Our client’s “point of view”

This entry is article 5 of 8 in the June 2013 issue
Blue received wonderful, compassionate care.  He was very ill when he arrived at the hospital, yet was able to come home feeling much better 4 days later. He had an unusual array of symptoms and the staff patiently explained diagnostic procedures and choices along the way. Dr. Rentko helped ensure that everything went smoothly and even visited Blue while he was an inpatient. Dr. Sharp called to update me regularly and was always very clear, kind, and professional. Although it was scary having a sick family member, I was grateful for the care and compassion Blue received from everyone at Tufts. Thank you.

Katie Dolan, Rhode Island

ER was great when we brought our dog in late on a Friday. I was very upset and anxious and the staff was terrific in helping me calm down and explaining what they were going to do to stop his seizures. All doctors/students we spoke with were fabulous, they were great with William and we were very grateful to receive such outstanding service. We will continue to bring him in for his blood work. Thank you!

Stephanie Monahan, Auburn, MA

Clinical Studies: Know the Facts!

This entry is article 4 of 8 in the June 2013 issue

Tufts veterinary specialists not only treat some of the region’s most challenging medical issues, but also work hard to push the boundaries of medical discovery pursuing new medicines, innovative surgical techniques and treatment methods to ensure future advancements in veterinary medicine and ultimately a better quality of life for the animals and human beings.

Engaging in clinical studies is a pivotal part of advancing veterinary care and influencing discoveries that may positively influence human health. Access to clinical trials is equally as important to the animals who seek our care. Clients who choose to voluntarily participate in a clinical study may greatly benefit from a cutting-edge treatment or therapy for a disease that has few other options or a diagnostic tool that does less harm to your animal than what is currently available. Often times, clinical studies are fully or partially-funded by grants.  If you are interested in learning more about ongoing clinical study opportunities at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals, please opt-in to our Clinical Studies Bulletin, a regular communication announcing new clinical trial opportunities.  Sign up here:  http://news.vet.tufts.edu/clinical-trials-know-the-facts/


Car heat dangers: Knowing the facts can save your pet’s life

This entry is article 3 of 8 in the June 2013 issue

Car Het Dangers

On a welcome spring day, with the temperature no more than 70 degrees, a dog owner heads out on errands with his dog. The first stop the home supply store, no dogs allowed. He leaves his dog in the car. There is a line and a 20 minute wait. The likely temperature inside the car when he returns: 99 degrees. Another 20 minutes and the dog could suffer potentially lethal heatstroke if his core body temperature reaches 108 degrees.

Tick Talk: What can I do to protect my pet – and my family from ticks?

This entry is article 2 of 8 in the June 2013 issue

Tick season is upon us. Dr. Michael Stone, an internist at Tufts Foster Hospital for Small Animals, answers a client’s questions about how to manage the nasty critters.

Q: What can I do to protect my pets—and my family—from ticks?


Most pet owners are concerned about the presence of ticks on their animals and themselves. as my 8-year-old daughter says, “They’re gross!” unfortunately tick control is more difficult than flea control. even with the use of anti-tick products, you’ll still find an occasional tick on your pet’s coat. Adult ticks can be found throughout the coat, but most commonly migrate to the ears, around the neck or between the toes.

Ticks do not jump onto hosts or drop out of trees. They climb onto weeds, grasses or bushes and wait for passing hosts to brush against the vegetation. They lie in wait, with their forelegs extended, and when a plant is touched, the ticks grab hold. Limiting exposure to tall vegetation may lessen the opportunity for ticks to hitch a ride on you or your pet.

There are several safe and effective ways to control canine ticks, including a collar and products applied monthly to the skin. For cats, controlling ticks is especially difficult because many canine products are toxic for cats. Use extreme caution if you have a cat and a dog at home. We have seen several ill cats at the hospital that had been around dogs. Whether a cat has to lick the product or simply rub against the dog is unknown. Consult your veterinarian about which anti-tick product will work best for your pet, and be sure to follow the label directions carefully.

Now, how about removing ticks? although several tick detachment devices are available, I recommend grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly pulling straight out. Avoid twisting or crushing the tick. Leaving mouth parts of the tick in the host may result in mild redness or crustiness but is usually of little concern. Applying fingernail polish, alcohol or petroleum jelly is ineffective. Direct heat, such as cigarettes or lighters, should never be used to remove a tick.

This story originally appeared in the Tufts Veterinary Magazine.


This entry is article 2 of 6 in the April 2013 issue

Hermione on a follow-up visit gets a welcome ear scratch from Emergency/Critical Care Resident Dr. Yuki Tse after having her one leg bandage (down from all four) changed.

Hermione arrived in the Tufts veterinary emergency room on Thanksgiving evening after having been in a house fire that had destroyed her home and tragically claimed the life of the other cat in the household, Luna. Hermione had burns covering the bottoms of all four feet, her tail, the tips of her ears, and the skin on her nose and cheeks. She also had a cough secondary to smoke inhalation. Hermione was hospitalized in the intensive care unit and treated aggressively for her injuries.

Dr. Amanda Abelson, a Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care Specialist at Tufts, and one of the doctor’s overseeing Hermione’s care remembers that while in the hospital, it could be difficult to examine Hermione because when you went to see her, she would roll on her back for belly rubs and purr and purr. “I remember thinking to myself, here is this wonderful cat, she smells of smoke, she has terrible burns, she has been through a fire, she is away from her family, and yet she is always so happy for human company.” That is pretty rare for any cat in the hospital, let alone a cat that has survived a fire.

