Albuterol toxicity in Pets: Where's your inhaler?

ventolin-inhaler-02-1 Millions of people in the United States suffer from asthma.  Many of these people have inhalers to use during an attack.   These inhalers are composed of a small pressurized canister that contains a solution of asthma medicine fitted into a plastic casing that releases a precise dose of the medicine in an aerosol form.  The medicine contained in many asthma inhalers is albuterol, a drug used to relax the muscles in the lungs and allow the air passages to open.

The size and (we think) the smell of the inhalers make them very attractive and interesting to our dogs.  Dogs are easily able to puncture the canister if they chew on it. Since the canister is pressurized, the entire contents are released instantly, resulting in almost certain overdose of the medication. In an overdose, these drugs affect both the muscles of the lungs as well as the muscles of the heart. The results are immediate, severe, and include the following:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Red gums
  • Increased respiratory rate / excessive panting
  • Abnormal behavior (restlessness/agitation, hiding, tremors, shaking, lethargy, weakness, collapse)
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Severe changes in blood electrolytes (particularly potassium)
  • Seizures
  • Shock
  • Acute death

If you know that your pet has bitten into an inhaler, you should seek care at the nearest emergency veterinary facility.  Bring the inhaler and the original packaging if it is available, as well as any medications that your pet is currently taking. Do not induce vomiting at home.


Dogs suffering from albuterol toxicity will typically need to stay in the hospital for 12 - 48 hours.  Treatment will include sedation, aggressive IV fluids, blood work (to monitor the electrolyte levels), drugs to slow the heart rate down, and heart and blood pressure monitoring. With prompt and appropriate treatment, albuterol toxicity is rarely fatal, although pets with heart conditions and pets on medications that interact poorly with albuterol are at higher risk for serious complications.

Veterinary Medical Center of CNY's Emergency veterinarians are available 24/7/365 to help you and your pet through these types of emergencies, but we will be just as happy if you can avoid them!  Keep these and all other medications out of reach of your pets.  Also avoid disposing of used canisters in trash cans that are accessible to pets. Used inhalers can still contain enough medication to be dangerous.

VMC September Patient of the Month

Bevyn's Story


In December of 2015, I noticed a small growth on the lower lip of my 4 year old Golden Retriever, Bevyn. I contacted his primary veterinarian and brought him in to be evaluated. They decided to perform a fine needle aspiration of the growth and had me continue to monitor the area for any changes. The fine needle aspiration was inconclusive and within a couple of weeks his front bottom teeth began to shift and there was obvious inflammation. Due to the sudden changes in his mouth, his vet performed x-rays of his jaw and she confirmed that a tumor was present.

I was beyond devastated. Unfortunately, due to his breed the vet prepared me for the “C” word, cancer. I was immediately referred to Dr. Rassnick at the VMC in January 2016. During the oncology consult, Dr. Rassnick discussed the options that were available for Bevyn and from there we started our journey at the VMC. A fine needle aspiration was initially performed on 2 lymph nodes to rule out any metastasis, thankfully they were both clear. A CT scan was performed to show the margins of the tumor and biopsies were taken which confirmed the diagnosis of fibrosarcoma.

The next step was meeting with Dr. Robinson for a surgery consult to remove the tumor. Dr. Robinson’s plan was to perform a bilateral rostral mandibulectomy (removing a large portion of his lower jaw). In March 2016, Bevyn’s surgery was a success and I was able to bring him home the day after surgery. Dr. Robinson’s surgical work on Bevyn’s mouth was wonderful. I had planned for alterations in Bevyn’s basic activities such as eating, drinking and playing with his toys but he has continued to prove me wrong! He is eating and drinking the same as before his surgery and he still enjoys finding sticks outside to chew on. Although we have hit some bumps in the road during Bevyn’s recovery and a few more than anticipated visits to the VMC, Bevyn is still my happy and energetic boy.

Bevyn is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments with Dr. Rassnick to prevent any future regrowth or spread of the fibrosarcoma. The level of compassion and professionalism we have received from all of the staff at the VMC has been immense. I am thankful every day for the care that has been provided for Bevyn.

