The Critter Corner
Critter Corner is a column written by Dr. Steve Velling, Chief of Staff at Ashburn Animal Hospital. Dr. Steve covers many pet care topics that will be of interest to pet owners and their families.
Contact Us:Local Pet Resources:
Just moved to the area?
Let us help make one part of the transition easy – finding a new vet! In between unpacking and organizing, give us a call at (571) 252-8544 and let us know who your previous veterinarian was. Then we’ll do the rest!
Our reception staff will call your former veterinarian to transfer the records to our practice. Keeping pets happy and healthy is our number one priority. Check out our Pet Wellness page to learn about the ways veterinarians and pet owners can work together to keep their pets living long, healthy lives.
Contact Us:Appointment Request
Contact Us:Local Pet Resources:Tips for Moving with Your Pet
We know how stressful adjusting to a new home can be – not just for your two-legged family members, but for your four-legged ones, too! Help make your pets feel a little more at home in your new place with these helpful tips.
- Pet proof your house. Did you know that certain plants and food can be toxic to pets? Common household items like cleaning products and medications can also pose a threat. Especially in a new environment, curious pets can get into household hazards. Be sure to store these in areas that are inaccessible to your furry friends.
- Make sure your pet has proper identification. In addition to standard collars that may come off or get lost, consider getting your pets microchipped. The permanent ID option is as easy and as painless as a vaccination, and greatly increases your chances of reuniting with a lost pet. If Fido is already microchipped, be sure to update the microchip database with your new address information.
- Keep your schedule consistent. Pets are creatures of habit, so maintaining your regular routine will help to make things feel a little more normal. Sticking to your usual times for walks, meals, cuddle time and bed time can help your best friend adjust.
- Be loving and patient. The best way to make pets feel comfortable in a new home is to associate positive experiences with it. Remember to be patient with them and give them lots of affection and treats, and you will have plenty of new, happy memories in no time. You can also take advantage of calming pet products like pheromone diffusers and collars, thundershirts and composure treats to help Fluffy feel at ease.
- Get to know your veterinarian. Bringing your pets to the veterinarian for a routine exam is the smartest and easiest way to keep them healthy. Call us at (571) 252-8544 so we can schedule a visit to get to know you and your pets!
Contact Us:Refill Request
Contact Us:Client Forms
Thank you for choosing Ashburn Village Animal Hospital to care for your pet. Downloading and filling out the New Client Form prior to your first appointment will greatly assist us in adding you and your pet to our system. Please feel free to fax it to us at 703-729-2676 or to bring it with you to your pet's first appointment. We will be happy to contact your previous veterinarian to obtain any necessary information or documentation regarding your pet's medical history.
Annual veterinary care is crucial to keeping your pet happy and healthy. Click the icons below to learn more about what your veterinarian can do for your pet.
Exams check overall health and detect problems before they become severe or costly.
Vaccines protect against common and fatal diseases based on your pet's age and lifestyle.
|Nutrition ensures your pet gets the balanced diet it needs and maintains a healthy weight.||Spaying and neutering protects pets from serious health and behavioral problems.|
Care Guides for Pet Owners
Your pet's health also depends on you. Click on the icons below to learn more about what pet owners can do at home to keep their pets living a long, healthy life.
Pet Wellness:Pet Exams
Bringing your pets to the veterinarian for a physical exam every year is the smartest and easiest way to keep them healthy. Exams allow your veterinarian to detect any problems before they become severe or costly.
Your Veterinarian Will Check...
- muscular and skeletal health by feeling for healthy muscle mass and joint pain.
- neurologic system – it could indicate birth defects in younger pets, and cognitive issues in older pets.
- appropriate weight and lifestyle for your pet's age.
- lymph nodes – swollen nodes can indicate a wound, virus, infection or some other illness.
- vital signs (temperature, pulse and respiration) – an abnormal reading could indicate illness.
- skin and coat condition for growths, infection wounds and overall skin health.
