Got Wildlife? Got Dogs?

You’ve seen them all: possum, raccoons, squirrels, deer, rats, etc. They’re in our yards, our woods, our streets. They’re pretty much everywhere. Most are lovely to look at (sorry possums and rats), but some can be spreading a hidden hazard. A hazard that can have life-threatening consequences for your dogs….. and even for you.


I’m talking about Leptospirosis or Lepto for short. Lepto is a bacterial infection that can be spread by an infected animal through it’s urine and other body fluids. It enters the body through mucus membranes (mouth, nose, etc.), through scratches or abrasions on the skin, and potentially through bite wounds. The disease, if untreated, can cause kidney and liver failure in dogs. And oh by the way, it can cause the same in people. Lepto can even cause death. You may have recently seen reports about a person that died in New York and two others who were sick from Lepto. It has been reported that as many as 50 dogs have been infected in Phoenix. Most experts have felt that Lepto is a rare likelihood but other reports show Lepto is emerging more and more. Perhaps the reports from New York and Phoenix support this.

The purpose of this blog is not to scare you, but to inform you. We recommend vaccinating against Lepto and use the vaccine as one of our core vaccines. Many clinics and hospitals do not. As with any vaccine, we make sure your pet is medically able to be vaccinated prior to administering it.

I have researched to try and find the incidence of Lepto in our area. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find accurate info from a reliable source. Certainly, Lepto is not an everyday, every week, every month diagnosis. But the potential for harm and the understanding that many feel Lepto is on the rise is cause enough to be aware. And cause enough to be protected, don’t you think?

As always, feel free to contact me by email or phone.

All the best,

Stephen E Foster, DVM, CCRT

Foster Animal Hospital, P.A.

Foster Animal Clinic at Parkway Commons

Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center

730 Concord Parkway North

Concord, NC 28027


Lyme Disease in Dogs- Becoming A Serious Problem in NC

Tick-tock, Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Or with Spring fast approaching in Cabarrus County, it may be more appropriate to say Tick-tick, Tick-tick, Tick-tick. That certainly conjures up a bad visual!


Historically, tick transmitted disease in our area has been most often limited to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). In fact for years, Cabarrus and Rowan Counties led the nation in human cases. RMSF is a disease that can affect dogs, but is difficult to diagnose. In recent years other tick transmitted diseases have begun to show up in Cabarrus County: Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Within the last 12 months, we at Foster Animal Hospital and Foster Animal Clinic at Parkway Commons have begun screening for Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma on our routine annual lab panels. The results have been eye opening. (Unfortunately, this test is not yet available for RMSF)

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council or CAPC ( ), all three are on the rise in North Carolina. Lyme Disease in particular is one we are watching closely. Lyme has been a real nightmare for residents and pets in the northeast US for years. With the transient nature of people, especially those that travel with their pets, the incidence is moving southward. CAPC’s incidence map shows 51 of the 100 counties in NC, Cabarrus County included, rate as moderate for the prevalence of Lyme positive dogs in those counties. ( Mind you, that is just the dogs that are tested. Many thousands of dogs in this state go untested every year.


Lyme incidence

Clinical signs in dogs can range from fever, lethargy, lameness, intermittent and/or shifting leg lameness, stiffness, pain, and loss of appetite. Many dogs do not show signs for quite some time. Many will respond well to antibiotics, others do not.

Fortunately, there are vaccines available to help prevent Lyme infection. We use the latest product that has the ability to eliminate the infection at the tick-bite site, as well as, internally. ( Many vaccines only protect at the bite site and are not as effective. This technology for this new vaccine is being researched for possible use in humans. What a breakthrough that would be!

I personally have vaccinated my 3 dogs for Lyme. None of them experienced any vaccine reaction, and now I can rest easy knowing they are protected against Lyme Disease. I still use tick preventatives for them even though I rarely see a tick on them. That is because RMSF, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma exist in NC too. Many dogs that test positive for Lyme or the other tick related disease have no tick history. (many people too report they never had a tick when they were diagnosed) The best 3 products we recommend are Vectra 3-D, a monthly topical, Bravecto, an oral chew that lasts 3 months and Simparica a monthly chewable that has great efficacy and is available on Vetsource, our online pharmacy. Vectra 3-D and Bravecto are available at both of our locations.

vectra 3d




By vaccinating my dogs and using an effective and safe tick preventative, I have greatly reduced the potential for any tick related disease for my dogs, myself, and my family. After all, our dogs are constant companions in our house and even sleep in our bed! I don’t want ticks in my bed or on me!


