Dogs and Children Bond at Best Friends Bash


On September 11, 2012, I gave a lecture to a roomful of medical doctors, including plastic surgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, otorhinolaryngologists, psychologists, nurses and other caretakers of children born with craniofacial defects as part of a lecture series at the Edwin and Fannie Gray Hall Center for Human Appearance. The topic of my lecture was “Functional and Esthetic Considerations of Maxillofacial Reconstruction in Companion Animals.” To conclude the lecture, I suggested that it would be great to bring our craniofacial veterinary patients together with children who are dealing with similar craniofacial conditions. This gathering came together (due to a lot of hard work by Diana Sweeney from CHOP) on July 17, 2013, and was named the “Best Friends Bash.” The interactions between the young CHOP patients and our veterinary patients were nothing less than magical.

“Emma”, a 10-year-old Golden Retriever, had a maxillectomy four years ago to cure an oral tumor. Emma and her pet parents have attended all three “bashes.”

“Emma”, a 10-year-old Golden Retriever, had a maxillectomy four years ago to cure an oral tumor. Emma and her pet parents have attended all three “bashes.”

Pets and people are often affected by the same illnesses. Treatment for those illnesses is often remarkably similar. Craniofacial deformities can be some of the most challenging diseases for a patient to cope with, due to stigmas associated with facial differences. Many of these deformities are congenital in nature, and in humans, multiple surgeries are often necessary to improve function and cosmetics. It is not uncommon for some patients to require over 30 surgeries throughout life if born with severe congenital craniofacial deformities. Therefore, human patients may need to spend much of their time in the hospital for procedures and recheck examinations. These visits can be made much more palatable if there is a four-legged friend awaiting one’s arrival. The bond created is even more special when the dog shares a common ailment with the child.

Dogs have always inspired me with their ability to not shy away from adversity, to not dwell on negative aspects of their lives and to not worry about those things they cannot control (at least as far as we can tell!). In speaking with some of the doctors and patient caretakers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, it seems children with craniofacial defects are equally inspiring.

Dr. Lewis with Jaci at the third annual Best Friends Bash on July 22, 2015

Dr. Lewis with Jaci at the third annual Best Friends Bash on July 22, 2015

A few years ago, I met a 29-year-old woman named Jaci at the gathering. Jaci was born with Apert syndrome, an inherited autosomal dominant condition. It is caused by mutations in the gene that codes for fibroblast growth factor receptor 2. This gene defect causes craniosynostosis, where some of the bony sutures of the skull close too early. Symptoms include early closure of sutures between bones of the skull, as seen by ridging along sutures; frequent ear infections and hearing loss; fusion or webbing of the second, third, and fourth fingers and toes; prominent or bulging eyes; severe under-development of the mid-face; and limb length abnormalities. Though Jaci is now 32, she often attends gatherings like the “Best Friends Bash” because doctors and caretakers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have become family to her throughout the years. After multiple surgeries, Jaci has become comfortable with her function and appearance. She feels canine therapy dogs, especially dogs who had craniofacial procedures themselves, “will be great for kids born with Apert syndrome, cleft lip and cleft palate since the kids can see how well the dogs do with their differences.” The Best Friends Bash allows us to catch up with both canine and human friends made during past events.

Last week marked the third annual Best Friends Bash. The magic continues to be palpable and the dogs continue to brighten the room! And with the help of corporate sponsorship, it looks like the Best Friends Bash will go national in the near future. Another example of the healing power of pets!

John Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDC
John Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDC
Dr. John Lewis is the veterinary dentist at NorthStar VETS. He was Assistant Professor of Dentistry and Oral Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1997 and spent 5 years in general practice prior to returning for a residency in dentistry and oral surgery. Dr. Lewis became a fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry (AVD) in 2004 and a diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) in 2005. At the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Lewis has served as Associate Director of the Mari Lowe Center for Comparative Oncology, and more recently, as Chief of Surgery. Dr. Lewis’ research interests include oral surgical oncology, maxillofacial fracture repair, maxillofacial reconstruction, new therapies for treatment of feline oral squamous cell carcinoma, and lasers in oral surgery and dentistry. Dr. Lewis is a past President of the American Veterinary Dental Society, and has served as Examination Chair of the AVDC and Credentials Chair of the AVD. Prior to joining NorthStar VETS full-time, Dr. Lewis was the residency director of the world’s first academic residency in Veterinary Dentistry and Oral Surgery at Penn Vet.

