A few friendly reminders……..

My next blog entry was going to be about grain free diets, but let’s save that for next time.  This time around, a few reminders are in order.

 It’s been hot and the heat is here to stay, at least for the next several months. A reminder about heat and your pets is in order. It is truly heartbreaking to see video of a dog happy and healthy taken an hour before being presented at our hospital overheated and struggling to survive. Please don’t walk your dog’s during the heat of the day. Morning walks are best and need to be over and done by 10 am. This is especially true for brachycephalic breeds which are dog with “short pushed in muzzles” such as Bulldogs, Pugs, French Bulldogs, Boston’s, Boxers, Mastiff’s and American Bulldog’s. These are all breeds that are “at risk” for overheating quicker than other breeds.  Even the American Pit Bull Terrier is somewhat brachycephalic in skull type.  Another reason to get your walks done early in the day is the temperature of the asphalt.  As the day proceeds and heat builds, the asphalt our dogs walk on can become scorching hot.  Paw pads can burn very quickly and easily. Always have fresh water available for your dogs and cats. If you think your dog or cat is overheated, you can rinse them with cool water and bring them into the hospital for further treatment right away. This next sentence deserves to be in all capital letters! NO ICE BATHS FOR DOGS EXPERIENCING HEAT STROKE! If cool water is good, cold must be better? Wrong! Using Cold water or ice water to col a dog causes vasoconstriction of peripheral vessels which means it ends up trapping heat inside the body. Ice water is ok to drink but never submerge an animal in ice water.   



For much more about heat and your animals, you can read one of my previous blogs:


 The next important reminder is about Fleas. This past wet winter seems to have set up optimal conditions to have large numbers of fleas multiplying quickly. For our feline friends, this can mean severe flea allergies. We have also seen severe anemia from flea infestations. Fleas can also carry an organism that causes a hemolytic anemia in cats. In dogs, the most significant problem we see from fleas is a flea allergy which causes itching on the back half of the dog. We have multiple ways to control this problem. Revolution is a topical medication that is outstanding for flea control in both cats and dogs. Be sure to give the cat formula to cats and the dog formula to dogs as giving the wrong one to the wrong species can create severe medical issues. There is also an oral medication for dogs only called Simparica and it achieves terrific flea control. Flea medications can be adjusted to your specific pet’s needs. Ask your veterinarian which treatment plan is right for your pet.  For more detailed information about fleas and the issues they cause, you can read a blog I released back in 2014:



Now, about those pesky foxtails! In addition to fleas, this past wet winter has led to explosive growth of this annoying weed called foxtails. These are the plant awns that stick to your socks when you walk through a field. They are also a significant problem for our pets. I have removed many foxtails lately from cat patients who spend time outdoors. If you think getting one stuck in your sock sounds painful, think about these poor cats who get them stuck in their eyes! A foxtail in your conjunctiva is no picnic! In dogs, foxtails seem to like to get into ears and snuffed into noses. They can penetrate the oral cavity and cause abscesses in and around ears. They can be inhaled into lungs and cause serious and potentially fatal pneumonia and they can then migrate out of the lung, slide along the diaphragm and end up causing discospondylitis of the vertebra. The most common thing these pesky foxtails do is puncture a dog’s skin and cause abscesses in between the toes. Check your dog’s feet daily and remove plant material from in between the toes and the undersides of the feet.  


And last but certainly not least is the subject of current identification for your pets. Summer is a time of vacations, fireworks and outdoor adventures. Lots of fun for the family but also a potentially dangerous time for your pets.  Your pets count on you to keep them safe and sound and one of the best ways to do that is to make sure they have been microchipped and always wear a collar and ID tag with current contact information.  A microchip is a quick, safe and cost-effective way to permanently identify your pets. Unlike a collar that may be torn off or become separated from your cat or dog, a microchip is permanent and can quickly identify your pet when scanned by animal control or a veterinarian. A microchip registered with current information is the quickest way to get your lost pets back home to your family. This 4th of July, we were able to reunite 4 dogs with their owners because of registered microchips that owners had purchased for their dogs. The dogs had all escaped their yards and were running loose because they had been frightened by fireworks.  But microchips aren’t just useful for the 4th of July. Many dogs and cats are lost because of people accidentally leaving gates or doors open.  Remember that a person cleaning a pool, doing yardwork or making repairs to your home doesn’t necessarily think about keeping gates and doors closed properly. A registered microchip and a collar with ID tags is a winning combination.  



