Author Archives: vmceastonvet

To sleep or brush teeth…Dr Amy Tanis

“So overall your pet’s physical exam is normal. He looks great! Let’s start brushing his teeth on a daily basis, this will help prevent tartar and plaque from forming on your pet’s teeth and keep his oral cavity happy and healthy!”

When I first started practicing at Veterinary Medical Center, I would probably say this (enthusiastically, no less) several times a day to most owners I would see, and why not? I brushed my dog’s teeth every day. It was easy, a five minute part of my day that both my dog, Jovie, and I looked forward to. But as time went on I noticed a trend. Each time I said it, I would get very different responses.  Many clients would give me the big “are you kidding me” eyes.  Others would say they’d try, but were realistic and said maybe they could aim for once a week. The most honest of the bunch would tell me there’s no chance of getting a toothbrush into their pet’s mouth, so let’s just schedule him for a dental cleaning every year.  I appreciated all answers as I realized everyone had different schedules, different comfort levels with their pets, and of course each animal’s temperament would dictate what type of at home oral care was possible.

Then I had a baby.

Of course I had time for my first baby, my beloved dog, but it was different. Most of our time together was now shared with a child. Sleep was always a precious commodity, so I would say, “Don’t worry Jovie; I’ll make sure we brush your teeth after I take a nap.” And we would nap together, get up together, take care of the baby and no teeth were brushed. I promised that tomorrow I’d get the toothbrush and chicken-flavored toothpaste, and about half the time I kept my word. Jovie’s teeth still looked healthy; I thought an every other day regimen was a good compromise.

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. A second baby came. I really had good intentions. Naps were a thing of the past for both of us; we were on the go looking after two little ones. Oral care for my fur baby was not always on my radar screen, but I still did a respectable one-time-per-week brushing. I started buying dental chews and gave one to Jovie on the days I didn’t brush, after-all they are a great way to keep bacteria from sticking to the tooth surface (I would reassure myself).

Then it happened. Surprise! A third baby was on his way. Sleep was at an all-time low, and I don’t think Jovie’s toothbrush even made it out of our bathroom drawer for a few months! During a moment of quiet, when Jovie and I had some time to just sit together, I lifted her upper lip. I thought back to a time of yester-year when those pearly whites got brushed religiously, when I instructed clients on how to perform the simple task, and was honest with them when I said, “why yes, I brush my dog’s teeth every day.”

Nowadays, sleep has become a little more regular, and so has giving Jovie’s teeth a good scrub. She probably will need a dental cleaning in the future, but she’s survived the baby years just like the rest of us. I will get back to brushing her teeth daily one day, or even better, I’ll delegate the job to an eager child who loves their dog!

Please review the link on our website for a short video on how to train your pet to love having a daily tooth brushing!

Don’t forget February is National Dental Health Month!

Mention you read this blog and get a $25.00 discount on your pet’s dentistry service scheduled through February 28 2015!

Five Lifesaving Skills that all Horses Need to Know

I know we all use our horses for many different things.  Some of us trail ride, some of us show, some of us just like to watch them in the field.  It really doesn’t matter.  What does matter, though, is that I think every horse should know 5 basic things.  These 5 things may make the difference between life and death for them.  We are fortunate – we don’t live in an area where there are wildfires or the need to evacuate in a moment’s notice.  But even if we don’t need to leave quickly, we still need to be able to handle our horse in an emergency.  Here are the 5 lifesaving things:

  1. Be able to catch and halter easily. If you can’t catch your horse, you can’t take him. It may take a few sessions in a round pen, but it CAN be taught.
  2. Lead well. By lead well, I mean to walk at your side, to stop when you do and to keep a respectful distance.  Not only will it make it safer for you to handle your horse, it makes it safer for your horse as well.
  3. Pick up his feet easily. (And that means all 4!) This may not be an emergency item, but you would be surprised at how many horses don’t know.  Your farrier and vet will thank you too!
  4. Have a rectal temperature taken. In an emergency, when you don’t have help, you may need to take your horses temperature.  If you have never taught them, it may be a disaster (for you at least- the horse just won’t let it happen and may remind you that you have never even lifted up the tail, much less inserted a foreign object there!)
  5. Load in a trailer. Not with tranquilization, not with an hour of coaxing, shoving, ropes, whips or grain. Do you need to evacuate?  Is your horse colicing and loading (or not) to go to a referral hospital?  An emergency is not the time when you should be seeing (and hoping) if your horse will load.

