The High Deserts Social Network Blog…

Pets and Pain Don’t mix

Pets experience pain, but they don’t have to suffer for it. Understand how pain works and you’ll be a strong advocate for your pet.

By: Robin Downing, DVM, CCRP, DAAPM

Pain is a hot button topic in veterinary medicine-and for good reason. Our knowledge about pain has exploded in recent years. Not so long ago, well-intentioned veterinary school faculty members taught eager students that, “some pain in pets is a good thing.” Fortunately for pets and the people who love them, we’ve come a long way. We now know that pets’ nervous systems are wired the same as ours. That means if a procedure or condition would be painful for us, we can presume it will be painful for our pets. And we realize that experiencing pain is not a “good thing” for pets or people. This understanding creates a good-news, bad-news scenario. It’s good news because acknowledging that pet pain is a problem opens the door for treating it. It’s bad news because while we understand pain’s importance, we struggle to identify cats and dogs experiencing it when they can’t talk to us in our language. That said, knowing the way the nervous system works allows us to make useful presumptions about preventing and treating pain in pets. This is powerful information for you, too. It gives you the opportunity to advocate on your pets’ behalf since they can’t advocate for themselves.

Acute Pain

Let’s look at the nervous system and clarify the importance of treating pain early and adequately when possible. Pain actually serves a critical role in survival. When we touch a hot stove, our ability to percieve pain protects us from burning tissue by activating the reflex that automatically withdraws our hand. When we sprain an ankle, the pain reminds us to protect the joint until it heals. These are examples of adaptive pain-pain that serves a useful purpose-and pets experience it just like we do. Adaptive pain includes all inflammatory pain, and inflammation is a major factor in many veterinary scenarios, such as following surgery or trauma.

Problems begin when we don’t effectively prevent or treat adaptive pain. When this happens, physical changes occur in the spinal cord and brain, leading to pain that is called maldaptive. Unrelenting pain transforms from adaptive pain that serves a useful purpose to maldaptive pain, or “pain as disease.” In the maldaptive pain scenario, pain become self-perpetuating, an escalating source of misery and suffering. Fortunately, when veterinarians can either prevent pain or identify and treat it early, we can avoid a long-term pain experience for the pet.

Surgery is the most common pain situation pets face. By asking the right questions, you can be confident your pet will recieve appropriate pain management. There are several steps in a surgical or dental procedure where veterinarians can prevent pain, starting in the preoperative period. Giving a preanesthesia dose of a narcotic pain reliever reduces the dose of drugs veterinarians need to induce anesthesia and keep the patients asleep. Local anesthesia blocks pain from the incision or at sites of tooth extraction. And the combination of a narcotic with a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) postoperatively keeps the pet comfortable and enhances healing. Depending on the type of procedure, your veterinarian will outline the pain management protocol that will be best for your pet.

Traumatic injuries-sprains, strains, fractures, and lacerations-can be pretty unpleasant experiences for pets. Veterinarians can help pets through these painful experiences while treating their injuries. Untreated or undertreated pain interferes with healing, so it’s important to utilize appropriate pain management options. When your veterinarian prescribes pain medications for a pet following surgery, a dental procedure, or after an injury, it’s important that you give the medication exactly how it’s prescribed and give all the doses. Don’t stop giving prescribed pain medication just because you think your pet is fine and it’s not feeling any pain. Pets dont always make it obvious to us when they’re in pain. Appropriate acute pain management prevents the pain from evolving into the maldaptive pain state described earlier-pain as disease.

Contestant #15

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain presents its own set of challenges for both pet owners and veterinarians. Most pets that suffer chronic pain are experiencing maldaptive pain-pain that serves no useful purpose. This pain often becomes self- perpetuating or expands beyond the original painful site due to changes in the nervous system. Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common cause of chronic pain in pets, is a progressive disease that may begin with vague symptoms.

The early signs if OA generally don’t include limping or stiffness. Instead, pets in pain often exhibit subtle behavior changes that pet owners can mistakenly misinterpret as part of “getting older.” These behaviors may include decreased stamina, increased sleeping, decreased interaction with family members, or diminished enthusiasm for previously energizing activites. Pets that previously slept on the bed or furniture may choose the floor. Cats may eliminate outside of the litter box if it become painful for them to climb in and out of it. As OA prgresses, lameness and stiffness may emerge and the pet can become reluctant to perform simple activites like climbing stairs.

