Watch Me Rehab!

Hello Friends!

I’m excited to show you my newest Canine Rehabilitation Therapy video!

Have you ever wondered what I do during my rehab sessions at Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center? Well, Candace (my Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant) doesn’t just massage knots out of my muscles, she makes me work hard! But it’s ok, because that’s what makes my knees strong.

Here’s a video of one of the exercises I do called ‘Sit to Stand’. I have to balance on an inflated ball called a ‘peanut’ while I repeatedly sit and stand (for treats, of course).

This exercise helps strengthen the muscles in my legs, especially the ones around my knees. My knees sometimes pop in and out of place which hurts and makes me skip a few steps. Once my muscles get stronger, they will hold my knee joint in place better and they won’t pop out of place anymore.

That’s good news because if I can make my joints stronger now, I won’t have lots of joint issues when I get to be a lot older. Well, I better go now, I hear Candace calling me for my next canine rehab session.

Until Next Time,


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,


Mya’s Chronicles Part 4

photo (2)

Hello everybody! I have missed you guys. Everything has been going very well for me. My mom has been taking me for short walks at home everyday to help in my recovery from surgery. Today was also one of my rehabilitation sessions at Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center located at Foster Animal Hospital. The CCRA (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant), Candace Lafond, has been doing some therapeutic exercises along with manual therapies and LASER treatment during my rehabilitation sessions. These therapeutic exercises help to strengthen my muscles and help to increase my Range of Motion.

Click link below to see video of Mya using the Cavaletti Rails


One of the therapeutic exercises is cavaletti rails which help to increase my hip extension and flexion while also strengthening my thigh muscles. Another one is using a balance board to help with weight shifting. Candace helps me to get up on the board and then moves the board back and forth to help with balancing and shifting weight over to my surgery leg in order to increase strength. She will also have me go up and down the ramp with her to increase muscle strength as well.

Each rehabilitation session continues with manual therapies, therapeutic exercises, and certain modalities(ex. LASER) throughout the treatment/ recovery period. As the sessions continue the therapists and assistant will add in different/ more challenging exercises to increase strength and recovery. They will also increase duration of the previous exercises to make them more challenging as well.

I love to be active all the time so doing the therapeutic exercises keeps me moving. I also enjoy the manual therapies as well because I am getting all the attention and the treats. To be continued….


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


Canine Rehab- Why I’m Loving It So Far

Well, I’ve been certified in Canine Rehabilitation since March of this year. With that certification, I now have extra initials after my name- CCRT. (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist) I’ve had the opportunity to work with many great patients and clients here at Foster Animal Hospital. To all of us, Canine Rehab has been a new experience. I’ve tried to use these experiences to, first and foremost, benefit my patients but also to learn and hone my technique and to get a better grasp clinically about what I’m doing. It’s been an excellent 8 months and I am more excited than ever about Canine Rehab.

So, let me tell you why I love Canine Rehab after these last 8 months? First of all, with Rehab Therapy we are reducing and in some instances eliminating pain completely. And pain is a reality to dogs. They oftentimes will not show us when they are painful. Or if they do, we don’t interpret it as pain. Some subtle signs include: decreased activity, sleeping more, keeping to themselves with some to the point of hiding, restlessness especially at night, panting, decreased appetite, weight loss, sighing or moaning when getting up or down, and grumpiness towards owners or other pets. Pain management is a hallmark of Canine Rehab.

Initially, we address pain medically. We as vets are very blessed to have access to many safe medications that make a tremendous difference in our patient’s pain levels. Through rehab, we also address pain with LASER therapy, range of motion techniques, manipulation of restricted joint capsules and muscles, massage, and muscle strengthening. I love the fact that pain-free dogs can now be a reality! I am waging a personal battle on eliminating pain for my patients.

I’ve also observed that obesity is a critical factor for all pets. Obesity is even more of a detriment to those with physical issues. Carrying extra weight creates physical limitations for post-op patients, geriatric patients with degenerative arthritis, and acute or chronic neurological patients. Fat cells also produce hormones that create inflammation within joints. Young, overweight dogs are already being set up for arthritis!