These things don’t cost money, they just take time.  They also apply to any age horse, from a foal to the geriatric horse. There are a lot of trainers who can help you, or you can get a lot of this knowledge from books, DVD’s or online.  If you need help or need to know where to look, let me know and I can get you the information you need.  After all, your horse’s health matters to me too.

Elizabeth D. Callahan, DVM, DACT, DABVP

Why I Practice Small Animal Medicine in a Mixed Animal Practice

First off, I would like to share how grateful I am to enjoy a career that is stimulating and meaningful where every day  I help animals, celebrate the bond they have with their owners, and have the true sense that I am following my purpose. I am living as my authentic self and it feels amazing.   While working a 13 hour day it is still energizing and satisfying, and I am left with a sense of accomplishment and peace.   I feel like I am doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do, and am blessed to be surrounded by a talented, compassionate, and extraordinary team at Veterinary Medical Center.

I have been practicing veterinary medicine for 26 years. When I first started, referral hospitals and emergency clinics were unheard of, especially in more rural areas.   So we provided 24 hour emergency care and performed procedures with the book open on the table next to the patient. My confidence developed and evolved as the success stories eclipsed any apprehension or fears.  I understood that I had been given the knowledge, tools and talent to truly make a difference in animals’ lives. It was also a time in my career where I went out on the road to treat horses and cattle and pigs. I was anxious to apply everything I had learned and develop the art of veterinary practice.

There was only one event that changed my professional direction. A deal changer if you will, where I questioned if I was really doing what I was meant to do. I remember the details well. It was a bitter cold January night when I received an emergency call just after midnight for a dystocia. (That’s a difficult delivery, and in this case it was a young heifer that had never been touched by human hands.) I instructed the young gentleman farmer to get her caught up in the barn and I would be there shortly. As I drove out in the cold winter night, the reflection of the moonlight over the snow covered fields gave a sense of peace and beauty that would soon dissipate as the evening unfolded. When I arrived I was met by a frantic owner who quickly led me to a field, surrounded by barbed wire and without any shelter, let alone anything that resembled a barn. In the bright moonlight I could make out the dark silhouette of a young heifer with a lifeless calf protruding from her hind end. The head and fore quarters were out and it seemed like the majority of the work was done. As I approached her, she jumped up and ran like a startled deer and bolted across the frozen ground. The lifeless object coming from her rear end bounced and danced in a bizarre and frightening manner as I realized this thing was stuck. We had learned about “hip lock” in veterinary school. It was where the hip bones of the calf are presented in such a manner that they cannot pass through the pelvic canal and the calf gets stuck. It was clear that this calf was already dead, but I needed to help this poor terrified creature, even if she chose not to cooperate. Since she was not accustomed to humans, each time I approached her she ran and slipped and skittered across the frozen ground.  I even imagined that with one slip she just might pop the thing out. I knew that the first order of business was to catch her, administer a sedative, and give her an epidural so that I could reposition the calf. While I had grown up on a farm and been around cattle my whole life, dealing with a frightened powerful feral heifer presented its share of problems. I went back to my truck and retrieved my lariat. Multiple attempts to lasso this wild and terrified beast in the frigid moonlit night became more and more frustrating until at last she ventured out across the ice on the frozen pond. With a mighty crash she fell through the ice, and now completely exhausted, she was stuck. I was able to approach her and secure my lariat around her neck and tie her to a broken rotted tree that protruded from the ice. Fortunately, the water was only about 2 feet deep and I was able to position myself where I could finally complete the work that I was called to do. I recall thinking that I was as cold and miserable as I had ever been in my entire life. After many unsuccessful attempts to reposition the dead calf, it became painfully clear that my only option was to perform a fetotomy. This is the gruesome task of dismembering the calf and removing it piece by piece. I gathered my tools and set to work, knowing that the faster I got to work the sooner this ordeal would be over. My arms and legs were cold and numb and I was frozen to the core of my being, but I had come this far and I was not one to give up now.

