Move Over, CT, We Have HDVI For Pets!


Technician monitoring a patient on the new machine.

The team at Sunstone Veterinary Specialists is very excited to let the community know about a new piece of advanced imaging equipment we have acquired. CT or ‘cat’ scan is a well-known method of advanced medical imaging that allows us to “look” through the body, map organs, tissues and sometimes observe abnormal structures. CT (Computed Tomography) in simple terms, is a series of tiny x-rays collected by a computer as the x-ray machine is spinning around the outside of a patient’s body. Each tiny x-ray is then added together through software to create a bread loaf-like slice of the area that has been scanned. The slices, which vary in thickness depending on the machine, are then “stitched together” by the computer blending and approximating the space between the slices. 


COVID-19 Update

This blog post is likely a bit different than what you’ve come to expect from us here at Sunstone Vets but alas, here we are. We know that if you are anything like us, you have been inundated with information, news and opinions regarding the COVID-19 virus. As a company, we wanted to take the time to address the situation in regards to our pets and what we are doing to help keep you and our staff safe.


All About Endoscopy…. Part 2!

A rhinoscopy being performed at Sunstone Vets. On the screen you can see the inside of a nasal cavity. The white plaques are fungus!
A rhinoscopy being performed at Sunstone Vets. On the screen you can see the inside of a nasal cavity. The white plaques are fungus!

In the last installment of our blog, we introduced you to one of our favorite diagnostic tools- endoscopy! We went over the basics and talked about gastrointestinal endoscopy, the most common form of endoscopy we do here at Sunstone Vets. Here’s the link to that blog in case you missed it! This week, we will learn about the other types of flexible and rigid endoscopy that we offer and how they can help your four legged family member.


All About Endoscopy!

Dr. Tobin and team performing a gastroduodenoscopy
Dr. Tobin and team performing a gastroduodenoscopy

Welcome to the next installment of the Sunstone Vets Blog! This week, we will be talking about one of our favorite, minimally invasive diagnostic tools…..endoscopy! Endoscopy is a catch all term for a variety of procedures that allow us to examine the inside of the body. The medical suffix “-scopy” simply means to use an instrument for examination or viewing. When combined with other terms, it describes the body area we are looking at. For example: Rhinoscopy (the study of the nasal cavity); Cystoscopy (study of the urinary bladder); Bronchoscopy (the airways); Gastroduodenoscopy (stomach and small intestine); Colonoscopy (large intestine)…. you get the idea! In this and the next blog, we will describe each endoscopic procedure that we offer here at Sunstone Vets and what you can expect for you and your furry friend.


What to expect at your pets Internal Medicine Consultation

By the time you get to Sunstone Veterinary Specialists for your pets Initial Consultation, we know that you have likely already invested time, energy, money and worry into their illness. You may have been referred to us by your family veterinarian or maybe you simply decided to seek another opinion. However you found us, we want to give you the tools to help ensure a successful first visit. Read on for insider tips on what to expect at your pets Internal Medicine Consultation.


Basics of Abdominal Ultrasound

If you are reading this blog, your pet has likely been advised to have an abdominal ultrasound for some type of health issue they are having.   So, what exactly is an abdominal ultrasound? What are we looking for? What will happen to your pet during this test? This blog will cover the basic questions and concerns you may have regarding this common diagnostic procedure.


Brrr! 5 Winter Weather Pet Safety Tips

Winter weather pet safety

It seems safe to say that winter has officially fallen upon the Pacific Northwest! Mount Hood got a foot of new snow the past few days (good news for all you skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts)! Down here in the valley we are all enjoying the magical time of year when you don’t even need to look at the weather app to know ‘cold and rainy’ is in the forecast. But what does this change in seasons mean for our four legged friends? Read on for some winter weather pet safety tips to help keep your fur babies warm and cozy.


So Your Dog Needs a TPLO

Help! My vet told me my dog needs a TPLO! What is that, exactly?

Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) injury is one of the most common reasons for dogs to have a hind leg limp. The CCL is one of the major ligaments in a dog’s knee, it is the same as the ACL in humans. Its main job is to keep the shin bone (tibia) from sliding forward in relation to the thigh bone (femur). Partial or full tearing of the CCL results in an unstable and painful knee which causes a limp.

Some dogs tear their CCL completely and may suddenly stop putting weight on their injured leg. But the most common story I hear from clients is that the limping comes and goes. Their dog might have been limping off and on for weeks to months (or sometimes years). At the beginning, the limping would get better with rest and pain medications, but the latest episode of limping is worse than before, or didn’t get any better with rest. Worsening of limping often happens when a long-standing partial CCL tear becomes a full CCL tear. Or when dogs with a CCL tear also tear their medial meniscus. The medial meniscus is one of the shock absorbers in the knee. About 50-60% of dogs with full CCL tears and 5-7% of dogs with partial CCL tears will also injure their meniscus.

Diagnosis of a CCL tear is based on finding cranial drawer (instability between the shin bone and the thigh bone) during an orthopedic exam. While most dogs are able to be examined awake, some dogs may be too painful, tense, or anxious to allow a complete exam without sedation.

