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AAHA Provides Guidance for Veterinary Facilities Seeking Accreditation

Based in Los Angeles, Larchmont Animal Clinic is one of the few veterinary facilities in the nation to have achieved accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Its status as an AAHA-accredited service provider validates Larchmont Animal Clinic’s dedication to providing excellent care to its animal patients. AAHA provides online evaluation tools to help veterinary clinics prepare for the rigorous accreditation process.

Clinics who want to pursue AAHA accreditation can answer questions online to determine if they meet the minimum mandatory standards for accreditation. With this initial survey, clinics can determine their current areas of strength and areas for improvement to meet AAHA standards. The system automatically saves answers, so clinic representatives can revisit and update their responses as their practices evolve. In addition, the AAHA online resource features helpful checklists to help clinics prepare for accreditation evaluations. Clinics can use provided templates to document standard operating protocols.

AAHA accreditation is voluntary and demonstrates a veterinary facility’s commitment to implementing standard practices and offering top-quality care. As an added benefit, working through the accreditation process can foster new levels of cooperation among team members. In addition, accredited clinics must go through re-certification processes every three years to help them keep up to date with current trends in veterinary practice.

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FAQ: What to Expect When Your Pet Receives Surgery (Part 2 of 2)

Prepared by the Staff of the Larchmont Animal Clinic

In part one of this two-part primer on pet surgery, we reviewed some pre-operation precautions the veterinary staff will likely need to follow. In the following article, we answer some questions pet owners often ask about the surgery itself and about post-operation care.

Q: Will my pet feel any pain during or after surgery?

A: You can expect your pet to feel the same amount of pain any human would; however, pets generally do not present the same symptoms. During the procedure, pain medications will reduce their discomfort, but when the animal goes home pain relief will largely be up to the owner. For dogs, the veterinarian will likely prescribe an oral anti-inflammatory or a narcotic pain patch to reduce their discomfort during the days following surgery. Fewer pain medication options exist for cats, as they often do not handle standard drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen well. Injectable medications, however, work on both dogs and cats.

Q: Will my pet require stitches, and will I need to take them out?

A: At the Larchmont Animal Clinic, we apply absorbable sutures just beneath the skin for most surgeries. Dissolving on their own, these stitches do not require removal. Occasional surgeries will need skin sutures, which are usually removed 10 days to 2 weeks following surgery. Owners will need to limit their pet’s movement and activity during the first 10 days of recovery and avoid giving them baths. They will also need to watch the incision site for swelling or discharge and notify their veterinarian if either occurs.

Q: What else will I need to do before or after my pet’s surgery?

A: Plan on taking 5 or 10 minutes to fill out paperwork upon arriving for your pet’s surgery. Also, consider what other treatments or services you may want performed while your dog or cat is under anesthetics, such as dental or ear cleaning or microchipping. Make sure to arrange for these treatments ahead of time. Before taking your pet home, expect to spend about 10 minutes going over care instructions.

FAQ: What to Expect When Your Pet Receives Surgery (Part 1 of 2)

Prepared by the Staff of the Larchmont Animal Clinic

Almost every pet will undergo surgery at least once during its lifetime, usually to be spayed or neutered. Well-informed pet owners can reduce their own levels of anxiety and provide better care for their animal before and after its surgery. The staff at the Larchmont Animal Clinic in Los Angeles compiled the following answers to common questions people ask about pet surgery and anesthesiology.

Q: What kind of pre-surgery instructions will I need to follow?

A: Depending on the type of surgery, the veterinarian will likely require that you refrain from feeding your dog or cat for eight to ten hours prior to surgery. Be sure to follow the vet’s instructions; failing to do so may result in the animal vomiting during anesthetization.

Q: How safe are anesthetics for an animal?

A: Modern anesthetic monitors make pet surgery a much safer ordeal than it was in past decades. Prior to administering anesthetics to pets at the Larchmont Animal Clinic, the veterinary staff will thoroughly exam the animal to make certain that it does not suffer from any sickness or injury that may cause complications during the procedure. The amount of anesthetics used depends on the general health and size of the pet.

Q: What further pre-surgery precautions do your veterinarians take?

