October Pet of the Month

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in Our Blog, Pet of the Month | 0 comments

The morning of May 2nd, I pulled in the parking lot at work and noticed a man pacing around his vehicle like something was wrong. It was 7:15, so a little early for one of our patients to be showing up. As I got out of my car, he approached me and said his dog had been hurt. I told him I was going in through the back and to meet me at the front door and I would let him in to see what was going on. As I came in through the back, one of the other employees was already inside so he came to the front with me to let the man and his dog in.
After we got a look at the pet we realized it was Lola, a sweet, 6 year old beagle that is a regular patient at Rock Bridge Animal Hospital. Her owner said he and Lola went outside that morning around 5 and she took off running and before long he could hear a scuffle and noises coming from the direction of where she had gone. Pretty soon she came running back and went straight into the house and appeared to be in shock. Her owner noticed she had several different wounds on her body and knew Lola needed to be seen at the veterinarian’s office and headed to our hospital.
It was hard to tell if Lola had been attacked by a coyote or if she had been in a fight with a raccoon. Dr Forbes gave her a thorough evaluation and clipped around all of her wounds and cleaned them really well. The wounds were much deeper than they initially seemed, so X-rays were taken. There were no broken bones; however, there was evidence that the wounds penetrated into the abdomen (Red arrow). Lola was immediately taken exploratory surgery to look for internal damage and to close the tears in her body wall. The bites had indeed penetrated her abdomen, but fortunately there was no damage to her intestines or other organs. The lacerations inside her abdomen were closed and drains were placed to allow any fluid build up to escape as these deep wounds healed. Lola stayed for observation to make sure she was doing ok and was later sent home with her family. She returned to us on May 6th to get the drains removed and for Dr Forbes to make sure she was on the way to a healthy recovery. We saw Lola again on May 17th to remove all of her sutures and her owners said she was doing very well at home.
It was a very traumatic experience, as you can see from the pictures, for Lola as well as for her owners. We are please to say that she is doing awesome today and is back to taking her morning walks.
Written by Kim


September Pet of the Month

Posted by on Sep 9, 2017 in Our Blog, Pet of the Month | 0 comments

Helmock AKA Hemi is a 1 year old neutered male domestic shorthair cat. He was presented to our clinic on in July for acting lethargic, vomiting and laying by his water bowl.
Upon examination Dr Sappington found that Hemi’s bladder was the size of a small balloon. His bladder grew because he was not able to urinate. She knew right away that Hemi was blocked and needed some emergency care.
Urethral obstruction is common in neutered male cats 1-10 years old. It can be caused by a stone, mucus or crystals lodged in the urethra. Fortunately urethral obstructions are a treatable emergency with high survival rate if caught in time. First symptoms are usually consistent with urinary tract inflammation. They would strain to pee, urinate frequently or inappropriately or have bloody urine. Complete blockage is very painful, and life threatening if not taking care of in a timely manner; cats can die from urinary obstruction in 3-6 days. The bladder would just keep filling up and chemicals that should exit the body with urine accumulate in the bloodstream.
Dr.Sappington opted to perform radiographs of the bladder first to see what kind of blockage we were dealing with. The X-rays showed that Hemi had a mucus blockage in the tip of his penis. Dr Sappington decided to take Hemi to emergency surgery to physically remove the blockage. Before surgery was performed, Dr Sappington ran a complete blood screen which showed that Hemi’s potassium level was really high (which can raise the risks associated with surgery), his white blood cell levels was too high to register (high white blood cell level usually indicate inflammation that the body is trying to fight) and his glucose level was on the low side. While these values were critical, surgery was still necessary to address them. Hemi was given antibiotic injections as well as pain medications to keep him comfortable.
Hemi was taken into surgery right away. Once he was sleeping Dr Sappington placed a urinary catheter in him. This allowed his bladder to empty and we were able to flush out any remaining sediment. To help Hemi to empty his bladder the catheter was left in and connected to a disposable bag. Once out of surgery he was placed on observation to insure proper recovery and healing. During this time Hemi received fluid therapy to flush toxins out of his bloodstream, and flush his bladder. The high potassium caused tachycardia (dangerously fast heart rate). We had to give Hemi insulin to move potassium into the body’s cells, which brought his heart rate back to normal right away. However because of low blood sugar he came in with we had to add dextrose (sugar) to his fluids to keep it in the right range. By the next day Hemi started to show signs that he was well on way to recovery. Hemi was interested in food and was starting to look for human interaction and even affection from the staff. Those are all great signs and once Hemi had demonstrated his ability to urinate on his own Dr.Sappington decided he was ready to go home.
When Hemi felt better, we could tell he was grateful. He seemed really happy with us and wanted all the love he could get. Since he was not in a critical state anymore, Hemi was ready to be sent home with some more fluids that his owners would administer subcutaneously. The subcutaneous fluids would further help his hydration and recovery. When time came for him to go home, we realized that we all grew attached to him and-even though we would have loved for him to stay with us 24/7-were really happy to see him go home to his family.