There are many procedures available to treat CCL tears in dogs. One of the most common CCL surgeries is the TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy). The purpose of a TPLO is to change the forces going through the knee so that a dog WITHOUT a CCL can have a stable joint to walk and run on. This is done by making a curved cut in the shin bone (tibial osteotomy). Taking the cut piece of bone, rolling it down the curve that was made, and stabilizing it in the new position with a bone plate and screws. By flattening the top of the shin bone, the thigh bone has a more stable platform to rest on, and other muscles and ligaments are recruited to help keep the knee stable.

Having performed and assisted in over 500 TPLOs, I consider the TPLO to be a very good and very reliable surgery. In the hands of an experienced surgeon, most dogs that have a TPLO have a good to excellent chance for a full recovery with a low likelihood of complications. But, as with most things in life, the TPLO is not perfect and certain individual factors may influence the success of the surgery.

To accurately plan for a TPLO surgery, specifically positioned and calibrated x-rays of the knee and shin bone are taken. Precise measurements of the shin bone are made and our bone cut is planned before surgery. That way I know what size saw blade I will use, where on the shin bone to make my cut, and how far I should rotate the joint surface to achieve a TPLO. Depending on the shape of your dog’s shin bone, whether or not they have torn their meniscus, or if they have other problems in addition to their torn CCL (i.e. a dislocating kneecap), changes may need to be made to the surgery. In some cases, a different procedure may be recommended.

At Sunstone Veterinary Specialists, a TPLO for one knee for dogs under 100 pounds typically costs $4800 plus the cost of medications to go home. Our package pricing includes post-operative rechecks at 2-weeks and 8-weeks. * The initial exam and consultation with Dr. Su and any additional diagnostics (such as bloodwork) are not included.

*Extra-large or giant breed dogs (>120lbs) would have extra fees to cover the additional medications, disposables, and resources required. This estimated cost includes the surgical visit (which includes a night in hospital) and routine follow-up (2 and 8-week post-op rechecks).

Lillian Su, DVM, MVSc, CCRP, Diplomate ACVS-SA

Board Certified Small Animal Surgeon

Summer Pet Safety by Jenne!

Keep your fur friends safe during this heat wave. Follow some simple tips to stay safe in the heat:

1. No car rides! Leave the pups at home. Even in the morning time, your car can rapidly heat up, and that cracked window does nothing to keep them cool. A car can overheat in minutes at 70 degrees.

2. Exercise them in the early morning, when the air and pavement are coolest. Hot pavement can easily burn their paws, and exercise in the hot afternoon can lead to heat stroke.

3. Make sure they always have access to cool water. Use ice cubes, give them frozen veggies as snacks (mine love frozen green beans and carrots). You can even make frozen low sodium broth cubes in ice cube trays to encourage hydration.

4. Keep them safe at the river/lakes. Bring potable water with you for them to drink and prevent them from drinking from river/lake. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t let them drink it. If they are swimming, use a doggy life jacket to keep them safe. Keep an eye out for algae advisories-some locations have toxic algae blooms going on, and this is dangerous for both humans and dogs. Also, watch out for dead fish!! Dogs love to snack on them, but in our area they can get a parasite from eating fish that can make them very ill (commonly known as salmon poisoning, although other dead fish can carry it).

Jenne, BA
Referral Coordinator

Tech Talk – Springtime Safety!

Have a Pet Safe Spring!

What has certainly been a LONG winter will soon be coming to a close. Colorful blossoms and sunny days are more than welcome and hopefully will be here soon. Spring is right around the corner! Unfortunately, parasites and other seasonal risks can put a damper on all the fun. However, you and your furry friend can still look forward to this wonderful time of year by following some of these basic springtime pet safety guidelines.

Road Trips and Outdoor Activities

One of the first things you may want to do as the weather turns warm is travel. This may include a day trip to a beautiful outdoor park or a vacation to a new destination (spring break, anyone?). When traveling with your pet, keep the following safety precautions in mind:

·      Make sure the destination is truly pet-friendly and that your pet is travel-ready. When in doubt, consider a good boarding facility.

·      For road trips, don’t forget your pet’s crate or seatbelt harness. Bring plenty of water and other daily care essentials.

·      If your plans include hiking, avoid a wildlife encounter by keeping your dog leashed, vaccinated, and supervised. Remember, skunks, coyotes, and other animals can transmit deadly diseases.

·      Microchip your pet and keep ID tags updated.

Lawn and Garden Care

Spring is a great time to tackle the yard and clean up the garden. But wait! Many products can be toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals. Before beautifying your backyard, be aware of the following poisonous products:

·      Mulch containing cacao bean hulls

·      Slug and snail bait

·      Rose care products

·      Compost (often contains potentially toxic foods and dangerous molds)

·      Plants such as lilies, sego palms, and crocuses

·      Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitoes…Oh My!

Although parasites can threaten the health of pets (and people) any time of year, spring can be when most fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes come out in droves. That’s why it’s critical to keep your furry pal on a year-round preventive. Remember, administering an over-the-counter product without consulting your veterinarian can place your pet in harm’s way.

Pet Allergies

Another springtime risk to keep in mind includes protecting your pal against allergies. If you notice your pet itching, losing fur, sneezing, or developing hot spots, please contact your Veterinarian. There are many great treatment options available to ease the discomfort of your pet’s seasonal allergies.

In general, spring means more outdoor time with our pets, which means greater distractions and more risks. If you are in doubt, remember to contact your Vet about any products that could be harmful to your pet.

We hope these tips can help you spend more quality time with your pet and enjoy a much deserved springtime.  Remember awareness and preventative action is everything!


Surgery Assistant