June 29, 2020 – Still Providing Curbside Care
Please be understanding and kind to our staff as we try to provide the best of care through curbside service. We know many clients want to be inside the building with their pets. We want this too, but with the recent upswing in COVID numbers in our county and state, we feel there is still a significant risk allowing clients in the building and trying to maintain 6 feet of social distancing. Curbside takes us longer and we are all wearing masks inside and out all day long. We are taking these precautions to keep our staff AND clients safe, while still providing medical and surgical care for your pets. Although curbside makes it more challenging for our staff, it lowers our risk of staff exposure. An exposed staff member would severely impact our ability to provide patient care. Thank you to all the fantastic clients who have been supportive of our clinic and staff – We want to remain healthy and ready for your routine care and emergencies!
NEW CURBSIDE POLICY
WE ARE SWITCHING TO CURBSIDE SERVICE ONLY!
As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, we are increasing our biosecurity measures to keep you and our team as safe as possible.
First, please call our main phone line (406-255-0500 and press option one) when you arrive at the clinic. Next, one of our team members will proceed to your passenger side of your vehicle to talk with you about your appointment and any specific concerns.
Second, our team member will bring your pet into the hospital for examination. All pets need to be in a carrier or on a leash.
After the examination, the Doctor or team member will either return to your car or call you with information regarding the examination findings and recommendation for therapy (if needed).
When the appointment is finished, a team member will bring your pet out to your car. Payment may be done over the phone (credit card) or curbside (cash).
The same protocol will be in place for medication and food pick-ups. Calling ahead to let us know you are coming and when you will arrive will help tremendously.
We recognize this will be a very different experience for you and as much as we love our clients, this will be a huge adjustment for us as well. Spending time in the exam room with you is something we truly love and will miss during this disruption.
Please know we will do our best to make this as smooth as possible. With other clinic closures in Billings, we are trying our best to accommodate the community’s needs while keeping everyone as safe as possible. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this dynamic COVID-19 situation together.
Stay safe and stay well.
Best Friends Animal Hospital COVID-19 Protocol
In light of the recent health concerns associated with COVID-19, we are changing some of our protocols at Best Friends Animal Hospital.
We are open and plan on continuing with our regular schedule unless staff shortages make that impossible. Staff members will wash hands for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitizer before and after handling all animals. To date, it does not appear that pets can contract the disease, but they may be able to carry it on their fur and skin. Staff members will refrain from all physical contact with clients, including handshakes. Clients will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer upon entering the building.
Although we will strive to keep on schedule, please be patient if we run behind due to the extra safety and sanitation steps. Allow extra time for your appointment and know we are open to having you and your pet wait in your car, if needed.
We are increasing the number of times we sanitize public use areas. We will sanitize all room surfaces between patients. If you would prefer to wait in your vehicle until an exam room is open, please mention this when you schedule your appointment and you can call us when you arrive. We will then call you when we are ready for you to come in.
Feel free to use our online store to have medication and food delivered directly to your door – call us if you have questions on how to set this up and we can help over the phone. The online store can be accessed through our website or via this direct link: https://bfahmt.vetsfirstchoice.com/ If you need pet medications or food from our clinic, one option is calling in and paying with a credit card. When you arrive to pick up the item you can call us and we can bring it out to your car.
Please be mindful of self-quarantine rules in the event that anyone in your household is exposed or sick from the virus. Please do not come into our building if you are sick and inform us if the pet has been exposed to sick or quarantined people prior to entering the building. Please limit the number of people coming to the appointment – ideally only one knowledgeable, healthy person should accompany the animal.
For pets that are boarding or staying at our facility, we cannot take any toys or bedding. Food and medications are the only items that can accompany a pet from home.
We hope you all remain healthy and know our goal is to provide continued medical, surgical and urgent care for your pet.
Best Friends Animal Hospital and Urgent Care Center
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: https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/news/civchicago.cfm
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: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
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).