Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Barbara Maton, DVM, DACVECC


Barbara Maton, DVM, DACVECC is a doctor in the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about how her love of animals goes back to childhood, and how Critical Care includes many of the other specialties at NorthStar VETS.

How Dr. Maton got into Veterinary Medicine
We caught up with Dr. Maton, who was examining a patient in Robbinsville. She is a veterinarian specializing in Emergency and Critical Care medicine, and got has wanted to help children since she was a child. “On my way home from school, I would always find injured animals and bring them home to try to nurse them back to health. I enjoyed bonding with them and having them as a companion animal family member. I went to school at the University of Florida and got my veterinary degree there, and then did an internship outside of D.C. at a private practice. I found that I really enjoyed emergency medicine, even before I went to veterinary school. NorthStar VETS also had a lot of things that I found really attractive, like the fact that it’s a large hospital with a lot of different specialties, and their standard of care is what I was looking for. I knew that I’d be supported and be able to do the kind of medicine that I wanted to do here.”

Training to Become a Criticalist
To specialize in emergency medicine, doctors go through intensive training over many years. “It’s a very in-depth level of training involving everything from intensive care to overlapping with Cardiology, Neurology, and Internal Medicine. This specialty overlaps with a lot of other specialties in veterinary medicine, so the training includes diagnosis to treatment to pathophysiology and managing expectations.”

Teamwork and Collaboration is Built into NorthStar VETS
Dr. Maton and the team at NorthStar VETS work together to provide world-class care to their patients. “The great number of specialties we have allows us to work well together. We do cage-side rounds every morning and evening. We collaborate a lot to get different input on patients. From Internal Medicine to Dentistry, we all work together and collaborate well.”

Learn more about the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS.

Barbara Maton, DVM, DACVECCBarbara Maton, DVM, DACVECC
Dr. Maton is originally from Florida, where she earned her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of North Florida, and studied veterinary medicine at the University of Florida, obtaining her DVM in 2006. She completed a rotating internship focused on emergency medicine at SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Center in Virginia, then moved to Pittsburgh where she worked as an emergency veterinarian for two years and completed her residency in the specialty in 2012. After helping to start a critical care service at an established veterinary referral hospital in Delaware, she joined NorthStar VETS in 2014. Her clinical and research interests include trauma, electrolyte derangements, anticoagulant therapies and CPR medicine.

Outside of work, Dr. Maton enjoys spending time with her husband, cooking, gardening, foreign travel, running, cycling and swimming. She shares her home with a possessive bird, two cats, and a lovable mixed-breed dog.

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From the Client Perspective: My Dogs are Blood Donors


From time to time, we share stories from the client perspective, giving insight into some of the thousands of stories that take place at NorthStar VETS every day. This is the story of three greyhounds who have found a new home together and a chance to give back.

“After losing my first retired racer to osteosarcoma in September 2015, I received a call from Linda Lyman, the president of the greyhound adoption group I volunteer with, Greyhound Friends of NJ. Although it was only a month after saying goodbye to my Lou, I felt compelled to say yes to a new dog. He had a one-word name like Cher or Bono – ‘Tytin.’ After hanging up, I fired up my computer and researched Tytin on a website which lists racing greyhound pedigrees and racing records. It was then I discovered I had a new dog to fill the space in my heart left when Lou crossed the Rainbow Bridge. You see Tytin’s dam’s (mother’s) name was Skippy Lou. Needless to say, he fit perfectly in my home as if he had always been there.”

Jack, Raven and Tytin on the back porch

Jack, Raven and Tytin on the back porch

“One of the many benefits of adopting a retired NGA (National Greyhound Association) racing greyhound is that you can research their pedigrees and siblings. And through the internet and social media, you can make contact with their breeders and trainers who knew them before they came to your couch. In my case, I was able to see that Tytin had four other littermates, three of whom were still racing. I followed the other littermates’ racing careers. Over time, as Tytin’s siblings became adoptable, I was able to reunite three out of the four of them!”

Raven is ready to make her donation

Raven is ready to make her donation

“I regularly bring my dogs to NorthStar VETS to donate to their canine and feline blood bank, and my three greyhounds were in recently for their donation. The blood bank utilizes healthy dogs and cats who can help less fortunate animals by donating blood. Many pet parents aren’t aware that, just as in human medicine, blood products can be a life-saving resource for critically ill or injured pets. You can learn more about the program at the Blood Bank portion of their website.”

