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Rabbits, Rodents and Guinea Pigs

Rabbits, Rodents and Guinea Pigs

Rabbits, rodents and guinea pigs need to be treated very differently from dogs and cats.  For example, rabbits have a digestive tract more like a horse, and certain medications can be toxic.  Guinea Pigs need Vitamin C supplemented in their water or they will get scurvy.  And rodents are prone to a variety of tumors. rabbits

Two of our doctors at Westgate Pet Clinic, Dr. Deb Reed and Dr. Brek Perry,  have a special interest and extra training in the medical care of rabbits, rodents and guinea pigs.  They can make coming to the doctor easier by handling your exotic pet with special care.  If your pet needs medication, we can also formulate it into a flavored liquid that should make administration easier.


For an appointment, call Westgate Pet Clinic at 612-925-1121 and request to see Dr. Reed or Dr. Perry.

Henry's Story

Henry's Storyhenry

Henry first came to Westgate Pet Clinic when he was 12 ½  years old.  Henry's moms brought him to our rehabilitation service because his joint arthritis was negatively impacting his quality of life.  He took a daily pain medication, but he would still show some signs of discomfort.  He was also losing strength in his back legs.  He had difficulty going up stairs, and sometimes his legs would give out on him. 

Henry had torn both of his cruciate ligaments in his knees several years prior and had had them both repaired.  He then developed arthritis in both knees, and to compound that, he also has arthritis in his right hip.  The effect of this was that both of his back legs were painful.  He had muscle wasting, poor range of motion, and was living with chronic pain. 

Henry's owner's main goal was for him to have as minimal discomfort as possible during his golden years.  We started by customizing a pain medication plan that better fit the problems and symptoms he had.   The pain pathways in mammals is very complex, and using drugs that target different parts of the nervous system is the best way to manage pain.   Next, we developed a rehabilitation program to address some of his weaknesses.  Improving strength, coordination, flexibility and endurance were our main goals. 

Initially we started by seeing Henry twice a week at the clinic.  His mom would drop him off in the morning, and pick him up after work.  In between getting walked by "Auntie Sue" and the other dedicated staff at Westgate, he got a work out that was specially designed to meet our rehab goals.  Henry ran on the treadmill, had targeted electrical stimulation of his muscles, did special balance and strength exercises and performed active stretching.  When the session was over, he was tired, but he enjoyed the stretching and icing we did for him.  We also used acupuncture as a tool to help with his arthritis pain.

Within a month, Henry's owners were noticing that he had more spring in his step.  After several months, they saw him "counter surfing" which he hadn't done in years because he was previously to sore to rock back on his back legs and stand up. 

Although Henry's arthritis will never go away, his quality of life has improved.  He can go for longer walks with his owners, and is comfortable most of the time.  He still comes in for a session once a week to keep his strength up.  His favorite exercise is the hurtles and he usually starts doing them while we're setting them up and continues even while we're trying to take them down.  Every person at Westgate knows and loves Henry, and we feel fortunate that we are able to help him stay strong and active so he can age gracefully.

Canine Rehabilitation Therapy

What is rehabilitation therapy?

Rehabilitation Therapy is the canine equivalent of physical therapy for humans. For decades, humans have benefited from physical therapy as an aid to recovery after injury or illness. The same techniques used in humans can be applied to canine patients . Rehabilitation therapy can:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Improve strength and range of motion
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Accelerate healing
  • Improve quality of life

Who can benefit from rehabilitation therapy?

Studies have shown that Rehabilitation therapy can help pets with a 
variety of physical challenges including:

  • Post-operative recovery
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Weight control
  • Neurologic diseases including weakness
  • Ruptured disks
  • Non-surgical luxating patellas or cruciate ligament injuries

Who performs rehabilitation therapy?