So please don’t hesitate to contact me or our offices for additional information or questions. We can schedule an appointment to give the Lyme vaccines if you wish. The initial series calls for 2 vaccines given 2-4 weeks apart. If your dog has been previously vaccinated with another type of vaccine, we still recommend the initial 2 vaccine protocol to assure better protection because of the new technology.

All the best,

Stephen E Foster, DVM, CCRT

Foster Animal Hospital, P.A.

Foster Animal Clinic at Parkway Commons

Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center

730 Concord Parkway North

Concord, NC 28027


To Flex or Not to Flex?

To flex or not to flex? That was the question I asked myself during my canine rehabilitation therapy this week. Candace, my certified canine rehabilitation assistant, was making me do all sorts of yoga poses today!

Yoga 3


I have to say that it does feel really good! It helps take away all my tension.

Yoga 2

It also makes me limber so I can do more exercising on the treadmill to help build up the muscle around my knees. I have to admit, I used to think that canine rehabilitation wouldn’t help me feel better, but wow, was I ever wrong!

Yoga 1


All of this therapy is making me feel great! I may be 8 human years old, but you would never know it! I bounce around like a puppy again! I can’t wait for my next canine rehabilitation therapy session!

Until next time,


At the Heart of it All

Pets hold a special place in our hearts, so let’s learn how to take better care of theirs.
Everyone has nervously watched as your veterinarian quietly listens to your pet’s heart. Some of us have even heard the dreaded phase “ Fido has a heart murmur.” When I uncovered a heart murmur in my own kitty Chance last year during his annual checkup, I had a moment of disbelief. I made Dr. Seals verify what I was hearing. When it comes to my own pets all my years of training go out the window and I became the nervous client waiting to hear the news. However, I hadn’t made a mistake and my baby was diagnosed with early heart disease. So what exactly is a heart murmur and what can we do to keep our pets healthy?

While stroke and heart attack are fairly uncommon in our four-legged friends, murmurs are frequently discovered. A heart murmur is an abnormal sound heard with a stethoscope. Instead of the distinct “Lub – Dub”, we hear a ”Lub – whoosh – Dub”. This extra sound indicates turbulent blood flow. Some of the causes include a leaky heart valve, thickened heart muscle, anemia, or an innocent murmur heard in puppies and kittens.
How do we find out the cause of the heart murmur? The three most common tests veterinarians run include a chest x-ray, echocardiogram, and blood pressure screen. The chest x-ray allows the veterinarian to evaluate heart size and the surrounding lung fields for potential fluid accumulation, a sign of congestive heart failure.

The echocardiogram allows us to visualize the inside of the heart including the heart valves, the four chambers and blood flow. All of us know why blood pressure is important.

While some murmurs are silent and will only be detected by your veterinarian, others present with symptoms such as a cough, exercise intolerance, or even collapsing episodes.
So how do we keep our pets heart healthy? The best way to prevent heart disease is by maintaining proper body weight for your pet, exercise your pet regularly, keep up with dental care, and take your pet in for a yearly checkup.

Brittany Novosad, DVM
(704) 786-0104

Foster Animal Hospital
Concord, NC 28027

LIfe’s Unexpected Changes

“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

Sometimes in life, things come down your path that you weren’t looking for, but when they arrive, cannot be ignored. One of these exact situations presented itself to me this winter.

Anyone who has worked with me for any period of time knows my favorite part of my career is small animal surgery. The definition of surgery is the branch of medicine concerned with the treatment of injuries or disorders of the body by incision or manipulation, especially with instruments. The etymology of the word surgery comes from the Greek and Latin words meaning “hand work”. This is not to say surgeons enjoy the actual cutting into a loved-ones companion and putting them through the subsequent recovery, but rather the ability to address and correct certain illnesses and conditions that medicine alone cannot alleviate. The bond a doctor can make with a patient and client through a more involved procedure and recovery can be lifelong and extremely rewarding on our side of the fence. Even routine procedures such as spays, neuters, and declaws can better the health and life of the pet and keep them in a loving home longer.

