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Christopher Norkus

Christopher Norkus Staff Photo
Emergency & Critical Care
Christopher Norkus Staff Photo

At a Glance

Practicing Since:


Board Certified:

Anesthesia and Analgesia
Emergency and Critical Care

Specialties Include:

Critical Care
Emergency Medicine
Pain Management

Dr. Norkus began his veterinary career over 20 years ago as a veterinary technician, ultimately obtaining duel Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) status in both emergency-critical care and anesthesia. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2004 and proceeded to veterinary school at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 2011.

Dr. Norkus completed a prestigious internship at The Animal Medical Center in New York City followed by a residency in anesthesiology at Kansas State University. Following this, Dr. Norkus became board-certified as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia and was credentialed as a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner in 2015. Dr. Norkus then completed a second three-year residency in emergency medicine and critical care at Allegheny Veterinary Emergency Trauma & Specialty in Pittsburgh, PA and became board-certified as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care in 2018.

To date, Dr. Norkus has published more than two dozen peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and is the editor for the landmark textbook, Veterinary Technician’s Manual for Small Animal Emergency & Critical Care, which is now in its second edition. He lectures regularly for both regional and national audiences. Dr. Norkus’ professional interests include toxicology, acute and chronic pain management, and critical care medicine and anesthesia. Dr. Norkus enjoys cooking, cars, hiking, and traveling in his spare time.
Papers Authored
The influence of quotations uttered in emergency service triage traffic and hospitalization (Quiet)
Abstract: This study aims to determine whether the use of the word, Quiet increases veterinary emergency service triage traffic or hospital admissions. Days were randomized to be a control or test phrase day. On control days, the phrase, Have a nice day! was announced to the entire hospital staff. On test days, the phrase, Have a quiet day! was announced. 
Authored: Norkus C, Butler A, Smarick S
Published: Open Veterinary Journal, 9(1): 99-102
Successful medical management of perinephric abscess and urosepsis following urethral obstruction in a cat
Case Study: A 2‐year‐old intact male domestic shorthaired cat presented to an emergency and referral center for lethargy, vomiting, and hematuria. Severe azotemia and hyperkalemia were observed on a serum biochemistry panel. The patient was diagnosed with urethral obstruction and was treated with urethral catheterization, calcium gluconate, IV fluid therapy, buprenorphine, and prazosin. The patient's azotemia improved, and the hyperkalemia resolved. Urinary catheterization was discontinued. The patient developed pyrexia, worsening azotemia, hypoalbuminemia, hyperbilirubinemia, and dysuria. Urethral catheterization was repeated. Abdominal radiographs showed left renomegaly, and abdominal ultrasound revealed left perinephric fluid. Ultrasound‐guided centesis of the perinephric fluid revealed septic inflammation, and the sample was consistent with urine based upon sample creatinine. Fluid from the perinephric abscess and urine from the bladder both grew Pasturella spp. The patient was treated with perinephric catheterization, saline lavage, and a continuous infusion of cefotaxime for 72 h. The patient's azotemia quickly resolved, and the patient was discharged after 6 days of hospitalization. The patient was reported to have made a full recovery. 
Authored: Norkus C, Keir I.
Published: JVECC, Accepted and In Press
Dexmedetomidine to control signs associated with lisdexamfetamine dimesylate toxidrome in a cat
Abstract: A 5-month-old intact female domestic shorthaired cat had mydriasis, agitation, and increased locomotion after ingestion of lisdexamfetamine, 10.3 mg/kg body weight (BW). Despite treatment with IV fluids, IV acepromazine, oral cyproheptadine and intravenous lipid emulsion the patient’s clinical signs worsened. Dexmedetomidine administered at 2 μg/kg BW and continued at 0.5 μg/kg BW per hour rapidly controlled the patient’s signs. An episode of vomiting and hematuria developed. Follow-up 5 days after discharge revealed that the cat appeared normal.
Authored: Norkus C, Keir I, Means C
Published: CVJ, Mar, 58(3):261-264
Characteristics of the labor market for veterinary technician specialists in 2013
Objective: To determine characteristics of the labor market for veterinary technician specialists (VTSs) during 2013 and identify characteristics significantly associated with pay rate for VTSs.
Authored: Norkus C, Liss D, Leighton L 
Published: JAVMA, 248:1. 105-109
Evaluation of the pharmacokinetics of oral amitriptyline and its active metabolite nortriptyline in fed and fasted Greyhound dogs
Abstract: This study reports the pharmacokinetics of oral amitriptyline and its active metabolite nortriptyline in Greyhound dogs. Five healthy Greyhound dogs were enrolled in a randomized crossover design. A single oral dose of amitriptyline hydrochloride (actual mean dose 8.1 per kg) was administered to fasted or fed dogs.
Authored: Norkus C, Rankin D, KuKanich B
Published: JVPT, Dec, 38(6):619-622
Pharmacokinetics of intravenous and oral amitriptyline and its active metabolite nortriptyline in Greyhound dogs
Abstract: To evaluate the pharmacokinetics of amitriptyline and its active metabolite nortriptyline after intravenous (IV) and oral amitriptyline administration in healthy dogs.
Authored: Norkus C, Rankin D, KuKanich B
Published: VAA, Nov; 42(6) 580-589
Pharmacokinetics of oral amantadine in greyhound dogs
Abstract: This study reports the pharmacokinetics of amantadine in greyhound dogs after oral administration. Five healthy greyhound dogs were used.
Authored: Norkus C, Rankin D, Warner M, KuKanich B
Published: JVPT, Jun; 38(3):305-308
Labor market characteristics of veterinary technician specialists in 2007
Abstract: To determine labor market characteristics of veterinary technician specialists (VTSs) during 2007 and identify characteristics significantly related to pay.
Authored: Norkus C
Published: JAVMA 235:11, 1303-1306
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Emergency & Critical Care