Written by Ando

June Pet of the Month

Posted by on Jun 25, 2017 in Our Blog, Pet of the Month | 0 comments

Nelson Goodnick is a 13-year-old female domestic short-hair cat. She is a very sweet and loving feline who has been seen in our office since 2015. Felines are capable of not showing their pain tolerance and don’t really let you know if they are in pain because to cats that is showing they are vulnerable to predators. Initially on April 2015, Dr. Sappington indicated a FORL on the upper right permanent molar number 2 (PM2) with excess tartar during an Annual Wellness Exam.
The feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion (FORL) is a common feline dental problem that may go undiagnosed among felines. Many cats that are affected are older. FORLs can also be known as cavities, neck lesions, external or internal root resorptions, and cervical line erosions. FORLs in felines are usually located in the area where the gum line meets the tooth.The cause is unknown but yearly dental exams may identify FORLs before they became intolerable.
In August, 2016, Dr. Sappington indicated that several more FORLs were identified upon examination and a dental cleaning and extractions were required. The FORLs had progressed immensely from the initial exam and a dental surgery was required. X-rays were taken of Nelson’s mouth to help identify where all the lesions may be in her mouth. The x-rays were reviewed and it was decided that a total of ten teeth needed to be extracted
Nelson, after a couple of weeks of recovery time, is back to her sweet and loving feline ways. It is important to maintain a continuous veterinary schedule to insure the health of your felines and any other animals to help catch FORLs or any other medical necessities sooner to help keep your pets comfortable in life.

Written By Taylor

Baby Deer

Posted by on Jun 16, 2017 in Our Blog | 0 comments

So we had someone drop off a baby deer at our clinic. It was ADORABLE! The story was that the fawn had been caught in his chain link fence for 3 days. The mother had been hanging around for the first 2 days, then the 3rd day he didn’t see her. Unfortunately he left before we could discuss a plan of action with him. If he had hung around we would have told him to take the fawn right back to where he found him, despite its cuteness. Why, you ask?

So tiny! And scared!

Fawns as young as this one (just a week or 2 old) are not strong enough to walk around with their mother while she forages for enough food to feed herself and nurse her young. The doe will roam nearby, out of sight, and come back at dawn and dusk to nurse the fawn or move it. Untangling this fawn and just leaving it there would have been the best course of action. Mom will keep coming back, but not while people are hanging around. Unless you actually witnessed something happen to the doe, you should leave a fawn where you found it.


Fawns this young don’t do well in captivity, and if they live to adulthood, frequently they imprint on their human caretakers and it is difficult to get them to go back into the wild. For more information check out

April Pet of the Month

Posted by on Apr 6, 2017 in Our Blog, Pet of the Month | 0 comments

Ella looks like your typical Labarador mix but is actually more than just that, she is smaller than your average lab/mix but is just as determined and curious. She, however, is really gentle mannered and “respectful” in her interactions with humans. She is one of the cutest black dogs I have ever seen. I am sure the owner thought the same when she adopted her from the Columbia Missouri Humane Society back in December 2016.
The first time we saw Ella she was brought in to get setup with veterinary care. She was seen by Dr. Sappington and got her last set of vaccines. Ella was happy and healthy. At that point Ella was fully protected and good to go out and explore the world.

