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Supporting RappCats

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is locally owned and operated.  We believe in giving back to our community and to the surrounding region.  We are very proud to support RappCats and the fantastic work they do for needy cats and kittens throughout Rappahannock County!

RappCats is a private, non-profit organization that rescues, cares for, and finds loving homes for abandoned, abused, neglected, injured, and homeless cats and kittens throughout Rappahannock County. The RappCats Adoption Center, a cage-free, no-kill facility, is the only state-approved cat shelter in Rappahannock County.  

RappCats is operated by volunteers and funded through donations alone. The Rappahannock County Animal Shelter is funded only for dogs so RappCats’ rescue work and care for needy cats and kittens is extremely critical.

Donations, volunteers, foster homes, and loving homes for RappCats’ wonderful cats and kittens are needed. Please call 540.987.6050 or email for more information and to schedule your visit.

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Supporting Middleburg Humane Foundation

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is locally owned and operated.  We are dedicated to giving back to our community and the surrounding region.  We are very proud to support Middleburg Humane Foundation and the wonderful work they do for animals in need!

Middleburg Humane Foundation specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of animals that come to their shelter from a vast variety of abusive situations.  After much-needed nurturing and medical care,  animals are available for adoption.  Large and small animals who have been abused, neglected, or are “at risk” find a safe haven at Middleburg Humane Foundation.  Services provided include humane investigations, chained dog assistance, equine rescue, behavior enrichment and training , community cats trap, neuter, and return, spay/neuter and medical assistance, lost pet help, wildlife emergencies, and more.  

In December 1987 Founder Hilleary Bogley opened Scruffy’s Ice Cream Parlor in Middleburg, Virginia to gain community support for a shelter and to raise money to start the Middleburg Humane Foundation. Scruffy’s Strays operated through the ice cream parlor and needy animals were cared for in foster homes. The ice cream parlor raised community awareness and support and brought many concerned people, volunteers, and community leaders together. In 1994 Middleburg Humane Foundation moved into its current location and became a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. 

Middleburg Humane Foundation receives no federal, state, or county funding and relies entirely on the generosity of private donors and sponsors. In addition, Middleburg Humane Foundation operates a grooming salon at their shelter in Marshall and a Thrift Shop in Middleburg.  Both entities help raise critical funds for Middleburg Humane Foundation. 

Donations, volunteers, and foster homes are needed.  For additional information please call 540.364.3272 or email

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7 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Pet Healthy

The following tips will help you keep your beloved pets healthy. 

  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight.
  • Exercise your pet.
  • Feed your pet a balanced, nutritious diet.
  • Have your veterinarian examine your pet at least once a year to make sure your pet is healthy and to help detect problems earlier.
  • Vaccinate your pet against potentially deadly diseases such as distemperparvopanleukopenia and rabies.
  • Keep your pet free of parasites (fleas and ticksheartworm, etc.)—consult your veterinarian for the best product for your pet.
  • Spay or neuter your pet.
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Supporting the Humane Society of Fairfax County

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is locally owned and operated.  We are dedicated to giving back to our community and the surrounding region.  We are very proud to support the Humane Society of Fairfax County.  They do a fantastic job for animals in need!

For more than 50 years the Humane Society of Fairfax County, a no-kill animal rescue organization, has been taking in and finding homes for abused and unwanted dogs, cats, horses, and other animals that need care.  They direct resources toward helping victims of cruelty, neglect, and abandonment.  In addition, they take in animals from local kill shelters when space is available.

Their Ani-Meals Pet Food Pantry offers free dog and cat food and supplies to Fairfax County residents who are in need.  Their TrapNeuterRelease Project prevents overpopulation and saves thousands of helpless cats from suffering and death.  The Humane Society of Fairfax County works with local schools, civic groups, neighborhood community associations, scout troops, and other organizations to provide humane education and promote the welfare of all animals.

We invite you to support this outstanding organization and the valuable work they do.  For more information or to make a donation,  please call 703.385.7387 or email

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Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease in Dogs

This disease is commonly seen in miniature, toy, and small-breed dogs and usually affects dogs that are five to eight months old.  It is very common in Yorkshire Terriers.  Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease involves the spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur and results in disintegration of the hip joint.  The specific cause is unknown. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Lameness in a hind limb (usually two to three months onset)
  • Carrying the affected limb up
  • Pain when moving the hip joint
  • Muscle wasting in the thigh of the affected limb

A thorough medical history, physical exam, and x-rays are required to diagnose this disease.  Surgical intervention, called a Femoral Head Osteotomy or FHO, is required to treat Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease.  The FHO surgery removes the femoral head and neck so a false joint can form from scar tissue.

Strict adherence to the post-operative instructions is imperative.  Daily exercise and maintaining an ideal weight after the post-op period are strongly recommended for the ongoing comfort of the patient.  More than 95% of dogs that undergo the FHO surgery will have 100% use of the affected leg.

