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Introducing Jennifer West, VMD

Dr. West is the newest addition to our 24/7 emergency & critical care team. We are open to provide after-hours care to your patients 365 days a year.


Jennifer West, VMD earned her veterinary medical degree at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. With an interest in wildlife and exotic pets, Dr. West completed a rotating small animal internship and pursued research in avian medicine at Louisiana State University. Through participation in flood relief work, she discovered her passion for triage and emergency medicine, and joined VRC’s 24/7 emergency care team in 2017.


  • Full laboratory service
  • Venous and arterial blood gas monitoring
  • Oxygen-enriched environments
  • Telemetric ECG monitoring
  • Blood pressure, arterial blood pressure and central venous blood pressure monitoring
  • Advanced anesthesia monitoring
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Diagnostic procedures: endoscopy, bronchoscopy and thoracoscopic lung biopsy
  • Diagnostic imaging: ultrasound, fluoroscopy, CT, MRI, and digital X-ray
  • Board-certified criticalists

Keeping Your Pet Safe and Happy During Your New Year’s Celebration

New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate and welcome the new year ahead, but this day can cause a lot of stress and dangers for our pets. So, how can you keep your pets happy and safe during this exciting night?

Remember that animals are more sensitive to loud noises than humans, which means that many pets are afraid of fireworks, loud music, and the bustle of large crowds. Certain foods, drinks, and decorations at your gatherings can also cause trouble for your cat or dog as well. It is hard to keep pets safe during holiday celebrations, but VRC is here with a few tips for pet safety during the New Year’s festivities.

1.     Leave your pets home

If you are taking your celebration outside of your home, it is best to leave your pets behind. At home, your pets feel safe and secure. Since it is likely to be loud outside, VRC recommends leaving your pets in a quiet area of your home. If your pet is especially fearful of loud noises, it may be a good idea to have some familiar noises playing to drown out the scary sounds. Comforting music or the television can help make your pet feel less anxious while you are away.

2.     Keep your pets inside

Dogs and cats may try to run or escape when they are frightened. Keeping your pets indoors as much as possible can prevent them from getting out and lost. VRC also advises you to keep windows closed and watch the door leading outside closely to make sure your pet doesn’t escape.

If possible, you may even want to keep your pets in a separate room away from all the festivities. Not only will this keep them from dashing out the door, but it can also prevent them from ingesting things that they shouldn’t and keep them calmer.

Keep your pet leashed if you need to take them out for a bathroom break—even if you have a fenced-in yard. A leash will give you more control if your pet is spooked. You may even want to use a harness instead of a collar that your pet may be able to slip out of. Keep in mind that during times of high-stress or excitement, pets can act in abnormal ways that you may not expect given their usual personality and demeanor.

3.     Check and update information on your pet’s ID tag

Just in case your pet happens to get lost during New Year’s Eve celebrations, make sure all information on your pet’s ID tag is up-to-date. If your pet is microchipped, check the information on that as well. Even if your pet is microchipped, make sure that they are wearing an ID tag. It is better to be safe, and the more ways that someone can contact you, the more likely you are to find your pet.

4.     Keep alcohol and food out of reach

Alcohol is very dangerous—even in small amounts—to cats and dogs. If you are celebrating the New Year with alcohol, keep it out of reach from your pets. Since alcohol is toxic to cats and dogs, it can cause drooling, dry heaving, vomiting, a distended abdomen, low blood pressure, weakness, and more, which could lead to coma or death.

A lot of people foods are dangerous for cats and dogs. During a party, it can be hard to watch your pet to make sure they aren’t getting into anything that could be harmful to them. Keep all food out of reach to prevent any problems. You may also want to speak to your guests and ask that they don’t feed your pet anything during the party.

Contact a veterinarian right away if you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol or a problem food. Watch out for bones, fatty foods, chocolate, grapes/raisins, and other common foods that are toxic or harmful to pets.

5.     Be mindful of decorations and party supplies

Streamers, balloons, confetti, and other party decorations can cause big trouble for our pets. They not only can cause an upset stomach, but they could cause an intestinal blockage or cause your pet to choke. If you think that your pet has ingested a foreign object, contact an emergency veterinarian.

6.     Wear your pet out earlier in the day

Before the festivities begin, exercise or play with your pet. A tired pet is less likely to have built-up energy that can make them even more anxious. A tired dog or cat may just sleep through any of the stressors caused by New Year’s Eve celebrations, which makes your life much easier.

How Can You Manage Already Anxious Pets?

If your pet is already anxious, it may be a good idea to get anti-anxiety medications for your pet before New Year’s Eve. Set up an appointment with your veterinarian to see if anti-anxiety medications are something that your dog or cat could benefit from. Always speak to your veterinarian before giving your pet any medications, and only give your pet anti-anxiety medications prescribed and given out by a veterinarian. Many human medications are not suitable for pets and can be extremely dangerous.

It is also a good idea to try to maintain your pet’s normal routine as much as possible during the festivities. A routine can help reduce stress in pets. Make any necessary adjustments to keep your pets safe, however.

For anxious pets, following the advice listed above can be very beneficial. Creating a safe space for your pet that is away from noise, commotion, and other stressors can be the best way to manage an already anxious pet during the hustle and bustle of New Year’s celebrations.

What Should You Do If Your Pet Gets Loose?