Early in the morning of January 27Th, Ella was admitted to the University of Missouri-Columbia Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Ella had cut herself while hiding under the bed. She was first seen by the emergency crew and they found that she had a 3cm long laceration on the back of her right hock in the area of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is composed of five separate tendons (Gastrocnemius, Superficial Digital Flexor, Gracilis, Semitendinosus and the Biceps Femoris tendons) and is responsible for keeping the heal bone off the floor when weight is bared on that leg. Even though it was painful, Ella was bright, alert and responsive upon presentation and all her other vital parameters such as heart rate, respiration rate and temperature were within normal limits. They shaved the leg so that the wound could be thoroughly cleaned and examined. They suspected she may have torn her Achilles tendon so they bandaged the leg and referred her to the surgeons the next day.

After sedating Ella and removing the bandage, Dr Barger performed a more thorough examination of the laceration which revealed she had cut through the Superficial Digital Flexor tendons and had partially cut through what look like the Gastrocnemius. The tendons were sutured back together. A cast was applied to protect the tendons and to prevent the repair from failing since this type of injury can take several months to repair. Ella was sent home with some pain medications and strict instructions and restrictions.
If you have ever owned a dog or even just know one from a friend or family you should know that 6 month old puppies love to jump, run and play: so activity restriction is not an easy task for any owner during that part of the dog’s life. It is, however, necessary for the healing process. To prevent stress on her healing tendon, Ella was not allowed any of those for 3-4 weeks. The most exercise allowed would be a 10 min leash walk so Ella could urinate and defecate. When the owner was not around, Ella had to be confined either to a crate or a small room. She was also sent home with “the cone of shame” to keep her from licking and chewing at her cast. The cast had to be kept clean and dry. Ella’s owner also needed to monitor Ella’s toes daily for signs of swelling indicating the cast is too tight.
After multiple bandage changes, Ella seems to be heading the right direction as far as healing. Only time will tell.
Written By Ando

Before You Breed Your Dog

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Our Blog | 0 comments

If you are contemplating breeding your dog, do yourself a favor and do some research before jumping into a project that, while often fun and adorable, can also very quickly become emotionally and financially draining. People express interest in breeding for all kinds of reasons. Some want adorable puppy versions of their very loveable dog to pass on personality traits. Some just want to witness (or let their kids witness) the miracle of birth. Some want to make a profit. And others truly love their breed and want to help improve their genetic pool. Here are a few things to ask yourself before you dive in.

Shorty, a sweet little chihuahua who ended up needing a C-section because her pups were too big.