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Recommendations for Coping with Your Pet’s Death

For most of us our pets are beloved members of our families.  Coping with their passing is very sad and challenging.  Here are a few recommendations to help: 

  • Talking about the loss is essential.  This is especially important with children as it provides them with tools for addressing grief as they move forward in their lives.
  • Sharing your favorite memories of your pet is therapeutic.  Making a scrapbook of favorite photos and including their collar is often helpful.
  • Ensure that everyone in the family has processed the loss before bringing a new pet into your home.  The timeframe required is not the same for all family members.
  • When the time comes, it is best to welcome your new pet as a new member of your family.
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Luxating Patella/Dislocated Knee Cap

The patella is the knee cap in people and in pets.  A Luxating Patella or Dislocated Knee Cap occurs when the knee cap pops in and out as the affected joint is flexed, extended, or bears weight.  This is a congenital condition.  It is more common in toy and small breed dogs but it can affect large dogs as well.  It is rare in cats.  Yorkies, Pomeranians, Pekingese, and Chihuahua are the most commonly affected breeds. 

The Luxating Patella generally occurs when the groove of the femur that the patella sits in is too shallow which allows the patella to move out of place.  It can be caused by trauma but that is rare.  It usually presents between four to six months of age.  Both knees are affected in 50% of the dogs that have this condition.

Luxating Patella is graded as follows:

  • Grade I—The patella can be luxated manually but won’t move by itself
  • Grade II—The patella can luxate on its own but can return to normal position manually or when the pet straightens the joint
  • Grade III—The patella remains luxated most of the time but can be moved back into the correct position manually
  • Grade IV—The patella is permanently luxated and cannot be repositioned

Symptoms include:

  • Rear legs having a “bow-legged” appearance
  • Not bearing weight on a hind limb
  • Holding up a hind limb
  • Skipping or bunny hopping when attempting to run
  • Pain when the patella pops out of the proper position

This condition is diagnosed by a physical exam during which the veterinarian palpates the knee joints and does x-rays to screen for arthritis, hip dysplasia, or other abnormalities of the bones. 

Surgical repair should be performed as soon as possible on Grade II and Grade III Luxating Patellas to prevent the formation of arthritis and keep the condition from progressing to Grade IV.  Surgical repair for Grade IV Luxating Patella may be worse than the condition itself so careful consideration should be taken  to prevent progression to Grade IV.  Surgery involves repositioning and stabilizing the patella so that it sits properly in the groove.  The groove may need to be deepened to do so. 

Post-surgical recovery includes involves exercise restrictions and leash walking.  Full recovery takes eight weeks.  There are no known preventive measures for this condition to date.  Dogs with Luxating Patella should not be bred as there is a genetic component to the condition. 

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Swedish Vallhunds, owned by Michelle Gooden, LVT in our Surgery Division, Aria (three years old) and Tiwaz (eight years old) are both therapy dogs certified by Therapy Dogs International (TDI). They have been doing therapy dog visits since they were each a year old. 

Aria and Tiwaz spend time at a psychiatric institute in Maryland where they visit with the patients, do tricks, watch TV, and enjoy giving and getting a lot of affection. 

In addition, they spend time at a local boarding school for middle and high school students.  There they sit with the students and give them lots of love and kisses.

The therapy dog job that Aria and Tiwaz enjoy the most is the Paws for Reading Program that allows them to go to schools and libraries.  The Paws for Reading Program offers unconditional company for the kids as they work on their reading skills while reading out loud.  While the kids are reading they give Aria and Tiwaz lots of kisses, pats, and belly rubs which are a favorite and they receive a lot of kisses and affection in return.

Aria and Tiwaz are involved in performance events as well.  Despite a very busy schedule Michelle, Aria, and Tiwaz try to do a few therapy visits a month as it is very rewarding for everyone. 

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What Causes Sudden Weight Loss in Pets?

Sudden or rapid weight loss can indicate a serious problem in your pet.  It is important to see your veterinarian right away if your pet loses unplanned weight.  Below are the most common reasons for unwanted weight loss in pets:

  •  Parasites
  • Cancer—particularly Intestinal Cancer
  • Kidney Disease
  • Hyperthyroidism in Cats
  • Advanced Heart Disease
  • Dental Disease
  • Change in Diet
  • Stress

The sooner you address the weight loss with your veterinarian, the better it is for your pet.

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We applaud the Humane Society of Fairfax County for the fantastic job they do for homeless and needy animals!  We encourage you to help with their cat food donation campaign as the need is great.  Please drop off your cat food at our clinic.  We would deeply appreciate it.  The details are provided below.  Thank you.


It’s February again and love is in the air.❤❤❤ Outdoor cats are snuggling with their special kitty sweethearts, but in a few short months spring will bring hundreds of newborn kittens.

Please help our mother cats care for their young by donating food at these locations: 

            —Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia

            — Felix and Oscar’s Pet Store in Springfield

         — Humane Society of Fairfax Admin Building in Fairfax City.

And remember the importance of Trap/Neuter/Return to stop the over-population of free-roaming and homeless cats. Ask us how you can help us improve the lives of community cats. Contact us at                 

Humane Society of Fairfax County, 4057 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA 22030                  

                      Phone 703-385-7387