North Portland Veterinary Hospital
Serving the Greater Portland Community for Over 39 years

Author Archive

Doggie Dash!

Hello Pet Lovers,

DOGGIE DASH is fast approaching!  Join with the VCA North Portland staff and animal-loving clients, just like yourself, and support the Oregon Humane Society to help animals in need. VCA clients receive $3.00 off their registration fee by using promo code “2015VCA2.”  Visit the OHS website – Doggie Dash – register under team “VCA WOOF PACK” and help OHS meet their fundraising goal of $550,000. Keep in mind if you want to donate directly to our team for this amazing charity event, 100% of your donation will be tax deductible and will help OHS find home for 11,000 pets on 2015.

Hope to see you there!

P.S. Check out The Biscuit Challenge!

Dental Work Special Through March!

Dental cleanings are marked down by $85.20 until the end of March! If you’ve been holding off on having dental work done on your pet, now is the time. We will still offer payment plans for those eligible (and most people are eligible — contact our office to see if you are).

Every patient must have: pre-anesthetic bloodwork, IV catheter and fluids, and full mouth dental x-rays. The discount will be applied to the dental cleaning cost. Some pets may need more extensive work done on their mouths, which may make the overall cost increase — but you still get the $85.20 savings.

If your veterinarian has recommended a dental cleaning for your pet in the last 3 months, there is no need to schedule a pre-dental consult. If you are new to us, or haven’t visited with your veterinarian about dental work, please call our office to set up a pre-dental exam. At this exam, we will evaluate your pet’s mouth, give you an estimate, and draw blood samples for the pre-anesthetic screen. The pre-anesthetic screen helps us determine what type of anesthesia protocol to use.

Full mouth x-rays are used to see if there is a problem with a tooth that is hiding under the gumline. Sometimes teeth can look perfectly healthy on the surface, but be diseased underneath. These hidden problems can cause a lot of pain and could potentially mean that your pet would need another anesthetic procedure to remove the problem tooth.

Dental work requires full anesthesia. Imagine trying to get your dog to hold an x-ray plate in their mouth while awake! It would also be extremely difficult to scale a wiggly cat’s teeth. Some of the things that we might have to do in your pet’s mouth may be painful. When they are under anesthesia, we are able to use medications so that when they wake up they are not bothered by their mouths’.

We strive to maintain excellent care of all our patients, and feel that these things are of utmost importance when it comes to your pet’s oral health.

Please call or email our office for more details or to schedule a pre-dental exam.

We’ve Got A New Doctor!

Introducing to you…(drum roll, please)…
… Dr. Julie Bitz!

Dr. Bitz is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2002, she moved to Portland for an internship at Dove Lewis. We’re glad she did!

She has a cat, Lulu, and a dog, Franny (pictured right). Lulu is about 17 and Franny is old too, but not that old. Franny was actually found as a stray, tied up outside of a Plaid Pantry. We asked Lulu to model matching sweaters with Julie, but she declined to participate.

When Dr. Bitz is not working she enjoys photography, travel, and reading. Sometimes she “runs very slowly,” too.

Julie has a great sense of humor, and her medical style fits in well with ours. We expect that it will feel as though she has been with us forever in no time at all! She has, in a way, been with us for quite a while as a Relief Doctor.

Welcome to the VCA North Portland Veterinary Family, Dr. Bitz!

Dr. McCoy’s Last Day

Dr. McCoy’s last day with us was yesterday (Wednesday the 29th). Here are some photos of his last day.


Saying our goodbyes at the end of the night.




And a final toast. To your next adventure, Dr. McCoy!

Photo Credit: Heather Sikorski & Lisa Davis

Vote for Your Favorite Decorated Pumpkin

The staff at VCA North Portland Veterinary Hospital has decorated mini pumpkins – vote on your favorite!


Two-Face Side 1

Two-Face Side 2

Vet Wrap Jack

Charlie Chaplin

Grumpy Cat

The Pirate Mummy

Fall Harvest

The Joker


Camouflage Pumpkin

Changing of the Guard

Dear Friends and Family,

In 1966, I graduated with a degree in Pre-med from Purdue University. I interviewed at several Medical Schools, but decided to go into Veterinary Medicine instead. It has been a wonderful profession to work in and I look forward to going to work every day. Many of my clients, I consider my friends and I considered my staff part of my family. Two years ago, I sold North Portland Veterinary Hospital to VCA. This has allowed us to do things that we might not have been able to do otherwise. VCA has invested in New Surgery Lights, Non Invasive Surgery, Radiology, and Ultrasound. Consultation with some of the best veterinarians in the United States helps us to practice better medicine. Being a part of VCA also insures that the hospital will be able to serve our very special clients and their family members for many years to come. It wasn’t easy making the decision, but I knew that this was the best way for the practice to continue.

A lot has changed since I started practicing. When I bought Dr. Carter’s practice in 1972, I had a wooden surgery table and wooden kennels. The X-ray machine must have been made in the 1940’s. I had no anesthesia machine and no monitoring equipment. There were no Specialists in town, no Veterinary School and no Emergency Clinic. Today, we have specialists in Portland in almost every discipline, three of our veterinarians actually graduated from the Oregon State Veterinary School and we have Dove Lewis Emergency Clinic and four other emergency clinics in the Portland/Vancouver area. We have ultrasound, MRI’s, CAT Scans, Radioactive Iodine Therapy and Chemotherapy available. It’s much harder to diagnose by the seat of your pants. And now we have gone to Electronic Medical Records.