While your general practice veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems and handle many routine emergencies, certain situations require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in handling emergency and critical care for your pet. An emergency and critical care specialist typically works in tandem with your general practice veterinarian on a referral basis, as well as with any other needed specialists, until the emergency is resolved.

What Is An Emergency and Critical Care Specialist?

A board certified specialist in emergency and critical care is a veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in treating life-threatening conditions. An emergency and critical care specialist can help in the following kinds of cases, among others:

  • Traumatic injuries of all kinds
  • Respiratory emergencies
  • Poisonings
  • Animals in need of blood transfusions
  • Animals in shock
  • Coma or severe seizures
  • Diabetic Crises
  • Acute or severe illness

How Can I Find A Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care for My Pet?

If your veterinarian does not handle after hours emergencies, then he or she probably already has a referral relationship in place with a local or regional emergency hospital. You can also look for emergency specialists in your area on the ACVECC website. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when and where to refer you and your pet for emergency or critical care is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.

When Does My Pet Need Emergency Care?

Any of the following situations can be considered an emergency:

  • Difficulty breathing or severe coughing
  • Ingestion of a foreign object, drug, poison or unknown substance
  • Bleeding or unexplained bruisingBlood in vomit, feces or urine
  • Severe vomiting, retching, or diarrhea
  • Swollen, hard or painful abdomen
  • Serious woundSuspected broken limb
  • Any injury to the eye
  • Loss of consciousness
  • SeizuresInability to move or sudden weakness
  • Unusual or erratic behaviorSigns of extreme pain
  • Straining to urinate (especially a male cat)
  • Labor that does not progress
  • Prolonged heat exposure, overheating or heat stroke 
  • Snake bite

What Is Critical Care?

While an emergency is unfolding, or throughout recovery from a serious illness or accident, ongoing diagnostic and therapeutic care and constant monitoring of your pet's condition are required. Many emergency and critical care facilities offer 24-hour supervision of critically ill pets and, just as in human hospitals, may have dedicated Intensive Care and Critical Care Units (ICU/CCU). Such facilities are equipped to provide oxygen therapy, cardiac monitoring, blood transfusions, and nutritional support. Such facilities also typically have advanced diagnostic capabilities onsite, such as ultrasound and echocardiography.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Many emergency hospitals work on a referral basis with general practitioners. In some cases, your pet will only be referred to the emergency service for after-hours care. In other cases, your pet may be in the care of the emergency and critical care specialist for the duration of the emergency and recovery, but then referred back to your general practitioner veterinarian for follow up and routine care.

Our Emergency & Critical Care Team

Co-Team Lead Emergency/Critical Care Technician
Credentialed Veterinary Technician Supervisor
Emergency & Critical Care Department Head
VCA Veterinary Specialists of CT

993 North Main Street

West Hartford, CT 06117

Main: 860-236-3273

Fax: 860-236-3275

Hospital Hours:

    Mon-Sun: Open 24 hours

Specialty Appointment Hours::

Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 6:00pm Saturday & Sunday: ER only

Are you a Primary Care Veterinarian? We have dedicated resources for you.

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