kristen No Comments

Holiday Safety Tips

The holiday season is a joyful and merry time with friends and two- and four-legged family members.  The following holiday safety tips will help make the holidays safe for your furry family members and enjoyable for all. 

Christmas Trees
Make sure your tree is secure and can’t be tipped over by playful or curious pets. Placing it in an off-limits room or gating it off is helpful.  Make sure ornaments that could be mistaken for chew toys, fragile ornaments, and those with sentimental value are hung close to the top of the tree so they’re not tempting. Christmas tree water additives can be potentially hazardous to your pets. Some contain antifreeze, and the old wives tales about adding aspirin or sugar to your tree water to keep your tree fresh are not only false but they can cause serious harm to your pet.

Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and some lilies are poisonous.  They should be kept in areas where your pet can’t get to them at all.  If you think your pet has ingested any amount of these plants—call your veterinarian for immediate help. Candles and exposed wires may be attractive to your pet as items to play with.  Make sure they are hidden or kept in pet friendly areas. Tinsel and strings are fun for cats to play with but they are also very dangerous. If ingested they can get tangled up in the intestines and cause blockages.

Eating and treats are part of the holidays. While it’s OK for your pet to safely join in the edible festivities—make sure they don’t ingest certain toxic foods.  Chocolate and candies can contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to pets. Avoid turkey and chickens bones for your pets as they are small and sharp and can cause harm while being eaten and also once they are in the intestines. High fat and spicy foods can cause intestinal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, and, in some cases, pancreatitis.

If you want to give your pet a special holiday treat offer them plain green beans and carrots, turkey or chicken with no seasoning, or other bland foods. Make sure to limit the amount and ensure they don’t overeat.  If your pet has free access to the house when you’re away—be sure to take out the trash or lock it away removing any temptation.

Enjoy the holidays with your beloved pets in a safe and pet-friendly way. 

kristen No Comments

The Importance of Post-Surgical Care & Recovery

Post-surgical care and recovery are as important as the surgical procedure itself. After your pet’s procedure you will receive post-operative care instructions regarding:
  • Exercise Restraints
  • Food and Water Intake
  • Incision/Wound/Bandage Care
  • Medication Instructions
  • Recheck Appointments
  • Physical Therapy
Exercise Restraints
It’s important to remember that although your pet may seem to return to normal shortly after surgery they are not finished healing. We cannot see the healing that is taking place inside which is why most of these restraints are in place. Complying with your pet’s restraint directions allows their body to heal more quickly and ensures a shorter recovery time.
Food and Water Intake
Some surgeries involve food cut backs due to decreased activity levels. If activity decreases—calories should decrease too. Other surgeries, such as intestinal ones, require special diets, reduced amounts, or no food at all.
Incision/Wound/Bandage Care
Caring for the incision is important for many reasons. Allowing your pet to lick or chew at their incision can result in opening the surgical site back up or introducing bacteria that can cause infection. Bandage care is important because you cannot see underneath the bandage. If the bandage gets wet, damaged, or slips it can cause infection, skin disease, skin sloughing, or even death of the limb.
Medication Instructions
Discharge instructions will provide you with a list of your pet’s medications, how often to give them, and the corresponding doses. It is very important to give antibiotics until they are gone. This will help reduce possible infections and promote healthy healing. Pain medicine allows your pet to heal with less discomfort. Limping, lethargy, not eating or drinking, and crying out are some signs of pain—all of which can be avoided by giving their pain medicine on time and until gone.
Recheck Appointments
Different surgeries have different reasons for rechecks that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Rechecks allow the doctor to monitor recovery and allow for more activity or the freedom to do whatever your pet wants to do again.
Physical Therapy
Physical therapy, when needed, is very beneficial. Proper physical therapy can encourage movement, muscle growth, blood flow, healing, and more. Not adhering to regular physical therapy sessions can delay healing, cause damage, or result in lack or misuse of the affected area.
Following your pet’s post-surgical directions is important to ensuring the success of their surgery and providing your pet with a comfortable recovery.
kristen No Comments

Congratulations, Michelle Gooden!