I turned 70 this year and went on Social Security and Medicare. My wife and I have been lucky to have a successful marriage for forty-six years. She worked in the practice for many years and the practice has been our life for most of those years. Now it’s time to sign up for the next chapter while we are still healthy. In October, we are spending two weeks on a dive boat in the Sea of Cortez (I can still climb back in the boat). I will be back at work for the three weeks after that, but retirement is set for the end of October. Thanks for allowing me the privilege of taking care of your special friends over the years. I have a lot of confidence in the doctors and staff at the practice and know they will take great care of you when needed. And by the way, that’s where I will continue to take our three dogs and three cats after retirement.

Don McCoy

Bringing You Anesthesic Peace of Mind

Did you know… there are specialists for animal anesthesia, just like there are for human anesthesia?

Some people have increased risk of complications when they go under anesthesia. The same is true for some animals. When a person is at increased risk, a specialist can be brought in to administer anesthesia and monitor them while they’re under. The same is true for animals!

Did you know… you now have access to a board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist at VCA North Portland Veterinary Hospital? Dr. Heidi Shafford is available to assist with surgical procedures requiring anesthesia right here at our clinic.

While human anesthesiologists are common, veterinary anesthesiologists are rare; there are only about 40 in private practice in the country. We are lucky to have Dr. Shafford practicing right here in the Portland area!

Anesthesia is like any medical procedure; there are benefits and risks. The benefit of anesthesia is that your pet gets the care they need to keep thriving, with minimal pain and stress. The most feared risk of anesthesia is death. Anesthetic-induced death is actually uncommon: approximately 1 in 1000 for healthy cats and 1 in 2000 for healthy dogs.

Although the risk of anesthetic death is low, especially for healthy pets, it can be higher for older pets or pets with additional medical conditions. In those cases, it is often beneficial for everyone involved to bring in a specialist — a veterinary anesthesiologist — to administer anesthesia and monitor your pet during and after the procedure.

If you are worried about your pet and anesthesia, talk to your veterinarian about including Dr. Shafford as part of your veterinary team.



About the author: Dr. Heidi Shafford earned her DVM from Colorado State University in 2000.  Following residency and graduate training in veterinary anesthesiology and physiology at the University of Missouri, she attained board certification by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia in 2005. Dr. Shafford works with private practices and pet owners to improve anesthesia safety and enhance the comfort of all creatures through patient care, education, and consultation.  


Introducing Julie Kittams, DVM

Dr. Kittams loves gardening.

Dr. Julie Kittams (yup, that sounds like “kittens”) has officially joined our staff as an Associate Veterinarian! She has worked with us for a long time in a relief (substitute doctor) capacity.  Some of you may have already met her as an urgent care doctor on days when we were short-staffed. (Doctor’s take vacations and have sick days too.) We have loved having her around so much that we invited her to come aboard as a regular doctor.

Dr. Kittams obtained both her undergraduate and doctorate degrees from Oregon State University, and has been a veterinarian since 1997. She lives nearby, in North East Portland with her 18 year-old dog Tyne.

Dr. Kittams at Iditarod

When she’s not busy at work with our beloved furry family, she enjoys gardening, travelling, and kayaking. She’s volunteered her veterinary services in many foreign countries including, the Dominican Republic, Belize, Australia, and Thailand. Domestically, Julie has also volunteered on American Indian Reservations throughout both Arizona and New Mexico. Her volunteering has also led her to be a trail veterinarian for Alaska’s Iditarod Sled Dog race several times over the past decade.

Puppy Kisses in the Dominican Republic

Before joining our team, and around stints working as a vagabond veterinarian, she has worked for emergency clinics in Corvallis, New Mexico, and Portland.

Julie’s desire to nurture the human-animal bond is seen in the way she addresses the needs of both you and your pets. Her warmth and great sense of humor make her fit right in with our family atmosphere. We hope you enjoy working with her as much as we do.

A Fond Farewell

Dr. Barnes and Anicia

We are saddened to announce that Dr. Barnes has decided to retire at the end of July. Her departure brings an end to her 23 year journey as part of our, and your, extended VCA North Portland Veterinary Hospital family. She has been a cherished member of this family and we will miss her greatly as she begins the next part of her life journey.

To us, her friends, clients, and extended family, one and all, she had this to say:

Over the years, VCA North Portland has been my “home away from home,” my second family. I have loved being a part of it. I hold dear to my heart the special lives that you have shared with me, yours and your pets. Along the way we have changed and grown together. I find myself at one of those life changes now, as I find that my first family needs me now more than ever. Because of this, I will be retiring from veterinary medicine and VCA North Portland at the end of July.

I know that I leave you in the hands of fantastic doctors at VCA North Portland. I wish you all the best, and will miss you in the years to come.

Thank you for being such an important part of my life and allowing me to be part of yours.

Post by Cara

Pawsitive Doggie Visits

Visits to the veterinarian don’t have to be scary. We want to be good guys, an exciting place for your pooch to come, or at least not a terrifying experience.

For many dogs, food is a powerful motivator. You may notice that we like to use food “bribes” liberally (especially Heather Bruce and Dr. Warner!). While we have many types of treats to chose from, it would be best for your dog’s health if we used their regular food to accomplish our mission.

How can you help? We would like to have you save half of your dogs breakfast to use for treats during routine visits. (For appointments later in the day, use half of their dinner allotment.) Bring the rest of the meal with you. This way we can go overboard with the food, not upset tummies or allergies, or ruin dinners and diets.

If your dog is already too nervous to take food when you bring them in for visits; we encourage you to come in for “pawsitive reinforcement” visits. Speak with your doctor’s assistant about how to best do progressive “pawsitive reinforcement” visits.

For dogs that are not interested in food, but are toy motivated, please bring one or two of their favorite toys with them.

We would love to make this a “pawsitive” experience for all.


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3000 N Lombard St. Portland, OR 97217 ph: 503.285.0462 fax: 503.285.7316 -
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