After a few days of hospitalization, Hermione was well enough to go home, however her burn injuries still required daily care. The difficult thing about burns is that it can be very hard to tell how severe the injury really is. You need to give the body a chance to heal on its own, and while you do that, you give it the tools it needs, like pain medications, good nutrition and hydration, and you protect the injured areas from further damage and infection with protective bandages.

“With Hermione, the burns on her feet were quite extensive, and we just couldn’t tell if she was going to be able to heal, or how long it would take for her feet to recover. I spoke with her owner and said it might be a bit of a rollercoaster ride while we wait for Hermione to heal, one day we might say things look really good, and the next we might say, we are not sure we can save her feet. But I told the family, if they were willing to give it a try we would do our best to save her feet.”

The other complicated thing about burn injuries that makes them unique is that often a family has been devastated by a fire and they have lost everything, making finances very complicated. In Hermione’s case, we were fortunate that a client of the small animal hospital heard about Hermione and her family, and asked to give anonymous financial assistance, taking some of the burden off of the family.

Given the seriousness of Hermione’s burns, and the anticipated duration of her recovery, a team of doctors was assembled to manage her case. This would assure that even though there were different doctors seeing Hermione, everyone would be working together and communicating on Hermione and her treatment. The team consisted of 7 critical care doctors, two surgeons and a dermatologist. The team was spear headed by 3rd year critical care resident Dr. Yuki Tse who organized Hermione’s visits to the hospital and kept individual team members up to date on Hermione’s status. Photographs were taken of Hermione’s feet so that members of the team could monitor her progress and these were emailed daily to the team members.

The team elected to treat Hermione’s feet conservatively with protective bandages. In the beginning non-pasteurized honey was put on the soles of her feet under the bandages. Honey has healing and antibacterial properties and is gaining popularity in the treatment burn wounds in people. The bandages were changed daily for the first two weeks but progressed to every other day bandage changes and then every third day. Hermione also had to have her tail amputated due to the severity of the burns along it. After two and a half months of bandages, Hermione’s feet have healed and she is doing very well at home.

Foster Hospital for Small Animals

A Very Thirsty Guinea Pig

This entry is article 3 of 6 in the April 2013 issue

Jennifer Graham, head of the Cummings School’s zoological companion animal medicine department, responds to a reader’s question about her parched guinea pig.

Q: Could my guinea pig be diabetic? He drinks 32 ounces of water a day and soaks his cage within a few days. If he is, is there any way to treat it?

A: That certainly is an excessive amount of water consumption for a guinea pig and may be an indicator of underlying disease, including kidney problems, dental issues and metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

I urge you to visit a veterinarian familiar with this species to have your pet undergo a thorough physical examination. your veterinarian will take a blood sample to check your guinea pig’s blood glucose levels and look for signs of infection or organ dysfunction.Further testing, including X-rays, may be needed to rule out urinary tract stones.

Diabetes mellitus is not particularly common in guinea pigs, but it has been reported. The good news is that the disease can be temporary, and insulin therapy is usually not necessary. A low-fat, high-fiber diet is most important in treating–and preventing–diabetes.

Until your guinea pig is seen by a veterinarian, pay close attention to what he is eating. Guinea pigs should always have access to high-quality grass hay, such as timothy, and water. Alfalfa hay and pellets shouldn’t be fed to adult guinea pigs, because they contain excessive amounts of calcium and can predispose these animals to obesity and bladder stones. Unfortunately, many diets commonly sold at pet stores contain alfalfa as well as seeds or dried fruit, which are also not appropriate foods for a guinea pig.

Please email your questions for “Ask the Vet” to Genevieve Rajewski, Editor, Tufts Veterinary Magazine at genevieve.rajewski@tufts.edu

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Tufts Veterinary Magazine.

The Dog with the Titanium Bone

This entry is article 1 of 6 in the April 2013 issue

By Genevieve Rajewski


Tyson, a seven-year-old Rottweiler, received limb sparing surgery at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine after developing osteosarcoma, a bone tumor, on his left foreleg.

Photo by Alonso Nichols, Tufts Photo

Tyson could win an award for stoicism. Osteosarcoma, a common bone cancer so painful that medication doesn’t provide much relief, had invaded the 7-year-old Rottweiler’s left foreleg.

“Tyson used to love to go for walks, but slowly, he stopped going out,” recalls his owner, Rachna Khanna of South Glastonbury, Conn. “One day, we noticed he was limping. we thought maybe he had twisted something and took him to the vet to get an X-ray. That’s when they found a lump and the cancer in his limb.”

Amputation is the accepted treatment for this aggressive cancer. Dogs do not experience the same psychological trauma that people do after losing a limb, and most can race around happily enough on three legs. But amputation challenges dogs that already have mobility issues caused by severe arthritis or neurological disease, for example. And such heavyset giant breeds as St. Bernards,Newfoundlands, Great Pyrenees and Mastiffs often struggle after losing a forelimb because dogs bear most of their weight on their front legs.

Tyson had ligament tears in each  knee, and Khanna and her husband hoped to save his leg to avoid even more stress on his already-unstable joints.

Their research into alternatives led them to the Cummings School’s Foster Hospital for Small Animals, one of three veterinary hospitals in the country that offer a novel limb-sparing surgery for dogs. Earlier this year, Tufts orthopedic surgeon Michael Kowaleski, operated on Tyson, removing the cancerous bone and replacing it with a custom titanium implant. The procedure can be more successful than a bone implant or graft because there is a lower risk of infection, and dogs regain mobility quickly.

Tyson is once again going on walks and playing with his two younger canine housemates. “He still has a bit of limp,” says Khanna. “But he’s healthy and looking good, and we are so happy the cancer is gone.”

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Tufts Veterinary Magazine.