would have not survived this condition.

To treat an intussusception, you have to reduce or unfold the telescoping section of intestine.  When the intestines telescope, it can affect the blood supply and compromise the health of the intestinal tissue.  After unfolding the intestines, we observe the tissue to asses if it is healthy (pink) or unhealthy (purple or dark).  If the tissue is unhealthy, that section is removed during surgery.  Sometimes the surgeon tacks the intestines to themselves and the abdominal wall to prevent it from happening again.

The cause of this phenomenon is likely a combination of genetics, infection with parasite(s)/virus(es), or an upset gastrointestinal tract for other reasons such as diet change and young age.



Today, we are happy to report that Hirschil is eating great and playful.  He is a tough puppy and is very loved by his human family.  Our whole team wishes Hirschil a long, happy life.

CLICK HERE has a more detailed explanation of intussusception.

Updated Canine Influenza Recommendations and Boarder Requirements

We are updating our recommendations for canine influenza vaccination and our vaccine requirements for our canine boarders.

As many of you know, the dog community in Bozeman, MT experienced a severe influx of upper respiratory infections this past summer.  In contrast to typical “mild” upper respiratory disease, some of these patients developed severe pneumonia and death.  We now know that at least 3 dogs in Bozeman, Montana tested positive for Canine Influenza H3N2.

We now recommend H3N8 and H3N2 vaccination for all “at risk” dogs.  At risk dogs include dogs that participate in activities with many other dogs or are housed with other dogs.  This includes dogs that go to boarding facilities, day care facilities, grooming facilities, dog parks, dog shows, or dogs that have significant contact with other dogs.

Beginning January 1, 2018, we will REQUIRE H3N8/H3N2 canine influenza vaccination for all dogs that board at our hospital.  Influenza is highly contagious and causes severe disease in dogs.  An outbreak in our boarding facility would involve severe illness and death and we are not willing to put our boarding or hospitalized pets at risk.

Background:  Canine influenza is a highly contagious viral disease which can cause very significant respiratory disease and death in dogs.  Currently, there are two active strains in our country:

  • H3N8 was the first strain found and it surfaced in racing greyhounds in Florida in 2004. This strain (H3N8) has since circulated around the country.
  • H3N2 surfaced in 2015 in the Chicago area and is actively infecting dogs in many areas of the country. *For current reports/positives, see Cornell’s Website:

There are several other viruses and bacteria that can cause upper respiratory infections in dogs, but influenza stands out because it is much more likely to lead to pneumonia and death in dogs.  80% of dogs exposed to influenza will develop disease from canine influenza.  10% of dogs will die from influenza infection.

Because of the severity of disease influenza causes, and because influenza has been diagnosed close to Billings, MT, we now recommend H3N2 AND H3N8 vaccination for ALL dogs that are at risk.  Vaccination helps protect dogs from developing infection and significantly decreases their clinical signs if they do become infected.

We have the bivalent vaccine (H3N2/H3N8) and the separate vaccine strains (H3N2 and H3N8) available for our canine patients.  Each strain requires one vaccine with a booster 3-4 weeks later, then annual re-vaccination.

Please consider vaccination for your dog if he/she is exposed to other dogs and remember that beginning January 1, 2018 we will REQUIRE H3N2/H3N8 canine influenza vaccination for all dogs that board at our hospital.

For more detailed information about canine influenza, please see AVMA’s website:

February is Dental Health Month


“According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 years have some form of tooth and gum disease.”

Dental and gum disease can cause bleeding and swollen gums, tooth decay, bad breath, pain, and difficulty eating.  If dental disease progresses, it can lead to serious health problems such as liver, heart, or kidney disease.  Below are pictures of a dog’s mouth before and after a professional dental cleaning.

We are celebrating National Pet Dental Health Month by offering all of our clients a $20 discount on their pet’s dental cleanings in February!

