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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.
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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!

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Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia Receives Six Top Veterinarian 2017 Awards

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is honored that six of our doctors were chosen as Top Veterinarian 2017 by the readers of Northern Virginia Magazine.  Dr. Ethan Morris DVM and Dr. Richard Bradley DVM, DACVS were voted as Top Veterinarian 2017 in Surgery.  Dr. Anne Chiapella DVM, DACVIM; Dr. Nichole Birnbaum DVM, DACVIM; and Dr. Todd Deppe DVM, DACVIM were chosen as Top Veterinarian 2017 in Internal Medicine.  Dr. Amy Pike DVM, DACVB was voted Top Veterinarian 2017 in Behavior Medicine.  Thank you to those who voted for us.  We look forward to providing exceptional care for your four-legged family members.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia believes it is essential to provide your pets with the best diagnostic tools available. In 2012 we installed a state-of-the-art MRI suite with the Vet-MR Grande which is a top-of-the-line MRI machine. Our staff members have been specially trained to operate the MRI for maximum diagnostic benefits.

Though most scans can be read on site, we have retained an off-site radiologist to interpret scans as needed. Having a top-quality MRI in house enables us to provide our clients with the convenience of obtaining accurate diagnostic readings without having to travel to a separate location. MRI can be used to scan almost all parts of the body including:

  • Brain
  • Spinal Cord including Neck, Chest, and Lower Back
  • Shoulder, Stifle, Elbow, and Metacarpal/Metatarsal Joints
  • Pelvis
  • Soft Tissue


The MRI is commonly used to diagnose the following conditions:

  • Herniated Intervertebral Discs Causing Spinal Cord Impingement
  • Neoplasia/Tumors
  • Swelling/Trauma
  • Infection
  • Congenital Abnormalities


Before receiving general anesthesia for the procedure, all patients have a thorough physical exam and bloodwork.  During the MRI scan the patient is monitored closely by a licensed technician while another technician runs the scan.  One of the many benefits of having MRI in house is that any surgery or procedure that needs to be done post scan can be done immediately.

Although some scans require off-site radiologist interpretations—depending on the level of severity, results can be provided in less than an hour.

Whether your pet is in the MRI suite or having a post-scan procedure done, you can be assured your pet is receiving the highest level of care, pain management, and kindness and compassion. Our patients rest comfortably and wake up from anesthesia in a warm and calm environment.

We look forward to addressing your pet’s diagnostic needs!


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You Can Save Money with Specialized Care

We understand that financial costs play a significant role in many decisions.  The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is dedicated to providing your dogs and cats with top-quality care without the high prices.  Our prices are less than those of other veterinary referral hospitals throughout Northern Virginia.  How do we do it?

  • We do not automatically transfer our patients to our Emergency Division for care.  Sending all overnight patients to the ICU is a common practice in many referral hospitals.  Often this practice results in unnecessary extra charges; does not allow healthy patients to recover from routine procedures in a quiet environment; and overburdens the ICU staff when critical patients do arrive.  Only our critical patients are transferred to our Emergency Division for overnight care.  Otherwise your pet will recover in the same area of the facility where you dropped them off where they will receive the personalized care they need provided by our highly trained overnight staff.
  • Other referral and emergency hospitals spend money which they must recover on discretionary activities like local pet expos and parades.  We choose to limit our spending to what is specifically required to maintain the highest level of care for our patients.  We rely on our highly trained staff, state-of-the-art equipment, leading-edge techniques and procedures, proven results, and long-standing relationships with local referring veterinarians to maintain our reputation as the provider of the best quality yet most affordable specialized care for dogs and cats in Northern Virginia.
  • Our four divisions—Emergency, Internal Medicine, Surgery, and Behavior Medicine—coordinate and work closely together so we are able to source the highest quality materials from large-scale vendors at better prices as we purchase larger volumes of products to supply all four divisions.  We pass this savings on to our clients.
  • We do not add extra charges for things your pet does not need.  We provide itemized invoices so you can see exactly what your pet received while in our care.  While general estimates can be provided over the phone, more exact estimates are provided after a thorough examination.

