Veterinary Technician Specialists at Hope VS

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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):

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!

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: Why Call?

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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 HVS 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 HVS 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 cas number. Please provide this to a member of the HVS 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 HVS 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.

Canine Heartworm Disease

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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/.