News & Events

News and Events

What Do Soft Tissue and Orthopedic Surgeries in Pets Entail?

Much like humans, pets can suffer from a number of different painful ailments that may require surgery as treatment. At VRC , our board-certified surgeons are prepared for your pet’s surgical needs, including soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries.

Dogs and cats of certain breeds may be more prone to diseases and conditions that require surgery at some point during the course of their lives. Whether the problem with your pet is congenital, traumatic or age-related, and either soft tissue or orthopedic, the surgeons at VRC are ready to help.

VRC is a great option for people near Malvern, Pennsylvania or the Greater Philadelphia area who have pets in need of surgical care. Our team is dedicated to helping treat your beloved pets during all stages of the surgical process.

Orthopedic Surgery

Orthopedic surgery is used to treat musculoskeletal issues found in pets. If a pet suffers from a traumatic injury that leads to, fractured bone or torn ligament, or if he or she has a degenerative condition like osteoarthritis, your family veterinarian may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for treatment. It’s important to keep in mind that orthopedic surgeries can require multiple follow-up visits and radiographs to monitor progress during recovery.

Soft Tissue Surgery

Soft tissue surgery encompasses procedures relating to the internal organs, skin and muscle. Some common soft tissue surgeries procedures obstructive intestinal foreign body, shunt, airway, reconstructive, and cancer-related surgeries

One common need for a soft tissue surgery is tumor removal. When a cat or dog has a potentially cancerous mass, it is treated much like tumors in humans, and when possible,  soft tissue surgeons will remove it. Your pet would then meet with an oncologist, if needed, for further care.

What to Do After Your Pet’s Surgery

After a surgical procedure, your dog or cat will require time in the hospital and special care at home. Our surgeons will discuss post-operative care with you during your appointment so you can better understand what the surgery will entail and what care will be needed. While each surgery and pet is different, there are a few common post-operative care tips that can help you make it through.

If our doctors are concerned about your pet’s well-being immediately after surgery, he or she may want to keep your pet at the hospital for a few days. This is normal—especially if the surgery was extensive to make sure they are comfortable and recovered from their anesthesia in the initial post-operative period. However, if you pick your dog or cat up only a few hours after surgery, there are a few things you should expect.

First, your dog or cat will need a lot of rest. The first 12 to 24 hours after surgery, they will likely be groggy and confused. This is a normal side-effect of anesthesia and should wear off after 24 hours or so. After this point, you will need to make sure that your pet continues getting enough rest to heal properly.

To help your pet heal, you will need to make sure that they aren’t too active. It can be helpful to confine them to a small room or pen in your home to prevent them from running around, which can hinder the healing process and even cause infection. You can add blankets or bedding to the room or kennel to make your pet more comfortable.

Even if you have to keep your pet in a restricted area, you need to be able to give him or her plenty of attention. Surgery causes stress for your pets and you can help calm them down by sitting and talking to them. Further stress can affect healing times and require longer confinement.

In most cases, your pet will be prescribed medications for you to administer while he or she recovers. Antibiotics and pain relief medications help your pet to heal properly without infection or severe pain. Dogs that are usually extremely active may also require sedatives. It can be tricky to get cats and dogs to take medications, but it is very important that you find something that works so your pet can get the medication they need. Pill pockets often work wonders for a picky pet.

You will also need to monitor the incision from your pet’s surgery. While you may not need to clean it, you need to check it occasionally to make sure it doesn’t look like it is getting infected and that it is healing properly. You also need to prevent your pet from licking and scratching the incision site. At VRC, we always provide you with an e-collar after surgery to ensure your pet does not aggravate his or her incision. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, please give us a call for further instruction.

Especially in the case of orthopedic surgery, your cat or dog may require physical rehabilitation therapy. Our in-house physical rehabilitation center is an ideal way after surgery to get your pet comfortable and moving after surgery.  At VRC, we offer a variety of different rehabilitation services to help get your pet back to his or her normal, pain-free life., Water treadmill, acupuncture, laser therapy, and massage are just a few of the treatments VRC can use to help your pet regain mobility and prevent future injuries, as well as provide pain relief. Physical rehabilitation is also beneficial for the conditioning of canine (and feline!) athletes as well as to keep arthritic pets mobile and active.

