Latest Post

VMC’s November Patient of the Month

Simba’s Story


Simba had no history of any physical ailments. He was on a routine walk one afternoon when another dog got away from its owner and ran toward Simba. Simba turned his body and his neck quickly to move away from the other dog, and suddenly dropped to the ground. All four legs were stiff, he was breathing very heavily, panting hard, and his eyes were looking around panicked. He wouldn’t move, and then his tongue started to swell and turn purple. I quickly got him into the car and rushed to my vet, Lyncourt Veterinary Hospital.

There, Simba was given oxygen and examined for the cause of the problem. He still wasn’t moving, and was still very panicked. Simba couldn’t understand what was happening. In fact, he was so scared that he put himself into cardiac arrest and was not breathing at all for several minutes. The vet administered several shots of epinephrine in order to revive him, at which point he was transferred directly to the Veterinary Medical Center.

Dr. Luschini was able to stabilize Simba, although his heart rate was still very high and he still wasn’t moving at all. He couldn’t move his limbs or his tail, and he couldn’t even bark. But he was alive and breathing. He was placed into one of the beds at the Veterinary Medical Center, connected to an IV and a urinary catheter, and kept overnight for observation. Still not moving the next day, Dr. Fleckenstein evaluated Simba and began acupuncture treatment, while Lis Conarton assessed him and began physical therapy. Because Simba couldn’t move or stand on his own, Lis started him in a “cart” with harnesses that held him up in a standing position and moved on wheels to start exercising his legs. We also did “range of motion” exercises to prevent atrophy in his muscles.

After 3 days of stabilization at VMC, and still unsure of the exact cause of this ailment, we transferred Simba to Cornell University’s School of Veterinary Medicine for an MRI.   The MRI revealed that Simba had a disc degenerating in his spine in his neck, and a small piece of cartilage had likely broken off when he turn his neck away from the other dog.  This had  punctured his spinal cord – impacting his entire central nervous system and paralyzing him. No doctor could give us a clear prognosis for his recovery.


Simba returned to the Veterinary Medical Center the next day, and remained hospitalized for nearly two weeks. It was days before he could eat on his own, and a week before he was able to urinate on his own. But he still couldn’t stand. All of the doctors and technicians continued their work and exercises with him multiple times throughout each day.


When Simba finally came home, we still had a lot of work to do. We purchased a “Help ‘Em Up” full-body harness that has handles at either end to help us lift Simba, so that we could carry him outside to go to the bathroom, and help him to get up and moving around for his at-home physical therapy exercises. We also brought him in to the VMC multiple times for acupuncture, PT with Lis, and evaluations by the doctors. Over the next three months, Simba slowly made progress.


Simba is now miraculously up and walking, even running, and nearly 100% back to his old self. Throughout the entire experience, our family had to make tough decisions – but the team and support at VMC saved our dog’s life.
~Simba’s Family

Simba: 5 year old golden retriever mix

Spinal cord damage & temporary paralysis

Laser Therapy
Underwater Treadmill
Home Exercise Program
Pain Management Medications

  • VMC Pain Management Service's Patient of the Month November 2014 Coco CoCo: 17 year old Shih-Tzu Cervical Pain and Right Forelimb Lameness Current Treatments: Multi Modal Pain Management Program Acupuncture Mobilization & Massage Laser Therapy Home Exercise Program Nutrition & Supplements In August of 2013 we thought we would have to put down our beloved Coco. He was suffering from severe back pain. At times he could not lie down. Coco was in a great deal of pain. Walking was very difficult also, so much so that we would carry him around. We had Coco on many medications for the pain, however, it was not enough. At times he was still barely able to walk. We were recommended to the Veterinary Medical Center by our veterinarian Dr. Megan Williams from Animal Wellness of Skaneateles. Dr. Williams thought that with a good evaluation by their Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Robinson, they could make some recommendations for other therapies that Coco may benefit from.  Those therapies turned out to be acupuncture with Dr. Michelle Burnett and Physical Rehabilitation with laser treatments with Lis Conarton. Lis showed my husband and I how to work through Coco's exercises. Dr. Burnett was so patient with Coco while trying to get his needles in place for his acupuncture. Who knew that a 10 lb dog needed two people to hold him in place at times? The first month brought very good results. Coco was 17 yrs. old at this time. His gait became much stronger and more balanced and his pain was much less. We have worked with Dr. Burnett on his pain management medications. This took some trial and error, but we were fortunate to get the right combination of meds to help manage Coco’s pain. At first we started coming every 2 weeks for treatments and after a few months were able to taper off to once a month which is where he continues today. All this hard work paid off. Over one year later we are still going once a month.  Coco will be 18 years young in February. He is able to get around fine now: at times he will even attempt to sit up on his hind legs which he used to do all the time. When he is feeling really good (which is most days now) he will run around  the back yard like he used to. Without all the hard work of Dr. Burnett and Lis, Coco would not have the quality of life he has gotten back. Like for all of us it is all about the quality of life and being able to enjoy it. You can tell from his picture he has it back!!!! Thank You Dr. Burnett & Lis                                                                                                          ~ Coco’s Family “Education may be key in understanding the link between species, however one will learn the most while quietly observing.” ~Lis Conarton





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.