Category: Blog

Welcome to the VCF Blog! Blog entries are displayed below.

Disaster Preparedness

For the majority of us, our pets are a huge part of the family. With hurricane season quickly approaching, and with Animal Disaster Preparedness Day this month, it is a good time to review important items we may need for our fur babies in the event of a natural disaster.

With Animal Disaster Preparedness Day this month (May 8th ), let’s take this time to understand why planning, and preparing for disasters are important for not only ourselves, but for our beloved pets. FEMA has provided a video discussing the importance of this day, as well as some helpful tips when faced with a natural disaster.


Storm Clouds Saskatchewan Prairie Lightning Night Canada

As we just learned, from FEMA’s tips, natural disasters come in all forms, from wildfires to hurricanes. With as many different disasters there are, there are just as many ways to prepare for them. If you would like to find out how to plan and prepare for all natural disasters, please click here.

As Floridians, we are very aware of storm season, but what happens when that storm turns into major, catastrophic hurricane? It is very important to make sure you and your beloved pet’s safety is a priority. Check out this hurricane checklist, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), to make sure you are prepared for our next big storm.

If you have any questions regarding hurricane pet safety, microchipping your pet or making sure your pet is up to date on all of the necessary vaccinations, please contact us at (813)681-9080, or check out our website.

National Pet Week!

Let’s take a little time out of our busy lives to celebrate National Pet Week (May 7th-13th)! While love is one of the most valuable ingredients in caring for a pet, sometimes we forget other vital components in their daily lives. This week will allow us to focus on other important aspects of pet ownership! We have highlighted something for every stage of pet care this week. Take a look!

National Pet Week and Family - a perfect combination!

National Pet Week and Family – a perfect combination!

Sunday: Make sure you select a pet that is optimal for your family’s lifestyle. The best way to do this is to research the breed you are thinking of getting. Some breeds are better for a more active lifestyle whereas some are better for a more laid back family. You should also make sure you have enough time to spend with your new pet. Puppies especially need a lot of enrichment to keep their brains occupied and healthy.

Monday: Learn how to properly socialize your furry friend. Take your furry family member to doggy daycare once a week where they get to be with other dogs and people. Plan encounters with other people and have them reward your pet with treats to create a positive experience.

Tuesday: Exercise your pet on a regular basis. Take your furry friend on a early morning or evening walk around the neighborhood. If you have a pool, swimming is a great form of exercise for dogs! Even playing fetch in the back yard gets your pet running and exercising. By properly exercising your pet, you are reducing the chances of obesity in your pet.

Wednesday: Make sure your furry friend is seen by your Veterinarian on a regular basis. Here at VCF, we recommend bringing your pet in for a visit every 6 months. This allows us to stay on top of your pet’s health and wellness.
Thursday: The importance of spaying and neutering your furry friend. Talk with your veterinarian about when it is recommended to spay or neuter your furry friend. By doing so, you are helping decrease overpopulation and unplanned breeding. There are also several health risks associated with not spaying or neutering your furry family member such as the increased possibility of cancer.

Friday:  Know what to do if an emergency happens. Just like in people, you can’t predict when an emergency is going to happen to your furry family member. Know what emergency clinics are around you and which is most recommended by your regular veterinarian. Having both the emergency clinic’s information as well as the number for poison control in an easy to find location is ideal for any home with pets.

Saturday: Give your pet the most love you can throughout their life. Luckily our furry friends are living longer healthier lives but, unfortunately they don’t live as long as we do. Therefore, it’s important to show them all the love that you can in their short life. Especially as our fury friends get older, it is important to make sure they are receiving proper veterinary care. Bringing your senior pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis can help detect any medical issues early before they become serious or life-threatening.

For more information on National Pet Week, tune in to the AVMA’s website!

My Achy Breaky Heartworm

What are heartworms and how do our pets get them?

Click picture to enlarge.

Click picture to enlarge.

