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Special Care for Four-Legged Family Members

Posted On December 5, 2019

Vanguard Veterinary Hospital’s versatile repertoire helps them live better and heathier

By RAY LINVILLE  »  Photos by MOLLIE TOBIAS

When you need extra special care for a four-legged family member, where do you go?

Roland Carey of Pinehurst chooses Dr. Dana A. Vamvakias. “She is very sensitive to animals. I like how she approaches medicine and how she works to get the best life for your pet,” he says.

A graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at N.C. State University, Vamvakias is certified in canine rehabilitation therapy, veterinary medical acupuncture and animal chiropractic. Her clients praise her skills for improving the quality of life for her patients and helping to manage their pain with new approaches.

Carey’s 14-year-old cocker spaniel, Peppy, has a severe leg injury, and Carey takes him to Vamvakias for acupuncture treatments. “She treats Peppy like a human patient rather than as an animal,” he adds.

Acupuncture is one of several special treatments that Vamvakias offers at Vanguard Veterinary Hospital in West End, which she owns and manages. Used for many years to remove pain and improve the health of people, acupuncture is increasingly being applied as a medical therapy to help animals. In addition to lessening pain, it can improve digestion, dissipate stress and relax muscles.

Carey has noticed a major improvement in Peppy’s condition since his pet has been receiving the acupuncture treatments.

Mark Voetsch of Pinehurst brings Chica, his six-year-old mixed breed dog to Vanguard for all her medical needs. With only three legs, Chica needs extra care and was seen immediately as a walk-in patient when she developed a urinary tract infection.

Voetsch appreciates how well-equipped Vanguard is to care for his pet. The hospital has the latest diagnostic imaging tools to look for muscular and tendon injuries, diagnose and manage heart disease, and assess many other critical conditions.

Vamvakias also uses laser therapy to treat pain and provide a noninvasive, pain-free treatment without surgery and drugs for pets that are rehabilitating from trauma or injury, healing from wounds or simply aging. This therapy is also useful for treating arthritis, degenerative joint disease, fractures and wounds, post-surgery pain and many other conditions.

Dental care is another specialty of the hospital. Full anesthetic dental cleanings are important for effective oral care and contribute to a pet’s long and healthy life. Digital dental x-rays are used to identify problems in the teeth and below the gumline.

One of the benefits of being a patient of Vanguard is the secure, online access to a pet’s health records. Each pet’s personal health page lists upcoming appointment information and contains a history of visits to the hospital. It also offers a simple way to request prescription refills and appointments. Vanguard also offers an online pharmacy with home delivery on many pet medications and food products that can be ordered directly on its website.

The hospital provides services to patients as the primary care provider as well as works as a secondary partner with other veterinarians. Shawna Eggertson, who lives in Lee County, drives an hour to Vanguard because her vet had recommended Vamvakias for special rehabilitation care.

Kuna — Eggertson’s 12-year-old mix between a Golden Retriever and a Great Pyrenees — is receiving rehabilitation and physical therapy at Vanguard to minimize pain and return a better level of mobility. Because Eggertson thinks so highly of Vamvakias’s caring approach to veterinary medicine, the hour-long drive is worth it.

Such a long drive is not that uncommon for Vanguard patients. “We have one client who drives more than two hours from Lancaster, S.C.,” says Jessica McLeod, office manager for Vanguard.


A significant mark of distinction for Vanguard is its accreditation by the American Animal Hospital Association, the only organization that accredits small-animal hospitals in the United States and Canada. Only 15 percent of all animal hospitals in North America receive this accreditation, and Vanguard is the only one in Moore County.

This professional accreditation means that the hospital has been evaluated on 940 standards and 18 categories that cover all critical areas of veterinary practice — from pain management and anesthesia to record-keeping and patient communications, and its practices are vigorously reviewed every three years by veterinary experts. Because accredited hospitals are evaluated in areas beyond basic state regulations, they are at the forefront of veterinary medicine.

The association is also a leader in promoting the “fear free” philosophy among veterinarians, which Vamvakias thoroughly embraces. A caring medical practitioner even before being diagnosed with cancer that is still under treatment, Vamvakias fully empathizes with every patient, whether human or animal.

The “fear free” philosophy aims to make the trip to a veterinarian easier for the pet, the owner and the doctor. In an exam room, an aromatic plug can be activated to emit cat pheromones that help to reduce anxiety in feline patients as they are being examined. Vanguard even pipes in classical music that helps a pet’s owner to relax.

“We acknowledge the emotional and mental wellbeing of an animal as well as its physical wellbeing. We try to lessen the fear of a pet — as well as the owner — by reducing the stress in the care that is being provided,” Vamvakias says.

She says that she continually asks herself, “What can I do to make the care better, to keep the pain out, to make a pet live better? How can I make the medical procedure better for my clients?”

Determined to be a veterinarian since she was seven, Vamvakias has been in practice for 25 years, including the distinctive experience of being a veterinarian in the army and for special operations. “Caring for dogs in working situations just deepened my instincts as a vet about what they are capable of with the goal of keeping them healthy and working because they save lives,” explains Vamvakias with her signature passion. She is supported by a staff of seven professionals whose training includes dentistry, rehabilitation, radiology, ultrasonography, nutrition and other critical skills.

Vanguard Veterinary Hospital is located at 1995 Juniper Lake Rd, West End. vanguardvethospital.com