Congratulations to our own Michelle Gooden, LVT and her three-year old Swedish Vallhund, GCH Fantasi Magic Flute’s Aria, CD, BN, RE, AXP, AJP, CGC for winning Best of Breed at the National Dog Show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The National Dog Show was held on November 18th and aired on NBC on Thanksgiving Day.

Aria, handled by Becky Lueth of Warrenton, Virginia, has also earned the honor of being invited to the Westminster Dog Show in New York City in February 2018. Aria earned this honor as she reached the rank of #5 Swedish 
Vallhund in the country after earning her Grand Champion title in conformation in September.
kristen No Comments

Tips to Keep Pets Safe When You Have Guests

  • Warn your guests if your pets will be free inside your home so they can be sure not to let them out by mistake.
  • Consider leaving your pets in a closed room if they are highly reactive to people they don’t know.
  • Supervise any children your pets don’t know as many children are not taught how to interact around pets and could accidentally become injured.
  • Inform your guests not to give your pets any table scraps.
  • Holiday decorations and plants can be very dangerous for your pets so be sure you and your guests keep them out of your pets’ reach.
The Emergency Division of The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year to provide exceptional care for your pets when needed. You can reach our Emergency Division at 703.361.8287.
kristen No Comments

Traveling with Your Pet

  • Be sure your pet’s identification tags are up-to-date and attached to your pet’s collar.
  • Make sure your pet’s collar is not so loose that it can come off when you attach the leash.
  • Consider microchipping your pet—most shelters and veterinarians have the microchip scanner that facilitates reuniting pets with their owners.
  • A loose pet in a vehicle can be a dangerous situation if you are involved in an accident. It is best to crate your pet or buy a specifically designed pet seat belt.
  • No matter how well trained your pet is do not allow him or her to be off leash in an unknown area.
  • Never leave your pet alone in the vehicle, even for a very short period of time.
  • If you are traveling by air, consult your veterinarian for a health certificate which is required by most airlines.
  • Consider the weather at the time you will be flying and arrange flights accordingly.
  • Consult your airline about allowing your pet to fly inside the cabin.

We wish you and your pet safe travels and a wonderful Thanksgiving!

kristen No Comments

Food Safety Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe this Thanksgiving

  • Keep holiday food out of reach of pets as any food that your pet is not used to eating can wreak havoc on your pet’s gastrointestinal system.
  • Don’t give your pets foods that contain too much fat such as dark meat turkey, butter, nuts, gravies, bacon, ham, etc. as they can cause pancreatitis which is a potentially life-threatening condition.
  • Never ever give your pets chocolate or any candy or desert containing Xylitol which is an artificial sweetener as chocolate and Xylitol are highly toxic to your pet.
  • No garlic, onions, raisins, grapes, currants, herbs, or essential oils as they can be toxic to your pet.
  • Turkey bones can puncture or become lodged in your in your pet’s gastrointestinal system so don’t give your pets access to them.
  • If you deep fry your turkey—do not allow your pet anywhere near the deep fryer.
  • Keep your holiday trash out of your pet’s reach.
  • If you must share your holiday meal with your pet—offer a very small amount of white meat turkey without skin, a dollop of mashed potatoes, some green beans, and a little lick of pumpkin pie.

The Emergency Division of The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year to provide care for your pet when needed. You can reach our Emergency Division at 703.361.8287.

kristen No Comments

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs—Rarely in Cats

A Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) injury is one of the most common orthopedic problems in dogs and is the most common reason for hind limb lameness in dogs. In people the CCL is called the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL).

The CCL attaches the back of the femur to the front of the tibia and is responsible for stabilizing the knee joint. Dogs are susceptible to CCL injuries due to the natural slope of the knee that causes instability. CCL injuries occur in dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes but they are especially common in Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls.

A CCL can be partially or completely torn. A partial CCL tear can cause symptoms that resolve over time, but the ligament can NOT repair itself. Eventually a partial CCL tear will eventually lead to a complete tear. The longer a CCL rupture is present the more arthritis forms and therefore, the pain and lameness increase. The majority of dogs who injure their CCL will also injure their meniscus that is the cartilage-like structure that is responsible for shock absorption and weight bearing. Due to the risk of degenerative changes it is advisable to seek veterinary care as early as possible.

