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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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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 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.

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Deadly Dangers of Homemade Slime

Homemade slime is trending particularly with elementary and middle school students. The ASPCA Poison Control Center reports that dogs seem to love it too and so do some cats and they ingest it. It is very important that your dogs and cats never have access to homemade slime or the containers in which it is made as some of the ingredients are extremely toxic and life threatening.

If your dog or cat somehow has access to homemade slime and there is any possibility that they have ingested it—rush them promptly to your veterinarian or veterinary emergency center for immediate treatment.

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Getting Rid of Fleas on Kittens and Puppies

Flea prevention for kittens and puppies under eight weeks old can be challenging as many flea and tick products on the market today are not safe for these young ones.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Bathing with a mild liquid dishwashing detergent, rinsing thoroughly, and following with through flea combing is effective. This does not provide long-term flea protection but it is a good option for very young, small, or sick patients.
  • Be sure that the older dogs and cats in your household are on flea control and wash all bedding regularly.

Please discuss any questions you have with your veterinarian.