Useful Fourth of July Safety Tips for Your Pet

flagdogIndependence Day brings celebrations across the U.S. Families and friends gather, barbecues and yard games abound, and the end of day caps with a wondrous display of color in the sky as Americans honor the patriots that adopted the country’s resolution of independence. Yet the Fourth of July is not always a safe day for our pets, but with a little extra care they can have an enjoyable day as well! Try this link for some helpful safety tips for pets and their owners on the Fourth of July.

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The Rule is: No Chocolate for Pets … Ever!

The words of Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” do not ring true for pets. We know that when pets ingest chocolate, they get sick – in fact, very sick in many cases. Chocolate ingestion in pets can cause a toxicological emergency.

Dogs and some cats find chocolate’s sweet smell and taste as attractive and pleasing as it is to humans. While we cannot say with certainty they do not crave chocolate, most will eat an entire box of bonbons or plate of brownies, if given the opportunity. During certain holidays, such as Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter, temptations abound in many households, as there are often chocolate treats on hand. It is critical pets have no access to them.

Should your pet accidentally ingest chocolate, symptoms appear within one to three hours. They may include heavy vomiting, increased heart rate, hyperactivity, seizures and potential death. It is the methylxanthine theobromine found in chocolate that causes problems, and white chocolate contains the least amount of this substance, although all chocolate will produce toxicity when eaten in dangerous amounts. The link to this chocolate chart created by National Geographic, illustrates toxic levels of each type of chocolate substance by the weight of the dog. Please DO NOT use this chart as a guide for determining if it might be acceptable to give your pet a little chocolate treat. Pets can metabolize substances differently or have a medical condition that increases the risks of chocolate toxicity. Some products to store safely away from pets are: dry cocoa powder, chocolate bars, chocolate cookies and cakes, brownies, baking chocolate, instant cocoa powder, cocoa beans, ground or whole coffee beans, cola drinks, and caffeine containing tablets.

Chocolate intoxication is among the top (most frequent) poisonings reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Treatment includes emesis, or induced vomiting; gastric lavage; and/or activated charcoal absorption. Most cases of animal chocolate toxicity require supportive intravenous fluid therapy and medications to control tachycardia, or rapid heart rate. Many times patients also develop pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas, and recovery can be quite lengthy and expensive.

If your dog or cat eats any amount of chocolate or the substances listed previously, contact your veterinarian for advice on how to proceed with the pet’s medical care. Additionally, the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline, 888-426-4435, is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Animal Hospital Champions Northwest and Animal Hospital Jones Road are open seven days a week, and there is always a veterinarian available for after-hours consultation, should an emergency arise.

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If You Don’t Have the Training to Make Your Dog Obedient, Would You Like to?

Sometimes all a pet owner needs to help make man’s  best friend the perfect companion is a little obedience training with an expert  like Bob Manning, who is teaching classes at Animal Hospital Jones Road and Animal Hospital Champions Northwest.  He instructs puppy, adult basic and advanced sessions, with weekly evening classes running for four weeks.

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The puppy class addresses foundational obedience (sit, stay, down, here and heel on a loose leash), socialization and problem solving for common puppy behaviors, such as mouthing, jumping and house training. Puppies ages three to 10 months are ideal candidates for the class. Manning limits his classes to a small size so each owner receives personalized instruction and has ample opportunity to troubleshoot problems. The upcoming class times are:

Animal Hospital Jones Road – Saturday, January 17, 9:30 a.m.

Animal Hospital Champions Northwest – Saturday, January 17, 11:00 a.m.

The adult basic obedience class delves further into heel with a loose lead, sit, down, and recall despite distractions. Additionally, Manning’s keen eye helps students to work on specific problems, and learn from each person in the class’s challenges. Dogs must be 10 months or older, and all ages are welcome to attend and prove wrong the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Manning’s experience training dogs spans more than 30 years, and he often works with law enforcement training, patrol, tracking and/or detection dogs. He trains dogs for personal protection and addresses behavior issues with the household pet dogs. Most recently, Manning spent a year as the handler for an explosive detection dog in southern Afghanistan on a forward operating base, where he and his dog “Ringo” depended upon each other for survival. His method is sensible, enjoyable, and positive for both the dog and his/her owner. Regardless of the temperament of the pet or confidence of the owner, each walks away from every class session with a sense of accomplishment, as well as skills on which to build. Manning’s goal through his public classes is to help produce a happy, balanced and reliable canine companion. He also offers one on one and board and train options for pet owners.