As I have gotten older (that seems weird to admit, LOL), I’ve realized I have always seemed to gravitate toward activities and hobbies that have that same “hands-on” quality. I loved art and science classes all through school MUCH more than music and English (this blog may make that apparent). Pottery class in high school was probably my favorite class of all time. My hobbies all involve the same use-your-hands commonality. The adjustments needed on an remote-controlled car to make it handle better and race faster, building an remote-controlled airplane and piloting it through aerobatic maneuvers and then successfully landing it in one piece, and creating a piece of furniture from a pile of wooden boards that (hopefully) stands the test of time, all reflect the hands-on interests I’ve had.

All of these reflect underlying reasons in my enjoyment of surgery. I feel more comfortable removing a complicated intestinal foreign body than trying to make dosage adjustments on a sick diabetic patient. The latter involves having a solid grasp on MANY invisible complex physiologic parameters, while the former, however, depends heavily on manual dexterity as well as adhering to laws of anatomy and sterile technique.

The opportunity that has been offered to me involves the chance to pursue my favorite aspect of the veterinary profession in an increased capacity. After a long and at times difficult decision-making process, I have decided to accept this offer. While I am excited by this new area of professional growth, it does mean leaving the safe harbor of my Foster family. In the six years I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the Foster team, I’ve learned a great deal and have developed relationships I hope will last the rest of my career.

It is with both anticipation and ambivalence that I announce Tuesday, April 30 will be my last day with Foster Animal Hospital. The Foster team is stocked with some of the brightest, most talented, caring, and most devoted doctors, technicians, and staff that you will find anywhere around. It is the fact that I get to call these same people my friends which has made this decision so difficult. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of these last 6 years, it’s been a heck of a ride! It’s time to leave safe harbor for the uncharted possibilities of the future.


Seth Ueleke, DVM

Foster Animal Hospital

Concord, NC  28027

New Opportunities!


Dear Friends,

Foster Animal Hospital has been your trusted source for veterinary care for over 50 years! We are proud to serve this community to the best of our ability year after year, all the while, building relationships that last a lifetime!

The team at Foster Animal Hospital has recently received the opportunity to better serve our community with a revised schedule at both of our convenient locations. Effective March 25th, Foster Animal Hospital will be expanding its surgical schedule to include Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday of each week. No more limitations on available days for you to have your pet’s surgical procedure completed by the best veterinary team around!

Due to the changes in our surgical schedule at our main office, effective March 28th, Foster Animal Clinic at Parkway Commons will be closing on Thursdays. Foster Animal Clinic at Parkway Commons will now be open for business on Monday, Wednesday & Friday, effective the week of March 25th.

We would also like to inform our friends of a change to our Veterinary Staff in the near future. Dr. Seth Ueleke has received an unexpected opportunity to pursue a personal passion in the veterinary field. His decision to leave the Foster Animal Hospital team has come after great hesitation and contemplation on the matter. He has informed our team that this was not an easy decision but he must pursue his interests in the field. We are sad to see him go. Dr. Ueleke wants to ensure that all of his patients are well cared for and he will continue seeing patients through Tuesday, April 30th.

The team at Foster Animal Hospital views these changes as an opportunity to grow with our community’s current needs. We are dedicated to providing our friends and neighbors with exceptional veterinary care for years to come!

