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What is Elbow Dysplasia?

The term dysplasia means abnormal development. There are several different theories concerning the cause of dysplasia including defects in cartilage growth, trauma, genetics, and even exercise and diet. The exact cause is not known.

Elbow Dysplasia is a catch-all term used that includes several different conditions involving the elbow joint. These conditions include Fragmented Medial Coronoid Process (FCP), Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD), and Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP):

• FCP is a small piece of bone on the inner (medial) side of the joint that has broken off the ulna. This fragment irritates the lining of the joint and grinds off the cartilage.
• OCD is a condition where a piece of cartilage becomes partially or completely detached from the surface of the bone.
• UAP is a condition where a part of the ulna bone, called the anconeal process, fails to fuse with the main ulna bone during the growth phase.

Most often seen in large and giant breeds, Elbow Dysplasia can affect any breed. It is the most common cause of forelimb lameness in large and giant breeds. Different breeds have different predispositions to different forms of the disease. Both forelimbs may be affected. Once the elbow joint is damaged a cycle of inflammation and further cartilage damage begins.

Most dogs show signs of Elbow Dysplasia at about five to seven months old. Usually diagnosis can be made with a physical examination and radiographs. Rarely additional diagnostics such as a CT scan are necessary to make a diagnosis.

Surgical intervention is needed to correct these elbow joint diseases. If the elbow disease has become too advanced—surgery may not be an option. As with hip dysplasia, the earlier the surgical intervention the better the long-term outcome will be. The goal of surgery is to slow the progression of arthritis and prolong the pet’s use of the affected leg.

The sooner any disease process is addressed—the more comfortable your pet can remain into their senior years.

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Today is National Dog Day

This holiday was created to honor dogs and to rescue dogs from homelessness and abuse. It’s an opportunity for us to recognize and appreciate the value and importance of dogs in our lives. If you have room in your loving home—please visit your local shelter or rescue organization and adopt a needy dog or puppy today. They will enrich your life!

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Do You Have a Senior Pet?

Thanks to better veterinary care—dogs and cats are living longer than they have before. As they age—they need extra care and attention. Cats and small breed dogs are considered senior citizens at seven years old. Large breed dogs have a shorter life span and are considered seniors at five to six years old.

Regular veterinary examinations for your pet can detect problems in older pets before they advance or become life-threatening. In many cases, solutions and relief for your pet are available.

Here are some signs to watch for that may indicate age-related problems:

• Sudden weight loss, especially in cats
• Less interested in active playing or running
• Having trouble with daily activities
• Seems more depressed or irritable
• Easily disturbed by loud sounds
• Unusually aggressive behavior
• Increased barking or meowing
• Anxiety or nervousness
• Confused or disoriented
• House soiling or “accidents”
• Change in sleep habits

Regular appointments with your veterinarian ensure that your senior dog or cat gets the care and attention they need as they age.

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Foods You Should Never Feed to Your Dog or Cat

Many foods that people eat are extremely toxic and dangerous to your pets. Be sure your never feed your dog or cat:

• Products containing Xylitol which is an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free candy and gum
• Chocolate
• Onions
• Grapes and raisins
• Fatty foods
• Fried foods
• Macadamia nuts
• Avocados

Watch what your four-legged family members eat and keep them safe!

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Does My Pet Need an MRI?

Most of us know someone who has had an MRI. The same advanced diagnosing technology is now available for our four-legged children.

During the last two decades MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) has become the gold standard for diagnosing issues that typically cannot be found using other modalities such as radiographs or ultrasonography. Once only available in the university setting, MRI is now widely available at referral and specialty animal hospitals. Due to the high cost of purchasing, maintaining, and staffing an MRI unit—it is not available in general veterinary practice.

MRI is the modality of choice for diagnosing issues relating to the brain and central nervous system, including the spine. The most common use of MRI is to locate herniated disks or tumors in the spine and to look for brain lesions or tumors. In addition, MRI can uncover hidden issues involving the nasal cavities, nose, ear, eye, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints that physical examination, radiographs, or ultrasonography cannot find.

MRI is very safe as it does not use ionizing radiation like radiographs. Since the patient must remain very still during the MRI general anesthesia is required. Most MRI scans last 30 to 60 minutes. They can be followed immediately by surgery if necessary.

If your pet has been suffering with an unknown diagnosis, an MRI should be the next step in the process of bringing relief to your pet.

Here are photos of several of our patients who have benefitted significantly from an MRI.



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With warm weather comes the risk of heat stress and heat stroke

Know the signs and what you should do if your pet is affected.

Heat Stress and Heat Stroke
One of the more common and tragic injuries seen each year is heat stroke. Very young, very old, and brachycephalic breeds (those with a short “smashed face” appearance like pugs and bulldogs) are at the most risk.

Signs of heat stress and impending heat stroke include:
• Heavy panting
• Decreased responsiveness to commands
• Weakness
• Glassy eyes
• Body temperature above 103.5 degrees F

Heat stroke symptoms include:
• Collapse
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea (possibly bloody)
• Seizures
• Body temperature above 106 degrees F

What Should You Do?
If your pet shows signs of heat stress begin first aid by cooling them but do not decrease their body temperature below normal and take them to a veterinarian immediately. Heat stroke causes damage to internal organs. Even with aggressive treatment some pets may die.

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Emergency LVT Positions Available with Signing Bonus

The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is an award-winning locally owned and operated specialty practice that provides Emergency, Internal Medicine, Surgery, Behavior Medicine, and Ophthalmology services.  Our Emergency Services Division is open 24 hours a day/365 days a year, including holidays.  We provide an enriching, educational environment with a strong culture of teamwork and a progressive approach to medicine.  Please visit www.vrc-nova.com for more information about our practice.

Currently we have openings for full-time and part-time Emergency Licensed Veterinary Technicians.  The ideal candidate must have a great work ethic, possess strong client service skills, be self-motivated, observant, caring, team-focused, and honest.  Reliability, dependability, and flexibility are essential.  Emergency experience is preferred but not required.  New graduates are welcome to apply.  Salary is commensurate with experience.  Generous benefits are provided for full-time staff members.  Please send your resume to trish@vrc-nova.com.  You may call Trish at 703.361.8287 with any questions you may have.

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Urethral Prolapse in Dogs

Urethral Prolapse is a relatively rare condition in young, intact, male dogs. It is more common in brachycephalic (short nosed, flat faced) breeds such as Bulldogs and Boston Terriers. The tip of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to excretion, everts through the opening of the penis.

While the exact cause is unknown, it may be related to prolonged sexual excitement due to being intact or an underlying urogenital disorder. If a urogenital disorder is suspected further diagnostics will be necessary.

The condition appears as a small red or purple mass at the tip of the penis. The symptoms include:
• Visible blood at the tip of the penis
• Blood in the urine
• Excessively licking the penis

The diagnosis can usually be made by physical examination. The treatment of choice is surgical intervention to resect the prolapsed part of the urethra. The patient should be castrated at the time of surgery to avoid recurrence.

This can become a life-threatening situation if the tip of the urethra becomes “strangled” and urine can’t be excreted. Prognosis with surgery is excellent. Cats are not affected by this condition.