A comprehensive physical exam may be the most important diagnostic tool we have to care for your pets. As dogs and cats age much more quickly than humans, we feel that twice yearly physical exams are vital for both the short-term and long-term health of your pet. These exams can allow us to detect problems early, potentially before they become clinically apparent to you. With early detection, treatments and recommendations can be given which can significantly benefit the prognosis for your pet. During a physical exam at La Costa Animal Hospital, Dr. Schatzle or Dr. Ecker will evaluate your pet’s eyes, ears, nose, throat, teeth, gums, heart, lungs, musculoskeletal system, skin, coat and the lymph nodes. Any specific problems or concerns you have about your pet will be addressed at that time as well. After this examination, the doctor will work with you to develop a plan for treating your pet.
Immunizations, also known as vaccines, are an integral part of any preventative healthcare program. We feel that each pet has her own individual needs. That’s why at La Costa Animal hospital, we tailor a vaccine schedule specifically for your individual pet. Discussion of your pet’s individual needs for vaccinations will be addressed at the time of the physical examination. For those dogs at higher risk, we even offer specialized immunizations such as a rattlesnake vaccine.
Fecal examinations and dewormings are also considered part of any good preventative care program. These are used as a means to both diagnose and treat a variety of intestinal parasites. Many intestinal parasites are not visible to the naked eye, and can only be found with a microscopic examination of the feces. Intestinal parasites can be damaging to not only your pet, but potentially to your family as well. A variety of parasites that we see in animals are zoonotic, that is, transmissible to people. This is especially problematic for people with compromised immune systems such as children and the elderly. Routine fecal screenings are essential for the health of your pets and family.
Heartworm disease is an emerging concern for dogs in San Diego County. Although not previously seen in our area, cases of this life threatening disease are on an incline in recent years. We therefore recommend a yearly blood test to determine the heartworm status of your dog. A heartworm antigen test is a simple blood analysis that we perform in our hospital, with results available in about ten minutes. Once determined that your pet is negative, a monthly preventative pill will be prescribed to protect against heartworm infection. It should be noted that although heartworm disease can occur in cats, it is of extremely low occurrence in our area, and therefore is not part of our routine preventative care program for cats at this time.
Spaying and neutering your pet is considered a mainstay of all preventative health programs. As routine spay procedures involve removing both the uterus and ovaries, it eliminates the possibility of uterine and ovarian cancers. When performed at a young age, it has also been proven to drastically decrease the risk of mammary (breast) cancer. Neutering a male eliminates the risk of testicular cancer as well as a majority of prostatic diseases. Neutering also makes males less likely to roam, become lost, or get into fights.
We offer a full range of anesthesia, varying from local to general anesthesia. The extent of anesthesia warranted for any given procedure will be determined by your veterinarian. Our anesthetic protocols are tailored specifically for each individual pet, taking into account age, breed, and current medical conditions. This way we can assure the lowest possible anesthetic risk for your pet. We take great pride in our sparkling anesthetic safety record here at La Costa Animal Hospital. We are able to maintain this record by performing pre-operative blood work, providing IV fluids under anesthesia and using some of the best anesthetic drugs and monitoring equipment available.
As we have stressed for many years, there is no medical procedure that can be more beneficial for the health and longevity of your pet than regular veterinary dental cleaning/prophylaxis.
Dental disease (including tartar, plaque, gingivitis, and periodontitis) is a widespread epidemic amongst our pet population. The deleterious effects of this disease are not only destructive on a local level within the mouth, but have extensive systemic effects as well. Organs damaged by this disease include the liver, kidneys and heart. This damage can have devastating consequences not only on the quality, but also the length of your pet’s life. In many cases, once dental disease has reached a certain point, many of its effects are irreversible.
We at La Costa Animal Hospital have extensive knowledge and experience in treating any dental problems that are present, as well as preventing future occurrences of oral disease. We use a special high speed dental cleaning unit that utilizes advanced technology to prevent any microscopic etching of the enamel. In addition, we take digital x-rays of each and every tooth, enabling us to look for disease hiding below your pet's gums. These advancements allow us to make decisions regarding the health of individual teeth and their potential for either extraction or retention.
Included in our standard dental prophylaxis are:
- Physical examination prior to anesthesia
- Pre-anesthetic blood testing
- Intravenous catheter and fluids
- General anesthesia
- Dental scaling
- Dental polishing
- Complete digital intra-oral x-rays
- Complete oral evaluation including dental probing and charting
- Fluoride application
- OraVet protective sealant
Oral homecare items are also available including toothbrushes & paste, OraVet sealant, and prescription diet t/d (tartar diet).
For more information on the importance of a dental prophylaxis (also known as a "complete oral health assessment and treatment" or COHAT), and how this procedure is performed at La Costa Animal Hospital, please review our COHAT Information Sheet. For information on an important feline oral condition known as "feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions" or FORLs, please review our FORLs Information Sheet.
We offer a complete range of surgical expertise, from the routine spay/neuter to more complicated soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries. Although most procedures are performed in house by Dr. Schatzle or Dr. Ecker, we do have a number of veterinary surgeons with whom we work closely, when board certified expertise is warranted. These surgeons are available for consultation and referral, and in many instances are able to perform procedures in our hospital.
Pain relief can come in a number of forms – from anti-inflammatories for an arthritic, aging animal to opiates (such as morphine) for recovery from an invasive surgical procedure. We feel that it is a high priority to assure that no animal is suffering or in pain. Analgesia (pain relief) is taken very seriously at La Costa Animal Hospital, and we will stop at no end to make sure that our patients’ comfort comes first.
