A tribute to Zack, Golden Retriever and Beloved Friend

In today’s veterinary blog, excerpts from a client’s letter whose family recently lost their beloved family friend, Zack.

Losing a pet--one of life's most painful experiences. At WestVet, to put it simply, we love animals. We love how they enrich our lives and make the world a better place. We quickly become attached to our furry clients (and to their people, too) and when they pass away from advanced illnesses or extreme injury, we feel that loss acutely. The Newell family sent us this wonderful letter describing Zack's personality and place in their family and his journey with us at WestVet. They invited us to share it and we thank them for their sweet note and for sharing their dear friend with us for a few days. 

To the staff at WestVet,

Sometimes a thank you just not enough, however, first and foremost, THANK YOU!

To begin, I would like to share a little about our story.

My name is Kelly Newell. My best friend and loving pal was Zack, a 120 lb, nine-year-old beautiful Golden Retriever.A tribute to Zack Newell, beloved family member. I raised Zack from a 10-week-old puppy. Every place we went, people would stop us and tell us how beautiful he was. What you may not know is how beautiful he was on the inside.

Zack was smart, loving, and fun. He was the same age as three of my grandchildren and we raised him right along with them—they all adored him. They played together, laid on him, cuddled with him, etc. If he thought they were fighting or risking an injury, he put himself right in the middle, I think he thought that they were his pack.

He had a mild and gentle temperament. Zack Newell, beloved family friend on Christmas morning with his people.On a visit with my mother-in-law he allowed a new kitten to sniff him, swat his nose, and then be the boss of that friendly (and long term) relationship. He had a great judge of character. Once, when walking in a remote area, a stranger stepped out from behind some bushes. Normally, Zack was quick to wag his tail and wait for the petting to commence. Not this time. Zack stepped between me and the man and emitted a low, deep growl. The man said, “Wow. He’s a big dog,” and went on his way. I don’t know the man’s intentions, but I know Zack’s. He was ensuring his people were safe.

Often my older children joked that Zack was my favorite child. Most days, they were right!

I noticed that Zack was not himself. We visited our family vet several times over a couple months. Tests and exams were performed, but there was nothing apparent in the results. When we were travelling, Zack remained in the loving care of my adult grandson. He gave me daily health update and when he reported a new symptom—a cough—he took Zack in for additional X-rays. These showed Zack had Megaesophagus (The Canine Health Foundation describes Megaesophagus as "a condition in which the muscles of the esophagus lose their tone and are no longer able propel food into the stomach.")

Upon our return, we struggled to hand feed Zack small meals every two hours to help him keep the food down. After a particularly rough night, I brought him to WestVet. Dr. Curtis Brandt, WestVet ER veterinarian, immediately started an IV, anti-nausea medications, an antibiotic, and ran some additional diagnostic tests. Zack Newell, resting peacefully during his final days at WestVet Animal ER Hospital.While he was at WestVet, he was kept in a lower “suite” kennel, this enabled me to just crawl right in and cuddle with him—something I did for several hours. An MRI was recommended to pinpoint Zack’s condition as his health was deteriorating. When that was complete, we received the devastating diagnosis, we learned that our sweet Zack had a large brain tumor.

We were devastated. My husband and I gathered nearby family members so that we could say our good-byes.

I still can’t talk about Zack without crying. Most days I still cry. I miss him terribly. Our loss has been extremely difficult. He wasn’t just a pet; he was our baby and our dear friend.

This is where my thank you comes in. Your staff members—from the front desk to technicians to doctors were compassionate and understanding. I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t have spent his final hours with him.

What an exceptional staff. As I was back in the treatment area, I witnessed how all the animals were taken care of. Often, during my time cuddling in Zack’s cage, employees and staff did not even know I was there. This gave me a chance to observe your staff in action. You are truly wonderful.

Thank you again. I know that you did all that you could for Zack, that you made him as comfortable as possible with medication, a warm bed, and kindness.

Your kindness toward our family will never be forgotten.

