Tender Care Fund Second Success Story

Heartwood Animal Hospital, with the help of everyone’s contributions to our Tender Care Fund charity, has helped another Youngsville pet once again.

Meet Tippy, a 12 year old Peakapoo who was found in a house last week after an elderly lady had recently passed away. As you can see, Tippy had fallen behind on her care and grooming needs, and the family brought her to Ruff Cutts to have her cleaned up.

Unfortunately, the groomer found a very bad skin infection on her left arm that had become infestated with maggots. A call was made to our hospital and we made the decision that this was a pet we felt we could make a difference for!
Once at the hospital, Tippy was officially adopted by Heartwood Animal Hospital and treated right away. Besides the maggot infested leg, she was also covered in fleas to the point to where she was anemic because the fleas were eating all of her red blood cells. She was sedated, the wound was cleaned and maggots were removed, and a bandage was placed. She also had full labwork and her vaccines updated to ensure no other problems were present. She spent the next several nights at Heartwood Animal
Hospital under the care of everyone in our team (Denise especially took a liking to her).

Tippy on 9/15/2017 after her dental procedure

Tippy on 9/15/2017 after her dental procedure

Today, her bandage has been removed and the wound is healed. She is walking around like a champion, and her haircut suits her well! Most days you can find Tippy sleeping in her bed at the front desk and at nights Denise is taking her home so she can be loved on and does not feel alone. Tippy is currently looking for a good home where she can live out the rest of her days in peace and comfort.

Tippy on 9/18/2017

Tippy on 9/18/2017


Please contact us at 919-570- 9311 or email heartwood.friends@gmail.com or inquire on our Facebook page if you are interested in caring for Tippy.

Thank you once again for your generous donations and we look forward to all of the success stories to come.
Heartwood Animal Hospital Team

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Tender Care Fund Saves First Life!

First off, thank you to everyone who has donated to Heartwood’s “Tender Care Fund” which was established this year to help treat pets that otherwise would not be able to afford veterinary care.  The fund has accumulated money from our yard sale, direct donations, and raffles that we have held at the hospital for gift baskets. Two weeks ago we were able to save our first life with this fund and the story follows below:


Stitch was a 3 week old kitten who was being bottle raised by a good Samaritan after finding her in her yard.  One morning, in a really bizarre accident,  Stitch somehow swallowed the rubber feeding nipple that goes on the end of a milk bottle.  She was immediately rushed to Heartwood Animal Hospital, where X-rays were taken to confirm the ingestion of the feeding nipple. As you can see in the X-ray below, the red arrow is pointing to this nipple lodged in the esophagus very close to the stomach. It’s amazing to see how large this foreign body looks inside of this very small kitten.


             An obstruction of this size in the esophagus would not pass through Stitch and would cause her to become very sick if it stayed in.  After an unsuccessful attempt at trying to make Stitch vomit this up,  surgery was deemed the only possible option.  After a brief surgery, the feeding nipple was removed by opening up the stomach and pulling the nipple out from the stomach!   Surgery was slightly stressful, as keeping Stitch warm and safe under anesthesia was tough due to her very young age.


Stitch spent the night at Dr. Murray’s house, where she was bottle fed throughout the night and kept on a warmed heating pad.  She went home with her owner the next day in very good spirits.  We recently saw her for her medical progress evaluation and Stitch was doing great, gaining weight, and the surgery site is healing well.

Thank you everyone for your support and we hope we have several feel good stories for years to come from your contributions.  P1070949


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Fun Cat Exams Start from the Home!

fear-free-facebook-cover-image-stress-freeBringing Cats to the hospital can be stressful on both the cat and the owner for multiple reasons.  Reasons people often decide not to bring their cat to the veterinary hospital include:

  • Fighting to get kitty into the carrier
  • listening to loud hisses and meows during the car ride
  • Hiding or fractious behavior in the exam room
  • Inter-cat aggression in the home when returning from the hospital visit

While solutions to some of these issues aren’t always simple or display instantaneous results, there are many things we can do to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in transporting our feline patients to and from the hospital.  Outlined below are simple things you can do to make your cat enjoy, rather than resent, their trip to the veterinarian.