Please contact us for the dates and times of  the basic obedience, advanced and puppy classes. Interested individuals may contact Animal Hospital Jones Road at 281.890.9525,; Animal Hospital Champions Northwest at 281.370.0773,; or 281.642.7955 (Bob Manning) for more information. Pet owners who envision a life with a dependable canine companion in their future may reserve space now. It is necessary to provide proof of current vaccinations for all dogs participating in the class.

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Featuring Our Staff during National Veterinary Technician Week

Please help us celebrate National Veterinary Technician Week, October 14 through 20. We don’t always get a chance to thank the veterinary technician who made extra special effort for you and your pet’s care, but now is your chance. Below we profile each technician. If you had a memorable experience with one (or more), let us know. You can respond to this blog in the comment box at the bottom; vote on Facebook (Animal Hospital Jones Road, and/or Animal Hospital Champions NW); send me, Dancing Belle’s Mom, an email; or come to the animal hospital and cast your vote. As we highlight our veterinary technicians this week, we are having fun with a contest. The staff member with the most votes gets something extra special from us. Cast your vote now for your favorite technician! Animal Hospital Champions NW staff appears first, so be sure and scroll down to read about the Animal Hospital Jones Road team. 


Crystal, CVA II


Crystal has six years of service as a veterinary assistant at Animal Hospital Champions Northwest.  She has extensive knowledge about animal care and sixteen years total in the veterinary field.  Crystal currently has a Certified Veterinary Assistant II certification from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.

Crystal has a nine-year-old Pug, Mao, and a four-year old Pit Bull mix, Striker.

“Providing quality care for our clients and their companions,” is what Crystal finds makes her job rewarding. When not at work, Crystal competes in salsa dancing and bowling.  She also enjoys visiting her mom, two brothers and niece when she gets the chance.

Elizabeth, CVA I

Elizabeth (Liz)

Elizabeth (Liz) has one year tenure with Animal Hospital Champions Northwest as a veterinary assistant, and she has eight years experience in the veterinary field.  During her year with us, Liz earned Certified Veterinary Assistant I and animal CPCR certifications.

Elizabeth has two new kittens in her household and an adult cat named Josie.   When not spending time with friends of the four-legged variety, Liz enjoys her sister, two nieces and a nephew. Liz’s hobbies include music, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and fishing.

The most rewarding part of her job is being able to socialize with clients and staff and playing with the pets

Felicite, CVA I


Felicite has five years tenure at Animal Hospital Champions Northwest and is veterinary assistant.  During this time she earned her Certified Veterinary Assistant I accreditation from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.

Felicite shares ownership with her boyfriend of a black Labrador Retriever named Sunny.  She enjoys sleeping on her time off of work.

Forming bonds with long-term clients and patients that she helps makes her career rewarding.

Heather, CVA I


Heather is an eight year veteran  in the  field of veterinary medicine.  Heather has one year tenure at Animal Hospital Champions Northwest as a veterinary assistant.  Her credentials include, Certified Veterinary Assistant I, and animal CPCR certifications.

Heather shares her home with two dogs, Ziggy and Pooter, and a Bearded Dragon, Gordo.  When she is not spending time with her daughter, Heather enjoys photography.

Heather says, “Helping animals and bonding with the owners,” is an important aspect of her job, but most of all she loves, “making people smile.”

Katie, CVA II,VDT 1


Katie is the veterinary technician manager at Animal Hospital Champions Northwest.  Katie has fourteen years experience in the veterinary field, all of them working at our hospitals.  During this time, Katie earned her Certified Veterinary Assistant I and II, Veterinary Dental Technician I, and animal CPCR certification.   She continues to fuel her passion for knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine, and has more than 30 hours of continuing education.

Katie shares her home with her daughter Kaela and boyfriend Lindsey.  Their house is full of pets, with six dogs – Bettie, a Labrador Retriever mix; Cash, an American Staffordshire Terrier; Mickey, a Jack Russell Terrier; Malloery, a Dachshund;  Maia, a Spitz;  KalEl,a  Boxer; three tarantulas, Lucille, Ezra and Ike; a Bearded Dragon,Waylon; a cat, Boognish; and a tortoise, Puppy.

When not caring for all her animals, Katie enjoys crafting with her daughter, playing games with the family and SHOPPING (especially for shoes and purses).

