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.

Wanda Ross, Greg Paplawsky, Stephanie Clifford at Cascade Hospital for Animals for American Animal Hospital Association accreditation review.

It may come as a surprise to pet owners, but more than 85 percent of all veterinary hospitals and clinics for companion animals in the United States and Canada are not accredited by an independent outside agency as hospitals for humans are.

We were reminded of that last week when we hosted a visit by Wanda Ross, practice consultant for the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) who came through to evaluate our hospital and review its accreditation using about 900 standards of best practices. Established in 1933 and based in Lakewood, Colo., AAHA is the only veterinary association exclusive to pets that does accreditations.

Walk through the halls of the main facility of Cascade Hospital for Animals on any given day, and you will discover our “army of angels” for animals who support the work of our veterinarians to provide the highest caliber of veterinary care at affordable prices.

We are proud to have 31 veterinary technicians working at the hospital -- the largest contingent of such professionals at any animal treatment facility in the Grand Rapids metro area.

If you happen to see Dr. Brittany Denison in the halls of Cascade Hospital for Animals, wish her a hearty welcome -- just don’t blurt out “en garde!”

Our new staff veterinarian is versed in fencing, a sport she learned while attending Michigan State University where she earned her bachelor’s in zoology and doctorate in veterinary science.

Owners of parrots in metro Grand Rapids area should be aware that a retail store specializing in exotic aviary species has experienced an outbreak of psittacosis (Chlamydophila psittaci), an infectious disease in birds that can cause illness or death. The store is under Michigan Department of Agriculture quarantine for the next 2 months, and more than 80 parrots at the store have been undergoing treatment with doxycycline.

Everyone loves a good love story. We have one we would like to share about two very special people.

Ben started working at Cascade Hospital in 2006 as an Animal Care Technician while attending college with hopes of going to veterinary school. Ben transitioned into the role of an Exam Room Technician a few years later. He worked with the veterinarian in the exam room, helped educate clients, and assisted with outpatient appointments.

Pooch in costume

This Fourth of July weekend is shaping up to be a beautiful one in West Michigan, and I’m sure many of you are planning to celebrate with family and friends at parties, picnics, parades, barbecues, and fireworks. These family activities with awe and beauty brings joy to many of us, but for your pets, it can be the most terrifying time of the year. “Pets are sensitive to loud noises, bright flashing lights, and strong smells,” says Dr. Steve McBride of Cascade Hospital for Animals. “All of these elements are present around July 4th, during fireworks shows that take place over a number of nights.”

Before you head out to enjoy the day, take a look at our 4 tips to keep your pets happy and healthy during the July 4th holiday.