Everyone at Hope was so nice and compassionate. Strangers I met in the lobby consoled me. You knew everyone who stepped through Hope's doors loved animals.
Ilona and Bill
Veterinary Technician Specialists
Credentialed veterinary technicians who want to expand their knowledge may choose to become a specialist. A vet tech specialist designation (VTS) requires a huge amount of work on the part of the technician and can include such things as logging thousands of clinical hours, organizing and submitting detailed case logs, and passing rigorous exams.
Hope Veterinary Specialists is proud to boast we have four vet tech specialists at our referral hospital with a few others in the works. Word is out that we have developed a great mentor program for other nurses in the area to gain their critical care experience with us and apply for this certification. We weren’t surprised by this piece of information: we’ve known all along we are home to the most dedicated and experienced nurses around!
Technicians who choose to specialize have many options to choose from (thanks to http://www.navta.net/index.php?section=specialties&page=specialties for the list):
- The Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists
- The Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians
- The Academy of Equine Veterinary Nursing Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Clinical Practice
- The Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technicians
Recently, another of our Emergency Services nurses, Samantha Frabizzio, earned the designation of specialist from the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians after successfully submitting all required documentation and passing the exam. She joins the following staff members, who had previously earned this impressive title:
Brandy Terry, CVT (VTS, ECC)
Caryn McCleary, CVT (VTS, ECC)
Rachel Keyser, CVT (VTS, ECC)
Hope Veterinary Specialists strives to provide you and your pet with the best possible service, and if you’ve ever had the opportunity to interact with any our nurses, you know they are all compassionate, caring, and knowledgeable individuals. The VTS designation is that something extra that helps our nurses, and our hospital, stand out from the crowd!
Let’s say one day you walk in on your four-legged friend in the middle of devouring a loaf of raisin bread or you come home after an evening out to an empty and chewed up medicine bottle on the floor and your pet lying nearby. Maybe your cats, too, nibbled on some lilies. What do you do?
First, quickly gather up the evidence, including any packaging and vomit. Then, seek immediate assistance, even if your pet appears “normal.” Even in instances of poisoning, animals may act like themselves for many hours or days after ingestion.
If your pet is, in fact, acting normally, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) first: 1.888.426.4435, and be ready with the following information:
- Species, breed, age, sex, and weigh for all animals involved
- Symptoms, if any
- Information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount involved, and the time elapsed since the time of exposure
- Product container/packaging, for reference
- Be ready to follow the guidance you are given, which may include paying us a visit. Further, please note there is a $65.00 consultation fee for the APCC service, but the information you are given may very well be the difference between life and death for your pet.
It is very important to note that if your animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious, or is having difficulty breathing, telephone us immediately and bring your pet right in!
After you arrive at Hope VS with your pet whom you think ingested something potentially dangerous, after we triage him or her, we will likely ask you to call the APCC if you haven’t already. While it is true that Hope VS is an emergency and specialty hospital ready for any pet emergency, the APCC has specially trained veterinary toxicologists on duty 24 hours a day. Additionally, the APCC has a veterinary database that stores more than one million animal cases involving pesticide, drug, plant, metal, and other exposures, all of which can be readily accessed to help them—and us—help you and your pet. Please note that even if you call from our facility, the APCC consultation fee wil still apply.
Once you speak with the APCC, you will be provided a case number. Please provide this to a member of the Hope VS team, as this allows our doctors to then call APCC with further information gained from your pet’s physical exam as well as continually and thoroughly follow up on your case.
So, while it may be difficult to understand why Hope VS needs information from outside our hospital, our being in contact with toxicology specialists who are also familiar with the specifics of your particular case only serve to provide you and your pet the best possible care.
There are many conditions that may necessitate dogs receive (whole) blood transfusions, including those who are hemorrhaging or have a clotting disorder. So that HVS is sure to have donors on hand when blood is needed (the shelf life of whole blood is just 4 hours!), we have our own in-house blood donor program.
To be a canine donor, dogs must
- Have a good temperament
- Weigh at least 50 pounds
- Be between 1 and 8 years old
- Be in excellent general health
- Be available to donate 4 times a year
- Be up to date on routine vaccinations
- Be on heartworm and flea and tick preventatives
A dog will not be allowed to donate blood if he or she has been recently sick (coughing, sneezing, vomiting, having diarrhea) or has serious health condition; was or will be vaccinated within 4 weeks of the donation; has received a transfusion him- or herself; has had recent surgery (within 1 month); has donated a unit of blood in the previous 6 weeks; is in season, pregnant, or going to be bred; is on medication (other than preventatives); or is fed a raw diet.