The good news is that there are multiple effective strategies for addressing and relieving chronic pain. We now understood that a multimodal approach to chronic pain-an approach that targets multiple aspects and origins of the pain-is effective. This approach maximizes the effectiveness of the pain relief protocol, allowing for gradual reduction of medications down to the lowest effective doses, and it exercises the principle of synergy among pain management components. Synergy means that all the peices of the pain management protocol work together.

If your cat’s or dog’s behavior has changed in some way, visit your veterinarian so your pet can be evaluated for the possability of pain. Your veterinarian will try to localize the pain source as much as possible in order to guide the diagnostic plan. Radiographs, CT, or MRI may be needed. Before prescribing any medication, the veterinarian will analyze your pet’s blood and urine to evaluate metabolic function.

Once chronic pain is diagnosed, there are several important steps that should occur simultaneously in the initial stages of chronic pain management. Don’t overlook weight reduction. In many studies, human and animal, weight loss alone reduced the signs and symptoms of OA pain. While weight management is initiated, medications will reduce pain allowing the pet to be more active, which will in turn assist in weight management. Therapeutic nutrition to support osteoarthritic joints and nutraceuticals to support joint health are also options. Before making any nutritional decisions, be sure to consult your veterinarian in order to choose products that have been demonstrated to be effective and safe. Other techniques like acupuncture, therapeutic laser, medical message, and therapeutic ultrasound can be leverage to break the pain cycle. Your veterinarian will recommend the therapies and medications that are best for your pet.

Once the pain cycle is under control, additional techniques like physical rehabilition (working out in an underwater treadmill), Therapeutic exercise, and chiropractic adjustment can restore function and build strength. Once a pet is comfortable and more active, your veterinarian can slowly and systematically reduce the medications to the lowest doses required to sustain as painfree a state as possible.

This is Vinnie The winner of the contest

The Path to Pain Free

Keeping pets free of pain is both exciting and challenging, but in all cases it’s extremely rewarding. Our pet’s don’t deserve to hurt, and they rely on the people in their lives to do everything possible to help them. While we can’t avoid all pain-producing experiences for our pets, we can certainly intervene on their behalf when they face the inevitability of a painful experience. So talk to your veterinarian at the first sign of pain. With your veterinarian’s help, pets can live longer and better. After all, good pain management is good medicine.  

July 20, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Veterinary, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost and Found; A personal experience


Hazel’s Story


Katie and Hazel


Families go through many trials together. Losing a pet can be one of the most challenging trials to handle.
This is what happened to our family when Hazel, our 9 month old German Shorthair pointer decided that there was something outside the block wall and iron gates that she had to see. It happened on Labor Day and before we knew it she was spending her first night alone in the desert. We drove around in the desert, rode horses out in the desert and
informed everyone we could think of that she was missing. We tried not to panic but we did not sleep much. Day after day searches yielded no results. Then I started researching and educating myself on what to do when you lose or find a pet. The following information is what I found.

Animals usually run into the wind. Hazel did. Check sheds and garages of yours and your neighbors. I once found my cat in a neighbor’s shed because I heard him vocalizing. The neighbor had no idea he was there. Make lost pet fliers that include a recent photo, breed, sex, color, age, weight, personality characteristics, location and date last seen and phone numbers to reach you. Offer a reward but do not state an amount. If your pet has amicrochip, you can make the flier up on the microchip company website or many other websites. Distribute the fliers to as many individuals and locations as you can: dog parks, pet supply stores, feed stores, pet grooming stores, veterinary offices, grocery stores, gas stations and around schools. Children are often more observant than adults, especially with animals. Withhold an identifying mark or characteristic of your pet to verify the identity of your pet. Replace fliers regularly as they fade or are destroyed by weather. When you find your pet make sure you take down all your old fliers.

Notify the microchip company if your pet has a microchip. They will send out notices to veterinary hospitals, animal control, etc. Advertise. The penny saver and Craig’s list are free. Found ads are free in the Antelope Valley Press and lost ads require a nominal fee. Look through the found ads regularly. Talk with the postal workers, garbage crews
and anyone else you can think of. Give them fliers. Notify rescue groups. Animal forums and message boards on the internet are also good way of getting the word out. Networking does improve your chances. I found people to be very compassionate and helpful. Animals do tend to bring out the best in all of us!

Put a piece of your clothing or blanket at the spot where your pet was last seen. He may come back to that area.  Research reported that certain breeds are more likely to do this than others.  Utilize your county Animal control facility or Humane Society. Personally speak to as many officers as you can and look in all the areas. Visit the facility in person and visit regularly.  Leave fliers regularly. Check the dead animal list and check the web site regularly.  The individuals at our local Animal control facility were amazing to me in my quest for Hazel.  They have a very tough job and I am very thankful for them.