Bring Your Pet to the Veterinarian Every Year for a Clean Bill of Health and Peace of MindYour pet can't tell us what's wrong. But routine physical exams can help your veterinarian detect any problems or diseases you might not have otherwise picked up on, including heart murmurs, tumors, enlarged organs, cataracts, ear infections, ear mites, dental and gum disease, skin issues and allergies.
Vaccines protect against common diseases that your pets may become exposed to.
Did You Know?
Vaccines have about a 95% success rate for preventing infections and fatal diseases.
Pet Wellness:Dental & Oral Care
Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets. Without proper preventive or home care, plaque and tartar can build up, which may cause oral infections, bad breath, infected gum tissues (gingivitis) or even bone loss (periodontitis).
Did You Know?
It's not normal for your pet to have bad breath – it can be a sign of serious dental or gum issues.
Sixty percent of dental disease is hidden below the gum line, and can only be found with x-rays. Brush your pet's teeth regularly and check with your veterinarian about screenings, cleanings and products available to help keep those pearly whites clean.
Pet Wellness:Lab Tests
Yearly lab tests are safe and non-invasive ways to diagnose and prevent sickness or injuries in pets that a physical exam cannot detect.
Pet Wellness:Parasite Prevention
Prevention is the best approach in protecting your pet against deadly heartworms, intestinal parasites, and flea and tick infestations. Your veterinarian will help you find the product that is right for your pet based on his or her needs.
Just like humans, an animal's diet directly affects its overall health and well-being. Allowing a pet to overeat, or to consume the wrong foods, may lead to a wide variety of ailments including obesity, diabetes and arthritis.
Did You Know?
Over 50% of dogs and cats in the United States are obese or overweight.
Although we think of our pets as family members, they shouldn’t be allowed to eat like us. Maintaining a proper diet will help keep your pet at a healthy weight. Be sure not to overfeed, and that you are providing a diet tailored to your pet's breed, age, weight and medical history.
Common Foods To Avoid
Think twice about feeding your pet table scraps. Common foods such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic could be dangerous to an animal. Some non-food items like lily plants and antifreeze are also toxic to pets. Check with your veterinarian if your pet has ingested anything questionable.
Growing puppies and kittens need more nutrient-dense food than adults. Ask your veterinarian which food is right for this stage of life. Cats switch to an adult diet right after being spayed or neutered, no matter what the age, to decrease the likelihood of obesity and related conditions.
Selecting an adult dog or cat food that will keep your pet healthy and energetic starts with knowing your pet's lifestyle. Does your dog weigh just the right amount and go for long walks daily? Or is it a lap dog that loves nothing more than to snooze the day away? Talk to your veterinarian about these issues to help guide you in choosing the best food for your pet.
Your senior dog or cat may need fewer calories, less fat, and more fiber as he or she ages. Many older pets can continue eating the food they always have – just a little less to compensate for not being as active. Check with your veterinarian which food and amount is best for your pet.
Pet Wellness:Spaying & Neutering
Spaying or neutering can protect your pet from serious health and behavioral problems later in life. It also helps control the stray animal population.
Spaying or Neutering Reduces the Risk of...
Known as a pyometra, this is a potentially life-threatening condition which can be very expensive to treat. It is 100% preventable if your pet is spayed.
Mammary Tumors (Breast Cancer)
Over one-half of all mammary tumors are malignant and can spread to other areas of the body. Early spaying, prior to your pet beginning its heat cycles, significantly reduces the incidence of tumor formation.
This cancer, as well as prostatitis (an infection causing malignant or benign swelling of the prostate), can be greatly reduced with early neutering.
Unwanted behaviors such as dominance aggression, marking territory and wandering can be avoided with spaying or neutering.
There are more puppies and kittens in shelters than there are people willing to provide them with love and care. Sadly, many are euthanized. Spaying or neutering can help reduce the number of animals in need of homes.
