Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon’s dermatology department is excited to announce that we now have a CO2 laser for dermatological procedures.

Our dermatology service is able to remove small masses and treat certain dermatological conditions with our CO2 laser.  This treatment has several benefits over conventional surgery:

  1. Most procedures can be done by numbing the skin prior to the procedure.  Often sedation and general anesthesia can be avoided.

  2. Minimal pain

  3. Minimal hemorrhage (bleeding) and tissue destruction.  

  4. If a patient has multiple masses/tumors, conventional surgery may be too time consuming to perform.

Below is a list of diseases in which laser treatment is recommended:

  1. Removal of small masses:  examples include sebaceous adenomas (warts, skin tags), and papilloma’s

  2. Removal of cysts

  3. Removal of hemangiomas – small red areas caused by UV light.  These tumor types can turn malignant or aggressive (cancerous).

  4. Removal of tumors in difficult locations – ears and tail.

Is my cat "blocked"?

Is your male cat excessively licking his hind-end/ prepuce, ‘walking funny’, yowling, posturing to urinate outside the box, and frequenting the litter-box often? If so, your beloved feline may have a urethral obstruction. This is a veterinary emergency and your cat must be seen immediately. Urethral obstructions are not only painful to your pet, but can also cause severe kidney injury and life-threatening electrolyte abnormalities. If your cat is blocked, he will need to be placed under heavy sedation so that a urinary catheter can be placed to relieve the obstruction. It is then strongly advised to hospitalize your pet on aggressive fluid therapy and pain management for at least 24 hours in an attempt to reduce the chance of re-obstruction.

Urethral obstructions are actually a fairly common issue with younger, male indoor cats. If no stones, infection, or masses are diagnosed, your cat is most likely suffering from a condition termed ‘feline idiopathic cystitis’ (FIC). This is a condition that is not fully understood, however it is thought that stressful situations are implicated. Stress may result in inflammation of the urinary bladder wall. Early signs of FIC include inappropriate urination, straining to urinate, and blood in the urine. If severe enough, inflammatory cells, mucus, and crystals may form a plug that then leads to a mechanical obstruction of the urethra.

Feline stress can range from a dirty litter-box, not enough litter-boxes (it is actually recommended to have a litter box for each cat in the house-hold plus one extra!), new environment, new people or animals, owners traveling out of town, to insufficient environmental enrichment. Your cat may need to be placed on a urinary specific prescription diet for the remainder of his or her life in order to reduce the risk of re-obstruction. This diet will acidify the urine and has been proven to dissolve struvite stones or crystals in under 30 days.

Increasing water (canned food, water fountains, etc) intake is also essential and will help dilute the urine and therefore reduce the risk of obstruction. Even with a perfect environment and diet, unfortunately some cats will obstruct again. For repeat offenders, some owners will elect to pursue a surgical procedure (perineal urethrostomy) to widen the urethral exit. If you our concerned about your cat’s urination habits please call or visit us at the Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center of Central Oregon.

Pain Management for Surgical Patients

A question that we are often asked regarding patients scheduled for surgery is: “Will my pet be receiving any pain medication?”

The short answer is an emphatic, yes!

We take pain management very seriously at the Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon. Regardless of the reason your pet is with us, such as an emergency visit after a traumatic injury or a planned surgery, appropriate pain management is of paramount importance to us.  Any patient that undergoes any type of surgical procedure will receive pain control before, during, and after surgery. We implement a variety of progressive anesthetic and pain management techniques, commonly referred to as a “multimodal anesthetic approach.” This means that we use a combination of pain control techniques, specific to each patient with the goal of providing pain control and minimizing side effects common associated with pain medications, such as dysphoria.

First and foremost, since our pets can’t speak up when they are hurting, veterinary professionals need to be able to read body language and interpret vitals signs for varying species. Even a pet’s personality must be considered when assessing pain. The staff at VRCCO are all thoroughly trained to accurately assess pain on all pets we treat.

Before surgery, each patient receives injectable pain medication. These injections last anywhere from 2-6 hours, depending on which medication is used. Depending on the procedure, patients may also receive an epidural or a local nerve block. These types of pain management provide an additional 4-24 hours of pain control, specific to the region being operated on. We recently began using a new medication for dogs undergoing knee surgeries. It’s a long acting local anesthetic that provides up to 72 hours of postoperative pain management.

