Veterinary Emergency Care

December 2017 Patient of the Month

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OREO, is our sweet, cuddly, cat that thought he was a dog.  He is our “Super”cat who would launch off the back of the sectional couch front arms straight ahead hanging out.  The cat that thudded through the house at top speed, all of his 19 pounds, at the call of his name.  The cat that would snuggle and purr, who tolerated just about anything. But...

At 3:00am the morning of July 6, 2017… I am sound asleep until I hear a cat cry.  Just once. Thinking it was one of our 2 cats getting sick, the odd cry before a hairball comes out, I didn’t think much of it and fell back to sleep.  Shortly after I awoke again to hear one of our dogs tails thumping like mad.  Our female Labrador, Alex, loved to drag things such as socks or shoes to her bed. Thinking she had dragged a flip flop of my husband's I wasn’t going to investigate. Her tail would not stop.  She was extremely excited about something.  Waking up enough to realize I should rescue that shoe, I was surprised to find it was Oreo laying beside her bed that had Alex all excited.  This was unusual behavior.  Alex loved Oreo sometimes more than he could tolerate.  It was then I realized just how still Oreo was beside her.

I quickly picked him up to find him limp in my arms.  Thinking he was just trying to be still so Alex would leave him alone, I put Oreo down in a different spot on the floor thinking he would take off.  Instead his legs, mostly the right front, collapsed beneath him.  I picked him up again and took him to my walk in closet where I could turn on a light and tried it again.  Same thing. In disbelief I tried again, same thing.  Oreo could not support himself and was now also panting.  I quickly woke up my husband and told him we had to leave.  Something was very wrong with Oreo.  

We quickly took off for Veterinary Medical Center upon which Oreo was immediately taken back and put on oxygen. How could this be happening????  Oreo was completely fine earlier in the day/evening.  Nothing was unusual about how he was acting or his activities.  My first thought was that Oreo had passed a clot.  A radiograph was done to check Oreo’s heart. Although it was found to be slightly enlarged everything else appeared normal.  It was recommended that Oreo remain at VMC (this is now 4:30am) until the morning when - as luck would have it - a Cardiologist would be there later in the day.  Our hope was to have an echocardiogram performed to rule out Oreo’s heart. So tough to leave at that point and to go on about our day.  Knowing Oreo was in the best of care we had no choice but to wait it out.

By 11:30am, it was found Oreo’s heart was normal.  This led to the next step, concerns of neurologic disease.  And with this the recommendation for Oreo to be transferred to Cornell University Hospital in HOPES of getting into a neurologist ASAP.  Again being told that the waiting list for an appointment could be a month or more, our best bet was to pick Oreo up ASAP from VMC and go immediately to the Emergency entrance of Cornell University. Fortunately for us and Oreo he was quickly seen. I could go on about all the findings and transpiring that occurred in the days to follow but here is the outcome.  The following day after a MRI was performed Oreo was diagnosed with having Ischemic myelopathy (C2-C4).  He had a lesion on his spine that was quite large - a stroke to his spine, not his brain.  All other bloodwork and testing proved normal.  

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Oreo fell into the small subset of cases that did not have an underlying disease to cause this occurrence.  Research showed that the majority of cats could return to a normal or near normal lifestyle with supportive care and time.  In Oreo’s case this lesion to his spine was quite large leading to a potential recovery of weeks or months. Oreo spent his 8th birthday at Cornell.  We were able to visit him that day.  We found our sweet boy quiet, but aware, unable to walk, shaved and bandaged, and so very sad.  

On July 10th Oreo was brought home to receive nursing care and at home physical rehabilitation. Unable to walk, Oreo needed to be placed in his liter box on his side to go to the bathroom, supported upright to eat and drink, turned over from side to side every several hours to prevent pressure sores and respiratory complications, and have various range of motion, weight bearing exercises performed several times a day as well as massage of all limbs to all keep the neuropathways open and responding. Recommendations were made for laser therapy to help stimulate cell regeneration and increase blood circulation and Electo-acupuncture for treatment of pain. I must say it was a bit overwhelming.  Oreo was quite tolerant of these at home exercises, most of them, in the beginning.  Knowing it was never said that he wouldn’t walk again is what got me through and pushed me on to keep working with Oreo even as he began to fight back, get mad, hiss, push.  To me he was mad and the fighting back was him getting stronger!

