We’re still barking about the wonderful reception we received from the community at the Newtown Labor Day Parade! So we’d like to share a bit more about the fun experience we had there this past Monday:

Newtown Veterinary Specialists staff members of all stripes—client service reps, animal assistants, veterinary technicians, veterinarians and administrators—marched alongside our fully decked-out float to accompany our guests of honor: Dutchess, a beloved blind therapy dog who has comforted the children of Newtown, and Mark Condon, Julie Phillips and Sammy Schreiber, who have produced a heart-warming children’s book, A Day with Dutchess: Life Lessons From A Blind Therapy Dog.

The inspirational tale teaches children about therapy dogs, compassion and mutual respect, and how small acts of kindness can make a big difference in the world. We’re also very pleased that Dutchess’ board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, our own Dr. Cory Mosunic, is featured as a positive role model in this charming story. A Day with Dutchess: Life Lessons From a Blind Therapy Dog has won the 2013 Family Choice Award and is available at

In this photo you can see Dutchess happily riding the float and getting some love from the kids, while her dedicated owner and handler, Mark Condon, chats with Dr. Mosunic. On Mark’s left, therapy-puppy-in-training, Drift, is part of the action too.

We thank our staff and esteemed guests for participating in the parade. We appreciate the support of friends and local residents who came out to see us. Stay tuned for more postings about Newtown Veterinary Specialists fall activities. Bring it on!

–Story written by Joan Eve Quinn, Communications Specialist, Newtown Veterinary Specialists,


Zane Stick

We previously posted a warning about airway disease in short-muzzled dogs. But our smaller canine companions are not the only ones that can develop breathing problems in higher heat and humidity! Another common breathing problem, especially in warmer months, is laryngeal paralysis. This problem most commonly affects older large breed dogs such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and others.
Laryngeal paralysis is a disorder of the larynx, especially the vocal cords. When pets inhale, their vocal cords separate to open the larynx for air to move into the lungs. With laryngeal paralysis either one or both vocal cords cannot move to open the airway. Pets with this problem have to try to inhale air around the vocal cords, which act as a physical obstruction to the movement of air down into the lungs.
The most mild signs of laryngeal paralysis include changes in the voice when barking, a raspy hollow sound that accompanies breathing (especially panting), and occasional coughing/gagging. These signs can lead to intolerance of physical activity. Over time, these breathing signs can be progressive and lead to a respiratory crisis.
It is also possible for dogs with laryngeal paralysis to develop a crisis associated with physical activity or high heat/humidity environments. During a crisis dogs will continue to struggle to breathe against the obstruction in their airway. The harder a dog attempts to breathe against this obstruction the more progressively swollen the airway becomes. Ultimately this causes more obstruction to the movement of air.
In addition, the gums will often be gray to blue in color because they are not receiving enough oxygen through the narrowed airway. Dogs in crisis will not be willing to walk or be active. They may appear to be choking and can cough up foam or drool. This is a true emergency. These dogs will also develop a high body temperature that can cause heat stroke-type illness.
Diagnosis of laryngeal paralysis requires a sedated examination of the larynx in a professional veterinary setting. A dog with mild signs may remain stable with some types of medical management. This can include being kept in an air-conditioned environment, weight loss for overweight dogs, anti-inflammatory medications, and limited exercise.
For dogs with severe signs or both vocal cords affected, the recommended treatment is a surgery to permanently open the vocal cords (laryngeal “tie-back”). This procedure can be life-saving but has some long-term risks.
If you have a large breed dog that develops the signs of a change in voice or raspy hollow breathing you should have him/her evaluated by a veterinarian. In the meantime, consider the following precautions at home:
• During hot, humid days go for short walks in the morning or evening when temperatures are lower.
• Stop the walk immediately if your dog is slowing down, panting excessively, or tired. Transport your pet home to cool off in an air-conditioned environment.
• If your dog is overweight consult with your veterinarian about healthy weight loss. Extra weight puts more pressure on the airways.

If you observe the following signs of a crisis, have your pet seen by a veterinarian immediately:
• Fast, noisy breathing that causes your pet to struggle to breath
• Collapse or weakness associated with activity
• Purple-blue gums or tongue instead of your pet’s normal pink color (look now while your pet is normal for comparison as needed later)
Newtown Veterinary Specialists is dedicated to furthering medical knowledge about laryngeal paralysis: Our Chief Medical Officer, Debra Weisman, DVM, MS, DACVS, has published an article in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association and is conducting a research project on this problem.
If you have questions about your dog’s breathing do not hesitate to call your primary care veterinarian or our 24/7 emergency service at 203-270-VETS (8387).
–Story edited by Joan Eve Quinn, Communications Specialist, Newtown Veterinary Specialists,

reading ADWD (photo by Lisa Prince Fishler) (2)

On gorgeous days like this we wish the summer would never end…but…we’re also looking forward to the big Newtown Labor Day Parade on September 1st!

