Gordy the Great

CRA_LOGO_FINALSince our new rehabilitation center Canine Rehabilitation Associates opened, we have had the tremendous pleasure of seeing amazing pets overcome huge obstacles thanks to our loving and dedicated staff and pet owners.  Our medical director and certified Canine Rehab Therapist Dr. Michael Bassett shares one of our most inspiring stories to date as he introduces you to a special little girl who has stolen our hearts and made some amazing progress.

Gordy the Great

By Dr. Michael Bassett

We all know that we have a special pet.

We have met some very special pets that are triumphing over their special challenges through our state-of-the-art rehab facility here at Pet Dominion. Gordy is one of those stars that have come through so far. She is a 1-year old French Bulldog with a winning personality.

Gordy came to us in April for her initial evaluation after having back surgery in February. She had not made any progress from paraplegia (an impairment of the function in the lower extremities). She could not stand and support her weight, and the prospects for her being able to walk did not look good. She was dragging her hind end.

Justin, one of our certified Canine Rehab Therapists, began to work with her using massage, e-stim, therapeutic laser, and therapeutic exercises including the land treadmill and physiobals. Initially, she showed only a tiny amount of muscle tone in the hind limbs, but with coaching and encouragement (including a lot of treats and praise), she began to show progress. She has gotten to the point of being able to walk over the caviletti poles.  The proof is in this incredible video courtesy of Justin:

We are thrilled to be making a difference in her and her owners’ lives. Her determination to remaster walking has been a joy for us on the rehab team here at Pet Dominion.

To learn more about our rehab services, visit Canine Rehabilitation Associates or give us a call at 301-258-0333.

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How to Prevent this Fatal Disease in Cats

By Dr. Michael Bassett, Medical Director

free-public-domain-photosMost dog owners are aware of the threat that heartworm disease poses, but did you know that cats get heartworms as well?  April is National Heartworm Awareness Month.  This fatal disease can be avoided with a monthly dose of a prescribed preventative.  Pets contract heartworm disease through the bite of an infected mosquito.  Since mosquitos easily get into our homes, even indoor cats are at risk for this deadly disease.  The disease is especially difficult in cats because a series of tests may need to be done to determine if heartworms are present, and even then, the results may be inconclusive.  Furthermore, treatment is difficult and may require surgery.

Since cats do get heartworm disease and it can be rapidly fatal, we strongly recommend preventive for all cats. We like Revolution as a preventative because it only requires a single topical application once a month to prevent heartworms as well as intestinal parasites and fleas. Even cats that never go outdoors can contract heartworm disease through a single mosquito bite. Revolution is guaranteed by the manufacturer, as long as it is purchased through your veterinarian.  It comes in two strengths to ensure that your cat receives the proper protection level despite his/her weight.

With spring in full swing, now is a great time to get your cat on the path to prevention.  Give is a call today at 301-258-0333 to find out more about Revolution and how we can help keep your pet parasite free!  For more on heartworm disease, visit the American Heartworm Society.

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Health Certificates: Know Before You Go

By Dr. Michael Bassett, Medical Director
Traveling with your pet requires advanced planning. Air travel generally requires at least an examination of your pet and a health certificate from a veterinarian within 10 days of travel. International travel requires more time and planning. We recommend beginning the process 2-3 months before travel. The following explanation from the U.S. State Department sums up the process:

Certification requirements vary from country to country. Some countries simply require the veterinarian who examines your pet to be licensed in the state of origin, and no USDA endorsement of the veterinarian’s examination statement is required. Some countries will accept a standard letterhead health certificate and rabies certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA. However, other countries may require that your pet be checked by a federally-accredited veterinarian and that a United States Interstate and International Certificate for Health Examination for Small Animals (AHPIS Form 7001) be issued by that veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA.(Since August 1994 only a federally accredited veterinarian can sign this form.) Carefully check the OBC country briefing box or call the embassy to determine the exact requirements before making an appointment with a veterinarian. Also check the airline you will be using for your pet. There have been cases where a country does not require a certification, but a particular airline does. There is a USDA endorsement fee per certificate for cats and dogs. Contact the USDA-APHIS for the current cost of the endorsement of the APHIS-7001 form. Note: More than one dog or cat may be on a certificate. For other animals, call the USDA at the numbers below.

The timetable for obtaining examination statements and certifications can be very tight. Plan well in advance to be sure all paperwork is complete in time for your shipping date. You may send your paperwork by mail or courier along with a rabies certificate, the appropriate fee for service, and a self-addressed stamped envelope or a pre-paid Federal Express envelope (if you are short of time) for return to you. Be sure that the veterinarian’s name is legible, and include a contact person with a daytime telephone number. Pets examined by veterinarians in other U.S. areas should have the papers certified by the USDA-APHIS veterinary office in that state. The office closest to the Washington, D.C., area is:

U.S. Department of Agriculture 
Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS)
Veterinary Services
Federal Building
400 N. 8th St., 7th floor
Richmond, VA 23240
Tel: (804) 343-2560 Fax: (804) 343-2599
Alternate: Call 301-851-3300 and press option 2.

If you wish to deliver the certificate in person, call 24 to 48 hours in advance.

If you are planning to travel soon with your pet, please give us a call at 301-258-0333 to set up an appointment with one of our accredited veterinarians.  Traveled with your pet before?  Share your story in our comments!

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A Home for the Holidays

By Dr. Zeoli, Associate Veterinarian

4yeKi4Av__1keUROLi2CCuNgISDX190hgawixuJhnxkI am very excited that the holidays are here. Everything about this time of year is nostalgic from the warm gingerbread cookies, to the smell of the crackling fire beside the tree, to watching my favorite holiday comedy – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Remember the scene where cousin Eddie and his family show up in a trailer to surprise the Griswolds for the holidays? They may not have much, but he has the right idea when he introduces his dog: “And this here is our pride and joy, Snots!” And later Aunt Bethany arrives with a suspicious, wrapped package that is meowing. Clark explains the situation by saying; “They don’t have much money, so she takes things from the house.” Yes, pets and the holidays go hand-in-hand.

Why not consider adding an additional furry family member to your household this time of season? You don’t have to name your dog Snots or wrap up a cat. But you can go to your local animal shelter and see if any potential dogs or cats could be a good fit for your household!

Every year, approximately 7.6 million animals enter shelters. Of these, only about half are adopted or returned to their homes. And with about 178 million owned dogs and cats in the US, only about 23% of these were adopted. With so many cute and lovable animals looking for a home, give a gift to yourself and to the pet by inviting him or her into your home.

Not sure what kind of dog you are looking for? Shelters are filled with both pure-breeds and mixed-breeds. There are many rescue groups you can reach out to if you are interested in a specific breed. I personally love mixed breeds, or mutts. You really never know what you are going to get and their personalities are always so unique!

My husband and I have 2 small dogs. Pixie, our black mixed breed terrier, adopted from ARF, and Mr. Keoki, another playful mixed breed terrier adopted from the Washington Humane Society here in DC. Pixie grew up in the cow fields of central California and was eventually caught and put into a shelter. It took some time to get her adjusted to living indoors. But now that she is comfortable with it, she follows me everywhere around my house! Her favorite hobbies are barking at squirrels and going for car rides. Mr. Keoki was found wandering the streets of DC, alone and with a broken leg. Several surgeries later, he is now doing much better and even enjoys going to physical therapy here at Pet Dominion with Justin!

In addition, 2 kitties are also a part of our family. Baxter Baby, from MSPCA-Angell in Boston, was dropped off in the middle of the night with no history. He has become the king of our household. And finally, Olive, from the PEI Humane Society in Prince Edward Island, Canada. She was a shelter kitten who never knew life on the outside. She took a bit of time to become comfortable with us, but she has become quite the cuddler.

All four of our fur babies get along amazingly well and each adds their own personal touch to our home. They are always standing (or jumping) side-by-side to greet me as I walk through the door and they always know when to come and rest on my lap. I have learned that when you adopt, these animals, which are given a second chance at life, tend to be grateful. Cats are typically easier to adjust to a new home, but dogs can take some time to learn good behaviors. But be patient – I promise they will give back 100x what you put into them!

If you think you are ready for the commitment, just browse the websites of some of your local shelters. I guarantee you will see a lot of eager and smiling faces in need of a home for the holidays.  Do you have a happy rescue story of your own? Be sure to share your pet’s journey in the comments.

Happy Holidays from Pet Dominion!

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A Day in the Life of a Diabetic Pet

By Dr. Lamar, Associate Veterinarian
Having a pet diagnosed with diabetes can initially be very overwhelming! Yes, it will require several lifestyle changes, but the love you receive from your pet in return makes it all worthwhile. November is National Pet Diabetes Month.  Here is the average day in the life of a diabetic pet from your pet’s point of view:

7am – Wake up and snuggle my owner’s face; I am much better than their alarm clock!

7:15am – My owner gives me my breakfast. It is a special type of food for my diabetes that is lower in sugar and carbohydrates. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but my owner slowly mixed it in with my old food and I realized it is actually pretty tasty!

7:30am – I get an insulin injection. These are easier than you might think! The needle is so small I barely feel it, and my owner has been properly trained by my veterinarian in how to give these injections to me. My owner always makes sure I eat most of my breakfast first so I get the correct dose.

9am – My owner goes to work; booooring! But it does give me time to think about how much better I feel when my blood sugar is properly regulated. Not only do I feel better on a day-to-day basis, but my lifespan will be longer when my diabetes is controlled!

1:30pm – Some days I get a blood sugar check at lunchtime to make sure I am still well regulated on my insulin dose. My insulin dose has changed several times over my diabetic life, which is very common! Sometimes when my dose gets changed I will spend the day with my veterinarian having my blood sugar checked every few hours – this is an ideal way to look at both my high and low blood sugar points.