When I had finished, I didn’t know who was more thankful, myself of that poor animal. I was exhausted, covered in blood, mud, and rank pond water. The feeling had long since left my hands and feet, and I shivered uncontrollably as my body tried to warm itself up. The young farmer had stood by offering little assistance or support throughout the entire ordeal and had watched incredulously the entire time. As I gathered up my instruments and tried to get warm by stripping off my frozen wet clothes, the farmer sauntered up to the truck and asked ” Whadda I owe ya’ Doc? ” Without hesitation I said “We’ll send you the bill.” As I drove back home, the sun was starting to rise, and the beautiful crimson and purple hues cast a warm glow over the snow. I pondered the events of the evening, which somehow felt more like a nightmare than a farm call. The words “Whadda I owe ya’ Doc?” resonated over and over in my head. The only thought that came to my mind was that neither he nor anyone else had enough money to make me relive that experience again.

The very next day was when I decided that I was simply not cut out to practice large animal medicine. I’ve never regretted my decision, and have the utmost admiration and respect for my colleagues that continue to care for and provide large animal medical services. I am humbled and appreciative of my friends and colleagues in the Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates Group 1 that continue to provide this valuable service.

DTYDr. Dean Tyson has practiced small animal medicine and surgery at VMC for the past 17 years.




Horse Treats for Cushing’s Patients and Metabolic Syndrome

Giving treats is a common way we form a bond with our horses.  Treats are also useful in many training situations.  Unfortunately most commercially made horse treats, as well as apples and carrots, can be high in sugar.  This presents a problem with horses that have Cushing’s disease, or Insulin Resistance/Metabolic Syndrome, as those horses’ sugar and starch intake must be limited.

The following recipe is a great alternative to commercial horse treats.  It was even tested at Equi-Analytical lab and is extremely low in starch and simple sugars, with an NSC of 2.4.



  • 1 lb. bag of Bob’s Red Mill organic ground flaxseed (from Wal-Mart or grocery store)
  • ½ cup Unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbs. Cinnamon
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Cookie sheet, and parchment or wax paper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Dump flaxseed into mixing bowl.  Add Cinnamon; mix.  Add applesauce, then HOT water.  Initially mix with rubber spatula, then use your hands until the dough is smooth.

Cover cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.  (Do NOT use cooking spray.)  Place dough on paper covered cookie sheet to evenly cover it.  The thinner you spread the dough, the crunchier your horse cookies will be.  Cut the dough into squares BEFORE baking; this allows them to come apart easily after baking.  They are difficult to cut apart once baked.

Place in preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes for chewy cookies, and 75 minutes for crunchy cookies.  After that, turn off the oven and let them sit in the warm oven for another 30 minutes.

The cookies shrink during baking.  Once cool, they break apart easily.  Store in a baggie or plastic container in the refrigerator so they will not mold if not eaten quickly.  (Thinner, crunchier cookies are less apt to mold.)

I hope your horses enjoy these!
Dr. Teresa Martinoli

For more Information about Equine Cushings Disease and Equine Metabolic Syndrome go to the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) website  and look in the Owners section.



Miracles Can Happen

There are some cases that make me proud to be part of such an incredible vocation.  Medical cases that reaffirm my devotion to the profession of veterinary medicine, and reaffirm my faith in humanity.   My faith in animal kind needs no reaffirming.

