News & Events


News and Events

Attention Veterinarians: You’re Invited! Dr. Tracy Discusses Managing Back Disease

 

On Wednesday, November 18th, Dr. Gaemia Tracy will review the various methods to managing back disease: medical management, surgery, and prevention.

This virtual event (via Zoom) involves a short presentation by Dr. Tracy, followed by a Q&A session where you will be able to ask him anything about back disease, including Percutaneous Laser Disc Ablation (PLDA).

Click Here To RSVP

Meet Our Newest Surgeon!

Kelsey Cappelle, VMD, Practice Limited to Surgery is the newest addition to our world-class surgery team!

Dr. Cappelle was born in Ringoes, New Jersey. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology at Massachussets Institute of Technology where she worked at the the Franklin Park Zoo and played volleyball. She then attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cappelle completed a 1 year rotating internship at Auburn University, followed by a 1 year surgical internship at Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center. She then went on to complete a 3 year surgical residency at  MedVet Medical and Cancer Center for Pets in Columbus, Ohio.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Cappelle!

What Pet Owners Need To Know When Choosing A Pet Insurance Plan

Veterinary medicine has made monumental strides in treatment methods for our pets. From advanced, minimally invasive surgical procedures, to targeting specific cancer sites for radiation treatment, pets are living longer, healthier lives.

These advancements in methods and equipment come at a cost. While veterinary care is still significantly less expensive than human medicine, costs can still add up quickly in an emergency or when more specialized care is needed. That’s where pet insurance comes in handy.

So what is pet insurance anyway?

A pet insurance plan allows you to make decisions on your pet’s veterinary care based on the quality of medicine, not the cost of treatment. Since pet insurance is considered property and casualty insurance, it operates similarly to your car insurance rather than human health insurance. There is a deductible you are responsible for, after which you are reimbursed a portion of your out of pocket costs. Unlike human healthcare, there is no “in-network”, so it can be utilized at any veterinarian in the US.

What does it cover?

Most companies offer accident and illness coverage, which is utilized for the unpredictable occurrences that your pet will inevitably experience. These include anything from an ear infection or broken toenail, all the way up to complex fractures and even cancer treatments. Most companies will allow for whatever method of treatment is deemed necessary by your veterinarian, but you should verify this prior to signing up. Some companies also offer wellness coverage for assistance with things like vaccines, well visits, and preventatives.

How much will I get reimbursed?

The amount of reimbursement, deductible amount, and total amount covered for the policy year all vary based on the company policies as well as the plan options you select. Most companies reimburse a percentage of the veterinary bill, which you elect when signing up. Some will reimburse based on a benefit schedule, which means you will only receive a refund of what the company deems to be an appropriate amount for the services rendered.

What isn’t covered?

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that pet insurance does not cover conditions which are deemed “pre-existing”. What is considered a pre-existing condition does vary from one company to another, but typically it means any clinical signs or symptoms being shown prior to taking out the policy or during the waiting periods. Because of this, it is important to sign up for your policy as early as possible.

How do I find out more?

There are many companies out there with a variety of coverage options, so make sure you do your research to find the company that best fits your needs and provides you with peace of mind. If you have questions about which pet insurance company may be right for you, ask your veterinarian. Additionally, NAPHIA (North American Pet Health Insurance Association) has a ton of information about pet insurance and how it works. Click here for an overview.

What are my other payment options?

At VRC, we are happy to assist you with any pet insurance claims or documentation you may need. In addition, we offer other payment assistance options such as CareCredit and Scratchpay. To learn more about VRC’s payment options, click here. 

 

Top 5 Most Common Eye Conditions in Pets

Animals are known for their superior senses, and when one is compromised by disease, their wellbeing and overall function is threatened. Your pet’s eyes do much more than scan the backyard for squirrels and watch for the mailman—they allow your furry friend to move confidently through the world. Prompt, expert treatment of eye conditions is paramount to preserving your pet’s vision, and quality of life. Fortunately, VRC’s ophthalmology department, led by our board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, has experience in treating a spectrum of ocular conditions—from simple corneal ulcers, to challenging diseases. Here we highlight the five most common eye conditions in pets, so you can watch for warning signs, and alert your family veterinarian if you suspect your pet has an ocular problem.

#1: Corneal ulcers in pets

A corneal ulcer is an abrasion, scratch, or deeper wound on the surface of your pet’s eye. In dogs, corneal ulcers are often caused by ocular trauma, such as a scratch from another animal, or when a dog rubs its own eye. In cats, corneal ulcers commonly develop secondary to a herpesvirus infection, which also causes upper respiratory signs. Eye conditions that cause chronic corneal inflammation, such as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (i.e., “dry eye”) or abnormal eyelash growth, can also cause a corneal ulcer. Corneal ulcers are painful, and signs often include:

  • Redness
  • Squinting
  • Tearing
  • Ocular discharge
  • Cloudy-looking cornea

 

Corneal ulcers are diagnosed by applying a temporary stain that adheres only to damaged corneal areas. Most corneal ulcers are superficial, and resolve quickly with eye medications; however, deeper ulcers threaten to cause eye rupture, and may require longer, more intensive treatment, and possibly surgery, to preserve vision. 