1) Breed knowledge: How much do you know about your particular breed of dog? Do you know all of the congenital diseases they are prone to developing? Does your breed frequently require C-sections, or artificial insemination (Bulldogs almost uniformly require C-sections)? How about the dog you bought? What is his/her temperament like? Does he/she have any evidence of those diseases in their blood line? You should at least know the status of both of your dogs’ parents, and ideally 2-3 generations of parentage. Consider joining a local club for your breed. Also talk with some reputable breeders about what is involved and their experience with raising that breed. Responsible breeders will test their breeding animals for heritable diseases to ensure they don’t pass on those traits. If the dogs they breed create affected puppies, they will not breed those dogs again. The goal is to prevent the creation of puppies that will suffer throughout their lifetime due to these diseases. Spend a lot of time looking at the American Kennel Club website. They have a lot of excellent information on dog breeds, breeding in general, and can help you find a local breeder.
2) Veterinary care: Do you know what kind of veterinary care your dog and the puppies will require? What vaccines do they need and when? How often should they be dewormed (puppies should get dewormer every 2 weeks), and when do they need to be examined by a vet? What kind of food does your female need while she is gestating and lactating? When do you introduce food to the puppies and what do you offer? You will also need to make sure your female is continually on heartworm, flea and tick prevention. Flea infestations and heavy parasite loads can be devastating to young puppies. Here’s a great link on pregnant dog care.
3) The whelping process: Educate yourself as much as possible on the entire process of birth itself. This includes the length of gestation (you’ll want to know when your female is due!), nesting behavior, signs of impending labor, and what signs indicate your dog is having trouble during labor and needs veterinary attention. You’ll need to make sure someone can be home with her from the time she goes into labor until at least a couple days after the pups are born to make sure there are no issues. Also familiarize yourself with post-natal care of the puppies. Mom will usually remove their birth sacs so they can breathe, and she should gently chew through the umbilical cord, though sometimes new mom dogs don’t know what to do and the puppies can suffer or die. You’ll need to make sure each puppy is latching on to nurse, and that mom is licking their bottoms to stimulate them to go to the bathroom. If she can’t or won’t, you may be the one getting up every couple of hours every night to feed the pups and stimulate them to pee and poop. Veterinary Partner has an excellent article on care of orphaned pups. Also, Whelpwise has an excellent list of items to have handy for whelping.
4) Preparing pups for new homes: What kind of training will your puppies need before they leave? You will have puppies in your care for the first 8 weeks of their life (many breeders send their pups out at 6 weeks, which is too early for proper social development). Your job is to make the transition to a new home as easy as possible for your pups and their new family. You will want to get started house training them before they go to a new home. You will also want to expose them to as many new situations (noises, types of people, textures, etc.) as possible, and in a way that doesn’t scare them. Many people get new dogs and discover they are scared of things like plastic bags or brooms, and assume they were abused, when in reality these dogs were just never exposed to those things and are now terrified of them. Behavioral problems are the number one reason pets are given up. Training and socializing your pups as much as possible will help keep them from being a statistic.
5) Preparing for the worst: What happens when it all goes awry? What if you can’t get your dog pregnant, or she gets out and is bred by a mutt? What if during labor a pup is breeched, or she just tires out? Are you prepared to spend $1500-3000 on an emergency C-section? Dogs and pups still die during birth. If you’re doing this for the sake of your kids witnessing the event, are you prepared to explain this to them? Also, what happens when you can’t find a home for one or more of your litter? Are you prepared to keep them for the rest of their lives? Beaver Lake Animal Hospital has an article written by a breeder of things that have gone wrong for her or people she knows. It’s a bit of an eye-opener.
In reality, most of the time breeding and birthing dogs goes relatively smoothly. But as in all things in life, nothing is guaranteed. Doing the research first and being prepared will save you a lot of heartache later.
Additional reading:

March Pet of the Month

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017 in Our Blog, Pet of the Month | 3 comments

Beemer was presented to the University of Missouri on June 22nd, 2016 for vomiting