Pet Wellness:Home Care
Make your pet's well-being a priority. See your veterinarian regularly and follow these tips to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Your veterinarian will give you a recommendation for a high quality and nutritious diet for your pet, and advise you on how much and how often to feed him or her. Diets may vary by species, breed and age.
Microchipping is a safe and permanent identification option to ensure your pet's return should he or she get lost. Ask us about the process and get your pet protected.
Always keep your dog on a leash in public, and your cat indoors to protect them from common hazards such as cars and other animals.
Frequent brushing keeps your pet's coat clean and reduces the occurrence of shedding, matting and hairballs. Depending on the breed, your pet may also need professional groomings.
Dental and Oral Health
Brush your pet's teeth regularly and check with your veterinarian about professional cleanings as well as dental treats and products available to help prevent bad breath, gingivitis, periodontitis and underlying disease. Although your pet's teeth may look healthy, significant disease could be hidden below the gum line.
Be sure to spend at least 15 minutes a day playing with your cat to keep him or her active and at a healthy weight. All dogs need routine exercise to stay fit, but the requirements vary by breed and age. Ask us what's best for your dog. Doggy daycares and boarding facilities are other ways to help to burn off some energy and socialize your pets.
Enroll your dog in training classes to improve his or her behavior with pets and people. Cats need minimal training. Be sure to provide them with a litter box beginning at four weeks of age.
Entertain your pet's natural instincts by using toys that encourage them to jump and run. Cats especially need to fulfill their instinct to hunt – provide interactive toys that mimic prey like a laser pointer or feathers on a wand. You can also hide treats in your pet's toys or around the house to decrease boredom while you're away.
Pet Wellness:Care for All Ages
Every animal is unique, and the start of each stage of life calls for different home and veterinary care. Check with your veterinarian to establish a proactive wellness plan to keep your pet happy and healthy throughout its life.
Puppies and kittens must receive a series of properly staged vaccines and physical exams. During these exams, your veterinarian may also recommend parasite preventatives or lab tests.
Adult pets will need to continue visiting the veterinarian annually for physical exams, recommended vaccines and routine testing.
Senior pets can develop similar problems seen in older people, including heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and arthritis. Your veterinarian may recommend biannual visits to ensure your pet's quality of life.
Females spayed before their first heat cycle will be less likely to get uterine infections, ovarian cancer and breast cancer. Males neutered at any age will be less likely to get prostate disease. Spaying or neutering also helps prevent behavioral problems like marking and escaping. Talk to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your pet.
Pets require different types of food to support each life stage. Growing puppies and kittens need more nutrient-dense food than adults while adult dogs and cats need food that will keep them healthy and energetic. Your senior dog or cat may need fewer calories, less fat, and more fiber as he or she ages. Talk to your veterinarian to determine what's appropriate for your pet.
Adult dogs should stay active with daily walks and one-on-one training. Keep your adult cats fit by using toys that encourage them to run and jump, and be sure to give them at least 15 minutes of playtime a day.
Weight management of your senior dog or cat is extremely important to ensure they are at an ideal body weight and able to move around comfortably.
Behavioral issues are a major cause of pet abandonment. Begin training your puppy or kitten right away to prevent bad habits and establish good ones.
Start house training your puppy as soon as you get home. Keep your puppy supplied with plenty of chew toys so he or she gets used to gnawing on those and not your belongings.
All cats need a litter box, which should be in a quiet, accessible room. Place your kitten in the box after a meal or whenever it appears he or she needs to go. Be sure to scoop out solids daily and empty it out completely once a week. The number of boxes in your household should be the total of number of cats plus one.
Pet Wellness:Ages & Stages
Animals age at a faster rate than humans do, and your pet's health needs will evolve over time. Use this chart to figure out your pet's age in human years, and check with your veterinarian to establish a wellness plan specific to your young, adult or senior pet.
Pet Wellness:More Resources & Links
The pet resources featured on this page provide useful information on a variety of topics related to veterinary medicine and pet health care. We will update this page frequently. Please feel free to submit your suggestions for links to veterinary-related resources that you would like to share with other pet owners.
