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What does this sign mean?


Have you seen this sign at our hospital? If so, you may be wondering what it means!

It simply means we have an MRI machine on site! OSHA requires these signs to indicate how far away you are from the machine. Zone I is very far away, and poses no health risks to you or your pet. It reads “General Public” for this reason. All of our owner accessible areas are Zone I and treatment areas are Zone II, which is also safe for unscreened people and pets.

As you get closer to the MRI, only trained professionals in proper attire are allowed near, as well as pets in need of scans that have been evaluated and prescreened. These areas are safely secured and monitored in our MRI trailer, so there’s no risk of accidentally stumbling upon them!

Frequently Asked Questions: Internal Medicine

Internal Medicine at VRC


Why does my pet need to see an internal medicine specialist?

Most patients that present for evaluation to internal medicine have complicated ailments that may be difficult to diagnose or treat. Our goal is to help discuss with you your diagnostic options, do everything that we can to get an answer to what is going on, and treat your pet in a way that will provide the best outcome possible.  The initial consultation will simply be to discuss your pet’s condition and all options regarding how to proceed.

How is my pet going to do during/after treatment?

Many patients that have complicated diseases/disorders can respond to treatment in different ways. This means that we often need to initiate treatment, monitor your pet’s responses, and adjust treatment based on what we see.

Does my pet have to receive diagnostic testing?

We encourage diagnostic testing as it can play an important role in allowing us to make proper medical recommendations and treatment adjustments for your pet. A definitive diagnosis gives us the best likelihood of a successful treatment. If you decide not to pursue diagnostic testing, we can try to treat your pet’s most likely condition(s) without a definitive diagnosis. It is important to understand that if we are treating your pet without a definitive diagnosis it is impossible to predict how they will respond.

Can my veterinarian do the follow up treatments?

Absolutely, we always work closely with your veterinarian. Many clients travel from a long distance and it is difficult for them to continue to make trips back for recheck blood work, weight evaluations, x-rays, etc. If you are going to follow-up with your veterinarian, we ask that you request diagnostic updates to be faxed to us so that we can continue to monitor them. We will then fax our medical recommendations, based on the information provided, to your veterinarian and (s)he will get in touch with you to discuss any changes to the treatment plan.

Can I get the prescription medications from my veterinarian?

We would be happy to fax any necessary paperwork to your veterinarian to fill a prescription as long as the medication is in stock and a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient relationship exists. This means that your pet has seen a particular primary veterinarian for visits and check-ups on a regular basis (typically within one year).

Can I get my pet’s prescription medications from a human pharmacy?

As long as the recommended medication or a suitable substitute is available as a human prescription, we would be happy to fax a prescription to a local or online pharmacy of your choice. Given that the cost of human medications fluctuates with time and across pharmacies, we recommend that you do some price shopping.  The same is true for online prescription purchases.

Do I need to fast my pet for the appointment?

Generally your pet does not need to be fasted prior to the appointment. If your pet will need to be fasted for specific tests or anesthesia, we will discuss fasting recommendations during the first appointment. If your veterinarian thinks that your pet will need anesthesia the day of the appointment or has recommended fasting, please contact us to discuss options.

Frequently Asked Questions: Cardiology

Cardiology at VRC


How can I detect heart complications and diseases in my pet?

Regular check-up appointments with your family veterinarian are essential in making sure that your pet is heart-healthy.  In many cases, your family veterinarian will be able to detect a heart complication through listening to the beat patterns, X-rays, EKGs, and/or performing routine blood tests. If an abnormality is found, he or she will refer you to a Cardiologist at VRC.

What symptoms might my pet display if he or she is experiencing a heart problem?

If your pet has progressing heart disease, he or she may show observable symptoms. In dogs, these symptoms include gagging cough, fainting, weakness or reluctance to exercise, rapid resting or sleep breathing rates (more than 30 breaths per minute), and abdominal swelling. Cats may faint, have an increased rate of abdominal breathing, experience lethargy, painful limbs or limb paralysis, and they may hide more than usual. Be sure to make an appointment with your family veterinarian as soon as possible if you witness any combination of these symptoms in your pet.

What is a cardiac consultation at VRC like?

A cardiac consultation at VRC consists of a thorough evaluation of the heart and includes a physical exam, echocardiogram (test that displays real-time heart structure and function imaging), Doppler ultrasound, blood speed studies, and electrocardiogram (test that monitors the heart’s electric activity). At VRC, we utilize state-of-the-art equipment to perform all tests, which are each essential in effectively evaluating your pet’s heart.

Can I be present during my pet’s cardiac examination?

Yes, we encourage you to be with your pet during his or her cardiac consultation. This will help your pet feel calm and comfortable, and also allow you to observe the heart tests being performed. After the exam, please feel free to ask any questions that you may have about the consultation and your pet’s heart health.

Can I pick and choose which cardiac tests are performed on my pet?