~Bevyn’s Mom


  • Oral Fibrosarcoma


  • Mandibulectomy surgery to remove tumor and section of affected jaw
  • Multiple chemotherapy treatments followed surgery due to his risk of tumor recurrence and spread


June Patient of the Month

Raji and mom

Raji's Story

Raji started coming to the VMC in the summer of 2013, when he was 12 years old. He had been showing some signs of arthritis, especially in his back legs and part of his back. Sometimes he was also reluctant to go out on walks and we started to wonder if he might be having some pain. We’d gotten him on some supplements that our veterinarian (Dr. Capparelli) recommended (which definitely helped). However, it seemed like he needed something else to help with the stiffness and increasing reluctance to walk for as long as he used to. Our vet thought acupuncture from Dr. Fleckenstein here at the VMC might help to reduce pain and increase mobility.

Raji started seeing Dr. Fleckenstein and right away we noticed a decrease in the amount of twitching in his back when we petted him in certain areas. He also seemed to have more energy, and he was more interested for his normal walks. He also liked coming to see Dr. Fleckenstein and Sue, who assists with most of our visits and also gives great massages and treats! There is always a calm atmosphere and I think Raj feels very cared for. Dr. Fleckenstein has definitely helped with keeping Raj comfortable in his own body as he ages. She has helped to keep down pain and inflammation from arthritis, and worked out trigger points with the laser and needle acupuncture. Dr. Fleckenstein also recommended a ramp for getting him in and out of the car. This ramp has been so helpful, and it is light and easy to set up; he couldn’t get in the car without it!

In the fall of 2014, Raj started seeing Lis for Physical Rehabilitation. Dr. Fleckenstein recommended her and said she could add another dimension to his care. Lis started doing laser therapy and massage to release the increasing number of trigger points he had, and also made exercise suggestions for home. He liked coming for the rehab sessions and was very comfortable with her and her caring, gentle and friendly demeanor. At first Raji had to get up a few times during the sessions to “shake out” after her manual trigger point release, but as Lis worked with him and the trigger points became fewer, he could sit for whole sessions quite often as she worked her trigger point release magic! Lis also shows me various exercises to do with him. She gave some simple exercises and massage techniques for us to do at home to keep his range of motion as good as possible. We also do the massage techniques she shows us so we can keep some of the trigger points at bay. With the sessions with Lis, we can see changes in Raji immediately: he seems brighter and moves better after she works out all the kinks!


Just a few days ago, unfortunately, Raji had a vestibular episode. Our vet and the folks at VMC were kind enough to lend a hand. The VMC lent us a special harness to help him get up and walk. So far, he hasn’t been successful, but we are working on bringing him back to his old self. It is nice to know everyone is concerned and willing to help Raji get better. We look forward to resuming his therapies soon!

~McCoy Family


  • Rhinitis & Sinusitis
  • Presumptive Hind End Osteoarthritis & Weakness
  • Compensating Muscle Pain
  • Myofascial Trigger Points
  • Vestibular Syndrome


  • Acupuncture
  • Lacer Acupuncture
  • Low Level Laser Therapy
  • Dry Needle Trigger Point Therapy
  • Soft Tissue Mobilization
  • Myofascial Trigger Point Release (Manual)
  • Home Exercise Program
  • Medications, Multiple Herbal Therapies, Supplements


VMC's May Patient of the Month

Petunia's Story


Petunia was the runt of her litter and we believe that is why her spirit is especially strong.  Since the day she came home with her brother Ruben, she has made it very clear that she is the alpha.  Although she may be tiny, she has always gone out of her way to prove that she is the ruler of the roost. It is especially humorous since Ruben and the rest of the animals could not care less.