In keeping with this year’s parade theme, “Write On, Newtown,” we’ll be honoring Dutchess, a beloved blind therapy dog who is the main character of a new children’s book titled, A Day with Dutchess: Life Lessons From a Blind Therapy Dog. Among the charming story’s positive messages: Love triumphs over adversity and small actions can make a world of difference. Dutchess has done a lot of therapy work with the children of Newtown. She’s a long-time patient of Newtown Veterinary Specialists‘ board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Cory Mosunic, who is also featured as a character in the book.

A Day with Dutchess was written by Mark Condon, Dutchess’ dedicated owner and handler. Joining us on the float with Mark and Dutchess will be co-author Julie Phillips and illustrator Sammy Schreiber. Making the float look really cute will be therapy-puppy-in-training Drift, who is already excelling at her beginner-level training work. We look forward to seeing you at the parade on Labor Day!

For more information about our advanced ophthalmology service visit:
For more on Dutchess and the new book visit:
For more on the parade visit:

–Photo credit: Lisa Prince Fishler/Printz Photography
–Story written by Joan Eve Quinn, Communications Specialist, Newtown Veterinary Specialists,

Zane Stick

With summer in full swing, we want to advise all pet owners about common diseases and injuries that happen in warmer weather. Newtown Veterinary Specialists sees an increase in injuries to pets’ mouths as the season heats up and more animals go outside for longer periods of time.

Unfortunately, at this time of year we frequently see traumas caused by vehicular accidents. Far too many cats and dogs are hit by cars every week, often resulting in multiple injuries to the entire body. Aside from life-threatening injuries to the chest and abdomen, the pet’s head and face can also be affected. Many animals suffer from fractured jaw bones, teeth or de-gloving injuries to the skin. Frequently these traumas require emergency surgical intervention to save the pet’s life.

With increased activity at dog parks–and cats venturing outside more often–bite wounds are another common and potentially serious injury. Sadly, some animals do not play well together and wounds can result. Make sure to introduce your animals to others properly. If there’s a chance of play aggression, then group retrieving, swimming, or interaction may not be a good idea when parks are crowded.

Oral penetrating injuries, usually caused by sticks, are less common but can also be quite serious. We all know that dogs love to carry and fetch sticks–and they do so proudly. But if your dog pokes itself with the stick or a fragment gets lodged in the mouth, severe injury can result. The range of oral penetrating injuries include fractured teeth, oral lacerations, wood lodged between teeth, and oral or neck abscesses. Newtown Veterinary Specialists recommends the safer fetch option with balls, Frisbees, bumpers, etc.

It has been often said, but perhaps bears repeating here: cats do not have to go outside to be happy. You can create a window look-out for your cat to safely enjoy the outside world from indoors. For those with the proper living environment, outdoor cat enclosures can be installed. Or you can take your cat out with a harness. In any case, we warn against letting cats go outside unattended as they face many perils, including oral cavity injuries.

If you are out enjoying a nice summer day and run into one of these problems, Newtown Veterinary Specialists is here to help you and your pets 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet, do not hesitate to contact us at (203) 270-VETS (8387).

–Story edited by Joan Eve Quinn, Communications Specialist, Newtown Veterinary Specialists,


Newtown Veterinary Specialists are very pleased to announce that we have added a highly qualified board-certified cardiologist to our staff! Dr. Agnieszka Kent will be available for Cardiology consultations beginning July 21st.

Dr. Kent is a native of Canada. She earned her DVM degree from the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island in 2007. She went on to complete a one-year internship in small-animal medicine and surgery at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. In 2011, Dr. Kent completed a three-year residency in Cardiology and a Master’s degree in Comparative and Veterinary Medicine at the Ohio State University. She received Diplomate status from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM), subspecialty cardiology, in 2011. Following the completion of her residency, Dr. Kent developed the cardiology service at the DMV Veterinary Center in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where she remained until the spring of 2014.