No, we perform the same cardiac tests with each consultation. Our carefully selected series of tests are needed to decide the best medical treatment for your pet and to determine whether or not further diagnostic procedures are required.

Are the cardiac tests painful for my pet?

Not at all! All of our tests are completely noninvasive. The ultrasound has a massaging action that is completely painless and our EKG clips are nothing like what is used in human medicine; they are surprisingly comfortable. Your pet will be gently positioned on the side of a towel and will be awake and comforted throughout the entire procedure. The vast majority of pets require no sedation and there are no side effects to these tests. Many patients look forward to their visits with our team and have become close friends with our staff members!

Do the tests leave any bruising or physical marks on my pet?

Not at all! Your pet will look exactly the same and no one would be able to tell that he or she was in the hospital if you don’t tell them. We don’t even need to shave your pet for these tests, as we use alcohol to mat down the hair instead; a completely painless coupling gel is also applied for use during ultrasounds.

Can my pet’s heart condition be treated?

For the most part, if your pet is diagnosed with and treated for heart disease early on, he or she has a good chance at successful symptom management and living a long, healthy life. Once your pet is diagnosed, we have an extensive medical arsenal and will do what we can to provide your pet with a good quality of life for as long as possible. If your pet is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at birth, surgery may be feasible to correct the condition. Early detection and a personalized treatment plan from a veterinary cardiologist will help manage your pet’s disease and improve his or her overall quality of life. Even advanced heart disease and heart failure may be treatable, so it is never too late for your pet to get a cardiac consultation.

You have recommended that my pet take medication. How do I fill this prescription?

At the end of the exam, the drugs that your pet needs can be dispensed at VRC.  In many cases, your prescription can be filled at almost any pharmacy, so please feel free to price shop; however, a popular cardiac drug called VetMedin must be filled at a veterinary source. You can also utilize our online pharmacy with Vets First Choice for hundreds of guaranteed products and convenient shipping right to your home.

Frequently Asked Questions: Surgery

Surgery at VRC


Why do I fast my pet if surgery is not scheduled for the same day?

We ask that you fast your pet in the event that additional diagnostics need to take place. When your pet has eaten, it can sometimes change the results of a test so to get the most accurate information possible, fasting may be necessary even if your pet is not having surgery that day.

Will my pet experience discomfort before, during, or after their surgical procedure?

The level of discomfort your pet may experience all depends on the type of procedure that is taking place. For minor procedures, there may be little to no pain involved. For more advanced procedures, there may be some discomfort. However, we are very proactive about using medications to relieve pain and discomfort for your pet. When necessary, we provide medication before, during, and after the procedure that will allow your pet to feel comfortable and safe.

Is anesthesia safe for my pet?

Anesthesia is considered extremely safe in the veterinary field. Our trained doctors and nurses monitor your pet throughout the entire procedure to ensure his/her comfort and safety. We are experienced in providing anesthesia to all pets including higher-risk patients with sensitivities such as old age and weakness; heart, kidney, and liver disease; as well as other critical and/or unstable conditions. Anesthesia is such a valuable tool in veterinary medicine and you can rest easy knowing that your pet is in highly experienced hands at VRC.

How will my pet react to anesthesia and pain medication?

Every pet reacts differently to anesthesia and pain medication. Constipation is normal for 3-5 days after your pet’s surgery as long as there is no obvious straining. Decreased appetite and lethargy is also normal as long as they are eating small amounts. If you have a question regarding your pet’s behavior after a surgery, please give us a call at (610)647-2950.

What kinds of physical restrictions will be placed on my pet after surgery?

Physical restrictions placed on your pet after a procedure will depend on the type of operation that took place. Often, we recommend that your pet refrain from running, jumping, or any excessive activity until the first recheck. You can accommodate your pet by arranging his/her living space to include everything (s)he might need at a close distance. This will reduce his/her need to exert too much energy or movement, which helps result in a speedy recovery. You will receive more specific home care instructions upon your pet’s discharge from VRC.

Why is exercise restriction so important?

For the first two weeks, exercise restriction is essential for incision, muscle, and tissue healing. It prevents the incision from opening and causing complications. To maximize the success of your pet’s surgery, following discharge instructions regarding follow-up care is very important. This way, your pet can get back to their normal selves in no time! If you have any questions about your discharge instructions, please feel free to give us a call.

What care is involved with my pet’s surgical site?

Specific instructions with how to care for your pet’s surgical site will be included with your discharge paperwork before you leave the hospital. Every pet is different, which is why we provide care instructions that are catered specifically to your pet’s individualized needs. If you have any questions regarding the follow-up instructions you were given, please give us a call.

I live far away. Do I have to come back to VRC for rechecks?

We do suggest that you return for a recheck so that we can assess the healing process. However, we understand that not everyone lives close to our facility, so you can speak to your VRC surgeon about having your primary veterinarian perform the recheck exam. We always keep your primary veterinarian involved with the status of your pet throughout his/her time spent at VRC, which allows for a seamless transition from specialty to primary veterinary care.