At her very first vet visit, the doctor warned that she was a 'lemon' and she should be returned to the breeder. Obviously, this was out of the question.  Shortly after several consultations, she was taken to Los Angeles at just 3 months old to have surgery on her heart.  The procedure was very successful, reducing her heart murmur significantly. We were so relieved and Petunia's new strength was remarkable. Growing up in Sunny San Diego, the two Frenchies frequented dog beaches and parks; playing fetch was their favorite thing to do!  Petunia was fast and coordinated, bounding to get her ball. Unlike her brother who often tumbled and fumbled the ball -- he usually held on to it for dear life, knowing Petunia would happily have both balls to herself.

It was not until Petunia was 9 years old that she showed a change in her gait.  At first it was just once and a while, when running full speed for her ball, that her hind legs would go limp. She hardly seemed to notice and would still propel herself for the ball.  After several similar occurrences, we decided to have her seen by a neurosurgeon in Northern San Diego. After examining her, it was predicted that she had bulging discs in two parts of her spine. An MRI would confirm if surgery was even an option, knowing that surgery would only prevent more damage from being done, but would not reverse any of the immobility that she was already experiencing. With Petunia's heart condition and age, anesthesia for the MRI was not encouraged, let alone for the intensive surgery that may follow. The doctors noted that any pain she was experiencing was not affecting her attitude or eating habits and that we should proceed by minimizing her exertion at the park and try some anti-inflammatories to see if that may relieve any pressure in her spinal column. She tested out some mild steroids with little benefits.

Meanwhile, a move to Boston was in process and soon she met with the doctors at Angell Medical Hospital.  First she saw the neurosurgeons and heart specialist, seeking second opinions and advice on how to proceed.  At this point she was becoming more and more wobbly in her hips- coined as 'drunken sailor' movement.  Her spirit was still strong, but she was not able to move like she once had.  After concluding that any operation was too risky with no guarantee of positive results, she went to see Dr. Lisa Moses for acupuncture. After Petunia's first visit with Dr. Moses, she was noticeably more comfortable and showed strong action in her hind quarters. She found relief from pain and reduced inflammation immediately and it seemed like a miracle. As almost two years passed, Petunia's condition did continue to worsen, as expected.  She tried out water therapy and was fitted for some wheels. Still, it was obvious how much she rebounded after acupuncture. Her relief was visible and her love for Dr. Moses was palpable.

Petunia and Ruben 2

When Petunia moved to the Syracuse area, Dr. Moses recommended the VMC and Dr. Fleckenstein. For almost a year now she has been working with Dr. Fleckenstein and Lis. For the first time she was given exercises and stretches to work on at home. She started taking Chinese Herbs and has minimized her steroid intake, with positive results.  She looks forward to her weekly visits to see Dr. Fleckenstein, Sue, and our other lovely assistants. With ample treats and comfy bedding always set up, Ruben enjoys almost as much pampering when he comes along to accompany his sister. Together, we are all forever grateful for their tender and thoughtful care.  We simply cannot thank you enough!

~Gregg Family


  • Hind Limb Paraparesis Secondary to Presumptive Intervertebral Disc Disease and Congenital Vertebral Abnormalities


  • Acupuncture, Electroacupuncture & Lacer Acupuncture for Pain, Nerve Stimulation, Heart Disease, Urinary and Immune Support & General Well Being.
  • Methyl Prednisone, Gabapentin, Chinese Herbal Formula—Loranthus Powder
  • Canine Cart
  • Under Water Treadmill, Low Level Laser Therapy for muscle spasms and Home Exercise & Stretching Program including Home Water Therapy

Dobby's Story

Dobby’s Story

Beautiful Dobby

Dobby was rescued by Officer Becky Thompson of the Syracuse Police Department.  She was found tied to a toilet in absolutely horrible conditions.  She was dangerously emaciated and terrified of everything.