Katie finds strengthening the human-animal bond through quality medicine and education the most rewarding aspect of her job.

Kristin, RVT


Kristin is a Registered Veterinary Technician at Animal Hospital Champions Northwest.  She joined our team for the four years ago, and currently has nine years experience in the veterinary medicine field.

Kristin has a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Virginia Tech and Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Medicine from Lonestar College.  She currently works for us part-time and also uses her skills to train students at the Vet Tech Institute.

Kristin and her husband, Andy enjoy their two pets, Treva, a chocolate Labrador Retriever, and Albert, a Basset Hound.  Kristin runs half marathons, paints and horseback rides when not working or teaching.

Kristin states the most rewarding aspect of her job is, “Utilizing my on the job skills to better teach my students at the Vet Tech Institute.”



Lacey is a veterinary assistant at Animal Hospital Champions Northwest with two year tenure with us. Altogether, she has seven years working in the veterinary field.

Lacey owns two pets, Otis, an eight-year-old Pug, and Duke, a two-year-old Pit Bull.  She also has three cats, Halle Berry, Zoe, and Tiger Lily.

Lacey can be found spending time with her husband, Ryan, and daughter, Kacyn, when not at work.  Lacey enjoys with pride her relationships with all the family and enjoys the time she gets to spend with them.

Lacey says she enjoys, “Working with such great people!  Everyone works hard and we have fun while doing so.  I also love getting close to all the clients and patients, they make every day enjoyable.”

Lauren P., CVA I

Lauren P.

Lauren, a veterinary assistant at Animal Hospital Champions Northwest for a year, and uses her three years experience in the field when caring for patients.  She has an Associate of Education degree from Mira Costa College and an accreditation of Certified Veterinary Assistant I from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, as well as certification in animal CPCR.

Lauren shares her home with two dogs, Cody, a Labrador Retriever and Garth, a Chihuahua.  She loves playing with her pets in her spare time.  One can also find her watching football or shopping.

The most satisfying aspect of Lauren’s job is seeing how medicine and surgery performed by our doctors help make patients’ lives improve.

Rebecca, ATR


Rebecca came to Animal Hospital Champions Northwest as a veterinary assistant four years ago.  She found us after Hurricane Ike destroyed her previous place of employment and home in Galveston.  Rebecca has thirty-three years of experience in the veterinary field.  Rebecca received her Animal Technician Registered (ATR) from University of Houston Associates.

Rebecca has a Doberman named K.T.  and enjoys spending time with her adopted family in Galveston.  You can also find her at dog shows around the area.

Rebecca finds being a small part of helping the animals’ lives rewarding.

Rhonda, CVA I


With twenty-two years in the veterinary field, Rhonda works as a veterinary technician.  A member of Animal Hospital Champions Northwest’s staff for three years, Rhonda possesses a Certified Veterinary Assistant I title and an animal CPCR and certification.

Rhonda enjoys spending time with her husband of fourteen years, son, and friends. She is also an avid camper and fisherwoman.

Rhonda has an eight-year-old Pug, Austin.  Her pet household also includes two litter mate cats, Mason and Jason, and two cockatiels, Streak and Wyatt.

Rhonda enjoys providing the best customer service possible to both the clients and their pets.  Smiling all the time and laughing gets her through each day.



As the newest member of Animal Hospital Champions Northwest, Sam began her employment as a veterinary assistant a month ago.  She completed her practicum through Lonestar College at our hospital and joined our team when an opening became available.  Sam is currently enrolled at Lonestar College working on an Associates of Science and CVA III.

Sam has two dogs, Keira and Marley.  She also possesses three cats – Junior, Leo, and Tipsy.

Sam loves to ride horses in her spare time.  She is an assistant riding instructor at Pinebrook Farms.

Sam thinks helping pets feel better is the most rewarding part of her job.

(Click here to see more photos of Animal Hospital Champions Northwest veterinary technical staff and their pets.)


Amber, CVA I


Amber, a veterinary assistant at Animal Hospital Jones Road for two and a half years, has almost five years in the field of veterinary medicine.   Amber earned her status as a Certified Veterinary Assistant I through a program offered by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.

At home Amber has a Shih-Tzu named Pryzma.  She recently acquired a new pet, a Pit bull named Woody.

Amber likes hanging out with friends listening to music or playing video games in her free time.  She also likes watching independent movies/films, swimming , camping and cooking.