At Home Before the Appointmentcat-in-carrier

  • Picking out the right carrier is perhaps the most important part. Choose a hard carrier that has both an opening in the front and the top of the carrier.  An opening on top of the carrier can allow your veterinarian to perform the entire exam while your cat is in the carrier.  This makes exams much more pleasant on patients who tend to be shy and feel more comfortable in their carrier.
  • Place your carrier in an open area of the house or som
    ewhere your cat loves to spend lots of time. Keep the doors open and place treats in the carrier to encourage your cat to spend time inside of the carrier.  If they do not want to go inside the carrier at first, you may remove the top of the carrier at first to make it appear more welcoming.
  • Place clothes with your scent on them, cat nip, or Feliway calming pheromone spray in the carriers to invoke a sense of calming and relaxation in the carriers.
  • On the day of the appointment, try to entice them into the carrier with the above mentioned techniques. Never force a cat into the carrier if they are actively resisting as this will enhance fear, anxiety, and stress.  You may need to call and reschedule the appointment, or schedule the doctor to make a house call instead.

Transportation to the office

  • Always carry the carrier with two hands under the carrier and hold at chest height. Cats prefer elevation.
  • NEVER carry the carrier with one hand on the handle like it’s a suitcase. This is a very unstable and unsecure feeling for your loved one.
  • ALWAYS transport your cat in carrier in a car due to safety reasons and reducing stress. The best place for the carrier is on the floor in between the front passenger seat and rear seats. This is a secure spot and will keep the carrier from moving or rattling during the drive to the hospital.
  • Having a towel or blanket over the carrier so they can’t see out can create a sense of security and hiding place to reduce stress.

In the Hospital

  • Our hospital gives all cats a towel to place over the carrier that has been infused with Feliway calming pheromone.
  • A pheromone diffuse will be active in the room as well to help provide a calming sense.
  • Place the carrier on an elevated surface in the waiting room, not on the floor.
  • When invited into the exam room, place the carrier on the table and open both the front door and top door of the carrier.
  • The exam can be performed in the carrier, on the scale, in your lap, or anywhere else in the exam room that they prefer. Remember, the cat is always the boss!
  • A variety of treats and catnip will be available in the exam room. You should always bring your own as well!

Reintroducing them at home:

  • Keep them in the carrier in an open area of the house. If the other pets in the house pay no mind to the carrier, let them out after 15-30 minutes.
  • If there is increased vocalization or aggression from your other animals, move the carrier to a separate room and close the door. Allow your cat to spend several hours in this room outside of the carrier before reintroducing them.
  • If you have dogs in the house, it is best to take them on a walk or let them out in the yard before bringing your cat in. This gives your cat plenty of time to get used to their normal surroundings without the stresses of a slobbery barking dog!

I hope that you were able to learn some tips and tricks from this blog that you can now use to make visits to and from the veterinary hospital much easier.  All of our team members are undergoing specialty training in making all patient visits “Fear Free” to enhance the experience and quality of medicine that we can practice.  As always, call us at 919-570-9311 for all of your pets needs.

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Pop Goes the Patella

Pop goes the Patella

Why does my dog keep hopping on three legs around the house at very random times!?  Great question.  It is very possible that your dog may have a luxating patella.  The Patella (aka the knee cap) is supposed to sit right in between the groove of the femur in all
of our cats and dogs.  Some dogs may have an abnormality in their anatomy where the patella pops out of this groove when walking.  Alternatively, this may never happen on their own, but I may be able to slip it out of this groove with just a small amount of pressure.  Both of these are examples of patellar luxation, which is one of the most common orthopedic diseases in dogs.  In fact, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, this condition is diagnoses in 7% of all puppies.  All dogs can be affected, but smaller breed dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, and Miniature Poodles are more likely to have this condition.  yorkies

