Urgent: Covid Update

Dear Picture Hills Pet Hospital Clients,

It has come to our attention that one of our staff members has tested positive for COVID-19. While we wear masks and do our best to stay 6 feet away from others when possible, our job requires us to spend much of our days in very close contact with one another. Out of an abundance of caution for our clients and staff, we are not seeing appointments for the rest of this week. We will still have one staff member in the building at a time answering phones, refilling medications, and scheduling appointments for when we re-open. Medications and food can be paid for by phone and picked up in a non-contact fashion right inside the front door. Please call ahead to ensure someone will be available when you come to pick up medications or food (816) 587-3300.

If you have questions or concerns that can be addressed via phone, I (Dr. Sims) will be available throughout the week to return messages left with the designated staff member who is taking calls. If your pet needs to be seen urgently, please call Platte Woods Animal Hospital at 816-741-8600 or Blue Pearl at 816-759-5016.

We are ever so grateful for the patient and understanding clients we have, and can’t wait to get back to a time when we can safely provide care face-to-face. For now, we are just grateful our current protocols prevented this staff member from directly exposing any clients.

PHPH Staff

November 5th, 2020|

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

Late June updates

Hello again from the Picture Hills Pet Hospital Team!

We are now closed on Saturdays. We have expanded our appointment schedule Monday thru Friday to help accommodate for this loss of appointment times. For clients with weekday scheduling conflicts, we are happy to offer complimentary day-boarding, and can make ourselves available for you to drop off as early as 7:30 AM, upon request.

Please note that our schedule is filling up fast! For routine wellness visits, we are booking out about two weeks. If you have an appointment and you are not able to make it, please let us know as soon as possible so we can maximise the number of pets we are able to help in a day! We won’t be mad if you can’t make it, promise! We just want to be able to give someone else the opportunity.

We will continue restricting access to the clinic but have recently added a self service shelf for pre-paid prescription pickup. If you pay for your medications or food over the phone ahead of time, you will now be able to enter the lobby and pick up your medications from the shelf. We ask that no more than one client enter the lobby at a time.

Thank you for sticking with us during these times! Rest assured that your fur babies are handling their visits like champs. We liken it to when kids go to grandmas house…they put on their best show!

-PHPH Veterinary Team
March 18th, 2020|

Picture Hills Pet Hospital Restores Hope for Dog with Severe Allergies

After years of struggling with treating her skin, Roxie’s family had lost hope.  They had been told their only option was to keep her on prednisone until they came to terms with putting her to sleep.  When Roxie came to board with us, she was a shell of the dog she once was. I happened to be in a room with a client who used to work with a veterinary dermatologist.  This client certainly had more confidence in me than I had in myself. “Fix that dog, Sims,” she said.

Her confidence emboldened me to sit down with her family before they left town.  I could tell by their expressions they thought I was about to lecture them.  Instead, I offered to turn her boarding stay into a week of intensive skin treatments, and all I asked for in return was their trust.  They looked skeptical (with good reason), but gave me the go-ahead to try.

Roxie’s problems stemmed from severe allergies, which destroyed her skin’s natural barrier, made her miserably itchy, and allowed all kinds of microbes to take over.

The prednisone may have, at one time, helped relieve the itch.  But it also wrecked Roxie’s immune system, so she had several types of infections, including mites, yeast, and bacteria.  The infections were so severe, they were creating pothole-like wounds in her skin, which was covered in a thick layer of yellow scales.  She flinched whenever I tried to pet her.

After a haircut, she was given baths and massages with medicated mousses, sprays, and lotions every day.  Her ears were cleaned and treated. She was prescribed several antimicrobial medications. The goals were to control infection, strengthen her skin’s barrier, and calm down her allergic immune response.

At the end of the week, she was already eating better, had more energy (and attitude!) and I had become quite fond of her.  I was sad to see her go, but so excited for her family to see how much she had improved.

Three months later, her hair is growing back, she has gained weight and energy, and she no longer flinches when you pet her. Her family got a second chance with their spunky little dog, and they are doing a fantastic job maintaining a regimen that keeps her skin issues under control.



Is your pet suffering from allergies? The symptoms don’t have to be as severe as Roxie’s for your pet to be uncomfortable or in pain. Call our office to get your pet’s allergies under control.

