Pain Management

March 2018 Patient of the Month

In a delightful departure from our normal Patient of the Month format, this month's entry is brought to you by the patient himself!  Here, straight out of the horse''s mouth, is Beau's story! Enjoy!

Sir Beau's Story

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My name is (Sir) Beau I’m a 17+ year old Treeing Walker Coonhound

Do you have any food?

I grew up hunting in North Carolina, then when I was unable to that anymore,  I went to a place where there were a LOT of other dogs, then finally to Animal Care Sanctuary when my friend found me!

Do you have any food?

I’m not much for playing but have always loved walks wherever there are good smells, lying down with my friend and FOOD!

Do you have any?

I’ve slowed down a lot in the past few years (my human friend can keep up with me now, but my other pack member Casey leaves us in the dust! He’s crazy!). Considering I’ve been shot (birdshot which may be why I was unable to hunt anymore and am so afraid of thunder and gunshots), had Lyme disease, almost died from Leptospirosis (Thank you VMC for saving me!), have arthritis and an enlarged spleen, I think I’m doing pretty well!

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Do you have any food?

Now I come to the VMC to get treats and see Lis and Dr. Flaherty (I used to see Dr. Burnett before) and go sniff around the back.  That water tank is pretty sketchy, but I feel better and I get TREATS!!

Do you have any?

That’s my story, for now.  I think I’ll go sprawl out in my bed and dream about hunting but first, some food.

Do you have any?

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With a grateful (and Hungry) Heart-


February 2018 Patient of the Month

Brando's Story

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Over the years we have learned that the dog that we think we are taking home is never the dog that we adopt. We adopted Brando in 2010 a couple months after we lost our senior German Shepherd.  Our senior shepherd had a very easygoing personality.  He was confident without being aggressive which made him the ideal companion for our reactive, nervous, female German Shepherd, Stella. 

We were looking for a dog with a very specific personality to keep our household balanced.  We evaluated several dogs from German Shepherd rescue, the ASPCA and Helping Hounds before a Helping Hounds volunteer recommended Brando (then Rebel) to us.  When Brando and Stella first met it was an immediate match.  He laid in the grass calmly as she ran around playing frisbee.  Periodically she would walk up to Brando and “check-in” with him, giving him a nudge with her nose or letting him sniff her rear before returning to playing.    When Stella is nervous Brando comforts her.  He licks her face, sniffs her rear or just sits down next to her.  He can occasionally be lured into a game of chase or steal-the-toy but can generally be found sitting on the couch next to a heating source. 

Brando was about 2 years old when we adopted him.  Helping Hounds identified Brando as some sort of hound/pitbull mix.  Brando is definitely part hound dog.  He loves to dig in the yard and can sniff out any animal, whether it is a bird or a snake.  Brando’s hound adventures have led to snake bites and one very unfortunate mouse dinner.  We do our best to feed his strong prey drive with puzzle toys and hiding treats around the house. 

We decided to get a DNA test to find out what other breeds Brando was mixed with.  The results showed that Brando is a chow, foxhound, boxer mix.  His coat is more hair-like, like a boxer.  He has some areas where his skin has folds and thicker fur, like a chow.  Brando developed skin sensitivities in the areas with extra folds or fur.  He would scratch and bite these areas until they became raw and infected.  After his worst flare-ups, he would have to be treated with steroids to fully recover.  Steroids were very hard on Brando’s body and not worth the side effects for us.  We had worked with Dr. Polly when our senior Shepherd had skin issues so we knew that she would be able to help Brando. 

We initially tried acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy.  While the acupuncture treatments did provide Brando with some relief, he was not good about sitting still to have the needles inserted or stay still for the 20 minutes that they need to stay in to be effective.  We decided that his stress over the treatment cancelled out any benefits that he was getting.  We noticed a difference with the Chinese herbs.  We gave it to him daily for a couple months and then on/off for cycles of a couple weeks at a time when he had flare ups.  We even mixed it with oatmeal and peanut butter to make allergy treats. 