I do not love the fact that obesity is a problem for so many dogs (and people). I do love the fact that through Canine Rehab, we are able to help these dogs lose weight and become more physically fit! I have seen first hand through rehab patients that lose weight, what amazing benefits they reap. Remember the rule of thumb for your dog’s weight- you want to be able to feel ribs without a layer of fat and you want to see a waist starting behind the last rib. If you can’t do either of these with your own pet, well you know…

I love the fact that dogs that are pain free and are an appropriate weight, want to be active! I see this everyday as my rehab patients progress. I see this with my own dog Bunker. (You know, the one that likes to blog) I hear it from the moms and dads that tell me their dog is now jumping in the car again, wants to go on walks, and wants to play more. I love it that they wear me out, wanting to do the exercises and work-outs we create for them! They also can’t wait for manual therapy because they love how it makes them feel, which it makes them feel GOOD! And just like Skinner’s or Pavlov’s or whoever’s dog it was, my rehab patients immediately relax when we put their LASER Doggles on because they know the LASER Therapy really makes them feel good.

So, I hope you see why I love Canine Rehab after 8 months. If your dog fits any of the descriptions above and is painful, let’s love him enough to put an end to that pain!

Until next time,

Steve Foster, DVM, CCRT

Foster Animal Hospital, P.A.

Paws in Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center

Bunker’s Back For Thanksgiving!

Hey, yo, well I’ve been gone a while from the blog, but that ain’t kept me from snooping on dad’s computer.
Funny thing is, I’ve been going to jail, I mean my dad’s office for some canine rehab. When I’m there, a bunch of folks are talking about somethin’ called Thanksgiving. What’s even funnier is some of ’em say THANKSgiving and other say ThanksGIVING. What is up with that? Geesh people!
But nonetheless, heretofore, furthermore, and four score, it got me to thinking. I guess I’m thankful for stuff. Let me see: food, oh yeah definitely food. Heck fire, I’m even more thankful for treats. I wish they filled the bowl like the food does. What else, water, yep, water keeps me hydrated, it’s good to swim in, and provides me with the opportunity to mark my spot, iffin you know what I mean! Tehe. I guess I’m thankful for my dad and mom, and my siblings- 2 and 4 legged ones. I’m thankful for cats and the yummy treats they leave behind. I’m thankful for the squirrels and deers I used to be able to chase. (I’m still eyeballin y’all and it’s dirty pool to mock my old arthritic hips. Better look out!) I’m thankful for the back seat of my dad’s truck. It’s 11 years old and he’s hauled so many dogs in that thing, I am in sniffin’ heaven I tell ya. I’m thankful for that stuff in funny bottles they give me everyday and that rehab thing dad does on me. Man do I feel better with it. I really am thankful for that laser. Heck you get to wear funny sun glasses and all the, ahem, female dogs give me the eye when I wear ’em.

So back to snoopin. I found another short story dad had written way back. I think the names were changed or it could be a blend of folks. Who knows with my old man. I thought it was purty good and wanted to share. If nuttin’ else, I guess it’s shows somethin dad was very thankful about. Anyhoo, Happy THANKSgiving, ThanksGIVING, or THANKSGIVING whichever it is for you and yourn! Check ya’ later!



What is the best thing that can happen to a young, aspiring, inexperienced veterinarian? Finding the right practice? Working for an experienced mentor? Having the freedom to make decisions and introduce new methods to improve the practice and benefit the patients? Making a good salary for a good days work? Being completely happy and satisfied with all of the above? I was fortunate to have them all. I was fortunate to be the son of Tom Foster and to reap the rewards of his practice of 27 years. I was fortunate that Dad’s clientele were generally good people that you enjoyed helping. However, as I said they were just that- Dad’s clientele. Don’t get me wrong, they were and are some of the greatest people I know. My professional care for and friendships with them hold true today. What they mean to me is immeasurable. I am truly honored and blessed to know and serve them to this day. I am not, excuse the pun, looking those “gift horses” in the mouth!


But, as wonderful as they are, and as honored as I am, they still weren’t “mine”. Not that it burned in my gut during the night or caused me many hours of unrest and heartburn. In fact, I wasn’t really aware of it until Reid came into my life. For you see, Reid was probably the first client that was “mine”. Oh I’m sure I had seen new clients that didn’t know Dad or had not been to his practice. That goes without saying. I’m talking about the type of client/vet relationship that can only occur with regular contact over a period of time. Reid was my first and Reid was “mine”.


Our practice was, from 1958-1996, a mixed animal practice. If it was alive and was not a human, we would see it. As a new graduate, I enjoyed the variety mixed practice afforded. From the pampered house dog to the 2000 pound charging bull, practice was a pleasure. Graduating from vet school at Auburn, I had a special attraction to large animal work. Don’t misunderstand, small animals were very important too. But, the mystique, and power, and allure of large animals to me were special. Call it a nostalgic attraction of Roy Rogers, John Wayne, or the Cartwright boys, not to mention growing up riding the roads with Dad making large animal calls day and night. Whatever it was, I wanted to be the best dang large animal vet around. Coming home after graduation, I knew I would have a chance to do large animal practice. Dad did most of the specialized work- monthly herd checks or show horse work. I would do a lot of the “fire engine” work of going from farm to farm doing emergencies or urgent cares or routine vaccinations and dewormings. I longed to be able to be the one to do the specialized visits. With time this came to pass. Nonetheless, most of these people were still not “mine”.