We have a fully stocked in house pharmacy filled with medications for your pet’s every need. From antibiotics to analgesics, they are all at our fingertips. If a unique medication is required for your pet, special orders are commonplace and can in many instances be received by the next business day. We can also have many of your pet’s prescriptions formulated into tasty flavored liquids or treats such as chicken, liver, or tuna, making the process of medicating your pet much easier.
La Costa Animal Hospital offers a full in house laboratory. This allows us to check a number of important lab parameters including complete blood counts (CBC), blood chemistries, electrolytes, urinalyses, and fecal exams among others. These tests are crucial for early detection and diagnosis of disease, and in many cases can save you a sleepless night waiting for your pet's blood results. In addition, we utilize our in-house laboratory daily to help assess your pet’s risk prior to anesthetic procedures. For more sophisticated tests such as thyroid evaluations and biopsies, we work closely with Idexx Laboratories and their Veterinary Pathologists for quick and accurate results.
Urine Testing (urinalysis)
Urine testing is recommended for any pet with urinary concerns such as straining to urinate, bloody urine, increased frequency of urination or increased volume of urination and drinking. Urine testing may also be recommended as a screening test for pets on certain long-term medications or for certain geriatric pets.
For more information on urine collection techniques and what urinalysis tests for, please visit our Bloodwork page.
Digital x-rays are used almost daily at our hospital, allowing the doctors to evaluate everything from the skeletal system to most internal organs including the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys and intestinal tract. We offer in house x-rays that provide excellent diagnostic quality digital radiographic films within minutes! We also have the capability to perform more sophisticated diagnostics such as IVPs (Intravenous Pyelograms) to evaluate the urinary tract, and barium studies to evaluate the gastrointestinal tract.
Ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging procedure that complements other diagnostics such as physical exam, bloodwork and x-rays. It allows us to better visualize internal organs in the abdomen and chest. It is completely painless and in most cases can be performed without any sedation. All ultrasounds are performed by a board certified veterinary radiologist who specializes in this imaging technique.
This is a special ultrasound of the heart that enables us to visualize all parts of the heart and how they are moving. This is performed at La Costa Animal Hospital by a board-certified cardiologist and is recommended in pets with heart murmurs or other heart concerns detected on physical examination. It is a non-invasive procedure: your pet will be fully awake, with an ultrasound probe on his or her chest.
EKGs, also called ECGs or electrocardiograms, can be a useful diagnostic test when cardiac disease is suspected. Many cardiac conditions can be life threatening emergencies, so early diagnosis is of the utmost importance. To this end, our EKGs are performed with the use of telemedicine. This allows review and interpretation by board certified cardiologists. When warranted, results can be received from the cardiologist within 60 minutes
A microchip is a small electronic device, similar in size to a grain of rice. It is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades. Each microchip has a unique number which is registered to you, the pet owner. This number, along with your emergency contact information, is added to a national registry. Here at La Costa Animal Hospital, we use Home Again microchips. Most veterinarians and all animal shelters have electronic scanners for reading these implanted microchips. If a lost pet is found and scanned, the registry is called and the owner is contacted, allowing pet and owner to be reunited.
Emergency services are provided by La Costa Animal Hospital during our normal business hours. Although after hour emergencies may be seen by Dr. Schatzle or Dr. Ecker at their discretion, it is most typical for after-hours emergencies to be seen by California Veterinary Specialists in Carlsbad (760-431-2273.) As a courtesy to our clients (for non-emergencies), Dr. Schatzle or Dr. Ecker are often able to be contacted after hours by leaving a message on the hospital voicemail (760-944-1266). Our staff members will make every attempt to call you back whenever possible.
As a courtesy to our clients, veterinary house calls are available, typically with advanced scheduling. We can perform nearly all veterinary services on your pets in your home, including full physical examinations, routine vaccinations, blood draws for labwork, and basic treatments such as nail trims and ear cleanings.
We also are able to perform house call euthanasias, which allows your pet to be in his or her most comfortable surroundings at time of passing. We have helped families say goodbye to their beloved pets in gardens, dog beds, people beds, in front of fireplaces, in the kitchen eating homemade treats and even in the car, for dogs who love to travel. Please do not hesitate to give us a call to inquire about this service if you believe your pet's time may be approaching.
We are now proud to offer stem cell therapy at La Costa Animal Hospital! This therapy is commonly used to treat arthritis as well as tendon and ligament injuries. Through VetStem, we are now able to surgically collect your pet’s adipose (fat) tissue, which will then be sent to VetStem for preparation. Within 24 hours, VetStem will isolate your pet’s own stem cells, prepare them for application, and send them back to La Costa Animal Hospital. The cells will then be injected directly into your pet’s problem areas (e.g. knees, elbows, hips). The primary benefits of stem cell therapy are the reduction (or elimination) of the use of pain medications, and an overall improved quality of life for your pet. VetStem has indicated that over 80% of pet owners notice improvement after stem cell therapy.
We now also offer stem cell banking through StemInsure, a service offered by VetStem. Similar to cord blood banking in humans, stem cell banking allows stem cells to be collected from your pet during a routine procedure such as a spay or neuter, to be stored for later use. For more information on stem cell banking, please view our StemInsure Information Sheet.
Please feel free to contact us to learn if VetStem cell therapy would be right for your pet.
Euthanasia services, including via house call, are available. We take this responsibility very seriously. Although typically one of the most difficult things to ever have to experience as a pet owner, we work hard to make this time as meaningful and painless as possible. Private cremation services are also available, which allows you to receive your loved one’s ashes back to keep, scatter or bury in a special place. For more information on senior pets and euthanasia, please visit our Pet Health Library.