Thank you for your loyalty!
Doctors & Staff of Foster Animal Hospital

Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center- Press Release

Canine Rehabilitation Comes To Concord
For Immediate Release
Canine Rehabilitation Comes To Concord
Concord, NC – (February 18, 2013) Foster Animal Hospital has been providing Concord with superior veterinary care for over 50 years and is proud to announce certified canine rehabilitation is now available.
Dr. Steve Foster, son of founder Dr. Tom Foster and current co-owner of Foster Animal Hospital, recently became interested in Canine Rehabilitation at a continuing education lecture. “Canine Rehabilitation is very similar to physical therapy and reading about the successes with dogs, I became fully energized to be a part of this exciting new field. I wanted to bring this service to our hospital and our area,” states Dr. Steve Foster. In March 2012, Dr. Foster completed his required courses and completed an internship for certification.
What is Canine Rehab? Basically it is Canine physical therapy. However, physical therapy is a human term; therefore, the appropriate term in veterinary medicine is Canine Rehabilitation. Just as in physical therapy, Canine Rehab helps to restore appropriate functionality to our patients. Whether the issue is due to trauma, a surgical procedure such as anterior cruciate ligament repair, degenerative arthritis, obesity, a neurological issue such as intervertebral disc disease, or others, Canine Rehab can help restore functionality.
After six months of working with local pets and owners, Dr. Foster shared, “The results I have seen have been nothing short of amazing. Patients’ lives have been extended, patients’ quality of life has been markedly improved, and clients are ecstatic that their ‘babies’ are recovering from surgery faster and completely. Geriatric dogs are active and happy again and have a new lease on life. As a veterinary practitioner of almost 28 years, Canine Rehabilitation Therapy is one of the best career decisions I have made. Seeing my patients do so well is especially rewarding. All post-op dogs, neurological cases, and older patients should experience the wonderful benefits of Canine Rehabilitation Therapy.”
Foster Animal Hospital is launching Paws in Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center which will offer full therapy services custom to the pet’s individual needs. From laser to manual therapy, each case is unique. Dr. Foster evaluates each patient to customize a rehab plan in order to reach the owner’s goals for their pet. To find out more, please visit or the FAH blog at
Foster Animal Hospital
Foster Animal Hospital offers full-service veterinary care and pet services for dogs and cats. We are proud of our more than 50-year reputation in the community, along with our commitment to providing modern, up-to-date veterinary care. Our progressive methods and the latest thinking in pet care make us the #1 choice in Concord, North Carolina

What our clients are sharing…

“I made an appointment with Dr. Steve Foster knowing in my heart that Molly, our 13 year old Lab, only had days to live. Her arthritis had become so bad in her left front elbow and her back legs that I could no longer bear to see her suffer. Through the tears, I explained Molly’s problem. Dr. Steve asked me if I would be willing to try rehabilitation/physical therapy. This was the best thing I have ever done for Molly. After several sessions, her limp is gone and her back legs move independently where before the back legs did the old man shuffle. If you have a dog like Molly it is definitely worth doing therapy. It saved her life. Words cannot express our gratitude.”
~ Michelle

“Our walk was longer and very interesting. Jackson does not sit or lay down which indicates he is more comfortable walking. HOWEVER, he is showing his stubborn streak of planting his feet and refusing to move when he sees something interesting. Last night it was a neighbor’s garden. He was totally focused and standing with his feet firmly planted. It was very hot and I got a little lax with the leash. He sensed the lack of tension and bounded in the garden. He jumped a rabbit!!! The energy was amazing. He didn’t go far and returned when I called him but it was a Jackson miracle. Afterwards, he turned towards home and was ready for water and a nap!”
~ Janice

“My family took me to see Dr. Foster and he thought that I either had severe arthritis in my back and hips and perhaps some neurological deficits which made use of my legs very difficult. He suggested arthritis medicine and pain medicine and then a new program to make an effort to strengthen my legs through physical therapy and rehabilitation. On Mondays and Wednesdays my dad would put me in the front seat beside him and take me into the hospital and I was met by the nicest girls. I was treated like a queen and got a lot of attention. I had a funny haircut so Dr. Foster could do laser therapy to my hips. I did a little better at first and then I had a bad spell where I almost could not get around at all. We took a couple of weeks off and started working hard again. My daddy was worried that I would not improve. He thought it was time to call in hospice. Dr. Steve and I proved him wrong. Mother was happy as I continue to make improvements over the last two months. I still have periods of stumbling and I need a little help getting up the front steps in the house. I now spend more time in the house and get so much more attention. When I go for walks in the neighborhood the cats stay away from me. Neighbors are amazed at how well I get around. I got a new hairdo and bath for the summer. My parents and sister Diana love me so much probably because they realize how close they were to losing me. I cannot say enough good things about the people at the hospital. They have loved me as much as my parents. Dr. Steve has pushed me hard and made me work for all of my improvement. I owe all of my improvement in the quality of my life to Dr. Steve and the girls. Without the new expertise of Dr. Steve and the compassion of everyone, I would probably not be here. Rejuvenated and Rehabilitated Pup, Cleopatra”
~ Dr. Robert