Animal Breed Associations
- American Kennel Club
- Cat Fanciers' Association: This website features lots of photos as well as information on cat breeds, cat care, upcoming cat shows, and much more.
Animal Care Guides
- Health and Safety Tips for Your New Puppy: This is a nice starter guide of things that you should consider after getting a puppy.
Feline Care Tips for Cat Owners
- 4 Tips for Bringing Your Cat to the Veterinarian
- How to Administer Subcutaneous Fluids to Your Cat
- Zoonotic Disease in Cats
- Toxic Plants Your Pet Should Avoid
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
- The Humane Society of the United States
- North Shore Animal League America
Pet Grief Support
- Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement: We have all experienced the pain of losing a pet. The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB) has set up this site to support pet owners during this most difficult time. You will find inspirational stories, grief counseling resources, a hotline number, and many other resources.
- Rainbow Bridge: Anyone who has ever lost a beloved pet should visit this site. It is a terrific tribute to our lost family members.
- Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline
Pet Health & Wellness
- American Heartworm Society: Everything you ever needed to know about heartworm disease can be found here.
Pet Health Articles
- Myth vs. Fact: The Truth About Ticks
- Top 5 Complications of Flea & Tick Infestations
- How to Recognize and Treat Anxious Dogs and Cats
- Training Your Dog - Aggression and Biting Prevention
Pet Safety and Poison Control
- ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: This website provides safety tips and resources on poisonous pet hazards, as well as a 24-hour hotline for animal poison-related emergencies.
- Plants Toxic to Animals: The Veterinary Medicine Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has provided lot of valuable information about toxic plants. Discover which plants may be harmful to your beloved pet. You can search under common name or scientific name of the plant.
- USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: The USDA maintains this website with information on a variety of animal health related topics, including the latest news on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as mad cow disease), foot and mouth disease (FMD), and animal welfare regulations.
- West Nile Virus: The Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD), a part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has the latest information on the spread of West Nile Virus in the United States, as well as information on disease transmission, symptoms, etc.
Pet Services & Consultants
- Dog Training and Behavior Problems: Founded by Brian Kilcommons and Sharon Wilson, best-selling authors and recognized experts on animal training and behavior, this site is a terrific resource for advice on a variety of behavioral problems. If you want to learn more about feline house soiling, barking dogs, aggression, or any other behavioral problem, check out this website.
- American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP): The AAFP is like the American Medical Association for cat doctors. You’ll find a lot of information on feline health.
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Learn more about your pet’s health issue at Veterinary Partner.com, which provides information from VIN veterinarians and experts.
Tania Germann, DVM — Chief of Staff
Dr. Tania Germann is Chief of Staff at Ashburn Village Animal Hospital. Her first job was as a kennel attendant at a veterinary clinic and since then she knew she wanted to become a veterinarian. Dr. Germann grew up in Hawaii and then moved to Colorado to attend Colorado State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. She then relocated to Europe and received a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Veterinary Science in Budapest, Hungary in 2006. Dr. Germann thoroughly enjoyed the international experience and the opportunity to be exposed to different aspects of veterinary medicine.
She has since been practicing small animal medicine on the East Coast. Dr. Germann joined the amazing team at AVAH in September 2013 as a veterinarian and then accepted the position of Chief of Staff in November 2014.
Dr. Germann lives with her husband and cat Uno. She loves being a part of the Ashburn community! In her spare time, she enjoys cycling on the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park trail, cooking, trying new restaurants in the area, and photography.
Emily Credit, DVM
Dr. Emily Credit was born and raised in Upstate New York and has been enjoying the warmth of the south ever since. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree at a small liberal arts college in New York and then traveled down to Knoxville, Tennessee. Here Dr. Credit attended the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, earning a DVM degree in 2015.
After graduation, she took a position at a holistic practice in North Carolina where she furthered her love for exotic, pocket pets, while still seeing a mix of dogs and cats, as well as small rodents and lizards.