Beemer and his little sister Izzy

and lethargy throughout the day. He was suspected to have ingested a foreign body, and radiographs were taken to confirm this diagnosis. The following day Beemer was transferred to our hospital where Dr. Forbes performed an exploratory surgery, extracting two knee-high pantyhose tied together from his stomach and small intestine, which bound up so much so it looked like a scrunchie! Beemer recovered from the surgery well, and was discharged the following day.
By mid-July, however, Beemer began regurgitating his meals encased in a mucosal sack. Beemer would regurgitate his dry food two or three times per feeding before he was finally able to keep it down. He was brought back in to our hospital for examination, and was suspected to have esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus). We prescribed a mucosal protectant and an antacid, though he continued to regurgitate his food in sacks.
Radiographs were taken by our hospital to look for an esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus). Nothing remarkable was noted, and so it was recommended to do a swallow study at the University of Missouri with a fluoroscopy to determine the problem. The fluoroscopic swallowing exam uses a noninvasive form of animated radiography to see how patients swallow in hopes to determine problems with efficiency or safety. Possible suspects were: a stricture, decreased mobility of the esophagus due to possible damage from ingesting pantyhose, or severe esophagitis. The results from the fluoroscopy were normal, however. An esophagoscopy was then also performed by interesting a flexible endoscope into the mouth, utilizing a small camera at the end to visualize the esophageal mucosa. The endoscopy exam revealed that Beemer had severe esophagitis and ulceration and edema (swelling) of the esophagus. It also showed edema in his small intestine, and plastic is his stomach (which we later found out that Beemer had ingested something else he should not have the same day he was sent home!).
Beemer was kept on the mucosal protectant and antacid, as well as pain medications, an anti-nausea drug, and a medication to help increase his gastrointestinal mobility. He was also put on a strict diet of low fat canned food to be handfed in meatballs three times a day over a period of 15-20 minutes. Over the next month Dr. Forbes worked alongside veterinarians at the University of Missouri to tweak Beemer’s medications in order to get his vomiting under control. He was additionally put on an antibiotic when he developed diarrhea. By September Beemer was able to stop the pain medications and one of his antacids and started slowly transitioning his meals from three times per day to twice a day. We were also able to start mixing in 6-7 pieces of dry kibble per meatball, which was an exciting step forward. Slowly, we were able to increase the amount of dry food per meal and decrease the amount of wet food. However, Beemer started regurgitating his food once more when too much dry food was added.
Another esophagoscopy was performed, confirming that Beemer still had moderate esophagitis and esophageal ulcers, as well as a small stricture in his distal esophagus. The procedure also showed scar tissue along the esophagus, which left Beemer at an increased risk for more or worsening strictures. The pain medication, antacid, and strict canned-only low fat diet were all added back into Beemer’s rigorous daily medical management for four weeks before a recheck examination to determine his progress.
After this set-back, Beemer was weaned back off the antacid and pain medications, as well as the mucosal protectant and gastrointestinal mobility drug. A small amount of dry kibble was also introduced back into the meatballs, which were still being hand fed over 15-20 minutes. By December Beemer was gradually being fed less canned food and more dry kibble, which was now being softened in water before each feeding. He was also able to eat his food on his own, as long as it was fed at his shoulder height!
It has been a long tumultuous road, but Beemer is now off all of his medications except for one antacid before his breakfast. He is eating all dry food (softened in water, of course) by himself twice a day raised to his shoulder height. Since Beemer is now able to keep his food down, he has gained 13 pounds since after his exploratory surgery, and is now at a healthy weight. We hope to feed plain, dry kibble with no antacid in the near future, but for now Beemer has made tremendous progress, and we are all so proud of him! We are so glad Beemer has such a wonderfully dedicated mom, as she has put in a lot of time and effort to ensure that Beemer receives the best care!

Written by Maggie

February Pet of the Month

Posted by on Feb 4, 2017 in Our Blog, Pet of the Month | 0 comments

Buddy Mutnick, a 4 year old Terrier mix, presented to us here at Rock Bridge Animal


Hospital on November 29th, 2016 because he had been vomiting for the past two days and his owner was very concerned. Little did they know that he would need to stay here at the hospital to have emergency exploratory surgery.
The day of Buddy’s appointment, his owner explained to Dr. Forbes that he had been vomiting for the past three days and that he had noticed some blood in the vomit. He had also thrown up about seven times that same day (including once during the exam) but he was still going to the bathroom and his stools seemed normal. His owner explained to us that he does occasionally get into things that he shouldn’t and he was concerned that he might have eaten a toy of some sort. Hearing this information, Dr. Forbes immediately suggested that we take abdominal radiographs on Buddy, since he does have this

Buddy’s X-Ray

potentially dangerous habit. The x-rays revealed the intestines just didn’t look right. There was a large length of plicated intestinal loops consistent with string. This means that the intestines in the picture looked similar to a bundled up scrunchie. All of this information led Dr. Forbes to diagnose a blockage in Buddy’s intestinal tract and informed the owner that surgery would be needed immediately.
Dr. Forbes, as well as the technicians, prepared for surgery that evening. During the procedure, we discovered the object that Buddy ingested was some kind of large bundle of fabric, possibly from a T-shirt. Thankfully the object was removed and Buddy’s intestines were able to be saved because we had addressed the problem in a timely manner. When we notified the owner of the strange object, he confirmed that it was indeed a sheet that Buddy had destroyed and ate.
Buddy was kept here at the hospital with us for a few days until he was able to eat on his own and so he could be monitored closely. Buddy hadn’t eaten much of anything until we finally figured out that he was a huge fan of plain chicken breast! However, he seemed to prefer it being hand fed to him by the technicians. Once Buddy recovered he was reunited with his owners and sent home with antibiotics and pain medication. He had a few episodes of vomiting at home, but we are happy to report that Buddy is now back to his happy, loving self once again. Buddy is such a sweet dog and adored by all of the staff here at Rock Bridge Animal Hospital. We couldn’t be happier with the recovery that he has made.
Written by Kelsie