Rambo was one of these cases.  Rambo is a shepherd mix dog owned by an elderly couple.  They are devoted to him, and he brings great joy to their lives.  Rambo was sitting on the couch one moment and the next moment was paralyzed from the neck down.  At 110 pounds, his owners needed to call their children to help get him to Veterinary Medical Center.

When Rambo arrived, an exam revealed he had damaged his spinal cord.  The most likely culprit was a fibrocartilagenous embolism, a type of clot to the spinal cord. Only an MRI could diagnose for sure, but the owners did not have the resources for this procedure.  They wanted him treated nearby.  Rambo was hospitalized in the ICU and given pain medications and anti-inflammatories.  Meanwhile his predicament was pondered.  How to manage a quadriplegic 100 lb dog?  He couldn’t even lift his head to eat.  We tried to support his big body in a sling to take pressure off joints. To do anything at all for Rambo took three or four people, because he was so heavy and completely paralyzed. By most measures, it looked hopeless.  Family and friends of Rambo’s owners even recommended euthanasia. But it was clear to us Rambo wanted to try. His owners believed he had a chance.  Rambo was their special boy and brought them so much happiness.  They wanted to do everything for him, and were so thankful we wanted to try.

He was given one week to show any sign of improvement; we also decided to absolutely quit if his spirits got low. That next week was really hard – emotionally and physically.  Rambo needed so much time and attention.  We were discouraged by how much work he took (several hours a day for several people) and with how little progress he was making.  He would not have made it without an inspiring group of veterinary technicians who diligently changed his bedding, hand fed him, expressed his bladder, and carried him outside so he could lie on the green grass in the sunshine.  His favorite technician spent part of each day feeding him treats and massaging his neck muscles; he wailed if she was not nearby.

At first it seemed like our imagination – a tail wag or twitch of a foot.  It was soon realized as real!  Small movements became larger movements, and by week two he could wiggle his way around his kennel like a snake.  In some ways, this mobility made everything harder.  Rambo, realizing he could move a little, tried to move a lot.  He tried so hard to push himself forward and stand that he fell forward on the bars of the cage and injured his nose.  Our hearts sank as one step forward seemed to turn into one step back.  Nonetheless his mobility was encouraging. There was no giving up now!

Rambo’s attentive care did not begin and end with technicians. Soon even VMC clients were asking about him and bringing him treats and toys.  As he gained strength and some ability to move his legs, he could walk outside with the support of a sling.  After a month, one morning we arrived to see him standing in his cage, eagerly looking at us with a “where is my breakfast?” look on his face, as if nothing was awry.  With continued  physical therapy, a week later, Rambo walked out of Veterinary Medical Center (albeit slowly), home to his family.  More than anything else, Rambo proves that there is more to medicine than fancy equipment, technology and expertise.  The most important thing we have to offer are the softer things: compassion, teamwork, and faith.  To give all beloved pets a chance when all seems lost!  What a miracle.

Rambo is all smiles at home two weeks after leaving Veterinary Medical Center.

Rambo is all smiles at home two weeks after leaving Veterinary Medical Center.


National Pet Week

Happy National Pet Week! Well, it’s slightly belated, but nonetheless May is an important month to revel in the unique, quirky, loveable traits that make our pets the best in the world! National Pet Week® was May 4-10, 2014 and is always celebrated the first full week in May.  National Pet Week® was created in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the idea behind its commencement was to recognize the 200 million pets that enhance American’s lives each day. The week is a celebration of the human-animal bond that is present on so many levels in our relationships with our animal friends.

So who is the AVMA, you ask? We veterinarians often throw out acronyms like it is part of our job description, but this one in particular is very important to the livelihood of our profession. The AVMA is a not-for-profit organization that represents more than 85,000 veterinarians working in the veterinary profession: private practice, corporate practice, government, industry, academia, and armed forces. The mission of the AVMA is simple: “ To improve animal and human health and advance the veterinary medical profession. “ For you, the pet owner, this translates into extremely useful, relevant information to help your pet live a happy, healthy life every week of the year.