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4 Oncology cases that make this veterinarian love her job


I often get asked why I practice Oncology, and there are two reasons. One is that I can often extend good quality of life for longer than most clients realize. And the second reason is that I get to know my clients well and develop a relationship with them. The exciting part of Oncology is that it is ever-changing with new therapies. Here are four of my favorite patients who did better than their initial diagnosis would have predicted.

Ellie the dogI first saw Ellie as a 10-year-old Beagle with thyroid carcinoma. Her disease, unfortunately, had already progressed to her lungs. We started her on a new drug developed for dogs with mast cell tumors, called Palladia (toceranib). Within three weeks, the tumor in her neck had gotten smaller and within six weeks it was gone. Her last recheck was in June 2015, one-and-a-half years after her diagnosis, and she was still doing well. What is special about her case is the drug she responded to has not been published to work for this tumor, but has a biologic reason to work.

Lexi the dogLexi came to me as a 12-year-old Yorkie. She was diagnosed with mast cell tumors. Her cancer was so severe, that two weeks after surgery, her disease was already returning. We started her on Kinavet (masitinib) and as of her last recheck a few weeks ago, she was still doing well and in complete remission. She is now 15 months out from the start of her treatment when her prognosis was less than 3 months.

Mollie the dogMollie initially came to me as a 12-year-old Labrador. She was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. We started her on an intravenous chemotherapy (vinorelbine) that has good penetration to the lungs. Mollie lived 18 months after her diagnosis. Without treatment, Mollie would have been expected to survive 1-2 months. Nearly 40% of her lungs had cancer in it and it is remarkable how long she lived.

Ashley the catOne of my most gratifying cases is Ashley. She is a 14-year-old cat. She came in with a large tumor on her head that cytology returned as lymphoma. After her first dose of chemotherapy, she was in complete remission and continues to do well more than six months from the time we met her. Why I find Ashley’s case so gratifying is that this is an unusual presentation for a common disease with a great response.

All these patients, during treatment, have had a good quality of life. If a pet is diagnosed with cancer, even bad cancer, it does not always carry a poor prognosis. These cases are just some good examples of why I love my job.

Jennifer Kim, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)Jennifer Kim, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
Dr. Kim grew up in New York and received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. After spending two years at the National Cancer Institute performing cancer genetic research, she attended veterinary school at Tufts University, graduating in 2003. Dr. Kim completed a rotating internship at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, New York and then an oncology internship at Cornell University. She initially began at NorthStar VETS as an emergency clinician in 2005 and returned in January 2010 to treat oncology patients after completing a residency in medical oncology at Michigan State University.


The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your family veterinarian’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice via this blog. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. We do not recommend the self-management of your pet’s health problems.

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Breathing Issues in Cats


We often get questions from our clients about how to tell if your cat is breathing alright or not. On this blog, I have attached two videos of my cats having trouble breathing (dyspnea) for two different reasons.

Cats can have issues breathing due to many problems. Most commonly, we see young cats with asthma, any age cat with anemia, and older cats with fluid around their lungs. As you watch these videos you can see that they are quite similar. Look at the abdomen. You will notice when they breathe in and out, it is with the abdomen. This is not normal. And you can see that both cats are at rest. If you look at their gums, you might notice that they do not look the same pink color they should, but look either pale or slightly blue/purple.

Rocco, sitting on the blanket, was having trouble breathing because he was very anemic (low red blood cell count) (click link to see video). His gums were pale. He was weak and lethargic. Sadly, I said goodbye to Rocco the day after I took this video.

Norman Rat Baits, the tabby on the floor, was dyspneic due to asthma (click link to see video). He was only slightly lethargic, still eating, and acting relatively normal. Norman would also occasionally cough, and when his breathing got worse, would open his mouth and breathe like a panting dog. Norman is doing great with his asthma treatments and is back to being his usual crazy self.

When cats are coughing secondary to asthma it looks like they are trying to get a hairball. Here’s a good video of a cat coughing because he has asthma (click link to see video).