Heartworm disease is a disease transmitted by mosquitos. Female heartworms living in an infected animal such as a cat or dog produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria, these worms circulate in the bloodstream. Once a mosquito bites and takes blood from the infected animal, the baby worms then mature into a larvae stage within two weeks. The mosquito then bites and drops off the newly formed larvae onto the surface of the animal’s skin and they enter through the mosquito bite wound. It takes about six months for the larvae to develop into adult heartworms, and the typical lifespan is five to seven years in dogs and two to three years in cats.

How do I tell if my pet has heartworms?

This can be done by bringing your furry friend to us for a quick and simple blood test! This simple blood test is done here in the hospital, and within about 15 minutes we will have results. Here at VCF, we recommend having a heartworm test done every 6 months even if your pet is on prevention.


How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworms?


Luckily, it is fairly easy to prevent heartworms from harming our beloved pets. Giving your pet a monthly heartworm preventative is the easiest way to fight this disease. Prevention is much simpler than treatment. Here are some quick tips on keeping heartworms away:
  • Give your pet a monthly heartworm preventative.
  • Have your pet tested for heartworms annually even when on prevention to make sure your prevention is working.
 Heartworm preventatives fights the disease by attacking and destroying the larvae inside infected animals’ bloodstream. It’s important to keep all of the furry family members in the home on a heart worm preventative to keep them healthy, happy, and free of heartworms! This month, VCF will be running a special for $10 off of your heartworm test! We also have several rebates and promotions for monthly heartworm and flea preventatives! If you have any questions about whether or not your pet is on prevention or is up to date on a heartworm test, call VCF at (813)681-9080 to set up a heartworm test and purchase prevention!


Oh No! Not the B Word!

Making dietary changes can significantly reduce the risk of urinary blockages.

Making dietary changes can significantly reduce the risk of urinary blockages.

The term “blocked” doesn’t sound very ominous, but veterinarians and nurses who hear it where their patients are concerned instantly go on alert, and for good reason. A patient who is experiencing a urinary blockage is potentially in extreme danger. How? To answer that question, let’s take a look at the nature of the issue.

Urinary blockages are an almost exclusively male cat issue and for good reason. The male cat’s urethra (the “tube” that drains urine from the cat’s bladder) is much smaller than that of the female. As Dr. Shea Cox, DVM at Berkley University points out, if we were to compare the two using a straw analogy, the female cat’s urethra would be the size of a milkshake straw while the male cat’s would be the size of a coffee stirrer. This makes the chances of males getting blockages far higher than females and understandably so, but urinary blockages can also occur in female cats as well as dogs.


While urinary blockages can be the result of urinary and prostate diseases, when a cat is experiencing a urinary blockage, it is usually due to crystals or small bladder stones that are too large to pass through the urethra. These stones or crystals become lodged in and block the urethra so that even urine is unable to escape. Once the bladder has filled to capacity, in an effort to “help” the situation, the kidneys will shut down. With the kidneys not functioning, toxins are no longer removed from the blood and balanced levels of electrolytes and fluids cannot be maintained.  If left untreated, the kidneys will eventually fail and the blockage will become fatal. Per PetMD, without treatment, urinary blockages can be life threatening within three days of symptoms.

The question is, how do we know if our pet might be experiencing this issue? Here are some things to look for:

Signs & Symptoms

  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Painful urination
  • Inappropriate urination (urinating in places other than the litterbox)

Because of the painful nature of this problem, we might notice him crying or moving about restlessly. It’s also possible that he may hide because of the discomfort. If allowed to progress, he will lose his appetite, generally begin vomiting, and become lethargic. All of these signs and symptoms are cause for alert. The good news is, the condition is easily diagnosed and can be treated if diagnosed early enough in the process.


While there’s no sure-fire way to prevent urinary obstructions, as Dr. Shelley Knudsen, DVM at All Feline Hospital points out there are precautions that can be taken to minimize the risks. One preventative measure is changing your pet’s diet to one that is designed for urinary health – whether over-the-counter food or prescription diets, this is a good line of defense. Also, increasing water intake can keep crystals from forming. This can be achieved by offering more fresh water, utilizing water fountains as cats prefer their water from a moving source, and adding things to the water to give it flavor such as low salt broth or the water from canned tuna.