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July 17, 2017…Our first visit to Care Pet Therapy.  Oreo received a consultation with Dr. Flaherty. It was recommended Oreo have twice weekly visits of physical rehabilitation with Lis or Jenn and weekly visits of acupuncture with Dr. Flaherty.   We started with physical rehabilitation visits which included laser therapy on Oreo’s neck.  Water treadmill therapy was attempted on two separate occasions with Lis, but being a cat Oreo's tolerance was minimal and not ideal.  Oreo did work on the dog treadmill on a couple of visits.  Much better than the water but a little to fast on its lowest speed. We were given more exercises to work on at home involving various exercise balls to hang over and do stretches with as well as the continual exercises of bending all his limbs, elbows, feet, massaging them to keep those neuropathways open. 

July 27, 2017….Oreo has been to see Lis earlier in the day for a walk on the treadmill, stretches, and laser therapy.  That evening I could not believe what I was seeing as Oreo rocks himself back and forth and attempts to stand. 3 weeks after Oreo’s incident it is the beginning of him finding his way back to walking on his own.  Over the next week plus he continued to get himself up more and more and walk with a drunken stagger gaining more and more strength.

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Oreo continued with biweekly visits with Lis and several visits with Dr. Flaherty for acupuncture.  Each visit showed improvement as Oreo continued to get stronger and fight his way back to a life of normalcy.

Today, November 6, 2016, 4 months from Oreo’s incident….Oreo is now walking on his own.  What started as a drunken stagger and falling over every few feet has now become almost normal.  Oreo is able to go up and down stairs slowly and supervised, and he can now do a full flight.  He still is a little slow with his right front leg, and I can hear him coming with a slight thud in his walk.  Oreo is my purring love of  a cat again.  He is such a people person and would spend all day snuggling with you if he could.  

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Lis, Jenn, Dr. Flaherty, Alesha…without you all we would not have Oreo were he is today!!!  We can not thank you enough for your dedication, support and love that you have shown to us! Oreo had another visit with Lis today.  A month had passed since our last visit and Lis continues to see improvement.  

--Oreo's Family

 

February 2017 Patient of the Month

Pilot's Story

January 13 2016 is a day that I will never forget, that was the day my boy was diagnosed with Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia-IMHA. When your dog has IMHA, it means his immune system destroys its own red blood cells. Your dog’s body still produces red blood cells in the bone marrow to replace the destroyed cells, but, once they are released the immune system mistakenly recognizes them as something foreign. Pilot is a 3 year old Schipperke male who came into my life on October 19th 2013. I show dogs and I waited a very long time, years in fact, to get a dog as special as he is. He was the most confident dog I have ever seen and I knew he was going to be a top show dog, he loves everyone he meets and everyone who meets him loves him, a dream come true but that was not to be. He rose to the top in a very short time, finished his championship in record speed before his first birthday, on his way to becoming a grand champion. I had HUGE goals for him and he certainly was the dog to do it all. But I noticed that he was starting to fade just after his second birthday, he would what I call pass out with exertion lost interest in eating and developed bloody stool. I rushed him to Stack Vet Hospital to see what was wrong they took a blood sample and said they would get back to me with results the next day.

Well I got the call from Dr. Stack and he asked me if I could come up that day to review the results, I knew right then and there it was not good. I called my husband Spencer and we met at home to take our boy for results. I was told that Pilot had IMHA and it was a life threatening illness, a normal RBC is 45 and above, he was at 15.5. We were in total shock, I had never heard of this disease. They started him on Prednisone which is the first line of treatment. A follow up appointment was made for the following week for a RBC count. I went home to do my research on this illness. I contacted some of my show friends and no one really knew or had seen this before.

When we went for his follow up appointment it was snowing and blowing out. Pilots RBC count was now 7.5! Dr. Stack said to me Pilot needs a blood transfusion or he will die. I chose to take him to the Emergency Room at the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) and the arrangements were made.

Well, the staff at VMC were just incredible! I was an emotional wreck thinking the worst and in shock myself. I was treated with such compassion and a better knowledge of what was wrong with my dog. I left knowing he was in good hands. They kept in contact with me throughout the night and his RBC count went up to 19. He was hospitalized for two days and transferred to the Critical Care Service. I was told how serious this was that some dogs do well but it is a long battle, our goal is to get Pilot into remission.

