Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals frequently updates this information when conditions and situations exist which could pose a health or safety risk to animals and/or humans.

 Safe Storage of Medications is Critical for Pets

November 7, 2023
A recent increase in the number dogs and cats brought to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals due to overdoses on medication has prompted the administration to issue a warning to carefully store medications. For pets, consuming large doses of these medications carries very dangerous side effects, permanent kidney damage, or death. While Foster Hospital can remove toxins from the body of an affected pet through a special type of dialysis, it can only treat one case at a time, which greatly increases the likelihood of long-term consequences for pets unable to receive timely treatment.

In many cases, the ingestion of this medication is avoidable, so please follow these recommendations:

  • Keep medications in a locked medicine cabinet. Dogs can sniff them out of a bag or pull a bottle off of a counter.
  • Put medications away immediately after they arrive at your home or after you have used them.
  • If you must have the medications more easily accessible, add a barrier that decreases accessibility for your pet, such as putting the pill bottle in a preferably lockable plastic container.

Taking care of these medications in your home will help keep your pets safe.

 BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Responses) Testing

August 6, 2022 
Congenital hearing loss is reported in 90 breeds with the Dalmatian, English setter, Cocker Spaniel, Bull terrier, Australian Cattle dog, Catahoula, Jack Russell terrier and Border collie being most frequently affected. In this disease, the dogs are born normally but in the first weeks of their life, the inner ear receptors designed for hearing die prematurely. In most dog breeds, uni- or bilaterally deafness is seen at the age of 2-3 months. Border Collies are an exception as their congenital deafness can be late onset in early adulthood. Certain genetic traits such as hair and eye color are linked to deafness in most breeds. A recessive genetic defect (either one gene or multiple genes) is reported.

In puppies older than 2 months, the BAER test (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Responses) is the most reliable screening test for congenital hereditary deafness. This test checks if the brain responds to noise (clicking sound), measuring appropriate hearing.

After a COVID-19 pause, the Neurology team at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University will begin puppy hearing clinics on Saturday, November 13, 2021, and hold them on the second Saturday of each month from 9 am to 1 pm.

We are dedicated to serving the community of breeders but also welcome individual dog owners wanting important information about the hearing status of their dog. Ideal candidates for a hearing test during these Saturday BAER clinics include a litter of puppies or dogs younger than one year. For puppies, we will always try to do the hearing test without sedation, but for most older dogs sedation might be required. Hearing tests are done only by appointment.

If you are interested, please call a Neurology liaison at 508-887-4839 or send an e-mail to to make an appointment.


May 9, 2022  
What is Leptospirosis?

  • Leptospirosis is a disease caused by a bacterium (genus Leptospira) that can adversely affect your dog and be transmitted to humans.
  • Wildlife, including raccoons, skunks, foxes, and rodents (mice, rats, moles), carry these bacteria that are shed in their urine.
  • Dogs can become infected by coming in contact with the urine from wildlife or contaminated water or soil.
  • The disease can rapidly become life-threatening to dogs, targeting kidneys, liver, blood vessels, but also lungs and heart.


Warm wet weather is an ideal environment for leptospirosis bacteria to thrive. Also, an abundance of acorns attracts wildlife to stock up for winter and move through backyards. This is the reason we see an increase in cases in the fall and early winter. Many of the cases of leptospirosis have multiple organ involvement requiring intensive care and treatment (e.g. dialysis).

How Can You Protect Your Dog?

  • All dogs are considered at risk in our area.
  • The leptospirosis vaccination can prevent disease and will protect your dog from severe illness.
  • Make sure your dog has a current leptospirosis vaccine (two initial doses 2 weeks apart, with a booster once a year thereafter).

Please contact your primary care veterinarian for further recommendations and assistance.

 Precautions for Avian Influenza (HPAI)

April 1, 2022 
Cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have been reported in wild birds in Massachusetts. Currently, no cases have been reported in domestic birds. We are reaching out to raise awareness and request your vigilance to improve the biosecurity of your backyard flocks. As a preventative measure, it is recommended that you keep your backyard flocks of poultry and geese confined and away from wildlife, particularly waterbirds, and use dedicated clothing and footwear to enter any coop or enclosure. Please follow USDSA links below for detailed information:

For updates, follow the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources on Facebook and Twitter or access its Farm and Market Report.