We are equipped with state-of-the-art dental equipment including digital dental x-rays, Digicare multi-parameter patient monitors, safe patient warmers (Bair Hugger and HotDog), and enamel bonding.  Dental x-rays allow us to evaluate the large portion of the tooth that resides below the gumline.  They are an invaluable tool for our Doctors to evaluate the health of the entire tooth.  Our trained technicians, patient monitors, and patient warmers ensure the safest possible anesthesia for your pet during his/her dental.  We now offer enamel bonding which can help seal and preserve minor damage and chips in the teeth.

Please call us today 406-255-0500 to get your pet on our February schedule!

Toshiba Aquilion CT Scanner

For some time, we have wanted to add a cost-effective advanced imaging unit to our clinic to benefit the pets, clients, and Veterinarians in the Billings area.  We are pleased to announce that we have added a new Toshiba Aquilion 16 slice helical computed tomography (CT) unit to our facility, as part of our recent expansion.  Our 16 slice Aquilion scanner is the same one used at several veterinary teaching hospitals (Cornell University and Virginia Tech) and several veterinary referral centers.

The Aquilion CT machine significantly improves our imaging and diagnostic capability.  Patients are placed on a table which advances into the gantry, which is a rotating tube that generates x-rays as it spins 360 degrees.  A detector captures the beam and generates highly detailed cross-sectional images.  The gantry can take 16 anatomical pictures at one time which allows visualization of entire regions of the body in a matter of seconds.  Because the unit works so quickly, we can briefly sedate animals and generate high-quality diagnostic images of the body.  The cross sectional images can easily be transformed into informative 3D images.

The digital CT images are sent to an off-site radiologist for review.  We currently submit the CT images to Dr. Kenneth Waller, DVM MS DACVR, a board certified veterinary radiologist at University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.  Because the scans are so brief and all the images are digital, we usually have a comprehensive radiology report the same day the scan is generated.

Many patients that undergo a CT examination also receive intravenous (IV) contrast agents which highlight blood vessels and blood supply to normal tissues and tumors.  We can use the CT to image almost any region of the body.  Most frequently, our CT studies are made of heads, spines, elbows, as well as a wide variety of cancers and metastasis (spread of cancer).

We are the only veterinary facility in Billings which has an in-house CT machine.  We perform CT scans for our regular patients as well as referral patients from Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming.  Please contact us with any questions:  406-255-0500

USDA APHIS Travel Website


USDA APHIS has launched a wonderful new website for pet parents who travel with their furkids.

The website is very user friendly and covers both international and domestic travel.

Travel requirements vary greatly depending on the destination country (or state: Hawaii).  Sometimes months of preparation is required to ensure smooth travel into a new country.

Although we are always here for counsel and help with travel and health certificates, we hope this helps you prepare ahead of time.

Happy travels to all!


Kennel Cough – Facts and Common Misconceptions

It seems like almost daily at the clinic, I see a dog with “kennel cough.” Kennel cough is a term that generates so much confusion because it sounds ONE disease with ONE cause – which is NOT the case. The problem is that upper respiratory infections in dogs are COMMON and can be caused by MANY different pathogens (not just one). Many of these infections have similar symptoms including a harsh, hacking cough which can be dry or produce a foamy, white saliva. Commonly, people think that their dog has “something caught in their throat.”

Part of this is our fault – for years we have commonly referred to the Bordetella vaccination as the “kennel cough” vaccination. But, the truth is the Bordetella vaccine protects a dog from getting an upper respiratory infection from just Bordetella. It does not protect against the other numerous pathogens that can cause the same symptoms.

Here is the current list of pathogens that can cause the symptoms of “kennel cough”:

Viruses: canine distemper, canine parainfluenza, canine adenovirus ty 2, canine influenza, canine herpesvirus, canine reovirus, canine respiratory coronavirus, and canine pneumovirus.

Bacteria: Bordetella, Mycoplasma, Streptococcus, and Chlamydophila.