The patella can luxate medially ( towards the middle of the dog) or laterally (towards the outside of dog).  Signs that your dog may be affected by a patellar luxation include occasionally holding that leg up when they walk, signs of pain if the knee is touched, and standing posture where the knee is positioned further outside of the body compared to normal.   The diagnosis of a luxating patella can be made by the veterinarian feeling the patella and popping it in and out of the groove.  X-rays of both legs from the hips down to the knees are also essential to ensure that there are no other underlying orthopedic diseases such as hip dysplasia, cruciate disease, or incomplete growth of one of the bones in the leg.  Arthritis is also important to assess on x-rays, as dogs with luxating patellas will have a faster development of osteoarthritis compared to that of a “normal” dog.


Surgery is the treatment of choice if the dog is showing signs of this condition.  Surgery should also be considered for dogs that have this condition but are not showing any signs at home of being affected by it.  This is because surgery to stabilize the patella in place may help slow down the progression of arthritis.  Surgery is always tailored to each specific dog to come up with a plan on how to stabilize the knee.   Things that may be performed in surgery include deepening of the groove in the femur, moving and pinning a ridge in the tibia to straighten the patellar tendon, tightening of the fiber capsule around the knee joint, and even loosening or tightening of muscles that may be trying to pull the patella in the wrong direction.   Joint supplements such as Dasuquin are also important as they will help support cartilage growth and slow down the development of osteoarthritis.

Surgery is very often successful for most dogs, with the ACVS reporting that over 90% of dog owners were happy with the outcome.  At Heartwood Animal Hospital, every patient that we performed surgery on has had a dramatic improvement in their leg function in the year of 2016.  If you believe your dog may be affected by this orthopedic condition, please call Heartwood today to schedule a consultation.  Our team is passionate and always happy to help treat any condition that may be causing pain and discomfort to your beloved pet.

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My Dog or Cat isn’t Fat, Just Big Boned!

Everyone reading this blog can easily think of a a very fat cat that they have either owned themselves or seen at a family or friends house. It is easy to tell that a cat is overweight if it weighs 26 pounds when it should weigh 11 or 12 pounds. However, it becomes much more difficult to know that a cat is overweight if he weighs 15 pounds, or that a dog is obese if she weighs 50 pounds and her healthy weight is closer to 40. It may also come to a surprise that the most recent studies conducted show that over HALF of all dogs and cats in American households are either overweight or obese! Overweight meaning that their body fat is 20% higher than that of a healthy pet, and Obese meaning that their body fat is 30% or higher than healthy. Take a second to think about that and realize that either your cat, or your neighbor’s cat weighs more than it needs to! (I’m sure your cat may be perfectly healthy, and your neighbors may be too, this just serves as an illustration of the average in America).  shutterstock_49342042-edited

So why is this important and how can I tell if my pet is overweight? I’m glad you asked!

A reduced life span, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. If you’ve had an overweight pet and taken them to the veterinarian you have probably heard this speech plenty of times. While all of these remain true, there is some new knowledge out there proving that fat cells themselves release more inflammatory hormones into the bloodstream than other non-fat cells in the body. These inflammatory hormones lead to perceived pain in the brain as well as a constant barrage of stress on the entire body. So an overweight dog is not only more prone to arthritis due to the increased weight load the joints have to support, but those fat cells are also causing it to feel more painful. Talk about a Double Whammy. Let’s all remember that the average pet’s only responsibilities are to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom. It is our responsibility to ensure that their weight is healthy. Attached below is a diagram showing the Body Condition Scores of dogs and cats.

This is a scale of 1-9, with the ideal weight being between a 4-5. If you think that your fur baby may be a 6 or higher after looking at this diagram, it is important that you discuss with your veterinarian a nutritional and exercise plan for safe weight loss to keep your baby as healthy as possible. Hope that you found this blog useful and call us a 919-570- 9311 or email heartwood.friends@gmail.com with any questions you may have on your pets weight or other blog posts you would like to learn about.

