Monday, July 22, 2013

Welcome Dr. Trevor Miller by Erin Selby

We are proud to announce a new addition to our BRVC family - Dr. Trevor Miller has joined our team of highly skilled veterinarians! Dr. Miller embodies our core values, what we refer to as the 4 "C"s: Communication, Client Education, Compassion, and Customer Service. Read our interview to get to know more about Dr. Miller, where he is from, what motivated him to be a veterinarian, and why he is excited to work at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care.

Tell us about your educational background.
I did my undergraduate at UC Berkeley and majored in Environmental science. I also studied abroad in Australia for a semester. I went to Vet School at UC Davis.

Were you involved in other animal related work outside of school?
During vet school I worked extensively with Fix Our Ferals (a feral cat spay/neuter organization in Oakland) and volunteered at a shelter in Modesto. I also was the editor of the vet school newspaper.

After graduating vet school, where did you complete your internship?
I did a 1 year rotating internship at East Bay Veterinary Specialists and Emergency. I rotated primarily through internal medicine and emergency medicine, but also gained a lot of ultrasound and surgical experience.

Where did you grow up?
Placerville, CA. A small town in the foothills between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe. I lived out the country and grew up surrounded by a lot of animals.

Do you have any pets?
I have a cat and a dog. Gonzo is an orange tabby. Quigley is a Lab mix.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Skiing! (I've been a skier my whole life). I love to travel, I read a lot, and I play racquetball. I'm also a big Cal fan.

Describe how and why you became interested in becoming a veterinarian. Did you have any kind of “a-ha” moment?
I became a vet for lots of reasons. I don't think I had one definitive moment though. It was something I was always interested in and at one point in college I just decided to fully pursue becoming a veterinarian. I grew up with lots of pets and biology was always my favorite subject in school. I also love how much you get to work with your hands in vet med and how much variety there is in day to day practice.

What motivates you to be a veterinarian?
I think my biggest motivator now is the people behind the pets. I love helping support the bond between people and their pets and the relationships that develop between veterinarians and pet owners.   I also love how vast the veterinary profession is and how there is always so much more to learn. I think a lot of areas of veterinary medicine also have a kind of craftsmanship, like surgery and ultrasound for example, and I really enjoy that.

What do you look forward to about working at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care?
I really look forward to working with all the great doctors and staff here. In such a big established practice I think it opens up the doctors to do a lot more for their patients. BRVC has people with expertise in so many different fields; there is always someone to bounce ideas off of. I also look forward to getting to know the BRVC clients and pets. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Safety Tips for Taking Your Dog to the Beach by Nikki Smith and Erin Selby

Summer is a great time to take your dog to the beach. We are lucky to live close to so many dog-friendly parks in the East Bay. Some staff favorites are Point Isobel, Muir Beach, Del Valle, Ocean Beach, and Crissy Field. The best way to enjoy the beach with your dog is to be prepared and follow these safety tips:

  • Be mindful of your dog when playing in the water. Make sure your dog can swim. For more on how to teach your dog to swim, go here. Even water savvy dogs can become tired or become caught in a tide or an undertow. Consider investing in a special canine life jacket.  Practice common sense and caution when your dog is playing in the waves.
  • Supervise your dog at all times. It is a joy to watch them run around in nature but be aware of your surroundings. Dogs can fall off rocks or trails or injure themselves. Beaches frequently have hazardous objects or strange materials around so it is important to keep an eye on your dog at all times to keep them from ingesting anything foreign or cutting themselves. Never leave them alone.

  • Come prepared. Bring a first aid kit, a leash, treats, and bottled water with a portable water bowl. Pack extra towels and a blanket to dry off your dog and to protect your car for the ride home. Even if you are visiting an off-leash beach it is always a good idea to have a leash on hand. It's best to keep your pet protected and under control when necessary. Keep your dog’s collar and current ID on at all times. Bring plastic bags for cleaning up after your dog.  

  • Salt water is a bad for dogs because it can cause them to vomit/regurgitate or have diarrhea if too much is ingested. If you see your dog drinking salt water, stop them and offer them some fresh water from a portable water bowl.

  • Dogs may get car sick so cover your car seats with plastic bags and cover plastic bags with towels or blankets for comfort. Consider talking to your veterinarian about an anti-nausea medication.

  • It is common for pets to be sore after a day of heavy activity, especially senior or overweight pets. Talk to your veterinarian about whether or not anti-inflammatory medication is appropriate for your pet and if the pain continues after a few days please call us to schedule an examination with your veterinarian.

  • Apply a flea and tick preventative such as Frontline Plus (ticks are a higher risk closer to the coast and in the tall grasses) at least 3 to 4 days before you head off to the beach.

  • Make sure your pet's vaccines are up to date. Don't let your dog chase or harass the wildlife.This is for your dog's safety as well as the wildlife's.

Ask the Vet – Canine Heart Disease by Kristel Weaver, DVM, MPVM

Did you know that dogs don’t get clogged arteries and heart attacks like humans?  If only we knew why, we could make millions in pharmaceuticals!  Even though dogs don’t have heart attacks, heart disease is still a common problem.

Think about the heart as a pump.  Its job is to pump blood to the lungs and body twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  It can’t take a break and sometimes has very high demands put on it, like during exercise.

What types of heart problems do dogs have?
Heart disease is either congenital (present at birth) or acquired.  Acquired heart disease develops sometime throughout life, often as a senior, and is typically due to genetics rather than diet with one exception: some dogs develop dilated cardiomyopathy from eating diets deficient in taurine.  Taurine is an amino acid that is supplemented in all major commercial dog foods.

Here is a brief summary the common forms of heart disease in dogs:

Congenital heart disease
PDA – When a vessel doesn’t close properly after the puppy is born and blood goes the wrong direction.  
Septal defects – When there is a hole in the wall of the heart between chambers.
Aortic or pulmonic stenosis – When the exit pathways for blood leaving the heart are narrower than they should be.

Acquired heart disease
Valvular disease – A leak occurs because a valve didn’t close properly.
Dilated cardiomyopathy – When the heart walls are stretched thin like a balloon.
Arrhythmias – An irregular heart beat.
Pericardial disease – When fluid builds up in the sac around the heart.
Heartworm disease – Worms in the heart cause a blockage of normal blood flow.

How do I know if my dog has heart disease?
Heart disease can have no visible symptoms but your veterinarian may hear a murmur or abnormal rhythm on physical exam.  When severe enough, heart disease leads to difficulty breathing, blue or grey gums, coughing, weakness or fainting episodes.  If your veterinarian suspects heart problems he or she will probably discuss doing tests such as chest x-rays, and electrocardiogram or an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).

How is heart disease treated?
Treatment is based on the underlying problem and either involves giving medications or performing a procedure.  A low sodium diet is recommended for most types of heart disease.  Medical treatment consists of diuretics (to dry up fluid that has overflowed the system), anti-arrhythmic medications or other medications.   Procedures or surgeries for heart disease are less common and performed by a cardiologist or surgeon.  These include placing a stent, coil, balloon dilation, placing a pacemaker and open chest surgery.

Some forms of heart disease are regularly treated and managed by veterinarians in general practice.  For more complex heart problems there are board specialized cardiologists who practice at specialty hospitals or veterinary universities. 

Next month I’ll talk about heart disease in cats, because of course, they have their own set of problems!

Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master’s of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM).  She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007.  She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their daughter, Hayley. If you have questions you would like Dr. Weaver to answer for future articles, please email