Archives for posts with tag: 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,


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,

Everyone hates e-collars—you know, those hard plastic “lampshades” your pet has to wear after seemingly every visit to the veterinarian’s office. E-collar is short for Elizabethan collar; it was named after the stand-up collar on dresses worn in Elizabethan-era England. In addition to looking kind of funny, e-collars can get caught on doorjambs, on legs and even on unsuspecting children. Dogs and cats sometimes knock over their food and water bowls while wearing them. Sometimes pets even refuse to walk normally with the e-collar on.

Although it can be a pain, it’s REALLY important for your pet to wear the e-collar for as long as necessary. E-collars prevent your pet from licking, biting or scratching at a wound or surgical site, which even the most well-behaved pets will do if given the opportunity.
Illustrating the importance of the e-collar, Newtown Veterinary Specialists‘ emergency doctors have seen many patients that were not wearing them as prescribed. Without the e-collar, these pets were able to chew out their stitches or make their wounds worse. Second surgeries were often required to repair the damage. In some cases, especially when abdominal surgery was involved, life-threatening injuries resulted from a pet chewing out the stitches.

The e-collar may be a hardship, but remember it is temporary! Proper use can save you hundreds of dollars, and more importantly, it will save your pet from a lot of unnecessary pain.

If your pet is really having a hard time with the e-collar, talk to your veterinarian about alternatives. There are soft-padded e-collars and collars that are more like inflatable tubes. In some cases topical solutions, such as tee-shirts, are appropriate. These alternate solutions only work for some pets with specific conditions, so please consult the doctor before changing collars.

Do NOT remove the e-collar before you’ve been directed to do so. Giving your furry four-legged “cone-head” a little extra love and attention can make the time fly by until you can safely remove it. If your pet has chewed out the stitches, call your veterinarian immediately. Newtown Veterinary Specialists is staffed with emergency doctors 24/7 should your family veterinarian be unavailable.
–Edited by Joan Eve Quinn


Newtown Veterinary Specialists recently donated pet oxygen masks to the Wilton Fire Department. Left to right: Ralph Nathanson, Apparatus Supervisor; Bernadette Vinci, MS, NVS Director of Operations; firefighter Michael Pryor, who is in charge of emergency equipment; and firefighter Patrick Garver.

Newtown Veterinary Specialists recently donated pet oxygen masks to the Wilton Fire Department. Left to right: Ralph Nathanson, Apparatus Supervisor; Bernadette Vinci, MS, NVS Director of Operations; firefighter Michael Pryor, who is in charge of emergency equipment; and firefighter Patrick Garver.

On April 23, Newtown Veterinary Specialists (NVS) donated three new pet oxygen masks to the Wilton Fire Department to help firefighters save the lives of animals rescued from burning buildings.

The masks, in sizes small, medium and large, are specially designed to fit the faces of animals. To equip the fire department’s ladder truck, the masks were donated in honor of Lexi, a beloved 16-year-old Black Labrador Retriever that sadly passed away on March 6 at NVS. Lexi was the pet of Ralph Nathanson, who is the Wilton Fire Department’s apparatus supervisor, and his family.

Bernadette Vinci, MS, Director of Hospital Operations at NVS said, “Lexi was such a wonderful dog and we are very saddened by her passing. Lexi had the heart of a service dog. She always wanted to help others. By donating pet oxygen masks in her memory, we honor Lexi while helping our hero firefighters save the lives of more animals.”

Ralph Nathanson explained, “We will try to save anything that is breathing. It’s great to be able to keep pet oxygen masks in different sizes available in our ladder truck. We’re going to do everything we can to save an animal. We know how important pets are as part of the family.”

Lexi was adopted from Wyoming as a small pup. At an early age she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. As a result, she had a little “bunny hop” whenever she ran. The Nathanson family made the commitment early on to provide her with the most complete veterinary care throughout her life. “She had everything she needed,” Ralph Nathanson said. “Life was like one big backyard for her. Everyone loved her. All the neighbors on our block would come by to visit her. My children and grandchildren grew up with her. Her favorite place was on the front of our boat. Lexi was always giving back to people and she still is. She had a golden heart and was the ultimate animal.”

The staff at NVS met Lexi on her last day of life when the family had to make the difficult decision to end her suffering. “Lexi let us know it was the right time, even then she thought of us,” Ralph Nathanson said. “Although it was our first time at NVS, we felt right away that we had known the staff all along. They really sympathized with us and did everything they could to help us at this very difficult time.”

To further honor Lexi’s legacy and help more pets, NVS is rolling out a new program to donate pet oxygen masks to other fire departments throughout Fairfield County.

Newtown Veterinary Specialists is a 24-hour veterinary emergency and critical care hospital located at 52 Church Hill Road in Newtown, CT. The facility offers leading-edge medical and surgical care for pets that are injured or suffer from complex diseases and conditions that require the advanced training of a board-certified specialist. NVS features sophisticated diagnostic equipment, the latest treatment methods, and around-the-clock patient monitoring. The doctors collaborate closely with the family veterinarian to ensure complete, effective and coordinated pet care. Open 365 days a year, NVS is celebrating its second anniversary in May. For more information about the hospital visit




According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “with an estimated population of 70 million dogs living in U.S. households, millions of people, most of them children, are bitten by dogs every year. The majority of these bites, if not all, are preventable.”

