We wish to extend our sincere thank you to all of our valued clients and supporters who voted for us in the 2017 Courier News Readers Choice contest. The Belle Mead Animal hospital team has once again been awarded “The Best in Somerset County,” and we could not have achieved this award without you.
For five years running this award has shown your continued confidence in our team to provide the best care possible for your pets. All the animals that come through our door – dogs, cats, exotic companion mammals, birds, reptiles, goats, pigs – are special to us. They are part of your family, and we consider them part of our BMAH family, too.
We continue to stand firm in our mission to make life better and healthier for pets and families in our community. That is our commitment to you. Thanks for giving us the opportunity.
Belle Mead Animal Hospital, Your Other Family Doctors
Some pet parents still become fearful when told their pet may need anesthesia or surgery. Having concerns for a beloved pet is normal, but fear of the unknown can cause people to unfortunately disregard or delay important procedures such as spays and dentals. Some pet parents may assume their pet may suffer ill effects from the anesthesia. Let us lay your fears to rest.
AAHA accredited hospitals like ours who have a proactive, highly skilled veterinary team that properly support their patients every time with an IV (intravenous) catheter, IV fluids, warmth, and continuous blood pressure (BP) monitoring will help insure that pet anesthesia can be just as safe as human anesthesia.
Following are answers to some questions you might be asking yourself right now:
Will there be complications from anesthesia?
In all surgeries there is an element of risk, but complications due to anesthesia are uncommon in our practice. In most cases, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Studies have suggested that the risk of anesthesia is about 1 in 2000 or 0.05% for normal, healthy pets. In pets that have some pre-existing disease or in situations where procedures have been delayed longer than ideal for whatever the reason, then the number can increase up to 1 in 500 or 0.2%.
Is anesthesia the same today as it was 10 years ago?
The answer is “no” in most veterinary hospitals. Most hospitals should have progressive, up-to-date protocols using small balanced doses of pre-medications tailored to an individual patient. This is usually followed by a quick induction and quick recovery anesthetic just like what is commonly used in people.
Years ago anesthesia in pets was not as safe as it can be today. Better drugs and better awareness and monitoring of patients have made a huge difference. Also having an IV catheter in place as a standard non-elective safety procedure keeps a pet more stable. This simple yet vital IV catheter provides continual surgical fluid support during the procedure and allows emergency access to the patient if ever needed. Also, it wasn’t standard practice to measure blood pressure, temperature and all vitals in pets like it is in people.
Are the same anesthesia drugs, protocols, equipment, and precautions taken by every animal hospital in your area or New Jersey?
The answer is “no.” The state does not regulate or enforce standards of care. It is important to ask your vet the right questions which we will list at the end. Today, in a modern and progressive animal hospital such as ours, anesthesia is more smoothly achieved and monitored by having an IV catheter usually in a front leg. We give intra-operative intravenous fluids to help maintain the pet’s blood pressure during anesthesia. Warm air circulating blankets keep patients warm throughout the procedure which also protects and keeps our patients more stable. We have state-of-the-art monitors that continually check BP, temperature, EKG, oxygenation, and Co2. These safeguards that are commonly used today for pets were not in place years ago.
Our doctors and technicians are highly trained in the proper way to administer anesthesia and the use of monitoring equipment and procedures to ensure your pet does well. The pet’s vital signs such as respiratory rate and heart rate are watched closely throughout the surgery to ensure the pet’s pain-free experience.
Do the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks of anesthesia?
In general, the answer in most cases is “yes.” Your veterinarian will guide you and perform a complete exam with preoperative blood work to check the functioning of internal organs to ensure your pet is ready for a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia. Surgeries and dentals that are delayed by months or years because of owners’ fears often increase the chances for problems.
The time that a pet is under anesthesia is very important. Shorter anesthetic times are much safer than longer anesthetic times. Anesthetizing a pet on a more prophylactic basis for 20-30 minutes to perform routine dentistry cleanings is much safer than waiting too long. Many times patients with dental disease whose dentals are delayed to every 2-3 years will require much more time and cost to perform major dental extractions which increases anesthetic time and potential risks.