Dr. Teresa Hershey is Westgate Pet Clinic's Certified Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT). She received her veterinary degree from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998 and has been with Westgate Pet Clinic since 2001. She received her rehabilitation certification through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in Florida in 2010.  Dr. Hershey is also a Certified Veterinary Medical Acupuncturist (CvMA).  She received her acupuncture certification from the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, Medical Acupuncture Program in 2012. 

What happens at a rehabilitation therapy visit?

At the initial consultation, Dr. Hershey will evaluate your pet and review his or her medical history. She will determine the problems that need to be address and help establish goals for therapy.  Then together a plan for therapy will be made for the next weeks to months, depending on the needs of your pet.  At a typical session, Dr. Hershey will send you, the owner, home with a set of exercises that you will perform on your pet at home, and often recommendations for nutritional supplements, diets or medications that may benefit your pet.  

How is Rehabilitation Therapy at Westgate different then other Rehab Clinics?

At Westgate Pet Clinic we don't keep the pet at the clinic to perform therapy treatments.  Instead, we educate the owner on therapeutic exercises, stretches and massage techniques that they can do at home on their pet. This may or may not be the best approach for your pet.  Some pets benefit from visiting a clinic that is strictly dedicated to Canine Rehablitation.  These clinics have additional tools, such as under water treadmills and therapuetic lasers that may benefit your pet. For example, young, athletic dogs that are going into therapy with a lot of muscle mass may require an under water treadmill to adequately challenge the muscles during therapy.  In addition, your pet may not be manageable at home when performing exercises on him, or you yourself may have some physical limitiations preventing you from adequately executing the exercises.   Dr. Hershey can help you decide if a rehabilitation visit at Westgate Pet Clinic, or one of our referral Rehabilitation Centers is best for your pet.  

The referral hospitals that we recommend are:

The University of Minnesota Veterinary Teaching Hospital  in St. Paul

Veterinary Rehab and Conditioning Center in InverGrove Heights

Twin Cities Animal Rehab and Sports Medicine in Burnsville 

What happens at a rehabilitation therapy visit?

At the initial consultation, Dr. Hershey will perform a thorough musculo-skeletal exam on your pet and review his or her medical history. She will then create a plan for therapeutic home exercises, and often will have recommendations for nutritional supplements, diets, or medications for your pet.  A typical session lasts about 1-1.5 hours.  Your consulation includes a complimentary acupuncture session.  This will allow us to see if your pet is an "acupuncture responder" and if he or she would benefit from further acupuncture appointments.  (Click Here to learn more about acupuncture).

An initial rehabilitation consult costs about $185, and does not include any additional tests that may be recommended (such as xrays or blood tests) or any medications or supplements that may be dispensed.  Follow-up acupuncture appointments cost about $65.  (Call for the most up-to-date pricing). 

Quote from Dr. Hershey

"My favorite rehabilitation appointment to see is a pet that has become weak from age or disease.  There are many therapies that can be performed to improve your pet's quality of life.  I love helping pet owners understand what is happening with their pet and what can be done to help their friend."  

If you would like to learn more about if a rehabilitation therapy appointment at Westgate Pet Clinic is right for your pet, Dr. Hershey is happy to talk to you over the phone before your visit.  Please call 612-925-1121 

Advanced Procedures

Westgate Pet Clinic is proud to offer advanced diagnostics and treatment in the form of laparoscopic spay and gastropexy procedures, endoscopy and rhinoscopy at our clinic.  Both Dr. Erik Melin and Dr. Brek Perry have had special training in the use of this equipment.   Laparoscopic spays and gastropexys are performed on either Mondays or Fridays, and endoscopy and rhinoscopy procedures are scheduled based on the patient's needs. 


Laparoscopic Spay Procedures:


dr.melinDr. Erik Melin performing an endoscopic procedure on a dog.

With the traditional ovariohysterectomy, a single incision is made along the abdominal midline, large enough to be able to reach and remove both ovaries and the uterus. Typically, the recovery from this surgery requires restricted activity for 10-14 days and pain control for 5-7 days after the procedure. 

