Pet Health

April Physical Rehab Patient of the Month

Truman's Story

Truman

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

Diagnosis:

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

Treatments:

  • 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!

WHAT HAPPENS DURING 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.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER SURGERY?

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

 

Diagnosis:

  • Chronic Mild Hip Dysplasia
  • Lumbosacral Disease
  • Thoracolumbar Osteoarthritis

Treatment:

  • 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

 

 

 

 

Christmas Pet Safety Tips

Cat-in-Christmas-Tree
Cat-in-Christmas-Tree

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.
thanksgiving-dog-dinner-dogvacay-300x225
thanksgiving-dog-dinner-dogvacay-300x225

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.
poinsettia
poinsettia

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

VMC's (Belated) October Patient of the Month!

Abby's Story

Abby 10-15

Abby started her journey with the VMC in 2009 when she was 9 years old. Prior to the VMC, Abby had surgery in the early 2000’s to repair both cruciate ligaments in her hind legs. She was experiencing some discomfort due to resulting osteoarthritis and trigger points in her shoulders (as she compensated for her knees). Abby had also been diagnosed with Laryngeal Paralysis (LP) which restricted her breathing. We had consulted with a surgical veterinarian regarding the LP; however, he felt surgery was not warranted yet and suggested acupuncture. Hearing Dr. Fleckenstein was the local expert, Abby started acupuncture sessions at the VMC with the added benefit of reducing the pain associated with the osteoarthritis and trigger points.

As Abby’s breathing became more labored due to the LP, Dr. Robinson at VMC  performed a unilateral tieback surgery to reduce the restriction caused by her larynx. Now able to breathe better, and with her joint/muscle pain under control, Abby was back to acting like her old self, an active pup, again. After Abby’s tieback surgery, we continued acupuncture sessions and introduced supplements recommended by Dr. Fleckenstein to help with the osteoarthritis. Abby would become so relaxed and comfortable during acupuncture that she would fall asleep during her treatments.

Dr. Fleckenstein thought Abby could benefit from the addition of physical rehab, so in 2010 we started rehab with Lis Conarton. Abby’s physical rehab includes laser therapy for her joints, manual trigger point release, and walking on the underwater treadmill. Lis also provided us with a home exercise program including massage, range of motion exercises, swimming, and walking at the beach. Abby adores Lis and is very accommodating even when Lis is working out her painful trigger points! In 2013, Abby was diagnosed with a hemangiopericytoma, a soft tissue sarcoma, below her right eye. After consultation with Dr. Rassnick at the VMC, Dr. Robinson again performed surgery on Abby – this time to remove the sarcoma. Unfortunately, the sarcoma could not be removed completely due to the location, so Dr. Robinson implanted a few chemotherapy beads. Dr. Rassnick also recommended the addition of low dose metronomic chemotherapy to prevent the sarcoma from growing, which Abby has tolerated well. We continue to see Dr. Rassnick and we’re happy to report Abby has had no regrowth of the sarcoma for almost 2 years.

Abby swimming 10-15

Abby loves going to the VMC! The office and medical staff welcome her with so much loving attention, it doesn’t matter whether she’s here for surgery with Dr. Robinson, bloodwork with Dr. Rassnick, acupuncture with Dr. Fleckenstein or rehab with Lis. With the wonderful care provided by the VMC, Abby is now almost 15 years old. Abby continues her rehab with Lis, home exercise, and supplements to maintain her quality of life and allow her to age comfortably and gracefully. ~ Abby’s Loving Family

VMC Services Providing Care: • Acupuncture • Surgery • Physical Rehabilitation • Oncology

Diagnoses: • Laryngeal Paralysis • Hemangiopericytoma • Osteoarthritis – Knees • Myofascial Trigger points

Treatments: • Surgery • Metronomic Chemotherapy • Acupuncture • Laser therapy • Manual Trigger Point Release • Home Exercise Program • Supplements • Underwater Treadmill Hydrotherapy

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

 

August Pain Management Patient of the Month

Lady's Story Lady August 2015

Owning a pair of dachshunds with “dog-a-titude” can make for some interesting adventures for their owners. Our first adventure started with one of Lady and Jackson’s play sessions in 2011. We heard a yip from Lady as she ran under our bed. Unfortunately for Lady, she had run into a wire from one of the support beams for the bed frame. This had pierced a hole in her back.

In a panic, we contacted the Veterinary Medical Center and they advised us to bring her in immediately through the Emergency Service. Upon arrival, the staff had taken Lady in for evaluation and found that, she would need to undergo surgery to repair the hole and she had intervertebral disk disease (IVDD). Needless to say, we moved forward with the surgery and discussed our options for the IVDD. Initially, Lady was treated with antibiotics, Metacam and Tramadol. Once the wound was healed we no longer needed the antibiotics, but continued with the Metacam and Tramadol for the IVDD. We did not like the idea of keeping Lady on the Metacam, Tramadol, and Gabapentin so we looked at holistic options such as: physical therapy, acupuncture, veterinary spinal manipulation therapy (VSMT), and laser treatments.