Her arrival at VMC sent shock waves through the staff, and through one of our veterinarians in particular. One of our emergency doctors, Dr. Annette Otis, offered to foster her personally during her delicate re-feeding and recovery period.  And so Dobby’s life of horror, hunger, and uncertainty ended and her new life began.    Physically she recovered very well with the loving and experienced care of Dr. Otis, but her psychological scars did not heal so easily.  Dr. Otis kept everyone updated on her progress, Dobby visited VMC frequently, and so everyone was concerned when Dr. Otis reported that Dobby had acted aggressively toward her nephew.  Most of us were of the opinion that Dobby would probably do best in a home with no children.  Except, that is, Shannon, our Client Services Manager, who insisted that she be allowed to take Dobby on a trial basis, even though she had a young daughter at home.  We’ll let Shannon tell Dobby’s story from here:

Dobby frequented the hospital and I would give her kisses and hugs and was in love with her. I talked Dr. Otis into giving my home a shot. I had a baby and a young boxer named Barley, so Dr. Otis warned me about her aggression towards kids, dogs, and food but I said “let’s just give it a go."  Dr. Otis trusted me to keep everyone safe during the trial period and knew that I understood her issues, so Dobby came home with me.

In the beginning Dobby was very shy and hated Barley. She would lunge at him, even trying to bite him, and she would be very protective of me and her food. Barley had such a kind soul and didn’t take it personally. One day I decided to let them outside together and, at first, Dobby tried to attack Barley, but Barley (being the loving kid he was) wouldn’t give up until she played with him. Finally she gave in and they started playing and chasing each other.  After that, they were the best of friends.  They ate near each other, played with each other, and even slept next to each other.

Warm Dobby

Unfortunately a few months later, Barley passed away suddenly and unexpectedly and our family was crushed.  Dobby definitely felt the loss, but also comforted us. She provided us with the light we needed in that dark time. That was more than a year ago and Dobby’s days are now filled with love.  She is never alone and spends her days playing with my daughter who is now 3years old. My daughter will hand feed Dobby her kibble from her bowl. Her food and kid aggression is gone.  Dobby still has issues with other dogs (mainly females), but every Friday she goes and visits her boyfriend Bruin (who is the cutest pit bull!).

Dobby and Bruin

Dobby had a horrible life before she came to us. I have made it my mission to make sure she never has a bad day and always knows we love her.  Her guardian angels Dr. Otis and Officer Thompson not only saved her life, they saved ours too. I will be forever grateful to them and all the staff at the Veterinary Medical Center for loving my girl when no one else did.

This beautiful girl got caught in the safety net just in time.  She had no more time to spare.  Just look at how her life and her forever family’s lives have been enriched by having each other.   Please report cruelty when you see it.  Please don’t turn a blind eye.  There are a number of excellent local organizations doing great work in combating cruelty in our area, but Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse and Cuse Pit Crew are standouts in this regard.  Now would be a great time to donate if you are passionate about this topic!



April Physical Rehab Patient of the Month

Truman's Story


Truman has been part of our family for nearly 14 years!  He has been a wonderful pet and everyone who comes in contact with him loves him.  We think he is so smart and that is why we have nicknamed him, “Truman the Human”!

Truman had his left elbow operated on by the veterinarians at Cornell when he was two. The Cornell vets had to remove Truman’s cartilage in his left elbow and soon after Truman developed arthritis in that same joint.  As a result, Truman’s activities have been limited to walking and swimming; no running.

Last year we were having dinner and Truman, who normally sits between us to beg for part of our food, was not interested in eating and he could not get up off the floor. We brought Truman to the Veterinary Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a bacterial infection in that same left elbow. We were told that antibiotics do not work well against infections in a joint and that the best way to combat the infection was to operate and drain the elbow infection. The vets at Veterinary Medical Center performed the operation and Truman made a very good recovery.

Truman now comes to get physical rehabilitation on his elbow. Lis Conarton is Truman’s physical rehabilitation provider. I know that Lis loves Truman and that Truman loves coming to the Veterinary Medical Center to see her. Truman gets a laser treatment on his joints and then a deep massage. Truman’s favorite activity with Lis is going in the underwater treadmill.  Lis makes Truman walk on the treadmill for about 15 minutes but then the real fun begins; playing fetch with a tennis ball! Lis throws the ball to Truman and he will either catch it or if the ball lands in the water, he will lunge for it. Truman is very focused on the ball and he gets so excited that he will bark at Lis to throw him the ball again and again.

