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  Birchwood Veterinary Hospital / Lexington, SC
What to Expect
Modern Facility
Physical Exams
Insect-Born Diseases
Spaying & Neutering
Dental Care
End of Life Care
Birchwood Veterinary Hospital
Modern Facility  Birchwood Veterinary Hospital’s new facility offers an in-house laboratory, digital x-ray, computerized records, and a clean, sanitary kennel for our hospitalized patients.

Physical Exams  At Birchwood Veterinary Hospital, you won’t ever experience “just” an office visit. The friendly staff immediately become part of your extended family. Every time your pet comes to Birchwood, whether for a vaccine or well/sick-pet visit, Dr. Murphy performs a full physical exam. Your pet’s ears, eyes, skin, and mouth/teeth/gums, as well as gastrointestinal, skeletal, and nervous systems are examined for any abnormalities. If needed, blood work, urine samples, or other tests can be run in our hospital or sent to an outside lab. <back to top>

Insect-Born Diseases  Insect-born diseases are far more easily prevented than treated.
Birchwood Veterinary Hospital
  Heartworm ~ Once considered a parasite of southern climates, the heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is now recognized
as a major, global pest affecting pets everywhere. A simple, monthly dosage of heartworm preventative is all you need to
avoid the pain and cost of treating a heart-worm infected animal.

Fleas ~ Few creatures can inflict more misery, ounce for ounce, than fleas. These tiny, almost-invisible pests can make
life miserable and disrupt your household with a vicious cycle of biting and scratching. Fleas may also cause flea allergy
dermatitis in some pets and may be carriers of dangerous diseases.

Ticks ~ Often difficult to see, ticks attach to pets and feed on blood. They thrive in high humidity and moderate
temperatures, but can be found all over the country. Ticks may carry and transmit diseases, including Lyme disease and
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, that can cause serious health problems for pets and people. <back to top>
Vaccinations  Pets, like people, can be protected from some diseases by vaccination. Your veterinarian is your best source for advice regarding your pet’s vaccination needs. <back to top>

Spaying and Neutering  "Many people are surprised to learn that nationwide more than 3 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters. You might think that these are animals born in the streets or there is something "wrong" with them. But often they are the offspring of cherished family pets, even purebreds. Maybe someone’s dog or cat got out just that one time or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good homes failed.

"Still the result is homeless animals that have to be euthanized because there are more dogs and cats entering shelters than there are people willing to provide them with loving care. Even if you do find homes for your pet’s puppies or kittens, that means there are fewer homes available to take in other pets from shelters. Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100-percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats." (The Humane Society of the United States website,

In spaying, your female cat or dog’s ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus are removed. In neutering a male cat or dog, the testicles are removed. Both of these procedures can be performed prior to six months of age. In addition to saving lives, spaying and neutering can also drastically improve your pet’s health and life expectancy. Sterilized pets lead healthier, longer lives. Spaying a female eliminates the possibility of uterine and ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer. Neutering a male reduces the risk of both prostate enlargement in dogs and urine-marking behavior in both dogs and cats. Neutering also will make your pet more affectionate and less likely to roam, get in fights, or become lost. <back to top>

Dermatology  Healthy skin and a normal coat are the result of many factors. When dogs and cats have allergies, they don’t have the same problems that people do; instead, their allergies affect the skin. Pets tend to lick, chew, and scratch in response to allergies. Sometimes the reasons pets itch have nothing to do with allergies, and stem from other conditions. Problems with ears and lumps/bumps in the skin can also cause your pet discomfort.
Birchwood Veterinary Hospital
  Ears ~ Is your pet scratching its ears, shaking its head, or very irritable with its ears? If so, it could be suffering from an
ear infection. Ear infections can be caused by a lot of factors. It could be due to ear mites, yeast and/or bacterial
infections, food allergies, unhealthy environments, and improper hygiene. Ear infections call for medical attention. You
should rely on your vet to identify the problem and the most effective treatment.

Rashes & Itching ~ Rashes can be the result of infections (bacteria or parasites), allergies, or other conditions. A great
deal of damage can be done by your pet’s response to what’s happening with their skin. Prompt diagnosis and veterinary
care can make a huge difference in your pet’s health.

Lumps & Bumps ~ Dogs and cats can develop small bumps or larger lumps on their skin. Often, the word ‘lump’ brings
the word “cancer” to mind. There are, however, many causes for lumps and bumps. The list of causes is rather extensive,
so you can understand why a quick diagnosis is important but may be difficult to make. Various diagnostic tests, such as
biopsies, may need to be performed by your vet and treatment may be simple or complex. Your veterinarian can help
make the best decision for prompt diagnosis and treatment. <back to top>
Dental Care
My pet has bad breath. Are bad teeth and gums the cause?
  Cat and Doggy breath are not normal! Bad breath is the first sign of tooth and gum disease. The odor comes from
disease causing bacteria living under the gums.

