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Diagnosing Pets: Which Is Better, X-Ray or Ultrasound?

February 9th, 2021 by Cherished Companions

Diagnosing your pet’s condition may require the use of one of these tools—or both

Over the years, our Castle Rock veterinarians have diagnosed thousands of dogs and cats. As veterinary care has advanced, so has the technology used to help animal doctors get a faster and better picture of how to help your pet.

Two of the best tools for diagnosing sick and injured pets and people are X-ray (also known as “radiographs”) and ultrasound. Our Castle Rock veterinarians break down the difference between the two this way:

  • X-rays use electromagnetic radiation to showcase imaging of the pet’s body structure and highlight objects within.
  • Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of your pet’s interior systems. The sound waves bounce back and forth to create the imagery.

Ultrasound and X-ray are valuable options for diagnosing illness and injury in both dogs and cats.

What pet health issues can be best seen and diagnosed with ultrasound? 

“Soft tissue” issues in pets, such as those involving the gastrointestinal, heart, and nervous systems, are usually identified with ultrasound, as it essentially shows the vet three-dimensional images of these areas. However, ultrasound doesn’t work well when it comes to respiratory problems in the chest and thorax because the air blocks the soundwaves.

Aside from fractures, what types of conditions can be best seen and diagnosed with X-rays?

X-ray is indeed used frequently for fractures in pets, but it can also reveal lung abnormalities,

congestive heart failure, and foreign bodies in the GI tract—if those foreign bodies are made of hard plastic or metal. That plastic chew toy or spare change your fur friend gobbled up will block radiation, so it will show up clearly on an X-ray.

What would be the reasons for choosing one tool over another? Are there times when both are necessary for a diagnosis? 

There are several things that determine which diagnostic tool the vet will use for your pet. Your pet’s symptoms, health, and behavior as well as our veterinarian’s initial observations are all factors.  

For health issues that aren’t easily visible injuries, your Castle Rock veterinarian would look for signs pointing to your pet having a foreign body issue, an enlarged heart, heart disease or another problem.

In many cases, there is good reason to use both X-ray and ultrasound to diagnose or to narrow down your pet’s health issue. For example, if it appears to the vet that the pet ingested a foreign object, then an X-ray would likely be done first. But should that veterinary X-ray show an enlarged spleen, then an ultrasound would be used to get a better image of the spleen since it is soft tissue.

Does my pet need to be sedated for ultrasounds and X-rays?

Usually not. Most animals will relax once they are put in the position and realize that that the vet tech and doctor are there to help and not to hurt. We’re experts at making your pet feel comfortable!

That said, there are some exceptions. Very young and active animals or those who are unusually nervous may need a sedative to stay calm. It really just depends on the personality of the pet. Another occasion when sedation might be necessary is when doing hip X-rays, which can be more difficult for pets.

Keep in mind that at Cherished Companions, we have a Comfort First Pledge, so you can rest easy knowing we’ll do everything we can to see that your pet stays as pain- and anxiety-free as possible while in our care.

We’ll also make sure that you’re comfortable, too: our warm, friendly staff is here to answer any questions you may have about your pet’s health and to make getting veterinary services at Cherished Companions a relaxed experience. We even have a play area to keep your kids occupied while you wait!

What does it mean when you say our Castle Rock veterinarian uses “digital” ultrasound and radiography for your pet’s diagnosis?

Back in the day, veterinary X-ray films had to be developed like regular photography film. Today most medical imaging is digital and computerized. The benefits of digital X-rays and ultrasounds include:

  • Faster viewing. Basically, the X-ray or ultrasound machine is hooked up to a computer so it can be viewed within seconds. This makes for a quicker diagnosis for your pet, which means treatment can start that much sooner.  
  • Less stress. In the past if an image wasn’t clear or was inconclusive, there would be long waits or even rescheduling for retakes. With digital, retakes can be done on the same day making it easier on pets, families, and the veterinary staff.
  • Easy sharing. When doctors need a specialist to take a look, digital images can simply be emailed.

There are also environmental benefits, given that no physical materials or chemicals are necessary to see and develop the images!

Do veterinarians and veterinary technicians need special training to read ultrasounds and X-rays?

Veterinary technicians don’t usually read X-rays or ultrasounds, and instead are there to assist the doctor by positioning and calming the pet.