Reasons why retired racing greyhounds make ideal blood donors:

  • Universal Donors – greyhounds have a blood type that allows their blood to be used for donation in all other breeds.
  • Athletic conditioning – Racers are bred and conditioned to be in prime health. They have a higher packed cell volume/red blood cell count and lower white blood cell count than most average canines. They also have a lower than average platelet count.
  • Anatomical advantages – Very little fur or body fat makes finding an access vein much easier on a greyhound.
  • Disposition – Racing greyhounds are accustomed to being handled by many different people during their racing careers. Breeders and their farm staff and families, trainers, racing kennel assistants, track officials, veterinarians, lead outs. This in addition to their overall calm and gentle nature make them well suited as donors.

Think your dog or cat could be a blood donor? Take the online pre-screening test.

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Leash Reactivity in Dogs


You’d think I wouldn’t do this to myself, but I started a new job and then two days later went and got a new puppy. Actually, I’m thrilled with both. After eight years doing solo house calls for behavior cases, I love being at a multi-doctor specialty hospital like NorthStar VETS. It’s been a really easy transition.

Ivan1My New Life with Ivan
The transition from a living with one older, easy-going, low-maintenance dog to my first puppy in 16 years has been a bit harder. Boy, does Ivan have a lot of energy, way more than I do. I am enjoying him and I love training puppies. They’re sponges who soak up everything you teach them. They love learning through rewards, whether it’s treats or toys or just lots of attention. Ivan has been doing fantastic! Within his first week with me and my kids, he learned sit, down, touch (touches his nose to your hand) and stay. He’s also learned to drop toys and stolen things like pencils, pieces of mail, my son’s homework and my daughter’s Invisalign case. We’ve also learned to leave our things on high tables and shelves and close bedroom doors.

So, why did I enroll Ivan in a beginner manners class? I know how to teach dogs to follow all sorts of commands and he was doing very well being “home schooled.” I think it was the day we were leaving NorthStar VETS together and he saw a dog who looked like a good playmate. Ivan went from 0-60. He went from wagging and excited, to barking and growling when he couldn’t get to the other dog. Clearly, Ivan needs more practice paying attention to me when he’s around other dogs. Ivan is young and friendly with other dogs, but like a teenager, he doesn’t always have the best impulse control.

Leash Reactivity in Dogs
‘Leash reactivity’ is a very common reason dogs come to see me. This term can cover dogs like Ivan who are just very excited and having a hard time controlling themselves, to dogs who are truly dangerous to other dogs or people. When Ivan can’t get to the dog he wants to meet, he begins to growl and shriek. He’s not being aggressive to the other dog. The growling and barking are because he’s frustrated. But if I let him rush at the other dog when he’s all worked up, he would come on way too strong. This could lead to a misunderstanding which might result in the other dog snapping at Ivan and the other owner yelling at me. Not a good way to meet the neighbors!

For some of my patients with “leash reactivity,” it isn’t about frustration, it’s about fear or anxiety. Some of them really like other dogs or new people, but they’re nervous about meeting someone new. Others truly don’t like other dogs or people. In both cases, the dogs are barking, growling or even lunging when on-leash as a response to their anxiety. Those aggressive behaviors are the dogs’ way of keeping someone they’re worried about away so they can feel safe.

Ivan3If Ivan weren’t on-leash, we wouldn’t be having these problems. But that’s no solution. I live on a busy street and I bring Ivan to work with me, so he has to be on leash. It’s very common for dogs to behave better towards other dogs or new people when they are off-leash compared to on-leash. We know that leashes keep dogs safe; they can’t run into the street and be hit by a car or get lost, they won’t get into a fight with the scary cat in the neighbor’s yard and Animal Control won’t give us tickets for having the dogs off-leash. But to the dog’s mind, the leash leaves them with only one option if they get into a scary situation. They can’t run away from the other dog so they resort to being aggressive to keep the other dog or person away. It’s like the old saying; the best defense is a good offense.

Owners of dogs with any type of leash reactivity can take a few simple steps to start to improve the situation. I switched Ivan from his regular, flat buckle collar to a head halter (a Gentle Leader) to give me the most control (and so he can be a demo dog and help me out with patients in the future). Another good option for better physical control is a front-attach harness, where the leash attaches to the front of the harness, such as Easy Walk or Freedom harnesses. What I don’t recommend are collars that cause pain or discomfort, such as prong or pinch collars, choke chains or shock collars. If you have a dog who is already anxious about seeing other dogs or unfamiliar people, the last thing you want to do is add pain or the scary feeling of being grabbed around the neck. This may make him more, not less, anxious about seeing dogs or people while on walks.