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Agility 101

                                               Agility 101:

What Should I Know Before Using the Heartwood Agility Field

Adjacent to the parking lot of our hospital in Youngsville is a full fenced in agility field, approximately 1 acre in size, for the use of all clients of Heartwood Animal Hospital.  Inside of this field, there are several pieces of agility equipment that are meant to be used to introduce or further train your dog in the sport of agility. This blog is meant to serve as an introduction to all of the pieces of equipment as well as a couple tips on using them.

  • The Tunnels: agility-tunnelThere is currently one tunnel in the field, with more on the way in the near future.  Tunnels can be challenging for dogs and owners because this is the only obstacle where the dog completely loses sight of the owner.  Try introducing your dog by placing treats inside of the tunnel, and stand on the other side of the tunnel with a treat as well.  I cheated by buying my own small tunnel for my dog Minnie and placing it in the hallway of my house, where there was no room for her to run around either side of the tunnel.

  • The Hurdles or Jumps:

    dog-agility-hurdle Hurdles are one of the easier and more intuitive agility obstacles.  A successful hurdle is done when the dog jumps over the bar and does not knock it off onto the ground.  Start with the hurdle on its lower setting, and gradually increase the height once your pet is comfortable with this obstacle.  It is very important that you keep the hurdle on a lower height if you have a puppy that is still growing to help keep the joints from being over exerted on impact at landing.                                                                                                                                                         

  • The A-frame, Dog Walk, and See-Saw:agility-walk  These are the 3 contact obstacles in agility.  The A-frame is the tallest obstacle, whereas the dog walk is the skinniest and longest. Successful completion involves entering the obstacle from the front, walking over to the other side, and having the pet have one paw touch the contact zone (bottom area where the paint is a different color than the middle).  Try introducing your pet while on a leash walking over these obstacles.  Your pet should be very comfortable with the A-frame and dog walk before introducing the see-saw.ag-equi-a-frame-2agility_see_saw

  • Weave Poles:

    weave-polls Often the most difficult obstacle to teach as it is the least intuitive obstacle. Weave poles are performed in either a set of 6 or 12 poles for  most competitions.  Successful completion requires that the dog enters the poles with the first pole being on the left side of your dog, and then weaving back and forth in each pole until reaching the last one.  I am a big fan of the 2×2 method in teaching dogs how to perform this obstacle, and here is a good link on in-depth instructions for this training method  http://www.kineticdog.com/Files/2%20x%202%20PDF.pdf

  • The Tire Jump: tire-jumpThis obstacle is where a tire, or tire look-alike is suspended from a frame and your dog must jump through the center of it.  This is usually a pretty easy obstacle to teach once your pet has learned the hurdles.   You may need to start with keeping the tire touching the ground and then gradually elevate it as your dog gets used to going through.

Hopefully this has provided a useful explanation for the agility field. We will be having our introduction to agility free class to anyone interested this upcoming Wednesday, October 12th at 5:30pm.  Please feel free to use the field at any time during daylight and feel free to stop inside and say hi to us while you are here.


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World Rabies Day

wrd-logoGreetings from Heartwood Animal Hospital. Today’s blog will be in honor of World Rabies day, which is September 28th.   Rabies is still a very serious disease in today’s world, with 55,000 human deaths resulting from rabies every year.  During my 6 weeks in India, it was very common to see multiple animals at a time in the Rabies Isolation Ward at the local veterinary college.  It is a heartbreaking disease to witness in person, and my heart truly goes out to doctors around the globe that have seen cases of Rabies in humans.  In the United States, there are approximately 6,000 cases in animals every year!  The majority of cases in America are in wildlife.  Raccoons, bats, and skunks make up close to 85% of the rabies cases in the USA each year.  However, in the year of 2014, there were 59 confirmed cases of Rabies in dogs and 272 in cats.  This number in dogs and cats should be zero if the right actions are taken as this is a completely preventable disease with proper vaccinations.  World Rabies day is meant to spread public awareness of this disease and the public health impact of Rabies.  For more information on the Rabies virus and how veterinarians play a crucial role in public health, please watch this brief youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyPi28YRHlU       If you are unsure of your pets Rabies vaccination status, please do not procrastinate and contact the veterinarian that last saw your pet to get up to date.  If you are unable to find these records, it’s very important that you have your pets re-vaccinated ASAP.  If you have any other questions or wish to schedule your pet for a Rabies Vaccine, please feel free to contact us at Heartwood Animal Hospital at 919-570-9311.