Truman golfing

I believe that the physical rehabilitation treatments that Truman receives at the Veterinary Medical Center have added to Truman’s qualify of life. Because of the rehabilitation Truman receives, he is able to stay in shape to go swimming in Cazenovia Lake in the summer. Further, the treatments have enabled Truman to be with our family whenever possible. When we start to leave the house Truman will give us, “the look” that he wants to come with us. Many thanks to Lis and the staff at the Veterinary Medical Center.

~The Gerber Family


  • Left Elbow Infection
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Compensatory Muscle Strain


  • Multimodal Pain Management (with Truman’s Primary Veterinarian)
  • Joint Supplementation
  • Low Level Laser Therapy
  • Joint Mobilization
  • Myofascial Release
  • Hydrotherapy/Underwater Treadmill Therapy
  • Home Exercise Program including his favorite activity, Swimming!!!


Dorothy's Story

Dot Dot Meet Dorothy, aka Dot Dot Tater Tot.  Dorothy adopted one of our very own VMC staff members this past year. Here is her story as we know it…

Animal control officers picked up Dorothy in June 2015 when they noticed what they believed to be her lifeless body on the side of the street.  Reaching her, they realized that she was emaciated and in very poor condition, but still alive.  They searched the surrounding neighborhood and were successful in finding her owners.  The owners stated that, not only did they no longer want her, they had, in fact, brought her somewhere to be euthanized.  When they found euthanasia too expensive, they returned home with her and simply locked her out of their home in hopes she would wander off.  Eventually, she did.

Animal control brought Dorothy to the CNY SPCA where a volunteer posted her information on Facebook.  That’s where her life takes a turn for the better.  A staff member here at VMC saw the post, asked for more details, and learned that Dorothy was a senior dog who was struggling with both the shelter environment and with an obvious ear problem.

Our staff member asked that Dorothy be brought to the Veterinary Medical Center of CNY to have her health assessed and took financial responsibility for the assessment.   Both of Dorothy’s ears were deformed and scarred, most likely due to untreated past infections and hematomas.  Both the outer tissues and the ear canals were scarred and thickened in both ears.  This thickening had caused both of the ear canals to close.  Dorothy was suffering from extreme pain caused by years of untreated ear infections and had lost much of her ability to hear.


Our staff member fell the rest of the way in love with Dorothy during her visit, and began the adoption process with the CNY SPCA.   While the application was being processed, she quickly convinced the rest of the family (read: her husband) that a senior, mostly deaf dog with severely infected ears that would almost certainly require surgery, would, in fact, be a perfect pet (!).

I-phone Deba 8-2015 674

While pain medications gave Dorothy some relief, she was quickly scheduled for a Bilateral TECA (total ear canal ablation) in hopes that this would permanently relieve her pain and infection.  At this stage, this procedure was the only option to improve Dorothy’s quality of life.  Preoperative bloodwork showed that Dorothy’s kidneys were failing (a relatively common finding in senior pets).   Additional diagnostics tests were performed, adjustments were made to her medications and anesthetic protocol, and she was carefully managed during anesthesia and surgery.  The surgery was very successful and Dorothy recovered very well.  Dorothy was monitored day and night and kept comfortable with pain medications.  She was (mostly) good about keeping her head wrap on, and she seemed less painful and anxious right away.


Dorothy’s ears are now fully healed and her quality of life has significantly improved.  Her kidneys are being closely monitored, and she is being treated with medications and a special diet.  She has not lost her love for people, even after everything she has been through.   She has a feline sister and “smiles” at her every so often, especially when the cat’s path is close to Dorothy’s food or toys.

Like many pets with compromised hearing, Dorothy barks VERY LOUDLY because she lacks a bit of perspective about her volume.  At least that's what we think...she is, in short, a character!  Dorothy is enjoying frequent walks around the neighborhood, playing with her rubber ducky, learning new tricks, the love from her family, and—most importantly—her pain free life.