Another good example is spaying female dogs at 6 months which is much quicker and safer than waiting until they are older. Older female dogs quickly accumulate a lot of fat around their ovaries which can make surgery much more challenging and increases the risk of intra and post-operative bleeding.
When a mass or cancerous condition has been diagnosed, the removal of a malignancy under anesthesia to prevent further growth and spread of the disease may far out-weigh the risk of not putting the pet under anesthesia to perform the procedure.
A final example may be the quality-of-life enhancing procedures such as many commonly needed orthopedic surgeries pets require to live comfortably without constant pain.
What standards should you look for when surgery has been advised?
Ask questions, because not every hospital may use the same procedures or practice the same highest standards of care.
Find out if the veterinary practice will use on your pet:
- Monitoring equipment that checks all vitals but specifically includes an EKG and measures Blood Pressure throughout the entire procedure
- Intravenous catheter
- Intravenous fluids
- Warm air circulating blankets
- Pain medications before and after procedures
At Belle Mead Animal Hospital, we have all of the above in place as well as procedures to respond to any type of surgical emergency. We treat your pet as if he/she was our very own.
What should I do to prepare my pet for surgery requiring anesthesia?
At Belle Mead Animal Hospital, we will explain necessary fasting requirements and advise you of any important considerations the night before the procedure. By following the instructions, you will help ensure you and your pet have a positive experience.
Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital
Musculoskeletal disease (disease that affects your pet’s bones, muscles and joints) can affect pets of all ages. They can have aches and pains just like we do. But, because of their survival instincts, they try to hide it. In the early stages of this disease, it’s hard to spot because your pet may look and act absolutely fine “on the outside.”
What your pet looks like “on the inside” may be very different. Arthritis, toxins, hormonal abnormalities, infections, blood and blood vessel disorders or inappropriate nutrition can all affect the way your pet walks, plays and moves.
The best way to prevent disease is to schedule regular yearly exams with your family veterinarian. During your pet’s annual checkup, we can discuss all the things you can do to stop the development of or slow the progression of bone, muscle and joint disease. And we’ll examine every part of your pet “inside and out,” including:
- An orthopedic exam
- An assessment of body and muscle condition
- X-rays to see what joints and spines really look like
- Blood work to evaluate the function of internal organs
So what’s the best way to treat and slow down bone, muscle and joint disease in your pet if a condition already exists? At Belle Mead Animal Hospital, we offer a full program of physical rehabilitation and regenerative medicine. The modalities include:
- Class IV K-Laser therapy: Laser therapy speeds up the healing process and treats pain, swelling and infection.
- Massage: Just like people, pets love a massage! It decreases scar tissue formation and spasm while relieving pain.
- Therapeutic Ultrasound: The application of deep ultrasound rays will heat up the muscles and tendons to relieve spasms and pain while increasing flexibility.
- Physical manipulation, joint mobility and stretching
- Therapeutic exercises with the use of physioballs/peanuts and wobble boards
- Electric stimulation (TENS/NMES)
- Stem cells
- Platelet Rich Plasma
Don’t hesitate to ask your family veterinarian during your next wellness exam how physical rehabilitation can benefit your pet. In the meantime, visit the links below for more information about what we offer at Belle Mead Animal Hospital.
Dr. Kim Somjen, DVM
Belle Mead Animal Hospital
Another Somerset Patriots “Bark in the Park Night” has come and gone. We want to thank everyone who came out to TD Bank Ballpark on July 26, 2017 to share a fun evening with us! Let’s take a look back and share the memories, especially for those who could not make it that night.
Owners checked in with their dogs at the special registration table out front, and gates opened at 6 p.m. The event kicked off at 6:30 p.m. with the ever popular Pooch Parade around the field. A few of our BMAH team members participated this year with their own canine friends. The weather was perfect, and it was nice to see such a great turnout early on of people and their pets!
