Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Free Eye Exam for Service Animals to host BSO Jimmy Ryce Center Officers!!!

Did you know that a bloodhound has 60 times the scent power of a German Shepherd?  These highly sensitive animals may be driven by their noses but there eyesight is crucial to active service.

This is why each year, VCA HAH and Animal Eye Guys join forces to host service animals from around our community for FREE Eye exams during the monthof May. In an effort to accommodate all of those loyal and hardworking companions, we open our doors for one day- exclusively for these exams.

 This year we are pleased to be hosting Jimmy Ryce Center (JRC) K9 Officers from the Broward Sheirff's Office. 

  Dr. Swinger will be examining these patrol dogs checking for problems including redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease, early cataracts and other serious abnormalities. 

“Early detection of problems and treatment is vital to the success of these working animals," said Dr. Swinger, of Animal Eye Guys. "It is truly an honor to provide exams for animals that so selflessly provide support to their people and communities."

The Jimmy Ryce Center provides AKC bloodhounds free to law enforcement agencies to find abducted and lost children. Bloodhounds are the only dog that can follow a human trail more than a few hours old. They are the the single best bet for bringing a child, abducted by a predator, home, alive. 

Since its inception, over 600 dogs have been placed with law enforcement agencies.  The JRC is funded exclusively from donation and is currently raising funds to purchase more bloodhounds for law enforcement agencies. Visit to learn more about Jimmy Ryce, the JRC and how you too can help! 
 "It is truly an honor to provide exams for animals that so selflessly provide support to their people and communities."
      Dr. Robert Swinger l Animal Eye Guys l Owner

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Top 10 Cat Emergencies

Cats often become reclusive and hide when they are not feeling well, which makes knowing when they need to be seen by your veterinarian a challenge. They have unique signs of emergency conditions that often go unrecognized by owners. Some injuries are obvious, such as a cat with an open wound, while others have more subtle signs that can be equally dangerous if left untreated. Knowing signs of illness is crucial in determining when to seek emergency care for your cat. Below is a list of some of the most common cat emergencies and their signs.

Urethral Obstruction
This is a condition in which a cat, usually male, is unable to urinate due to a blockage in the urethra (the tube leading from the urinary bladder to the outside environment).

Cats will show a sudden onset of restless behavior, which includes frequent trips in and out of the litter box. They will often attempt to urinate in unusual places such as in a bath tub or on a plastic bag. You may notice a very small stream of urine that contains blood. More often than not, despite a cat’s straining, there may be no urine or even just a drop produced. In later stages of the obstruction, cats may cry loudly, vomit, and become lethargic.

You should consider these signs a serious emergency and seek veterinary care immediately. There are reports of cats developing kidney failure and dying within 12 hours after the onset of signs. Expect your cat to be hospitalized at least 36 hours for treatment of this condition. Veterinary treatments may include a urinary catheter, intravenous fluids, and pain management. Female cats are less likely to become obstructed due to their wider urinary tract.

Toxicities (Poisoning)
The combination of their curious nature and unique metabolism (the way their body breaks down chemicals) makes cats vulnerable to toxins. Owners are often unaware that their home contains multiple products that are poisonous to felines. The most common cat toxins include antifreeze, Tylenol, and rat or mouse poison.

The signs your cat displays depends on the type of poison he or she has encountered. Antifreeze will often cause wobbliness or a drunken appearance first, then progresses to vomiting/weakness as the kidneys fail. Tylenol may cause an unusual swelling of the head and changes the cat’s blood color from red to chocolate brown. Rat or mouse poison interferes with blood clotting so you may see weakness from internal blood loss or visible blood in the urine or stool.

Breathing Problems
Often, cats hide the signs of breathing problems by simply decreasing their activity. By the time an owner notices changes in the cat’s breathing, it may be late in the progression of the cat’s lung disease. There are several causes of breathing changes, but the most common are feline asthma, heart disease, or lung disease.