Your natural instinct will be to chase your pet, but chasing a scared pet will only make them run more. Instead, grab some of your pet’s food or treats and try to call them back to you. You can also try to follow them with food or treats.

If you can’t manage to get your pet to come back to you, you can contact your local animal control officers for help.

What Should You Do If Your Pet Ingests a Dangerous Substance or Item?

Keep the phone number of an emergency veterinarian handy. If you believe that your pet has consumed a dangerous food item or something that isn’t food at all, give the emergency veterinarian a call. They can advise you on whether or not you need to bring your pet in.

Even if they don’t believe that the problem is serious enough for a visit to the veterinary ER, they can still walk you through how to make sure your pet is fine. If you notice any worrisome symptoms later, you should contact a 24/7 emergency veterinarian or go ahead and bring your pet into the ER.

VRC offers 24/7 emergency veterinary services to the Greater Philadelphia area 365 days a year. If you believe your pet needs emergency medical care this New Year’s, call VRC at 610-647-2950 or stop in, no appointment necessary.

Holiday Pet Safety

Happy holidays from our family to yours! As you enjoy the festivities this year, be sure to keep pet safety in mind so that everyone can be sure to have a wonderful winter season.

Download our holiday pet safety guide by clicking HERE to learn more.

Case Study: The Dangers of Prescription Medication Exposure or Overdose in Pets

Dogs and cats are intelligent, inquisitive creatures and as much as we try to keep them safe, everyday objects in our home can be a tempting danger to them. VRC has covered common household threats to pets such as toxic food items, poisonous flowers, and household chemicals, but today we’re going to write about your prescription medications and what their presence in your home can mean for your pets.

Clarke is a 2-year-old male Labrador from the greater Philadelphia area who is always exploring and getting into trouble. Clarke came into VRC after biting his owner’s albuterol inhaler. Commonly used as an asthma medication, albuterol opens the bronchial airways for people with breathing issues, but it can cause life-threatening concerns when consumed in large doses. Symptoms of albuterol poisoning include severe arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and electrolyte disturbance.

When Clarke came into VRC, he had a heart rate that was twice what’s normal in a dog his size and age, a blood pressure level of 230/165 (for dogs, 120/80 is around normal), and a potassium level low enough to be concerning. Thankfully, the owner knew the inhaler had been bitten, and got Clarke to a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital quickly where we were able to immediately administer IV fluid therapy and medications to block the effects of the albuterol. Thankfully for Clarke, albuterol leaves the body within 12-24 hours, so we felt confident that a short course of aggressive supportive care would save him. As it turns out, we were right! Clarke’s blood pressure and heart rate stabilized within half an hour of being admitted, and within twelve hours we were able to release him to his owners.

Next, let’s look at Buddy, a 7-year-old male pug, and his best friend Delilah, a ten-year-old female pointer mix. Though usually well behaved, Buddy and Delilah love their snacks and treats, which recently got them into trouble, necessitating a visit to our greater Philadelphia area veterinary hospital.

As dogs age, it’s common for them to get arthritis in their joints. While aging is a natural part of any dog’s life, we can help them with medications such as omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine chondroitin, and sometimes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). Buddy had been prescribed beef-flavored steroid pills for his hip dysplasia. While his owners were out of the house one day, Buddy and Delilah knocked the bottle of steroids off the counter and ate them all. Once Buddy and Delilah’s owners came home, they found the empty pill bottle and brought both dogs in to VRC for 24/7 emergency care.

As there was no way for us to know how many pills either dog had eaten, we had to assume a full bottle’s worth of pills was consumed by both. NSAIDs have a narrow safety margin, meaning overdose can happen even with one or two extra pills—not only that, but NSAID overdose can lead to severe stomach ulcers and failure of the liver and kidney. First, we induced vomiting, but when no pills were produced, we had to admit both dogs to our hospital to flush them with IV fluids and administer medications that helped reduce the risk of ulcers.

NSAIDs are usually metabolized within 48-72 hours, so we kept both dogs for observation over that time. Buddy’s liver and kidneys were fine, so he was discharged before Delilah, who had to be hospitalized for an additional two days due to injury to her kidneys from the overdose. Delilah was sent home after she stabilized, but it was a close call. If her owners hadn’t gotten her to the veterinarian so quickly, her kidneys might have shut down.

All’s well that ends well, but the moral of both stories is that it’s important to keep all medications away from your pets unless they’re being carefully administered. Given how difficult it can be to get a pill into your pet sometimes, it may seem like your animal is safe from accidentally ingesting medication, human or animal, but accidents can happen. especially This is especially the case with medications that are flavored to be tempting as well as with human medications that may look or smell interesting or unusual.

Best practice is to keep all medication, human or animal, on counters they can’t reach, or even better, behind the doors of your medicine cabinet. Don’t leave bottles on nightstands—even “child proof” plastic bottles can be destroyed by the powerful jaws of animals that like to chew.

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. Yes, this day is for human overdoses, but pets can overdose too, and International Overdose Awareness Day is as good an excuse as any to look over your home and see what’s lying about waiting for an accident to happen, or to make things even safer by tucking your medicines even further out of reach!

VRC is a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital located in the greater Philadelphia area. If you suspect your pet has overdosed, contact our emergency medicine and critical care center. It’s open 24/7, 365 days a year.