News & Events

News and Events

Frequently Asked Questions: Internal Medicine

Internal Medicine at VRC


Why does my pet need to see an internal medicine specialist?

Most patients that present for evaluation to internal medicine have complicated ailments that may be difficult to diagnose or treat. Our goal is to help discuss with you your diagnostic options, do everything that we can to get an answer to what is going on, and treat your pet in a way that will provide the best outcome possible.  The initial consultation will simply be to discuss your pet’s condition and all options regarding how to proceed.

How is my pet going to do during/after treatment?

Many patients that have complicated diseases/disorders can respond to treatment in different ways. This means that we often need to initiate treatment, monitor your pet’s responses, and adjust treatment based on what we see.

Does my pet have to receive diagnostic testing?

We encourage diagnostic testing as it can play an important role in allowing us to make proper medical recommendations and treatment adjustments for your pet. A definitive diagnosis gives us the best likelihood of a successful treatment. If you decide not to pursue diagnostic testing, we can try to treat your pet’s most likely condition(s) without a definitive diagnosis. It is important to understand that if we are treating your pet without a definitive diagnosis it is impossible to predict how they will respond.

Can my veterinarian do the follow up treatments?

Absolutely, we always work closely with your veterinarian. Many clients travel from a long distance and it is difficult for them to continue to make trips back for recheck blood work, weight evaluations, x-rays, etc. If you are going to follow-up with your veterinarian, we ask that you request diagnostic updates to be faxed to us so that we can continue to monitor them. We will then fax our medical recommendations, based on the information provided, to your veterinarian and (s)he will get in touch with you to discuss any changes to the treatment plan.

Can I get the prescription medications from my veterinarian?

We would be happy to fax any necessary paperwork to your veterinarian to fill a prescription as long as the medication is in stock and a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient relationship exists. This means that your pet has seen a particular primary veterinarian for visits and check-ups on a regular basis (typically within one year).

Can I get my pet’s prescription medications from a human pharmacy?

As long as the recommended medication or a suitable substitute is available as a human prescription, we would be happy to fax a prescription to a local or online pharmacy of your choice. Given that the cost of human medications fluctuates with time and across pharmacies, we recommend that you do some price shopping.  The same is true for online prescription purchases.

Do I need to fast my pet for the appointment?

Generally your pet does not need to be fasted prior to the appointment. If your pet will need to be fasted for specific tests or anesthesia, we will discuss fasting recommendations during the first appointment. If your veterinarian thinks that your pet will need anesthesia the day of the appointment or has recommended fasting, please contact us to discuss options.

Hot Weather and Heat Stroke Warnings in Your Pets

Technically speaking it is still spring, but the temperature is already rising in the greater Philadelphia area. The warm weather means people are getting outside with their dogs more and letting their cats play in the garden, and that’s great. Exercise is wonderful for cats and dogs, especially outdoor exercise while supervised by their owner. With the nice weather and warmer temperatures comes increased risk of heat stroke in pets, a condition that could send you and your pet to an emergency care veterinarian in the Philadelphia area. Last summer, Philadelphia had a number of heat waves and heat wave warnings from the National Weather Service. After a warm winter and warm spring, this year is looking as if it will be just as hot if not hotter—and along with the humidity in our area, we’ll very likely have days with a heat index well over 100 degrees. Heat like that isn’t just uncomfortable—it’s dangerous, especially for your pets who can’t ask for water, and who rely on human assistance to get the shade and other heat relief they need.

Learning the signs of heat stroke will help you protect your pets, but first it’s good to understand exactly what heat stroke really is. Heat stroke is a condition that can happen to both humans and their pets. It’s caused by the body overheating due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures and physical exertion. Dogs and cats are especially at risk as they can’t shed their furry coats when they start to feel warm.

That’s why when you’re outside with your pets—or when you let them back into the house—you should look for symptoms of heat stroke. Panting and excessive thirst, two of the most common symptoms, are difficult to isolate, so really be on the lookout for staggering, weakness, glazed eyes, lethargy, and signs of discomfort. More severe cases of heatstroke can cause vomiting or diarrhea, and animals may show signs of disorientation, lose consciousness, or have a seizure. These are all signs that your pet needs immediate care or even medical attention.