The Belle Mead Animal Hospital team did a great job in the concourse showcasing our services at the BMAH table, offering giveaways to people and pets, and demonstrating canine rehabilitation exercises offered at our new Pet Pain Clinic. Dr. Kim Somjen who manages the BMAH Pet Pain Clinic was on hand with several of her team members to offer advice and answer questions to interested pet owners. The team brought along their own dogs to demonstrate rehabilitation exercises.
Visitors to our table also participated in a raffle and this lucky dog named Buddy was the winner!
The concourse and ballpark stands were crowded with people and their pets enjoying the activities and watching the game. There was the usual break for Yappy Hour where folks could buy their dog an ice cream treat while troughs of water were made available throughout the ballpark to keep the pets hydrated. For those of you who are Somerset Patriot fans, they won that night! It was a great game with lots of excitement until the end.
Thanks again to everyone who came out that night and stopped by our table.
The Belle Mead Animal Hospital Team
It’s the final week for Voting in the annual Courier News Readers’ Choice Awards for the “Best of the Best” in Somerset County. The contest ends on Friday, August 11, 2017. It’s been our pleasure to care for your pets, and we hope we’ve met your expectations once again this past year.
Simply click on the “Vote Now!” link below and scroll to the bottom of the “People & Services” page to the “Veterinarian” subcategory and cast your vote for Belle Mead Animal Hospital (you may be required to log in). Please take a minute to write in and vote for Amwell Pet Supply under Pet Services. Your support of our local small business pet store will be very much appreciated!
Winners of the Somerset County “Best of the Best 2017” contest will be announced in the Courier News on Thursday, October 26, 2017. Thank you for your continued support!
Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital
Join us in congratulating Dr. Kim Somjen who recently achieved her Certification as a Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner through the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM)!
She began the certification process three and one-half years ago through the University of Tennessee’s Canine Rehabilitation Program and began incorporating what she learned into all of her cases. She has completed the University of Tennessee’s Certified Companion Animal Pain Management Program and is also in the process of completing the Veterinary Medical Acupuncture Certification.
Dr. Somjen is eager to apply what she knows and learns to all of her clients in our BMAH Pet Pain Clinic. She is a member of the International Veterinary Association of Pain Management and is pursuing certification as a Veterinary Pain Practitioner. Learn more about the BMAH Pet Pain Clinic here.
Belle Mead Animal Hospital was proud to be the lead sponsor of the WOOF IT! Dog Walk and Celebration on Sunday, May 7, 2017 to benefit Animal Alliance of New Jersey. The event took place at the Sarah Dilts Farm Park in Stockton from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. with all proceeds to help the rescued dogs and cats.
The $15 pre-registration fee ($20 the day of) included a 3/4 mile dog walk on the trail around the farm park, contests for the children and dogs, face painting, and balloons. Music provided by a local DJ added to the festivities. The dog participants received souvenir bandannas and were treated to “Wag Bags” full of goodies. A caricaturist, raffle baskets, vendors, and food were also available for purchase during the event.
There were a few rules to follow for the safety of all those participating. Only well-mannered, non-aggressive pets were welcome to participate with a limit of two dogs per walker. Non-retractable, 6 ft. leashes were required as well as proof of rabies vaccination.
Dr. Kim Somjen and Technician Taylor Boylan offered pet rehabilitation and massage therapy demonstrations at the Belle Mead Animal Hospital table. Visitors were able to ask questions and had a chance to learn how the rehabilitation therapies offered at the BMAH Pet Pain Clinic might benefit their own pet.
It was a fun day for a worthwhile cause! Visit our Belle Mead Animal Hospital YouTube Channel to see some of the pet rehabilitation demonstrations in action!
We’re excited to announce the Belle Mead Animal Hospital team will once again participate in the Somerset Patriots “Bark in the Park Night” on Wednesday, July 26, 2017.
Bring your leashed dog, family, and friends for a fun evening at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Stop by our table in the concourse to meet our Belle Mead Animal Hospital team and find out what surprises we have in store for you that night!
Read about some of our activities last year: Another busy Bark in the Park Night!
It’s always a great night out, so hope to see you there!
