Dog owners who also are gardeners have been asking us at Cascade Hospital for Animals whether it’s safe to take their pets out with them as they perform various chores such as weeding and fertilizing. The short answer is yes, but be prepared to supervise your pet as you tend to your garden.

Dr. Victoria Hekman, new Associate Veterinarian at Cascade Hospital, Preserving the Bond Between Owners and Pets

If you want to understand why Dr. Victoria Hekman got into the field of veterinary medicine, you needn’t look much further than the case of Petunia the pig.

“Petunia was a market hog that lived inside the house with a family that owned a farm,” says Victoria, who joined the staff of Cascade Hospital for Animals as an Associate Veterinarian last month after a stint in an emergency room of an Akron, Ohio pet clinic. “She even had her own bedroom.

Bearded dragons and snakes in particular seem to like to interact with their owners.

There are a number of misconceptions about reptiles, but perhaps the top one is that they don’t make good pets.

“We have many owners of reptiles in this area, and they are well liked by the families that have them,” said Dr. Tracey Ritzman, a veterinarian who provides care for exotic pets, has been treating reptiles at Cascade Hospital for Animals for over 6 years. During that time, she has seen quite a menagerie of bearded dragons, boa constrictors, pythons, water and land turtles, tortoises and geckos.

Before buying a puppy, take into consideration what characteristics the dog will have when it is an adult.

It’s almost always a bad idea to buy something on impulse -- even more so when it’s a puppy that has some unwelcomed characteristics that you will have to tolerate for 12 years or longer.

Like their owners, dogs and cats start to feel more aches and pains in their joints as they age, so they may shy away from physical activity that aggravates their conditions. And just like their owners, older pets lose flexibility and put on excess weight as they avoid exercise -- causing the whole cycle to accelerate.

The situation is largely the same when a dog or cat undergoes surgery on their hips, elbows, knees and ankles. When it hurts to move their joints, they avoid activity -- which only causes them to lose even more range of motion.

The staff at Cascade Hospital want to remember former employee Molly Hulbert in the most fitting way they can -- by giving the gift of life to people and encouraging others to do so as well.

Molly, a 14-year veteran at the hospital who succumbed to small cell carcinoma in November, was the type of person “who would help anyone in any way she could,” said LVT Kelli Ferguson, who is organizing a blood drive March 8 at the hospital along with staffer Theresa Hertel. “We felt this is the best way to pass along her spirit of giving. The number-one reason why donors say they give is to help others.”

Dr. Bianca Buffa, new Associate Veterinarian at Cascade Hospital, treats pets as members of her family.

It was only natural that the flower girl at the wedding of Dr. Bianca Buffa should present the nuptial wreath to the bride and groom on four legs and with a wagging tail.

Bianca and her husband Nicholas -- both veterinarians who graduated from the Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine -- chose their French bulldog named Gaia to be part of their ceremony in December and play center stage in one of the wedding photos. Gaia was the first dog that the couple got when they were engaged “and now she is a cherished part of our lives,” said Bianca, who recently joined the Cascade Hospital for Animals as an Associate Veterinarian.

One good way to control weight for pets is to monitor diets closely.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we often step on the bathroom scale and vow to shave off a few pounds in the coming year. We know that we will have more energy and feel better if we control our diet and exercise to lose excess weight -- even during the winter months.

But did you ever consider making that same resolution for your trusty buddy -- your dog or cat -- as well?

Cascade Hospital for Animals uses laser therapy for dogs and cats to speed healing without the need for medications.

When you hear the word “laser,” you normally think of the amazingly concentrated beam of light that can transmit messages over great distances or even cut through steel plate. But physicians, physical therapists, and other medical professionals in clinics across the country are using something called therapy laser on patients every day to relieve pain and promote healing.

Cascade Hospital for Animals has made this remarkable technology available to its four-legged patients as a way to accelerate tissue repair, alleviate pain, and reduce swelling and inflammation from arthritis, tendonitis, and sprains.

Dr. Cherie Anderson performs an annual feline wellness exam that can help identify illness early.

Most people have heard the phrase “curiosity killed the cat,” but they don’t know there’s a second half to that old saying that goes “but satisfaction brought it back.”

If that could be applied to humans, it may fit our own Dr. Cherie Anderson, veterinarian at Cascade Hospital for Animals who loves the dare that felines throw down every day to find out what’s wrong with them.