Another thing I’ve been doing with Ivan is being more selective about when and where I walk him. We don’t walk past the neighbor who has two aggressive dogs out in their yard on an electronic containment system. Ivan doesn’t need to learn that some dogs don’t love him. We also don’t walk past the school bus stops in the morning. He’s not yet ready to ignore the kids at the bus stop and he gets too frustrated if he can’t greet every one of them. If we see a dog coming who he doesn’t know, we move out of the way so it’s easier for Ivan to sit and wait and pay attention to me. If Ivan were afraid and anxious about seeing other dogs or people, I’d be even more cautious and find times and places to walk him were we wouldn’t even see anyone else.

Ivan2When I grab the leashes and poop bags I also make sure I’ve got some really great treats that Ivan loves. This way, I can reward him for anything he does that I like. If we don’t run into any other dogs or people, Ivan gets rewarded for walking nicely at my side and we practice sitting and waiting before crossing the street. If we see other dogs, Ivan gets rewarded for trying to stay calm as they approach. If he does a really good job, Ivan gets treats and he gets to meet a new friend. I also get rewarded by having a calmer puppy and an easier walk.

This is all helping Ivan because he’s exited, not anxious. For my patients, we often have to take a slower, more systematic approach to help them overcome their anxiety and become comfortable on walks. We may use pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals or pheromones to help jump start the behavior modification process. I often see other anxieties in my patients with leash reactivity so we address those concerns as well.

If you think your dog might have leash reactivity, contact NorthStar VETS to schedule an appointment.

Learn more about the Berhavior service at NorthStar VETS

Laurie Bergman, VMD, DACVB
Dr. Laurie Bergman received her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. She worked in small animal practice on Cape Cod and completed an internship in Wildlife Medicine and Surgery at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She began working in behavior practice in 1998 and entered a residency in behavioral medicine at the University of California Davis in 2000. Since becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in 2003, Dr. Bergman has worked in academic practice in California and private practice in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Bergman’s interests include pet-family interactions, finding practical approaches to behavior problems and treating behavior problems in birds and exotic pets. Dr. Bergman lives in Pennsylvania with her two human children, senior dog, Riley, Australian Terrier puppy, Ivan, Leopard Gecko, Mo, and Bearded Dragon, Frederick. She competed in agility with her previous Australian Terriers and hopes that Ivan can grow up to be an agility dog, too.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Stacey Wylie, DVM, DACVIM


Stacey Wylie, DVM, DACVIM is a member of the Internal Medicine team at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about how she knew this was the career for her, the type of cases she sees, and how teamwork at NorthStar VETS elevates the level of medicine pets receive.

How Dr. Wylie got into Veterinary Medicine
We caught up with Dr. Wylie, who was examining a feline patient in Robbinsville. She decided to get into veterinary medicine based on her love of animals as a child. “I grew up with animals, mainly cats (I’m a cat person), but I also love dogs, and I have a dog now. I always knew I would go this route, but once I was in high school, I took a human anatomy and physiology class which solidified it. I fell in love with physiology, and I knew that that went hand in hand with medicine. For undergrad, I went to a small school in Pennsylvania right outside of Lancaster, Millersville University. I then went from there to Michigan State University for veterinary school. After that, I did an internship at Oradell Animal Hospital in New Jersey, and then after that I went back to Michigan State because I loved it so much and did my residency there. I was looking to come back home to family, so I looked up NorthStar VETS and came here to visit. I fell in love with the place right away and knew that it was the place I wanted to go. Even my husband knew right away that this was where I was going to be.”

The Types of Cases Dr. Wylie Sees
Dr. Wylie specializes in Internal Medicine and sees a wide variety of cases each week. “Internal Medicine deals with internal organs, mainly liver cases, gastrointestinal cases, bloodborne diseases, infectious diseases, kidneys, and urinary. Anything you can think of that’s not skin or outside the body is what we typically deal with.”

How Teamwork Impacts Patient Care at NorthStar VETS
Dr. Wylie joins a team of more than forty veterinarians at NorthStar VETS that cover many medical specialties. “Not only in the specialty of Internal Medicine, but also throughout the hospital, we work really well as a team. I don’t have any problem going to other services and asking them for help and vice versa. It really gives the patients good care.” Dr. Wylie is looking forward to working alongside the world class team of doctors at NorthStar VETS. “I think it comes down to the animals and the cases where we’re able to get them feeling better and actually make a difference for clients. When I feel like I’m making a difference, that is one thing I really love and we do it well.”