Jennifer Kim, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)Jennifer Kim, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
Dr. Kim grew up in New York and received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. After spending two years at the National Cancer Institute performing cancer genetic research, she attended veterinary school at Tufts University, graduating in 2003. Dr. Kim completed a rotating internship at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, New York and then an oncology internship at Cornell University. She initially began at NorthStar VETS as an emergency clinician in 2005 and returned in January 2010 to treat oncology patients after completing a residency in medical oncology at Michigan State University.


The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your family veterinarian’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice via this blog. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. We do not recommend the self-management of your pet’s health problems.

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Like a Needle in a Haystack


Bella is a 2-year-old, mixed-breed dog who presented to the emergency service at NorthStar VETS on a referral for swelling in her neck.

She initially presented to her family veterinarian two weeks prior when the swelling was first noticed by her owner. She was treated with antibiotics and the swelling improved, however once the antibiotics were stopped, the swelling returned. Bella seemed to be uncomfortable and have excessive drooling, which promoted her owner to bring her back in for evaluation. Her family veterinarian took X-rays of her neck where the swelling was most prominent. The X-rays revealed evidence of a needle foreign body located deep within the structures of the cervical neck.

Her owner is unsure of where she could have obtained the needle from and was very surprised to hear that this was the cause of Bella’s clinical problem.

Bella-LeBreque-surgeryOn initial presentation to NorthStar VETS, Bella was seen by our emergency service. Point-of-care bloodwork was taken to make sure Bella was safe for general anesthesia. She was placed under general anesthesia and her neck was clipped to look for evidence of a point of penetration. No wounds or scabs were found. An oral exam was performed and a small hole was noted in the soft palate inside her mouth. The admitting ER doctor, the Dentist and the Surgeons explored this hole, however the needle could not be reached. Given the difficult location of the needle, Bella was taken for a CT scan to obtain a 3-dimensional image. The image helped determine the exact location of the needle by serving as a road map to figure out the best surgical approach possible to retrieve the needle without causing damage to the vital structures of the cervical neck.

The CT scan was evaluated by our Radiologist and revealed a needle located at the level of the 2nd cervical vertebra. This proved to be a difficult location to reach without an extensive surgical approach. Therefore Bella was recovered from anesthesia and a surgical team began prepping for surgery the following day. See the 3-D CT scan image of Bella’s neck.

Bella-LeBreque-needleBella was given pain medications and antibiotics overnight. She rested comfortably and was ready for her big surgery the following morning. The surgical team consisted of a Surgeon, Neurologist and a Radiologist. Our team worked together to obtain access to this difficult location from the front of her neck under her chin. The needle was buried deep in the muscles and could not readily be identified and therefore our Radiologist used a sterile ultrasound probe to identify the needle. Working together as a team, we were able to make an ultrasound-guided incision into the muscle right over the needle, identify it, and extract it with precision to avoid damage to other structures in the neck.

Bella-LeBreque-recovery2Bella recovered well from surgery in our ICU where she was monitored. She did great overnight and was eating, comfortable, and happy the following day. She was discharged into the care of her owner the evening after surgery with antibiotics, pain medications and instructions for warm packing her neck to help the swelling resolve in a timely manner.

Bella-LeBreque-post-opBella had a recheck two weeks after her surgery to have a physical exam and her sutures removed. We are pleased to report that she is doing great! The swelling in her neck has completely resolved and she is back to her spunky, energetic self. Bella will stay on her antibiotics for another 4 weeks and hopefully will never look back on her run-in with the sewing needle.

Penetrating foreign bodies can be challenging cases to diagnose and treat. Most penetrating foreign bodies are very small and difficult to retrieve surgically. As Surgeons, we use the analogy that finding a foreign body at surgery can be similar to finding a needle in a haystack, sometimes impossible. In Bella’s case we were lucky that the offending foreign body could be located with imaging due to its metallic composition. Once we identified and located Bella’s problem, the doctors at NorthStar VETS worked quickly to define a plan of action to retrieve the needle that was located in a very difficult location to access. We assembled a team of doctors each of whom played a part in giving Bella the best chance possible for a positive outcome with minimal surgical trauma. This along with Bella’s strong spirit helped to result in her full recovery.