Pilot still has a long way to go and is going to need frequent visits with the Internal Medicine Service at the VMC. The Internal Medicine Service is the greatest “team” ever to care for him. My husband, Pilot and I would like to personally thank Dr. Heather White, Dr. Cortright, Kim (vet tech) and Toby (vet tech), and Tracie receptionist who just love my boy, hard not to since he is very special. I can honestly say my dog would not be here if it weren’t for the love and devotion they have for him and for the emotional support they have given my husband and I. As long as Pilot is willing to fight so are we!!!

Thanks so much to everyone who has been there for Pilot!!!

Spencer, Sandi and Pilot Lovelace…

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.

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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.

Safety Nets

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Through some unusual circumstances, this sweet, homeless, and very broken little guy ended up in our care. We knew right away that we loved him, but such an extensive injury in a stray cat doesn't often point toward a happy ending.

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We, like so many other veterinary hospitals in our area, provide pro bono care for lost and abused pets on a daily basis. The sad truth of the matter is that the combined efforts of our veterinary community and our shelter/rescue community cannot possibly treat all the issues of every homeless animal in our area. Cats in particular have very little safety net at all. In many cases, a stray cat with such a profound and painful injury would have been euthanized.

We reached out to Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse and their Leg Up Fund to see if they would be interested in sponsoring this cat's treatment.  Their answer was a resounding yes.  Almost simultaneously, one of our wonderful and compassionate Emergency Veterinarians fell in love with this lucky boy and adopted him (severely fractured leg and all) and transferred him into our surgical service for treatment. The Leg Up Fund wouldn't be necessary after all, and we're happy to report that this handsome boy is now all fixed up and enjoying his new home.

We’re proud of the Good Samaritans who went many extra miles to get this very injured kitty to a safe place.  We're proud of our talented surgical team who were able to neatly repair this complicated fracture. We have no idea how long ago this injury occurred, but it was definitely days after the ideal time for surgical repair. We're proud of yet another member of our staff who stepped in to provide a needy animal with a loving home and much needed medical care. We're proud of and grateful for Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse and their Leg Up Fund for their willingness to provide a safety net for this and other homeless pets in need, even as we didn't need to lean on them in this case.

The Leg Up Fund is a relatively new initiative in CNY, but is already making a positive impact.  From the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse:

In the past 14 months nine homeless and ill pets have stepped into bright futures thanks to your support of AAGS’s LEG UP FUND!

We are honored to announce a new member has joined the LEG UP team—the Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York! With its dedicated staff and wide range of specialties, VMC joins Dewitt Animal Hospital-Shelter in providing the best possible veterinary care for seriously ill or injured strays in need of a leg up.

Most pets coming through the doors of veterinary practices have families to pay for what could be complex or long-term care. LEG UP pets have no one. Since most shelters are non-profits, ill strays who come through their doors can be the recipients of fundraising drives to cover their medical treatment.

LEG UP’s veterinary partners are not non-profits; donations to them are not tax-deductible. Therefore, they are not in position to mount funding appeals for homeless animals requiring significant care.

AAGS is not a shelter, rescue, or veterinary practice. We are an animal welfare advocacy group who can provide the needed fundraising service on behalf of these unowned pets. Since we are a 501c3, your LEG UP contributions to AAGS are fully tax-deductible and go directly to support the veterinary care of homeless pets.

Because donors like you have a special spot in your hearts for these vulnerable, deserving creatures, LEG UP has been able to raise thousands of dollars for a wide range of treatments: orthopedic repairs, heartworm, generalized mange, amputation, eye surgery, and more.

We post reports about each LEG UP recipient on the journey from being a discarded, unwanted animal to a beloved pet with a forever place in the heart and home of a family.

*To contribute online: Visit our Facebook page; the DONATE tab is under the cover photo: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalAlliance/

Or visit our website: http://www.animalallianceofgreatersyracuse.org

*To contribute by mail: AAGS, P.O. Box 94, Liverpool, NY 13088

*For all contributions, please note “Leg Up” in “Notes to Seller” or on the check.

Won’t you give a leg up?

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.

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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!