Brando’s unique breed mix gives him a bit of an awkward stance.  His front legs are slightly shorter than his back legs.  This combined with the stress that he puts on his front legs digging and pouncing led to lower back pain.  He is very sensitive about having his lower back touched.  He flinches anytime you rub or scratch him along his spine, almost like he is ticklish but it seems to cause him pain.  We knew that he would benefit from chiropractic care from Dr. Polly but she couldn’t adjust his spine because of the touch sensitivity. 


Dr. Polly recommended that we look in to a K-9 topcoat.  This is a spandex, compression suit that is used on dogs with anxiety, allergies and other sensitivity issues.  The topcoat was a huge success.  When he has the suit on you can rub his back without him flinching and Dr. Polly can adjust his spine to relieve his back pain.  Brando wears his topcoat during allergy flare ups, whenever he receives an adjustment and after stressful situations. 

Brando used to be a nightmare after getting a bath.  During allergy flare ups he gets a bath every 7-10 days.  Before the top coat he would run around the house knocking over furniture and digging into the bed and carpet for several minutes before he calmed down.  Now after his bath we towel-dry Brando and put him in his topcoat.  He goes to his favorite chair and curls up without incident.

Brando had x-rays to confirm that he didn’t have any herniated disks or other structural problems that could be causing the pain.  His x-rays were clear but they did show that he had a bullet in his side.    The bullet does not cause him any pain and would cause more problems now if it was removed.  Brando was rescued from a high-kill shelter in South Carolina by Helping Hounds.  We can’t imagine what the first 2 years of his life were like but have been happy to spoil him for the past 7 years to make up for it. 

Brando now has 3 topcoats and an assortment of clothing options.  He seems to be calmest when he is swaddled in something.  On cold nights, he is happy in his topcoat and underneath a fleece blanket in front of the wood stove.  Even after all these years he still seems to be a South Carolina dog. 

Diagnosis: Lower back pain, muscle pain in neck and shoulders, skin allergies

Treatment: Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, Chiropractic and home exercises with touch-sensitive  suit  

July 2017 Patient of the Month


Mojo is a rescue dog from Hilton Head, South Carolina. His mom adopted him in 2009… it was love at first sight with this handsome boy. From the moment she saw “the spot,” she knew, he was “her dog.” Despite his crazy behavior during her visit to his foster home where he chased the family cat, pooped in the house and demonstrated terrible leash manners, she packed him up and drove him to Charleston to meet his new family. He sat in her lap the whole way home and never looked back.

In 2011, his mom and dad were married and moved in to a new home. Being his first “real house” with a big yard to run in was very exciting. So exciting, that he implemented a very specific routine of running circles through the house and yard. During one of his routines, he slipped on a rug. It was like a scene from a movie for his mom, who watched it happen in what seemed like slow motion. He seemed fine at first but within a few days, his mom and dad noticed he was no longer following them upstairs. He would sit at the bottom of the staircase and cry instead. Within 24 hours he could barely walk and yelped in pain when his parents tried to pick him up. His mom took him to the vet who did some radiographs but found nothing and prescribed him pain management pills with strict crate rest. Within a few days, he was all better!

In 2012, Mojo experienced more exciting life changes when he got a new baby French Bulldog brother and another new home in Syracuse, NY. His first day here he was so excited to find that NY squirrels are about twice the size of SC squirrels! excited that he exited the moving truck and chased the giant squirrels through the woods and fell into a pond. He is not the most graceful of dogs.

Outside of the giant squirrels, the move to Syracuse turned out to be a blessing because of the staff and doctors at Veterinary Medical Center. In 2013, Mojo was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease or “IVDD.”

IVDD is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst (herniate) into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis.”