Learn more about the Internal Medicine service at NorthStar VETS

Stacey Wylie, DVM, DACVIMStacey Wylie, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Stacey Wylie is a Pennsylvania native who received her undergraduate degree from Millersville University in 2009. She earned her veterinary degree from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. After graduation, she completed a small animal rotating internship at Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. She then returned to Michigan State University and completed a 3-year residency in small animal internal medicine in 2017, receiving Resident of the Year in both 2016 and 2017. Dr. Wylie is excited to be part of the NorthStar VETS team. She loves all things medicine, but her special interests include renal, hepatobiliary, gastrointestinal, and respiratory diseases as well as endoscopy and feline medicine.

She currently resides with her husband, their 3 cats (Aeris, Yuffie, and Leon) and adorable pittie mix (Arya). Outside of work, she enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, playing ice hockey and volleyball, reading, and playing video games. She is also a passionate MSU Spartan and Philadelphia Flyers fan.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Kristin Britton, DVM


Kristin Britton, DVM is a member of the Avian and Exotics team at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about her education, what Avian and Exotics medicine is all about, and her opinion on the human animal bond for exotic pets.

How Dr. Britton got into Veterinary Medicine
We caught up with Dr. Britton, who was examining a parrot in Robbinsville. Dr. Britton recently joined NorthStar VETS, working with avian and exotics patients, and her interest in these patients first began with her internship in Alaska. “I did an internship at the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward, Alaska. Through that internship, I got to work with the rehabilitation department. I met veterinarians and technicians there who were doing incredible things, and that got me started on the path to becoming a veterinarian. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from the University of Hawaii in Hilo. After that, I ended up working as a technician for about five years in California and in Georgia. There were too many people telling me that I needed to be a veterinarian, so I ended up going to veterinary school down at Ross University in Saint Kitts. I was able to do a lot of sea turtle work there, and got to work on some really incredible exotic patients. After that, I did my clinical year at Kansas State University.”

What Avian and Exotics is all about
Dr. Britton sees a wide variety of cases each week. “My specialty is technically in birds. I will hopefully be boarded within the next year in Avian Medicine, but I see all sorts of exotics. An exotic pet is anything that is not a dog or a cat, and usually not farm animals. That’s anything from a pot-bellied pig to a leopard gecko – birds, reptiles, amphibians, spiders, pocket pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, you name it!” The variety of animals and the differences between each animal can make Dr. Britton’s job quite challenging. “There are so many different types of animals that I work with, and so many specific things about those animals that are very important. That’s why I feel that my job is so special. There are certain antibiotics that you can’t give to rabbits or guinea pigs because of the special type of bacteria that they have in their stomach. For some animals, you can’t draw blood from certain areas, and for others, there are things you can’t do in a dog or a cat. That’s what makes our specialty very unique. We have to keep all of this in our head, we’re constantly learning all the time, and research is constantly changing what we know about exotics and how we can better provide care for them whether that be husbandry, surgery or medicine.”

The Types of Cases Dr. Britton Sees
Dr. Britton enjoys the unique atmosphere of her job and she is constantly learning how to better care for her patients. “When anything is challenging or throws me for a little bit of a loop, I love getting down to the bottom of that detective work. I comb the research that’s out there, what we know now regarding the most advanced medicine, and how we can best help that patient. There are many fun cases as well. I love bird patients with feather-plucking issues, or birds that have behavioral issues. I really have a soft spot for reptiles. I really just enjoy working with the wide variety. With the different types of patients, you never know what’s going to be coming in the door. That keeps it interesting and fun. Educating clients is the big part that I really like. I love that one-on-one conversation with a pet parent to help them better understand their exotic pet and make a better quality of life at home, too.”

What Dr. Britton loves about Practicing at NorthStar VETS
The team at NorthStar VETS helps Dr. Britton provide world-class care to any patient that walks through the door. “NorthStar VETS is an amazing facility because of all the specialists here. I can take a ferret with a heart murmur over to Cardiology and say ‘Hey, I’m worried about the heart.’ I can talk with our Radiologist and say, “Hey, I’m seeing some strange things on this patient’s X-ray. What do you think of this?’ I can go down the hall and speak with Oncology and say, ‘We’ve diagnosed cancer. What do we do for dogs and cats with this?’ There aren’t a lot of protocols for exotics patients with cancer. Working with all of these specialists gives me access to what they’re specialized in and pull from that to create the best treatment plan for that patient. It’s invaluable. NorthStar VETS is a great resource for an Exotics veterinarian and I’m just so thankful to be here.”