Cardiology services offered at NVS include echocardiography, electrocardiography, Doppler blood pressure monitoring, Holter monitoring, event monitoring, digital radiography, cardiac OFA examinations, and pericardiocentesis. Some of her points of interest include feline cardiac disease, left atrial function, congenital heart disease and congestive heart failure therapy.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kent, please call us at 203-270-VETS(8387) or visit our website at

muddy hiking dog

By Dr. Debra L. Weisman, Newtown Veterinary Specialists Medical Director

Does your dog get as excited as mine when you put on your hiking shoes or take out your walking stick? His excitement makes me feel guilty whenever I am not with him on a hike. It’s important for any dog owner to do a little planning prior to heading out with a four-legged companion to keep him safe.

Plan Your Trip
• Be sure you are aware of the trail regulations. Most U.S. national parks do not allow dogs on the trails.
• Maintain control of your dog at all times. Most public, maintained trails require dogs to be on a leash. They may even go on to require the leash to be no longer than six-feet in length. On trips like these, we recommend not using the extendable leash and opting for a conventional one. Extendable leashes may be great at home, but generally are not sturdy enough for trail conditions.
• Your dog should also be calm as others pass (both fellow hikers and their furry friends). Be aware of what situations upset your hiking companion. If he or she is not yet used to other dogs, you might want to hold off on hiking for now. The trails are often quite narrow with little room to pass.
• Mountain bikers are often on the same trails you are hiking. Be sure your dog is under control and does not chase or bark at the bikers. Your dog and the biker could be seriously injured if an unfortunate encounter occurs.

Your Dog’s Physical Ability
• Ease into your hiking routine. Some hikers like to share the load with their pets. If that is your choice, start off with him wearing the pack around the house, then on short neighborhood walks prior to a full day of hiking.
• Start with lighter loads. It is safe for your pet to carry up to one-third of its body weight if he is healthy and in good body condition.
• Older or poorly conditioned dogs may be better off and happier at home.

First Aid
• Our website,, offers tips on first aid for pets. Please remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until it receives veterinary treatment.
• First aid kits are a great addition to your pet’s backpack. Be sure you include a muzzle, since any injured pet can bite (even Finn!).

Packing for Your Dog
• Hydration is key for active dogs. Be sure to pack a collapsible food/water dish or purchase a hydration system. There are some interesting gadgets available. Do your homework and be sure your dog will drink from your new system. Testing it on the trail is not recommended.
• Most dogs travel almost twice the distance you and I do when hiking, making them quite hungry. Be sure to pack enough food for your trip. Your dog will probably be a bit hungrier after a long hike. (Caution – do not overfeed).

Does all of this info make you want to take a hike? Please remember, if you have any concerns or your pet becomes ill or injured Newtown Veterinary Specialists is open 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Call us at 203-270-VETS (8387). #NewtownVeterinarySpecialists

Newtown Veterinary Specialists (NVS) participated in the ACVO®/Stokes Pharmacy National Service Animal Eye Exam Event last month by providing sight-saving eye exams for 30 service animals at no cost. Located at 52 Church Hill Road in Newtown, CT, NVS is a 24-hour veterinary emergency, critical care and specialty hospital offering advanced life-saving medical and surgical care for ill and injured pets.

Dr. Cory Mosunic, NVS board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, performed the eye exams and has donated her time and resources to this event since 2008. She explained, “I feel very special to be able to give back to the Newtown community and the state of Connecticut. It’s fun to meet such a wide variety of service animals, from the highly intelligent, tough military dogs to the sweet therapy dogs and the dedicated service dogs. Each one of them has a very important job that they relish doing,” Dr. Mosunic stated.

Guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, registered therapy, and search and rescue animals qualified for the exams. They must be “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization or are currently enrolled in a formal training program.

During the complete ocular exam, Dr. Mosunic utilized her specialized equipment to look for problems including redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease, early cataracts and other abnormalities. Early detection and treatment of eye disease are vital to working animals and to all pets. Some warning signs of eye problems include squinting, redness or tearing with discharge. Pet owners and service animal handlers should seek veterinary attention immediately if they suspect an eye problem to prevent a small issue from developing into a big one.

The ACVO®/Stokes Pharmacy National Service Dog Eye Exam Event brings together veterinary ophthalmologists and thousands of service animals across the U.S. for free exams each year. Since the program was launched by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists in 2008, nearly 22,000 service animals have been examined by more than 250 veterinary ophthalmologists in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.

For more information call NVS at 203-270-VETS (8387) or visit and

–Story written by Joan Eve Quinn, Communications Specialist, Newtown Veterinary Specialists,

%d bloggers like this: