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Veterinary hospital renovations foster collaboration, innovation in animal care

Jessie Markovich, D.V.M., often sees animals that are desperate for help. Sometimes, the diagnosis and treatment are quick: dialysis for the dog that ate a box of raisins, or surgery for the cat with a kidney stone.

But Markovich, a resident in nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, also sees pets whose underlying problems are more enigmatic. Cats, for instance, “usually have three clinical signs that something is wrong: they vomit, stop eating, and lose weight,” she says. “They want you to have to work to figure it out.”

Markovich is up to the challenge. Already board-certified in internal medicine, she is developing and refining new therapies for cats and dogs afflicted with illnesses such as chronic kidney disease. She focuses on nutrition. The Cummings School, nationally recognized for its leadership in clinical nutrition and nephrology, is a perfect fit for her.

“I feel spoiled to be here,” she says. “The collaboration is fantastic, and I have access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. I get to learn all the time—from my colleagues and the students.”

Upcoming renovations to the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals will strengthen this capacity for collaboration by creating additional state-of-the-art exam rooms, larger treatment rooms, and expanded teaching and consultation spaces, she adds.

To complement her clinical work, Markovich is also conducting research. She recently wrapped up an online survey of more than 1,000 cat owners in 48 states and 10 countries whose pets have chronic kidney disease, looking at variables such as nutrition and medication to determine if they affect its progression.

“We don’t know all of the causes of these diseases,” she says, “but our goal is to provide the highest quality of life for as long as we can. Every study is about breaking the problem apart and trying to find what small difference one small change can make. You might try to find foods that are more appealing to a cat and that help slow the progression of kidney disease at the same time. That may not sound like a big change. But if it works, then I have done what I could to improve the quality of life for that cat, and that’s why I’m here.”

To learn more about supporting the renovation of the Tufts Veterinary Hospitals, please contact Ana Alvarado, senior director of development and alumni relations, at the Cummings School, at 508-839-7905 or at ana.alvarado@tufts.edu.