Foreign Object Ingestion
Many cats love to play with strings or string-like objects (such as dental floss, holiday tinsel, or ribbon), but those strings can be dangerous for your cat. When a string is ingested by a cat, one end may become lodged or “fixed” in place, often under the cat’s tongue, while the rest of the string passes further into the intestine. With each intestinal contraction, the string see-saws back and forth actually cutting into the intestine and damaging the blood supply.

Signs that your cat has eaten a foreign object may include vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and weakness. Occasionally owners will actually see part of a string coming from the mouth or anal area. You should never pull on any part of the string that is visible; instead, call your veterinary health care team immediately.

Surgery is usually necessary to remove the foreign object and any damaged sections of intestine.

Bite Wounds
Cats are notorious for both inflicting and suffering bite wounds during encounters with other cats. Because the tips of their canine, or “fang,” teeth are so small and pointed, bites are often not noticed until infection sets in, which is usually several days after the initial injury.

Cats may develop a fever and become lethargic 48 to 72 hours after experiencing a penetrating bite wound. They may be tender or painful at the site. If the wound becomes infected or abscessed, swelling and foul-smelling drainage may develop.

You should seek emergency care for bite wounds so your veterinarian can thoroughly clean the area and prescribe appropriate antibiotics. Occasionally, the wounds can develop large pockets called abscesses under the skin that require surgical placement of a drain to aid in healing.

Hit By Car
Cats that spend time outdoors are at a much greater risk for ending up in the emergency room. Being hit by a car is one of the most common causes of traumatic injuries, such as broken bones, lung injuries, and head trauma. You should always seek emergency care if your cat has been hit by a vehicle, even if he or she appears normal, because many injuries can develop or worsen over the following few hours.

Increased Thirst and Urination
Sudden changes in your cat’s thirst and urine volume are important clues to underlying disease. The two most common causes of these changes are kidney disease and diabetes mellitus.

Your veterinarian will need to check blood and urine samples to determine the cause of your cat’s change in thirst and urine. Having your pet seen on an emergency basis for these signs is important because prompt treatment increases chances for recovery. Exposure to certain toxins, such as antifreeze or lilies, will show similar signs, and delaying veterinary care can be fatal.

Sudden Inability to Use the Hind Legs
Cats with some forms of heart disease are at risk for developing blood clots. These clots can sometimes lodge in a large blood vessel—the aorta—where they can prevent normal blood flow to the hind legs. If your cat experiences such a blood clotting episode (often called a saddle thrombus or thromboembolic episode), you will likely see a sudden loss of the use of his or her hind legs, painful crying, and breathing changes.

On arrival at the emergency room, your cat will receive pain management and oxygen support. Tests will be done to evaluate the cat’s heart and determine if there is any heart failure (fluid accumulation in the lungs). Sadly, such an episode is often the first clue for an owner that his or her cat has severe heart disease. In most cases, with time and support, the blood clot can resolve, but the cat’s heart disease will require lifelong treatment.

Upper Respiratory Infections
Cats and kittens can experience a variety of upper respiratory diseases caused by a combination of bacteria or viruses. An upper respiratory infections, or URI, can cause sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes, lack of appetite, and fever. In severe cases, it can cause ulcers in the mouth, on the tongue, and on the eyes. More often than not, severe cases are seen in cats that have recently been in multiple-cat environments, such as shelters. Small kittens, or kittens struggling to thrive, are also easily infected and may develop more severe complications, such as low blood sugar.

Sudden Blindness
A sudden loss of vision is most likely to occur in an older cat. The most common cause is increased blood pressure (hypertension), which may be due to changes in thyroid function (hyperthyroidism) or kidney disease. There are some cats that appear to have hypertension with no other underlying disease.

Sudden blindness should be treated as an emergency and your veterinarian will measure your cat’s blood pressure, check blood tests, and start medications to lower the pressure and restore vision.

If you notice a change in your cat’s eyes, whether he or she loses vision or not, you should consider this an emergency have your pet seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary-related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.