 

 

Jada's Story

This month in Syracuse, NY, a Good Samaritan reported seeing an emaciated dog in a cage, in her own filth, with no access to food or water. Syracuse Police Department Animal Cruelty Investigator, Officer Rebecca Thompson, and Syracuse Dog Control Officer, Jason Driscoll, promptly removed two dogs from the household and charged the owners with animal cruelty. The dogs were relinquished to the care of the City of Syracuse. The Veterinary Medical Center of CNY handles all critical cases of neglect and cruelty for the City of Syracuse, and so admitted the most severely neglected dog, named Jada, to our care (the other dog in the household was well enough to be admitted directly to the city’s contract shelter). Jada on admit

Jada was emaciated, weak, filthy, covered in scars and lumps, and was 1000% sweet. We ran some bloodwork to further asses her health, washed her with warm cloths as best we could, and placed her in a warm kennel with plenty of fluffy blankets. We kept Jada with us for several days during the very delicate process of getting nutrients into her abused body. Animals suffering from such severe starvation can experience dangerous, sometimes fatal, complications if their food intake is not carefully planned and very gradually increased.

For the first couple of days, Jada was a bit anxious. She barked a bit, attempted to quickly exit her kennel whenever the door was opened, and definitely looked forward to her feedings!  She bonded very quickly with her caregivers, and we tried to keep her occupied with lots of snuggling and attention, which she loved. We were all so happy when we saw her relax. She began to sleep soundly, stopped her anxious barking, and steadily gained close to a pound per day.

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Jada getting dry

Jada flourished with us, and, after a couple of days of care, was strong enough to finally have a proper warm bath and truly get cleaned up. Jada’s story was receiving attention in the local media, and while she was in the tub, another Good Samaritan dropped by with presents for her: a new bed, a toy, some treats, and $100 in coupons from our local PetCo for whoever eventually adopted her. The Good Samaritan had mentioned that she was shopping for Jada, and the manager of PetCo gave her 50% off the bed, insisted that she take a toy for free, and donated the coupons! So, the newly clean Jada returned to a cozy bed (in addition to her mountain of blankets), a new toy, and some new sweaters that the staff at VMC gave her.

Jada's presentsJada loves her new clothesJada loves her bed

After a week of controlled re-feeding and supportive care, Jada was finally well enough to leave us and head to a shelter environment to continue along her road to recovery. Jada had amassed quite a fan club at VMC during her stay, and there were tears when she left us. Jada was passed into the good hands at the Humane CNY, where her admiration society continued to grow.

Jada was well enough for further veterinary assessment after she arrived at Humane CNY. We had been concerned about the amount and appearance of lumps and bumps we identified when she first came to us, and, tragically, x-rays showed that she had cancerous lesions that had spread throughout her organs. The Humane CNY veterinarians thought she would likely have only a few months left. Humane CNY put out an urgent call for an experienced hospice-type foster home that would allow her to live as an only pet.

But that wasn’t all. Humane CNY was not content to just wait for a foster situation (which, due to Jada’s unusual requirements may never come) and decided to make Jada as comfortable and happy as possible for as long as possible. Thus, "Jada’s Bucket List":

Jada's winter bucket list

And did the CNY community respond? Did they ever! In her first week, Jada knocked through at least half of her bucket list, adding people to her fan club at every stop. She looks sweet in photos and film, but she is truly irresistible in person! Her daily adventures have also allowed all of us to see her improvement on a daily basis – she looks stronger and happier each and every day.  Yesterday, she happily ate a chef-prepared steak on live television (then stopped by VMC of CNY for a visit with her friends!).

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(Photos courtesy Humane CNY FaceBook page)

Jada’s story is sad. No creature deserves the treatment she endured prior to being rescued, and her medical issues are sadly now too advanced to treat. But here’s how we’re looking at things:

  • We are grateful that there was someone who wouldn’t turn the other way when confronted with the sight of such terrible neglect and made sure the authorities were contacted.
  • We, as always, deeply appreciate and respect Officer Rebecca Thompson, SPD animal cruelty officer, and Syracuse Dog Control Officer Jason Driscoll, who show such gentleness and compassion to these animals and such resolve in pursuing justice for them.
  • We grew to love Jada at VMC of CNY, and are proud we have played a positive role in her story and the stories of other abused animals in Central New York.
  • We are grateful for the Good Samaritan who dropped off her presents unannounced – already so moved by Jada’s story that she was spurred to act.
  • We are grateful to Humane CNY for providing a home-like atmosphere for this special girl in a shelter environment.
  • We are so happy that Jada is out in our community raising awareness about animal cruelty and also about the wonderful things that our local shelters do, often without much notice. We know that Humane CNY will do everything in their power to ensure she is happy and comfortable for the time she has left and we’re here to help in any way we can.
  • We are inspired by those who are already working to use Jada’s story to strengthen animal cruelty laws in NY and encourage everyone to report abuse.
  • Finally, we are grateful to the wonderful citizens of Central New York who have rallied around Jada and are determined that her life will be full to the end.

Jada’s story is sad. But Jada isn’t sad at all. Jada spreads happiness and love to everyone she meets and to every place she enters. That’s an example we can all learn from.

 

Christmas Pet Safety Tips

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No one wants to end up in our emergency room over the holidays!  Consider these risks to reduce the likelihood that we will need to see you!

Holiday Ornaments: Consider any new decoration you put out! This is especially important with young dogs and cats who are typically more boisterous and curious, and also with any pets new to the household.

  • Candles are an obvious risk. Place carefully and always supervise or consider flameless candles.
  • Ornaments pose several risks. How breakable? How dangerously chewable? Are they toxic? Homemade salt dough ornaments are extremely toxic.
  • New cords (for lights, etc.) can and will be investigated by a curious young dog or cat. Also assess risk of entanglement.
  • Tinsel: If you own a cat, forgo the tinsel. What looks like a shiny toy to your cat can prove deadly if ingested. Tinsel does not pose a poisoning risk, but is thin and sharp and can easily wrap itself around the intestines or ball up in the stomach once ingested. Many unfortunate cats have required emergency surgery to save them once the tinsel has caused obstruction or other problems.
  • Imported Snow Globes: Recently, imported snow globes were found to contain antifreeze (ethylene glycol.) As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze when ingested by a cat or a tablespoon or two for a dog (depending on their size), can be fatal. Be sure snow globes are placed where they cannot be knocked over and broken.
  • Liquid Potpourri: Filling your house with holiday scents is wonderful, but heating your scented oils in a simmer pot can pose risks. Scented oils can cause serious harm to your cat, with just a few licks resulting in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors. Dogs aren’t as sensitive, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry. Simmer natural scents (orange, cinnamon, etc.) on the stove, or scent your home with a non-toxic candle kept safely out of your pet’s reach.
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Holiday Foods: With the holiday season comes a delightful variety of baked goods, chocolates, and other rich, fattening foods. Do your best to keep your pet on his or her regular diet over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak in treats.

  • Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, a chemical highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion in small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.
  • Holiday baked goods are typically too high in sugar to be good for our pets in any form. Increasingly, many sugarless gums and candies also contain xylitol, a sweetener which is toxic to dogs. It causes a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and potential liver failure. It is also contained in some brands of peanut butter.
  • Grapes and raisins can result in kidney failure in dogs -- another check against fruitcake!
  • Alcohol: Because alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, it affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
  • Yeasted dough: Raw dough can expand in a pet’s stomach and require emergency surgery. It may also cause alcohol poisoning as the yeast reacts in the stomach. Make sure that rising dough is well out of reach.
  • Overfeeding and “Garbage Gut”: A very common reason for a holiday trip to the veterinary emergency room unfolds innocently in a busy holiday household. The meal is over and everyone is too full to pay attention to where the leftover food is in relation to your pets. Your pets have been waiting literally all day for such an opportunity, and are busily helping themselves to the overstuffed trash container and/or the leftovers on the counter. While dogs are usually the main offenders in cases of “garbage gut,” cats are not immune! Within a few hours some combination of vomiting and diarrhea requires a trip to the emergency room. Leftover, fatty meat scraps can produce severe inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) leading to abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. It’s one thing if you occasionally give a little nibble of something to your pet, but if all 20 party guests decide to do the same, you can wind up with a seriously ill pet.
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Holiday Plants:  Cats are usually most apt to "sample" your houseplants.  Veterinary advice should be sought if any of these plants are suspected of being ingested!