Be careful of scams. I was taken for $120 when a nice older gentleman from a company he called called me and said they would call homes within a 10 mile radius to spread the news about Hazel.  After research, I discovered that it was a scam. Unfortunately, there are many individuals who prey on anothers troubles
so be careful.  I did find a legitimate company entitled Find who did call people in the area to notify them of the loss.

To prevent loss of your pet, the most important tool you have is the microchip.  Microchips can be easily inserted into your pet at Animal Control or any veterinary hospital.  Make sure that you have your current address and phone number registered with the microchip company. I have one client who was able to get her pet back after 1 year because of the microchip. Countless success stories arise because of microchips. Good collars that fit well with tags are helpful.  Pet proof your yard regularly.  Train your dog and spend time with your dog.  A well exercised dog is less likely to run off.  There are also many outstanding tools for boundary training available. Spayed and neutered pets are less likely to wander. Research the breed prior to getting a pet so you know what you are getting into and keep a current photo of your pet. Prevention is the best key and saves a lot of heartache. Finding your dog is great but not losing your dog is even better.

Don’t just wait and see. Don’t focus on the wrong theories. Dogs are rarely stolen for research labs.  This kind of thinking will only drive you crazy. Our family persevered through the power of positive thinking.  As a mom, I had to not be a lunatic for my 12 year old daughter (Hazel’s owner).   Showing her a good example of problem solving was
important to me.

Rescuers can determine the fate of the animal. If you rescue a dog, Please keep in mind that this may be someone’s pet.  Please be responsible and compassionate. Animals can quickly begin to look rough if they have been out- but don‘t just assume that they are mistreated or not well taken care of. Many dogs can become frightened, hungry, etc and may not act themselves.  DO NOT JUST ASSUME THAT AN ANIMAL HAS BEEN DUMPED RATHER THAN  LOST.   You can take the pet to any Animal Control facility or veterinary office to check for a microchip.  There is NO cost for checking for a microchip. It is a quick, easy procedure and yields a high percentage of positive results.

Finally, if I may quote Winston Churchill- Never, Never, Never, Never give up. Once you lose hope, you reduce your chances of finding your dog. The power of positive thinking does work in life. Hazel is home after 3 months and our family received the best Christmas present ever.

Debbie Spencer, DVM

Southern Kern Veterinary Hospital

Quartz Hill Veterinary Hospital

July 14, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Veterinary, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bringing Home (Another) Doggy or Kitty

In our monthly magazine we send out to our clients called Healthy Pet we found another great article we would like to share with you about bringing home a new pet. The article was written by Alicea Schaeffer, RVT, VTS (Behavior), KPA CTP.

Most people reasearch major decisions, and adding a family pet-especially when there’s already a dog or cat at home-is a major decision. It’s important to look into the type of pet that’s right for your two-and four-legged family members before your purchase or rescue a new cat or dog. Doing so can save you time and heartache.

Ask A Trusted Source

The best way to start your pet-finding mission is to talk with your veterinarian or credential technician. They’re well educated or not only the benefits of certain breeds but also their predilection to problems. For example, if you’re leaning toward a purebread cat or dog, the veterinary team can help you find out which breeds are prone to allergies, orthopedic issues, or behavior problems. They can counsel you on the dogs that are best with children, cats, or other animal family members. If you’re considering pet adoption, your veterinary team can direct you to reputable rescue groups. You should also talk to your veterinary team about the pets that are already living with you. It’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so he or she can examine these pets to make sure they’re healthy and up to date on vaccines. What’s more, the veterinarian can warn you about any potential “sibling” rivalries. Sometimes older pets deal with arthritis issues, for example, and a new friend jumping on them could create discomfort and lead to spats.

At Home With Dogs

After learning all you can from your veterinarian, it’s time to think about how to bring the new pet into your family. Remember that introducing a new pet can be a stressful time for people and pets. When bring a new dog into a home where there’s already a canine family member, you must plan and prepare for every step of the introduction to avoid conflict and make the transition go smoothly. Think about first impressions. As you know, they’re very important. If the first few minutes of a dog meeting are stressful, this can make the introduction process take much longer. One way to prevent undue stress is to prepare your home before the new dog arrives. If possible, set up a special area of the house for the new dog. A laundry room or other small room where the dog can see the main living area is ideal. Accoutrements should include a food bowl, water bowl, and a toy that can be stuffed with food. Also give your new dog a kennel and leave it out and accessible in the special area. It’s best to keep your new dog, especially puppies, in the kennel while you’re not at home. Not to play favorites, your established dog also needs his own place-set up in advance of the new dog’s arrival-that’s outfitted in the same way: with food, water, a bed, and toys. Speaking of toys, it’s important that you pick up all your current dog’s valuables-such as food, bones, and toys. Leaving out desirable items invites guarding. Newly introduced dogs often find sharing difficult.

