Westlake Animal Hospital Blog


How Does an AAHA Accredited Vet Benefit Pet Owners?

If you have visited us with your best four-legged friend, you probably have seen our AAHA accreditation mentioned either in the office or on our website. You may have also wondered what being an AAHA accredited vet means, or why it is important to you and your pet.

Because we want the best life possible for our pet patients (and their humans!), we want to take the time to explain what this designation means and how it enhances the level of care our patients receive.

What is AAHA?

AAHA stands for the American Animal Hospital Association. Founded in 1933, AAHA is professional organization that oversees and offers accreditation to veterinary hospitals that prove excellence on all levels of pet care.

Animal hospitals that seek this accreditation do so voluntarily, and must illustrate their professionalism, skill, expertise, and commitment to meeting the highest standard of care. Each clinic must pass a rigorous series of protocols, checklists, and criteria (900, in fact), some of which include:

  • Patient handling and care
  • Surgical abilities and anesthesia
  • Facilities and diagnostic equipment
  • Cleanliness and customer service
  • Emergency services and critical care
  • Safety
  • Management of contagious diseases
  • Dentistry
  • Laboratory and pharmacy
  • Medical records
  • Continuing education

Because this is such an intensive process of review, only 12-15% of animal hospitals in North America receive this esteemed status.

The Heart of the Matter: Understanding Pet Heart Disease

February was American Heart Month, but just because it’s over doesn’t mean we should stop paying attention to heart health, both our own and our pets’. Pet heart disease is a sad reality for many pets, and understanding how to keep your pet’s heart healthy is a crucial component of responsible pet ownership.

Heart Disease in Pets

Heart attacks and strokes are more likely to affect humans, but pets tend to experience different types of heart problems, including:


Love and Distraction: How to Avoid a Pet Poisoning This Valentine’s Day

Valentines chocolate_iStock_000000406874_MediumFebruary 14th is a day to express affection, but it also provides opportunities for curious pets to find trouble. To be sure, pet poisonings are far more likely around certain holidays, such as Christmas and Halloween. Valentine’s Day is also full of pet risks. However, with extra precautions in place, your pet can remain safe from harm.

Alert and Aware

In nature, predators are effectively deterred by bright colors and flashy patterns on a potential prey’s exterior. Unfortunately, pets don’t always get the message that a red, sparkly heart-shaped box (and its toxic chocolate contents) is off-limits.

Chocolate is the number one cause of poisoning in dogs, but other pets have also been known to eat it and become sick. Caffeine and theobromine naturally occur in chocolate, but cannot be properly metabolized by pets. As a result, serious, even life-threatening, symptoms can arise, such as increased blood pressure, tremors, and seizures.

Westlake Animal Hospital’s Top Blogs Of 2016

Fashion coupleHere at Westlake Animal Hospital, serving our wonderful community of patients and clients is our top priority. We do our best to continue this service to you in the form of our regular pet care blogs, which are designed to be both educational and entertaining.

As it turns out, you read some of our blogs more than others. Whether you found them informative, useful, fun, or touching, we think they deserve a closer look. So without further ado, we are pleased to present our top blogs of 2016!


The Basics of Stem Cells in Veterinary Medicine

LaboratoryMost people have heard of stem cells at some point, yet few lay people have a good understanding of what they are and how they are being utilized. Using stem cells to help heal the body may sound like it’s straight out of a science fiction movie, however, stem cells in veterinary medicine are actually being used more and more.

Learn how Westlake Animal Hospital is using this technology to better the lives of our pet patients.

Stem Cell Basics

Stem cells may sound a little high tech, but they really are nothing more than cells that naturally develop in the body. Stem cells are the immature cells that the rest of the tissues in the body are derived from.

What makes stem cells special is that they have not yet determined what type of cell they will become. Scientists have learned to exploit this trait by placing the immature cell in strategic areas, encouraging it to grow into a specific cell type that may be beneficial, such as tendon cells in an area where a tendon injury has occurred. The possibilities to utilize stem cells to create new or healthier tissue in the body are only limited by the imagination.


All About the Cat Friendly Practice

Cat at veterinarianAlthough cats are the most popular pets in the United States (there are roughly 86 million pet cats compared to about 75 million pet dogs), they visit the veterinarian far less frequently than dogs. Anyone who has ever owned a cat is probably not surprised by this fact; between getting kitty into the carrier, the harrowing car ride, and the antics on the examining table, taking a cat to the vet is typically quite an ordeal.