A: Prior to surgery, vets will conduct blood testing on the pet to examine the health of its liver and kidneys. Animals with serious organ problems will likely not be able to handle the anesthetics and surgery will have to wait until these conditions are remedied. The veterinarian may require that some pets receive IV fluids during the operation to reduce the risk of complications.

Dr. Jan Ciganek Answers Commonly Asked Questions about Microchipping

Prepared by the Staff of the Larchmont Animal Clinic (Part 2 of 2)

Microchipping technology currently plays an invaluable role in animal research and pet safety. Used by animal shelters, veterinarians, kennels, humane societies, pet stores, and similar organizations, microchips allow for the identification and return of lost animals. In part two of this dual-part primer on microchipping, Dr. Jan Ciganek, owner of the Los Angeles-based Larchmont Animal Clinic, discusses some of pet owners’ common concerns and inquiries about the technology.

Q: How is my microchipped pet returned to me if I lose it?

A: One of the first routine actions that animal shelter or veterinary clinic staff members take when they find a stray pet is to scan the animal for a microchip. Once they retrieve the chip’s ID number, they may access the manufacturer’s registry and determine the animal’s owner. However, this process only works if the pet’s owner updates the microchip registry or database with their current information.

Q: Do I stand a better chance of retrieving my lost pet if it contains a microchip than if it only has an identification tag?

A: Research data seems to suggest so. A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2009 examined the recovery rate of some 7,700 stray animals found in animal shelters. Researchers reported that non-microchipped dogs and cats were returned to their owners 21.9 percent and 1.8 percent of the time, respectively. Conversely, microchipped dogs and cats were reunited with their owners 52.2 percent and 38.5 percent of the time, respectively. 

Q: Why were some of the microchipped pets not returned? How effective is the scanning technology in picking up microchips?

A: According to the same study, the two most common reasons microchipped dogs and cats were not recovered were that owners did not update their microchip registry information or they failed to enter any information at all into the databases. On very rare occasions, technology or human errors lead to a failure in identifying the pet’s microchip. These situations occur only infrequently, however, and new technologies in microchipping should reduce the incidence of these mistakes.

Q: If I microchip my dog or cat, do I still need to give it identification and rabies tags?

A: While a microchip works as a permanent, tamper-proof form of ID, it in no way replaces up-to-date identification and rabies tags. Rabies tags in particular should be attached to the collars of dogs and cats, showing other people that the animal has received the latest vaccinations.

Dr. Jan Ciganek Answers Commonly Asked Questions about Microchipping

Prepared by the Staff of the Larchmont Animal Clinic (Part 1 of 2)

A common service provided by veterinarians, microchipping involves implanting a small electronic microchip into pets. When scanned, the device provides an identification number that may be used to determine the animal’s owner and home address. Microchipping represents one of the many services we provide here at the Larchmont Animal Clinic in Los Angeles. Clinic owner Dr. Jan Ciganek provides the following information about the process of outfitting a dog or cat with a microchip.

Q: What does the microchip look like?

A: About the size of a grain of white rice, animal microchips consist of a piece of electronic hardware encased in a glass cylinder. The microchip only activates when a specially designed scanner passes over it, so it does not require batteries. It transmits information to the scanner via radio waves. 

Q: How does a veterinarian implant the microchip, and does the procedure hurt the animal?

A: We inject the chip under the cat’s or dog’s skin with a hypodermic needle. The short procedure feels just like a normal injection, though we use a slightly larger needle. We can perform a microchipping during a routine visit to the veterinary office or in conjunction with more complex treatments like neutering or spaying. 

Q: What information does the microchip store?

A: Current microchips contain identification numbers, which may only be accessed by scanning devices that operate on the same radio wave frequency. This technology does not allow you to track your dog or cat like a GPS device; rather, if they turn up lost at an animal center or vet’s office, the staff can retrieve their ID number and search for it in an online database.

Q: What kind of information does the database contain, and how do I input that information?

A: Your veterinarian should be able to provide you with information on how and where to list information about your pet. Currently, each microchip manufacturer maintains its own database available online or accessible by telephone. The databases typically contain information such as the name of the pet’s owner and their home address, though some store the dog’s or cat’s medical history as well.