  • Lilies (including tiger, Asiatic, Stargazer, Easter and Day lilies) are the most dangerous plants for cats. The ingestion of one to two leaves or flower petals is enough to cause sudden kidney failure. We do NOT recommend any lilies in cat owning households!
  • Daffodils (including paperwhites) can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even possible cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression. The bulb, plant, and flower are all toxic.
  • Holly is toxic, and can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and even heart arrhythmias.
  • Mistletoe: Both berries and leaves are toxic, and symptoms of toxicity include gastrointestinal upset, difficulty breathing, slowed heart rate, low blood pressure, and odd behavior (possible hallucinations).
  • Amaryllis causes vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, and tremors. The entire plant including the bulb is dangerous
  • Christmas tree and tree water: Bacteria, molds, and fertilizers can cause your pet to become ill with only a few laps, and both dogs and cats are at risk. Chewing on the tree itself can cause some more mild oral and gastrointestinal upset, and there is a small chance that needles can cause punctures and other gastrointestinal problems.
  • Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants are only mildly toxic. The effects are typically “self limiting” – chewing them is unpleasant, they taste bad, and then whatever little amount is eaten is fairly quickly thrown up. Pesticides on the plants are likely of more concern.

Houseguests and Holiday Hustle and Bustle Any time you stray from your normal routine or introduce people unfamiliar with your routine into your household, there is the possibility of your pets finding some trouble, including:

  • Escape
  • Overfeeding of unfamiliar or inappropriate foods
  • Ingesting guest’s medication
  • Stress!

Gates and doors left open, dietary indiscretion, guests leaving their medications in a place where your pet can “investigate”, and a host of other scenarios can create problems for your pets.

Keep your pet’s ID tags current and on your pet, and help your guests “Pet Proof” their belongings. This is the time to alert your guests of any “special” habits your pet may have (sock stealing/eating, etc.) so they can prepare.

Also remember that changes in routine can stress your pets, especially cats and older pets. Consider giving them a quiet space of their own to get away from the festivities if they don’t seem relaxed and content.

A little bit of prevention can help ensure that your holidays are happy, healthy, and spent at home!

VMC's November Patient of the Month

Simba's Story

Simba1

Simba had no history of any physical ailments. He was on a routine walk one afternoon when another dog got away from its owner and ran toward Simba. Simba turned his body and his neck quickly to move away from the other dog, and suddenly dropped to the ground. All four legs were stiff, he was breathing very heavily, panting hard, and his eyes were looking around panicked. He wouldn’t move, and then his tongue started to swell and turn purple. I quickly got him into the car and rushed to my vet, Lyncourt Veterinary Hospital.

There, Simba was given oxygen and examined for the cause of the problem. He still wasn’t moving, and was still very panicked. Simba couldn’t understand what was happening. In fact, he was so scared that he put himself into cardiac arrest and was not breathing at all for several minutes. The vet administered several shots of epinephrine in order to revive him, at which point he was transferred directly to the Veterinary Medical Center.

Dr. Luschini was able to stabilize Simba, although his heart rate was still very high and he still wasn’t moving at all. He couldn’t move his limbs or his tail, and he couldn’t even bark. But he was alive and breathing. He was placed into one of the beds at the Veterinary Medical Center, connected to an IV and a urinary catheter, and kept overnight for observation. Still not moving the next day, Dr. Fleckenstein evaluated Simba and began acupuncture treatment, while Lis Conarton assessed him and began physical therapy. Because Simba couldn’t move or stand on his own, Lis started him in a “cart” with harnesses that held him up in a standing position and moved on wheels to start exercising his legs. We also did “range of motion” exercises to prevent atrophy in his muscles.

After 3 days of stabilization at VMC, and still unsure of the exact cause of this ailment, we transferred Simba to Cornell University’s School of Veterinary Medicine for an MRI.   The MRI revealed that Simba had a disc degenerating in his spine in his neck, and a small piece of cartilage had likely broken off when he turn his neck away from the other dog.  This had  punctured his spinal cord – impacting his entire central nervous system and paralyzing him. No doctor could give us a clear prognosis for his recovery.

Simba3

Simba returned to the Veterinary Medical Center the next day, and remained hospitalized for nearly two weeks. It was days before he could eat on his own, and a week before he was able to urinate on his own. But he still couldn’t stand. All of the doctors and technicians continued their work and exercises with him multiple times throughout each day.