May 17th, 2018|

Suffering in Silence: The Dangers of Dirty Teeth

You take Fido in for his yearly exam, expecting an exceptional bill of health. After all, you have been working so well on keeping him fit and trim! Then it happens. Your vet drops the dental bomb on you. She tells you Fido has early periodontal disease, a painful infection of the teeth, gums, and jaw bone. In order to treat this condition, she explains that she will need to put Fido under anesthesia to deep clean his teeth, and maybe even remove some of them. She tells you there is no cure for periodontal disease, but she is committed to partnering with you to give Fido the best dental health possible throughout the rest of his life. You trust her judgement, but Fido is like a child to you, and you have so many questions!

Why do I need to have Fido’s teeth cleaned?

A healthy, pain-free mouth is an essential factor in your pet’s quality of life. When there is disease in the mouth due to infection, such as gingivitis and bone loss, Fido feels pain every time he eats. Furthermore, the dental disease is harboring LOADS of bacteria in the mouth that can get into the bloodstream and infect the liver, kidneys and heart, shortening Fido’s life.

But if Fido is feeling pain when he eats, why does he continue to eat?

Dogs (and cats) have evolved to continue sustaining their lives, even in the face of severe pain. Think about all the animals in the wild that continue eating and drinking despite severe injuries like broken legs. You would never assume a stray dog you found with a broken leg wasn’t feeling pain just because he was still willing to eat and drink and fight to live. But since dental disease is less obvious than a broken leg, we tend to underestimate the pain it causes.

So what exactly do you have to do make his teeth healthy again?

In our comprehensive oral assessment and treatment, we do the exact same procedures you experience at the dentist, but we have to put Fido under anesthesia in order to get them done. One of our Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) will work as a team with the Veterinarian to anesthetize Fido. Then our RVT will take digital dental x-rays to look for disease under the gumline and inside the bone, where it oftentimes starts. The doctor will assess the x-rays while the technician scales, polishes, and seals the teeth to remove all tartar and plaque, and create a barrier to slow new tartar formation. When the teeth are clean, the team will examine the teeth together to assess visible signs of disease, and make a final decision on what (if any) problems need to be addressed immediately. Depending upon the severity of infection or trauma to each tooth, we may use an antibiotic gel or remove the affected teeth. Scroll through our pictures at the end of this post for more details.

If you remove Fido’s teeth, how is he going to eat? Will he need to be on soft food forever?

Most of a dog’s teeth are fairly non-essential to chewing the kibble they are accustomed to eating in modern times. For instance, the incisors were designed to pick meat off bones. Canines are used to kill prey and fight off other animals. Premolars are meant to tear muscle and other tissue from live prey. And finally, molars are used to further crush and crunch everything before it is swallowed. The only teeth your dog uses to chew kibble are the molars.

But isn’t anesthesia dangerous? Fido is getting up there in age. I’m worried he can’t handle it.

It is completely normal to be nervous about your beloved pet going under anesthesia! However, we hope you will take comfort in the fact that anesthetic risk is largely overestimated by pet owners. The most important factors in determining how risky an anesthetic procedure will be for your pet is the function of their heart, lungs, and kidneys. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam and blood work to assess the function of these organs prior to the procedure. If a significant abnormality is found, appropriate accommodations will be made or the procedure will be cancelled, depending upon the character of the abnormality. If you are apprehensive to address dental issues due to this fear of anesthesia, have a frank conversation with a veterinarian you trust to help you weigh the risks against the benefits.

You said we would partner in keeping Fido’s teeth as healthy as possible. What do I have to do from home?

Fido would benefit tremendously from having his teeth brushed every day with a toothpaste designed specifically for dogs. I would not recommend starting this habit until we have addressed the current infection in his mouth with an anesthetic dental procedure, as brushing infected teeth will cause him pain. We will teach you how to brush his teeth with a complimentary follow up exam with one of our technicians 2 weeks after his dental procedure.

A Day in the Life…

The following photos chronicle a typical dental procedure at Picture Hills Pet Hospital. Noodle is young, so she has tartar and only mild gingivitis. Since we are cleaning her teeth before significant inflammation and infection develops, we are able to get her mouth back to being 100% healthy!




August 25th, 2016|

“It’s Not a Toomah”—Or Is It?

Nearly every dog gets a little lumpier as he gets older.  Most of these masses are just a benign part of the skin’s aging process, but among the fatty tumors and cysts lurk some dangerous cancers.


So how do we find the wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing, so to speak?  

You are the first line of defense against cancerous tumors on your dog.  Give full-body massages as often as you can, to familiarize yourself with the topography of your dog’s skin.  If you want to be an A+ student, measure lumps and keep a monthly journal of them.  When you go to the veterinarian for your annual exams, be sure to point out all of the irregularities you have noticed.  Between visits, if you notice new or growing masses, make an appointment to have it looked at sooner rather than later.