Patient of the Month- Max!!!!

The first days of our pets lives are full of joy. Then comes the potty training and the behavior training and then the long life (we all hope) of mutual love and general spoilage. This month’s Patient of the Month started out life with a little more struggle as he fought off the Parvo virus at just 8 weeks old. This is where the VCAHAH came in. 

Under the medical supervision of Dr. Sessa, Max was watched 24/7 in our isolation ward. After a week of care he, was on the mend and heading home. However, this little mastiff puppy stole our hearts and for the next 8 years has trusted us with his care.

Then about a month ago Max was brought into the hospital in acute distress. Before anyone could even take the time to snuggle with our old friend, Dr. Herrington and our staff worked quickly to evaluate and relieve his distress.

Max’s blood pressure was low, his heart sounds were muffled, his pulses were weak and he was showing signs of shock. An ECG as immediately performed and a quick X-ray revealed fluid around Max’s heart that was filling up the space needed to allow his heart to beat. Dr. Fishkin, our Board Certified Criticalist & Boarded Internist worked quickly to perform a pericardiocentesis. This procedure took only moments but immediately changed Max’s state by removing the fluid that filled the sack around his heart via a catheter. Immediately Max's heart was allowed the space to beat, unobstructed.

Now stable, the reason for the fluid could be evaluated. Max was hospitalized. He was monitored intensity throughout the night for fluid build up around his heart and underwent
pericardiocentesis as needed. An appointment was made for a ‘5-point’ inspection by our Board Certified Cardiology, Dr. Carpenter.

The following day Dr. Carpenter met with Max and his mother. Through a cardiac ultrasound , an in-depth look at Max’s heart, valves, chambers, pressures and walls was performed to see exactly what the heart was up against. The prognosis was clear, Max had pericardial effusion caused by a mass on his heart. Pericardial effusion is when an abnormal amount of fluid accumulates in the pericardial sac- the pericardium. This normally paper-thin, translucent membrane attaches at the  based of the heart and provides a sac-like protective compartment filled with a relatively small amount of fluid which acts as a lubricant for the heart. If the sac fills with too much liquid the internal pressure impedes the hearts ability to expand thus obstructing the flow of blood throughout the body.

Our Board Certified Surgeon, Dr. Danielson was called in to preform a pericardiectomy. A pericardiectomy is the surgical removal of part or most of the pericardium to relieve the pressure built up by the increase fluid. The ultimate goal was to remove the cause of the fluid- the mass- but evaluation of that would have to wait until it could be was fully visualized in surgery.

During surgery, Max was monitored critically by our team of technicians under the supervision of both our Surgeon and Criticalist to ensure any variable in his vital signs would be addressed immediately. Anesthesia went smoothly and while removing the mass was not an option, based on it’s location, the pericardiectomy successfully performed.  

Max is now home. The fluid from the mass will continue to be produced but the sack around his heart will no longer be strained. His heart will be able to beat feeling as his body will work to absorb the excess fluid.

We at the HAH hold Max and his family in a very special place in our hearts. Now home, he gets to enjoy life again and all of the cuddles that come with it. To us and to his family, we certainly see this as a success story. One that shows times and again that Max is a fighter and given that chance he will not be kept down.

A very special thank you to Max’s family for letting us share this story and for trusting us with his care!

Team Member of the Month- Marketta!!

              "It takes a village..."

This African proverb is a great truth in everyday life, school, family and business. At VCA HAH it is no less true. Most often the many moving parts do not see or even interact with one another other but depend 100% on each other's success.

 This month, we recognize a team member that has been a part of our team for eight years. She is described as 100% dependable. She is amendable to change and certainly holds the confidence of her superiors. Markeeta, a seasoned Pharmacy Technician, is an expert at her job and is overall 'awesome'! For that reason, she is recognized this month as our Team Member of the Month!!

Thank you for making the wheels continue to turn at the VCA HAH!