#2: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) in pets

KCS, commonly referred to as “dry eye,” is a condition that involves inadequate tear production, or poor quality tears that do not properly lubricate the eye surface. The dry cornea becomes easily traumatized and inflamed, leading to signs that may include:

  • Redness
  • Thick, mucousy ocular discharge
  • Squinting
  • Cloudy-looking cornea 

 

KCS is most often caused by immune-mediated tear gland destruction, but other causes are possible, including:

  • Drug reactions
  • Prolapsed third eyelid gland (i.e., “cherry eye”)
  • Third eyelid gland excision
  • Infectious, congenital, and endocrine diseases

KCS is common in dogs, with some breeds at higher risk, including Cavalier King Eye Conditions in DogsCharles Spaniels, English Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and West Highland White Terriers.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment is important, as uncontrolled KCS can lead to corneal vascularization, pigmentation, and scarring, which can limit your pet’s vision. Treatment is life-long, and involves eye medication to stimulate tear production, and reduce inflammation. 

#3: Cataracts in pets

A cataract is an opacity of your pet’s normally clear lens that interferes with the lens’ ability to properly focus light on the retina. Sometimes only part of your pet’s lens can be affected, but if the entire structure, or a large portion, becomes opaque, the formed light beam cannot reach the retina, causing poor vision. You may notice your pet’s eye changea cataract appears as a white spot or haze in the eye’s center. 

Most cataracts are hereditary, and affect high-risk breeds, such as:

  • Bichon Frises
  • Boston Terriers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Fox Terriers
  • Havanese
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Poodles
  • Silky Terriers 

 

Cataracts can also develop secondary to injury, inflammation, or systemic diseases, such as diabete mellitus. 

A cataract is diagnosed through a thorough eye exam by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Unfortunately, no medical treatment is available to slow or reverse cataract formation, and only surgical lens replacement will restore an affected pet’s vision.

#4: Glaucoma in pets

Your pet’s eyes are filled with fluid (i.e,. aqueous humor) that is constantly produced and drained. Glaucoma results when a buildup of fluid, typically from impaired drainage, increases intraocular pressure. Excess pressure on the delicate retina, which houses vision receptors, can rapidly lead to irreversible blindness, making glaucoma a medical emergency. Glaucoma is painful, and pets may exhibit these characteristic signs:

  • Ocular redness
  • Tearing
  • Eye enlargement
  • Cloudy-looking cornea
  • Pawing at the eyes

 

Glaucoma is typically inherited, and is most often seen in high-risk breeds, including:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Beagles
  • Chinese Shar-Peis
  • Chow Chows
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Great Danes
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Norwegian Elkhounds
  • Samoyeds
  • Siberian Huskies

Glaucoma can also develop secondary to ocular problems that interfere with fluid drainage, including trauma, anterior lens luxation, ocular inflammation, advanced cataracts, and intraocular masses. Glaucoma can affect one or both eyes, depending on the cause.

Glaucoma is diagnosed by measuring the affected eye’s intraocular pressure. If glaucoma is secondary to an underlying problem, treatment of the primary condition may normalize the pressure; however, most cases involve life-long management, including eye medication, and monitoring by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Despite treatment, some dogs become blind in the affected eye(s), and may require surgical eye removal (i.e., enucleation) to relieve chronic pain.

#5: Eyelid conformational abnormalities in pets

As some pets grow, their eyelids develop incorrectly, becoming disproportionately too short or long, which can lead to secondary eye problems. Entropion is a condition where a pet’s eyelid rolls inward toward the cornea, causing chronic irritation and secondary ulcers. This condition is hereditary in some dog breeds, particularly those with prominent skin folds, such as Chinese Shar-Peis and Chow Chows. Entropion requires surgical correction of eyelid position and length, and chronic irritation relief. 

Ectropion causes the eyelid margin to droop away from the eye surface. Without constant contact between the eyelid and the cornea, tears roll off, and the cornea becomes abnormally dry, dull-looking, mucousy, and more susceptible to irritation and ulcers. Ectropion is also breed-related, and pets with loose facial skin, such as Bloodhounds, have a higher incidence. Ectropion treatment involves surgery to shorten the eyelid margin. 

If an ocular condition threatens your pet’s precious vision, act quickly, and contact your family veterinarian or the VRC emergency service immediately. After initial evaluation, if your primary veterinarian determines your pet will benefit from the expertise of a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, contact us to schedule an appointment.