Dr. Britton’s Opinion of the Human Animal Bond with Exotics
Dr. Britton’s favorite part of her job is interacting with the owners of exotics pets. “The patients are great. They’re super fun, they’re super cute, but for me it’s all about the clients – the people who love these types of pets are the ones to whom I really get connected. Their willingness to do what’s best for their animal, and to make a change when needed, and seeing that relationship between them and their pet grow into a strong bond is amazing. When many people think of exotics, they don’t think of that bond, but sometimes it’s much stronger there than with a dog or a cat.”

Learn more about the Avian and Exotics service at NorthStar VETS

Kristin Britton, DVMKristin Britton, DVM
Dr. Kristin Britton attended veterinary school at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated in 2012. She went on to complete a small animal rotating internship at the Animal Emergency Medical Center in Torrance, CA. She was then accepted into a wildlife specialty internship in medicine and surgery at The Wildlife Center of Virginia. Dr. Britton then traveled to Saskatoon, SK to complete a wildlife, exotic, and zoological internship at the University of Saskatchewan’s teaching hospital. She then accepted an ABVP Avian Residency position at the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics in Bedford Hills, NY. Dr. Britton has worked with a wide variety of exotic pets, wildlife, and zoological animals ranging from as small as a vole to as large as a whale. After finishing her residency, she has landed here at NorthStar VETS where she’s excited to continue to practice high quality medicine with a wide range of exotic patients!

Dr. Britton is originally from California, but currently lives in Morrisville, PA. She shares her home with her boyfriend, and a charming grumpy old Shih-Tzu named Riley. She likes to keep active and loves hiking, scuba diving, kayaking, and exploring all that the East coast has to offer.

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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Mo


The team at NorthStar VETS is doing innovative and amazing things every day as they work to advance the level of care available to your pet. This series of posts highlights cool cases at NorthStar VETS and the types of things done to save pets and improve their quality of life. These are cases using innovative and cutting-edge medical techniques, and/or stories of pets beating the odds. This is the story of Mo, a patient of our Emergency and Critical Care team.

Mo1About Mo
Mo is a 7-year-old neutered male Greyhound who has a history of epilepsy and takes medication for seizure control. One evening he had a seizure, fell, and hit his left hind leg causing a large bruise, swelling, and lameness of that leg. He was treated with pain medications, but returned and had to be hospitalized due to pain and progressive swelling and bruising. Mo developed severe bruising that progressed from his left hind limb, to his right hind limb, to his belly and chest, and to his right front limb.

Mo’s condition
Mo developed a condition known as hyperfibrinolysis, a problem Greyhounds are recognized to get. This is a problem where the clotting system becomes activated by bleeding or trauma, but the balance of clot formation and clot break-down/clot regulation become out of balance, and there is excessive clot break down. This excessive clot break-down leads to severe bleeding and bruising. The body continues to try to form a new clot, so this also uses up clotting factors, as the body forms new clots they also get broken down, leading to a cycle of perpetuated bleeding and bruising.

Mo2Mo’s treatment
Mo received aminocaproic acid injections. This is a medication that inhibits the activation of plasmin, which is the main enzyme involved in clot breakdown. Mo needed increasing doses of aminocaproic acid until he showed signs of responding. He also received plasma transfusions (the liquid component of blood that contains clotting factors) to replace all the clotting factors he had used up in making those blood clots. Some patients bleed so much, they even need red blood cell transfusions due to anemia if there is excessive blood loss.

How things went for Mo
Mo spent 7 days in the ICU receiving his treatments, aminocaproic acid, plasma transfusions, pain medications, sedation for anxiety, and physical therapy. He was discharged when he had no progressive bruising, the bruising was healing, he was comfortable and walking well. He made a full recovery at home and all of the bruising resolved. Mo was a pleasure to work with, and his family was so happy to have him back home!

Greyhounds are frequently blood donors, but in Mo’s case, he was able to benefit from the donors in our program!

Learn more about the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS and learn more about the NorthStar VETS Blood Bank for Dogs and Cats.