No Dog-Eat-Dog World

When you pick up your new dog, it’s best to bring along any other dogs already in your family. Introduce the “new” and “old” dogs in a neutral location on leashes with at least two people present. Keep the leashes loose and let the dogs sniff each other. Lure them apart with treats and praise to give them breaks. Also offer treats and praise when they act appropriately towards one another. Watch for growls or lip raises. This behavior is not unusual and often can be trained away. If it persists or escalates, you might want to seek help from a professional. Most of the time you’ll see milder signs of stress, such as raised hair behind the neck or the dogs may ignore eachother at first. Work through this with patience and praise when things go right. When the dogs seem mostly comfortable, load each into its kennel for the ride home. Once at home, keep your dogs seperated by a baby gate when you cannot monitor their interactions. This may only be necessary for the first week. When the dogs are together, play with them, pet them, take them on walks, and give them special treats. If they discover that great things happen when “that other dog” is around, they’ll soon enjoy eachother’s company.

The Cats Meow

There’s a process for dog meets and greets and the same is true for cats. When adding a cat to a houselhold with an existing cat, you must prepare. The new cat, even if it’s a kitten, will not be comfortable passing by the resident cat to access a litter box or food. Why? The established cat might be nervous and try to intimidate the new cat. So, before bringing the new cat home, purchase two extra litter boxes. Keeping at least one more litter box than there are cats-two cats, equals three litter boxes-decrease the chances of inappropriate elimination from cat-to-cat stres, which undoubtedly will decrease your stress as well. As with dogs, the new cat would benefit from her own space, with her own food, water, and litter box. Your current feline friend also needs her own place and accessories. If your introducing a new kitten to an older cat, it’s even more important to give the mature cat a place to escape. Ideally, this would be a room where you can close her off. If that’s not possible, provide a vertical space the young cat cannot access. If you live in a smaller house, try increasing the vertical living space. Adding cat trees or ledges by windows allows cats to cross eachother’s paths without getting to close.

Foster Feline Fondness

When the new cat arrives, leave her in her carrier. Let the esablished cat approach and sniff. Cats are scent oriented, so try rubbing the new cat with a towl and letting the other cat sniff it. Once the cats sniff and show no signs of aggression, it’s safe to let the new cat out of the carrier for supervised interaction. If problems arise, keep the cats seperate a bit longer. If you’ll be out of the house, keep the new cat seperated from others. When you’re home, supervise the cats’ interactions, giving them extra attention and treats as described earlier for dogs. Do this until the cats seem comfortable together (about a week), which means no hissing, hitting, stalking, or blocking the otehr cat’s path.

Take It Easy

Don’t force new cats or new dogs into interacting. Usually, new pets just need a little time to become acclimated to their new life and family, both people and pets. Consider this personal example: A retired greyhound came to live with my family, which included to jack russell terriers and a lab mix. She wanted to live behind the recliner for the first few days. So we moved her food, water, and bed behind the chair. When she ventured out we reinforced her decision with treats. After a few days, she started spending time in the living area with the other dogs. When she got nervou, she went back to her spot and I distracted the other dogs away. It took only about two weeks before she was completely comfortable. As you grow your pet family, hopefully the introductions will go well. Always remember that, if you need it, help awaits at your veterinary clinic. Never hesitate to contact the qualified people there for assistance and advice.


July 13, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Vet, AV Best Veterinary, AV Best Veterinary Clinic, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Questions Your Veterinarian Wishes You’d Ask

Every Month we send out a magazine called Healthy Pet to all our clients to let them know if their pet’s vaccinations are due. In this month’s issue there was a magazine article titled “6 Questions Your Veterinarian Wishes You’d Ask” and we completely agree, so we thought we would share with all you pet owners out there.


Owning a pet seems simple: feed, walk, play, cuddle, repeat. Of course, the responsabilities of pet ownership are more involved. To keep dogs and cats health, you need a veterinarians help. And your pets doctor is eager to answer your questions-even one’s you might not think to ask. When you head to the clinic for the pet’s next visit, bring these quaries with you. Your pet-and your vet-will be glad you did.