One morning, a call came in from Sharon Falls about her horse that was experiencing colic. I took the information, checked to verify that she was a new client, and headed for their farm. Turning onto their drive, I was struck by the beauty of their place. The drive, long and paved, was lined with split rail fence, finely mown grass and beautiful landscaping. To the left was a large horse pasture where two jet black Tennessee Walking Horses frolicked. On the right was another large pasture with many of the finest Santa Gertrudis cattle I had ever seen. The house was a typical ranch style made from beautiful logs and stained dark mahogany.  To the left of the house was a large gravel area that had an old restored plank barn at the very end. To the right of the barn was a wood enclosed corral that led to a long chute in which to work the cattle. The barn itself, simple and old, was a thing of beauty. The grounds were perfectly manicured- the grass mown, the gravel raked, and not a plank out of place. Behind the house and corral, was a large pasture that contained a large goose infested pond and more of those beautiful cattle.


As I pulled into the graveled lot, Mrs. Falls was walking a young Tennessee Walker. The bay colored filly looked to be around a year of age. As she walked her, the young equine would drag her rear feet and then stop to kick at her belly. These signs were typical of belly pain or colic. I got out of the Blazer and introduced myself. “It’s very nice to meet you Dr. Foster, I’m Sharon Falls”. Mrs. Falls was an attractive, middle-aged woman. Her eyes had the genuine warmth of the early morning sun. Her smile was radiant and welcoming. “It’s nice to meet you as well. What seems to be the matter?” She continued to walk the filly and stated “ We put her in the barn early this morning and must not have noticed the sweet feed in the trough. I was walking by a few minutes later and saw her eating. It was then I noticed the feed. There was a lot of it. I took the remaining feed out and have been checking her regularly. On my last time out I noticed her starting to colic. I hope she didn’t get too much.”  I carefully examined her. All vital signs were good. I placed a stomach tube and relieved some stomach gas. Before removing the stomach tube, I used a stomach pump to deliver a half-gallon of mineral oil in her stomach. I administered pain medication and within minutes she was walking well. She even began to nibble on some grass! “I think she just over did it with the grain. The oil will move it through her. She’ll be good as new in a few hours.”


About that time a blue Ford pickup eased it’s way down the long drive. “Oh that’s my husband Reid. He’s awfully fond of this filly. She’s out of a World Champion mare we own. He has big plans for her!”


The shiny new pickup rolled to a stop next to the Blazer. Reid exited and came over and introduced himself. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Falls,” I said. “The pleasure is all mine,” he said with a big smile. “How’s my baby here?” He walked over and gently cradled her head with his big arms. Reid looked to be mid to late forties, with a large firm frame. You could tell that in his younger days he was quite a physical specimen. The filly responded with a nuzzle that quickly brought a smile to Reid’s face.


“I think she’s going to be fine. She just overloaded on grain. I gave her a good dose of mineral oil and something for pain. She’ll be kicking up her heels soon!” Looking me squarely in the eyes, Reid said,” You’ll never know how much we appreciate you coming so quick and doing such a great job. We had been using another vet and they were unavailable today. Get me a bill and Sharon will get you a check before you leave. Sharon, it looks like we found us a vet!”


Sharon hurried to the house to write the check. “ If you have a second Steve, come over here and look at these Gerts.” We walked over to a small enclosure adjacent to the barn. Inside the immaculate lot were 10-12 yearling heifers and bulls. A long wooden trough was in the middle with ground corn as a feed. Ample hay was in the corner. “ They just aren’t growing right. We’ve wormed and vaccinated ‘em. They eat better than I do. I just don’t understand.” He was right. These youngsters certainly had the frames to be showpieces. But, their coats were dull and raggedy, and their body condition was thinner than it should be. “What did you worm with?” “That stuff in a tube, TBZ I think.” TBZ had been a good dewormer but had lost effectiveness due to overuse and natural resistance developed by the worms. There were certainly better products available, with no resistance and much better efficacy. “ They look wormy to me. I’d suggest a different dewormer. Send someone by the office and we’ll get you what you need.” Reid looked at me warily. “You think that’s it? I’ve used that TBZ a long time. It’s always worked before.”