Ok, next time I promise……..the trending grain free diet.

Until next time,

Dr. Voorheis


Canine Influenza – Can Dogs Get the FLU?

Canine Influenza – Can Dogs Get the FLU?

From the Desk of Dr. Dennis Voorheis


In my last blog entry, we talked about the pros and cons of our local dog parks and in that piece, I briefly touched upon the topic of canine influenza with the promise of a blog entry dedicated entirely to that subject. So, this time around, let’s chat about the possibility of “canine flu”. Our obvious starting point for this discussion would be “can dogs actually get the flu?”. The short answer is YES but as we all know, I’m not one to simply give a short answer and be done with it. The longer answer is an entire blog, and one that comes with recommendations about vaccination at the end. There are two influenza virus strains that affect dogs, H3N8 and H3N2. Both cause similar symptoms in dogs that are likewise similar to a host of other respiratory diseases.

Let’s begin with some background for a bit of base line knowledge. The Influenza A virus, which the H3N8 and H3N2 are subtypes of, can cause infection in many different mammalian species including humans and birds. It exists in multiple subtypes and these subtypes mutate and thus the need to get our human FLU shots every year. Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) was first identified in 2004 in a group of Greyhounds associated with Florida racetracks. The virus was identified as a genetic variant of the H3N8 equine influenza that gained the ability to infect dogs. The key change was an ability of H3N8 to move from dog to dog. The newer influenza virus, H3N2, is derived from an avian strain that gained the ability to infect dogs and is transmitted from dog to dog. It can rarely also affect cats. It was first reported in 2006 in South Korea and appeared in the Chicago area in 2015 where it caused a large outbreak. With both types of CIV, infected dogs shed virus for two days prior to symptoms.  With the H3N8 they continue to shed virus for 4 to 10 days after signs begin. Dogs infected with H3N2 shed virus for up to 24 days after signs begin even when they no longer appear sick. That is a significant amount of opportunity to spread the virus. So far, the affected outbreaks are limited and isolated and this is not an epidemic in Los Angeles County at this point in time.



The virus was first detected in California in March of 2015 in Orange County and then again in July of 2015. A vaccine first became available in November 2015. In March of 2017, CIV H3N2 was identified in dogs in Los Angeles County. A total of 50 dogs were exposed to the virus, including 35 sick animals. PCR testing confirmed H3N2 in 5 of those dogs, the remainder of the sick dogs were assumed to have H3N2 because they were in the same group of dogs and had the same signs.  Two dogs died, however they also had other unrelated illness that contributed to their deaths. The rest of the sick dogs have now recovered. There was another case out of the San Bernardino shelter that has been confirmed and isolated and no new cases have been confirmed.

Canine Influenza (CIV) usually causes mild to moderate disease in dogs. The signs are fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Some dogs have no symptoms at all. Some of the more severe and fatal cases have pneumonia. It is spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs and by contact with contaminated objects such as toys, bedding, leashes, collars, cages and floors. The virus can survive for 1 to 2 days on floors and cages.

The above described symptoms are seen every day by veterinarians in Los Angeles County.

They comprise a group of diseases bunched into one of two common terms, upper respiratory disease or kennel cough. Most of the time, diagnostics such as PCR testing to determine a cause of a runny nose or cough, are not performed. The “sicker” dogs are usually the dogs that get more diagnostics performed on them. If you suspect that your dog may have these signs and may have been exposed, please call for an appointment to see one of our veterinarians. Please let the front office know at the time of making the appointment that you think the dog may have an infectious cough, sneeze or upper respiratory issue. At the time of your arrival, if it is not too hot, you may be asked to wait outside in your car until we can admit you. Alternatively, you may be brought in through a side entrance and placed immediately into an exam room to avoid cross contamination in the lobby area. Please do not wait in the lobby with a dog that you suspect may have an infectious upper respiratory issue as these can be highly contagious for other animals.