The most important aspect of Amber’s job is being a part of a team helping pets.

Brenna, RVT, VDT 1


Brenna is a medical director technician at Animal Hospital Jones Road.  She became a member of the animal hospital team over eight years ago.  Brenna studied at Tomball College and received an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Medicine from there.  She  earned a certificate in Veterinary Dental Technician 1 through continuing education studies.

Two cats share Brenna’s household.  Boomer and Sadie’s main occupations are lounging and waiting around for affection.  Brenna enjoys film, music and BBC Sherlock in her time away from the hospital.

Brenna’s most satisfying aspect of her job is knowing that the clients receive the proper and correct information regarding the healthcare of their pets.

Jenna, CVA I


Animal Hospital Jones Road first employed Jenna eight years ago as a veterinary assistant and she is a familiar face to many of our clients.  She has a total of twelve years of experience in the veterinary field.  Jenna is in receipt of her certification as a Certified Veterinary Assistant I from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.

Often, Jenna goes to the dog park with her two Chihuahuas.  At home she has four cats awaiting her return. To fill her time outside of the hospital, Jenna enjoys movies and live music concerts.

She is immersed in a field that is continually changing, and Jenna thrives on learning new medical procedures and keeping up with her veterinary medical education.  But first and foremost Jenna finds, “saving lives,” rewarding.

Jennifer (Jenn), CVA I


Jennifer, or Jenn, a veterinary assistant at Animal Hospital Jones Road brought her bright smile and contagious laugh to our practice seven years ago.  With nine years total in the veterinary industry, Jennifer has Certified Veterinary Assistant I credentials from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.

Jennifer has a household full of pets:  Neko, an American Bulldog; Ellie Mae and Bubba,  Bassett Hounds; Lady Smush Face, a Persian cat; August Rain, a Domestic Short Haired cat; and Abel, a month old puppy she is bottle feeding.

Jennifer enjoys swimming, reading and listening to music in her spare time.

She says the most rewarding part of her job is, “helping to save pets lives.”

Lauren D., CVA I


Lauren is a technician assistant at Animal Hospital Jones Road.  She has three and a half years experience in the veterinary field and tenure of one and a half years on our staff.  A dedicated veterinary professional, Lauren recently earned her Certified Veterinary Assistant I title from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.  Lauren has four pets –  Blare, a Golden Retriever mix; Thor, a Red Heeler mix; Peach, a Welsh Corgi; and Mater a Domestic Short Haired, orange tabby cat.

She enjoys spending time with her pets, parents and boyfriend.  Lauren volunteers at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, enjoys the outdoors, watching movies and refurbishing old items to make them functional and pleasing.

Lauren’s most rewarding part of her job is being able to learn new things every day.

Rebekah, CVA I


Rebekah, a technician assistant at Animal Hospital Jones Road for two years, is often at work organizing our surgical and treatment areas.  Rebekah earned her Certified Veterinary Assistant I title from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association during high school, before joining our team.

She enjoys taking her dogs, Itty Bitty, Droopy and Scarlet, to the creek to swim.  She also has a cat, Kirby, and a pet rat.  For relaxation, Rebekah enjoys floating the river in San Marcos.

Rebekah loves working with animals, especially when they come into the hospital sick and leave with their owners: bright, alert and happy. She is working on her undergraduate degree with hopes of applying to veterinary school in the future.



Sara is a veterinary assistant at Animal Hospital Jones Road.  She joined us six months ago, after moving to Texas from the midwest, and she has many years experience in the animal care industry – three serving veterinary clinics  and six years working with animal shelters.  Sara has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Bowling Green State University.

Sara and her husband have a lively  houseful of pets.  They share the love of four dogs: Elias and Groh, both Chihuahuas; Juno, an American Staffordshire Terrier; and Veruca, a Boxer.  Additionally, Kiefer and Heidi, two Domestic Shorthaired cats, and Noodler, a Tiger Salamander, make their household complete.

Sara enjoys photography and makes great pet portraits during her time away from work.  She also  volunteers with animal rescues and shelters, assisting  pets that are less fortunate.

Helping owners understand how to bond with and care for their animals so they can live a healthy and happy lives is what motivates Sara each day.



Tamika came to Animal Hospital Jones Road three months ago to join our team of veterinary technicians.  She  spent five years previously in the veterinary field and also earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biological  Sciences from Mississippi State University and a Bachelor’s in Accounting and Business Administration from Xavier University of Louisiana.