Remember that after any kind of surgery, your pet’s surgeon may request subsequent visits to check on your pet’s progress. After each visit, your vet may have new instructions for helping your pet heal. It can be frustrating, but you and your vet have the same goal—getting your pet well. Be honest with your pet’s doctor about what you can and cannot handle, however, as it may affect further treatment plans.

If your vet believes that your cat or dog is suffering from an ailment that requires either orthopedic or soft tissue surgery and you live in the Malvern, Pennsylvania or the Greater Philadelphia area, give VRC a call today at 610-647-2950.

Why Is My Pet Always Sick?


Everybody gets sick. It’s a fact of life. When a pet gets sick, however, it can be a little harder to recognize. Dogs and cats can’t tell us “my tummy hurts,” or “I don’t feel like myself today,” so pet owners need to be aware of any changes in their animals. An illness may be indicated by things like unusual behavior, such as losing interest in playtime or walks, lack of interest in food, hiding for no reason, sleeping more than usual, weight loss or gain, and showing signs of general fatigue.

While observing occasional shifts in behavior is just a part of pet ownership, sudden dramatic changes or changes that persist for more than a few days are a sign that it’s time for a checkup with your family veterinarian, who may refer you to a veterinary internist in the greater Philadelphia area for further evaluation and treatment. A board-certified veterinary internist is a veterinarian that has special training dealing with diseases and illnesses associated with your pet’s internal organs. He or she has also passed a grueling specialized training and exam process.

Vomiting and diarrhea are two signs that your furry friend is really going through some troubles. Now, dogs and cats both vomit or have an occasional bout of diarrhea when they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have, so neither should set off immediate warning bells… but frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea, combined with one or more of the unusual behaviors listed above, mean it’s time to take your dog or cat to the vet. While many consider it normal for cats and dogs to vomit up anything from hairballs to whatever your dog got into that day, it’s actually not good for them—and frequent illness can be an indicator of all sorts of other problems. So, if your pet vomits more than twice in a single day, and especially if the vomiting lasts for more than one day, bring him or her to a 24/7 emergency veterinary hospital or make an appointment with your family veterinarian. The cause may be something very common and easily treated, and yet, it’s always better to know for sure. There could be something of greater concern going on that a veterinary internist needs to diagnose and treat.

A frequent but remarkably under-diagnosed condition in pets is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While you may have never heard of inflammatory bowel disease in pets, it’s more common than you might think. There’s no one specific cause for IBD, but some breeds of dogs and cats can be more susceptible than others, and it can affect dogs and cats of any breed and any age. There are some signs to watch out for, however.

What to Know About Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

Dog breeds predisposed to IBD are French Bulldogs, Basenjis, Irish Setters, and Lundehunds. Many dogs from these breeds will never develop IBD, and many dogs, from shelter mutts to purebred Chihuahuas, will. Here’s a list of symptoms that may be indicators that your dog is suffering from IBD, but it’s always best to let your veterinarian diagnose your dog after you bring him or her in for a checkup:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Bright Red Blood in Stool
  • Chronic Intermittent Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Changes to Coat Hair
  • Fatigue
  • Gas (Flatulence)
  • Rumbling and Gurgling Abdominal Sounds
  • Weight Loss

If you suspect your dog may have IBD, or if your dog is simply experiencing any of the above symptoms, bring him or her in for a checkup with your family veterinarian, who may recommend that your pet see an internist. The internist’s goals will be to identify the cause of those symptoms, and eventually reduce your dog’s discomfort by increasing his or her appetite, managing diarrhea, and vomiting, and helping him or her gain weight back after minimizing intestinal inflammation. This may take the form of reducing food allergens such as meat proteins, milk, gluten, artificial colors, and additives, among other treatments.