Thanks to all who joined us for the free Dental Seminar at Belle Mead Animal Hospital on May 6, 2017. We were happy to see so many dogs and cats come in with their owners eager to learn how to grade their pet’s teeth. In case you missed it, following is a review of what we went over that day.
While the pets enjoyed some quiet time in the kennel area, Dr. Martins began by explaining how Belle Mead Animal Hospital is one of only 12-15% of animal hospitals throughout the United States and Canada accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). That means we offer our clients an elevated standard of care, including dentistry, surgical and anesthetic procedures, that might not always be found in other animal hospital environments.
Pet dentistry is one of the most important services BMAH offers clients. Helping pet owners learn how to grade their own pet’s teeth will go a long way in ensuring they understand when to contact their veterinarian for an oral exam if they notice something awry in their pet’s mouth in between annual check-ups.
Dr. Martins then introduced Mark Sopko, dental technician, who has been with BMAH over 10 years. Mark has been practicing as a dental technician for over 20 years. He often travels around the country teaching at other animal hospitals and presenting at conferences.
Mark went on to explain the importance of grading pet’s teeth, charting the results, and taking digital dental x-rays of the pet’s mouth to zero in on the exact issue. X-rays allow the veterinarian and dental technician to see what the naked eye cannot see that lies below the gum line.
Mark showed clearly with photos through a slide presentation how a pet’s mouth is affected by periodontal disease. Without regular dental cleanings and daily at-home maintenance, plaque and tartar build up in a pet’s mouth similar to humans. The result is rotting gums and bone loss.
Clients are often concerned about anesthesia and cost. Before a pet is considered for anesthesia, blood work is done to ensure the pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. BMAH offers a proactive, highly skilled veterinary team that properly support their patients going under anesthesia every time with an IV (intravenous) catheter, IV fluids, warmth, and continuous blood pressure (BP) monitoring that will help insure that pet anesthesia can be just as safe as human anesthesia. With regular exams, routine cleanings, and at-home care, the risk of dental disease is decreased and therefore the costs for the pet dental work can be lower. In fact, pet dental care costs are comparable to what humans experience at their own dentist.
The greatest risk lies in waiting to schedule a dental exam until the pet is much older, after periodontal disease has set in. Remember, a 5 year old pet is the approximate equivalent age of a 30 year old person. Would you wait 30 years before having your first dental exam? But that is the reality. Our pets age much faster than humans do, and dental disease can set in before we know it.
Veterinarians and dental technicians treat pet dental care in much the same way as humans – we probe, we chart, we clean and polish, and we add fluoride to protect the teeth. We take full mouth digital x-rays on every pet to ensure accuracy of where dental problems might be hiding from the naked eye.
Have you heard about non-anesthesia cleanings? We do not recommend this and do not practice dentistry without anesthesia at BMAH. You cannot get up under the gum line to reach the bacteria without anesthesia and you risk hurting the pet when he/she moves around.
Mark offered many visuals during his presentation to show exactly the kinds of dental problems he’s seen, from broken and loose teeth, to gum disease leading to fractured jaws. If dental disease is left untreated and a root starts to decay, it can actually fuse with the bone and become bone – now the pet is in danger of a broken jaw.
If the veterinarian or technician sees a missing tooth and/or red areas in the mouth, that indicates something is happening under the gum line. Swelling on the pet’s face typically indicates a tooth problem. The animal has most likely broken the tooth. Bacteria and infection goes up the root canal and the infection reaches into the face. We also need to rule out cancer when swelling and/or lumps and bumps are evident.
During a dental exam, each tooth gets probed and charted. We give estimates of cost, but we don’t know in total what is involved until we see the x-ray. Some dentals are relatively quick 20-40 minutes total anesthetic time depending on the extent of plaque and tartar under the gums and whether or not extractions are found to be required. The x-rays are also used for positioning. We always do a post x-ray to make sure we achieved the desired result.