In Mojo’s case, his symptoms of IVDD can be very scary. It always begins the same with his hesitance to use stairs and he becomes a little withdrawn. He starts dragging his legs and feet behind him, he won’t be able to walk and he will be in a lot of pain. He won’t feel his feet even the doctors pinch really hard. Mojo had an emergencyat VMC in 2013 and luckily, within a few months he made a full recovery! He lived a normal happy (spoiled) dog life until his symptoms returned worse than ever in 2014. This time he was not able to relieve himself and refused to eat or drink. It was a very grim and heartbreaking visit to VMC but Mojo also met Doctor Burnett and Lis Conarton for the first time which turned out to be life-changing. Together, Mojo’s team of his parents, Doctor Burnett and Lis all worked together to implement a treatment plan that literally saved his life. A second surgery was not an option, so he began medicine and physical therapy. Mojo made tremendous progress with this plan. Within 24 hours he was eating, drinking and able to relieve himself and continued to improve from there. Within a month we added acupuncture and he was able to feel his feet and legs and stand a little on his own and wag his tail again! Within 6 months he could walk again without assistance.

It’s almost like clockwork; once a year Mojo will have an episode, but thankfully he has Doctor Burnett and Lis to help with his treatment and ongoing therapy so these episodes and his symptoms are MUCH more manageable. As of February 2017, Mojo has made it 6 months without an episode! He is still the happiest dog in the world and he LOVES his preventative therapy visits to VMC. He still needs a little help from his parents and a harness to help with stairs, jumping and for when he gets SUPERexcited and can’t control his tail wags, but that’s no problem for his family. Today, he can walk, run and do all of his normal crazy dog things including chasing these huge NY squirrels. 

                             ~The Arcia Family


April 2017 Patient of the Month

I know everyone feels their family pet is the best pet in whole wide world and well, they should!  For me to say my Riley is the bravest, strongest, hardest-working Labrador out there would be an understatement….For the past year and a few months, Riley has gone from being knocked down, literally, not being able to walk or get around (lameness both hind legs at one point), to being able to take hikes, run through a field in a new-kind-of-way, go on canoe rides, swim in lakes, and so much more.  Riley is a fighter and is where he is today because of the dedication, experience and compassion of Dr. Robinson, Lis Conarton and Dr. Burnett.

I knew from the moment I held Riley in my arms at six weeks old he was going to change my life.  Riley is a purebred lab and he came into our lives with the understanding that both his parents were healthy and had no history of medical or physical issues.  Riley was active as most lab puppies are right from the start and at six months old we noticed he was walking a “bit” funny and sure enough, he had elbow dysplasia in one of his front elbows.   However after two medical exams it was determined he had the type of dysplasia that was caused by the way his two bones grew together and there really wasn’t anything to be fixed.  We were like “whoa” and figured, well, if that’s the worst thing that happens to Riley, we can handle it because Riley was happy and was still able to do his “Riley-thing.”

Memorial Day, 2015 is a day, a moment in time, I will never forget.  I had come home from a bike ride and was in the back yard with my husband, and the kitchen door must have blown open.  Riley heard my voice and wanted to be at my side as quickly as possible.  Riley leapt out the door, over two steps, and must have landed wrong, because the next thing we knew from the back yard is we heard a cry that a dog owner NEVER wants to hear in their lifetime, and we soon saw our Riley dragging himself into the backyard. Despite his agonizing pain he wanted to be at my side.  He is my boy and I will never forget his face, his cry and instantaneously Riley’s short life, he was just four, flashed before me.  He needed help and he needed it right away.

The VMC came into my life, into Riley’s life that day.  Dr. Robinson examined Riley and confirmed he had torn his rear left CCL and that he would need surgery to repair the damage.  Three days later, not knowing Dr. Robinson or his staff, I put my boy in their care, and I am glad I did.  Riley had TPLO surgery and he did great!  At that moment I had no idea how challenging, how difficult it would be to rehabilitate a 100 pound lab who used to run fields, jump logs, and swim rivers.  Riley, after surgery, with the support of a tech, came into a room with no hair on his hind quarter, very tired, but so happy to see me.  I remember sitting on the floor with Riley with a blanket for quite some time.  The VMC did not rush me out. They let me just lay with Riley because he needed me.  Riley was there for two nights and then he came home to begin his healing.