One of the advantages of being a “seasoned” veterinarian, is that I have been around long enough to have seen emerging viral diseases change the medical landscape. Parvo viral enteritis, feline immunodeficiency virus and influenza are just a few examples of how viral diseases can change the medical landscape we practice in. Frankly, I’d prefer not to be part of another viral epidemic like the one I was witness to in the late 70’s/early 80’s with the parvo virus. Due to the relatively brief period of time influenza lasts outside the body, it is unlikely to end up as significant a problem as the parvo virus is. However, the epidemic that hit Chicago in 2015 certainly was devastating and the potential exists that it could affect us in the same way. So far, we appear to have dodged a bullet so let’s hope it stays that way. Vaccination of at risk groups dogs is certainly the most “common sense” approach to prevention at this point.  

There are some reasonable recommendations that have resulted from the canine influenza topic which are being made by our public health veterinarians. There are groups of dogs that are “at risk” dogs. These are dogs that are in highly social situations such as:

  1. Dog shows
  2. Agility, obedience and other trials
  3. Dog Parks
  4. Doggy Day Care
  5. Boarding facilities
  6. Grooming facilities
  7. Any other group or activity where dogs are interacting with other large numbers of dogs with unknown exposure or vaccination histories.

The recommendation is that the dogs that are in these situations should be vaccinated against CIV. We have not yet made the vaccination a requirement to use our grooming or boarding facilities at WBAH, but that may very well change as we monitor what is happening at the county level. A second question that will come up is, “is it safe to vaccinate?” That answer is yes. The vaccine is a killed vaccine, given as a set of two shots, three weeks apart. It is my recommendation that if your dog participates in any of the above social activities, he/she be vaccinated against CIV. If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail, please schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians and allow them to provide you with more detailed information.

Next up……. The trending grain free diet.

Until next time,

Dr. Voorheis

   Calling all Superhero Dogs and Cats 

November 29, 2016 

From the Desk of Dr. Voorheis

Now that we are moved in to our fantastic new hospital and starting to settle a bit, I thought it was time to “revive” my blog efforts and a timelier topic there couldn’t be! Have you ever wondered what would happen if your dog or cat needed a blood transfusion? Did you even know that this is possible? Maybe you have been faced with this situation or perhaps you’ve known someone who has. It’s a serious crossroads in an animal’s life and when blood is needed to support an animal in dire need of transfusion, time is of the essence. So, I’ve decided that I would write this blog about blood transfusions and blood donation and provide some background about why we do transfusions and how they work. I’ll also be enlisting your help toward the end of this blog, so please stay tuned.

Most people are unaware that animals sometimes require blood transfusions. You might wonder why an animal would need blood, There are several instances where an animal would need blood or at least a component of blood. Component you ask? Well, blood is made up of several different components. We will talk about that next. For now, let’s talk about why an animal would need a blood transfusion.



There are many indications for transfusion. The most common reason is anemia, which can be caused by many different factors, and yet many anemic animals do not need to be transfused. Factors to consider include the cause and chronicity of the anemia, quantity and rapidity of blood loss and existing co-illnesses. Now we need to talk about those components that make up “blood”. Blood is composed of Red Blood Cells (RBC), White Blood Cells (WBC), Platelets and a liquid called Plasma.

Depending on the patient’s need, transfusions may be FWB (fresh whole blood) or WB (whole blood). FWB has clotting factors and platelets that may be needed in a given situation. From time collected, FWB needs to be administered within 24 hours, or it is called WB. WB may be stored (refrigerated) for up to 35 days prior to use. We also use pRBC (packed red blood cells) instead of WB.


You’re probably familiar with the Red Cross and the blood donation drives that they do to collect for the human blood bank. You’ve probably heard about “blood type” and “being a match” for blood transfusions and even bone marrow donation. But does this apply to dogs and cats too? You bet! Under normal circumstances, we type and crossmatch our patients with our donors. So, is a dog’s blood different from a cat’s blood? Good question, and the answer is yes! Let’s talk about Canine and Feline blood groups.


