Advances in pet care keep pace with human care |

Advances in pet care keep pace with human care

Reid Tulley
Dr. Carrie Nedele and Dr. Jim Hailey of Alpine Vetrinarian Clinic pose in front of an example of a digital X-ray image of a dog's leg.
Reid Tulley | Sky-Hi News

Joe Rooyakkers returned home from work one day to find his 10 year-old Highland Terrier acting strangely.

“He is usually a lap dog, but that night he didn’t want anything to do with me,” said Rooyakkers of his dog Cash.

.Rooyakkers took Cash to the veterinary clinic to try and determine what the problem was, and after feeling the dog’s spinal cord, the doctor suggested laser treatment.

After running the laser down Cash’s back, the dog appeared to be in better condition, according to Rooyakkers.

“He looked up at me like, ‘what did you wait so long for?’” Rooyakkers said.

“The dog was like night and day.”

Pulsed Signal Therapy uses large magnets to treat joint pain, tenderness and swelling and can improve mobility, especially in older dogs. It’s a form of therapy showing promising results in the veterinary field.

The therapy mimics normal signals transmitted to the joints by the body and helps to rebuild and repair damaged cells.

A therapeutic laser is another form of therapy that can be cost effective in treating skin conditions, joint and ligament injuries and other traumatic injuries.

Medical treatments such as these are taking the veterinary field by storm, with technology for four-legged friends advancing at a pace similar to that of health care for humans.

These days X-rays are digital, lasers and magnets are used for therapy, and surgical procedures can be completed through small incisions the size of a dime while being relayed on a TV screen. Digital imagry is also used to illustrate to pet owners in detail what procedures may be done. There are even apps for your phone to make sure you stay caught up on pet shots and examinations.

Digital radiography

Digital radiography is a form of X-ray imaging that utilizes digital X-ray sensors, as opposed to traditional photographic film. Digital holds a number of advantages over traditional film.

The digital X-rays load to the attached computer immediately after the picture is taken, giving the doctor the ability to make a diagnosis on the spot and offer the veterinarian a range of options when viewing the image.

“It is much more functional than a normal X-ray machine,” said Dr. Jim Hailey of Alpine Vet Clinic in Fraser, who with resident veterinarian Dr. Carrie Nedele, uses a number of these cutting-edge procedures.

The doctor can change the exposure of the image, providing a better view of soft tissue, pigment and bones, can zoom in on certain areas of the image, and can apply special image processing techniques to make the image clearer and enhance the overall display of the image.

Digital radiography eliminates the need for expensive film processing and the expense of film itself and allows for the images to be saved onto a CD or sent via email to any specialist. Images are also saved into a file dedicated to an individual pet.

Laparoscopic and Arthroscopic surgery

Laparoscopic surgery, sometimes called Keyhole surgery, is a surgical technique where operations in the abdomen are performed through a small incision, usually .5 to 1.5 cm, as opposed to a larger incision.

The veterinarian makes the small incision and then places a small tube through the incision. The doctor then inserts a number of instruments through the tube to complete the surgery, all of which have small cameras attached to them, which relay the image to a TV screen used to complete the procedure.

This method of surgery holds a number of advantages over traditional surgery including shortened healing time and less pain due to the smaller incision, less blood loss, and reduced exposure of internal organs to outside contaminants.

A study completed by Dr. Hailey and two other veterinarians was published in a 2005 issue of the American Veterinary Medical Association Journal. The study compared open spays to laparoscopic-assisted spays, looking at duration of the surgery, complications, measures of stress during surgery, and postoperative pain.

The study found that laparoscopic-assisted spays caused less pain and surgical stress than open spays.

Since then, Hailey has fine-tuned the procedure and now only needs to make one small incision to complete a laparoscopic-assisted spay.


Though an ultrasound machine can be used for a variety of diagnoses, it commonly is used to view the soft tissues of animals and humans. Ultrasonic machines actually emit a sound frequency, which can’t be heard by humans, that is used to detect soft tissue in the body.

Dr. Hailey discussed a golden retriever named Boomer who was in the office for a regular checkup when Hailey suggested checking the dog using an ultrasound.

Hailey discovered a tumor on Boomer’s spleen that was 2 centimeters across.

Golden retrievers and labs are genetically predisposed to getting tumors on their spleens, which can grow fatal if not detected. “More things are missed by vets by not looking than not knowing,” Hailey said.

After finding the tumor on Boomer’s spleen, his owners Carolyn and Ed Capri took the dog to a clinic at a Colorado State University extension, where the tumor was surgically removed.

While completing the surgery, the veterinarians also found another tumor on Boomer’s liver, which they removed.

Due to the preventative measure “just to check” Boomer’s insides, and due to the technologically advanced equipment, Boomer is now reported to be living a happy, healthy, and tumor free life, according to Carolyn Capri.

“We got very lucky,” Capri said.

Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

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