When Riley was six weeks into healing, we came for a re-check, and Dr. Robinson confirmed the bone was healing, but had not fully healed. He said that he could start physical therapy.  Riley met Lis a day or two after that.  When he walked in to see Lis she asked if the right had the surgery and I said, “No, the left.”  A day later, Riley was on a very slow, short walk with me down a path into a field at my parent’s farm and he collapsed.  He cried out, just as awful as the last time.  I knew what had happened.  Time stopped for me as I went to the ground holding Riley.  His rear right CCL had torn along with the meniscus this time.  The left leg was weeks from being healed, and Riley lay in the field with two rear legs in bad shape, total lameness.  To say the VMC was supportive when we rushed Riley there would be an understatement.  I cried, they gave me the time I needed to cry, and to accept the reality.  After two long weeks of waiting and good pain management, Dr. Robinson, performed a second TPLO surgery on Riley’s rear right leg.

Riley’s second surgery was early August of 2015 and by October Riley was back to see Lis, this time with two newly repaired hind legs.  It was overwhelming at first with all the exercise suggestions, and massage techniques, but Lis was patient, always a listener, and above all, compassionate.  Lis suggested we meet with Dr. Burnett because Riley had been through a lot and was dealing with a good amount of pain and it was affecting his rehabilitation progress.  Dr. Burnett was phenomenal and got Riley in a comfortable place so his body was able to begin healing with limited amounts of pain and discomfort.  

It has been about a year and half since Riley’s first TPLO surgery and he has experienced some hiccups along the way.  Through it all, Lis and Dr. Burnett have been there for Riley and he is in such a great place now.  Riley is a new version of Riley, now, after all, he has two rods, one in each rear leg with six screws each.  But, what hasn’t changed through it all is Riley’s spirit, determination and fight.  Riley has fought his way to be where he is today and couldn’t have done it without the support of the VMC of CNY.  

Riley continues to do laser and hydrotherapy with Lis on a monthly basis and does re-checks with Dr. Burnett every 3 months.  He takes Duralactin, Tramadol, Gabapentin and Omega-3 Oil Supplements daily to help with discomfort and arthritis/inflammation management. Thank you Lis!  Thank you Dr. Burnett!  And thank you to all of the staff who have reached out and touched my heart and Riley’s heart throughout this journey.  Riley is back to “living the life of Riley, again!”

                                                     ~The Schultz Family


March 2017 Patient of the Month

Hemi's Story

One day in July of 2009, we were at our veterinary clinic for a visit with one of our cats. A family had recently left a handsome yellow lab with Doctor Kibiuk, Doctor Jank and staff at the Watertown Animal Hospital. His name was Hemi, he needed surgeryon his left knee, and the doctors were hoping to find a new family for him but knew it would be difficult. They mentioned him to us since they knew we were looking for a dog to adopt. We met him once and that was all it took. He came home with us that dayand we learned quickly that he was a happy, friendly and very energetic guy.

In October of 2009, Doctor Jank successfully performed surgery on Hemi’s ACL in his left knee. Around the same time, pre-existing skin allergies became increasingly worse and unbearable, and he ended up having 2 hematomas, one in each ear, and 2 surgeries as a result. After several years, and several medications that didn’t work, we went to Cornell for allergy testing. Hemi now receives allergy shots and Apoquel and can get through the day and night without scratching continuously. Hemi loves walking in the fields and woods, and one day turned to look backwards and his right knee buckled! Another torn ACL and another surgery performed by Doctor Jank. Unfortunately, this surgery was not as successful and he had to go to Cornell to have a TPLO performed on his right knee. Throughout his recovery, it was a struggle to keep Hemi walking slowly, but he was learning and doing great, until he had a setback. Cornell diagnosed him with Peripheral Neuropathy and Laryngeal Paralysis. He continued to have trouble with his back legs, which weakened and caused pain and stress on his front legs as well. Throughout all of this, he has remained the same happy, friendly and energetic guy we first met.