Most child dog bites are a result of normal daily interactions with a familiar dog. Children often startle dogs and they react. Dogs bite as a reaction to a situation, most often a stressful situation. The bite can be provoked by feeling threatened or to protect something they find valuable (food, puppies, toys). Dogs may bite if they are ill or injured and want to be left alone.

Some dog’s bite or nip during play. This can still be quite dangerous to people. Avoiding wrestling or playing tug-of-war with dogs that tend to become overly excited.

Socializing your pet with unfamiliar people and dogs can lessen their fear and may decrease their potential to bite.

Many children are very comfortable around dogs because they may have a dog at home or a family member or neighbor has a dog they are exposed to. Unfortunately, children assume every dog is nice and approachable. It is important for children to learn boundaries and rules when it comes to unfamiliar dogs.

The AVMA offers these tips to help children understand the importance of respecting dogs and avoiding bites:

Avoid unknown dogs. If they see a dog they don’t know and it is wandering around loose and unsupervised, avoid the dog and consider leaving the area.
Always ask an owner for permission to pet their dog. Don’t ever pet a dog without asking first, even if it is a dog they know, or a dog that has seemed friendly toward them before.
If an aggressive dog confronts a child, teach them to confidently, quietly, walk away. Teach children to avoid escalating the situation by yelling, running, hitting, or making sudden movements toward the dog.
Teach children boundaries with family dogs. Enforce the idea that the pet’s bed or crate is the dog’s space and they are to be left alone. A dog needs a comfortable, safe place where the child never goes.
Educate children at a level they can understand. Don’t expect young children to be able to accurately read a dogs’ body language. Instead, focus on gentle behavior and that dogs have likes and dislikes and help them develop understanding of dog behavior as they grow older.
Teach children never to tease dogs by taking their toys, food or treats, or by pretending to hit or kick.
Teach children to never pull a dog’s ears or tail, climb on or try to ride them.
Tell children to leave the dog alone when it’s asleep or eating.
Don’t encourage children to pretend small dogs are dolls. Most dogs do not like to be carried around or dressed up.
Don’t give children too much responsibility for pets too early. Always supervise and check on pet care responsibilities given to children to ensure they are carried out.

Newtown Veterinary Specialists recommends incorporating these safety tips into your daily interactions with your canine companion. By so doing, you’ll be nurturing the bond between your family and man’s best friend. For more information on National Dog Bite Prevention Week visit For more information about Newtown Veterinary Specialists visit




The 56 staff members at Newtown Veterinary Specialists work hard every day to restore ill and injured cats and dogs to good health and keep the busy state-of-the-art facility humming. But behind the scenes, a special program helps dedicated employees get into fine shape so they can stay at the top of their game providing life-saving services to pets.

Strong believers in workplace wellness, the hospital’s employers cover the cost of gym membership for staffers who make the commitment to attend twice weekly. The facility’s owners have led by example. Scott Schifilliti, MBA, and Deb Weisman, DVM, MS, board-certified veterinary surgeon, were first to join the gym at the Newtown Youth Academy. Taking it a step further, they’ve enlisted the support of the gym’s personal trainer to work one-on-one with each participating employee.

“We’re interested in the well being of our staff and encourage them to live a healthier lifestyle with more exercise and better nutrition,” Scott Schifilliti explained. “It’s a win-win situation. A healthier staff means fewer missed days at work, greater productivity, and a stronger commitment to our mission of providing excellent veterinary medical, surgical and emergency care for pets,” he said.

Susan MacMullan, clinical exercise specialist at the Newtown Youth Academy gym, coordinates the program. “When you exercise you feel better, sleep better and have less stress,” she explained. “Improved health and nutrition can lead to a happier, more balanced work life.” Susan provides two orientations for each employee and points them in the right direction to either lose weight or build strength. The program has been very successful. “The combination of using weights, incorporating cardio fitness, awareness of proper nutritional habits, and coming to the gym consistently is the secret of success,” she said.

New Year resolutions to lose weight and exercise more kick-started the campaign and about 20% of the staff have joined so far. Employees from every department participate, from board-certified veterinary specialists to client service representatives, with more joining every day.

Newtown Veterinary Specialists, celebrating its second anniversary in May, is an advanced veterinary emergency, critical care and specialty hospital open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Located at 52 Church Hill Road in Newtown, CT, it offers leading-edge medical and surgical care for pets that are injured or suffer from complex diseases and conditions that require the advanced training of a board-certified specialist. The facility features sophisticated diagnostic equipment, the latest treatment methods, and around-the-clock patient monitoring. The doctors collaborate closely with the family veterinarian to ensure complete, effective and coordinated pet care.

For more information visit and


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