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Choosing the Best Food For Your Pet

Treat for puppy

Nutrition matters just as much for your pet as it matters for you. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best food for your cat or dog. They can recommend the best dietary options for the specific needs of your pet. Considerations include:

  • Your pet’s age and activity level
  • Your pet’s breed
  • Is your pet being bred? Pregnant and nursing mothers need significantly more nutrition.

It is important to ensure that food you give your cat or dog meets all of their nutritional requirements to provide them with the foundation they need for a healthy future.

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Preventive Care Saves Lives and Money

Veterinarians agree that annual preventive healthcare exams and regular preventive care including vaccinations, heartworm testing, fecal parasite exams, and dental evaluations save pets’ lives by ensuring they are healthy and by discovering any health issues early. In most cases the cost of preventive care is significantly less than the cost of treating the disease or problem that otherwise could have been prevented. Often regular exams detect problems before they become more serious and more expensive to treat. Investing in preventive care can save you a lot of money in the long run.

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Be an Active Member of Your Pet’s Well-Being Team

Work closely with your pet’s veterinarian to ensure your pet is the healthiest they can be. Talk with your veterinarian and their staff and educate yourself on proper pet care and pet health problems. Ask your veterinarian questions and be sure to obtain any additional information from reliable, trusted sources of information that your veterinarian specifically recommends to you. Together you can make a significant difference in the well-being and quality of life of your beloved pet.

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Spaying and Neutering Is Important

Every year millions of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are euthanized. The good news is that you can make a difference. When you have your dog or cat sterilized—you are doing your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens. Spaying and neutering:

• Prevents unwanted litters
• Helps protect against some serious health problems
• May reduce many of the behavioral problems associated with the mating instinct

Removing a female dog’s or cat’s ovaries eliminates heat cycles and generally reduces the unwanted behaviors that may lead to owner frustration. Removing the testes from male dogs and cats reduces the breeding instinct which makes them more content to stay at home and less inclined to roam.

Spaying female dogs and cats early can help protect them from some serious health problems later in life such as uterine infections and breast cancer. Neutering your male pet early can lessen their risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland) and testicular cancer.

Some pets tend to be better behaved following surgical removal of their ovaries or testes which makes them even better companions. Talk to your veterinarian about the best time to spay or neuter your pet.

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Pet Evacuation Kit

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation stresses the importance of being prepared for a disaster with a pet evacuation kit. They recommend assembling the kit well in advance of any emergency and storing it in an easy-to-carry, waterproof container located close to an exit.

Be sure that you rotate and replace the food and medications to ensure they don’t expire. Here is what they recommend that you include in your pet evacuation kit:

Food and Medicine
• Three to seven days’ worth of dry and canned (pop-top) food*
• Two-week supply of medicine*
• At least seven days’ supply of water
• Feeding dish and water bowl
• Liquid dish soap
*These items must be rotated and replaced to ensure they don’t expire.

First Aid Kit
• Antidiarrheal liquid or tablets
• Antibiotic ointment
• Bandage tape and scissors
• Cotton bandage rolls
• Flea and tick prevention (if needed in your area)
• Isopropyl alcohol/alcohol prep pads
• Latex gloves
• Saline solution
• Towel and washcloth
• Tweezers

• Litter, litter pan, and scoop (shirt box with plastic bag works well for pan)
• Newspaper, paper towels, and trash bags
• Household chlorine beach or disinfectant

Important Documents
• Identification papers including proof of ownership
• Medical records and medication instructions
• Emergency contact list, including veterinarian and pharmacy
• Photo of your pet (preferably with you)

Travel Supplies
• Crate or pet carrier labeled with your contact information
• Extra collar/harness with ID tags and leash
• Flashlight, extra batteries
• Muzzle

Comfort Items
• Favorite toys and treats
• Extra blanket or familiar bedding

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Our LVTs Provide Amazing Care!

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia’s Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVTs) play an essential role in the outstanding, compassionate 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 and ophthalmology services.

We extend our deepest thanks to each and every one of our LVTs for all they do for our patients and our practice every day! We recognize their significant contribution during National Veterinary Technician Week!

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Our LVTs are Exceptional!

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia’s dedicated Licensed Veterinary Technicians are passionate about the quality of care and level of compassion that they provide to our patients. They take their oath, shown here, very seriously.

We thank them for all they do for our patients every day!

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Happy National Veterinary Technician Week to the Very Best LVTs—Ours!

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia’s Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVTs) are truly the very best in their field and we are extremely proud to have them on our team. They are critical to our practice. Our LVTs are knowledgeable, highly trained, caring, compassionate, and dedicated to their profession and to all of the dogs and cats to whom they provide care.

Please join us in giving our LVTs a well-deserved round of applause!

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Dr. Jay Coisman Joins Our Surgery Team

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is pleased to announce that James “Jay” G. Coisman, DVM, MS,  DACVS-SA has joined our exceptional Surgery Team.  

Dr. Coisman grew up on a small farm in rural upstate New York.  After high school he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served four years on active duty and several years in the Marine reserves.  In 1999 he graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a minor in Molecular and Microbiology.  During his first year as a veterinary student he was awarded an Army Health Professions Scholarship and commissioned into the Army Veterinary Corps.  


In 2004 Dr. Coisman earned his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida and return to active duty military service as a clinical intern at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Services in San Antonio, Texas.  He served as Officer in Charge of the Moody Air Force Base Veterinary Treatment Facility and Chief of the Fort Shafter Branch Veterinary Services.  


Dr. Coisman returned to the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine and completed a residency in small animal surgery and a Master’s degree in Clinical Sciences in 2013.  He attained board certification in the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2015.  Subsequently he has served as the Deputy Commander of the 218th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services Support (MDVSS) at Fort Lewis, Washington; in Afghanistan in support of the 72nd MDVSS as the theater clinical specialist; as a clinical instructor and referral surgeon at the Fort Belvoir Veterinary Center; and Chief of Animal Medicine, Veterinary Services Branch, Defense Health Agency.  


His particular interests are in minimally invasive, trauma, and oncologic surgery, wound management, and sports medicine.


Dr. Coisman lives in Stafford with Natalie, his wife, and their four children Olivia, Kira, Adyson, and Sawyer, Belgian Malinois Betty, German Shephard Tonka, and Shar Pei Mater.  In addition, they have a large menagerie of chickens, rabbits, and goats.  He enjoys spending his free time with his family, running, and serving at church and 4H.

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Dr. Keaton Massie Joins Our Emergency Team

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is pleased to announce that Keaton Massie, DVM has joined our highly qualified Emergency Team.

Dr. Massie grew up in Oregon and Washington with a childhood dream of working as a veterinarian.  After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology at Washington State University, he moved to Florida to work in the zoo industry on his eventual path to becoming a veterinarian.  During the first decade following college Dr. Massie worked as a mechanic, alligator wrestler, and zookeeper focusing on reptiles.  He worked with everything from the tiniest Poison Dart Frogs to large King Cobras and Crocodiles.  Dr. Massie joined the Army in 2011 and spent three years on active duty living in Italy as an animal care specialist/veterinary technician.

Following his active duty commitment, Dr. Massie earned his veterinary degree from Ross University in St. Kitts in 2018.  During veterinary school, Dr. Massie completed research studying the effects of Alfaxalone in Alligators.  In addition he assisted with research on Leptospirosis in Nevishian Donkeys.

In his free time Dr. Massie enjoys diving, sport/competition shooting, hunting, fishing, and working on cars and motorcycles.