What kinds of tests will my vet want to run?

If it is bigger than the size of a pea, it can usually be sampled simply by extracting cells with a needle and syringe (the same one used for vaccines).  Your veterinarian will look at these cells to determine whether or not they look cancerous.  This is called a fine needle aspirate and cytology.  If this procedure does not give us enough information, we may take a slightly larger piece of tissue called a biopsy.  This can often be done under light sedation or by just numbing up the area.



Why not just take the tumor off?

Without knowing what we are removing, there is the chance we could miss microscopic pieces of it in the surrounding skin, which will require an additional surgery.  Furthermore, in some cases, leaving these cells behind can actually cause the tumor to  behave more aggressively.  In fact, studies have shown that the best chance for curing a skin tumor is by removing it effectively the first time around.  Knowing what we are getting into helps us plan for surgery to provide the optimal outcome.


But what if it just looks like a fatty mass?

Nine times out of ten, if it looks like a fatty mass, it is.  But in that tenth case, we are missing a potentially curable cancer.  When the procedure to detect this cancer carries zero risk and minimal cost, why take the chance?  We could be talking about adding years to your dog’s life, here.


What other options are there besides surgery?

Most of the time, surgical removal is the treatment of choice, however there are other options.  Radiation therapy, which involves directing x-ray beams at the tumor to kill cancer cells on a microscopic level, is a procedure only done at large specialty practices and universities, but it provides another viable option when surgery isn’t possible or isn’t enough.  Chemotherapy is not commonly used as the primary treatment for skin tumors, but can often help slow or eliminate metastasis, or spread to other parts of the body.



So next time you are visiting your veterinarian, be sure to have a thorough discussion about making sure you know what all of your dog’s lumps and bumps are.  And for more information, be sure to check out this YouTube video about the “Don’t Wait, Aspirate!” campaign to reduce fatal skin cancers in dogs.

July 7th, 2016|

The Cost of Companionship

Growing up, I remember being told to NEVER ask or talk about other people’s financial situations.  This is just one social rule (among many others) that I have to break on a daily basis as a veterinarian.  Nobody likes to talk about the “business” of medicine, but it is a reality.  Medical care carries with it a hefty overhead, and the medical supply companies, landlords, and reference labs don’t care how much a veterinarian loves animals when she can’t pay her bills.

Veterinarians are often blamed for the cost of pet care today compared to years past, but it has much less to do with our (not so) deep pockets, and way more to do with how much the emotional value of the pet has gone up.  After correcting for inflation, the US expenditure on pet-related products and services has grown at FIVE TIMES the rate of growth for the US economy.  I should also mention that veterinary care makes up less than a quarter of that spending.  It isn’t that vets are charging more for what we are doing, we are actually DOING a lot more to keep your pets happy and healthy for as long as possible.

Dogs (in particular) have evolved over the past 30,000 years to be the perfect companion to humans, but it was only recently that we started treating them as surrogate family members.  Many people have (sheepishly) confessed to me that the most profoundly intimate bond in their life is with their pet, and there is no shame in that.  There are even academic programs now that investigate the power and utility of this relationship, which has been shown to have many emotional and physical benefits for humans.

The worst part of my job is watching someone struggle with deciding whether or not to spend a certain dollar amount to save their companion’s life.  Even more often, I see owners having to cut corners on preventive care, which puts their pets at risk, and could end up costing them a lot more in the long-run.  How can we reconcile the emotional value of pets with the very real financial burdens of veterinary care?  We can start by doing a better job of preparing for these costs on day 1 of owning that pet (better yet, several months prior), so the bills don’t feel so, well, burdensome.

Here are some strategies for managing the lifetime cost of your companion’s veterinary care:

  • Find a reputable pet insurance provider, and get your pet covered as young as possible.
  • Pet insurance coverage is typically limited to illness and injury, and ranges from high-deductible catastrophic plans to high premium comprehensive plans.  Your vet can help you choose the right plan for your pet.
  • Find a vet you wholeheartedly trust, and follow his or her recommendations for preventing disease.  Prevention is always much less costly than treatment!
  • For preventive care and to cover the cost of premiums and deductibles, you should have a separate debit card for pet spending, and have a certain amount automatically deposited each month.  Like anything else–if you don’t see it, you won’t miss it!
  • Ask your vet for an estimate of all of the necessary wellness care for the year so that you know how much to save each month.  A rough estimate is $100 per month per pet for wellness care (including dental cleanings) and insurance premiums, but it all depends on size, breed, and lifestyle.
May 4th, 2016|
Go to Top