All potential donors have their blood type determined, are given a complete physical exam, and are screened for metabolic and infectious diseases through the following blood tests: CBC/Chemistry, Babesia, Erlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme, and heartworm.
If accepted into the program, the donor dog goes on a list, and when another dog comes in who needs that donor dog’s type of blood, the call goes out and the dog comes in, giving blood for the sick dog’s tranfusion—and getting lots of love and gratitude in return.
Heartworm disease in dogs, caused by Dirofilaria immitis, used to be primarily thought of as a disease of the southeastern and Gulf coast areas of the United States, but in recent years, it has spread to nearly all parts of the country.
Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, who ingest microfilariae (immature parasites/larvae) from the blood of an infected dog. The larvae then mature in the mosquito and become “infective,” which, after entering another dog through the bite of this same mosquito, can cause “heartworm disease.” First, the larva migrate to tissue, muscle, or fat, and approximately 110 days later and after two molts in the dog’s body, young adult heartworms have made their way to the infected dog’s heart.
Heartworm can be detected in few different ways. Your veterinarian can look for microfilariae in a dog’s blood; these microfilariae do not circulate in a dog’s blood, however, until 6-7 months after initial infection. Or, he or she can run a test that will detect heartworm antigens in a dog’s serum. Because up to 65% of dogs with heartworm disease may not have circulating microfilariae, serum testing is often the preferred method. Radiographs (“X-rays”) or ultrasounds may show signs of the disease as well. As for symptoms, dogs who have been recently infected may show none, while dogs who are heavily infected may have a mild, persistent cough; exercise-related fatigue; lethargy; reduced appetite; and weight loss.
Treatment is threefold: 1.) Kill the adult heartworms (adulticide) in the heart and blood vessels; 2.) Kill any circulating microfilaria (microfilaricide); and 3.) Provide preventative medication. Adulticide therapy is achieved with melarasomine dihydrochloride (Immiticide®), an arsenical compound, which, depending on the severity and progression of the disease, is given up to a handful of times intramuscularly in the epaxial muscles of the lumbar region (that is, in the dog’s back muscles), from between 24 hours to sometimes months apart. Adult heartworms will die slowly in the 2-3 weeks following each injection. Microfilaricide begins a few weeks after adulticide therapy. Ivermectin (for example, Heartgard®) is often the chosen treatment for this step.
Thromboembolism is a major concern when treating for heartworm disease; fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, and coughing up blood may be seen in dogs in whom the worms die and pass to their lungs, causing pulmonary embolism. Aspirin therapy may be recommended for dogs with severe disease to help ward off this life-threatening complication. Also to help prevent this complication in all treated dogs, strict cage rest is advised for at least 4 weeks after each injection.
Remember, preventative once a month, every month, is key to protecting your dog—and sparing yourself and your pet the often painful, always frustrating, and occasionally life-threatening treatment that follows a heartworm positive diagnosis.
For more information, visit the American Heartworm Society at http://www.heartwormsociety.org/.
Welcome to the Hope Veterinary Specialists’ blog. We’re glad you found us; after all, we’re here for you and your beloved pets 24 hours a day!
To begin, we have a new name. While our name used to be Animal Care and Specialty Group (ACCSG), a lot of people (mistakenly) knew us as the Veterinary Referral Center, or “VRC,” and that’s part of the reason we’ve started this blog: we thought it was high time you get to know the real us! And, to that end, we’ve changed our name to Hope Veterinary Specialists to better reflect our mission.
Here’s a bit more explanation: It’s true that Hope Veterinary Specialists (HVS) is currently located within VRC, but HVS is actually its own individual entity. Here is how it works: “VRC” is the overarching name of a building that houses several businesses, including those providing soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries to small animals, for instance. And, as we’ve mentioned, one of those individual businesses is HVS, formerly ACCSG, the region’s leader in advanced veterinary medical care for dogs and cats. That’s us!
We provide 24-hour emergency and critical care 7 days a week, along with a variety of board certified specialists to help your pet with his or her healthcare needs. From cardiology to dermatology, internal medicine to radiology, we have the skilled doctors and experienced nurses you need to put your mind at ease—and your pets in the best possible hands.
Check back here often for updates on HVS and our people, along with some other interesting post topics, too, including those featuring patient stories and updates, charitable information, disease explanations, pet health tips, and more.
While we hope you never need us, if you do, we’re here: 340 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern. And, you can reach us at any hour of any day at 610.296.2099.