Archives for posts with tag: dogs

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,


level 2 trama

Newtown Veterinary Specialists (NVS) has recently been certified as a Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Facility by the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS). This significant achievement of Level II Critical Care Center status demonstrates that NVS meets or exceeds specific requirements and standards for the highest level patient care, staffing and equipment.

NVS is one of only nine veterinary emergency hospitals in the U.S. to earn this prestigious designation, which recognizes that the facility is open 24-hours, 365-days-a-year, with the medical staff, personnel and training to provide quality emergency and critical care for pet patients.

Dr. Deb Weisman, NVS Medical Director, said, “I’m very proud that our staff has been recognized for delivering high-level emergency and critical care for pets in Fairfield County and beyond. We’re the only animal hospital in New England and one of only nine in the country to have achieved this important designation. Our critical care specialist, Dr. Danielle Berube, does an outstanding job of providing life-saving treatments for so many critically ill and injured pets. We thank her for making this honor possible.”

Dr. Danielle Berube said, “I’m very excited that NVS is recognized as a trauma center and am proud to work with staff that allows us to meet all the requirements.”

NVS, located at 52 Church Hill Road in Newtown, Connecticut, is celebrating its second anniversary this Spring. A 24-hour emergency, critical care and specialty referral animal hospital, it provides the most advanced medical and surgical services available. The state-of-the-art facility offers board-certified veterinary specialists, leading-edge diagnostic equipment, the latest treatment methods and around-the-clock patient monitoring. The 15,000 square-foot facility, located off I-84, is open 365-days- a-year, even on major holidays.

VECCS, which granted the certification, is an international, professional society of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and managers dedicated to promoting the advancement of knowledge and high standards of practice in veterinary emergency medicine and critical patient care. For more information visit and


We often like to take our dogs along with us on summertime outings. But no matter how prepared we think we are, things always come up, such as having to run a quick errand. Some owners may make the mistake of thinking that the easiest way around this is to leave their pet in the car for “just a minute or two.” This is a decision you may live to regret.

Many people don’t realize that just a few minutes can be deadly. A parked car can heat up like an oven even in a short period of time leaving pets at risk of heatstroke. Even on cooler days cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures. In this circumstance, recognizing the signs of heatstroke and taking prompt action can help save your pet’s life. Some signs of heatstroke include:

·         A body temperature of 104-110 degrees F

·         Excessive panting

·         Dark or bright red gums and tongue

·         Bloody diarrhea or vomiting

·         Staggering

·         Stupor

·          Seizures

These signs can progress to coma and death. If any of these signs are noted it is best to seek veterinary medical attention immediately. But if you are unable to seek immediate medical care, there are a few steps you can take to help your pet in the interim:

·         Find shade to get your pet out of the heat.

·         Use cool, not excessively cold, water to cool down your pet.

·         Do not cool your pet below 103 degrees as they can become too cool too quickly.

·         You can offer ice to your animal, but if they aren’t interested don’t force them to eat or drink.

Just because your animal is cooled and appears to be okay, do NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, and brain can be affected by body temperature elevation. Blood tests and a veterinary examination will be needed to assess the pet’s condition. Further, there is a complex blood problem, called DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation), that can be a secondary complication to heat stroke and it can be fatal.  

If you see a dog locked in a car in the summer, here are some things you can do to help:

·         If you know the owner, simply educate them on how dangerous it is to leave their pet in a hot car even for a short period of time.

·         If the car is in a parking lot, contact a store manager, who would be very likely to help prevent a tragedy from occurring in their own parking lot.

·         Call the local animal control officer or police.

Prevention is the best antidote. If you are traveling with your dog and need to stop, use drive-up windows at banks, pharmacies and restaurants. Shop at pet-friendly stores that will allow you to bring your dog inside to avoid leaving them in the car and risking heatstroke.

Newtown Veterinary Specialists is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and on all holidays to assist with any type of pet emergency.


dog with flag

As we get closer to celebrating Independence Day, please bear in mind that many of the foods, drinks and events we enjoy can be hazardous to our four-legged companions.  To help keep your pets safe and sound this Fourth of July, the experts at Newtown Veterinary Specialists offer the following tips:

         Never leave alcoholic drinks in reach of your pet: If enough alcohol is consumed, pets could become intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.

         Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pet’s reach: Certain types of matches could potentially damage blood cells, which results in difficulty breathing. If ingested in high quantities, kidney damage can result. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin; if ingested it can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression.

         Keep your pets on their normal diet: Cats and dogs have very sensitive stomachs that rely on a regimented and strict diet. Any change can give them severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Certain foods can be toxic to pets, including onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes and raisins, salt, macadamia nuts, and yeast dough, for example.

         Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger.  Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets. We recommend that you resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities.  Keep your little furry friends safe from the noise and chaos in a quiet, sheltered, escape-proof area at home.

Newtown Veterinary Specialists will be open 24 hours on July 4th.  Have a safe and happy holiday!

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