Is It an Emergency?

It’s hard to know when you’re worried or emotional if your pet is experiencing a true emergency.  Especially if its an evening or weekend when your family vet is not open, it can be a difficult decision to decide to seek care at a 24-hour emergency facility or to “wait it out.”

Most often, we recommend having your pet seen by a veterinarian when in doubt.  This allows you & your family to have peace of mind, knowing that your pet is stable.  If its determined during their emergency exam that something more urgent is occurring, the emergency veterinarian can direct you to the best course of action to get your pet feeling better as soon as possible!

We recommend having your pet seen by a veterinarian if they: / Your pet should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible if they:

  • Have difficulty breathing
  • Collapsed or Unresponsive
  • Have persistent Vomiting/Diarrhea, and are not eating
  • Are straining to urinate/defecate
  • Have experienced a traumatic incident, like hit by car, eye trauma, fractures, and deep cuts/scrapes
  • Are bleeding
  • May have had a seizure
  • Ingested something toxic like plants, chocolate, drugs, or chemicals
  • Are non-weight-bearing (not using the leg at all) and limping for more than a few moments
  • Are experiencing any sort of eye issue… Such as squinting, redness, eye swelling, inability to open the eye, or severe eye discharge
  • Experiencing pain (see below)

If you have time please call the hospital ahead of time to inform the staff of your imminent arrival. The veterinarian and the veterinary technician can prepare for your pet’s emergency situation to ensure we don’t lose precious time.



Easter Dangers to Your Cat

Easter and the traditions surrounding it pose several dangers for your cat.  Knowing that these dangers exist will give you the opportunity to avoid them and keep your pet healthy through the holiday and beyond.

Easter lilies and other types of lilies are one of the biggest threats for your cat. The true lilies are all toxic to your cat and ingestion can prove to be fatal. Both live plants and cut flowers pose a hazard and all parts of the plant are considered to be toxic. Even something as seemingly innocent as getting plant pollen on the fur by rubbing against the plant can be a problem for your cat if he grooms the fur and swallows the pollen. When ingested, these plants damage the kidneys and cause kidney failure.Symptoms seen in cats that have been poisoned by lilies are a result of failure of the kidneys. These symptoms may include depression, lack of appetite, vomiting, increased water consumption, increased urine volume, diarrhea, coma, and death.

Another Easter hazard for a curious cat is the artificial “grass” that is often used in Easter baskets and other Easter decorations. This “grass” is often tempting for a playful cat and it can become a linear foreign body if swallowed, necessitating surgery to remove the offending object from your cat’s intestinal tract. Left untreated, this type of intestinal foreign body can prove fatal to your cat.

Chocolate is another potential threat around Easter-time. Many of our favorite treats contain chocolate, and chocolate can be toxic if ingested by your cat.

Other food items fed from the table, such as bones, can be dangerous for your cat also and should be avoided.  Avoid giving your kitty any rich, fatty, or greasy table scraps — these can upset their stomachs or even cause pancreatitis, which is potentially fatal if left untreated.

If you suspect that your cat has ingested a toxin or if your cat is acting abnormally, contact your veterinarian for advice. If your veterinarian is not available, seek guidance from your local emergency veterinary hospital or contact the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Centeror the Pet Poison Helpline.


Pet Insurance Facts

Pet insurance helps you afford your veterinary bills for your dog or cat. It can help you avoid a tough financial decision about your pet’s health.  Many providers have different level of coverage plans to protect your pet for accidents, illnesses and even wellness care. Plus, by protecting your best friend with pet medical insurance when he or she is young and healthy, you can be financially prepared for the unexpected while getting help to afford preventive care to keep your dog in top shape.

What does it cover?

Pet insurance typically protects pets in case of accidents or illnesses. But veterinary pet insurance doesn’t have to be just for the unexpected! Because wellness care is so important to keep your pet happy and healthy,

Why do I need it?

Veterinary care is getting more expensive, especially as more sophisticated diagnostics and treatments become available for animals. For instance, veterinarians can now use MRI technology and chemotherapy to treat their pet patients.

What does pet insurance cost?

Pet insurance helps you financially prepare for the unexpected. This is especially important when you consider a single incident can run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars in veterinary bills. Your veterinary pet insurance premium will depend on a few factors like the level of coverage you pick, your geographic area and the breed and age of your pet.

Can I stay with my veterinarian?

Yes! With most companies, you don’t have to leave your trusted veterinarian or choose from a list of providers. With most pet insurance, you can visit ANY licensed veterinarian in the US or Canada, including specialists and emergency care doctors. This way, your pet is also covered if you’re traveling.

How does the deductible work?

This depends on which company and plan you choose.  Some deductibles only needs to be met once per plan year, no matter how many incidents occur. In contrast, per incident deductibles require you to pay a new deductible for every single injury or illness, which can really add up. You can also customize your plan with other annual deductible and co-insurance options.

How long does it take to get reimbursed?

With most providers, turnaround time typically averages two weeks or less. Many providers have an online function to help track your claim.

No one wants to think about a beloved pet getting hurt or sick, but it can happen when you least expect it.  Thinking about pet insurance, getting a quote, and even taking out a policy for your pet BEFORE disaster strikes will give you peace of mind and allow you to help your pet.


What is Brachycephalic Syndrome?

The full name of this disorder is brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BAOS). Brachycephalics are those breeds which have a comparatively short head. Because of their anatomy, virtually all dogs of these breeds have some degree of increased work associated with breathing from the time they are born. Many have varying degrees of obstruction to their airways, which causes signs ranging from noisy breathing to collapse.

Affected breeds include, but not limited to:

  • Pugs
  • Boston Terriers
  • English Bulldogs
  • Boxers
  • French Bulldogs
  • Shih Tzus

The most common anatomical features that lead to the respiratory difficulties typical of these breeds, include an elongated and fleshy soft palate, and narrowed nostrils. Many affected dogs also have changes to the larynx (everted laryngeal saccules) and a relatively small trachea (hypoplastic trachea).

How is it inherited?

Selection for exaggerated features has resulted in the respiratory difficulties in these breeds. For example breed standards for the English bulldog specify that the face should be very short, as should the distance between the tip of the nose and where it is set deep between the eyes. It is hardly surprising that this leaves little room for the structures involved in normal breathing.

What does this mean to your dog & you?

Problems associated with this syndrome range in severity, with most brachycephalic dogs snuffling and snorting to some degree. Some will have no further difficulties, but many will have problems such as increasingly noisy breathing, coughing and gagging, fainting or collapsing episodes, and a decreased tolerance for exercise (ie. they tire easily). Over the long term, this also puts an increased strain on the heart. Some dogs, such as English bulldogs, may have frequent episodes of sleep-disordered breathing.

Overheating is especially dangerous in these breeds, because increased panting (the normal mechanism for cooling in dogs) can cause further swelling and narrowing of the already constricted airways, which will increase your dog’s anxiety. Excitement, exercise, or warm weather (and especially a combination of these factors) can trigger this vicious cycle.  These dogs can also have gastrointestinal problems, because of difficulties coordinating swallowing when they are working so hard at breathing. This can result in vomiting or gagging because of swallowing so much air, or aspiration pneumonia, because of breathing in saliva or food particles.
All dogs of these breeds have an increased risk associated with sedation and anesthesia, for which your veterinarian will take extra precautions.

How is this diagnosed?

These problems are usually evident from a young age. If your dog has respiratory difficulties, your veterinarian may discuss this syndrome with you as part of a regular visit, or you may bring your dog in because of an episode such as collapsing after exercise.

Because some changes in anatomy are common to all dogs of these breeds, diagnosis is really a question of the degree of abnormality. The overlong soft palate is best examined under general anesthesia, and so, because of the associated risks, your vet will most likely ask your permission in advance to surgically correct it at the same time if necessary. Neutering can often be performed at the same time.

How is it treated?

Medical treatment (oxygen therapy, corticosteroids) can be used for short term relief of airway inflammation. Surgery is required where severe anatomic faults interfere with breathing. Most commonly this involves removal of some of the excess fleshy soft palate, and widening of air passages at the nostrils.

It is important to keep your dog from becoming overweight, as this will worsen his or her respiratory difficulties in the long run.

These dogs, particularly the English bulldog, have an increased risk of aspiration pneumonia following surgery to correct airway problems.

Breeding advice: 

This syndrome is directly related to the conformation or standards for these breeds. Although so common as to be accepted as normal for brachycephalics, BAOS causes serious physical problems and discomfort for individual dogs. Breed improvement by breeding away from the extremes of conformation that cause these problems, is a challenge for responsible breeders.

Dogs with pronounced breathing difficulties or that have required surgery to correct airway obstruction, should not be used for breeding. These dogs should be neutered at the time surgical correction is performed.


Hendricks, JC. 1995. Recognition and treatment of congenital respiratory tract defects in brachycephalics. In JD Bonagura and RW Kirk (eds.) Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XII Small Animal Practice.p. 892-894. W.B. Saunders Co., Toronto.