1. What will my pet cost?

“The sad fact is two out of three puppies will not be with their original owner in two years,” says Andy Rollo, DVM, with Madison Veterinary Hospital in Madison Heights, Mich. “Behavior and cost are the top two reasons for this. So we want to make a dent in that statistic by preparing owners.” So ask your veterinarian what financial aspects to exprect over your pet’s lifetime. “In my clinic, we have a plan that spells everything out for the first year, including spay or neuter surgery, vaccines, and parasite prevention costs,” Dr. Rollo says. “We give it to owners during their first visit to try to avoid some of the sticker shock that can occur.”


We would like to add to this: Here at QHVC we do offer puppy packages so owners of new puppies will pay a discounted one time price and will be set up for all the first year vaccinations, a fecal test, an exam with the same doctor at each appt, the first dose of heartworm medication, toe nail trimes each time, and lots of new puppy information. This package also gives owners discounts on the spays and neuters and microchipping. This puppy package helps take the stress off the owner of worrying when the pet has to come in for the next vaccines and saves the owner money.


2. What identification does my pet need?

Sandy Block, DVM, With Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital in San Ramon, Calif., recommends that every cat and dog get a microchip. Collars and tags also are important for all pets to wear, but these forms of identification can fall off. So microchips are the only sure-fire way your pet can be identified. However, microchips are only useful if you keep your information-name, contact information, and microchip ID number- up to date in the datebase, so be sure to speak with your veterinarian about the best identification strategy for your pet.


We would like to add to this: In the LA area it’s also very important that you register your pets with the Lancaster Animal Shelter, and keep in mind it is cheaper if the pet is neutered and spayed, and legally it is required that every pet have a current rabies vaccination. We offer a vaccine clinic every Thursday from 5-7 pm walk in and cash only and it’s ten dollars for the shot.


3. What food should my cat or dog eat?

Nutrition is as important for pets as it is for people. The type of diet recommended for cats or dogs depends on a number of factors, such as your pet’s age, breed, lifestyle, and health condition. “Whether it is food, vitamins, or supplements, or natural products, ask your veterinarian what is appropriate for your pet,” Dr. Block says. Sometimes veterinarians prescribe specially formulated therapeutic foods to help manage certain diseases. Some people want to be their pets’ personal chefs. “Owners who want to home-cook food should weigh the pros and cons with the doctor,” Dr. Rollo says. The overall message: There are a lot of pet food options out there and your veterinarian will help you make the right nutritional choices for your pet.


4. Which Vaccines does my pet need?

Veterinarians usually divide vaccines into two categories: core and noncore. Core vaccines are recommended-or even required like in the case of rabies-for every pet. Veterinarians might recommend additional noncore vaccines based on your pet and the life it leads. “It will depend on the pets lifestyle: whether it is a house dog, a big Lab in the backyard, or a hunting dog,” Dr. Block says. “It also depends on the area of the country you live in because diseases vary and the frequency required for vaccinations varies by area.” Indoor and outdoor cats usually require different vacccinations, as do puppies and kittens. Therefore, it’s vitally important that you visit your veterinarian to find out which vaccines your pet needs.


We would like to add to this: In the Antelope valley legally the Rabies vaccination is required. However, we also recommend your dogs get their combo shots which include things like Distemper and Parvo, we have seen many cases of Parvo so this vaccine is extremely important especially for puppies. They should get there first Parvo vaccine at 6 weeks and ever three to four weeks after that until theyre at least five months old. We also highly recommend your pet get the Bordatella vaccination as well, since we have seen many cases of Kennel cough, which dogs can get from being around other dogs not just at a kennel. This vaccine should be given at 8 weeks and they should be given at least one booster and like the Parvo vaccine should be update yearly. Again we do have a vaccine clinic every Thursday or you can call to set up an appointment.


5. What does my pet’s behavior mean?

A lot of people forget to mention behavioral issues-even seemingly smallones- to their veterinarians. “Whether it’s that a dog jumps up on grandma when she visits or growls at a child for taking its bone, those things are important to the family,” Dr. Block says. “Behavioral issues are one if the main reasons pets end up at shelters, so we try to fix it so they can stay happy and healthy in their home.” Also tell your veterinarian about changes in your pet’s behavior. For example, if your cat starts urinating outside the box, the behavior could signal an underlying illness. Cats are notorious for hiding illness, and small behavior differences like this might be the only sign you’ll see.