Learn more about how TECA surgeries give pets with chronic ear infections a whole new lease on life!

Chronic Ear Infections and Total Ear Canal Ablation

dog scratching ear Chronic ear infections are a common and frustrating disease for owners and veterinarians. For the pet, however, the condition is much more than frustrating.  Pets suffering from chronic ear infections and inflammation are often in severe pain, and both cats and dogs can be affected.  Chronic ear infections would be defined as multiple infections per year or infections that never really resolve.

Also referred to as chronic otitis, this condition affects some breeds more frequently than others.  Cocker Spaniels are predisposed, as are other spaniel breeds, Labrador Retrievers, and other breeds with “floppy” ears.  This is probably due both to the conformation of the ear as well as tendency for those breeds to have allergies – the perfect situation for development of chronic ear infections.

Signs of otitis depend on the severity of the infection and degree of inflammation but may include:

  • Shaking the head
  • Scratching at the ears
  • Rubbing the head and ears on the floor or furniture
  • Crying or groaning as they rub and scratch ears
  • Discharge from the ears, which can sometimes have a foul odor
  • Redness of the ear canal and ear flap (the ears may also feel warm when touched)
  • Ear hematoma, evidenced by a severely swollen ear flap
  • Aggression or avoidance when the head or ears are approached

Appropriate medical management is often successful in curing acute otitis.  Unfortunately, treatment often only works temporarily.  Painful ears can prove challenging to medicate, and if the underlying cause of the infection is not addressed, the treatment may fail to work at all.  Once the condition becomes long-term, or “chronic”, treatment becomes increasingly difficult to manage and antibiotic resistance also becomes a concern.

The underlying cause of otitis is often allergic.  These patients get stuck in a cycle of inflammation and infection which eventually leads to thickening and scarring of the tissues, collapse of the ear canals, ruptured ear drums, and accumulation of debris and infection within the middle ear. Over time, the scar tissue blocks the canals, preventing topical medications from reaching the diseased portions. The blocked canals also prevent the natural shedding of wax and hair.  This debris accumulates in the canals and within the middle ear, adding to inflammation and pain.

We see many of these cases here at VMC, where the cycle of pain, itching, chronic pus and infection, head shaking, chronic medication, and owner fatigue have led the pet owner to seek a surgical specialist and a permanent solution.

A Total Ear Canal Ablation (or TECA) is a procedure that removes the vertical and horizontal ear canals down to the level of the middle ear. Due to the high incidence of middle ear involvement with chronic otitis, the middle ear is also cleaned out using a technique called a lateral bulla osteotomy.  That procedure removes some bone and any infected tissue to allow for continued healing.  While TECA procedures are most often performed to treat severe cases of chronic otitis and infection, the procedure is also performed in the treatment of other ear diseases, such as traumatic ear canal injury and when removing tumors in the ear.

Canine ear anatomy

This may sound dramatic, but the permanent treatment is much better than the chronic pus, pain, and constant medicating that most pets are experiencing.  During the surgery, it is normal to find a large amount of debris, hair, and pus in the bulla.   It is easy to understand then, why these cases of chronic disease have not resolved medically, given the amount of debris within the middle ear.   We submit samples of the tissues in the bulla to a lab for culturing, and we commonly find that antibiotic resistant bacteria (such as MRSA) are present.

The most common complications with the TECA are facial nerve paralysis and vestibular problems or “vertigo.”  Facial nerve paralysis and vertigo are usually temporary and resolve without specific treatment.  A very small percentage of cases can experience an abscess in the area months or years later. During surgery, the bulla cavity is cleaned of all recognizable tissues, but if any microscopic cells remain, they have the potential to grow and begin to shed cells again. This debris can accumulate in the bulla, sometimes becomes infected, and may develop an abscess.   All associated risks increase with the severity of the condition, so considering this treatment early in the disease process is recommended.