Heather Knapp-Hoch, DVM, DACVS

Heather Knapp-Hoch, DVM, MS, DACVS

Originally from New Jersey, Dr. Knapp-Hoch is excited to return home and join the NorthStar VETS surgical team. Dr. Knapp-Hoch earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Long Island University in 2001. She then traveled across the US to obtain a Masters degree in genetics and cell and molecular biology from Washington State University where she also obtained her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2007. Dr. Knapp-Hoch then completed a small animal rotating internship at Cornell University in 2008. Following her internship she completed a three-year surgical residency at Cornell University in 2011. She obtained board certification in 2012 and practiced as a small animal clinical instructor at Cornell University from 2011-2014.

Dr. Knapp-Hoch’s special areas of interest include surgical oncology and minimally invasive surgery including laser ablation of ectopic ureters. She is proficient in advanced wound management and has a special interest in the use of negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) to treat difficult surgical and traumatic wounds. She is trained in both the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and the tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) surgical procedures for cranial cruciate ligament disease.


The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your family veterinarian’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice via this blog. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. We do not recommend the self-management of your pet’s health problems.

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No Cone of Shame Campaign


NSV-Email-Graphic-Link-no-cone-of-shameE-collars, a medical safety device, are a part of life for dogs and cats undergoing certain procedures here at our hospital. But this month, we’re giving you a chance to turn the “cone of shame” into something beautiful or clever to enhance your pet’s look. If your pet is currently in one of these, has one at home from a previous visit, or if you’re interested in picking one up to participate in this fun competition, then you’re eligible. All you need to do is decorate the e-collar in a most impressive way and submit your images via email to our Marketing Director, Phil Barnes. In your email, be sure to let us know who you are and how to best contact you. We will share your images online via social media as well.

Get your photo of your pet wearing their decked-out e-collar to us by midnight on Sunday, June 28. From there, we’ll review all the entries and post the best images online where you can vote for your favorite, and you’ll have until midnight on Sunday, July 12 to place your votes (Pet first aid kits are courtesy of MAI).

NSV-Email-Graphic-Link-no-cone-of-shame2We’ll select one dog winner and one cat winner based on the voting results. The winning pet owners will receive a corresponding first aid kit to keep handy at home or while out-and-about with their pet. That’s one winning dog and one winning cat. Good luck and have fun!

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NorthStar VETS Satellite Coming to Maple Shade


NorthStar VETS satellite in Maple Shade
We are excited to announce the opening of our first satellite location in Maple Shade, New Jersey! Later this year, pet owners in the Camden and Burlington County areas will have access to a 24/7 veterinary emergency facility and in addition, all of our specialists will rotate through for appointments, rechecks and outpatient procedures.

construction of NorthStar VETS satellite

Construction is well underway at the NorthStar VETS satellite in Maple Shade.

This will be a tremendous convenience for clients who need to bring their pets to NorthStar VETS for multiple visits, for example, patients undergoing chemotherapy. And just as important, having access to nearby veterinary emergency care around the clock, all year long, is a relief to pet owners from Camden to Cherry Hill, Maple Shade, Mount Laurel and the surrounding region. The new facility, currently under construction, is located in the Lowes shopping center, specifically at 2834 Route 73 North, Maple Shade, NJ 08052.

NorthStar VETS is still privately owned and operated, does not have residents or interns, and works in collaboration with your family veterinarian. This allows us to practice the highest level of veterinary medicine for your pet.

We will let you know when the facility is officially open and will invite you to our open house. We are looking forward to serving you!

Daniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS - Chief of StaffDaniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS – Chief of Staff
A New Jersey native, Dr. Stobie completed his undergraduate work at Cook College/Rutgers University and is a 1990 cum laude graduate of the University of Missouri-College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed an internship in small-animal medicine and surgery at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, then went on to complete a three-year surgical residency at the University of Minnesota and earn a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Surgery, Radiology, and Anesthesia in 1994. Dr. Stobie became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1995. In 2007, he completed the mini-MBA certificate program at the Rutgers School of Business.

To read more about Dr. Stobie, see his full bio at northstarvets.com.