Address / Hours
44110 Ashburn Shopping Plz
Ashburn, VA 20147
P: (571) 252-8544
April is Heartworm Awareness Month
Mosquitoes can spread heartworm, a harmful disease that affects both dogs and cats. As its name implies, heartworm lives in the blood of a pet's heart and blood vessels. We recommend annual screenings for both dogs and cats, even if they are already on heartworm preventatives.
April 2018 is Heartworm Awareness month here at Ashburn Village Animal Hospital, and we are offering 50% off canine in-house heartworm testing when you purchase 12 months of Heartgard (also comes with $12 rebate) and 10% off Proheart. We are also offering 50% off in-house feline heartworm tests with the purchase of 12 months of Revolution.
Prevention is the best approach in protecting your pet against deadly heartworms. Call us at (571) 252-8544 today!
Save On Your Pet's Lyme Vaccine this March
Spring is officially here, and now is the time to have our pets protected against the rise of disease-carrying ticks.
For the month of March 2018, we are offering 10% off Lyme vaccines - whether your pet is due for their annual shot, or have never had it before, call now to get them updated.
It is also important to make sure that your pet is on the best flea and tick prevention for his or her needs. We offer a topical product, Vectra, a Seresto collar, and a chewable option (Nexgard). Ask us for more information and about some rebates that come with each.
Call us at (571) 252-8544 to check your pet's vaccination status and book an appointment today!
AVAH Partners with the Animal Behavior College
Ashburn Village Animal Hospital recently worked together with the Animal Behavior College in training a student for their Veterinary Assistant internship. The student came well prepared in knowing what skills they had to practice and they also had a good basic knowledge of how a veterinary clinic works. It was a great opportunity not only for the student to learn but also for our team to get to help shape the future of an eager veterinary assistant!
Are you or someone you know looking to become a certified veterinary assistant? We highly recommend this program to anyone! This program is comprised of a 90-hour internship during which they learn various skills in a real world setting. We look forward to hosting other students in the future!
Free Cuddle Visits
Is Your Pet Afraid of the Vet? Bring Them in for a Cuddle!
We know that having a pet that is afraid of the veterinarian is stressful for both the owner and the pet! Our veterinarians and staff want to try something new and need your help. We are now offering free cuddle visits to help promote a better relationship between doctor and patient.
These visits are 5-minute slots that allow fearful patients to come just to be cuddled. By doing this, we hope your pets will begin to associate our hospital with a "good place" rather than a place where they get nail trims and shots! This service is especially good for puppies in between their vaccine series and for those pets that are already fearful and aggressive.
Seniors Save 10% on All Veterinary Services Every Thursday
Thursday is Senior Citizen Day at Ashburn Village Animal Hospital!
Any new or existing client who is 65 years or older is eligible to receive 10% off all veterinary services on Thursdays. Simply tell one of our client care specialists your age and save.*
Canine DNA Testing Available!
Discover What Breeds Make Up Your Dog
Ever wonder what breeds make up your dog? You now have the chance to find out! We are currently offering Royal Canin DNA test kits.
Why Test Your Dog's DNA?
- To inform your veterinarian on what breed(s) your dog is
- To give insight into predispositions to certain diseases
- To help us create a targeted wellness plan for your dog
Call us today at (703) 729-0700 to learn more about canine DNA testing.
Ashburn Village Animal Hospital's Dedicated Team
Our team of caring support professionals is devoted to you and your pet!
Sue Vlasic — Hospital Manager
Sue joined Ashburn Village Animal Hospital in June 2009. She enjoys working the front desk and greeting clients and their pets. Sue lives in Ashburn Village with her husband, her dog Hobo and her two cats, Zoe and Rocky.
In her spare time, Sue enjoys hiking, gardening and visiting the local wineries, as well as traveling and spending time with her three adult children.