The AVMA understands and adheres to the concept that keeping pets healthy requires teamwork. Educate yourself on proper pet care and pet health problems by asking questions and finding the answers from reliable, trusted sources of information – such as the site that our staff at Veterinary Medical Center has put together: or the website provided by the AVMA:

As pet-owners living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the idea of learning how to better the lives of our beloved animal friends is exciting (let’s face it, we have some awesome pets living here!).  National Pet Week® comes at a great time of year as the start of summer is around the corner. With so much to do in our community with our pets, why not brush up on summer safety tips, or get the facts about pets in vehicles? And for all those puppies that are finding their “fur-ever” home this spring, why not learn more about vaccinations, spaying and neutering and pet insurance? Check out the AVMA’s “For pet owners” section of National Pet Week® to learn more, or ask any staff member at Veterinary Medical Center. We’d be happy to help make National Pet Week every week on the Eastern Shore!

AVMA National Pet Week Site



Veterinary Medical Center’s “Vaccines for Life” program – putting the focus on your pet’s wellness

Recently, I read an article on a proactive approach to human healthcare. With all that’s going on with America’s healthcare system, a “new” perspective that focuses on preventative medicine just makes sense, right? Instead of taking the reactive approach to your health – for example going to the doctor when you are sick and expecting an easy, quick cure – we are all encouraged go annually for a yearly wellness visit and address any health concerns with our doctors before they become pressing issues.

As a mother of small children, the wellness visits for my kids seem to be never-ending. I am amazed at how frequently I go to the pediatrician. At times, I feel like we live there! But when my daughter has been ill, I am relieved that we have taken her to the same doctor who has gotten to know her during her well visits.  It’s not that the pediatrician has her vaccination record or weight chart on file, but that she knows her well. She is able to recognize any abnormalities more effectively because she knows what my daughter’s “normal” is.

From personal experience, I am a strong believer that this is the best approach for our fur-children as well. For example, I have an older dog, “Clive,” come into the office with the several serious medical complaints. This pet was last seen by me as a youngster when he was neutered 6 years ago.  I have no idea what Clive’s life is like at home or what his “normal” is. How has his weight or body condition changed? Is he up to date on vaccinations or a parasite prevention program? I have no patient/client relationship from which to draw any conclusions. The owner states Clive has always been healthy, until this last month, when his appetite decreased and he’s become more lethargic. Where do I start to help this patient and client? I have to catch up on years of information about this pet, do a complete, thorough physical exam and discern which of today’s problems are significant and related to the chief complaint. This is a difficult accomplishment to perform in 30 minutes! If I had been seeing Clive once or twice yearly, I would have had so much more information about what his normal was, as well as a good foundation of communication with the owner to initiate decision-making.

Situations like Clive’s are inevitable at times, but they don’t have to be the norm. Taking a preventative approach to his health care is preferable for both veterinarians and clients. Therefore, we need to stress the importance of each animal’s annual physical exam and getting to know each and every pet as the individuals they are.

Therein lies the idea behind our new program “Vaccines for Life.” What the program offers is simple:  Your pet must come in for an annual preventative health care examination.  If he or she is examined by one of our doctors every year, that pet will receive the core vaccines at no charge for the rest of its life.  These core vaccines are DAPP and Rabies for dogs and FVRCP and Rabies for cats (please see our website for more details on these vaccines). In this way we are placing our focus on the most important part of an animal’s yearly visit – the physical examination. Each thorough physical exam will include looking in eyes, ears, oral cavity, abdominal palpation, assessing skin/haircoat, a brief neurologic and orthopedic evaluation, lymph node palpation and any additional aspects that may need to be addressed based on each pet’s condition. Because pets age so much faster than people, yearly examinations are vital to early detection and treatment of disease conditions – and often times earlier detection means a better treatment outcome.