Desperate for help, we asked Doctor Jank if there was anything we could do for him. Doctor Jank talked to us about looking into acupuncture and physical rehabilitation and he recommended Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York. We called VMC the very next day and set up an appointment with Doctor Michelle Burnett on July 28, 2015 for acupuncture and pain management. We also made an appointment with Doctor Molly Flaherty to begin physical rehabilitation after she arrived from Chicago in early August of 2015. So began our visits at VMC weekly for physical rehabilitation and acupuncture treatments, along with pain management assessments, every other week. 

Our visits with Doctor Flaherty include laser therapy on Hemi’s joints, spinal manipulation and underwater treadmill treatments. Hemi does not like water and barked the entire time he was in the tank until Doctor Flaherty “out foxed” him. A kong filled with peanut butter, that he can lick, makes him forget all about the water he’s in. Doctor Flaherty & Jen have helped Hemi to maintain muscle mass, which enables him to have a better mobility. He can now enjoy his daily walks and move around the house so much easier.

Doctor Burnett has helped Hemi be able to enjoy his daily activities more comfortably by introducing him to new medications and acupuncture treatments. She gets a workout during each acupuncture visit because Hemi is much more interested in visiting than standing still for the needles to be placed in position. Although, by the time the electroacupuncture machine is hooked up, he is worn out and usually dozes until the treatment is finished.

Then, as the weeks went by we noticed that Hemi’s breathing was increasingly labored. This was due to the Laryngeal Paralysis and needed attention. At the beginning of the summer, Doctor Timothy Robinson performed Tieback surgery on Hemi to relieve the breathing stress. Hemi was then able to get through the summer without any further problems.

We are so happy and fortunate to have Hemi as part of our family. Hemi just celebrated his 13th birthday at the end of October and we cannot thank VMC enough for everything they are doing for him. Our experiences with everyone at VMC has been outstanding!

-- The Coons Family


  • ALC Left Knee
  • TPLO Right Knee
  • Arthritis in Most Joints
  • Laryngeal Paralysis


  • Laser Therapy
  • Underwater Treadmill
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Acupuncture
  • Pain Management




January 2017 Patient of the Month!

Stella's Story

When we adopted Stella in 2010, we weren’t looking for a young dog. We had our hearts set on a 9-year old female from German Shepherd Rescue who could be a companion to our 9.5-year-old male, Ezra. The 9-year-old female did not want to live in a house with other dogs, so the rescue steered us to Stella, a 2.5-year-old that had been surrendered by her family.  We feel in love with Stella’s sweet personality and playfulness immediately.  Stella and Ezra were running around and playing like old friends shortly after meeting so we knew she was the dog for us. 

Stella had a femoral head and neck osteotomy performed on her left hip when she was 6-months old after x-rays showed hip dysplasia. Despite this early setback, Stella is an extremely active dog who loves to play fetch and Frisbee. Occasionally we noticed that Stella was stiff after her playtimes. We brought her in for Physical Rehabilitation and Pain Management at the Veterinary Medical Center of CNY. Dr. Fleckenstein and Lis Conarton had worked wonders on our old shepherd, Ezra’s issues through the end of his life so we knew they would come up with a plan to keep Stella active. We immediately saw a decrease in Stella’s stiffness and recovery once we added physical rehabilitation. We have kept Stella on a 4 to 6-week rotation of chiropractic care and hydrotherapy and followed a regiment of home exercise and stretches. 

When we adopted Stella we knew she had anxiety issues. Having a strong male role model around helps with Stella’s anxiety but it is still a problem. Stella’s greatest problems occur during thunderstorms. We have frequently come home or woken up to find Stella wedged into a space that is too small for her. Stella has cut herself during these episodes but never caused an injury that required medical care. In early July, Stella panicked during a thunderstorm and wedged herself under our bed. The bedframe is very close to the ground. The only way Stella was able to get herself under the bed was to unnaturally contort her body. Stella was wedged in so tight that we could not pull her out. I was able to pull Stella out after my husband lifted the bed. It looked like she had rotated her hips at a strange angle so we weren’t surprised that she was a little stiff when she started walking around. 