5:30pm – My owner returns from work; hurray! Now we have time to play! My owner knows how important activity and exercise is for a diabetic pet to keep me in a healthy weight range. I don’t let them know how much I enjoy it, too!

7:15pm – I get my dinner. I may get some small snacks throughout the day and evening, but I eat the majority of my food at breakfast and dinner. This keeps me feeling my best since these meals and timed with my insulin.

7:30pm – I get my evening insulin injection. Sometimes my owner will have questions regarding if my insulin dose should be changed, but always makes sure to consult my veterinarian first before making changes.

9pm – Bedtime: a great time for cuddles with my owner. Even though it’s extra work having a diabetic pet around, I appreciate all the effort and make up for it by giving the best snuggles!

If you have any questions about diabetes, please give us a call at 301-258-0333.  Have a pet with diabetes?  Share your story in our comments!

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Cancer and Pets: What You Need to Know

By Dr. Lamar, Associate Veterinarian
A worst fear has come true: You or your veterinarian has found a mass on your furry friend. What will happen next? Well, luckily times are changing rapidly with regards to the answer to that question. Not too long ago, the options were try to cut it out or there was nothing to be done. Nowadays we have many more options both diagnostically and therapeutically.

Whenever a mass is found, the first step is to gather as much information as we can based on its texture and appearance. A mass on the skin can be visually examined and felt by your veterinarian to garner some initial thoughts.  It is impossible to diagnose any mass just based on looks/touch, but it can give us an educated guess as to its origin. An internal mass may need an ultrasound and/or x-rays to obtain this information.

After this initial step, the next diagnostic step is the least invasive – a fine needle aspirate (FNA). This technique involves inserting a small needle briefly into the mass, removing a few cells, and checking those cells under a microscope. If the mass is internal, this step almost always requires ultrasound guidance. An FNA can frequently give us a lot of information about what exactly the mass is, although it does not provide a final diagnosis in every case. Sometimes, we must move on to a biopsy (taking a piece of tissue) to provide our final diagnosis.

Once your veterinarian knows size, location, and type of mass we are able to give you much more information about treatment options and prognosis. The two main treatment modalities are surgical and medical, and in some cases, both. When a mass is removed surgically all efforts are taken to remove the mass in full with “clean” margins of tissue on all sides. It is highly recommended to send any removed mass to a pathologist for a histopathology review which will give you more information about the mass itself and information about the margins or removal.

Medical options vary greatly depending on the type and stage of mass. Some of these options can be performed with the supervision of your veterinarian (at home medications, etc.), while some more intensive therapies are best administered by a board-certified oncologist. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are constantly improving for animals and vary from human cancer treatments. Specific questions regarding these treatments are best answered in an oncologist consultation session.

Even if a mass is found on your dear companion, take heart that Pet Dominion will do all we can to give you the most accurate diagnosis and full range of treatment options. Please call (301)258-0333 for a veterinarian appointment if you have any questions or concerns about your pet.  Do you have a pet who is a cancer survivor?  Share your pet’s inspiring story in our comments.

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Keeping Your Pets Safe this Halloween

By Dr. Bethany Falter, Associate Veterinarian
Halloween is a night of fun, candy and costumes. But, for our pets, it can be stressful and occasionally, downright dangerous. Please take a moment to plan for the safety of your pets this Halloween night. Below are some tips for keeping your pets safe and healthy on Halloween.

1. Keep your pets indoors on Halloween. Cats especially should be kept indoors for the days surrounding Halloween to prevent unkind pranks.

2. Keep your pets confined to an area of the home away from the front door on Halloween night. Otherwise, they may slip through an open door or be frightened by trick or treaters in costume.

3. Remember that not all pets like to be dressed up. While it may look cute, costumes may add additional stress to an already frightened or stressed pet. Do not dress up your pet unless you are certain they enjoy it.

4. If you do decide to dress your pet up, be aware of any small parts or loose pieces that they may chew up or swallow.

5. Keep candy and other treats away from pets. Ingestion of Halloween treats may be toxic to pets and may cause upset stomachs in some animals.

6. Keep animals away from lit pumpkins. They may inadvertantly knock them over, posing a fire hazard.

7. Keep Halloween decorations out of your pet’s reach. Plants such as pumpkins and dried corn may cause upset stomachs if eaten and other decorations may pose a choking hazard.

8. Wires or cords from holiday decorations should be kept out of reach. If chewed, your pet may be burned or suffer an electric shock.

9. Make sure that all pets wear some form of identification. If your pet does escape, having an id tag on your pet will increase the odds of a safe return.

10. Keep children and neighbors safe as well – remember that even a friendly, social dog may be frightened by people in costume and could behave aggressively as a result.

What are your plans for you and your pets this Halloween?  Do you have any special traditions? Leave a note in the comments with your plans and traditions.  Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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