With laparoscopic ovariectomy, two small, approximately 1 cm (3/8 inch) incisions are made along the midline of the abdomen, through which two small ports are placed. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, allowing space to operate. One port allows the introduction of a fiber optic laparoscope through which the organs of the abdomen can be seen magnified on a video monitor. The second port is a working port, through which instruments can be placed to remove the ovaries. Electro cautery is used to close and cut the blood vessels leading to the ovaries and each ovary can be removed through the working port incision. Additionally, other organs of the abdomen including the uterus, urinary bladder, intestines, stomach, liver, kidneys and spleen can all be visualized during this procedure allowing identification of unexpected abnormalities.

Because of the small size of the incisions, there is much less pain after a laparoscopic ovariectomy, and patients recover very quickly. Exercise is restricted for two days after the day of the surgery and animals rarely need more than 24 hours of pain medication. Owners of patients have compared recovery to that of a dental cleaning.


Laparoscopic Gastropexy:


A gastropexy is when the stomach gets tacked to the abdominal wall.  The purpose of this procedure is to prevent the dog from developing a gastric dilatation and volvulus (a GDV, or twisted stomach).  If a dog develops a GDV, this is an emergency condition.  Dogs can die quickly if the stomach completely twists cutting off the blood supply to that organ. 

In this condition, first the stomach gets bloated with gas, and then it can twist upon itself.  Dogs that have a GDV typically look like their stomach is swollen and they are very lethargic and painful. 

If you have a deep chested dog, particularly a Great Dane, you should discuss with your veterinarian the option of having a gastropexy performed. 

Traditional gastropexys involve making a mid-line incision through the abdominal skin and muscles to access and tack the stomach.  With a laparoscopic gastropexy, this procedure can be done with several small incisions, speeding the time to recovery. 




An endoscope is a camera on a long, flexible tube.  An endoscope allows the veterinarian to look inside of the stomach, upper small intestine and colon.  The most common reason an endoscope would be used is if a dog or cat was having chronic vomiting or diarrhea.  Or, if the patient had a known foreign body in its stomach that could be removed with an endoscope. 

In preparation for the procedure the pet is either fasted for 12 hours, or for a colonoscopy, given laxatives in addition to fasting.  The pet goes under general anesthesia, and the scope is gently passed into the patient's gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

By visualizing the inside of the GI tract, we can diagnose ulcers, masses, erosions and foreign material that might be making the patient sick.  We can also take biopsies of the inside of the GI tract which can further help define the source of the patient's illness. 

Patients recover quickly from an endoscopic procedure and typically stay for just the day, unless their illness warrants hospitalization. 




Rhinoscopy is the ability to look inside a patient's nasal passages.  We will occasionally encounter patients that have chronic discharge or bleeding from the nose, or chronic sneezing and nasal irritation.  Our rhinoscopy unit allows us to look into a medium or large dog's nose for the source of the irritation.  Foreign material, fungal infections, allergic swelling, polyps and tumors are some of the more common reasons that patients can have irritated nasal passages. 

Patients undergoing rhinoscopy are put under general anesthesia, but they recover quickly and go home the same day.  Biopsies, cultures and flushes are sometimes performed during the rhinoscopy procedure to help treat or further diagnose the problem. 

The History of Westgate Pet Clinic


Westgate Pet Clinic has been an institution in the Linden Hills neighborhood of SW Minneapolis since 1973.  But our roots extend back to the mid-1800's.

 HistoryEdith Adele Prescott Clark. As the wife of a veterinarian, she helped brew concoctions, roll the pills, and diagnose and dispense when her husband was out on call.

The story begins in 1858 when Thomas Portier brought his family to Minnesota from Quebec to homestead.  Thomas was a "horse doctor" by trade.  In those days, you didn't need a veterinary degree to work on animals.  You learned from someone else that was doing that job.  Most animal doctors during the 19th century also needed other jobs to supplement their income.  Thomas did as well.  He farmed and raised stallions in addition to his animal doctoring. 