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Robbinsville Mayor Recognizes NorthStar VETS Milestones


Dr. Stobie gives speech at anniversary ceremonySpring 2015 represented two very big anniversary dates for NorthStar VETS. April marked the fifteen-year anniversary of the hospital, while May represented the four-year anniversary of the opening the 33,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Robbinsville, NJ. As the team at NorthStar VETS looks forward to more big milestones like the opening of its first satellite location in Maple Shade, New Jersey, taking a moment to look back and recognize this occasion and what it represents to us and the community was important.

Robbinsville Mayor, David Fried, recognizes NorthStar VETS anniversaryAt the anniversary celebration, NorthStar VETS staff, clients, vendors and community representatives came together to mark the occasion. Dr. Stobie remarked during his speech, “We have loved being a part of this town, it’s been an unbelievable blessing. Robbinsville has been great to us and we certainly enjoy being a part of the community and giving back.” Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried said in his speech, “I run into so many people, and they all tell me stories about how you helped this pet, and saved that pet. As mayor, these stories have helped me understand the kind of impact you’ve had on our community, and not just in Robbinsville, but in the surrounding communities. It’s been heartwarming for me to hear that all of the time.” He then went on to say, “You know, we’re recognized for three big things here in Robbinsville: Amazon, NorthStar VETS and softball! I am thankful you chose our community to place your business and your trust and we’re thrilled to have you here.”

Mercer County Sheriff's Officer and K-9 partner attended the eventTwo of our guests were Officer David Smithson of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and his K-9 partner, Maverick. Officer Smithson had this to say to mark the day, “Being that all of our K-9 officers live in Mercer County, having access to NorthStar VETS, all of its resources, and hours of operation is important. We’ve been here at all hours of the day and night with our dogs, which has been valuable.”

In attendance were two very good clients of ours, Angelina Ruggierio and Judy Troy. Angelina remarked, “NorthStar VETS is extremely important to us because our pet is like our child. To have a facility with top-notch doctors and amazing staff so close to our home gives us great comfort each and every day.”

 

Dr. Stobie poses with clients

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National Dog Bite Prevention Week is Now


National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 17-23) is now, and it is a good time to remind ourselves about the common triggers of biting. It’s common for dogs to guard food from other dogs and from people, but dogs might “protect” much more than food. Here are other guard-worthy items and situations to keep in mind:

  1. Boring, familiar kibble may not concern your dog, but human food dropped to the floor is a different story. Dogs might bite over higher-value food – including cookies put down for a moment by toddlers, tostada chips on the coffee table, or a dropped piece of chicken while you’re cooking.
  2. The definition of “food” can be, unfortunately, very ambiguous to a dog. In addition to the cookies, chips and chicken mentioned above, there may be a great deal of value in empty wrappers, dirty laundry, used tissues and tampons (sorry), and dead squirrels encountered on walks.
  3. Dogs determine their own favorite spots for resting or sleeping. That expensive dog bed might not make the cut, but a resting dog might guard the sofa, the cozy corner behind your plant or under the desk, and your own bed after you’ve gotten up. This is especially risky for toddlers and young children approaching (or simply walking past) the dog.

The dog’s owner/pet parent/guardian is also an important “resource” to protect, especially from other family members. Again, this is a common trigger of bites to young children, who might run to their parent or caregiver while the dog is lying nearby.

Dogs do make their own decisions about the value of different items, including people. The best prevention is to know your own dog and to apply common sense to avoid these triggers. Of course, you can teach your dog to ‘leave it’ using positive reinforcement (not punishment, which may increase worry and aggression), but it’s even easier to avoid leaving food at muzzle’s reach, to separate your dog from a toddler clutching a cookie (or your toddler from a dog trying to eat his breakfast), to keep trash cans and hampers covered or empty, and to meet an approaching child halfway. If your dog is eyeing some rank roadkill, offer something delicious to move her on her way. Don’t grab things from your dog. Try instead to teach him that relinquishing an item and jumping off the sofa when asked are positive, familiar activities that (at least sometimes) are positively reinforced.

Ilana Reisner, DVM, PhD, DACVBIlana Reisner, DVM, PhD, DACVB
Dr. Reisner has been a board-certified veterinary behaviorist since the specialty of veterinary behavior was established in 1995. She has expertise in both normal (though often undesirable) and abnormal behaviors of all companion animals. She graduated from Oregon State University and completed her Internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at Michigan State University. After completing her residency in Behavioral Medicine at Cornell University, she stayed on to earn her PhD in Behavioral Physiology. Dr. Reisner joined NorthStar VETS in October 2012.