Aside from the stiffness, she acted like her normal, playful self.  The next morning when we took her out to play fetch it was obvious that something was wrong. She was not putting weight on her left hind leg. We brought Stella to the Veterinary Medical Center of CNY for evaluation and found out that she had ruptured her cruciate ligament. Dr. Robinson and the surgical team assured us that this was a common injury in active dogs and that Stella would be back to her playful self about 12 weeks after surgery if we followed a strict rest and recovery program. 

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One week after Stella’s surgery we started Acupuncture. Stella had a lot of bruising and swelling around her knee and ankle and her leg was extremely hot to the touch. A few hours after her first Acupuncture treatment, the bruising and swelling had decreased significantly. We continued with treatments every two weeks through Stella’s 6-week post op x-rays. Once we got the all-clear that she was healing well, we were able to add Physical Rehabilitation with Lis. Visits with Lis for laser therapy were already part of Stella’s recovery but we were happy that now she was going to be able to do something active to burn off some of that nervous energy. 

At this point, we are almost 11 weeks post-surgery and Stella is doing great. Stella now comes in twice a month for her treatments with Dr. Polly and Lis and we follow our home exercise and mobility regiment.  Stella is doing better than we expected at this point and is basically back to her old self. Even though some parts of the recovery process have been difficult, things would have been much worse without the great care and support that we receive from the VMC. You never want anything bad to happen to your pet but when it does, it is great to have such a great resource close by that embraces both traditional and non-traditional approaches to veterinary care. 

                               ~The Sliwiak Family


  • History of Left Femoral Head & Neck Osteotomy
  • Left Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture corrected with TPLO repair
  • Noise Phobia
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Secondary Compensatory Muscle Pain


  • Electroacupuncture
  • Laser Therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Massage
  • Soft Tissue Mobilization
  • VSMT
  • Alprazolam (for anxiety)
  • Shen Calmer (Chinese Herbs for Anxiety)
  • Pain Management Perioperatively (and as needed)
  • Tendon Ligament Formula Chinese Herbs





December 2016 Patient of the Month


My name is Frostyn and I am an all white Siberian Husky. I am originally from Georgia and they say I was picked up as a stray. I knew where I was and I knew where I was going, but if “stray” makes everyone happy, then that’s okay. I was taken to a place called a kill shelter and fortunately, a rescue organization found me there and got me out. They put my picture on the internet and that’s how my Dad found me. Everyone thinks I’m about eight years old and I’ll let them go on believing that. As everyone knows, a lady doesn’t reveal her true age!

In order to tell you about my journey with the Veterinary Medical Center, I have to begin by telling you about my “sister” Holly. Holly was also a Siberian Husky and even though she was six years older than me, we were the very best of friends. We were both agility dogs (I still am), but a couple of summers ago, Holly became lame. She couldn’t even put any weight on one of her front feet. My Dad was reluctant to use any of those medications on her, so he took her to see Dr. Polly Fleckenstein. To make a long story short, Holly made a complete recovery and returned to agility competition less than a year later because of what Dr. Polly & Lis Conarton did for her. Holly continued to see both of them and continued her agility career until she passed away a little over a year ago, so I have continued in the agility ring without Holly.

My Dad has recently been concerned because, after my first run of the day, whether in class or in competition, I would always slow down. At first he thought it was all in my mind, but then decided he should make sure the problem was not physical. Of course, after the miraculous work done by Dr. Polly & Lis for Holly, the first place my Dad thought to bring me was the Veterinary Medical Center. My Dad had been taking me to VMC when he brought Holly for her appointments, so it was really good to see all my old friends.

Everyone treats me so good when I visit. My Dad already had me on some supplements, but Dr. Polly put me on a couple more. She has been doing acupuncture and spinal manipulation on me and Lis is doing laser treatment on me. Lis has given my Dad lots of work to do at home, including stretching, massage, and exercises to strengthen my abdominal muscles. It’s only been a couple of months, but I feel so much better! My performance in class and in competition has been so much more consistent. Dr. Polly & Lis were able to tell where I was sore and concentrate on those areas. My lower back was really bothering me.

