Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shelter Friends of the Week

Each week I will be posting stories about dogs and cats who are up for adoption in an effort to create awareness about all of the amazing animals that are living in shelters just waiting to meet you. If you are interested in one of our featured pets or any of the wonderful dogs and cats in need of a new home please contact Washington Humane Society (WHS) or Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) directly.

Chris is a curious, peppy 4 year old Tiger who was hanging outside of an apartment building in NE DC. One of the residents was afraid he would freeze so she gave us a call. Chris is a friendly little guy who likes to explore new environments with the attention of a detective. Tolerant and gentle, this fabulous feline may be on the older side, but he's still got lots of adolescent cat in him and still enjoys playtime. Come down and meet this sweet little guy today!

Muneco is a ridiculously adorable 5 year old Collie mix who was found meandering through Hyattsville, MD, hoping to find his new forever home. Muneco is a super sweet, loving, social boy who bonds strongly with people. Very tolerant and appeasing, he's very sensitive and looks to people for support. A little stressed with new situations and experiences, he deserves a home where he's given plenty of time to feel comfortable, and where he's provided with confidence building in addition to tons of love and affection. Muneco is full grown at about 50lbs. WHS

Good Times, a 1-yr-old Rat Terrier mix came to WARL from a shelter in Georgia. She weighs 24 pounds. WARL

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Amazing Isabelle

Over the recent Thanksgiving weekend, Isabelle --an eight-year-old Shih Tzu--suffered a severe attack by a group of dogs. When Isabelle arrived at Friendship she was alive but in shock and in very critical condition, the overnight doctor wasn’t sure she would make it through the night. She was minimally responsive, we could not register a blood pressure and she had gashes all over her body that thankfully didn’t penetrate her chest or abdomen. Her right ankle was dangling: a bite wound had severed the ligaments that hold it together and torn through the joint. She was started on supportive care including blood pressure support, aggressive pain management and antibiotics. By morning she had survived and was looking better but this was just the beginning for Isabelle.

On Saturday, she was stable enough to have the extensive lacerations on her back cleaned under anesthesia and multiple drains were placed to help facilitate healing. Dr. Walker -- our board certified surgeon —saw Isabelle on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. He repaired her ankle by fixing the joint in place with a plate, a technique called arthrodesis. The wounds on her back were left alone so we could see how the tissue would respond, this would determine how much was going to need to be removed in the future.

Eight days after that horrible attack, Isabelle left the hospital for home--but would soon return. After two weeks, Isabelle’s wounds still had not healed and all the skin on her back and sides had detached from the underlying tissue. More drains were placed and the skin was tacked down to encourage adhesion to the body wall. She continued to come in daily for bandage changes so we could clean the wounds and assess their healing. Five weeks after her initial presentation, and six surgeries later, Isabelle’s last wound was closed. I am thrilled to report she is doing great.

Isabelle’s story is inspiring; it highlights the amazing things that can happen at Friendship with a dedicated owner, committed doctors, caring technicians and one brave little dog. When Isabelle was at the hospital she probably spent 10% of her time in a cage. Most of the time she was in someone’s arms receiving the love she deserves or helping us work in the doctor’s office. Thank you to her owners for going the distance, and to everybody at Friendship for pulling for Isabelle and doing everything they could to make sure she made it home to her family.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Friendship News

The new Friendship Hospital for Animals website is up and running with all kinds of exciting features. One especially cool new service is our online pharmacy. (Guess what -- our prices are LOWER on every medication than those of the discount pet pharmacies advertised on TV!) You can also order your prescription diets from Hill's, Royal Canin, Iams and Purina online. You can show off your Friendship spirit with Friendship Gear and buy fabulous pet accessories from FetchDog, with proceeds going to the Humane Education Fund sponsored by the Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League. There are links to this awesome blog, of course, and also to Pet Portals (free private pet health websites for all Friendship clients). And there's also plenty of basic information about the hospital, our doctors and other team members, policies, and the services we offer. The website is yet another example of how we are working to provide you the best care for your pet.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So your pet has cancer, now what?

As a pet owner whose own dog has not one, but two types of cancer--lymphoma and melanoma--I know firsthand how devastating, confusing and overwhelming this diagnosis can be. The only possible shred of good news is that you have the warm, caring embrace of the Oncology Department at Friendship available to you.

Dr. Chand Khanna--who may just be the most amazing person I have ever met--leads this team of dedicated doctors and veterinary technicians. In addition to being double board-certified in internal medicine and oncology, Dr. Khanna runs multiple labs at the National Institutes of Health and founded Animal Clinical Investigation. Through these organizations he performs ground-breaking research in both animal and human cancer. Equally important, he is a personable, compassionate and caring individual. His entire team--including doctors Tony Rusk, Alexandra Sahora and Esther Chon; his assistant Cindy; and the veterinary technicians Stuart, Tracey and Amy--understands what a scary time this is for your and your pet.