Thomas's son, Bennett Porter, was the first "official" veterinarian in the Porter family.  Dr. Porter graduated from Ontario Veterinary College in 1906.  He wasn't a kid at the time he graduated.  He had already been married, and remarried since he lost his first wife to typhoid fever, leaving him a single father with 3 children.  Bennett's new wife, Edith Adele, had also lost her spouse to typhoid, and was widowed with 3 children.  Together, Bennett and Edith had 3 more children for a total of nine.  Their 9th child, Bennett J. Porter I carried on the family veterinary tradition. 

"It never occurred to me that I would be anything else but a veterinarian", recalls Dr. Porter I.  "Not many went on to college in those days.  I had trouble finding a college offering training for veterinarians".  This was the time of the Great Depression, and the bank with his life's savings had closed.  Bennett, like many others of his time, were wondering how they were going to survive.  Luckily, however, more than 86% of his money was returned in quarterly installments  "just in time to pay tuition and book fees". history2Dr. Porter I (seated to the left)

 Dr. Porter I persevered and earned his veterinary degree from Iowa state college in 1931.  He practiced in several locations around Albert Lea, Minnesota before coming to St. Louis Park in 1947 where he opened Porter's Dog and Cat Hospital.  The clinic was located just east of Highway 100 on the south side of Highway Seven across from the old Skippy Peanut Butter baseball fields and by the Robin Hood Flour factory. 

 Dr. Porter I, and his wife Violet had three children. Two of his children, Thayer (Gene) and Bennett II, became veterinarians.  They both attained their veterinary degrees at the University of Minnesota.  Dr. Gene Porter graduated in 1959.  Dr. Bennett Porter II graduated in 1961 and founded Westgate Pet Clinic in 1973.

The original Westgate building stood where our parking lot is now.   It used to be Leo's Mobil Gas Station before it became remodeled into a veterinary clinic.

 vintage imgPorter Dog and Cat Hospital, 1947

Dr. Bennett Porter II went on to have four children with his wife, Mary Jean (Jeannie). His son, Dr. Bennett Porter III also went on to become a veterinarian, and graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. He purchased Westgate from his dad in May of 1996.  In 2000, Dr. Rhonda Downie became a partner in the clinic.  

vintage-3Westgate Pet clinic circa 2001

Dr. Porter III and Dr. Downie both had a big interest in modernizing the way Westgate practiced.  Under their leadership, the clinic became computerized, moved into a large, newly remodeled building, and grew the clinic from 3 doctors, to the 10 doctor state-of-the-art practice it is today.  

Dr. Porter III and his wife Mary Jo, have 2 children, Bennett IV and Mathew.  Neither of his children went on to become veterinarians.  

Dr. Downie has 2 children, who also pursued interests other then veterinary medicine. 


In 2012, Drs Porter and Downie sold their practice to 4 of their associates, Dr. Erik Melin, Dr. Olivia Mirodone, Dr. Teresa Hershey, and Dr. Brek Perry.

In 2013 Dr. Bennett Porter III officially retired from practice.  

Westgate Pet Clinic continues to be a vital part of the Linden Hills and surrounding communities.  In a time when many veterinary clinics are being sold to corporations behind the scenes, Westgate Pet Clinic is proud to be privately owned and continue the Porter legacy of knowledgable, compassionate and progressive medicine.

 three dvmsDr. Gene Porter, Bennett Porter III and Bennett Porter II

 2012dvmsFrom left to right, Drs Mirodone, Melin, Hershey and Perry. 2012

Our Mission:

We provide the quality care our clients expect and their pets deserve, by relying on the expertise and
compassion of each team member.


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Westgate Pet Clinic
4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
Directions to Our Clinic
(612)925-6297 Fax
(612)568-1405 Pharmacy

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