 

When Simba finally came home, we still had a lot of work to do. We purchased a “Help ‘Em Up” full-body harness that has handles at either end to help us lift Simba, so that we could carry him outside to go to the bathroom, and help him to get up and moving around for his at-home physical therapy exercises. We also brought him in to the VMC multiple times for acupuncture, PT with Lis, and evaluations by the doctors. Over the next three months, Simba slowly made progress.

Simba2

Simba is now miraculously up and walking, even running, and nearly 100% back to his old self. Throughout the entire experience, our family had to make tough decisions – but the team and support at VMC saved our dog’s life. ~Simba’s Family

Simba: 5 year old golden retriever mix

Diagnosis Spinal cord damage & temporary paralysis

Treatments Hospitalization MRI Acupuncture Laser Therapy Underwater Treadmill Home Exercise Program Pain Management Medications

September 2015 VMC Pain Management Patient of the Month

Daffodil's Story

Daffodil

This little gem is Daffodil. Where do I begin? She is a 5 year old Peke-a-Poo and also the love of my life. Two years ago, I noticed that my very crazy and feisty baby was weepy and cowering. When I went to pick up her 10 pound little self, she bit me with the force of a dog 10 times her size! The mad dash to the Veterinary Medical Center was under way. There it was determined that she had injured her long Pekingese spine somehow (she loved to chase her cat Apple). The decision was clear and she underwent back surgery with Dr. Robinson. The surgery was a success and her surgeon Dr. Robinson thankfully quite the miracle worker. The healing process was a long and bumpy road. My employer, Dr. Jackson was so good to grant me 12 weeks of work from home. I was able to be with Daffodil around the clock. She had temporary hind leg paralysis and a difficult time going potty. Today, we visit Daffodil’s two very best girls, Dr. Burnett and Lis Conarton, on a monthly basis at VMC. She gets the spa treatment which includes laser therapy, a nice massage, acupuncture and of course lots of treats and kisses. Daffodil is doing fantastic and such a happy baby I cannot brag enough about the many people who have helped us on our journey. Although I hope to never have to need them again, I am so very blessed that I have them if I do! Love, Christina (Daffodil’s mommy)

Daffodil's Problems:

  • Previous Femoral Head Osteotomy
  • Invertebral Disc Disease
  • Post Operative Hemilaminectomy
  • Myofascial Compensatory Pain
  • Muscle Spasms

Current Treatment:

  • Multi Modal Pain Management
  • Acupuncture
  • Low Level Laser Therapy
  • Massage & Mobilization
  • Home Exercise Program

 

VMC's April 2015 Patient of the Month

Conoco Conoco spent some time with our Emergency and Surgery services, and we all loved him!

Conoco's Story:

Conoco developed lower urinary tract signs in January, which prompted evaluation and treatment at another clinic. At that time he was hospitalized and treated with a urinary catheter, IV fluids and medications. He has since been monitored and further treated by his primary care veterinarian Dr. Ryan at Beaver Lake Animal Hospital where dietary management was instituted. He re-presented on February 23 for similar signs but was able to pass urine; his medications were restarted. On February 26 he presented to Dr. Ryan where a mucus plug was dislodged from his urethra and he was able to urinate. He was restarted on prednisone, prazosin and started on amitryptiline. This morning, however, he was growling and straining to urinate with no urination possible. He was then referred by Dr. Ryan to the Veterinary Medical Center for a Perineal Urethrostomy with Dr. Robinson who is a board certified surgeon. Conoco recovered well from surgery and was hospitalized for four days. I want to sincerely thank Dr. Robinson and all the numerous staff for wonderful care and respect to our needs during Conoco’s “ordeal”! What a top notch facility and the staff was extraordinary! What spoke volumes to me was Conoco was not used to strangers yet he gradually offered his belly to the staff that took such amazing care of him. Your care went beyond medicine it included love and kindness which I know had a hand in our being able to have more time with our beloved Conoco. I know that you can’t save the world however, sometimes you can save someone’s world.. ~Conoco’s Family

Conoco's Problems: Repeated Urethral Obstruction Secondary to Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Conoco's Treatment: Board Certified Surgical Intervention Perineal Urethrostomy

Conoco and friend

We love happy endings!