6. How do I carry out the treatment plan?

When your veterinarian is working to diagnose your pet’s illness, be sure you understand all the steps. For example, ask why the doctor is running blood work or taking a radiograph. Also be sure you completely understand any healthcare you’re to give at home. “Sometimes it’s easy for veterinarians to overlook explaining the therapy that’s been recommended,” Dr. Rollo says, “Whether it is giving a medication or restricting activity.” If you have questions, veterinarians always want you to ask for clarification. They also want you to share any concerns you may have. For example: “If the doctor puts your dog on a canned food diet, but your dog doesn’t like canned food, say so,” Dr, Rollo says. Also feel free to call the practice if problems arise after you get home. Regardless of the situation, remember this: When in doubt, always ask your veterinarian for more information. Your pet is the main priority,and veterinarians and their team members welcome the chance to spend and extra minute or two with you to make sure your cats and dogs healthy and safe.


Hope this helps all pet owners and the next time you come into Quartz Hill Veterinary Clinic keep these questions in mind!

Silly group photo such a great place to work : )

July 13, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Veterinary, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Quartz Hill Veterinary Clinic Welcome to Quartz Hill & Southern Kern Veterinary Clinics. At Quartz Hill and Southern Kern Veterinary Clinics we’re dedicated to providing quality service for the Antelope Valley, Southern Kern and surrounding areas. We provide in-house surgeries, a full range of diagnostic laboratory services, and a complete pet pharmacy. Quartz Hill and Southern Kern Veterinary Clinics are comprised of a modern hospital, surgical unit, radiology department and on-site laboratory. We emphasize preventive care whenever possible to ensure a happy, healthy and long life for your pet.


March 8, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Veterinary, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kermit and Molly patients av AV’s Best Veterinary

This is Kermit and Molly two patients of ours that are a breed we rarley see here and QHVC. They are Tibetan Terriers! We thought you may want to learn a little more about their breed.
The hardy Tibetan Terrier is a breed built to withstand the extreme climate and difficult terrain of its home country Tibet. Medium-sized, yet powerfully built and very agile, they possess large, flat, round feet that produce a snowshoe effect and provide traction in heavy snow. The breed has a protective double coat, which can be any color or combination of colors, and a fall of hair that blocks the eyes and foreface from the elements.
They were bred and raised in monasteries by lamas almost 2,000 years ago. As the “Holy Dogs of Tibet,” the breed was treasured by the lamas, who kept them as companions, good luck charms, mascots and watchdogs. They were also used for some herding and to retrieve articles that fell down the mountains.
Right Breed for You?
Highly intelligent and somewhat mischievous, the Tibetan Terrier loves his family, and his sensitivity to the moods of his owners makes him an excellent companion (although he may be reserved around strangers). An independent and active breed, the Tibetan Terrier responds best to positive, patient training and regular exercise. His profuse, thick coat requires weekly maintenance.

Quartz Hill Veterinary Clinic

42237 50 St West

Quartz Hill, CA 93536

Telephone (661) 943-7896



March 4, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Veterinary, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Antelope Valley Vet-Visit Questionnaire

Hey friends, found this on the ASPCA website and thought it may help when bringing your pet in for a visit. It’s always helpful when a pet owner comes in prepared to assist the veterinarian in giving the best possible care for their four legged family member!

Vet-Visit Questionnaire



Whether you’re visiting a new vet for the first time or bringing your dog for an annual checkup, it’s important to be prepared. The veterinarian will likely ask you a series of questions to determine your dog’s overall health and well-being. Think you know your dog’s medical history backwards and forwards? Well, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on the basics—download our helpful questionnaire of things your vet might ask you during your visit. And remember, if your vet doesn’t ask something that you have a concern about, don’t hesitate to bring it up.

1) How long have you had your dog? 
2) Where did you get your dog?

3) Has your dog been vaccinated? Against what diseases?

4) What brand of pet food do you feed your dog?

5) Is your dog’s appetite normal? How much does he eat?

6) How much water does your dog drink?

7) Is your dog urinating and defecating regularly? Does he ever have accidents inside?

8) Is your dog displaying any of the following symptoms:


9) Has your dog lost or gained weight recently?

10) Have you noticed any significant changes in your dog’s behavior?

11) Are you experiencing any behavior problems with your pet? (Chewing, jumping, barking, aggression, etc)

12) Have you traveled outside of the area with your dog?

13) Has your dog ever suffered a serious health issue? If so, what treatment did he receive?

From: Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health
By Louise Murray, DVM



February 24, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Veterinary, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Compassion and Understanding Quartz Hill Veterinary Clinic

So sweet and great to hear! This was posted in response to an article written about Dr. Chris and Dr. Debbie on

One Response to Couple cares for animals and people (Article in the AV Press)

Lori Williams says: January 25, 2011 at 3:59 am I have been entrusting my animals’ care to Dr. Spencer (Dr. Debbie) since 1988 and there is no vet I trust more than her. Her #1 priority is the animal while keeping in mind the people behind the pets.