As with any other surgery, there is a risk of anesthetic complication.  In general, most anesthetic problems can be prevented with complete assessment of the patient.  The physical examination and preoperative bloodwork will provide baseline information and guide recommendations for additional diagnostic testing prior to anesthesia.  All surgical patients at VMC are monitored using multi-parameter equipment and a Licensed Veterinary Technician dedicated to your pet.  There are no anesthesia complications unique to TECA surgery, although each patient is unique with his/her own limitations and concerns to be managed.

Many owners are concerned about deafness after the surgery. While the TECA removes the apparatus that transmits sound via the air (i.e., the ear canal and ear drum) sound can still be sensed via the vibrations that come to the cochlear apparatus through the sinuses and skull. This is similar to the level of hearing one experiences when wearing earplugs or when underwater. No sound reaches the cochlear apparatus through the air, but we can still hear sounds and voices.  The reality is that most dogs with chronic otitis are already hearing at this low level due to the collapse and obstruction of their ear canal and middle ear, where no sound waves are being transmitted via the air. Most owners do not report a change in the pet's ability to hear after a TECA.

A TECA surgery is often a very rewarding surgery for the patient, the pet owner, and the veterinarian. Most owners report a dramatic improvement in the attitude of their pets post-operatively, and they frequently report an increase in activity level and play behaviors – sometimes behaviors they have not seen in months or years.  A more social and playful pet, combined with relief from daily ear cleaning and medicating, offers the owner a huge sense of relief.

Girl Petting Crossbreed Dog

In summary, a TECA surgery will:

  • Eliminate ongoing ear pain, odor, and infection
  • Eliminate the need for and cost of ear medications and veterinary visits to treat chronic ear infections
  • Improve your relationship with your pet (no odor, no pain, no difficult ear treatments)
  • Improve your pet's attitude, activity and general well being with the removal of chronic pain, inflammation, and infection

Some pets, particularly those with long ear flaps, may still require topical cleaning post-surgically.  Surgery will not correct the allergic reaction that creates a good environment for bacteria and yeast to grow under those flaps (or ear pinnae), but, overall, the pet’s comfort will be much increased.

The TECA should not be viewed as strictly a salvage procedure or last resort.  The benefits of the procedure argue for it to be recommended much earlier in the course of the disease process.  Many dogs and cats with chronic otitis are excellent candidates for the surgery once it becomes clear that the otitis is a chronic problem.  Additionally, potential complications will be fewest if the surgery is performed early in the disease process, and both you and your pet can appreciate the benefits earlier!

Read this post for the story of a dog who has benefited from this surgery!


After your pet is under anesthesia, his/her ears flaps and surrounding skin are shaved, and the ear canal is cleaned. The area is prepared for sterile surgery.

An incision is made around the cartilage of the external/outer ear canal, and the canal is removed down to the level of the middle ear. The middle ear (also called the "bulla") is a boney, eggshell-like structure on the side of the skull. The eardrum normally is stretched across the opening between the external/outer ear and the middle ear. In the majority of dogs requiring a TECA, the ear drum has been ruptured for a long period of time. The middle ear is cleaned of infected material and tissue, and then flushed with sterile saline. A culture sample is taken at this time to help identify any remaining bacteria.

Canine ear anatomy

The surgery is completed by sewing the tissues closed in several layers, ending with sutures in the skin completely closing what used to be an open ear canal. A temporary drain will be left in place for 1-2 days.


Your pet will stay in the hospital for at least 24hrs so we can manage recovery and pain control.  Patients are often more comfortable if their head and ears are bandaged snuggly to prevent ear flapping or bumping the incision.

I-phone Deba 8-2015 680

An antibiotic will be prescribed for up to 2-4wks. Pain medications will also be prescribed for the first week post-operatively.

Sutures will need to be removed 10-14 days after surgery.

Read this post for the story of a dog who has benefited from this surgery!