The Newell Family

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Classes for Pet Owners at WestVet: American Red Cross Dog First Aid

In today’s Veterinary blog: Pet Owners are invited to join WestVet Veterinarian Professionals for Community Education Classes.

Every month WestVet specialists, doctors, and technicians provide Continuing Education lectures that enable area veterinary professional to maintain Idaho state accreditation. In addition, we partner with Boise Schools Community Education program to provide informational classes for pet owners.WestVet Dog First Aid Classes for Pet owners Our spring 2015 courses at WestVet include:

Dog First Aid Courses. Join WestVet’s Nursing Directors Pam Knowles and Erica Mattox for American Red Cross Dog First Aid. In this important course, you will learn the critical skills that may save your best friend's life.

The team members who lead this class have earned additional veterinary technician credentials—both are certified as Veterinary Technician Specialists (Emergency & Critical Care). WestVet is the only veterinary hospital in Idaho to employ Certified Veterinary Technicians with additional Veterinary Technician Specialty training in emergency and critical care. They will provide crucial information on what to look for in a pet emergency, how to respond quickly to health issues and how to provide basic first aid for the four-legged members of your family. This important preparation will help you remain calm and effective in an emergency.

  • Understanding basic pet owner responsibilitiesWestVet offers American Red Cross Dog First Aid Classes for pet owners in the Treasure Valley
  • Administering medicine
  • Managing breathing
  • Cardiac emergencies
  • Managing urgent care situation
  • Identifying symptoms of stress and/or illness
  • Treating wounds
  • Treating electrical shock
  • Caring for eye, foot and ear injuries
  • Preparing for disasters

In addition, participants will have the opportunity to practice CPR skills, rescue breathing, muzzling, and bandaging work.

Two sessions are available in the evenings, Thurs. May 7, or Tues. May 19. You may register HERE.

For more information about the American Red Cross Dog First Aid Course, click HERE. Classes with Community Education include a tour of the WestVet Emergency Hospital.  

We hope you will join us for class this year!

Our employees volunteer to teach with Boise Schools Community Education; all tuition and fees support this important program in the Treasure Valley. If you have any questions, you may contact them at 208.854.4047.

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The 8th Annual ACVO®/StokesRx National Service Dog Eye Exam Event brings Veterinary Ophthalmologists and thousands of service animals together.

Garden City, Idaho –   Guide dogs, handicapped assistance animals, detection dogs, therapy animals, and search and rescue dogs all selflessly serve people and the public. To honor these animals and their work, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) is pleased to announce May 2015 as the 8th annual ACVO/StokesRx National Service Dog Eye Exam Event, offering free vision screening for service animals. Carrie Breaux, DVM, MVSc, DACVO and Amber Labelle, DVM, MS, DACVO, WestVet’s (and Idaho’s only) Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists are offering free exams.

In the spring of 2012, Jenine Stanley and her dog, Swap, participated in the event, just as they had every year since the program’s inception in 2008. This time, Swap was diagnosed with Pigmentary Uveitis, a condition that would affect his vision later in his career. Their story is just one among hundreds where the vision screening process helped Service Animals and their owners manage or overcome a previously unknown ophthalmic condition.

Since 2008, more than 30,000 Service Animals have received free eye screening exams, more than 7,000 in 2014 alone;WestVet's Dr. Carrie Breaux, Veterinary Ophthalmologist, offers FREE eye exams to Service Dogs 40 dogs were seen at WestVet by Dr. Carrie Breaux.

Dr. Breaux and Dr. Labelle are holding service appointments throughout May. 


During the complete ocular exam, ophthalmologists utilize specialized equipment to look for: redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease, early cataracts and other serious abnormalities. Early detection and treatment are vital to these working animals. “Our hope is that by checking their vision early and often, we will be able to help a large number of service animals better assist their human friends,” says Stacee Daniel, Executive Director of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.


To qualify, Service Animals must be “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization, or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. The certifying organization could be national, regional, or local in nature.