Dr. James Murray and the Heartwood Animal Hospital Team

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Heartwood Logo type no tagEmergency Contact Numbers:  Heartwood Animal Hospital- during open hours 919-570-9311.  For established clients, voicemail contact when office is closed, 9am to 9 pm 919-229-9838.
VSH- Veterinary Specialty Hospital ER for Pets 919-861-0109 open 24-7, 365 days a year.

* Povidone Iodine                                              * Medical Tape
* Petroleum Jelly                                               * Cotton Balls
* Hydrogen Peroxide                                        * Bubble Wrap
* Triple Antibiotic Ointment                           * Duct Tape
* Saline Solution                                                * Thermometer
* Benadryl Tablets                                             * Disposable gloves
* Light Corn Syrup                                            * Soft Cotton Cloths
* Corn Starch                                                      * Phone Camera handy
* Pet Piller                                                           * Syringe or dropper
* Non stick Pad                                                   * Mini -pads- feminine hygiene
* My Pet’s special needs

Special items:  Muzzle, Old T- Shirt, Boxer Shorts, Pony Hair Holder, Tubing for bloat risk breeds, Pillow case for cats.


HEAT STROKE- Body temperature can be 107,  Life threatening over 105
Wet down with cold water, cold packs in armpit and groin area, continue to monitor temperature, see a veterinarian as soon as possible.  Pet will need fluids to cool core body temperature and to keep organs functioning.  Will need to be treated for shock.

BLEEDING –  Hand pressure for at least 2 minutes, no peeking.  Clean with diluted Povidone Iodine and cover wound (use sanitary pad or non stick pad with triple antibiotic ointment)and continue to apply pressure, seek veterinary help.  Once wound is covered do not peek at it, it will often start it bleeding again.  You can use a t-shirt or boxer shorts held to the body with a pony tail holder to protect the wound if unable to bandage the area.

SNAKE BITE- ALL BITES of any kind are infected wounds and need antibiotics, get to a veterinarian as soon as possible, even if you think it is non-poisonous snake.  Expect swelling and some pain, more if it was a poisonous snake such as a Copperhead & Cottonmouth, most common here.  ID the snake.  If dead try to preserve the head and bring it with you to confirm ID at the vet hospital.  BEWARE even dead snakes can bite and inject venom!  There is NO longer any antivenin for pets available.  Non poisonous snakes common here are Garter and Black Rat snakes.

POISONING- CALL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  The first 20 minutes are golden for treating toxins.  ID the suspected toxin, (most common serious toxins: human medications- legit or illicit, sugar free gum, pesticides, rat poison pellets, antifreeze, horse medications) different poisons require different treatments.  Possible treatments: inducing vomiting, different kinds of laxatives, some poisons have antidotes and some require hospitalization.

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Ensuring your pet’s safety under anesthesia

As an AAHA accredited hospital, we are required to have very high standards of care when it comes to monitoring our dogs and cats while they are under anesthesia during surgery.  Anesthesia can be stressful to many pet owners, especially if they have ever heard a story from a friend or family member of a pet experiencing a complication during surgery.  Luckily, with advances in monitoring technology, drugs, and higher standards of care, we are able to prevent almost any complication.   This blog focuses on parameters we monitor at Heartwood Animal Hospital, to ensure the best safety for all of our surgical procedures.