Barbara Maton, DVM, DACVECCBarbara Maton, DVM, DACVECC
Dr. Maton is originally from Florida, where she earned her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of North Florida, and studied veterinary medicine at the University of Florida, obtaining her DVM in 2006. She completed a rotating internship focused on emergency medicine at SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Center in Virginia, then moved to Pittsburgh where she worked as an emergency veterinarian for two years and completed her residency in the specialty in 2012. After helping to start a critical care service at an established veterinary referral hospital in Delaware, she joined NorthStar VETS in 2014. Her clinical and research interests include trauma, electrolyte derangements, anticoagulant therapies and CPR medicine.

Outside of work, Dr. Maton enjoys spending time with her husband, cooking, gardening, foreign travel, running, cycling and swimming. She shares her home with a possessive bird, two cats, and a lovable mixed-breed dog.


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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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Tank


The team at NorthStar VETS is doing innovative and amazing things every day as they work to advance the level of care available to your pet. This series of posts highlights cool cases at NorthStar VETS and the types of things done to save pets and improve their quality of life. These are cases using innovative and cutting-edge medical techniques, and/or stories of pets beating the odds. This is the story of Tank, a patient of our Neurology team.

Dr. Tracy and DogAbout Tank
Tank is a 5-month-old English bulldog that came to NorthStar VETS for urinary and fecal incontinence and a short-strided pelvic limb gait. Tank has only been with his new family for about two weeks, but has always had these problems.

Dr. Tracy performing surgery on Tank

Dr. Tracy performing surgery on Tank

Tank’s Condition
The MRI showed the dog had a meningocele. This means that the tissue surrounding of the spinal cord, instead of closing at the end, is open and extends through the vertebrae and attaches to the overlying musculature. This puts tension on the nerve roots and causes the clinical signs we see (tethered cord syndrome). The goal of surgery is to find the nerve roots that are erroneously attached and cut them to release them. There is a 50% chance of permanent incontinence due to the fact that damage to the nerve roots may already be too extensive.

How Things Went for Tank
The procedure went well and Tank looked and felt great in the days following his surgery.

Learn more about the Neurology service at NorthStar VETS

Gaemia Tracy, DVMGaemia Tracy, DVM
Gaemia Tracy was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Tracy attended The University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts (Biology) degree. While there, he played baseball and Sprint Football. He attended The Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine from 2008-2012. Immediately after graduating veterinary school, Dr. Tracy completed a rotating small animal medicine and surgery internship at Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Tracy then completed a Neurology and Neurosurgery residency in Jacksonville, FL at North Florida Neurology with Dr. Andrew Hopkins and Dr. John Meeks as his mentors. Dr. Tracy completed his residency before joining Northstar VETS.

Dr. Tracy’s professional interests include IVDD, spinal surgery, management of seizures and inflammatory diseases of the brain and spinal cord.


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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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Abby


The team at NorthStar VETS is doing innovative and amazing things every day as they work to advance the level of care available to your pet. This series of posts highlights cool cases at NorthStar VETS and the types of things done to save pets and improve their quality of life. These are cases using innovative and cutting-edge medical techniques, and/or stories of pets beating the odds. This is the story of Abby, a patient of our Surgery team.

Fig 1: Abby's pneumothorax

Fig 1: Abby’s pneumothorax

About Abby
Abby is an 8 year old Samoyed who initially presented to NorthStar VETS for 5 days of coughing and an episode of falling where she was suspected to hurt her wrist. She was taken in through the Emergency service, who did not find any significant abnormalities with her forelimb. They did notice, however, that her breathing was somewhat labored. Radiographs of her chest were taken which showed a large volume of free air within the thoracic cavity (“collapsed lung.”) (Fig 1). Pneumothorax is a very serious problem that can result in death if not treated appropriately.

Abby’s Condition
In order to allow Abby’s lungs to expand appropriately, the emergency doctors performed a thoracocentesis, a procedure in which a small needle is inserted through the chest wall to remove the trapped air. She tolerated the procedure well, but then built up more air rapidly. The recommended course of action at that point was a CT scan to look for any areas of the lung that might be damaged, allowing the air Abby was breathing to collect within her chest cavity. There are several possible reasons why a lung lobe might leak air. Diseases in which the lung tissue is unhealthy (and thus “leaky”) such as cancer or severe pneumonias/abscesses are one cause. Trauma can also damage lung tissue and cause air leakage. Another possibility is the formation of a bulla or bleb, which can then rupture and leak air.