Reading veterinary X-rays does require some training, but it’s something that most veterinarians should be comfortable doing. To read ultrasounds, however, doctors do need some special additional education. At Cherished Companions, our Castle Rock veterinarian is a graduate of a two-year veterinary ultrasound certification course, so you know your pet is getting the best medical expertise available!

Related article

Help your cat feel better

If your cat is in pain while eating and you live near Castle Rock, Colorado, reach out to our cat veterinarians at 303-688-3757 or:

Book your visit here 

Cherished Companions Animal Clinic specializes in the care of cats and dogs. Our goal is to help your pet have as many happy, healthy years with you as possible—and to make your experience at our clinic comfortable and as stress-free as possible.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on issues that may cause a cat to have a poor coat. If you live in or around the Castle Rock area and have specific questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 303-688-3757.

© 2021, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic, All Rights Reserved

Adding a Second Dog to Your Family: Pros and Cons

February 27th, 2020 by Cherished Companions

Two dogs in a car. The Jack Russell terrier is the second dog to join this household.

The more dogs, the merrier, right? Sometimes.  🙂

Each pet family is different, so it’s awesome you’re thinking
through the decision of adding a second dog.

Dr. Melanie has always had two dogs, and she sees A LOT of
multiple dog families.

We asked her to share potential benefits — and
cons — of getting a second dog.

Plus, scroll down for her thoughts on good ages and genders for
a second dog, so you can choose well for your family.

Benefits of getting a second dog

  • You can double the fun and silly antics in your home.
  • Some dogs LIKE having a companion. If you have a
    nervous dog who suffers from separation anxiety, for
    example, a second dog in your home may help lower
    your first dog’s anxiety.
  • Younger dogs can become playmates for each other.
  • If your first dog is destructive from boredom, you
    may be able to redirect your dog’s energy, so the dogs
    entertain each other instead.
  • If you have kids, a second dog can make another good
  • One person can usually still walk two dogs. (Think
    about the size and strength you can handle.)
  • If your dogs are a few years apart, you’ll still have a
    furry friend when the other passes away.

Cons of getting a second dog

  • Two dogs take more time, even if they’re
    entertaining each other.
    Make sure you have enough
    time for one dog before considering a second dog.
  • Two dogs are a greater expense. Depending on the
    size and age of your dogs, you may be doubling your
    food, boarding, grooming and veterinary care bills.
  • Some dogs like to be the only dog. Not every dog
    wants a buddy. You may change the dynamic with your
    first dog.
  • If you travel a lot or know you’re going to deploy, it
    can be easier (and less expensive) to find care for one
    dog rather than two.
  • If someone in your home has allergies, you’ll need to
    look for an allergy-resistant dog.

Alpha personality and gender considerations
when adding a second dog

Dogs consider you their pack.

There are some dogs that have more of an alpha personality
than others. (It could be either a female dog or a male dog.)

Mixing the genders can help if you have a dog with a strong
alpha personality.

In this case, look for a second dog that is the opposite sex and is
more laid back and mellow.

Avoid getting two strong alpha personalities, and always have
them meet in a neutral place, so you can see how they interact.

(If one dog is physically aggressive to the other, this is not good.)

Before adding a second dog to your home, have them meet in a neutral place, like this park
Can dogs of the same gender get along together?

Our veterinarians have had personal experience mixing two male
dogs and two female dogs together. The dogs have done fine.

The key is to be in tune with each dog’s alpha tendencies.

Age considerations when getting a second dog

Generally speaking, there isn’t a “best age” to get a new dog, but
there are a few age considerations:

  • Avoid introducing a puppy if you have a geriatric
    . (Your dog is 10+ years.) It can be really taxing on
    your senior dog.
  • If you get a younger dog when your dog is 6-8 years
    , this may help keep your older dog acting more
  • If you’re getting two puppies from the same litter,
    make sure you spend time separately with each dog, so the
    dogs bond with you (and not just to each other).
    Otherwise, you may be treated as an outsider.

On that note, ANY TIME you’re getting a second dog, it’s always a good
idea to make sure you’re spending quality time with each dog
separately, so they bond with you.

Related articles:

We welcome new pet families

If you’re adopting a rescue dog, ask about our FREE 1st exam for rescue pets within 14 days of adoption.

Call our Castle Rock veterinarians at 303-688-3757 or:

Book your visit here 

Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on adding a second dog to your family. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call: 303-688-3757.)