Katie McAuliffe — Client Care Specialist
Katie’s dream job has always consisted of working with animals, and she is excited to work daily with dogs, cats, and to be a part of AVAH’s team. She grew up and spent most of her life in Fort Collins, Colorado, and loves anything that has to do with her home state. Katie moved to Ashburn two years ago with her boyfriend, Sam, who was offered a great opportunity as a firefighter at Fort Meyer. She lives in Ashburn Village with Sam, and her dog, Cooper, who is a very loved and adored 6-year-old Lab/Shepard mix.
In her free time, Katie enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, taking Cooper to a local farm, playing card and board games, and sightseeing around Virginia and DC. She is also a huge Disney fanatic.
Mandy Hall — Veterinary Technician
Mandy has worked in the field of veterinary medicine off and on since 1996. She started out as a veterinary assistant and then became a veterinary technician. She has an Associate degree in Business Management from Strayer University.
In her free time, Mandy enjoys traveling with her daughter. She also enjoys taking walks and playing fetch with her two-year-old Great Pyrenees, Ticuna, and cuddling with her 16-year-old kitty, Angelus.
Shannon Wisniewski — Veterinary Technician
Shannon joined AVAH in November 2017 as a Veterinary Technician. She has worked with cats for eight years and has a very gentle manner with them. Now Shannon enjoys the opportunity to learn more about dogs and is applying her extensive knowledge of cats at AVAH. She will be going back to school this year to finish getting her veterinary technician license.
Shannon lives at home with four cats and two reptiles, a ball python and leopard gecko. During her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her boyfriend and crocheting.
Bailey Conner — Client Care Specialist
Bailey is very excited to have the opportunity to work with and learn from animals as well as be a part of the Ashburn Village Animal Hospital team. She has been a part time client care specialist since October 2016, but also likes to help out wherever needed around the hospital. Bailey is currently working toward a Bachelor’s degree in pre-veterinary science and hopes to advance to veterinary school. She enjoys learning from our staff and the opportunity to be a part of helping animals stay healthy.
In her free time, Bailey enjoys playing volleyball and horseback riding on her farm.
Nancy Martinez — Client Care Specialist
Nancy joined AVAH in August 2017 as a Client Care Specialist and is also currently attending college at NOVA, working towards her degree in criminology with the goal to transfer to a two year school. During her free time she enjoys exploring D.C, fishing, finding new hiking trails and going on walks.
After work she enjoys coming home to her dog, Kitty, and her two cats, Nugs and Athena. Her favorite thing about working at AVAH is meeting new people and listening to them tell their funny stories about their own pets.
Pet Health Insurance FAQs
Pet insurance can help you manage the cost of caring for your pet should the unexpected happen. Here at Ashburn Village Animal Hospital we strongly encourage you to consider health insurance for your pet.
Why Do I Need Pet Insurance?
No one likes to think about their beloved pet getting hurt or sick, but it can happen at any time. Pets are typically curious, active and often quite fearless, so it's difficult to protect them from all dangers all the time. Pets also get sick, just like we do. In fact, every year about 6 million dogs and cats are diagnosed with cancer in the United States.
Fortunately, there are more life-saving treatments available for pets than ever before. However, with these new advances, come more expenses. That's where pet insurance comes in. By covering your pet, you can make sure you will be able to afford the medical care he or she needs.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
With pet insurance, you can visit any veterinarian or emergency hospital. You pay your bill at the time of service and submit a claim to the pet insurance company, which reimburses you directly with a check.
Some insurance companies even have the ability to make a direct deposit straight into your bank account, or submit payment directly to the veterinary hospital.
Pet Insurance Plans We Recommend
At Ashburn Village Animal Hospital, we feel it is a great idea to get pet insurance right away when your pet is a puppy or kitten. We also recommend getting insurance with a newly adopted pet, despite the age, as it can help with veterinary healthcare costs and allow you to be able to care for your pet as best as possible.
VPI stands for Veterinary Pet Insurance and we offer different plans, including Comprehensive, Economical, Emergency, and Just for Cats. These plans cover chronic conditions but no preexisting conditions. They also cover some hereditary conditions, once covered for one year.