Tamika lives with her five feline “kids,”  Treasure, Jessie, Zero, Patch and King. These guys mainly  lolligag around the house waiting for Tamika to return from work to share some affection.

When not caring for animals, Tamika enjoys birding, wildlife photography and finding time for the creative arts (dancing and singing).  She frequents family gatherings  and is always searching for an opportunity to follow her dream in the entertainment industry as a manager.

“Sharing the joys of animal companionship with the public while constantly learning new and better ways of responsible  and effective pet care,” is Tamika’s response when asked what about the most rewarding aspect of her job.


Carrie Goering, RVT



A graduate of Lone Star College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology, Carrie, the newest member of our veterinary staff, joined us during National Veterinary Technician Week.

Carrie is proud of her large family, and is an identical twin. She has a beautiful young daughter, Addison, and she and her fiance have two dogs, a nine-year-old dachshund and a 18 month-old Weimaraner. Her hobbies include crochet, baking, visiting the family in Victoria, and watching football. She says the rewarding parts of her job are being an advocate for the animals we help, and to inform and educate the parents how veterinary medicine benefits pets.

(Click here to see more photos of Animal Hospital Jones Road veterinary technical staff and their pets.)

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Feline Hypertension: The Hidden Factor

“Having a blood pressure test is pretty easy!”

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a medical term of which many of us are familiar. It is a common medical condition in humans, and, we now know, also a problem in animals. Hypertension affects dogs and cats – no breed in particular – but it does occur with much higher frequency in older cats. Feline hypertension is not an obvious disorder, but rather one that wreaks havoc on a cat’s system, often in secret.

Feline hypertension does not occur on its own. Cats with hypertension typically have an underlying cause for the high blood pressure. Acute or chronic kidney failure, hyperthyroidism and cardiac disease are among the most common conditions that put cats are at risk for developing hypertension.

Unfortunately, symptoms of feline hypertension are not evident until there is damage to one or more organs. Sudden onset blindness is a clinical sign an owner may notice. Hypertension can lead to permanent blindness as the vessels in the eye begin to bleed and lead to retinal detachment.  Indications include large (dilated) pupils, disorientation, and/or unwillingness to move. Less noticeable and less specific signs of the disease include increased drinking, increased urination, vomiting, and increased heart rate.

A veterinarian determines if hypertension exists by measuring cats’ blood pressure with a cuff on the leg or tail. It is a non-invasive, painless test. Cat owners should be aware that some felines experience higher stress levels in the clinic environment and it may be necessary to spend additional time calming the pet to record an accurate blood pressure reading.

To monitor the disease and achieve the best quality of life for the cat, the patient should undergo a thorough exam (including an ocular exam), blood work and other care as outlined by the veterinarian. The first step in caring for a feline hypertension patient is to determine and treat the fundamental cause. Ideally our goal is to identify the problem before the organs have irreversible damage.  If treating the cause of hypertension is not successful in managing the high blood pressure, the veterinarian may opt to medically manage it with one or more medications.

Every patient’s case is different, but our general recommendation for felines with a history of hypertension is to have a blood pressure test every three months. Additionally, we may want to run blood work, urinalyses, thyroid tests, and conduct eye exams and other monitoring procedures at regular intervals.

As is the case with humans, hypertension, if left untreated, can lead to serious illness, even death. For this reason, our veterinarians recommend we begin monitoring cats around the age of seven years for signs of hypertension.  The nonspecific nature of these clinical symptoms and the severity of long-term hypertension illustrate the importance for cats to have regular care from a veterinarian. As always, our veterinary staff welcomes your inquiries about your pet’s health at any time.

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We’re a Member of the American Kennel Club Veterinary Network

As a member of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Veterinary Network, we honor veterinary care certificates provided by the registry to new pet owners. Pet owners who register their dogs with the AKC receive a variety of benefits, one of which is a certificate for a complimentary well exam by a participating veterinary practice. Pet owners may  more information about the AKC Veterinary Network on the website,

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Link to All the Details About the Animal Hospital Champions NW Pet Fair March 31!

petfairpacket   Please click on the “petfairpacket” link to the left for all the fun details about Animal Hospital Champions Northwest’s pet fair on March 31. We hope you and your pet(s) can join us for all the fun.

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