Fig 2: lung bullae (image courtesy of ACVS.org)

Fig 2: lung bullae (image courtesy of ACVS.org)

Lung bullae or blebs (Fig 2) are areas of the lung where air collects under the lung tissue covering (viscera) or within small areas of the lung itself. These areas are more delicate than normal lung tissue, and can rupture, leading to a massive volume of air collecting in the thorax. Certain breeds are more predisposed to developing pulmonary bullae or blebs, such as Arctic breeds (Huskies, Samoyeds, etc.) There is usually no known cause of these areas forming.

Abby 1-day after surgery

Abby 1-day after surgery

Abby’s Treatment
Occasionally, lungs that are leaking can seal over on their own if the air is removed, making more aggressive intervention unnecessary. However, if the air is quickly leaking and collecting, surgery may be needed to stop the leak. Abby’s air was collecting very fast, and her initial chest radiographs did not show any definitive cause for the problem. A CT scan was performed under general anesthesia. On Abby’s CT, there was no evidence of cancer or pneumonia. There were no definitive blebs or bullae, but a few areas that appeared slightly abnormal. Abby’s owner and the surgeons discussed options, which included waiting to see if her lungs would seal over on her own as there were no definitive lesions, or exploratory surgery of her chest. Abby’s owner and the surgeon elected to do exploratory surgery of Abby’s chest, which required a median sternotomy (in which a surgical saw is used to section the bones in the middle of the chest, giving us access of the entire chest.) It was found that Abby had three abnormal areas of blebs/bullae, one of which was actively leaking air (see video below). All three areas were resected with the Ligasure, a vessel-sealing instrument that is useful also for sealing lung tissue on the periphery. After removal of all three areas, the air leakage had stopped. A temporary chest tube was placed to remove any fluid that collected postoperatively. Abby’s chest was repaired with surgical wires, and she recovered well in the ICU.

Abby 2 weeks after surgery

Abby 2 weeks after surgery

How Things Went for Abby
The day after surgery, Abby was up, walking, and eating. She was breathing very well and her chest tube was removed. Abby was discharged to the care of her owner 2 days postoperatively and continued to do well at home. Abby came back in for her suture removal two weeks later, and was completely back to normal at home.

Learn more about the Surgery service at NorthStar VETS



Kelly Kraus, VMD, DACVSKelly Kraus, VMD, DACVS
Dr. Kraus is originally from Connecticut. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland in 2003 before moving to Philadelphia, where she did molecular genetics research for two years at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kraus then completed veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. After graduating, she completed a rotating internship at Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. She then moved to Texas to complete a one-year internship in surgery at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists. She was fortunate to then move back to New Jersey for a three-year residency in surgery at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, which she completed in 2014.

She is excited to be part of the surgery team at NorthStar VETS. Her special surgical interests include, but are not limited to, wound management and reconstructive surgery, surgical oncology, cardiothoracic surgery, and hepatobiliary surgery. Dr. Kraus also enjoys management of orthopedic conditions. She is trained in the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) for cranial cruciate ligament disease. Outside of work, Dr. Kraus enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, traveling, and helping her local SPCA.


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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More Recalls


1. Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc. of Sun Valley, CA is recalling all sizes and package types of dog treats labeled as “Beefy Munchies,” because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

“Beefy Munchies” was distributed nationwide through distributors selling to various retailers.

The product comes in individual bags, resealable bags and plastic tubs. The plastic tub will be labeled “Beefy Bites.” All sizes and packaging types will include a UPC code, lot number, and a best used by date of stamped on the back.

The current recall is expanded to include all “Beefy Munchies.”

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine sampling and testing by the Colorado Department of Agriculture revealed the presence of Salmonella in two 4-oz packages of “Beefy Munchies.”

Any consumers who have purchased “Beefy Munchies” should discontinue use of the product and may return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc. at 1-877-699-7387, Monday through Friday 7am-3:30pm PST.


2. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., a Waco, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 101,310 pounds of ready-to-eat breaded chicken patties that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically rubber, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

The ready-to-eat breaded chicken patties were produced and packed on Sept. 6, 2017. The following products are subject to recall:

30-lb. boxes with six 5-lb. clear bags containing “GOLD KIST FARMS, Fully Cooked Whole Grain Home-Style Breaded Chicken Patties,” with a case code of 72491050xx and a product code of 665400. The products subject to recall bear establishment number “P-20728” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to institutions nationwide.