Blood groups are based on the presence of particular antigens on the surfaces of red cell membranes. At least a dozen blood group systems have been recognized but the three most important clinically are dog erythrocyte antigens (DEA) 1.1, 1.2, and 7. Dogs, unlike humans, do not have naturally occurring antibodies against blood group antigens. Therefore, they can only acquire them after receiving a transfusion or after pregnancy.  Transfusion reactions can occur if blood positive for DEA 1.1, 1.2 or 7 is transfused, so donor dogs should be negative for those antigens. However, in practice, clinically relevant acute hemolytic transfusion reactions are extremely rare in dogs. Transfusion of blood from a donor who has not been typed and has never been pregnant to a recipient, independent of their blood types is generally safe.

Blood groups in cats include type A, B, and AB. Cats tested in the United States have almost exclusively been type A. The prevalence of type B cats varies from region to region and among breeds. Breeds in which 15 to 30% of the cats are type B include Abyssinian, Birman, Himalayan, Persian, Scottish Fold, and Somali. Breeds in which more than 30% of cats are type B include British Shorthair, and the Devon Rex. Fatal transfusion reactions can occur in type B cats receiving type A blood. It is best if cats are typed and cross matched before being transfused.



 So why all this talk about blood transfusions? The answer is fairly simple. We need donors. Dog and cat donors. We need superhero cats and dogs who are ready, sometimes on short notice, to save another dog or cat ‘s life. Some of our clients have heard of an organization called Hemopet, which is a nonprofit blood bank and animal rescue in Garden Grove. When veterinarians need to buy blood from Hemopet, we are charged $400.00 which is not a very affordable option for our clients. So, what we are looking to do is to build a blood donor bank of our own. Our practice has always been so family oriented and our clients have always been so loyal and so considerate and gracious with each other, that we thought it would be a perfect match (pun intended)! In years past, we kept a couple of great dogs as transfusion dogs here at the hospital. They were treated as hospital pets and were walked daily, brushed, groomed and given lots and lots of TLC. One of the last of the donor dogs is currently living out her life with my crew in the Voorheis household. Chelsea has donated blood to dogs in need more than 100 times in her lifetime. At age 12 I think she has done enough and she’s been living with me for over a year. With our practice growing so rapidly, we need to be ready to serve our clients with a fresh blood supply when it’s needed.


So, I am trying to gauge interest in developing a team of donor dogs and cats. I’d like to have 50 dogs and 20 cats on our donor list. We would pay for getting your dog or cat’s blood typed. We would also pay for an in house CBC (Complete Blood Count) which tells us about your pet’s overall health. We wouldn’t call often, but we would like to know if there is any interest in having your dog or cat donate blood and be part of a special and select group that save lives. I would say the we would probably draw from 4 dogs every three weeks; with the dogs that had donated last being rotated to bottom of volunteer list. The dogs that donate q 3 weeks – their blood would be used as WB (whole blood donation) – the rest would be on a list that staff would call in the event we had need for FWB (fresh whole blood). This group of dogs and cats will receive recognition on our website and in the lobby with photographs. We are also creating bumper stickers for the pet parents of these special dogs and cats. Being a blood donor is a big deal and we know pet parents will be very proud to sport a bumper sticker that says “my dog/cat saves lives by donating blood to animals in need”.

A donor dog needs to be 70 lbs in size or greater and no more than 8 years old. A donor cat needs to be at least 10 lbs and no more than 8 years old. Cats would be typed as well at no charge and then a call for a WB unit donation would come once every 3 weeks if we had a group of say 20 cats. With those numbers, the chance of a call comes once a year.

So, who’s in? What do you think? Those who are interested can send an email to blooddonor@wbanimalhospital.com   with any questions you may have or to volunteer your dog or cat.

I’m looking forward to your feedback!

Until next time……….