What to Know About Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats

IBD in cats can look similar to IBD in dogs, but they’re different species with their own physiologies and mannerisms. Siamese cats are the breed most predisposed to IBD, and the symptoms are largely the same—diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, intermittent vomiting, gas and abdominal pain, rumbling or gurgling abdominal sounds, and bright red blood in their stool. As in dogs, no single cause has been identified as the reason some cats develop IBD, but it’s suspected that food allergies can play a part, as can hypersensitivity to bacteria.

What You Can Do

Inflammatory Bowel Disease cannot be cured, but it can usually be successfully treated and controlled. A pet internist will design a therapy to increase your dog or cat’s comfort and reduce symptoms. It’s also extremely important to treat and reduce diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, and stop most (if not all) of your pet’s vomiting. Usually, pets with IBD have lost weight or become anxious about eating, so it’s important to get their weight back up.

It’s possible your veterinary internist may be able to identify a cause of your pet’s IBD, although the variety of causes can make this a bit difficult. Sometimes the cause is dietary; other times, it can be because of parasites, bacteria, a reaction to a drug they might be taking, or something else entirely. If the internist can identify a cause of your pet’s IBD, it should be eliminated, especially if it is a dietary cause. In fact, dietary manipulation is one of the most effective ways of treating IBD, though sometimes medications are required

The reason we say IBD can be treated, but not cured, is that even once your veterinary internist gets your pet’s IBD under control, relapses can be common. VRC’s internist, Dr. Justin Guinan, a board-certified internal medicine specialist with years of experience, can help you minimize the chance of an IBD relapse in your pet. Before joining the VRC team, Dr. Guinan worked at clinics large and small, in both emergency and specialty medical care.

If your pet is experiencing gastric discomfort and advanced, specialty care has been recommended, take your dog or cat to a veterinary internist such as Dr. Guinan at VRC who can get to the bottom of your pet’s stomach troubles and recommend a course of action that will get him or her feeling a lot better, and quickly.

VRC is a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital located in the greater Philadelphia area. If you suspect your pet has IBD, or are worried about any other digestive issues, contact us immediately.

VRC Welcomes a New Neurologist and a New Medical Oncologist

The VRC Team is growing! Dr. Christine Senneca, a board-certified veterinary neurologist and Dr. Colleen Martin, a medical oncologist, have joined our robust staff of veterinarians. Each brings with her experience and skill in her field that will contribute to VRC’s team of highly qualified specialists. VRC is a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital committed to providing the highest quality care to pets in the greater Philadelphia area. Dr. Senneca and Dr. Martin will greatly enhance our team with their extensive service offerings and knowledge as well as enable VRC to provide care for a wider variety of illnesses and injuries.


Christine Senneca, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology) hails from Long Island, New York. After receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, she completed her clinical rotations at the University of Florida, and then interned at the VCA Aurora and VCA Berwyn Animal Hospitals close to Chicago. Post-internship, Dr. Senneca spent time practicing emergency medicine before completing a residency at the University of Florida, where she specialized in neurology and neurosurgery. Now a member of the VRC team, Dr. Senneca’s areas of interest include surgical intervention for neurologic disease, nervous system diseases of a non-infectious nature, and seizure management.


Colleen Martin, DVM, Practice Limited to Oncology, is originally from Atlanta, GA. With a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from SUNY Oswego and a Master of Science degree in immunology from the University of Rochester, Dr. Martin decided to work in cancer research for a few years. Afterward, she earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada. Her rotating internship in small animals was completed at the Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York, and she completed a second internship and residency in medical oncology at North Carolina State University. As a part of VRC, Dr. Martin’s areas of interest include the human-animal bond, hematopoietic malignancies, targeted cancer therapies, and comparative oncology.


VRC is a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital. If you are a referring veterinarian in the greater Philadelphia area or beyond and would like to schedule a Meet & Greet or Lunch & Learn with our new team members, Dr. Senneca and Dr. Martin, or any of our other doctors, please contact Brian Haugen at

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.