Stewie, Step By Step, Part 2

As you may recall from my earlier blog about Stewie, he had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. As part of his recovery, we were doing Canine Rehabilitation Therapy to help him recover quickly and completely from this surgery. Once this process is finished, he will do it all over again, as his left knee has a torn cruciate ligament as well!
When we left off, Stewie was half way through his 8 Rehab sessions. At that point in time, he was doing so well, we were able to progress to strengthening exercises.


REHAB Session 5: Stewie continues to excel in his recovery. We continued with Passive Range of Motion, stretching, compressions, and massage. We also continued with his early strengthening exercises, but added to the number and type of exercises done. We finished this session with more LASER therapy. As mentioned before, LASER speeds recovery, helps relieve pain and inflammation, and can help revitalize worn or damaged cartilage.


REHAB Session 6: Stewie’s session today was very similar to session 5 except today we asked him to start doing exercises unassisted. Up until this point, everything we have done has been by me or assisted by me. At this point, we let Stewie start using the leg un-aided. He did everything as designed. He’s a very energetic and willing patient!


REHAB Session 7: Stewie has had 4 days since session 6 and has done well at home. Today, we doubled the number of reps we started last time. He responded expectantly and didn’t appear to have any issues. His rehab is ahead of pace!


REHAB Session 8: Stewie’s last day! We continued from session 7 but added more strengthening exercises. Stewie’s leg is stronger and more flexible than ever and he is only 22 days post-op. Even as a Certified Rehab Therapist, I am amazed. We humans certainly can learn a lot from our canine friends. So many have the drive and determination to keep going, even in the face of a severe injury. Way to go Stewie!


At this point, we have released Stewie for 4 weeks. His parents have been given several take-home exercises to help Stewie on his road to a full recovery. We are excited about seeing him in 4 weeks and to see the progress he has made!

Steve Foster, DVM, CCRT

Foster Animal Hospital

Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center

Concord, NC 28027




Stewie, Step By Step

Meet Stewie! This fine young fella came to us for a second opinion. Stewie had been diagnosed with a torn cruciate ligament in both knees. Ouch! The decision was made to repair the right knee first and once fully healed, repair the left knee.
His surgery was done on January 8 by Dr. Mark Plott here at Foster Animal Hospital. The following is a look at Stewie’s progress through Canine Rehabilitation Therapy.

REHAB Session 1: Stewie returned on January 14 for his first rehab session. At that time, much of the post-op swelling had diminished. He was still carrying his right rear leg “high and tight”. He was protective of the leg, although not in an aggressive manner. He basically didn’t want me to touch the leg much. Some of this was due to remembering pain, but also, he hadn’t developed the trust he needed to have the leg rehabilitated. Initial rehab for cruciate surgery begins with Passive Range of Motion, Flexibility, and Pain relief. So basically for Stewie that day, we did various stretches, other motions that simulate joint and leg movement without bearing weight, and joint compressions. We also massaged Stewie’s tight muscles. To help with pain and healing, he received LASER therapy as well. By the end of the session, Stewie was much more relaxed.


REHAB Session 2: Stewie returned 2 days later for his second session. In just the 2 days since his first session, Stewie was walking, albeit with a limp, on his leg! We repeated all of the same measures from session 1.


REHAB Session 3: Stewie returned the next day for his 3rd rehab session. He was walking even better than the day before! Because he was doing so well, we began very minor strengthening exercises. We also repeated all of the Passive Range of Motion, stretches, compressions, and Laser like we had the first 2 sessions. Because many dogs will not fully use their legs with an ACL rupture, muscle atrophy can occur quickly. Therefore, being able to start strengthening exercises put him way ahead of the game.