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia Team believes it is our responsibility to provide your pets with exceptional care at the most affordable prices and we are committed to doing so.


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Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat is an Emergency Condition

gastric-dilatation-volvulus-or-bloatGastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), commonly referred to as Bloat, is an emergency condition in dogs.   When a dog’s stomach dilates or becomes enlarged, it can twist. The stomach is not able to release any of the gas that builds up inside and this can cause a pet to become very ill in less than an hour. GDV is life threatening and will not resolve on its own. Immediate intervention is essential. GDV can also occur without the stomach twisting. The stomach twisting is called torsion. GDV with and without torsion has the same symptoms. Both types of GDV need to be treated right away.

Causes of GDV

  • Large, deep-chested dogs are at risk. Examples include Great Danes, German Shepherds, Weimaraners, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, and Standard Poodles.
  • Dogs are more at risk of developing GDV if they are running, jumping, and playing outside immediately after eating. Let your dog rest after eating a meal or play before a feeding.
  • Dogs who eat one or two large meals a day are at greater risk than dogs who eat multiple smaller meals a day.
  • Dogs who eat very quickly are more likely to develop GDV. Owner of dog breeds who are at risk can encourage slower eating by purchasing special food bowls that make it harder for their pet to eat too quickly. Please see the image included.
  • Drinking large amounts of water—usually after exercise—can increase a dog’s risk.


Signs of GDV

  • Distended abdomen
  • Non-productive vomiting/retching
  • Restlessness
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Rapid shallow breathing
  • Hypersalivation (drooling more than usual)


Problems Associated with GDV

  • Loss of blood flow to/from the abdomen
  • Pressure on the diaphragm from the stomach being filled with gas which causes difficulty breathing
  • Rupture of stomach


GDV is easily diagnosed so if you suspect your dog has Bloat bring them to your emergency veterinarian immediately. If you have a dog that is at risk for GDV due to breed, activity, or eating patterns, talk to your veterinarian about a procedure called Gastropexy. Gastropexy, the internal tacking of the stomach to the abdominal wall, can be done during other procedures such as spays to prevent the stomach from twisting in the future.

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Poinsettias and Pets

image001“I found my pet licking the Poinsettias I displayed as holiday decorations.  What should I do?”

Poinsettias are often feared by pet owners as a toxic plant.  While it isn’t good for our pets to eat or lick Poinsettias, the plant is not as toxic as the public thinks.  The Poinsettia is considered to be only mildly toxic.  The white sap the plant produces can be mildly toxic if your pet is exposed.  Look for signs like drooling or licking their lips more frequently.  The sap can also cause skin irritation.  If a large amount of sap is ingested it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If your pet is showing interest in your Poinsettias, sternly but verbally tell them no and redirect their interest. Take precautions by placing your poinsettias in areas where your pets do not have access without your supervision.  Our warmest wishes to you for Happy Holidays!


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Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia Provides State-of-the-Art Emergency Clinic

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia just re-opened our completely renovated and expanded state-of-the-art emergency clinic. The clinic has a hospital design with an intensive care unit, oxygen cage, isolation unit, treatment room, radiology, on-site lab, surgery unit, all new equipment, four exam rooms, and a large waiting room. Open 24 hours a day/365 days a year including holidays—our Emergency Clinic treats all types of dog and cat emergencies.

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Dr. Amy Pike Joins the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia to Lead Behavior Medicine Division

2016-07-26 07.18.24Amy Pike DVM, DACVB, one of fewer than 70 board-certified veterinary behaviorists throughout North America, joins the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia on September 1st to lead the new Behavior Medicine Division.  A U.S. Army veteran, Dr. Pike has 13 years of small animal and behavior medicine veterinary experience.  On a referral basis, she offers:

  • Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services
  • Behavior Consultation
  • Behavior Modification
  • Pharmaceuticals, Nutraceuticals, Pheromones, and Behavior Modification Products
  • Follow-Up Services to Meet Pets’ Specific Needs

Dr. Pike can be reached at 703.361.0710 or