We started bi-weekly treatments of acupuncture, spinal manipulation, and laser treatments with Dr. Polly Fleckenstein. Also, during our visits with Polly we also learned how to give Lady doggie massages. Since Lady also needed to strengthen her muscles in her legs and back, we also worked with Lis Conarton and the physical rehabilitation service. Lis started Lady with simple stretches and worked her way up to the underwater treadmill. Seeing my little dachshund wearing a life jacket and walking on the underwater treadmill was quite a sight!

Lady and Jackson August 2015

At this point in time Lady has finished her physical therapy and is making monthly visits to Dr. Fleckenstein for her acupuncture, VSMT and laser treatments. As a matter of fact, when we tell Lady that she is going to visit Dr. Fleckenstein she heads to the door with her tail wagging. We cannot say enough about the professional staff and services that are offered at the Veterinary Medical Center of CNY. We have been truly blessed to have found such a wonderful gifted staff. ~The Kleinwaks Family

Lady's Problem: Intervertebral Disc Disease

Current Treatments:

  • Electroacupuncture & Lacer Acupuncture every 4-6 weeks
  • Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy every 4-6 weeks
  • Home exercise program including massage, stretches & exercise
  • Multi-Modal Pain Management Program

Handling a Pet Toxin or Poisoning Emergency

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My pet just got into something he shouldn’t have. What should I do?

 

This could be the shortest blog post ever.  The answer:

1) Call your veterinarian or the nearest emergency veterinary hospital.

2) If #1 is not possible, call Poison Control.     ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435

Perhaps you’ve been through a similar situation in the past. Perhaps your sister has. Perhaps your neighbor’s son’s friend worked in a veterinary practice for a few months three years ago. This is what we’ll tell you: Unless the advice you are given is the two steps above -- DON’T USE IT.

What your pet ate may be fine, and we get plenty of false alarms here. A call will never hurt, and is certainly quicker and more accurate than getting several dozen opinions from your friends, family, neighbors, and Dr. Google.

When you call, your vet (or Poison Control) will need to know:

• the name of the substance • the strength of the product if known (medication, chemical, etc.) • how much was consumed • how long since you think the consumption occurred • age, breed, and approximate weight of your pet

Can’t I just make my pet vomit?

No.

Do not give your pet any ‘antidotes’ unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian or poison control. Some substances will cause even more harm if you make your pet vomit. Some have even more risk if your pet inhales some of the substance while vomiting. Once, memorably, we encountered a substance that, when mixed with the stomach acid of the dog, could potentially have created a gas that was extremely dangerous to all of us in the hospital if we had released the gas by making the dog vomit. Some substances will need to be neutralized with specific antidotes that a veterinary hospital will have access and the tools to administer.

Here at VMC, poisonings and toxicities are what we deal with day in and day out. We are very comfortable handling these cases and are easily able to properly guide a pet owner through this process. While some cases are very routine and we know exactly what to do immediately, we commonly utilize the resources of Animal Poison Control. New products, drugs, and chemicals are created all the time, and so the potential toxins and combinations of toxins in common household items can change so rapidly. So can the antidotes and treatments. The ASCPA Animal Poison Control service stays current with the newest information that can make all the difference in saving a pet’s life.

WORTH REPEATING ONE MORE TIME: DO NOT MAKE YOUR PET VOMIT UNLESS YOU HAVE EXPLICIT INSTRUCTIONS FROM YOUR VETERINARIAN OR POISON CONTROL.

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Some general tips:

Be Honest. We know what a dog that ate marijuana looks like and acts like. We can run a whole bunch of tests that will tell us what we already suspect (and waste time and cost you money you don’t really need to spend), or you can just tell us the truth. It’s OK. We won’t judge. We just want to help your pet, and the sooner we can do that the better. And no, it is not, not, NOT OK to intentionally “share” with your pet. They do not react the same way to recreational drugs, and it is cruel to do that on purpose. Not funny. Not ever.

Drugs and Chemicals (rodent poisons, insecticides, antifreeze, recreational drugs, human pharmaceuticals) are potentially the most harmful poisons as they are often in a very concentrated form. Your pet may only need to consume a small amount for it to have a significant effect.

Cats tend to be more susceptible to poisons than dogs. Fortunately, cats are normally less likely to eat something unfamiliar. If toxic exposure does occur, cats may be more at risk, as their metabolism is less able to process many toxins (acetaminophen, permethrin, and plant poisons) that are somewhat less dangerous for dogs. Be aware that cats are at high risk for ingesting contaminants on their fur, however, due to their grooming habits.

The most common sources of toxins for pets, according to the ASPCA are: prescription and over-the-counter drugs (both human and pet drugs), insecticides and insect baits, common household plants, rodenticides and baits, and common household cleaners including bleach, detergents, and disinfectants. We see all of those problems at VMC, and would also add chocolate, xylitol, and recreational drugs to the list.

What should I include specifically for this in my pet's first-aid kit?

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center experts recommend the following to keep on hand in case of toxins:

• Fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting) • Turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide) • Saline eye solution • Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing) • Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination) • Forceps (to remove stingers) • Muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting) • Can of your pet's favorite wet food • Pet carrier

Always consult a veterinarian or the APCC for directions on how and when to use any emergency first-aid item. We also suggest that you keep the telephone number of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center—(888) 426-4435—as well as that of your local veterinarian in a prominent location.