© 2020, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic, All Rights Reserved

“I Think My Dog Ate Something He Wasn’t Supposed to”

February 13th, 2020 by Cherished Companions

A German Shepherd puppy tries to eat a shoe.

What to do if your dog ate socks, clothes, toys or other inedible objects

If you suspect your dog may have eaten something he (or she) wasn’t supposed to, take heart.

Your dog is in good company!

Our veterinarians have treated dogs that have eaten:

  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Rope chew toys
  • Children’s toys
  • A mechanical cat toy (you could see all the metallic moving parts in the X-ray)
  • Plastic
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • A hearing aid
  • Jewelry
  • A corncob
  • Chicken bones
  • Mulch and rocks (especially those around the BBQ grill)
  • A ball of twine
  • Decorative grass
  • Clothing, including shirts and pants
  • Children’s clothing
  • A bottle of gorilla glue
  • A glass light bulb (it passed all the way through the dog’s system without breaking!)

Basically, anything you think that a dog could eat, he can eat.

A small dog has shredded his bed. His owner isn't sure if the dog ate the stuffing.

How to know if your dog ate something

Your dog may be:

  • Vomiting
  • Not eating
  • Acting lethargic
  • Stretching his butt in the air and staying in that pose (he may be trying to get pressure off his belly)
  • Stretching a lot
  • Grunting like a pig or moaning (it likely hurts when your dog moves)
  • Retching (but he may be unable to throw up)

Also, looks for remnants of what your dog may have eaten.

For example, if you get home from work and find a partially chewed up toy (but you can’t find the rest of it), get your dog in for an X-ray.

Suspect your dog ate something? If you live near Castle Rock, CO, call our veterinarians at 303-688-3757.

“What should I do?”

The big thing is to be observant.

If you notice ANY of the behaviors above, get your dog checked by our veterinarians ASAP.

Some objects aren’t a big deal

Just because your dog ate something, this doesn’t mean your dog has to have surgery to get it out.

But it’s helpful to know what’s going on, so you can watch your dog and make sure he’s acting normal.

Some objects are small enough that they’re likely to pass. (It usually takes a couple of days.)

A dog happily sits in shredded paper. This dog eats things he's not supposed to!

Other objects CAN be a big deal — or can become a big deal

If we fear the object could cause damage or it’s too big for your dog to throw up, we’ll try to catch the object while it’s still in the stomach.

It’s easier to go in and remove the object from the stomach than from the intestinal tract.

Things tend to become a bigger problem in the intestinal tract.

If the foreign object gets stuck, it can get expensive if you have to remove it.

It helps to get an X-ray to see what’s going on

If you think your dog ate something and he still seems to be feeling okay, it helps to get a proactive X-ray.

There are things we can give your dog to help him pass the object.

But it’s important to see what you’re dealing with.

“Should I make my dog vomit?”

Do not make your dog vomit without consulting with a veterinarian first.

Typically, the only time we’ll consider making your dog throw up is when your dog has eaten something toxic, like a high dose of chocolate.

But even then, it can be better to leach it out of your dog’s system (for example, if your dog licked bleach).

So, be observant… and don’t wait to call the vet

If you suspect your dog ate something and you live near Castle Rock, Colorado, our veterinarians are here to help you. Call 303-688-3757 or:

Book your visit here 


Tips from a Castle Rock veterinarian: 8 tips to keep your dog safe & happy in Castle Rock


Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance if you think your dog ate something he wasn’t supposed to. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call: 303-688-3757.)

© 2020, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic, All Rights Reserved

“My Dog Keeps Licking His Paws” — Possible Reasons Why

January 16th, 2020 by Cherished Companions

A small dog keeps licking his paw.

So, your dog keeps licking one paw or chewing all four paws.

What’s going on?

Dogs tend to lick painful or itchy areas, so your dog is trying to tell you something.

Here are common reasons that Colorado dogs lick and chew at their paws, how to hone in on what may be going on, and how to stop the licking.

If your dog keeps licking ONE paw only…

Your dog may have a:

  • Foxtail seed or a little foreign object stuck in the skin (like a rock, seed, piece of mulch, snowball or ice)
  • Paw wound, like a cut
  • Infection: The areas between your dog’s toes can get moist, particularly if he’s been licking his foot. An infection will add to the itchiness and irritation.
  • Arthritis: Does your dog seem to be licking one spot over a joint?
  • Tumor: Your dog’s age and the location he keeps licking will guide us here.
  • A nervous, obsessive-compulsive behavior: While this can happen, it’s usually the last thing we consider. We’ll start with looking for signs of the issues above.