Infected teeth and gums can be very painful for a dog or cat. Signs of pain can be decreased activity or play behavior,
no longer playing with chew toys, taking longer to eat meals, or decreased appetite. Some pets will continue to eat OK
even with painful mouths – owners don’t realize that their pets were in pain until after the dental treatments make their
pets feel better and start acting young again.

Cavities are not as common in dogs and cats as they are in humans. Many cats get a specific type of cavity called
resorptive lesions on their teeth, usually at or near the gum line. These can be extremely painful and usually are best
treated by extraction under anesthesia.
Does it matter whether my pet eats hard or soft food?
  Hard crunchy foods help to scrape plaque off the teeth as the pets eat. Some diets such as Hills t/d or Hills Oral Care are
specially designed to help increase the time needed between dental cleanings. Toys (like rawhide chews) and treats that
stimulate chewing behavior also make a big difference and help keep the teeth clean. I recommend staying away from
hard chew toys and bones – these often result in broken teeth and painful mouths.
When is my pet too old for tooth brushing?
  Pets are never too old to start preventative dental care. Tooth brushing gives the best benefit to teeth that are clean to
begin with. By the time there are mineral deposits on the teeth and the gums are infected, the pet needs professional
care by a licensed veterinarian.

Clients often wonder if their pet is too old for anesthesia and dental care. I always tell them that age is not a disease. A good physical exam and preoperative blood work can help rule out specific problems that may affect anesthetic
What can happen if my pet’s teeth aren’t cleaned?
  Calculus and tartar (hard deposits on the teeth) trap bacteria up under the gum tissue against the teeth. The resulting
infection breaks down the periodontal ligament and causes infected tooth roots, gum and bone loss, loose teeth, and
mouth pain.

Bacteria shed into the blood stream from infected teeth and gums can attach to the valves of the heart, resulting in
severe heart disease. These same bacteria can also lead to kidney and liver infections and a certain type of back
problem (spondylitis).
Do pets experience oral pain like people?
  Dogs and cats experience pain just like people. Anybody who has had an infected tooth understands how painful bad
teeth and gums can be. Unfortunately, our pets can’t always tell us how they feel. Many pets suffer in silence with a
painful mouth.
My pet lost a tooth the other day. Do I need to do anything?
  If your pet is young (less than seven months), he or she may be loosing baby teeth just like children do. Loose teeth in an adult pet are a sign of serious tooth and gum disease. If your pet has bad breath, loose teeth, or hard calculus (mineral
and bacterial deposits) on their teeth, contact your veterinarian for a dental exam today.
How can a professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian help my pet?
  A veterinary dental cleaning involves a complete oral exam under anesthesia, hand scaling of the teeth, cleaning with an
ultrasonic scaler, and polishing. Dental x-rays may also be taken to assess for infected tooth roots or other diseases.
Each tooth is checked for any problems to see if extractions or other treatments are needed. After your pet’s teeth are
cleaned your veterinarian may suggest a sealant called OraVet. This along with specialized diets will help to increase the
interval between teeth cleaning. A healthy mouth is a pain-free and odor-free mouth. With healthy teeth and gums, your
pets can live longer and better lives and become closer members of your family.
How can I care for my pet’s teeth at home?
  Start dental care at home when your pet is young. Get your pets used to having their mouths looked at and their teeth
brushed. Offer plenty of appropriate chew toys. Don’t feed hard bones or allow your dog to chew on rocks or tennis balls
(they wear down the teeth). Be on alert for changes in the smell of your pet’s breath – that is usually the first sign of
disease. <back to top>
Referrals  If your pet needs advanced medical care, we have connections with the best specialists in the Midlands. While your pet is being treated, we will continue to remain in contact with both you and the specialists to ensure continuity of care.
<back to top>

End of Life Care  Dr. Murphy and the staff of Birchwood understand the special relationship that you have with your pets. We know how hard end-of-life decisions can be and we will be there for you, to help you make the difficult choices.

Pain management, euthanasia, cremation; whatever you need to know to make your decisions, we can provide the guidance.
We also encourage our clients to seek out grief counseling. The C.A.R.E. Helpline was developed to provide a supportive outlet for people experiencing the actual or anticipated loss of their cherished companion animal.

The Helpline is staffed by veterinary students who understand the importance of the bond you share with your animal friend and the emotions involved when that bond is threatened or altered. The students have received training by professional grief counselors and undergo continued supervision by a licensed clinical social worker. <back to top>

“Brush up On Dental Care for Your Pets,” an article written by Michael Murphy, DVM, and published in the
winter 2008 edition of Southern Paws & Tails

  Birchwood Veterinary Hospital / Lexington, SC  
  2016 Birchwood Veterinary Hospital | design+code: Scientists of Media  
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