The problem was discovered after the firm received a customer complaint on Feb. 13, 2018. Pilgrim’s Pride distributed the product to institutions, including schools. Although the product was sold through the USDA commodity program, the introduction of the foreign material was due to an equipment failure at the facility.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Customers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact James Brown, consumer relations manager at Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., at 1-800-321-1470. Media with questions about the recall can contact Cameron Bruett, head of media relations at Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., at (970) 506-7801.

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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Zoey


The team at NorthStar VETS is doing innovative and amazing things every day as they work to advance the level of care available to your pet. This series of posts highlights cool cases at NorthStar VETS and the types of things done to save pets and improve their quality of life. These are cases using innovative and cutting-edge medical techniques, and/or stories of pets beating the odds. This is the story of Zoey, a patient of our Surgery team.

ZoeyAbout Zoey
Zoey is a 2-year-old, female, spayed, Belgian Malinois who came NorthstarVETS back on November 30 with a right forelimb lameness. She had a history of a right forelimb lameness over 7 weeks that had progressively gotten worse. Zoey is a working bomb-sniffing dog and she has been trained to do serious and dangerous field work. On physical examination, I could not elicit any pain from Zoey. She was incredibly stoic, so she was not giving me any clues as to what her problem was. Her blood test were normal and X-rays showed some degeneration of some of her cervical disks. She was asked to be rested and was started on some anti-inflammatory and pain medications.

Zoey’s Condition
Zoey rechecked with me on December 27. Her owner said that the medications did not help her, and that her lameness on the right forelimb was was even worse. We discussed doing some advanced imaging of the cervical spine and the right forelimb as Zoey still didn’t show much on her exams. The MRI was performed. We ruled out a cervical disk problem and saw no joint abnormalities. With Zoey under anesthesia, a complete orthopedic exam was redone. She appeared to have some right shoulder instability that was not able to be detected in her awake exam. Finally, we found the source of her lameness. She was diagnosed with a right medial shoulder instability. This is a relatively rare injury and it can be difficult to diagnose especially with a stoic patient.

Zoey-postopZoey’s Treatment
Zoey was scheduled for arthroscopic surgery to determine the extent of the injury and to repair her shoulder. The arthroscopic exam revealed a very large joint capsule tear that was causing the instability and pain. The shoulder could not be repaired by arthroscopic means. Zoey had a biceps tendon transposition to correct the problem. This involves freeing up the biceps tendon and moving it medially (to the inside) and securing it with a screw and washer.

How Things Went for Zoey
The procedure went well and Zoey was released from the hospital the next day. This type of repair involved a month of recovery and physical therapy. It is hopeful that Zoey will return to her important job in the next 3-6 months.

From the client perspective
Zoey2Ted is Zoey’s owner, and shared his experience with us as well. “Our decision to come to NorthStar VETS was a recommendation from Dr. Plunkett, Zoey’s primary care veterinarian at Wall-Belmar Animal Hospital. The doctors and staff at NorthStar VETS have a great reputation for professionalism, compassion, and caring for not only the animals they treat, but for the animal owners as well.

“Since Zoey has been home, she has been going through a daily regimen of physical therapy and rest that was prescribed by Dr. LoScrudato of the NorthStar VETS Rehabilitation team. Additionally, she has been following up with physical therapy appointments at NorthStar VETS and eventually will be doing aquatic therapy to maintain her range of motion and build strength. I have been keeping Zoey busy doing indoor scent detection training to keep her nose keen for the 33 different explosive odors she is responsible for detecting.”

Learn more about the Surgery service at NorthStar VETS

Laura Culbert, DVM, DACVSLaura Culbert, DVM, DACVS
Dr. Culbert has been part of the surgical team at NorthStar VETS since 2006. She received her veterinary degree from Cornell University in 1992, and completed an internship and surgical residency at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. She has conducted research in the areas of developmental biophysiology and muscular biochemistry, and her residency project focused on neurologic diseases in dogs and complications associated with steroid therapy. Dr. Culbert’s areas of interest in veterinary surgery include cardiothoracic surgery, oncologic surgery, plastic surgery and fracture repair, and she offers the tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) procedure for large dogs and cranial cruciate ligament repair. Dr. Culbert has worked with various rescue groups over the years including Greyhound, Australian Shepherd, Jack Russell Terrier, Golden Retriever and Boxer rescue.


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.

Posted in Pets, Veterinary Medicine | Tagged , , | Leave a comment