Previously a member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine where she headed the behavior service at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Reisner provided clinical services to pet owners, served as mentor in a clinical residency program, and taught both clinical and undergraduate veterinary students. She has published and spoken extensively on all aspects of behavior problems in dogs and cats and has an ongoing research interest in dog bites and public health.

The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your family veterinarian’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice via this blog. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. We do not recommend the self-management of your pet’s health problems.

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Breaking News: Canine Influenza Virus


Canine Influenza Virus has been diagnosed in the Chicago area and has spread to Wisconsin and Indiana.

A release made by the New Jersey Department of Health indicates that “A canine influenza vaccine is available and persons who board their dogs (including daycare), visit dog parks, or whose dogs are exposed to other dogs should discuss vaccination with their veterinarians.”

The release also stated that, “Dog owners should be aware that any situation where dogs come into contact with other dogs increases the risk of spread of communicable diseases, including CIV. Good infection control in kennels and other places where dogs congregate will reduce that risk.”

For additional information on this disease, visit the website for the Center for Disease Control.

Canine Influenza Virus

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Don’t fool around with Pet First Aid – Happy Pet First Aid Awareness Month!


Let me help you prepare in the event of a pet emergency!

As a pet parent, one of the first things that happen when we see one of our little ones (or big ones) in an emergency situation is PANIC! So, before you decide to run around in the back yard screaming and flailing your arms, RELAX. Just like with people, animals can also sense when we are panicked and worried. So stay calm and all will go MUCH smoother!

Pet First Aid Awareness MonthIt’s important to start out by knowing where your nearest veterinary emergency hospital is located. Even when we are traveling, we should be aware of where we should go in case of a crisis. Remember that our pets, even though we see them as our kids, are not little furry people. We should NEVER give them any human drugs without consulting a veterinarian. Most of us do not understand the harm even one small dose of an human medication can cause them.

While many households have first aid kits, many do not have one for their pets. Every pet owner should have a first aid kit at home available just in case one should ever need it. I’ve created a simple checklist for you of the items to include in yours:

  • Phone numbers
    • Your family veterinarian
    • Your local veterinary emergency clinic, like NorthStar VETS at 609.259.8300
    • Animal Poison Control at 888.426.4435
  • Digital thermometer
  • Gauze of different sizes
  • Non-adhesive bandaging material
  • Adhesive tape
  • Sterile saline
  • Hydrogen peroxide (never give prior to consulting a veterinary medical professional)
  • Leash
  • Towel and/or blanket
  • Any other item you feel you may need

Note: Always remember that when our pets are hurt and injured, they are painful! Painful pets can bite, even if they have never bitten in their lives. So be cautious when handling them. A muzzle, even one made out of roll gauze may not be a bad idea to use when handling them. Use caution when using the muzzle, making sure your pet can breathe well.

Please REMEMBER, Dr. GOOGLE is NOT always correct; do not believe everything you find on the internet. There are many reliable resources out there to help you. Good options include your family veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association website, the American Animal Hospital Association website and the American Red Cross Pet First Aid app. If you are interested in educating yourself further on Pet First Aid you should consider attending an American Red Cross Pet First Aid & CPR course.

Several times a year, NorthStar VETS partners with a non-profit charity called VET I CARE to host a Pet First Aid lecture. Keep an eye out for the next one coming up!

Know that other than human medications there are many other common household items that can be toxic to pets. Some examples include:

  • Chocolate
  • Some plants/flowers
  • Household cleaners
  • Cigarettes
  • Some nuts
  • Some chewing gums
  • And many many more!

For a full list of different toxins you can visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control website.
Every season brings a new concern for our pets. Be educated and prepared and you may one day end up saving your furry family member’s life!

Alexander Munoz, CVTAlexander Munoz, CVT
Alexander Munoz, CVT is the Director of Learning & Development for NorthStar VETS in Robbinsville, NJ. Alex has worked in the field of veterinary medicine for more than 10 years. He has worked in general practice, specialty medicine including emergency and critical care as well as in academia. He has a special interest in critical care medicine and teaching.

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