My goal with this article is “Help me to Help you!” I want to put the emphasis on preventative, proactive medicine so that our pets can live long and happy lives with their families. I want owners to get excited about being part of their cat or dog’s health care- Do your homework, come with questions, make sure all issues are addressed, take notes and call later about anything that did not make sense – get the most out of your annual visit to the veterinary office!  As a pet-loving community, we want our furry family members to thrive and stay with us as long as possible. At VMC, we are committed to that statement and it is our hope that our new “Vaccines for Life” program will help us provide clients an easy solution to making preventative medicine part of each veterinary visit. Please visit our website or ask any of our staff members for more information.

Common Household Toxins in Dogs and Cats

Some dogs (and even some cats) seem to have a knack for figuring out exactly what they are not supposed to eat and eating it.  It’s as if the more difficult you make it for them to get into something toxic, the more they rise to the challenge.  This month, we’ll cover some of the common dog and cat toxins found around the house and in the yard.   

Regardless of what your dog may have eaten – call us right away!  Before you start consulting Dr. Google, know that we are available to answer your questions any hour of the day or night and can see your pet on emergency if it needs to be seen.  Minutes can make the difference between life and death. Depending on the toxin and the dose, we may have you watch and wait, induce vomiting at home, or come in right away.  

 Another important number to know is ASPCA Poison Control.  They staff board-certified veterinary toxicologists 24 hours a day and for a small fee can answer questions about what to do in the case of toxin ingestion.  Their number is (888) 426-4435.



 Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs.  Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which is related to caffeine.  At low doses, theobromine causes restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased water consumption.  At higher doses it causes cause seizures and fatal heart arrhythmias. 

 The darker the chocolate, the more toxic.  White chocolate actually contains very little cocoa.  Dark bakers chocolate is toxic even in tiny quantities.  Small dogs are much more susceptible to chocolate toxicity than large dogs, simple because they can eat more of their body weight in chocolate.  1 ounce of bakers chocolate is enough to cause death in a 10 pound dog.  

 If your dog eats chocolate, call us right away.  We may have you induce vomiting at home if its shortly after ingestion.  If your dog is experiencing symptoms of chocolate toxicity this is an emergency and we need to see your pet right away. has a calculator to determine the toxic dose of chocolate in your dog.  


Advil (Ibuprofen)

 Advil is one of those drugs that people take without a second thought.  A little headache or muscle soreness and a couple Advil does the trick with few side effects.  Not so for our companion animals.  Dogs and cats are extremely sensitive to the adverse effects of this class of drugs, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and ibuprofen is one of the worst offenders.  

 Ingestion of ibuprofen causes renal failure in dogs and cats.  Even a single high dose is enough.  Long-term administration is worse; and some of the most devastating cases I have seen have been well-meaning owners giving their dogs daily ibuprofen to treat arthritis.  Once the damage has been done to the kidneys it is often irreversible.    

 NEVER give ibuprofen to a pet, and keep all ibuprofen-containing drugs locked up and away from pets.  Avoid buying the sugar-coated versions as these can be very tempting to pets (my mother’s own dog thought they were so delicious she ate a whole bottle my mom had left out on the table!  Luckily she caught it immediately and brought her to her veterinarian).  



 Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in sugar free chewing gum and many other sugar free foods. It causes a dog’s blood sugar to drop dangerously, even fatally, low when ingested. These substances are extremely dangerous because they taste like sugar, and therefore are very tempting to dogs.  I recommend checking your kitchen for products containing xylitol and keeping them far out of reach of pets. If your dog ingests a substance containing xylitol contact us or poison control without hesitation. 



 Cats do strange things sometimes! They may be carnivores, but some cats develop a penchant for nibbling on houseplants.  Most houseplants are fairly harmless to cats, but if you cat eats a lily it could be deadly.  As few as two leaves of a lily can cause kidney failure in a cat.  If you think your cat may have ingested a lily call us right away.  But don’t let it get to that.  Don’t keep any lilies around the house if you have cats.    