January Pet of the Month

Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 in Our Blog, Pet of the Month | 0 comments

Elly Dowden is a 2-year-old female pit bull mix. Elly is a very active dog. She came to our clinic in October with the symptoms of vomiting for at least two days. She wasn’t interested in any food and her owners were starting to get worried. She was given wet food and ate it very eagerly but vomited it up just a few hours later. We immediately did x-rays and bloodwork to see what might be causing her symptoms. The x-rays revealed that she had a foreign body in her intestines. Exploratory surgery was performed of the abdomen and revealed her peritonitis was very inflamed omentum. The object that was lodged in poor Elly’s abdomen was 3x4x2 foreign object that was causing bruising in the intestines. The foreign body was revealed as a stopper to a baby gate. Elly took a couple of days to recover but she is in full recovery and active as ever. She has not sustained any further complications since the removal of the stopper.
The importance of Elly’s situation is to always remember that all animals are very inquisitive. Many animals will chew or swallow almost anything. They sometimes are like having toddlers around because you never know what they may put in their mouths. As described in this situation, a small stopper to a baby’s gate caused this dog a lot of undue pain. Be very observant of what your animals have access to. Remove any small objects or even larger objects that can become smaller objects when chewed as they may become choking hazards or become lodged in the digestive system.
Elly’s owners were aware of her unusual behavior and brought her to our clinic. If at any time your animals have unusual behaviors and you cannot explain the reason, please seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Written by Taylor

December Pet of the Month

Posted by on Dec 6, 2016 in Our Blog, Pet of the Month | 0 comments

Zeppelin Doisy, a boisterous 6 year old boxer mix, is a frequent boarder in the kennels at Rock Bridge Animal Hospital. As a kennel assistant, caring for Zeppelin various weekends throughout the summer months and the beginning of fall has given me the opportunity to really get to know him and his consistent positive attitude. Arriving on Saturday evenings to begin the weekend after-hours care, Zeppelin always anticipates the attention he will receive as we start the shift.
The kennel assistant’s main goal is to provide reliable care to our boarders in both a low stress and compassionate environment. This is achieved in many ways. For example calm music is played throughout the boarding area, and curtains divide the kennel to minimize how much the dogs bark at each other. And we always find time to give plenty of attention to the boarders while we handle them. Zeppelin is one of the boarders that understands our routine, and makes sure to have a little fun during the process.
Entering the kennel area can sometimes get loud with barks and howls (especially right before dinner time) and Zeppelin always enthusiastically joins in the conversation. Zeppelin cooperates as he is led to the outdoor area for a bathroom break, but he makes it clear that there is also time to play, get some attention and maybe a couple treats, too! He never fails to put a smile on my face when he is boarding in the kennels and his genuine happiness is something that makes him so special and a joy to work with.
Dinner is prepared for each dog while they are outside, and of course Zeppelin devours his with gusto. After taking care of both the canine and feline boarders, the kennel assistants finish up the chores and begin winding down before leaving for the rest of the night.
Zeppelin stands out to me because of his unwavering excitement for every aspect of staying overnight in our kennels. Even when the task is as simple as recording the boarder’s weights, he is thrilled to participate (even if that means he is a little squirmy on the scale). Whether it’s the evening rotation or bright and early Sunday morning, the weekend kennel shift is guaranteed to be an enjoyable time when Zeppelin is there eager to greet me, along with his wagging tail.

Written by Madeline