Davis Island Fest

Join Veterinary Medical Clinic and After Hours Urgent Pet Care of South Tampa at the Davis Islands Fest on April 26 from 10 am – 5 pm. More details can be found at http://www.islandsfest.com/.

After Hours Urgent Pet Care of South Tampa

Veterinary Medical Clinic

Veterinary Medical Clinic

Harbour Island Art Walk

After Hours Urgent Pet Care of South Tampa

Join us from 12:00 until 5:00 pm



All About Feline Heart Disease

Eddie Garcia, D.V.M.

Eddie Garcia, D.V.M. – Clinic Director at Veterinary Medical Clinic


Cardiomyopathy, which literally means “disease of the heart muscle,” is one of the most common problems to affect the feline heart.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common form of feline cardiomyopathy.

In addition to not being able to pump enough blood, the heart of a cat affected by HCM can suffer other abnormalities. Blood clots can form in the upper chamber of the heart, the left atrium. Unable to empty properly into the left ventricle, the left atrium becomes enlarged with extra blood, which begins to sludge and then clot. The resulting “atrial clots” or pieces of them, might then be pushed into the cat’s bloodstream. The risk that a clot might lodge in a smaller blood vessel is great; one of the most common sites for such an event is the area where the aorta splits at its end to supply blood to each rear leg. When a clot lodges here, the cat becomes acutely paralyzed in one or both back legs. The condition is very painful and often results in death or euthanasia.

Another potential complication of HCM is that the added muscle mass of the heart can predispose a cat to an arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat pattern that can potentially cause sudden and unexpected death.

Detection can be very difficult, especially early in the course of disease when clinical signs are absent or subtle at best. Careful examination by a veterinarian might possibly reveal a rapid heart rate, perhaps accompanied by a heartbeat irregularity called a gallop rhythm.

Other form of heart murmurs might also suggest the need for a more extensive cardiology examination that could lead to a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy.

As the heart disease progresses, the signs of it become more dramatic. A cat might be presented to a veterinarian because he is having trouble breathing. Cats with heart failure often have difficulty breathing as the heart begins to fail and the lung tissue and/or chest cavity fills with fluid that seeps from the backed-up veins.

The most dramatic symptom of cardiomyopathy is the sudden death of a cat whose symptoms have gone undetected and whose illness is undiagnosed.

Abnormalities detected during a physical examination can arouse a veterinarian’s suspicion that cardiomyopathy exists, but a definitive diagnosis requires examination of the heart itself. Radiographs (X-rays) can demonstrate the “valentine” shape of the dilated heart of DCM.

An electrocardiograph (ECG) can be employed to detect whether any life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia exist.

Blood test may help identify impairment of major organs that has resulted from a lack of oxygen supply, or from clot formation. A urinalysis can detect concurrent urinary system disease, which may complicate therapy.

The treatment for cardiomyopathy depends on the form diagnosed and the state of disease. Therapy really does depend on the severity of the clinical signs, the body’s reaction to the disease, and the patient’s ability to compensate.

Older cats, especially those middle-aged males who are most at risk, may also successfully hide their symptoms until it’s too late to help them. Those cats whose caretakers are aware of the existence of cardiomyopathy and work with their veterinarian to assess their cat’s risk stand the best chance of surviving this significant heart disease when it does occur.

Don’t Ignore Warning Signs of Cancer in Pets

Eddie Garcia, D.V.M.

Eddie Garcia, D.V.M. – Clinic Director at Veterinary Medical Clinic

Cancer is the ungoverned growth of cells on or within the body. The terms “cancerous” and “malignant” are synonymous. The term “tumor” refers to a cancerous local growth. Tumors are characterized by rapid growth and local invasion into surrounding tissues. Tumors may also metastasize, that is spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to distant sites within the body. The lungs are a very common site for tumor metastasis. The prognosis for tumors is often most dependent on whether they have metastasized prior to the diagnosis.

Many signs of illness would prompt a suspicion of cancer among a host of other problems.

Cancer warning signs include foul odor, persistent lameness, difficulty urination or defecating, abnormal growth, weight loss, bleeding, wounds that won’t heal, difficulty breathing, weakness and lethargy.

Fatigues is definitely a sign to watch out for that most people might miss.

To catch the disease in the early stages, dog & cat owners need to be alert to changes in their pet’s behavior and seek medical care as soon as possible. By the time cancer is discovered, it can be fairly advanced, and a cure isn’t always possible.