As much as my Dad loves me and understands me, he doesn’t have the knowledge to be able to determine where I’m sore. It’s really important that I feel good since my Dad relies on me to keep him busy. In addition to agility, I take him to rally/obedience class and we also compete in those events. Dad and I are also a pet therapy team with PAWS of CNY. I take him with me to schools where the students read to me and to a home where the people don’t remember me each time we come. We have also done some other activities with PAWS of CNY such as de-stress events at Syracuse University and participated in 4th of July parades.

I’m going to make sure my Dad continues to bring me for treatments with Dr. Polly & Lis so that I’m at my best. Without me to keep him going, I’m afraid he would get bored and lazy!                                 

Frostyn's issues:

  • back pain
  • muscle pain

Frostyn's treatments: 

  • Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) 
  • VSMT (veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy)
  • Acupuncture
  • Chinese Herbal Therapy
  • Supplements
  • Massage
  • Soft Tissue Mobilization
  • Postural Balance Exercises & Home Exercise Program

November Patient of the Month

Dorothy's Story, Part II


You may remember that we featured Dorothy's story a few months back.  She is a senior dog who was left on the street when her owners decided it was too much trouble to care for her and her medical problems.  If you missed our original post about her, you can catch up here:

We have an update from her family, about how Dorothy's care has been going since that original article:

Once Dorothy had recovered from all her urgently necessary treatments, it was time to begin focusing on the rest of her.  It was clear by her posture, movements and body language that she was experiencing pain all over her body. Dorothy was evaluated by Dr. Burnett and prescribed a regimen of pain management medications, laser and massage therapy.  Dorothy has been visiting Lis and Dr. Burnett for 10 months now and has shown remarkable improvements.  She has always enjoyed her walks around the neighborhood but now runs around the yard like a puppy, tossing her favorite rubber ducky into the air!  There was a time that she would run away from a massage at home and tremble when you would touch or try to stretch her. Now she can’t get enough of her massages and stretches.  She still needs work and is not 100% but she has come leaps and bounds from where she was 10 short months ago.  If you look into her eyes close enough you will see that she is saying thank you to VMC and CARE for significantly reducing her pain and allowing her to live again!  

We thank you from the bottom our hearts!  

~ Dorothy's Family


Dorothy's issues:

  • Suspect chronic arthritis (hips/stifles) with compensatory muscle pain


  • Pain Medications
  • Supplements (Omega 3 Fatty Acids)
  • Physical Rehabilitation (laser and massage therapy)


VMC's October Patient of the Month

Blackjack's Story


Hello, my name is Blackjack, everyone calls me Jack for short and my friends at daycare call me Jack-Jack as they have decided I like to hear my name. I am Lord Blackjack of Rambunctiousness as it could be seen by the look in my eyes I was destined for trouble from the very beginning.

I am a 7 year old black lab. I was having various limping episodes and had gone to see Doctor Goetz and Doctor Rodriguez at Manlius Veterinary Hospital. It was decided they needed an X-ray to confirm that I had a cruciate tear. Once that was confirmed I was sent to Doctor Robinson at Veterinary Medical Center for a consult for surgery. We discussed my options and decided that for my size the TPLO surgery was the way to go. The left side was also showing a tear so it was explained that the likelihood of the other side needing surgery at a later time was probable. So I had surgery in October and the follow-up X-rays as scheduled. I had not healed as fast as expected, (probably due to my inability to sit still) and required more time of sitting watching DogTV. Now don’t get me wrong, DogTV is great but I had things to do.

My Dad had heard that Lis would be great to help with recovery but she was booked weeks in advance and I just could not wait. So we made our appointment with Doctor Molly Flaherty and started laser and treadmill therapy. I get my chiropractic adjustment, too. And there was water involved!

My first session was all about what was expected of me.  Once we got the hang of it and toys got introduced I was hooked.  As expected four months after the first surgery the left leg was weakening and I needed another TPLO on that knee. Doctor Flaherty suggested starting laser the day after surgery and what a difference it made. It made a real difference with swelling and I healed a lot faster. I wish I had known for the first TPLO!