If you suspect that your pet is having urinary issues, please contact your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

‘Tis the Season

Homemade decorations are especially popular at Christmastime which is why pet owners need to be aware of the dangers these items may pose.

Homemade decorations are especially popular at Christmastime which is why pet owners need to be aware of the dangers these items may pose.

Welcome to the Christmas season and all the joys (and hazards) it brings! At a time when many who are craft savvy (and those who really, really want to be) are looking for ideas and how-to information for a plethora of holiday crafts, one has only to sign into Pintrest to see that the list of craft ideas for the Christmas season is very close to endless. From DIY snow globes to Christmas ornaments for the kids to make to door garnishments, there are quite literally thousands of projects to choose from. One of the things that the instructions for most of these projects tend to overlook is the potential danger the supplies and finished product may pose to our furry friends.

According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are several things we should all be aware of when home crafting, whether during the holidays or throughout the year. For example, those wonderfully handcrafted salt dough ornaments that children often bring home from school can be hazardous as they can be easily mistaken by our pets as treats. When you look at the simple ingredients of flour, water, and salt, you might ask yourself how something so seemingly innocuous could ever be harmful to our pets. The problem is the amount of salt in these baked ornaments which can potentially cause the pet to develop dangerously high levels of sodium in their blood. This elevated sodium level can lead to seizures and, if left untreated, can cause death. It is advised to keep these ornaments in areas where pets cannot reach them.

One helpful tip when home crafting is to look at packaging labels. Special seals regarding an item’s toxicity can be found on many product labels and packaging for the craft supplies themselves. The Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) has a seal on many products such as glitter, paint, and chalk to let the consumer know at a glance if it is safe. Seals that read “AP” (Approved Product) can be found on products that are non-toxic while seals reading “CL” (Cautionary Labeling) are on items that are considered toxic. Looking for a seal but cannot find one? The ACMI have simplified this process with a searchable Certified Products List. If the contents of a package in the “CL” classification are ingested, either your veterinarian or poison control center should be contacted immediately.


The Hot Topic of Cold Laser Therapy

Cold laser therapy is making a difference for many patients.

Cold laser therapy is making a difference for many patients.

VCF is happy to announce that we now offer Cold Laser Therapy. Perhaps you’ve heard the term Cold Laser Therapy, also known as Low Level Laser Therapy, and wondered what exactly it is or what the excitement is about. Those who have experience with this type of treatment, whether personally or for their pet, generally describe the results with words like “wonderful” and “fantastic”, especially when talking about the positive effects it has had on the quality of life and the differences before and after treatments began.

Cold laser treatment has been used in human medicine since the early 1960’s. Over the last decade or so, it has eased its way into animal medicine and has been what many have deemed a “miracle” treatment. Not to be confused with hot laser treatment which is used to cut tissue, this non-invasive treatment involves using low-level laser light to stimulate cell regeneration and increase blood circulation. This helps to speed the healing process as well as reduce pain and inflammation. It also increases collagen production, and stimulate endorphin production.

But what does all of that even mean?? Ultimately, it means several things.

Because the treatment helps to speed the healing process, it can be used in surgical procedures to help incisions heal faster and better. At the University of Florida, veterinarians have advocated cold laser treatments, stating that dogs who receive the treatment after initial surgery for intervertebral disc disease and spinal cord injuries are walking a full week earlier than those patients who do not receive the treatment. Dr. Tom Schubert has referred to these results as “revolutionary”.

It means that it can be used to reduce the pain and inflammation in patients who suffer with chronic pain and limited mobility from arthritis and it can be used as a preventative treatment for breeds prone to hip dysplasia. It means that collagen production, which declines with age, can be stimulated and increased, helping in the healing and repair of tissue. According to Medical News Today, collagen is “the most abundant protein in the body and is found in bones, muscles, skin and tendons where it forms a scaffold to provide strength and structure”.

Cold laser cannot be used to treat every ailment or condition, but there are many that it can. Several of our nurses have pets that have received this treatment and would be happy to discuss the results they have experienced. If you think your pet might benefit from this therapy or have more questions, please feel free to contact us.