“That may be your problem, Reid. With time, resistance may be built up. It has happened with other producers. Just come try it. If it doesn’t work, you owe me nothing.” It’s not general practice to make medical guarantees. In fact, we rarely considered it much less offered it. I had complete confidence in my assessment. “ I’ll just get some of this stool in here and test for worms. You give my medicine a try.”


Two weeks later, I was in the area and stopped by to check on Reid’s yearlings. Approaching the corral I could already see a marked difference. The hair coats will slick and shiny red. Their once thin body-lines were full. “Reid is tickled to death,” Sharon said as she approached the corral. He checks on them every evening when he gets home. He is your biggest fan!”


Our professional relationship would grow into one of deep respect and admiration. Reid insisted that I come to his farm routinely twice a month to check the stock. Some trips were just a walk through. Others were planned herd health. Reid never questioned my advice or diagnoses. I don’t know who was more proud, Reid of his beautiful stock or me for being their vet.


One of the hardest decisions in my life came many years later. Our county was growing at such a rate there were fewer and fewer farms. We had already cut back our large animal clientele due to the immense growth of our small animal practice. Veterinarians for hire that would do mixed or large animal practice were increasingly harder to find, especially with a practice that was now doing as little as we were. At the time we had 7 full time vets in our practice but only two of us were doing the large animal. When my large animal associate announced he was moving back home due to the bad health of his in-laws, the decision was made to stop all large animal services. The decision was extremely tough because Dad had done so much work for so many of them and now I had too. Heck, I grew up going to a lot of those farms. We were practically family. The phone calls to those clients were some of the toughest ever. All were gracious, appreciative, and saddened by the news.


The call to Reid is still as vivid today as it was then.


“Reid this is Steve. How are you?” His typical response always was, “Doin’ great Steve. You?” “Oh, I’m fine. I just have some tough news to deliver” I went into the changes in the practice and the concerns of being able to provide the services needed by myself. I told him of our decision. I iterated that there were 2 large animal only practices that were more than qualified to assist him. “I would trust them with my own,” I reassured him.


“So you’re getting out? Well I tell you what, if you’re getting out, I am too. There’s nobody I want to handle my stuff if you can’t. I think the time is right for me too.”


Stunned I emphasized he shouldn’t do that. “I’d be ashamed to think I caused you to get out.”

“No it’s nothing to be ashamed of, if you can’t do it nobody can.”

We exchanged thank yous and appreciation for each other. We promised to stay in touch. As I hung up the phone, tears streamed down my face.

Reid had truly been “mine”.


(Please do not reproduce this article without permission from the author)


Being Too Heavy Is Not Fun For Fido!!



The last article I wrote dealt with a much too common condition we see at Foster Animal Hospital: Canine Obesity.

Just as in the human world, the pet world suffers from obesity too. Many of the pets we see here are overweight, ranging from 2-3 pounds to 40-50 pounds of extra mass. As you can imagine, as the weight goes up, the health problems do too. Why?

Well, obviously, the sheer task of carrying extra pounds stresses the entire body. The heart and lungs are stressed due to the extra workload. Other organs, such as the liver and pancreas, can be affected to the point of severe liver disease and diabetes. The skeleton and joints are affected by having to carry the extra load.

We all know how heavy a 40 pound bag of dog food feels. While you read this, you can probably remember what it was like the last time you carried one. For some of us, it may bring back the feeling of relief you had when you set it down! Now imagine you are a Labrador, that should weigh 70 pounds, but instead you weigh 110 pounds. (Don’t laugh, we see it all the time) Or you are a Schnauzer that should weigh 15 pounds and you weigh 30. (That would be like me, 180 pounds, weighing 360 pounds!) For theses dogs, they never get to set that big bag of dog food down. They are carrying that enormous weight around 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Carrying this extra weight for months and years causes a breakdown of joints and the support structures. Cartilage breakdown occurs. Joints and backs become painful. Activity levels decrease. Muscle mass atrophies. And before you know it, you have a dog that lays around, he’s hurting, he’s tired, and yes, he’s suffering.

To add to the obesity problem, we know that fat cells produce hormones that are inflammatory in nature. And what is the target of their inflammation? You guessed it- joints and even other areas. So, even though the breakdown from carrying too much weight may not occur for months to years , the INFLAMMATION process can start early. And once that cascade starts, it’s hard to turn around. Inflammation leads to pain, which leads to inactivity, etc., etc. In my mind, I see a young and thriving dog engulfed by a giant arthritis snowball, rolling down the mountain out of control until, CRASH, it’s too late.