It seems like every year, they add a name or two to the list.

We have vaccines available to protect dogs from some of these pathogens. The DA2PP vaccine or canine “distemper” vaccine protects dogs from three viruses that can cause upper respiratory symptoms: canine distemper, canine adenovirus ty 2, and canine parainfluenza. The Bordetella vaccine is a separate vaccine that protects dogs from getting the infectious bacteria Bordetella. There is also a canine influenza vaccine that protects against one strain of canine influenza.

So why do we see so many dogs with infectious coughs if we have vaccinations? Because if you look at the list, there are at least 7 other pathogens (and probably more in my opinion) that can cause similar upper respiratory symptoms.

Can we test to see which pathogen a dog has? There are two types of tests that can tell us which type of infection a dog has. The first is a respiratory disease PCR profile. The PCR test is accurate at detecting several of the potential pathogens. The test, however, is expensive and does not cover ALL potential pathogens. Additionally, the tests are not always 100% accurate depending on when the patient is sampled during the course of disease. The second type of test is a paired serology test. Although this test is the most accurate, it requires multiple blood samples and is often costly.

Treatment: The good news is that most of the dogs we see with upper respiratory infections have self-limiting disease – they resolve with little or no treatment. There are times that we prescribe cough suppressants and/or antibiotics on a case to case basis. Antibiotics are only beneficial if the patient has one of the bacterial causes of upper respiratory infection.

Most cases of canine upper respiratory infections are highly contagious. It is not uncommon to have “outbreaks” at places that have high dog concentrations such as grooming facilities, shelters, boarding facilities, and day care facilities. Dogs spread the disease by coughing infectious particles and/or direct nose to nose contact. Depending on the pathogen, sometimes they are most contagious right BEFORE they start coughing, which adds to the spread as we don’t even know they are sick at this time. If your dog is showing symptoms, he/she is most likely contagious, so please limit his/her exposure to other healthy animals.

My take home tips are:

1. Vaccinate your dog for DA2PP (distemper, adenovirus, and parainfluenza), Bordetella, and potentially Canine Influenza (if the disease is present in your area).  We have had confirmed cases of canine influenza in Montana and we do offer the canine influenza vaccine.  Canine influenza activity varies in different regions and seasons.

2. Know your dog will ALWAYS HAVE SOME LEVEL OF RISK of picking up an upper respiratory infection if he/she is in contact with other dogs or housed with other dogs (boarding facilities, grooming facilities) even without direct contact.

3. If your dog does become sick with a cough, have them checked by a veterinarian. We can help discern how sick they are and what treatment (if any) is recommended.

4. Keep your dogs away from other dogs until they are no longer showing any symptoms to help limit the spread of disease.

5. Call your veterinarian if your dog doesn’t recover as expected or if you have additional concerns.

2016 Expansion & Remodel


DSC_0208In February 2016, we broke ground on the first expansion/remodel project at Best Friends Animal Hospital.  For some time now, we have been running short on cage space, boarding runs, treatment space, and exam rooms.  Simply put, we are outgrowing our current 5,000 square foot facility.

The expansion will add an additional 7,000 square feet of finished space.  The expansion includes:

  • 5 additional examination rooms
  • double the amount of treatment space
  • increase number of hospitalized dog and cat areas; add large hospitalized dog runs
  • dedicated orthopedic surgery room
  • large indoor daycare room
  • physical therapy room
  • crematory
  • increased numbers of small and large dog boarding
  • sun-lit luxury cat boarding area
  • dedicated dental suite

The current facility will also have several areas which will be remodeled and improved.

We ask for your patience as we all deal with the mess and noise of construction.  We promise to do our best to minimize the impact on your visit.

We’d like to thank our wonderful clients who trust us with their animal family members!  We want to provide you with the best care, and this involves continual improvement and change.  Without your support and referrals, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to do this!