The Age of Veterinary Specialization

The Age of Specialization 

It should come as no surprise that, with today’s specialized services being the norm in everything from your hairdresser to your attorney, the profession of veterinary medicine has fundamentally changed as well.  In bygone days, your local veterinarian took care of all of your pets’ needs from birth through old age.  However, the past 10-15 years has witnessed the dawn of a new era – The Age of Specialization.

While your primary veterinarian will always remain the doctor you may lean on most for guidance, with the extraordinarily advanced care now available, it is no longer feasible for that doctor to be able to always provide what’s best for your pet.  It is essential for every pet owner to be aware that there are indeed specialists in virtually every discipline that we have come to expect in human medicine, e.g. surgeons, cardiologists, dermatologists, oncologists, ophthalmologists, etc.  In order to be considered a specialist in veterinary medicine, one must have completed a formal internship and a residency in a specific discipline and pass a certifying exam of clinical proficiency along with any number of other requirements as dictated by the various specialty boards.  The veterinarian would then be considered Board Certified and therefore recognized as a Diplomate in their respective area.  If the doctors are not Board Certified, then he/she may not represent themselves as specialists.

The list of specialty services seems endless, ranging from advanced orthopedic surgeries and arthroscopic surgeries, to laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery, to complex cardiac diagnostics, to cataract surgeries, to chemotherapy and radiation therapy offered by oncologists, etc.  If you’ve heard of it being done in human medicine, it is now likely to be available in veterinarian medicine.

What will distinguish one general practitioner from the next will not only remain the care and compassion they provide to you and your pet, but their ability to recognize their limitations and their willingness to recommend specialists who may be able to provide a needed level of care that they can’t.   If your pet’s veterinarian does not approach the subject when your pet is having serious, more difficult, or lingering problems then it is up to you to be your pet’s advocate.  The same applies to hospitalization for your pet.  You must make sure that if your pet is being hospitalized for medical or surgical care that there is indeed a staff of nurses and doctors taking care of your pet 24 hours a day.   Don’t assume, ask!!!

Specialists will distinguish themselves not only by their abilities and the hospitals they work in, but by giving you and your pet the same tenderness and compassion that your family’s veterinarian and their staff provides.  You have choices and they do not have to be prohibitively expensive either.

At West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center we have doctors and nurses working 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergencies as well as routine care.  Additionally we have added a board-certified Surgeon offering laparoscopic and other minimally invasive surgery in addition to advanced soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries, and Cardiologists to our staff.  As always, if you ever have any pet questions that I can assist you with, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.


Alan M. Coren, DVM


When you leave your pet at a veterinarian overnight, do you assume someone is in the hospital watching them? Well, most of the time there isn’t….

It has always boggled my mind, but many veterinary practices hospitalize patients without anyone in the hospital overnight!  Why bother doing this?  Doesn’t it make more sense to have the pet at home with the owner than be left without anyone with them in a dark hospital by themselves?

As a 24hr hospital, we give treatments around the clock.  Some treatments are every 4-6 hours – those aren’t being done in a place that closes at 6pm and opens at 8am.  How about going to the bathroom? Most animals in that situation, especially if left on fluids which will cause a patient to urinate more frequently, just urinate and defecate on themselves if they are unable to go outside.  We routinely see patients pull their IV catheters or chew through their fluid line, and if left unattended would potentially have a significant amount of blood loss.  How about if a fluid pump stops because the patient moves or the line becomes occluded?  Well the patient isn’t going to be getting the fluids unless the pump is reset, which won’t happen if no one is there.

I have spoken with many veterinarians and employees of veterinary hospitals over the years about this.  Some will say they don’t have problems, others will go as far as saying that they would walk in in the morning and count the number of patients that passed away overnight.  Is that fair for the pet owner and pet? Could those situations have been avoided if the pet was home with the owner or at a facility that had around the clock care?

Clients need to be aware, and should be made aware by their veterinarian, that no one will be present in the hospital overnight if no one will be there.  Clients should not just assume that there will be.  There is a law proposed in New Jersey caused “Betsy’s Law” which requires NJ veterinarians to let owners know, in writing, that no one will be with their pet overnight if they are closed after-hours.  I personally think that either verbally or in writing, this needs to be done by the veterinary hospital.  Finances always come into play in the veterinary world, but is it worth a little more to have someone taking care of your pet around the clock rather than be left on their own with a hope that things go well? I guess that’s a decision only the pet owner can make.


Jared Coren, DVM


West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center voted the Best Pet Hospital, Veterinarian, & Pet Boarding on Long Island for 2014

First off, Thank you to all of our supporters and clients who helped us achieve these honors.  We couldn’t have done it without your help.

