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 info@vrcvet.com 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

Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon Provided Continuing Education to Veterinary Professionals on Food and Environmental Allergies

Over fifty veterinarians, veterinary technicians, assistants, and client care specialists attended.  The event started out with Dr. Dujowich presenting an overview of treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs.  We are excited for Dr. Dujowich to be starting a total hip replacement program at Veterinary Referral Center.  Please e-mail surgery@vrcvet.com if you are interested.

Our dermatologist, Dr. Bentley presented a concise and systematic approach to a common problem – allergies.  She then explained the importance of utilizing intradermal testing to formulate allergy specific immunotherapy (allergy vaccine) instead of serum (blood) testing. 

Special thanks to Royal Canin for sponsoring this event.

Allergy Season is in Full Effect with Grass Pollen Counts Very High in Bend

Recurrent skin and ear infections, and itchiness (scratching, biting, chewing, licking) are very common signs of environmental allergies in both dogs and cats.  These are very different than the symptoms humans experience with allergies - sneezing, congestion, and runny noses. 

There are many medications that can be used to alleviate the symptoms of allergies in dogs and cats such as Apoquel, Cytopoint, and steroids.  Although, these medications are effective it is important to remember that these medications are just “band-aids” and do nothing to treat the underlying cause.  Our dermatologist as well as the American College of Veterinary Dermatology recommends intradermal (skin) allergy testing to pin-point which environmental allergies are causing a problem and then develop allergen specific immunotherapy (allergy vaccine) to treat. 

At Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon we have over fifty allergens specific to central Oregon that we use to test for.  This allows us to make a tailored made immunotherapy protocol for your pet.

Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon Invites Public and Veterinary Professionals to Celebrate the Completion of the Building with an Open House on May 12

Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon is in the final stages of construction and will be throwing an Open House on May 12.  Visitors will be able to tour the hospital, learn fun facts about advanced veterinary equipment, and meet the VRCCO team!  Veterinary Referral Center will also be providing drinks, appetizers as well as gift bags to the first 100 visitors. Dogs are welcome.

Please stop by to check out your new advanced veterinary specialty and emergency hospital!

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Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon Invites Renowned International Speaker Dr. Andre Shih To Provide Continuing Education on Anesthesia To Local Bend Veternarians

Dr. Andre Shih, who is double boarded in critical care (emergency medicine) and anesthesia, gave an informative and entertaining lecture to local Bend and Central Oregon veterinarians on anesthesia, emergencies, and analgesia.  His lecture focused on anesthesia in the critical patient and emergency situations and how to develop the ideal anesthetic protocol from start to finish.  Scenarios ranged from operating on severe trauma cases to heart failure patients.  Given the feedback from his lecture we will be looking to bring Dr. Shih back again later this year.  A huge thanks to our cosponsor, the Central Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, for helping us provide continuing education credits to attendees.