The equipment used to effectively monitor anesthesia:

Therm1)  Thermometer: Used to regularly take the temperature every 5 minutes.  If the patient becomes colder than 98 degrees F,  additional warming measures can be taken to prevent your dog or cat from becoming hypothermic.  The warmer the patient is while under anesthesia, the quicker they will recover.

dog-blood-pressure-cuff2)  Blood Pressure cuff: A regular blood pressure cuff (we use a petMAP system) is used to monitor the patients’ blood pressure during the entire procedure.  Keeping a healthy blood pressure is crucial to keeping the kidneys, heart, and brain healthy while under anesthesia.  If the blood pressure begins to fall too low, the gas anesthesia may be lowered or the IV fluids may be increased to help compensate.

ecg-machine3)  Heart Rate/EKG: a tube that fits down the esophagus during surgery is used to measure the heart rate and electrical activity of the heart.  This is very important for measuring anesthesia, as subtle changes in heart rate help the doctor know things such as, the presence of pain or if the patient is at the right level of anesthesia.

Pulse oximeter4)  Pulse Oximeter: A pulse oximeter probe is placed on the tongue of all of our pets.  If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to find yourself in an emergency room, the pulse oximeter is usually placed over one of your fingers.  This measures the amount of oxygen that your blood is circulating.  This is important for ensuring the patient is receiving enough oxygen from the anesthesia machine and that they are able to deliver oxygen to all of their organs.

vet.assist5)  The Doctor and Assistant:  In medicine, it is always important to never put 100% trust in any piece of machinery.  The veterinarian and assistant work together during a procedure to listen to the heart with a stethoscope and check depth of anesthesia by evaluating their blinking responses and muscle tone.  The medical team at Heartwood Animal Hospital is constantly making minor adjustments to keep things as safe as possible for your pet.

I hope this article helps put some minds at ease when it comes to anesthesia monitoring for surgeries or dental procedures.  Here is a link to an article by AAHA on the equipment required for anesthesia.  https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/about_aaha/why_accreditation_matters/about_accreditation/aaha_standards_require_anesthesia_monitoring_equipment_for_your_pet.aspx   As always, please contact us at 919-570-9311 or email us at heartwood.friends@gmail.com  with any questions or suggestions for new blog topics.


Dr. James Murray

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Boarding Your Pets

Dog-Boarding-500x280Boarding your dog

Though it’s never easy to leave your dog behind, sometimes it’s the best decision for them. If you take the time to do a little research, you can find a high quality boarding facility that you can feel confident about.

Start by asking your AAHA-accredited veterinarian if they have a boarding facility they recommend, or if they have a boarding facility at the hospital itself. Ask your family, friends, and neighbors where they’ve boarded their pets and whether they were satisfied. You can get specific information, such as whether their pets ever came back ill after boarding and whether the kennel staff was available for questions.

Once you have chosen a few kennels you would like to try, go on a tour . If they don’t allow you to see their facilities, be wary: you may not want to leave your pet in a situation you can’t see for yourself. When you take the tour, take note of the employees. Are there enough of them to care for the animals? Do they seem nice? You can also check whether floors, walls, and cages are clean, there seems to be good air circulation, the temperature seems comfortable, and animals have reasonable access to food and water.

One thing you don’t have to worry too much about is the noise level. The dogs may seem loud when you tour, but they tend to get excited and make a lot of noise when people walk through. They usually stay quiet the other 80 percent of the time.

Remember that the most important thing for your pet will be the attention he receives. You can ask a few important questions before you finish your tour: how much time do the animals spend confined every day, how often are they walked or played with, how often are they fed, and are they walked or played with individually or in a group? You can also ask whether the kennel offers any additional perks. Some boarders offer live web cams that you can watch via your phone or computer.

Other kennels offer additional walks, playtime, and extra attention to pets for an additional charge. No matter which boarding facility you choose, if it’s a place where you feel comfortable and confident leaving your furriest family member, your pet will most likely do fine.

Heartwood Animal Hospital has a Luxury Private Suite for your best friend (s).  Let your friend lounge in comfort in a 9′ x 11′ cage free suite.  The suite includes play time outside in our agility yard and a special treat after playtime is done.  The room has a PetChatz camera so you can check in with your loved one on any iPhone devise, as well as dispense a treat.


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