Managing cancer is complex, expensive and at times confusing (even for me with Westin). Dr. Khanna and his team will go out of their way to answer all your questions and concerns and are always available to the emergency doctors at Friendship if something happens after hours. They do their very best to make treating your pet’s cancer as comfortable as possible for both you and your beloved pal.

Though most cancers in companion animals are, unfortunately, not yet curable, many are now treatable thanks to devoted doctors like Chand Khanna and organizations like the Morris Animal Foundation. We are making great advances in managing cancer in our beloved pets and one day we will find a cure. Westin has responded unbelievably well to her treatments but I know some day she will not be able to fight anymore. I treasure each day with her and consider myself blessed that she has Dr. Khanna and the oncology service at Friendship looking after her.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spay and Neuter Today!

Spaying and neutering are routine surgeries, which remove a dog or cat’s reproductive organs. This single, simple act has numerous benefits for your pet’s health, yourself, and the millions of unwanted animals living in shelters.

As a general rule, if you do not plan on breeding your pet, he or she should be spayed or neutered by 6 months of age. It is common for some shelters to perform these surgeries on younger animals. Breeding correctly takes a lot of research and education both for the safety of your pet and to pass on desirable traits of the breed. If you are not dedicated to improving the genetics of your chosen breed and producing offspring that are healthier than their parents, then you should not breed your pet.

Female dogs and cats spayed before their first heat have less than a 99% chance of developing mammary cancer. If you spay them before their second heat you have a 92% chance of preventing mammary cancer. By spaying you completely remove the chance for an often life-threatening uterine infection called pyometra as well as uterine and ovarian cancers.

Neutering a male dog or cat eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and significantly decreases the chance of prostatic disease and hernias which occur under the body’s influence of testosterone.

Plus, a pet that is spayed or neutered is simply more pleasant to live with. Neutering your male dog decreases and may even eliminate such undesirable behavioral tendencies as aggression, urine marking, wandering and the dreaded humping. Male cats are less likely to spray if inside and fight or roam if they are allowed outside. Female dogs in heat are really messy – who wants that mess on their carpet or sofa? And anyone who has ever lived with an un-neutered male cat will recall the joys of damp carpets and the delicate aromas of cat pee wafting through the room.

If the reasons above do not move you, let us consider the tragic pet overpopulation problem in this country. The Humane Society of the Unites States estimates that 6-8 million dogs and cats enter a shelter every year. Of that number over half are euthanized, that is 4 million dogs and cats put to death every year. The average fertile female cat can produce about 12-18 kittens per year and female dog 12-20 puppies. Shelters and rescue groups work tirelessly to find homes for these pets but they just can’t keep up with the number of animals entering the shelters.

Spay and neuter today! Do it for your pet’s health, do it for yourself and do it for the millions of unwanted animals living in shelters.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Importance of Senior Bloodwork

So your beloved companion is starting to get a little older, graying around the muzzle and slowing down some, how can you make sure that there is no underlying disease lurking? We recommend that owners have with pets over the age of 9 years have a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry panel and urinalysis performed yearly as part of their senior pet’s wellness exam. These tests not only alert us to diseases that may already be present but also serve as a base line for problems that may occur in the future.

I often find that people will decline, and instead opt to wait, reasoning that “Fluffy seems healthy, I’m not concerned”. I know it is expensive and more often than not everything is normal, but if we catch something early then perhaps we can start treatment now before it becomes a problem

One pet that recently benefited from early detection is Sox, a perfectly healthy-seeming 10-year-old cat whose owners elected to do senior blood work during his annual exam. We found mild elevations in kidney values accompanied by dilute urine indicating decrease in kidney function. Since this was caught early we can switch Sox’s diet and start medications to protect the remaining kidney function that is present.

Catching diseases we can manage or treat early will ultimately lead to a longer and healthier life for your pet, which is what we all want.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shelter Friends of the Week

Each week I will be posting stories about dogs and cats who are up for adoption in an effort to create awareness about all of the amazing animals that are living in shelters just waiting to meet you. If you are interested in one of our featured pets or any of the wonderful dogs and cats in need of a new home please contact Washington Humane Society (WHS) or Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) directly.