March Patient of the Month

Sophia's Story

Sophia Robinson


Sophia is a 6 ½ year old German Shepherd. She has always been an old soul whose demeanor  has changed the minds of numerous people who used to be apprehensive of German Shepherds. She brings countless joy to everyone she meets. Unfortunately, when she was two, she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. The medications she was put on made her a zombie, so we proceeded to seek out alternative pain management. After asking countless dog friends, the answer was unanimous that we must go see “Dr. Polly.” Her acupuncture treatments became a true pleasure for Sophia. She looks forward to seeing Dr. Polly Fleckenstein, Sue and all the CCRs at VMC. She goes from obvious pain on the way there, to acting like a puppy when she is done with her treatment.

About 8 months ago Sophie fell going up the stairs at our house. We immediately went for an acupuncture treatment and then to Dr. Lee.  Between Dr. Polly and Dr. Lee they realized that Sophie was suffering from nerve pain in her back. Dr. Robinson was suggested by many friends and vets as our next step.  After looking at her x-rays he determined that she needed an MRI at Cornell to confirm that she had Lumbosacral Syndrome.  Once that was confirmed she was put on a medication and acupuncture therapy.  It didn’t take my husband and I long to realize that we needed to treat this more aggressively, as she was not getting better. She was no longer “our Sophia” as she was sad and zombie-like.

Sophia Robinson 2

After a wonderful consult with Dr. Robinson discussing exactly what the surgery and rehab would entail, we then decided surgery was our best option. Post-op after surgery, we saw an immediate change; her eyes were SO beautiful and back to how they were before all of the pain! Since surgery we have been back to acupuncture and even added physical rehabilitation with Lis! Sophia loves all the attention of doing her exercises and massages with me! The WHOLE team at VMC has made it so that I have my Sophia back. Not only me, Sophia will be headed back to her role as a therapy dog as well!  Because of VMC and Sophia’s “team” she is again bringing joy to everyone she meets and living a full, pain-free life!

~Robinson Family



  • Chronic Mild Hip Dysplasia
  • Lumbosacral Disease
  • Thoracolumbar Osteoarthritis


  • Dorsal Laminectomy surgery
  • Electroacupuncture
  • Low Level laser therapy
  • Myofascial Trigger Point Release
  • Massage & Joint Mobilization
  • Underwater Treadmill Therapy
  • Therapeutic Exercise  Program
  • Cosequin DS
  • Duralactin
  • Gabapentin
  • EFA supplementation





February 2016 Patient of the Month



Dempsey, our beautiful Great Dane, was diagnosed with lymphoma in May of this year. We knew something was wrong because his energy level had just disappeared, and he stopped eating.  His primary care veterinarian, Dr. Fatcheric at Fairmount Animal Hospital, broke the news to us that Dempsey had Lymphoma. As we tried to come to grips with the news, Dr. Fatcheric told us about the treatments that were available for lymphoma patients at Veterinary Medical Center. We made an appointment to meet with Dr. Rassnick to evaluate Dempsey's condition.

After his initial blood work, and a biopsy, it was confirmed that Dempsey had stage IV B-cell lymphoma. He had received good news though, his lymphoma, was treatable! Dempsey started his first treatment for lymphoma at our first meeting with Dr. Rassnick. Once we received the test results, his program was tailored to fit what treatment he needed. He went in remission within one week of his first treatment. Dempsey did very well with the chemotherapy program. He started out with a 5 drug program, and within a month and a half, progressed to a 10 drug program. He went through his treatment with no side effects, due to the preventative drugs he received while getting chemotherapy. Throughout his treatment, Dempsey had the energy of a young Great Dane again, and was going on 2 mile daily walks. We also have a camp in the Adirondacks, which he thoroughly enjoyed throughout this summer. He went on walks and hikes at our camp, without tiring. Dempsey received a second chance at life once we decided to have his lymphoma treated. We can't thank VMC enough for all they have done for our gentle giant and for giving us hope, when it seemed there was none. Thank you again, Dr. Rassnick, and the staff of Veterinary Medical Center.

~ Dempsey’s Family

Dempsey lost his struggle with Lymphoma late last year, but we were so happy to help this wonderful dog and his family enjoy another beautiful summer and autumn.  It was impossible not to fall in love with Dempsey (and his people!), and we still miss them all terribly at VMC.