There are no preventive measures to ensure your dog doesn’t get cancer, but spaying before the first heat will almost completely remove the risk of mammary cancer. Testicular tumors in dogs are common, but when dogs are neutered, the risk is eliminated.

Breeds at Risk

Certain breeds seem more susceptible to inherited types of cancer. In some forms of cancer, body type is also important. Larger or giant breeds have a higher incidence of bone cancer. Dogs with dark skin are more susceptible to melanomas.

Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers are at risk for lymphoma and osteosarcoma. Scottish Terriers and Shelties are susceptible to bladder cancer. Bernese Mountain dogs tend to contract lymphoma, mast cell tumors and histiocytosis, a rare cancer, which oncologists treat with chemotherapy and radiation.

Cancer is not one disease, so the breed and cancer associations are endless.

Today cancer is now one of the most common causes of death in pets.

Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine

Your Medications May or May Not Be Appropriate For Your Pet

Eddie Garcia, D.V.M.

Eddie Garcia, D.V.M. – Clinic Director at Veterinary Medical Clinic

Many human medications are the same as dog medications.  A pet owner might be inclined to give the pet a dose of a human medicine when their veterinarian may not be available to advise.

Unless your pet’s doctor has given specific instructions about which medications and how much to give, you should avoid the temptation.  Your well intended act has the potential to harm your pet.

A drug like aspirin or another NSAID (like Advil or Motrin) might in some cases, cause severe bleeding and/or damage to the stomach wall.  The metabolism of drugs in dogs and cats can differ from that in humans, which means that the standard dose of human pain reliever included in one tablet or capsule may be an overdose for your pet.

A medication prescribed for your dog should never be given to any other species of pet without the specific direction of your veterinarian.

Holiday Pet Hazards

Eddie Garcia, D.V.M.

Eddie Garcia, D.V.M. – Clinic Director at Veterinary Medical Clinic

Holiday Pet Hazards Article by Eddie Garcia, D.VM. – Clinic Director at Veterinary Medical Clinic and Feline Wellness Center

The following is a list of the common holiday hazards that bring many pet owners to veterinary clinics.  All of them can be avoided with some simple precautions.         

Chocolate:  It is in our baking projects as well as in wrapped gifts that end up under the tree.  Pets often get into chocolate by chewing into a wrapped gift, the contents of a person may not even be aware.  To avoid what may be a fatal exposure, keep all chocolate out of reach, never place wrapped chocolate under a holiday tree and don’t be shy about asking gift givers if a gift they place under your tree contains any chocolate.  The stimulants that give us the “chocolate buzz” can cause diarrhea, vomiting and fatal heart arrhythmias in our furry friends.

Antifreeze:  Commonly used in the winter holiday months as we prepare our automobiles for cold weather.  Products containing ethylene glycol are fatal when even small amounts are swallowed.  Because they are typically sweet in taste, many dogs will drink antifreeze straight or in puddles combined with water.  Cats may walk through it and then lick the antifreeze off their paws.  Permanent, irreversible kidney damage results from these exposures and can be fatal.  Prevention is simple if you clean spills immediately and purchase newer products that don’t contain ethylene glycol.  They are marked “pet safe.”

Many of our favorite holiday foods contain more fats and bones than foods we eat the rest of the year.   Giving fats and bones can trigger bad cases of stomach upset or can result in life threatening obstructions or pancreatitis.  It’s helpful to keep extra “safe” treats around the house during the holidays so that you can cheat with extras that won’t be a threat to your pet’s health.

Weather:  If a pet is going to spend considerable time outdoors in the cold, it may have a higher calorie requirement; so a little extra food may be warranted.  Whenever it is 30F or colder, bring in all animals to prevent frostbite.

Ornaments:  Many animals will eat tree ornaments, tinsel and candles.  Prevent hazards by keeping young, unsupervised puppies out of harm’s way of all ornaments and use care when burning candles so that tails and long hair don’t accidentally cause fire hazards.  Never leave a candle burning on a coffee table with unsupervised pets.  Sweep up any broken ornaments immediately and vacuum well to prevent exposure to sharp shards.

If you follow these simple recommendations, you and all of your pets should enjoy a peaceful and healthy holiday season.

For more information on Holiday Pet Hazards you can visit the following resources:

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