Since December I have been a weekly patient of Doctor Flaherty. I have laser and cannot wait for my turn at the water treadmill; splashes for everyone! I love coming to VMC for water fun, visiting friends, hugs and cookies. My four months recovery after the second surgery is over I still want to continue coming to help build more muscle and maintenance for elbow dysplasia. The goal is to be able to go back to daycare and play with my human and canine friends. There are more lakes out there to play in. I am so thankful that Doctor Flaherty and Jen Waldron were able to help with my recovery and future success in having fun and making people happy.

~Blackjack & Family



August 2016 Patient of the Month

Bailey's Story


Bailey is a 10 year old Golden Retriever who was named after Bailey’s Irish Cream as he became part of our family the day after St. Patrick’s Day, 2006. At the time, he joined our 6 year old Golden, Reilly, and our calico cat, Callie.

Bailey had always been an easy-going, healthy dog who loved his walks, had the run of our one acre yard, and couldn’t wait for summer so he could jump into the family pool. In early October 2015, Bailey decided to take off after the neighbor’s cat who was visiting in our yard. Running full speed ahead, he rounded a corner and went down with a yelp of pain. At that time, he lost use of his back end and could not walk or even support himself. He was transported to our vet at Stack Veterinary Hospital for evaluation. They did x-rays to evaluate Bailey, found no sign of any breaks, and felt he should be taken to the Cornell Companion Animal Hospital for a more comprehensive evaluation.

At Cornell, after an MRI, Bailey was diagnosed with an intramedullary lesions at T12-13 and multiple intervertebral disk protrusions caused by Lumbosacral Syndrome. The doctors at Cornell noted that he had some use of his right rear leg but no use of his left rear leg. They recommended that he remain at Cornell for several days for pain management and observation. Over that time, Bailey’s pain seemed to diminish somewhat and his ability to use his right leg improved. He was, at this time, discharged with the Help ‘Em Up harness so that we could help him get around.

Through all of this, we were in constant contact with our wonderful next-door neighbor,  Doctor Maureen Luschini from the Veterinary Medical Center. She gave us advice and helped us make sense of the “vet-speak” that we did not always understand. When Bailey came home, he really had NO use of his back left leg and was completely immobile without our help. His left rear limb hung limp and literally  dragged on the ground unless we picked up his hind quarters using the harness. Cornell gave us exercises to do several times daily and recommended 5 minute walks around the yard. In talking with Dr. Luschini,  we learned that acupuncture was available at Veterinary Medical Center and felt that this might help stimulate the nerves and muscles in Bailey’s leg and hasten his recovery.

He started his acupuncture treatments with Doctor Burnett about a week after he came home, and has continued with those treatments to date. Along with the acupuncture, Doctor Burnett taught us other stretches to do daily. We began to see improvements with Bailey’s ability to bear weight and actually stand on his own. We made a return visit to Cornell about six weeks after the initial episode and they were immensely pleased and pleasantly surprised with the progress Bailey had made. At that time they recommended physical rehab. We were so pleased with the care he received at Veterinary Medical Center, we decided to have his physical rehab done there also.

Bailey 2
Bailey 2

We consulted with Lis Conarton, their canine rehabilitation practitioner. Bailey started seeing Lis for laser therapy, massage and workouts using the underwater treadmill. It was a joyous day indeed when the harness came off for good and Bailey was able to walk on his own. We are so happy to say that Bailey has continued to improve. Although he walks with a limp, he is back to most of his normal activities. You can imagine our elation when Bailey actually ran for the first time since his accident. He continues to see both Dr. Burnett & Lis,  and looks forward to these visits. He is anxiously awaiting his first swim in their new rehab pool! Thanks to the exceptional care Bailey is receiving at the Veterinary Medical Center, we are thrilled to have our Bailey back.

~The Sullivan Family


  • Lumbosacral Syndrome
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease


  • Acupuncture
  • Physical Rehab (Laser Therapy & Hydrotherapy)
  • Pain Medications