March 2014: Meet Aspen

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Aspen, a 4 year old Terrier mix, was adopted just one week before her visit to TVRH. Like many of us, Aspen was enjoying the long awaited warmer weather of this past weekend, by playing outside in the yard. But when Aspen came back inside she was shaking. Her new family was concerned that she was possibly choking on something, but when they looked they couldn’t find anything.  Her shaking quickly began to worse and she started vomiting.  Her owners decided the best thing was to have her looked at by a veterinarian.

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By the time Aspen and her very worried family arrived at TVRH she was having full body tremors.  Nurses immediately took her to the treatment area to check her vital signs and have her assessed by Dr. Nunez.   In addition to her tremors, Aspen was also hypersalivating and stumbling when she tried to walk.  Dr. Nunez’s primary concern was that Aspen had ingested something toxic.  Upon speaking with Aspen’s family, we discovered that Aspen had access to the compost pile in the backyard.  Most people are unaware that compost can be very dangerous to our pets.  In addition to the leftover decomposing food in the pile, molds begin to form. When your pet ingests compost they can get Tremorgenic Mycotoxin Toxicity, which can cause a variety of symptoms including tremors. Luckily for Aspen, this type of toxicity is treatable with IV medications and IV fluids.

By the next day Aspen was feeling much better.  While she was still more tired than usual, she was able to be released from the hospital and go home to her much relieved new family.

See Aspen before and after her treatment...




January 2014: Meet Oscar

Oscar, a 3 year old male Doberman Pinscher, was running in the back yard with the owners when suddenly he jumped on pile of wooden sticks. The owners were surprised and horrified to see a large wooden stick coming out of the right chest wall when he jumped out of the pile. The stick was sticking out of his right chest wall and for a small period of time Oscar was suspended in the air only supported by the stick when the stick broke. Oscar kept walking and shaking, when part of the stick that remained in his chest wall fell on the ground.  Immediately after the incident he became painful, lethargic and was reluctant to walk.



Oscar presented to our Emergency Service with a skin wound on the right side of the chest wall that had a small amount of blood, increased respiratory effort, but no signs of a foreign body. After thorough evaluation, a surgical exploratory of the 1.5 cm skin wound and the chest was recommended to determine if there was any internal damage. During exploration of the chest a 1cm defect was noted on the diaphragm. The defect on the diaphragm was extended and a limited abdominal explore was performed. To Dr. Baez's surprise, the liver had no evidence of trauma, but I retrieved 2 wood splinters from the abdomen. This was evidence that the wooden stick that impaled the thorax continued into the abdomen and there may be more foreign bodies present in the abdomen. The abdominal explore revealed that a wooden stick approximately 8 cm was lodged in the hypaxial musculature ( back muscles ) between the aorta and the caudal vena cava displacing the aorta. There was also evidence of a hematoma (collected blood outside a vessel) in the region of the left kidney).  A complex procedure was requires to successfully remove the stick without damaging any of the vessels.

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After 3 days in the ICU, Oscar was able to go home.  We were all amazed on how well he recovered from an event that could have ended his life! The penetrating stick stopped millimeters away from a life threatening aortic penetration.  Thank you Oscar for being a fighter and reminding us why we chose to do this for a living. We are so glad to see you go back home to your family.





October 2013: Meet Atticus

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Meet Atticus, an 11 yr old cat that came in to TVRH one night on emergency.  That night, his owners had noticed him limping and upon closer investigation, found a mass growing near this knee that had been hidden by his thick fur!  After radiographs and a long discussion with Dr. Mintz, the emergency doctor on that evening, Atticus' owners decided to see Dr. Grafinger, one of our board-certified surgeons, for a surgical consult. 

Due to the mass' location, size and the degree of discomfort is was causing Atticus, the decision was made to amputate the affected leg.  Fortunately, most animals recover very well limb amputations and adapt relatively easily to having three legs. After bloodwork and a series of tests to check Atticus' chest and abdomen for metastases, he was scheduled for surgery.  Surgery went smoothly and soon Atiicus went home to recover with his family.  After a few days, the results of the pathology on the mass came back.  Atticus had a malignant bone tumor called osteosarcoma.  Fortunately, it is rare for this type of cancer to form tumors in other parts of the body and amputation is usually curative. It has been several months since Atticus had his surgery and he has recovered well.  His family reports that he is running, jumping, playing and all in all, back to his usual, mischievous self!  Click here to see a video of how Atticus is doing today!