More information regarding qualification of the event is available on the ACVO Eye Exam website. Registration is open from April 1–April 30. Once registered online, the owner/agent will receive a registration number and then may contact a veterinary ophthalmologist at WestVet at 208.345.1600 to make an appointment. The exams will take place during the month of May 2015; times may vary and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.


The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists® is an approved veterinary specialty organization of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, and is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Its mission is “to advance the quality of veterinary medicine through certification of veterinarians who demonstrate excellence as specialists in veterinary ophthalmology.” 

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E-Cigarettes and your Pet: a Dangerous Combination

In today's veterinary blog, while medical professionals are determining the relative safety of e-cigarettes for humans, they remain toxic for our pets.

The nicotine in the battery-operated e-cigarrate device poses a serious threat to pets; in fact, the Pet Poison Helpline reports that nicotine poisoning in pets is on the rise.

In today’s blog, What to do if my dog eats an e-cigarette with Dr. Dan Hume, WESTVET Erwe asked WestVet’s Chief of Emergency & Critical CareDr. Dan Hume, about the dangers of these products in pet families.

Question: What should I do if my pet ingests an e-cigarette?

Answer: While designed to resemble cigarettes these devices atomize liquid that contains nicotine into a vapor to be inhaled. What makes this product attractive to dogs is the wide array of scents and flavors—after smelling the aromas, he/she will want to ingest them. 

There are two concerns if a pet eats an electronic cigarette. First we can see gastrointestinal injury and a possible mechanical obstruction secondary to local damage by the actual delivery device or cartridge.

The primary concern is with cigarette OR e-cigarette ingestion is nicotine intoxication. Each cartridge contains 6 mg to 24 mg of Nicotine.  The average American cigarette contains 9 mg of nicotine.  Depending on the size of the pet, we can see clinical signs with the partial ingestion of a single cartridge. Dogs can develop clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, agitation and elevated heart rate and respiration rate. Neurological signs include tremors, ataxia, weakness, seizures and altered mental status. Cardiac arrest and death can be seen with large ingestions.

A rapid onset of clinical signs (within 15-30 minutes) is usually noted because the nicotine is in liquid form and can be quickly absorbed from the GI tract. Ingestion of an e-cigarette or e-cigarette cartridge requires immediate veterinary care and treatment. Due to the rapid onset of clinical signs, emesis is not generally recommended. Treatment is largely supportive in nature and therapies are directed at reducing the clinical signs and preventing further complications.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  -- Benjamin Franklin

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WestVet ER Docs Successfully Treat Boise Dogs Who Ingested Toxic Levels of Vitamin D

When these two family dog’s blood tests showed abnormalities, WestVet ER docs provided critical care to restore them to good health and vitality.

We were delighted to receive this email recently.  “Gus” and “Luke” are out and about enjoying spring hikes with their people following successful care through the WestVet Emergency Hospital.

We wanted to let the WestVet team how appreciative we are of their treatment of our two young dogs Gus and Luke.  If it were not for the treatment and care that your team provided, they would both have died of kidney failure.Two dogs saved at WestVet 24 Hour Animal Emergency Hospital

Dr. Desiree FitzGerald convinced us to bring them in for IV treatment after the initial blood work showed that both had ingested massive amounts of Vitamin D. 

What followed were many blood tests and late night phone calls with lab results. Both Dr. FitzGerald and Dr. Kara Lindberg were very helpful interpreting results and assisting us in deciding on next steps.

In addition to the doctors, the tech staff was very helpful and we could tell that they genuinely cared. They even made friends with Luke who has a tendency to be a little grumpy with people. Everyone, including the front desk staff were very friendly and helpful. They knew that we wanted e-mailed lab work each time and soon, we didn't even have to ask.

We took Gus and Luke for a hike in the Owyhee's yesterday and snapped this picture of our 'boys'. Without the quality care and expert treatment by the entire Westvet team that would not have been possible.

Thank you so much.

Scott and Joni 

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