Signs of pet oral pain were discussed – loss of weight, crying, chewing with head to the side, rubbing face on things, drooling, no longer social (they hide), they bite when they didn’t bite before, dropping food, vomiting, matted fur (the pet can’t clean themselves without experiencing pain). Sometimes there are no signs at all (their DNA says they will become prey if they show weakness, so pets hide pain very well).
Number one at-home care recommended is daily brushing, using treats as rewards, and using gauze as the “brush.” Take it slow, step by step. If you watch TV with your pet in your lap, keep gauze and toothpaste right next to the couch. Start off with gauze because sometimes it’s easier than a toothbrush. There are different types of gauze, and for cats we recommend a tighter weave.
Please make note: mouth disease leads to other disease – the blood spreads disease into the heart, liver, kidneys – anywhere the blood will take it, even the brain.
Folks were given the chance to ask questions, and after the presentation, they were escorted back to the exam rooms to learn to grade their own pet’s teeth from stages one through four. Everyone left with a Dental Goodie Bag! Thanks to all those who participated!
The Hillsborough Girl Scout Troop 60527 recently organized a project called “Paws for a Cause” to gain their Bronze Award status. They invited Joe Martins, DVM, to make an address on responsible pet care as part of the project. The program took place at the Hillsborough Library on May 6, 2017.
Each of the seven girls gave a verbal presentation on responsible pet care. Topics covered included how owning a pet can be a wonderful experience; the value of adopting a rescued pet from a shelter; how to take care of the pet and the responsibility pet ownership brings; the description of a “high-kill shelter,” and the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
Dr. Martins congratulated the girls on a job well done and began his presentation with the basics of what pets require in addition to food, shelter and love. It’s important to establish a routine with our pets and recognize the importance of training and learning to read your pet’s body language as a form of communication.
When visiting shelter pets, one must realize the cats and dogs may be very frightened and feeling stressed by folks coming by to look at them and even trying to touch them. It can be very scary to the animal. A shelter is a good place to learn to recognize a pet’s body language. Is the pet at the back of the cage and trying to sleep? Or is the pet advancing toward you in a friendly manner wanting to interact? The best thing to do is view the pet from a distance first. Take your time and don’t stare at them. If they appear friendly, try throwing them a treat before you interact. Do not invade their personal space too soon. You have to respect their personal space and remember the pet may simply be scared.
These days veterinarians are trained not only in science and medicine, but on animal behavior. That learning experience can be passed on to pet owners so they can better understand how their pet is feeling by watching the animal’s behavior and studying their body language
Dr. Martins also touched on the subject of spaying and neutering pets. There simply are not enough loving homes to take in all the unwanted puppies and kittens for lack of spaying and neutering, and the pets often end up in shelters, many being high-kill shelters. Therefore, the decision to spay or neuter a pet is considered part of responsible pet ownership.
Another reason pets end up in shelters is because of behavioral issues. Dr. Martins described how sometimes dog owners inadvertently reward a behavior before the positive task is completed. Therefore the dog associates a task that might not be the intended outcome the owner was trying to accomplish with the pet. Sometimes different family members reward the pet for different behaviors, further confusing the training process. Therefore, Dr. Martins recommends practicing training daily with everyone in the household on the same page. He suggests dogs be taught the foundation skills of sit, stay, and down. Also important to know is when to reward, how to reward and when not to reward.
“I have a lot of folks who come into the animal hospital and tell me ‘they have always done it this way, but with this dog, it doesn’t work.’ Therefore I give people three free wishes with regard to their pet’s behavior because we can fix their behavior. We discuss it, we go over things they are doing wrong, then we come up with a plan,” said Dr. Martins.
Dr. Martins continued on the topic of pet body language and how to react as well as how not to react using the example of a stranger’s dog running toward you in a dog park. He recommends not making eye contact, remaining silent, turning to the side and “acting like a tree” – stay still and let the dog approach. The dog most likely will sniff and walk away leaving you unharmed.
Dr. Martins took questions at the end of his presentation. Questions ranged from pet behavior of dogs and cats, feeding issues, diet control, wet versus dry food, home cooking for pets, kitty litter box maintenance, and human pet allergies.