 Interestingly, some types of plants we call lilies are not actually lilies.  Calla lilies and Peace lilies are not true lilies, and may cause some gastrointestinal upset but do not affect the kidneys.  If you have any doubt about whether or not a plant is a lily, just ask, and err on the side of caution when introducing any new plants or flowers into your household.  



 You may have heard that grapes and raisins are toxic to pets.  Although it is rare, grapes/raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.  This particular toxicity causes a lot of confusion because many people have given their dogs grapes or raisins as a treat and not had a problem.  One of the most common things I hear is “my dog used to eat grapes all the time and never got sick.”  

 The fact is, grape toxicity in pets is poorly understood.  Occasionally dogs develop kidney failure after eating grapes.  We don’t know how, and we don’t know why, but we know it happens.  It may be that some dogs are more susceptible than others, or it may be related to certain batches of grapes.  The safest thing to do is avoid feeding grapes and raisins to dogs.  If your dog ingests grapes or raisins call us right away.   


Antifreeze (Ethylene glycol)

 Ethylene glycol, the toxic compound in antifreeze, strikes fear into the heart of every veterinarian.  Not only is it one of the most deadly toxins known to dogs and cats, but it is also delicious.  If not caught immediately, a few licks is enough to kill a dog or cat, even with aggressive treatment.  Ethylene glycol, like many of the toxins on the list, causes kidney failure.  However, ethylene glycol damages the kidneys so badly there is often no coming back.  

 Keep bottles of antifreeze well out of reach of pets, if you need to keep them around at all.  A more insidious culprit of antifreeze toxicity is leaking cars.  Make sure your car or truck engine isn’t leaking, and if you notice any suspicious puddles on the street, absolutely do not let your dog or cat lick them.   



 There are several types of rodenticides on the market, but all are toxic to dogs and cats.  Rodent baits are designed to taste good and designed to kill.  Some cause animals to bleed to death, other cause fatal seizures, and others cause irreversible kidney failure.  I simply don’t recommend using chemical rodenticides if you have dogs or cats around, period.  

 Most pet owners already know and understand this.  When a dog gets into rat poison, it’s usually because someone else in the household or on the farm put it down – an exterminator, a barn helper, a tenant, etc.  Make sure everyone involved in pest control is aware of these risks.     

 If you are having a rat or mouse problem, personally I advocate adopting a cat from Talbot Humane!


Silica Gel

 These are those little packets that say DO NOT EAT. Silica gel is a desiccant that helps keep things dry.  Silica gel is nontoxic.  


Prescription or Illicit Drugs

I want to mention this category of toxins because people often hide it from us if their pet has ingested something potentially embarrassing or illegal. If it is a situation where you don’t want to tell your parents, spouse, or children, pull me or my technician aside discreetly and let us know. We will be discreet, nonjudgmental, and will not involve law enforcement.  As veterinarians, our only job is to help your pet.  It can mean the difference between life and death if we have this information. 


If you just can’t get enough of learning about toxins, visit the ASPCA Poison Control Web site at, for more information.  If you have any other questions that haven’t been answered here email me at  

Thank you, Dr. Jessica Fragola


Bark in the Park 2013 – an un-fur-gettable event!

Each October for three years running, Idlewild Park in Easton has been transformed to allow dog-lovers to have a great time with their pooch and support a local and important cause – helping the homeless pets of our community.  Bark in the Park is an annual fundraising event launched by Talbot Humane and it has been a highlight each autumn for the Easton community. Talbot Humane has done an amazing job organizing this wonderful event, and this year, Bark in the Park had a record turnout. From a 5K race in the morning, to canine agility and dog-training exhibitions, to pet photos, dog-kissing booths and of course a “pawrade” of adoptable pets, there was something for everyone at this year’s big event.