She treated my beloved dog’s cancer on her days off…she offered to make a house call when the end finally came…she did everything she could to help my cat when he was in the hospital for a week…..all the while showing nothing but compassion and understanding to me, the pet-parent. I can’t speak highly enough of Dr. Debbie!

Everyone at both of her clinics treat the animals like their own, and Dr. Debbie makes sure of it. Whether I take my babies to the Quartz Hill office or the Rosamond office, I KNOW they will be well taken care of. There is no more caring veterinarian out there than Dr. Debbie…..and her staff

February 9, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Veterinary, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Desert Dog Dangers: Rattlesnakes……



Dogs and Rattlesnakes


One of our dangers of living in the desert is we share it with rattlesnakes.  Dogs are occasionally  bitten and our brought to our offices.  Fortunately snake bites are seldom fatal to dogs but can make them very ill and cause serious wounds.   We see an increase in dogs bitten by snakes in the spring when it begins to warm up.  The snakes come out of hibernation, they  are hungry and often aggressive.   We  are lucky to some degree that the t poisonous  snakes of our desert are not as aggressive as other types of rattlers.


In the Antelope Valley we see the very poisonous Mojave Green Rattler, Crotalus scutulatus , Western Diamondback, Southern Pacific Rattlesnake and other species of rattlers.  The Mojave Green seems to be the one we fear most, the venom of this snake is very poisonous and unique in that it is comprised of two type of toxins.  One type, a neurotoxin does as the name suggests, it poisons the nervous system.  The other is a hemotoxin which attacks the tissue; muscle skin and blood.   It has been speculated that individual snakes have different concentrations or even have the ability to utilize one or both types of venom.  I do not have a source to confirm this but have heard it mentioned more than once by herpetologists.


In my 23 yrs as a Veterinarian in the Antelope Valley I have seen countless dogs and even a few cats after they have been bitten by a rattler.  It is interesting that few cases have proven fatal.   More commonly a snake gives a defensive bite, or  a “dry bite”.  In these cases the snake deposits little or no venom.  It is believed the snake knows it is not hunting for food and chooses not to deposit venom into an animal that it will not eat.  There is often some venom in the snakes mouth or perhaps just the snake saliva that produces severe swelling and pain to the dog at the site of the bite.  As already mentioned these are seldom fatal bites.  My experience with most of the fatal bites the dogs attacked and killed the snakes.  In these situations the snake deposits all its venom after several bites while fighting for its own life.  Two particular cases I remember one dog died almost immediately and the other within a couple of hours.  Most commonly dogs come to the office with a swollen face or leg.


Treatment of a dog after it has been bitten is often just supportive care.  Intraveneous fluids, antihistamines and antibiotics are all very important in the treatment after a snake bite.  Anti-venom is also part of the treatment for a dog after a bite.  There is some debate as to how important it really is and how much does it really help.  In my experience it is useful and beneficial.  I would stop short of saying it would make the difference between life or death but I have seen the benefits of using anti-venom for treating a dog after it has been bitten.


There is little a dog owner can do in the field if their dog has been bitten.  Taking the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible is the best thing.  A positive identification of the snake is helpful but I would discourage anyone from trying to kill the snake and taking a chance of getting bit themselves.


Although avoiding snakes is the best preventative sometimes  it just can’t be helped when we live in their neighborhood. Snake avoidance training is extremely effective in teaching dogs to just stay away.   There are several trainers who offer this type of training.  I highlighted two I found with short google search.


There is also a rattlesnake vaccination available that will help your dog if it has been bitten.  It is an initial series of two vaccines then an annual booster.  It helps the dogs immune system fight the effects of the venom if they are bitten.  We offer this vaccine at our offices.


Quartz Hill Veterinary 661.943-7896


Southern Kern Veterinary 661.256-8121



January 27, 2011 Posted by | Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, rattlesnake bites, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Couple cares for animals and people (Article in the AV Press)

By: Amber Hoffman

Rosamond- It’s not all about the animals at veterinarians Debbie Spencer and Chris Biggerstaff’s joint practice – the couple have a passion for people, too.

“Sometimes you’re helping the people more than the animals,” Spencer said. “Helping people through their animals can be extremely rewarding. Both of us have really grown to appreciate helping people.”

Married 21 years, the couple have owned Southern Kern Veterinary Services in Rosamond for more than 20 years and Quartz Hill Veterinary Clinic since 2006. Together they have more than 46 years of experience in veterinary medicine.