West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center was voted the 2014 Long Island Press Bethpage “Best of Long Island” for “Best Pet Hospital”.  We also were voted 3rd Place for “Best Pet Boarding” by the same entity.

West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center was also given the 2014 Long Island Pet Lover Pet’s Choice Awards for “Best Veterinarian” and “Best Pet Boarding”.

These accolades are extremely exciting for all of us at West Hills.  We always have your pet’s best interest in mind and strive to be the greatest we can at what we do.

Please see our awards in the Best of Long Island Publication that will be distributed throughout January.

Thank you again from all of us at West Hills.  We will continue to strive to be the best.

The Chinese Jerky Treat Toxicity – What is this all about?

A very hot topic in the veterinary world is the reported toxicity caused by jerky treats manufactured in China.  While no one has been able to prove the link between these treats and the cause of illness, dogs (and some cats) have been showing clinical signs of gastroenteritis and kidney disease, specifically a condition called Fanconi Syndrome.  Fanconi Syndrome is a disease where the proximal tubules in the kidneys aren’t functioning properly and glucose and other substances in the body are lost through the kidneys.

The FDA has been investigating this issue for many years, although it has gained media attention just recently as the number of reported deaths continues to rise.   Approximately 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have been reportedly affected since 2007; Over 500 of these pets have died.  The jerky treats have been evaluated for residues and toxins although nothing definitive has been detected to explain the reported clinical signs.  It is therefore impossible to predict which treats are affected and which dogs will develop clinical disease.  Over 1200 different jerky pet treat samples have been tested and many different companies have been named as culprits, but once again there is no definitive link to any of them.

In January 2013 a number of jerky treats were removed from the market due to the detection of up to six drugs in the treats that, although at low levels and unlikely to cause illness, were not supposed to be present.  Many other companies have placed voluntary recalls for their treats in wake of the uproar.  These recalls are voluntary – don’t assume that just because your dog ate some of these treats he or she is doomed.  Thankfully, many companies are willing to temporarily take their product off of the market to allow for the necessary research to help determine the cause of this issue.

If you are worried that your dog may be affected by Chinese Jerky Treats please don’t hesitate to contact us or the FDA.  A simple urine test (urinalysis) will be able to show if your pet has Fanconi Syndrome.  In all honesty though, if your pet is not showing any change in clinical signs you shouldn’t worry.  Just try to avoid jerky treats manufactured in China moving forward if possible until this ordeal is worked out.

Welcome to the West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center blog!!

The world of veterinary medicine has changed drastically over the years in many ways.  With the launch of our new website, I am going to start with something that has altered the field of veterinary medicine for both the better and worse; the internet.

Yes, I know this isn’t unique to veterinarians.  Everyone feels the effects of the internet, both good and bad.  What do most people do when they or a family member is diagnosed with a condition? Go to the internet to read about it.  How about when we are showing certain signs or notice a change in the way we feel?  We look up those symptoms up on the internet (The “Self Diagnostician”).

The same thing occurs in the veterinary world; as I know most of you know since many of you reading do the same thing :).  I don’t blame you – I am one of those “Self Diagnosticians” myself.  The internet has so many wonderful sources with a lot of great information; Unfortunately, it also has a lot of faulty information as well.  Be careful with the sources that you read when looking up medical things for both yourself and your pets.  As a client of West Hills, we are always available to discuss your pet’s condition and can give you information from a doctor, not someone who thinks they know about medicine but has no medical training.

The internet has also altered the way we grow our practice.  Remember the days of the Yellow Pages? If you didn’t have an ad in the Yellow Pages, your practice was looked at as being subpar or broke.  Nowadays it’s all about the internet.  A website is one of the most important sources of marketing, as well as online advertising through Google and other search sites.  We are really excited to have worked with an excellent website development company in the veterinary industry to build a customized website that we will be modifying and updating regularly.

Another important thing for us, that I am hoping you could all help out with, is online reviews.  Everyone reads online reviews when searching for anything.  These reviews could have been made up by anyone, but we still go ahead and read them, and allow them to impact our decision on a place.  That being said, I am hoping that you will post an “honest” – and by honest I am hoping positive 🙂 – review about West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center on the internet.  The most visited review sites are:


Google Plus  

City Search 


Insider Pages

Angie’s List 

Lastly, when it comes to marketing, the most important way to grow is good old “Word of Mouth”.  I want to thank you all for helping with that over the years and allowing us to be the practice that we are today.  It is because of you that we are able to be open 24hrs with doctors around the clock, have the most cutting edge technology, and provide the care that we are able to for you and your pet.

Keep your eye out for future posts and feel free to let us know what you think about the website!


Jared Coren, DVM
West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center