Brewster is a 2-year-old Beagle mix whose previous owner adopted him from another shelter only a few months ago, but said a new job meant she no longer had enough time for him. Brewster is shy at first, but bonds quickly and is eager to snuggle up next to you on the sofa and roll over for a belly rub. He's also fun, playful and loves toys! Brewster should weigh around 20 pounds, however he's currently on the chubby side and would benefit from a diet in his new home. Because he gets nervous easily, he's not recommended for a home with young children. He does seem to get along well with other dogs. WHS

Corgan is a beautiful 2-year-old solid white cat whose previous owner passed away. Corgan is a mellow kitty who spends his time sitting quietly while he watches the other cats race around the room. Corgan is very affectionate and enjoys snuggling up next to you and getting scrached under his chin. WHS

Brock, a 1-yr-old German shepherd mix, came to the League from another DC shelter. He and 9 other dogs were discovered in a hoarding situation after the person who was keeping them got sick. WARL

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Shelter friends of the week

Each week I will be posting stories about dogs and cats who are up for adoption in an effort to create awareness about all of the amazing animals that are living in shelters just waiting to meet you. If you are interested in one of our featured pets or any of the wonderful dogs and cats in need of a new home please contact Washington Humane Society (WHS) or Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) directly.

St. Nick is a 6-year-old male cat whose previous owner became ill and could no longer take care of him. One thing's for sure, St. Nick didn't miss any meals in his previous home! He's a chunky kitty who needs a diet and some exercise in his new home. If you're looking for a pal who is content to sleep the day away while you're at work and snuggle up with you in the evenings, St. Nick would love to be your new friend! Washington Humane Society.

For more information about St. Nick, contact Call Natalie Kahla, Adoptions Manager at 202-576-3207 for the DC Shelter (operated by the Washington Humane Society) 1201 New York Avenue location.

Chanel is an 8-year-old Beagle whose previous owners lost their home and had to move to an apartment that didn't allow pets. Chanel is shy at first, but after you spend some time with her she becomes quite a cuddlebug and loves to snuggle up next to you and roll over for belly rubs. Even though she's an older dog, she still has enough energy to enjoy play time and daily walks. She gets along well with other dogs, but prefers calm dogs. She is not recommended for a home with young children because they would likely stress her out. Chanel is full grown at about 20 pounds. Washington Humane Society.

Spanky is a six-year-old male orange tabby who was surrendered because the dog he shared a home with complained about him. I hear that he is anxious to find a home, go meet this handsome kitty today!

To find out more about Spanky, email WARL at or call 202-726-2556

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Welcome to Friendship Tails!

Friendship Tails is a blog about Friendship Hospital for Animals, a full-service veterinary hospital located in Washington, DC.

Working at Friendship is amazing and I cannot imagine practicing anywhere else. After graduating from University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine I was thrilled to be accepted in Friendship’s internship program. Friendship is one of the few hospitals in the area to offer this elective program intended to provide new graduates with experience and mentorship. After completing the internship I was lucky enough to be offered a position as a staff veterinarian. My duties at the hospital include seeing wellness appointments, working emergency shifts and performing both elective and emergency surgeries.

Before attending vet school I graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in mechanical engineering. It wasn’t until I was out of college for a few years that I realized becoming a veterinarian was the perfect career path for me. I spent the majority of my childhood and high school riding horses and at home I was always surrounded by our many dogs. I never truly understood the remarkable bond that one can have with a pet until I met my dog Westin, golden retriever mix. She has been my best friend since college after I found her as a puppy living on the streets in the Bahamas. My relationship with Westin has inspired me to become a veterinarian so that I can help others experience the unconditional love and fulfillment that a pet can bring to your life.

I live in Northwest DC with my three dogs, Westin, Sparkle and Lilly and three cats, Vegas, Breaker and Furla. The kitties are rescues I met while working at the animal shelter in vet school. Sparkle is a rat terrier and is very talkative and feisty; she apparently has an opinion about everything. Lilly is a Chihuahua mix I found playing in train tracks on the side of a highway in Florida and is by far one of the cutest dogs I have ever met (I could be biased). Needless to say with this crew there is never a dull moment in my house.

My goal in creating Friendship Tails is not only to inform the community about all the amazing things that happen at Friendship but to offer a source of reliable information for pet owners. Every doctor at Friendship is committed to providing the highest quality of medicine for their patients, the technicians work tirelessly to make sure everyone is given the best care possible and the front desk staff ensures everything runs smoothly. In addition to what we do at the hospital Friendship is also very active in the community with close ties to Washington Humane Society, Washington Animal Rescue League and DC Animal Control.

Apart from what an exciting place Friendship is I also want to educate pet owners so that they can work with their veterinarian to ensure a long and healthy life for their own dogs and cats. I find that my clients often have the same questions and concerns regarding their pets medical needs, I hope Friendship Tails can answer some of these questions. I would be lost without the animals in my life; let me help you care for the pets in yours.

--Ashley Hughes, DVM