Veterinary Medical Center was in charge of the pet first aid tent – and lucky for the dogs, our doctors and veterinary technicians were not too busy! Dr. Bruce and Dr. Callahan were able to see some of their favorite canine patients and even meet some new furry faces over the course of the day. Dr. Martinoli spent the morning educating dog owners on chiropractic treatments and its benefits in small animals. She certified as a veterinary chiropractor and had a lot of fun informing interested dog owners how it can help a variety of different canine ailments, as well as improve performance in working and agility dogs.  Several lucky dogs even received a complimentary adjustment for demonstration!

Everyone at VMC had a delightful time contributing at such a well-executed, commendable event to benefit the helpless and homeless animals of our community.  But each volunteer would agree that one the most enjoyable aspects of Bark in the Park, is seeing how our dedicated clients not only take wonderful care of their dogs, but also are committed to helping other pets in need too. We are proud to be a part of and serve such a generous, altruistic group of people who truly have hearts of gold and who love helping our canine (and feline) friends as much as we do!

If you could not attend the Bark in the Park event this year but are still interested in making a donation, please visit their website ( and help make a difference in our the lives of our animal companions who need their “fur-ever” home. Veterinary Medical Center is honored to a part of this annual event that enhances the lives of the four-legged friends we love so much!

Help! I can’t get rid of these fleas!

Help! I can’t get rid of these fleas! How Veterinary Medical Center handles these pesky parasites.

Dr. Amy Tanis

Hello and welcome to Veterinary Medical Center’s blog! My name is Dr. Amy Tanis and I have worked here as a mixed animal practioner for 5 years. This is our first blog entry and I felt it fitting to welcome you to our practice by allowing us to become better acquainted and go over how to get a better handle on flea control in our pets during this time of year.

Veterinary Medical Center first opened its doors in 1980 and has served small and large animal patients since! Our mission statement is simple and 2-fold: we treat sick animals and our goal is to do so with compassion, respect, and integrity. Our purpose is to make sure every patient and client is treated like part of our family! Back then, flea control consisted of shampoos, dusts and sprays that did not last long and were ineffective at controlling anything but the adult flea. Clients were often frustrated since the fleas were very difficult to get under control. Now-a-days, there are countless products that are on the market for fleas – but it doesn’t mean that they are any less frustrating when you see them on your pet!

When we talk about fleas, clients are often perplexed about where to start – what product should I use? How do I apply it? Can I combine treatments? Is what’s available at PetSmart the same as what my veterinarian sells?

This time of year, we often see a surge in the number of fleas that infest our cats and dogs. This is because they’ve had all spring and summer to reproduce, so the number of adults ready to jump on your animal is the highest.  And how the adult fleas got to that stage (their life cycle) is important since we focus our efforts on killing not only the adults, but other life stages as well. The flea goes through 4 separate life phases – egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The whole life cycle takes about 3 weeks in ideal warm, humid conditions. But the pupa stage can lay dormant for up to 6 months or longer if the temperature is cool. That’s why you may not see fleas all winter, but come spring and warmer temperatures, you have fleas again! It is because the pupa that have survived all winter (free room and board in your house!) hatch and become adults that then jump on Fido or Fluffy –  the cycle continues.

So how do we effectively stop this vicious cycle? Our flea control focus is 3-pronged: treat the affected pet, treat the environment, and treat all in-contact animals. This third factor may be out of your control if you frequent dog parks, kennels or areas where there are pets other than your own. But every other pet in your household should be treated.

But what is the best treatment once fleas are discovered? At VMC, we tailor each pet’s flea control program to meet the individual animal’s needs.  Some animals swim often – let’s use oral medication as the primary flea preventive or treatment. Cats often do not like taking a pill – there are topical and even injectable options. There are so many options on the market these days, the task of choosing a flea treatment or preventive can be daunting. We are here to help! Please contact us or visit our website so we can help you choose the best products for your animal.