Symptoms of a CCL injury include:

  • Lameness in a hind limb
  • Non-weight bearing on a hind limb
  • Trouble rising from sitting or lying position
  • Decreased activity
  • Hopping on three legs
  • Sitting with legs out to the side instead of under the body
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Pain

Diagnosing a CCL injury can be as simple as palpating the knee and observing the dog as it walks. X-rays are usually taken to confirm the presence of fluid in the joint which occurs with injury, the degree of arthritis, and to rule out any other injuries such as a fracture or dislocation. The CCL and meniscus cannot be seen on x-rays.

Two important steps should be taken when treating a CCL injury:

  • Surgical repair
  • Medical management of arthritis

Many surgeons consider the TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery to be the gold standard for CCL injuries.

kristen No Comments

Keep Your Pets Safe at Halloween!

Follow these tips to ensure your pets have a safe and Happy Halloween.

Make sure your pets only receive pet-specific treats. Candy is unsafe for pets. There are two kinds of candy that are extremely dangerous for your pets.

Chocolate: In all forms chocolate can be toxic to your pet—dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the most potent and are the most dangerous forms for your pet. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include, but are not limited to:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Panting and restlessness
  • High heartrate
  • Severe cases can include
    • Muscle tremors
    • Seizures
    • Heart failure

If your pet has ingested a large amount of chocolate, especially dark and baking, take your pet to your regular vet or emergency hospital immediately.

Xylitol: This is an ingredient in sugar-free candy. Dogs and cats can’t process Xylitol like we can—even a small amount can be very toxic. If you think your pet has ingested Xylitol it is important to get them to your veterinarian or emergency hospital right away. Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning include, but are not limited to:
• Weakness/lethargy/collapse
• Vomiting and/or black tarry stools
• Tremors and seizures
• Loss of consciousness/coma

Safety: It is best to bring your pets inside before the trick or treating starts. The chaos, costumes, and surrounding activity can be overwhelming for them. Sadly some people take Halloween as an opportunity to do aggressive and mean things to pets. If your pet becomes agitated from repeated knocking on the door you can set up outside to pass out candy.

Decorations: Pumpkins, corn, hay, candles, and candy make for festive decorations. Be careful where you place them around the house. Pumpkins, although non- toxic, can cause upset stomachs if eaten in large volumes. Large chunks of pumpkin and especially corn can get lodged in the stomach or intestines making for an extremely dangerous blockage which would require immediate surgery. Don’t leave lit candles in places that could be easily knocked over. If you have particularly adventurous or playful pets it may be best to use outside decorations only.

Happy Halloween!

kristen No Comments

Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia Applauds Our Licensed Veterinary Technicians During National Veterinary Technician Week

Our Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVTs) play an essential role in the exceptional care we provide to our patients. They provide excellent nursing care, treatments, patient monitoring, and diagnostic assistance. They intubate patients, place IV catheters, draw blood, assist with ultrasounds, x-rays, and endoscopic exams, and provide laser therapy. Our LVTs assist in surgery and monitor anesthesia. They provide behavior medicine services. During National Veterinary Technician Week—we extend our sincere thanks to each and every one of our LVTs for all they do for our patients and our practice!

kristen No Comments

Iliopsoas (Groin Muscle) Strains in Dogs

The iliopsoas muscles are the major hip flexor muscles located in the groin. Strains of these muscles in dogs are an easily overlooked diagnosis. Agility dogs or dogs with knee injuries often have iliopsoas strains. Also, they are not uncommon in dogs that recently had orthopedic surgery.

Iliopsoas strains can present as a knee injury due to a one-sided limb lameness. Patients can be toe touching like a dog with a cruciate ligament injury. X-rays are not usually diagnostic for this condition. Diagnosis can usually be made by direct palpation of the area.

The following treatment protocols are used:

  • Rest is indicated to prevent further injury to the muscle.
  • Gabapentin and/or NSAIDS may help with the pain and inflammation.
  • Laser therapy has been shown to promote healing of iliopsoas strains.