Because of this discrepancy in care, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has initiated the Cat Friendly Practice program for veterinary clinics and hospitals, designed to improve access to high quality health care for the feline population.

posted in:  The Cats Meow

Far From Fido: A Smorgasbord of Popular Dog Names

Fashion coupleIn Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet ponders what, exactly, is in a name. While the quest to find the right moniker for your pup may not be as dramatic, it can still be quite challenging. Do names influence personality, or is it the other way around? To be sure, when naming your new pet, you want to find just the right one for him or her. To help you out, our team has compiled a list of some of our favorite dog names.

Perfectly Timeless

While some trends have fallen to the wayside, naming your dog after personality traits or physical characteristics is still quite popular. Human-sounding names are also classic choices for dogs:

posted in:  You & Your Pet

Pet Halloween Costume Safety

Shark Week Chihuahua !October has arrived, and children (as well as adults) are putting the last minute touches on their Halloween costumes, or in some cases still trying to decide what they’re going to dress up as.

Finding an adorable or spooky costume for a pet can also be a fun and festive way to celebrate this beloved holiday, but not all costumes, or pets, are created equal. Before you shell out the big bucks for that designer mermaid costume for your St. Bernard, make sure to keep our pet Halloween costume safety tips in mind.

Pet Costumes Should Not…

  • Be restrictive – Your pet’s costume should not restrict his or her breathing, vision, hearing, vocalizations, or movement in any way.
  • Have small or dangling parts – Any part that can be chewed off and swallowed poses a potential risk of choking or intestinal obstruction.
  • Be heavy – A heavy costume could not only be exhausting for your pet but could cause overheating. Watch for signs that your pet may be becoming too tired such as excessive panting, slowing down, or becoming unwilling to walk or move.


Virology 101: Rabies in Pets

While rabies in pets may seem like a problem of the past, it is a very real (and very scary) disease that remains a valid concern for all. Rabies does still exist in the United States, although we have done a good job of keeping it out of the pet population through effective vaccination protocols.

It is important for all pet owners to be educated about rabies in pets, so that they can understand the risks and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families, two- and four-legged alike.

Understanding the Virus

Understanding a disease is key to knowing how to protect ourselves and our pets. Rabies is a viral disease and can affect any mammal, including humans.

The rabies virus enters the body through a break in the skin contaminated with infected fluids, such as saliva, usually in the form of a bite. Once in the body, it stays dormant in the muscle tissue before invading nerves in the area. From there, it continues to spread through the nervous system, eventually making its way to the brain. This process may take several months.

When the rabies virus enters the brain, symptoms become apparent. Once these occur, the disease is almost always fatal. Rabies symptoms emerge in three phases: Continue…

Lake Life: Why Pet Water Safety Matters

Man paddles a kayak with dog in lapFortunately, Austin doesn’t have a shortage of fun ways to beat the heat. Splashing around at Auditorium Shores is always great for owners and their pets, and if you want to get away (but not go too far), Lake Travis offers plenty of adventure. We encourage you to get out and about, and with our tips for pet water safety, everyone can have fun in the sun.


Before you and your pet head out this summer, make sure his or her microchip is current. Likewise, collar and ID tags should be secure and in good shape. Sometimes, owners opt for a breakaway collar to prevent their pet from getting caught on (or in) something.


Is your pet vaccinated? If you’re unsure, please contact us. Leptospirosis is typically found in freshwater, and getting vaccinated can protect your pet (and your family) from this disease. Vaccines and parasite preventives are also essential to protect your companion from Lyme disease and heartworm. Continue…

posted in:  pet safety
  • AAHA Accredited
  • Petly
  • AAFP
  • Cat Friendly Practice
What Our Clients Are Saying...

You’re the best! Why would I go anywhere else?! — Susan P.

Kind, courteous staff and vets who really care about your pet’s health and well being. — Shannon J.

Exceptional veterinarians, receptionists, and technicians. — Jack M.

I have depended on Westlake Animal Hospital to care for my pets for many years. Everything you have done for them has been a tremendous help in keeping them healthy and taking care of them when they have been sick. — Edie M.

The staff is amazing! My dog fell ill one hour before closing on the day before a holiday. They went above and beyond to stay late to see my dog. I cannot thank them enough for the care and piece of mind. — Julie S.

Dr. Marchman always treats me as if my dog is his ONLY patient, and I appreciate that. He listens to my concerns. Thank you. — Dana K.

As always, we appreciate the immediate response to our concerns. The available vet was kind, clear, and patient. — Steve M.

Always a pleasure. Max seemed to hate the vet before I started coming to Westlake Animal Hospital. Your staff is kind and courteous, and above all, great with Max! — Anonymous