Category: Blog

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

Obesity Awareness

A few holiday pounds are one thing, but what about when the scale continues to go up and up?  For people we can consciously do things to better our weight, such as eating healthy and daily exercise, but what if a similar situation happened with our furry companion? They can’t simply say I’ll go on a diet, or I’ll add an extra walk into my day, they depend on us to help them.  Since this month is National Pet Obesity Awareness, let’s look at a few things regarding obesity in our pets.


                                                                                                                                                  Photo courtesy of


According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, almost 60% of both household cats and dogs are obese! Obesity can lead to many health issues, and shortened lives. Like people a portioned diet, and exercise can go a long way to help your pet shed those extra pounds.  If you believe your pet is overweight, schedule an appointment with your primary Veterinarian to discuss a treatment plan to get your pet healthy. In the meantime check out to read more about pet obesity, how to prevent it and helpful tips for weight loss!

Why Does VCF Do Dental Specials Twice Yearly?

While National Dental month isn’t until February, we want to discuss why dental health is so important for your pets. Here at VCF, we offer twice yearly dental specials, one during dental health month, and the other in August. We like to offer it twice yearly to our clients because canine and feline dental health is that important!


Why do we worry so much about pet’s dental health you might ask? Well there are several health issues, besides a painful tooth, that can arise from a dirty pet mouth!  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats. By the time your pet is three years old, he or she will very likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if effective preventive measures aren’t taken. Early detection and treatment are critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth. Other health problems found, in association with, periodontal disease include kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes. It starts with plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gum line can often easily be seen and removed, but plaque and tartar below the gum line is damaging and sets the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jaw bone. Periodontal disease is graded on a scale of 0 (normal) to 4 (severe). The treatment of periodontal disease involves a thorough dental cleaning and x-rays may be needed to determine the severity of the disease.



We strongly recommend having you pet’s teeth examined at least once yearly to determine if they need a dental cleaning. If you think your pet is need of a dental exam, or cleaning, please contact us at (813)681-9080, or if you would like to read more about canine and feline dental care please check out the AVMA for more information.

Local Hangouts for You and Fido!

Who doesn’t love taking their furry children to local restaurants, dog beaches and other hang outs during the summer? Here at VCF we have a compiled a list of fun, local activities you can do with your pets this summer, or all year long!

Dog beaches/parks:

Davis Island, located near downtown Tampa:

Honeymoon Island, located in Dunedin:

Fort Desoto, located in St. Pete:

Curtis Hixon Dog Park, located on the Riverwalk:

Dog friendly coffee shops:

Buddy Brew Coffee, located in downtown Tampa:

The Bunker, located in Ybor City:

Blind Tiger Cafe, located in Ybor City:

Dog friendly restaurants:

Tampa Bay Brew Co., located in Centro Ybor, outside seating available for you and your furry friend:

Ulele, located at the end of the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa, outside seating available:

Gaspar’s Grotto, located off 7th Ave. in Ybor City:

The Sail Pavilion, on Tampa’s Riverwalk:

Dog friendly towns:

Downtown Dunedin, FL.:

 Downtown Winter Park, FL:

Downtown St. Petersburg, FL:






Since June is Adopt-a-Cat month, we would like to introduce you to our awesome cat Archie! ( Our sweet girl, Mozzarella was adopted a few days ago! Woohoo! )

Pictured to the right is Mr. Archie! Isn’t Archie a dapper boy? Always dressed in a tuxedo, this funny gent is always up for fun, cuddling and shenanigans! Archie is about 8 months old, up to date on all vaccinations, microchipped, neutered and current on all testings. Archie would do great in a home with children, and other cats. While Archie doesn’t mind dogs, he would do best in a home with a small or mellow pooch (he doesn’t care for very loud or rambunctious dogs).

We like to describe Archie as being very dog-like in personality! He loves to fetch toys, play chase and occassionally play hide and seek! He also loves eating people food! So you’ll have to watch out for this guy or he’ll snatch your lunch!

We hope that you’ve enjoyed getting to know Archie! If you feel that he could be the right one for you, please call, email or stop by to meet him!

Veterinary Center at Fishhawk, (813)681-9080, or  email at

Safe Travel Tips for Summer!

For most of us, summer time brings family barbeques, vacations and relaxation. Since pets are family, many of us enjoy bringing our furry ones with us on these trips. If you have traveled with your pet before, you know there are many things you should consider when travelling with your four-legged partner. With the help of the Humane Society of America, the following is a helpful safety guide when traveling with your pet in the car.

Rear View Of Family Walking Along Winter Beach With Dog

  • Dogs shouldn’t roam in the car
  • The safest way for your dog to travel in the car is in a crate that has been anchored to the vehicle using a seatbelt or other secure means. Dog restraints or seat belts are useful for preventing your dog from roaming around the car and being a distraction to the driver, but they haven’t been reliably shown to protect dogs during a crash.
  • Cats belong in carriers
  • Most cats aren’t comfortable traveling in cars, so for their safety as well as yours, keep them in a carrier. It’s important to restrain these carriers in the car so that they don’t bounce around and hurt your cat. Do this by securing a seat belt around the front of the carrier.
  • Leave the front seat for humans
  • Keep your pet in the back seat of the car. If an airbag deploys while your pet is in the passenger seat (even in a crate), it might injure your pet.
  • Keep those heads inside in the car.
  • Dogs and cats should always be kept safely inside the car. Pets whom are allowed stick their heads out the window can be injured by particles of debris or made sick by having cold air forced into their lungs. Never transport a pet in the back of an open pickup truck.
  • Give your pet plenty of rest stops
  • Stop frequently to allow your pet to exercise and eliminate. But never permit your pet to leave the car without a collar, ID tag and leash.
  • Bring along a human buddy
  • Whenever possible, share the driving and pet caretaking duties with a friend or family member. You’ll be able to get food or use the facilities at rest stops knowing that someone you trust is keeping a close eye on your pets.
  • Don’t ever leave your pet alone in a car
  • A quick pit stop may feel like no time at all to you, but it’s too long to leave your pet in a car by themselves. Heat is a serious hazard: when it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Even if you’re certain of your timing, you can get held up — in just 30 minutes, you could return to a 120 degree car and a pet suffering irreversible organ damage or death.

For additional safe travel tips for airplanes, trains or ships, check out the Humane Society’s helpful travel guides.

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.