It’s possible your dog may have allergies too. Though, usually your dog will lick all four paws with allergies.

If your dog keeps licking ALL FOUR paws and won’t stop…

We’re going to be suspicious of dog allergies.

What to do if your dog is licking his paws

Look at your dog’s paws for something obvious:

  • A foreign object (like a grass seed, snowball or little rock wedged between the toes)
  • A wound (you’ll usually see blood)
  • A red, inflamed area
  • A bump
  • Or anything abnormal (swelling, discharge, etc.)

If your dog’s paws are really furry (hello, doodles!), you may need to use your hands to feel for issues.

When your dog is dealing with a foreign object, you may be able to help get it out carefully.

If you observe a limp or your dog’s other behavior seems off, contact our veterinarians quickly.

Your dog may be dealing with a bigger issue.

A dog parents hold her dog's paws in her hands.

If the licking persists or the signs above are getting worse…

Reach out to our Castle Rock veterinarians at 303-688-3757.

Some issues — like foxtail seeds — are much better to address sooner rather than later.

How do I get my dog to stop licking or chewing his paws?

You can put a cone around your dog’s head to keep your dog from licking.

This can help minimize infection, and it may help your dog settle down to sleep.

Just keep in mind that you’re addressing the symptom of what’s going on, rather than the core issue.

In cases of a paw wound, you can put a sock over the paw.

This will stop some dogs from licking… but for other dogs, this may encourage them to lick even more!

It depends on your dog.

Don’t give your dog any pain medication or allergy meds without talking to a veterinarian first.

Ultimately, the remedy for the core issue really depends on what’s going on.

Related articles:

Help your dog feel more comfortable!

If you live in the Castle Rock area and your dog is licking or chewing his paw(s), we’re here to help you.

Reach out at 303-688-3757 or:

Book your visit here


Tips from a Castle Rock veterinarian: 8 tips to keep your dog safe & happy in Castle Rock


Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on possible reasons your dog keeps licking his paws. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call: 303-688-3757.)

© 2019, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic, All Rights Reserved

“Help! I Think My Dog Has a Broken Tooth”

November 5th, 2019 by Cherished Companions

Aspen, the Golden Retriever, pants showing her teeth. She hasn't wanted to eat lately.

Something doesn’t look right in your dog’s mouth…

You think you see a broken dog tooth.

Or maybe, you’re noticing strange symptoms in your dog.

For example, your “never pass up a meal” Golden Retriever isn’t eating like normal. Or, you see blood on your Yorkie’s favorite stuffie.

You’re smart to look for information!


What Is the Best Diet for Dogs? 5 Things to Consider

July 9th, 2019 by Cherished Companions

This spaniel chows down his kibble (he loves it) after his pet parent researched the best diet for dogs.

The best diet for dogs is a healthy diet, but

It can be really hard to figure out what a healthy diet is!

There’s a lot of confusing advertising about what your dog should be eating.


The Best Castle Rock Dog Parks

June 4th, 2019 by Cherished Companions

Two dogs are playing in a Castle Rock dog park.

Looking for local dog parks around Castle Rock, Colorado?

Scroll down for the best Castle Rock dog parks based on input from local families.


You See Bleeding or an Abscess on Your Dog’s Bottom… What Does It Mean?

February 11th, 2019 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

Piper, the dog, looks quizzically at the camera from her bed. Do her bleeding scent glands need veterinary attention?

Your dog has anal glands — specifically, anal sacs — on either side of his (or her) anus

These scent glands on your dog’s bottom are a normal part of your pup’s anatomy.

Anal glands contain fluid that’s normally expressed when your dog is excited or goes potty.


Choosing a Rescue Dog? Be Alert for Dogs With This Behavior

December 10th, 2018 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

It’s the big day.

You’re ready to adopt your rescue dog. (Yayyyyy!)

All you need to do is choose one.


Adopting an Older Dog vs a Puppy: Pros and Cons

November 27th, 2018 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

Scooby, an adult dog, sits among the grasses.

Getting a dog will change your life!

To help you choose the best dog for your family, here are some pros and cons of adopting an older dog vs. a puppy.


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