Category Archives: 24hr Animal Hospital

Surgery Patient of the Month- June- Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)

Nacho with his mommyCongratulations to Nacho for being our June Surgery Patient of the Month!

You would never know by looking at him, but Nacho was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening condition for which he showed no signs whatsoever! When Nacho turned one, his owners wished to have him neutered. He was an active and happy pup, and as expected, his exam was completely normal. As part of routine diagnostics done prior to any surgical procedure here at West Hills, Nacho had blood work performed. Results showed a single value related to liver health was slightly elevated. You might argue that a slight elevation of a sole value on a blood panel is likely insignificant, but at West Hills we are committed to practicing the highest standard of care for our pets. Therefore, Nacho’s veterinarian, Dr. Sikalas, recommended further testing to ensure it was safe for him to undergo anesthesia and surgery.

An additional blood test (called bile acids) was performed and Nacho’s results returned abnormal. When this occurs in a young small breed dog, a likely possibility is a congenital abnormality associated with the liver called a portosystemic shunt (PSS). In dogs and cats, blood carrying toxins, such as ammonia, from the digestive tract is first transported to the liver through the portal vein. The liver removes all the harmful substances before returning the detoxified blood to the general circulation. Nacho on Halloween!

In pets with a PSS, there are one or more abnormal vessels that bypass the liver, allowing those harmful substances to the rest of the body before detoxification occurs. Pets with this condition often times suffer from a smaller liver with impaired function, and can have stunted growth or abnormal neurologic behavior, particularly after eating. They may also have problems metabolizing medications, especially anesthetic drugs, and this can be fatal for some pets.

Surgery is frequently recommended for dogs with PSS and consists of an abdominal exploration to identify the abnormal “shunting” vessel and a procedure to redirect blood flow back to the liver. Nacho underwent surgery with our ACVS Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Marc Hirshenson, who identified an abnormal vessel consistent with a PSS. Dr. Hirshenson placed a small device called an occluder on the vessel. This allows for gradual closure of the vessel and redirection of blood flow to the liver.

Nacho handled surgery like a champ and recovered without any complications. At home, Nacho continues to thrive. More importantly, his most recent bloodwork showed normal liver values! Congratulations Nacho!

Surgery Patient of the Month-May-Enucleation

“Kitty Wap”, is an adorable and friendly kitten that was found living among a colony of other stray cats. A Good Samaritan brought Kitty Wap to West Hills because they noticed she had significant swelling and discharge from her right eye.

Dr. Dominguez evaluated Kitty Wap and diagnosed her with an abscessed wound surrounding the right side of her face. The wound was so severe she actually had fly larvae (maggots) growing within the affected tissue.

Kitty Wap was anesthetized and Dr. Dominguez treated the abscess with an initial surgery to remove as much infected tissue as possible.

Kitty Wap’s care was transferred to our ACVS Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Marc Hirshenson. Dr. Hirshenson recommended enucleation (removal) of her severely damaged and blind right eye as well as more aggressive cleaning of the wound along her face. Given the extensiveness of trauma, Dr. Hirshenson felt that removal of the eye and wound treatment was the proper initial step, followed by full facial reconstruction surgery once the infection was under control

The enucleation surgery was without complication and Kitty Wap recovered without a hitch. For the next several weeks, the staff at West Hills dedicated much time and love towards caring for Kitty Wap and her open wounds, which reached all the way down to her skull! This time was necessary in order to make the existing skin and connective tissue along her face healthy enough to support further reconstruction.Bandage

After nearly 3 weeks of wound treatment Kitty Wap was taken to surgery again, where reconstruction was performed using a flap of skin from her neck to close the open wound on her face.

Reconstructive surgery using skin flaps is a very delicate procedure, requiring expertise and experience as afforded by veterinary surgical specialists. Inappropriate post-operative wound care can lead to breakdown of the site or infection; therefore patients will experience numerous bandage changes during the course of healing. Additionally, careful attention to incision care is of utmost priority as the tissue is fragile and requires time to regrow blood vessels and nerves during reattachment. Kitty Wap was actually hospitalized during the time her face healed to minimize her chance for complications.

While hair growth in the areas of her skin flap is a bit patchy, Kitty Wap’s face is currently completely healed and she is a currently loving life as a gorgeous, healthy, and happy one-eyed kitten!After surgery

For a full photo diary of Kitty Wap’s journey, please visit our facebook page. WARNING- some of the pictures may be graphic.




24hr Veterinary Care – An Animal Hospital Always Open

For over 30 years, West Hills Animal Hospital has provided 24 hour nursing care for your pets 365 days a year.  We always believed in being available for our patients 24 hours a day and never sent our clients to a strange emergency clinic.  What many people don’t realize is that to this day we are one of less than a handful of general practices on Long Island to provide 24 hour care.  That’s correct; when your friends’ pets are hospitalized elsewhere chances are they are left alone with nobody caring for them all night long.  Ask your friends to call their current animal hospital at 11:00 pm and ask to talk to the nurse or doctor who is at the facility caring for their pets.  The likelihood is they will get an answering machine or an answering service.  Don’t you owe it to them to let them know that your practice, West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center is there with doctors and nurses around the clock to provide complete and comprehensive critical care for their pets when they most need it?  We think that’s what friends are for!

And because we value our relationship, please always know that as a preferred client at West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center you never have to pay an additional emergency fee even at 2:00 am.  It is our way of saying thank you for entrusting us with the care of your precious pet and family member.