Category Archives: 24hr Animal Hospital

January is Walk Your Pet Month

January is Walk Your Pet Month which is perfect for those New Year’s Resolutions and why not bring your pet along! Not only is walking a good activity for us, but for our pets too!

Must-have items for walking your dog in a Winter Doggyland:
• Warm, weather resistant jacket to make sure your dog is comfortable & well-insulated.
• Lighted leash & collar during the winter since it gets dark early.
• Bags for cleaning up after your dog.
• Collapsible water bowl so your furry friend can stay hydrated.
• Snowball maker that makes perfect snowballs that your dog will love to chase after.
• Microfiber pet towels to wipe down your pet’s paws from things like ice, snow, salt & toxic chemicals like antifreeze & de-icers that can build up on your dog’s feet.
• Dog boots/booties to provide additional warmth and traction your dog needs when spending an extended period of time on snow & ice.
• Your dog’s favorite treats for training or rewarding good behavior during the walk.
• Heated dog bed that your pet can lounge in.
• Just before you go outside, put a towel in the dryer on a low setting, then wrap your dog in the towel when you get home.

So how cold is too cold to take a dog out for a walk? There is no one right answer for every dog, but owners should consider the size of their dog, breed and their overall health. Even if your dog has a thick, heavy coat, he might still feel chilly in the winter.

Many pet owners are aware of the dangers to dogs and cats in extreme heat, but the risks can be even greater with the freezing temperatures. A common misconception is that dogs and cats are more resistant to cold weather than humans because of their fur according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Common Cold Weather Ailments:

    • Frostbite and Hypothermia is when a dog’s temperature dips too low. Pets are just as likely to get frostbite and hypothermia as their owners.
    • Symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia, get your pet inside right away if he:
      • Whines or acts anxious
      • Can’t stop shivering or seems weak
      • Has ice on his body
      • Stops moving or slows down
      • Looks for warm places to burrow
    • Antifreeze drips from a car’s radiator and collects on sidewalks, driveways & roads. Unfortunately, animals have been known to lick it off the ground because of the sweet taste of its main ingredient, ethylene glycol. Take your pet to the vet right away if they even lick up a bit of antifreeze.
    • Symptoms of your pet ingesting antifreeze are:• Vomiting
      • Panting
      • Excessive thirst
      • Drunken-like behavior

In case of an emergency or if you need us we are here 24/7!

With these helpful tips and some proper gear, you should be all set to get out there and enjoy that winter weather with your dog!

Holiday Items that can be Hazardous to your Pets

Happy Holidays


December is full of holiday celebrations and is a wonderful time to spend with family & friends.  We listed some common holiday items that can be hazardous to pets.  We are here 24/7 if you need us.


Chocolate, which stimulates the nervous system and the heart should be kept far away from four-legged friends. Although all chocolate should be avoided, dark chocolate poses a greater risk than sweeter varieties such as milk chocolate.

Grapes & Raisins

Grapes and raisins are other common hazards for pets during the holidays.  Any candied raisins found in fruit cake or grapes found on appetizer platters are potentially poisonous to dogs and cats.

Tinsel & Ribbons

These shiny decorations may look pretty, but they can cause serious problems for cats and dogs.  Never wrap tinsel or ribbon around the neck of a pet no matter how festive it looks, this is a choking hazard.

Sugar-Free Baked Goods 

Holiday cookies might look like a tempting treat for your pet but the artificial sweetener xylitol found in some sugar-free baked goods can cause hypoglycemia and liver issues.

Holiday Plants

Mistletoe and holly are two of the more toxic holiday plants to pets which can cause severe gastrointestinal disorders, breathing difficulty & heart failure in extreme cases if ingested.  The dangers of poinsettias and Christmas cactus are relatively harmless; if ingested these plants may cause an irritating reaction in the mouths of dogs and especially cats.

 Holiday Ornaments

Although not poisonous many ornaments have sharp edges that can cause perforations and lacerations to pets that try to chew on the decorations, safeguard them for the sake of your pet.

 Electrical Cords

Some animals love to chew electrical cords and all the additional lights strung up around the house present a new hazard. To protect pets, turn off lights and unplug them when you aren’t home.

 Turkey Bones

Rich fatty foods can cause illness, and ingested turkey bones can splinter and puncture internal organs.


Keep them away from the punch and egg nog. Pets should never ingest alcoholic beverages because alcohol depresses the nervous system.

 Christmas Trees

Pine needles won’t harm your pet, but there are plenty of dangers surrounding a Christmas tree. The tree should always be properly secured and fragile glass ornaments should be kept off low-lying branches if your pet decides to play. If your cat is prone to climbing, leave ornaments off the tree for a few days to see if he will attempt to climb it.  If you have a real Christmas tree, don’t add fertilizer to the tree water and keep pets away from stagnant water in the reservoir.

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.