If you fear the worst, seek out an emergency care veterinarian in Philadelphia as quickly as possible. Heatstroke in pets can cause real and lasting damage to the heart, brain, and nervous system. There is also a risk of death.

If you feel your pet is just mildly overheated and it’s not an emergency situation, you can treat your pet in a few ways. The first step is, of course, to immediately get your pet out of the heat. Put them in a cool location, and then put on a fan to help them cool down their body. You can also help by placing cool (not cold) wet towels around the base of their neck, under their armpits, and under their body. Dogs can also be helped by bathing their earflaps and paws in cool water. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, of course—so please, contact a 24/7 vet for help if you think your pet needs it.

VRC is a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital that serves the Philadelphia area. Summer or winter, we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month

April is Prevention of Lyme Disease Month, and climate scientists are predicting a warm spring, which means that the northeast is likely going to experience a greater than average Lyme disease problem this year. Lyme disease is considered to be a serious ailment in dogs, so it’s important to do what you can to protect your pet from becoming infected, especially if you enjoy taking your dog for walks or hikes in wooded areas now that the weather is so nice.

Awareness is the better part of prevention, so let’s go through commonly (and not so commonly) known facts about Lyme disease:

  • Lyme disease is the result of being infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.
  • Typically, Lyme disease starts with a tick bite.
  • Ticks typically must be attached to your dog for a period of 24 hours before transmission can occur.
  • One way to prevent Lyme disease is to check your dog for ticks after walks in wooded areas. Comb through your dog’s fur, even around their ears and tail, to give them the most thorough examination possible.
  • Never remove a tick with your fingers. Always use gloves and tweezers when removing them.
  • Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from one pet to another, or from a pet to a person.
  • One good way to prevent your dog from getting into tall grass or densely wooded areas where ticks live is to always keep your dog on a leash, even if he or she is extremely obedient and comes when called.
  • Lyme disease, while serious, is not particularly common. Most dogs bitten by a tick that remains latched to the bite area for over 24 hours will not contract Lyme disease.
  • The most common tick that carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is the deer tick, also known as the black-legged tick.
  • Some of the hardest hit areas of the country for Lyme disease are in the northeast, and include Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
  • If your dog is exposed to Lyme disease, it may be weeks or even more than a month before signs and symptoms begin to show.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include high fever, lethargy, swelling of the joints, and loss of appetite. You may also see limping in your dog, or lameness such as stiff-legged walking or an arched back. Swollen lymph nodes are also a sign of Lyme disease, as is sensitivity to touch. In some cases, infected dogs may experience difficulty breathing. If you’ve seen a tick on your dog, or have removed one and are worried that it might be a deer tick that carries Lyme disease, contact your veterinarian in Pennsylvania immediately to make an appointment. And if you remove that tick, your veterinarian might encourage you to safely bring it in for examination. Follow their instructions on how they’d like you to do this. But, as always, an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure, so keep your dog leashed and out of tall grass until the weather cools off again.

VRC is a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital in the Philadelphia area. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Welcome Dustin Lewis, DVM, DACVR (Radiation Oncology)!

We are thrilled to welcome our newest radiation oncologist, Dustin Lewis, DVM, DACVR (Radiation Oncology)!



The VRC team is growing! We are excited to announce that Dr. Dustin Lewis is the newest radiation oncologist at VRC! He brings with him years of experience and skill in the field of radiation oncology.



Dustin Lewis, DVM, DACVR-RO grew up in Northeast Indiana and attended to Purdue University for both undergraduate studies and veterinary school.  In 2010, he graduated and began a small animal rotating internship at The Animal Medical Center in New York, NY.  In July 2011, he began a joint residency in radiation oncology at both North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.  Dr. Lewis completed his radiation oncology residency in July of 2013.  Upon completion of his residency, he accepted a position as radiation oncologist at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, NJ before he began also offering his services at VRC in 2017.


If you are a referring veterinarian and would like to schedule a Meet & Greet or Lunch & Learn with Dr. Lewis or any of our other doctors, please contact
Brian Haugen at

To learn more about VRC and the many services that we offer, give us a call at (610) 647-2950.