REHAB Session 4: Our boy Stewie returned 4 days later for his fourth rehab session. Our treatment for him will be over 8 sessions. So we are halfway there. Stewie bounded from his apartment full of energy and walking without a noticeable limp. What a guy! We continued all of the therapy from the first 3 sessions but began to intensify his strengthening exercises. Bear in mind, these exercises are not haphazard or uncontrolled. Everything we do is measured and done with care as to not harm the surgical repair that was done 13 days before. As we finished the session that day, I remarked to myself what an excellent patient Stewie is!


Please stay tuned as I will recap Stewie’s progress and his status following his remaining 4 Rehab sessions.

Until then,

Steve Foster, DVM, CCRT

Foster Animal Hospital

Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center

Concord, NC 28027


Backstage at FAH


Telling people you work at a veterinary hospital can be a neat trick or a regrettable mistake in the conversation department.  On the good side, I always have something to talk about at a table of strangers, whether they’re neurosurgeons or bawdy wedding guests.  Precocious little girls tell me how they hope to be a vet one day.  People relax and smile at me because they like animals too.  We won’t dwell on never-ending “my cute pet” stories or unwanted shop talk; this doesn’t happen that often, thank goodness.

Because so many people have told me they are animals’ number one fans or wish they could’ve been vets, I thought I’d reveal a few behind-the-scenes secrets about what it’s really like to do what we do here.  It’s a look behind the curtain, if you will.  I realize these little truths make us sound crazy, I’m just not sure whether the dysfunction came before or after the animals got to us.

  • Each staff member has an arsenal of weird, favorite tasks and talents.  Some can draw blood with their eyes closed, through fur, on a moving target.  One soothes wigged-out dogs like a snake charmer.  Believe it or not we have folks who beg to flush maggots and abscesses.  For some reason, I’m good at pilling cats and expressing anal glands.  Yeah, pretty cool, I know.


  • Related to that, we deal daily with sights and smells that would make your hair curl.  We don’t fret about popped-out eyeballs, and oh, the places my hands have been…  But please don’t ask us to look at the human body.  Seriously, it freaks us out a little, I don’t know why it’s different but it is.
  • Perhaps as in other medical fields, we are a highly superstitious bunch.  We believe the full moon brings strange cases, illnesses (obstructed cats, parvo puppies) come in threes, if you say out loud, “it sure is slow today,” there’s bound to be an immediate stampede of patients into the lobby.


  • Although appearing calm on the outside, we worry about our patients obsessively.  Did I make the right diagnosis?  Is she resting comfortably in the hospital overnight?  Is the medicine going to work?  Is he going to be okay?  I think you’d be happy if you knew how much we worry about your pet.
  • Mad cats can mess you up worse than any Rottweiler.  They have multiple weapons and can turn inside their skins, people!


  • A work day can feel like a psychological roller coaster:  break bad news to worried grandmother, do wellness visit with college couple, examine scared big dog without stressing owner or letting anyone get hurt, meet new kitten and excited family.  I can leave a room wiping away tears and within moments must be cheerful for someone else.  It’s enough to give one emotional whiplash.
  • We play with your pets when we take them out of the room.  Appropriately, of course, and they enjoy it too.  Cats are cuddled and brushed, puppies “dance” on the tables and fly Superman-style.


  • We fall in love with our animal patients.  Physicians would get in trouble for this, but luckily for us there’s no such ethical problem!  Loving our patients makes the work easier (and harder), and helps us take care of them as if they were our own.  In fact, unbeknownst to their owners, I keep a mental list of all the dogs and cats I want to adopt if they should ever need a home.  They know who they are.

If this sounds like your brand of crazy, I hope you find an outlet to work with animals.  One time I went to a charity event to build a fence for this dog’s yard, and 50 of us dog lovers stood around holding pliers, just wanting to do some good.  And we all had fun!  So go forth and help those deserving animals, and someone like me will want to ask you all about it.

Robin Lake, DVM

Foster Animal Hospital, Concord, NC