For me, as a vet and pet owner, the inflammation part of obesity really drives the point home. And that point is, fat is more than just fat. It’s an active, bad-hormone producing machine that is literally destroying our pet’s joint surfaces. And for me, that is enough to know. I waged war on obesity and fat for myself. I have waged war on obesity and fat for my own pets. And I am waging war on obesity and fat for all of my patients. Being too heavy is not fun for Fido!

So what do we do? Well, it starts with the commitment to get our pet’s to their appropriate weight. It begins with a lifestyle change of feeding them what they need, the amount they need, and being able to say no when those big pitiful eyes are staring at us! Once we have that part, which is the hardest part, under control, a regular exercise regimen is in order. Unfortunately for some, that involves a leash and a long walk. Simply going loose in the back yard is not enough. Simply chasing a ball a few times is not enough. (Granted those activities are better than laying by the sofa and eating treats!) Regular brisk exercise is needed to increase the heart rate and boost metabolism. Good regular walks will help build endurance and add muscle mass that helps to shrink those fat cells. (and that’s what actually happens. They shrink but NEVER go away. So any backsliding from controlled diet and exercise will allow them to fill back up with fat!)

However, if your pet is severely overweight, you may need professional help. At Foster Animal Hospital, we can give you guidance on what to do. We can help you understand how overweight your pet may be and offer nutritional guidance to get the ball rolling. We can discuss exercise and help you have a plan in place to help your pet get fit again. If your pet is suffering medically from obesity, we can help make any necessary diagnosis and prescribe treatment that will help him be less painful, happier, and ultimately more active. Possible treatments may include nutraceuticals such as Phycox, prescription medications like Rimadyl, and Certified Canine Rehabilitation. Canine Rehab can include physical rehab therapy and a weight loss exercise program performed at Foster Animal Hospital. Oftentimes, a multi-modal approach is best and gives your beloved pet the best chance to have the highest quality of life possible.

I hope this provides some insight as to why obesity can be so harmful for our beloved pets. Please email me with any questions at: Until then…….

All the best,

Steve Foster, DVM, CCRT


Is Your Pet Obese, Overweight, or even Pudgy?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then we need to talk! Any degree of being overweight is more harmful than you may realize to your precious pup. The sheer task of carrying extra weight can create a damaging stress to your pet’s back, hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, virtually any joint! Also, fat cells are inflammatory by nature, which starts the degenerative cascade to arthritis. So by eliminating excess body fat, you really can kill two birds with one stone. Below is an excerpt from our most recent Foster Animal Hospital e-newsletter.

According to a recent survey,* more than half of U.S. dogs and cats are overweight. These pets are at a higher risk for developing serious medical problems, including arthritis, diabetes, breathing problems, and some forms of cancer. So how can you slim down your super-sized pet and reduce the risk of these diseases? The answer is easier than you think.

Ask your veterinarian about your pet’s body condition score (or BCS). Using the BCS scale, your veterinarian can easily determine whether your pet is underweight, overweight, or right on track. As a rule, you should be able to feel (but not see) your pet’s ribs through a thin layer of fat and see a defined “waist” between the ribs and hips.

Too many pet owners simply fill the bowl or estimate how much they’re feeding. But did you know that once a cat has received the calories he needs (typically less than 300 per day), adding just one extra teaspoon of dry food each day can add up to a pound of weight gain in a year? Keep in mind that for the average 10-pound cat, this is a 10 percent weight gain!

Exercise and good nutrition are powerful partners to help your pet live a long and healthy life. For dogs, as little as 20 to 30 minutes of daily brisk walking is all it takes to boost immune function, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce many behavioral problems. For cats, try playing chase (using a laser pointer [avoid the eyes], remote-controlled toy, or ball of paper) for five to 15 minutes each day.

Please call us at (704) 786-0104 with any questions or visit your Pet Portal to learn more.

Foster Animal Hospital, P.A.
(704) 786-0104

I am hopeful these tips help you. As I have been doing Canine Rehab for many months, the dogs that respond the best are those that have a normal body weight. Through our Rehab program, we are able to speed up weight loss as well. My own personal Lab, Bunker, had become too heavy. We put him on a diet, he lost 15 pounds and acted like a new dog. His old arthritic hips have benefited greatly from just the weight loss alone. His weight loss combined with appropriate arthritis medications and physical rehab therapy have definitely improved his quality of life and extended his life. So start your precious pup today. If you’re unsure how to proceed, let us help. There’s no need in reinventing the wheel! Get started!