Our standard is for any patient that has undergone a major surgical procedure to stay at least one night with us. These patients are kept on intravenous fluids and benefit from intravenous pain management. Most commonly, we control pain through CRI’s - constant rate of infusions. This means that patients are continuously receiving pain medication that is dosed specific to their weight. Dosages for constant rate of infusions are easily adjusted, depending on the patient’s pain levels. CRI’s may be started before, during, or immediately after surgery.

Typically once a patient is eating, we will begin to transition them from intravenous medications to oral medications. Oral medications may include opioids, NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), or medications for nerve pain. Patients that are difficult to administer oral medications to may be eligible for a pain patch, which administers pain medication transdermally. Depending on the procedure, oral pain medication may be prescribed for a few days or a few weeks.

Rest assured that your patient’s comfort is a priority at VRCCO! We will do everything in our power to keep your pet pain free following their procedure.

Avoid the emergency doctor - winter pet safety

Bbbbrrr! It’s time to turn up that thermostat because winter weather is here! With the changing of the seasons, we want to help you be your pet’s hero by making sure they are winter ready! Here are some cold weather tips we’ve assembled for your and your furry friends:

  • Be mindful of what your pet is eating. This time of year is full of so many delectable treats, but remember lots of our favorite foods aren’t safe for pets! If you have guests over, ask them not to feed your pet anything without your permission. Many people give their pets treats or special meals for the holidays - keep in mind that overindulgence can result in an upset stomach or even pancreatitis in our pets. (For a list of food that is toxic to pets, click here to visit the ASPA’s Animal Poison Control site - note that it’s not an exhaustive list!)

  • Keep a close eye on the Christmas tree. Christmas trees bring a lot of joy, but unfortunately, they also introduce some hazards to our pets. Watch for signs that your pet is chewing at the lights on your tree - cats are especially notorious for this! Shiny ornaments, tinsel, and ribbon also pose as a temptation to both dogs and cats. If chewed or ingested, these items may require surgical removal! If you have any salt ornaments (a common school holiday craft) hang these out of the reach of your pets. If ingested, salt ornaments can lead to salt toxicity which can result in death.

  • Ensure your pets always have water available. Water bowls left outside can freeze, rendering your pet unable to hydrate adequately! Consider getting a heated bowl if you will be leaving water outside for your pets.

  • Provide appropriate shelter. Whether your pet is an outdoor pet or an indoor pet, make sure that they have soft, clean bedding in a place where they will be warm and protected from the elements.

  • Prepare a winter weather emergency kit. Perhaps you have a kit for yourself in the event of a winter emergency - your pet could use one too! Keep water, bedding, extra food, and any prescriptions your pet needs on hand in the event you get stuck at home!

  • Watch for ice. Pets can slip and hurt themselves just as easily as we can! Booties can provide extra traction and protect paws while out on walks.

  • Change up your walking routine. Our pets get cold too! If you are bundled up for their walk, Fluffy might need an extra layer as well! Arthritis can be exacerbated by the cold weather, so older pets may need shorter, less frequent walks this time of year.

  • Honk your horn when you start your car. Cats are notorious for hiding under wheel wells to stay warm this time of year. They can be seriously injured if the engine is started while they are still there. Honk your horn or bang on the hood to give them time to get out before your engine starts!

  • Quickly clean up any antifreeze spills. Antifreeze - specifically its primary ingredient, ethylene glycol - is extremely toxic to both cats and dogs. It can cause acute kidney failure and subsequent death if not treated quickly enough. Unfortunately, it smells like a treat to our pets, so clean up any spills as quickly as possible! If you think your pet may ingested ethylene glycol (even a single lick), contact VRCCO or your primary veterinarian right away.

We hope you find these tips helpful this winter season! If you have any concerns about your pet, don’t hesitate to contact us. Veterinary Referral Center has emergency doctors available 7 days a week, equipped to handle all winter related injuries or illnesses!

Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon Takes Part in Bend’s Christmas Parade

Patients from the Veterinary Referral Center joined the staff to walk in the 2018 Christmas Parade.  Dogs who were treated from every service (dermatology, internal medicine, surgery, and emergency) dressed in holiday décor to participate.  Patients included cancer survivors, those undergoing long term management for auto-immune conditions, and patients surgically treated for cruciate injuries (knee).  We were very happy that many of these patients could participate!

Additionally, the Veterinary Referral Center’s emergency ambulance was driven behind the animals.  This ambulance is used to transport patients from other hospitals to the referral center for advanced care and diagnostics.


Veterinary Referral Center's Emergency and Surgery Department Help Save Pet Duck

When Jose, a pet duck, presented on emergency to Veterinary Referral Center after being attacked by a dog, Dr. Dujowich and team quickly stepped into help. Dr. Dujowich, a board certified veterinary surgeon, and staff placed Jose under general anesthesia and repaired his wounds which extended into the chest cavity.

Jose was even featured in the Bend Bulletin - click here to read the full article.

Keeping your pets safe during Halloween

The Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center of Central Oregon is very happy to be available and providing 24 hour care for any animal emergency situations that may arise during Halloween festivities. Halloween can be a lot of fun for our kids and families, however there are many things we recommend to keep your beloved pets safe during this upcoming holiday. We recommend keeping your pets indoors and away from loud noises and spooky costumes during trick-or-treat hours, as this can be scary and cause unnecessary stress to our dogs and cats. It is always a good idea to keep proper identification in the off chance that a pet gets loose during the ruckus. We also recommend keeping pets away from Halloween candy and chocolates, as these foods are often toxic and can result in anything from gastrointestinal upset to hyperactivity and heart arrhythmias in more severe ingestions. In the event that your pet does get into something he/ she shouldn't, or has any other concerning signs, please contact VRCCO emergency for consultation!


Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon To Start Performing Canine Total Hip Replacements

The Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon is now screening patients with hip problems such as hip dysplasia for Total Hip Replacements.  Our first group of patients is planned to undergo their hip replacement in November.  Canine Total Hip Replacements have been performed successfully in dogs for decades.  With advances in technology one can expect an approximate 90% success rate, which results in an excellent quality of life and the ideal solution for dogs significantly affected with hip dysplasia. 

Because dogs don’t live as long as humans, hip replacements can be performed as early as a year of age.  There are also several other surgical interventions that your pet may be a candidate for besides a total hip replacement such as a triple pelvic osteotomy, juvenile pubic symphysiodesis, or femoral head and neck ostectomy.  There are pros and cons to all treatment strategies and a consultation with a boarded veterinary surgeon is recommended as soon as your pet is diagnosed with hip dysplasia.   The reason for this is because some of the surgical options are time sensitive and progression of hip dysplasia may render the procedure suboptimal.

 We are excited to be the first referral and emergency hospital to start a program of this caliber to the region.  If your pet suffers from hip dysplasia and you are interested in a total hip replacement we encourage you to schedule a consult today to take advantage of strong incentives in place for our initial group of candidates and learn more about this amazing program we are trying to bring to our superstar pets in Central Oregon.

Please contact for more information.


Myths and Truths about Grain Free Diets

Last month the Food and Drug Administration started investigating a link between grain free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy, a very serious heart condition.  This association is still under investigation and the cause is still unknown.  The following link has more information:

So why are we feeding our pets grain free in the first place?  The push for grain free has not come from veterinarians – it is simply due to strategic marketing.  There are no known health benefits to feeding a grain free diet vs a diet with grains.

Some owners may choose grain free because they believe their pet is allergic to a grain.  However, grains are the least likely cause of food allergies in dogs and cats.  Food allergies, 99% of the time, are caused by a protein in the diet.  Additionally, boutique diets can not be considered “pure” in terms of being grain free or having a single protein source.  Multiple studies have shown cross contamination of over the counter diets with items not included on the ingredient list.  For example, you might think you are feeding a grain free bison diet, but your actually getting traces of chicken, beef, and corn.  This is why if you are concerned about a food allergy you need to discuss with a veterinarian the best way to do a very controlled diet trial.

My recommendation is if your pet has not been diagnosed with a grain allergy than stop feeding grain-free food.

Jennifer Bentley, DVM, DACVD

Board Certified Dermatologist