Dr. Voorheis

Every picture tells a story

From the Desk of Dr. Voorheis

 June 8, 2016


For those of you who have missed my musings, I’d say an update is in order. There have been many changes since the last blog and I can imagine that everyone is quite curious about the new hospital building. I’ll start with this – the last 4 years have been a bit of a blur.

In July of 2012, we started the process of planning a new hospital. Then came 2013 which was spent researching options, hiring an architect, developing plans and obtaining financing. In 2014, the process of approval and learning patience (ha!) began. When I first wrote about the new hospital in January of 2014, I actually thought that construction would begin in 2014. As you know, that didn’t happen. The process of building a new hospital takes longer and is so much more involved than I ever imagined it would be. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about planning, construction, financial requirements and setbacks but I’ve come through the other side of the tunnel with a great feeling of pride and accomplishment. I’m very excited to welcome you all to the new hospital. We are hoping that will happen mid July, so it’s close.

Now for the fun stuff, the pictures. They say that pictures tell a story and are worth a thousand words, so I thought I would share the picture history with all of you. The photo below illustrates construction that began with destruction. The bringing down of the boarding and grooming facility along with some of the other outbuildings was our first step.



This is a situation where pictures say more than words. Bringing down the old boarding/grooming building and having a demolition crew on site was a unique experience. Then came a different crew to prepare for and pour the foundation. So you may be wondering what was going on up front while all of this was taking place. To be honest, it was a juggling act and we were crowded. We merged the grooming business into the hospital building and placed a trailer alongside the existing hospital to facilitate grooming. As you are also no doubt aware, we lost a great deal of parking. That statement deserves some special attention. Parking got tricky and challenging. That’s an understatement, right? We hired a valet service to assist our clients with parking challenges. It was the best solution for a tough issue. We had to quickly figure out how to remain a fully functional hospital while undergoing this chaos. We have managed to do so because of an amazing staff that has put up with the stress, the noise and  the loss of parking. We have managed to do so because of amazing clients who have been understanding and patient with us and for all of you we are truly grateful. THANK YOU!


Oh and by the way, we took a little time to have a wedding. My beautiful daughter Grace got married in September!




The pad that the building will sit on was compacted, measured, tested by engineers and then compacted some more. Next, they did the layout where the plumbing, sewer and electrical will be placed. Next came the pouring of the concrete.



The obligatory signing of our names in concrete. We are obviously rookies. We signed in a spot where the wood foundation will cover up our names. Oh well, we know where they are.


Here we were on the last day of November 2015. This thing is going to be big.


Below is a picture two weeks later – framers move fast. December 15 2015



The picture below is approximately a month after the one above.




At this point, I stopped referring to the structure as the new building and started to refer to it as the new hospital. Every evening I would walk through and envision how the new hospital would flow. How will patients be moved? What will flow be like for in-patients and for outpatients? That discussion and training for current staff begins with a focus on both optimizing patient care and the animal and client experience in the new hospital. The pictures below focus on the outside of the new hospital and just how far we have come in the past two months. There are just as many changes on the inside.






Sometime in mid-July, all patient care will be transferred to the new hospital. We are in the home stretch. After we have moved in, we will then undertake the final phase of our new digs which will include demolition of the old hospital, and building of a new parking lot. This last phase will also be challenging as there will be no onsite parking. The valet staff will move the cars off site. You will be able to drive up and drop off and then your vehicle will be taken off site to a secure lot located around the corner at the Sprinkler Fitter’s Union.

I hope you enjoyed the update and pictures. Next up…. How I spent the last year earning that certificate. Yes, I am now very proud to say that I am a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT). The canine rehabilitation unit (think physical therapy for dogs) will offer treadmill therapy, underwater treadmill therapy, laser therapy, hands on stretching and massage, joint mobilization, and strategic exercises. I soon will be joined as a CCRT by Dr. Casida, who joined our practice last year.


Once we are up and running in the new hospital, we will be offering tours to all of you. Please feel free to talk to your friends and bring them along as well. We are very proud of our new hospital and we can’t wait to show it to the world! If you would like to be added to the mailing list and get updates specifically about the tours, please send us a quick note at tour@wbanimalhospital.com.

Until next time………………


Dr. Voorheis