“If you ever read the veterinary oath it says our commitment is to society,” Biggerstaff said. “Our practice philosophy is to help people through their animals; that’s the real goal.”

Every student who graduates from veterinary school takes a pledge to use his or her knowledge and skills “for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health…”

Biggerstaff said they sometimes help owners come to terms with the death of a pet or ease the worry of an elderly person with a sick companion animal.

“We have learned a lot of counseling,” Spencer said. “Helping people no matter the outcome is very rewarding.”

Raised on a farm in Missouri, Spencer said even at an early age she wanted to be a veterinarian.

“Since I was born I knew that was what I wanted to do,” she said. “I grew up in a rural setting, and my parents encourage me to stick with it. I’ve been around beef cattle, horses, dogs and cats. My grandmother had a farm with goats and pigs. I was always around all different kinds of animals and enjoyed interacting with them.”

For Biggerstaff it was more than just a love of living creatures that led him to become a veterinarian – it was enthusiasm for repairing things.

“I had a passion for the animals and I liked fixing things,” he said. “It’s really rewarding when you can fix something and make it better for somebody.”

Biggerstaff said his desire to fix things led him to a special interest in orthopedic surgery.

The couple met while at the University of Missouri’s Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine. Spencer and Biggerstaff graduated together in 1988 and moved to Rosamond to start their careers.

“I followed him here,” Spencer said. “It was a shock – desert compared to rolling green hills in Missouri. I had never seen mountain valleys like that before.”

Biggerstaff, who grew up in Alturas in far northeastern California, said they picked Rosamond because the Antelope Valley was experiencing a population boom and his beloved grandmother, Dolly Buck, lived in Rosamond.

“I spent all my holidays and vacations with my grandma in Rosamond,” Biggerstaff said. “It was Christmas 1984 and I mailed my application to the University of Missouri from the Rosamond post office. It was meant to be.”

The couple opened Southern Kern Veterinary Services in April 1990 as a part-time business while each worked at different veterinary clinics. Within a year, Biggerstaff was working at the Rosamond clinic full time.

“We were able to do it slowly; we both had other jobs, too,” Spencer said.

Although veterinary school didn’t prepare the couple for the business side of being veterinarians, the couple credit their parents for instilling an old-fashioned work ethic, common sense, compassion for people, financial understanding and good communication skills. The couple said they also turned to Buck, who passed away in 1995, for advice when they opened their first business.

“I asked her what she thought-if I should venture out on my own. She said absolutely,” Biggerstaff said.

Spencer and Biggerstaff took over the Quartz Hill clinic in 2004 when another veterinary husband-and-wife team, Dave Fly and Bonnie Snyder, wanted to move out of state and were looking to sell their practice. Fly and Snyder invited Spencer and Biggerstaff to lunch and asked them if they were interested in purchasing the business.

“We signed the contract on a napkin,”Spencer said, adding they still have the napkin.

The Quartz Hill and Rosamond clinic provide vaccinations, dental exams, microchipping, orthopedic exams, surgery, spaying and neutering, pet insurance, emergency services, pest prevention and more. The Rosamond clinic also boards animals.

When the couple purchased the Quartz Hill business, Spencer joined her husband. Previously she had worked 16 years at another clinic.

The couple said working together has been a blessing.

“We each have our own niche,” Spencer said. “He does the surgeries, and I would rather be in the exam room and managing. It’s awesome to have an immediate second opinion.”

The couple’s two children, 16-year-old Ray and 13-year-old Katie, help their parents at the clinics. Ray helps with supply shopping and Katie helps with maintaining the website and cleaning.

Biggerstaff said his goal is to expand the orthopedic surgical unit.

“I would like to grow the surgical part of the business,” Biggerstaff said. “A lot of people get referred to Los Angeles, from their regular veterinarians, we can take care of the more challenging cases. We can take care of them in-house, no need for a pet owner to have to drive to Los Angeles.”

Despite the troubled economy, Biggerstaff said one thing people don’t skimp on is their pets.

“Pets are a priority for a lot of people,” he said. “People sacrifice a vacation or other things for the love of their pets.”

Southern Kern Veterinary Services is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and is closed on Sunday. For details, call (661) 256-8121.

Quartz Hill Veterinary Clinic is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday. For details, call (661) 943-7896.


January 27, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Veterinary, Lancaster Veterinary, Palmdale Veterinary, Quartz Hill Veterinary, Rosamond Veterinary | , , , , | Leave a comment