Believing in Magic


Dr. Coggeshall watches over Magic in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

Dr. Coggeshall watches over Magic in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

Jose considers himself a man of faith, a faith which was tested recently when his dog was lost for two days under a building collapse in Philadelphia. Fortunately, his story didn’t end there. Watch the news stories which cover the first half of Magic’s saga at NBC and 6ABC. You’ll see in these videos Dr. Jason Coggeshall of the NorthStar VETS Surgery service examining the dog. Dr. Coggeshall doesn’t live too far from Jose and Magic, so as soon as he heard about what happened, he rushed over to help.

Jose was beside himself after thinking that he lost his dog, then miraculously getting him back. “A piece of my heart went away when I tried to find him, but couldn’t. I had a dream that he was still with me, but I was starting to think he was gone.” Jose still remembers the flood of emotion that came over him when the construction crew called him to tell him they uncovered Magic and he was still alive. “I immediately broke down crying. He’s always been a fighter, I just had to keep the faith and give him a chance.” Jose called his family to rejoice.

Jose and Magic leaving the hospital to go home

Jose and Magic leaving the hospital to go home

Shortly thereafter, Dr. Coggeshall was there to examine Magic and encourage Jose to bring him to NorthStar VETS in Maple Shade. “He was severely dehydrated, had head trauma, and needed care right away” Dr. Coggeshall reported. Jose took the advice, loaded Magic into his car, and brought him in. Magic received fluids and care for a couple days after his ordeal, then was discharged to go home with his family.

“It’s about helping each other,” said Dr. Coggeshall, “because I’d want someone to do that for me.” Jose felt similarly. “I help people with their cars. Helping others is so important to me, which is why I was so grateful for Dr. Coggeshall and my neighbors who rallied around me. Magic is like a son to me, I am so attached to this dog. I trained and taught him to be kind and he loves other people the way I love him. I am so happy he’s home.”

Learn more about the Surgery service at NorthStar VETS.


Jason Coggeshall, DVMJason Coggeshall, DVM
Dr. Coggeshall is a Maryland native with a passion for veterinary surgery, research and teaching. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland and his doctorate in veterinary medicine at Tuskegee University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Coggeshall completed internships at the Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center and Iowa State University. He also completed a Comparative Orthopedic Research fellowship at the University of Florida. Dr. Coggeshall completed the first year of his surgical residency at the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and the subsequent two years at the Veterinary Referral Center in Malvern, PA. Dr. Coggeshall has a strong interest in clinical research, orthopedic surgery, minimally invasive surgery, and trauma surgery.

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Canine Distemper Deals Fatal Blow to Raccoons in Ocean County


NorthStar VETS wants to make pet parents aware of a serious problem happening at the shore. Canine Distemper is currently running rampant through the raccoon population because they have no immunity to it. This disease can also affect pets, so it is advised that you visit your family veterinarian to discuss keeping your pet safe against canine distemper.

Read news coverage of the issue at NJ.com and ABC7 NY.

Separately, Dr. Steven Berkowitz of the NorthStar VETS Emergency and Critical Care team recently warned area pet parents about the spike in Leptospirosis cases in the region and advised them to see their family veterinarian to discuss getting their pets vaccinated.

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NorthStar VETS Behaviorist Reviews New Book in JAVMA


This book review appeared in The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) Volume 253 No. 6, September 15, 2018.

The Dog: A Natural History
Adam Miklosi, DSc, PhD
224 pages. 2018. Princeton University Press.
ISBN 978-0-691-17693-2. Price $27.95.


In the introduction to The Dog: A Natural History, the authors state their wish to show the dog from many different perspectives. They achieve that goal, albeit inconsistently. The authors draw on research findings to present information about dogs including current concepts in dog ecology and evolution, anatomy and physiology, and basic genetics. It is presented in a textbook-like format with beautiful color photographs and clear diagrams. The text was written in short discrete paragraphs, which makes for easy reading for today’s typical easily distracted readers. Given that the authors are primarily researchers in canine cognition and ethology, it is not surprising that the sections on canine behavior, especially those on sensing, thinking, and personality, and explanations of normal canine behaviors are the strongest.

Unfortunately, the book has inconsistencies that may make it difficult or inaccessible for some readers. Although the authors do a good job of explaining canine behavior, they do not always define behavioral terminology. Readers may not understand terms such as agonistic encounters or afflictive interactions. There are also instances when a research finding is presented in context but not fully explained. This occurs more frequently in sections that are outside of the authors’ areas of expertise, such as nutrition and the very brief section on behavior problems and illnesses entitled “Malformation in Behavior.” Overall, I believe this a book that dog owners will enjoy, especially those seeking to easily expand their background knowledge of what dogs are and where they come from; however, readers should be aware that the information provided is more of a stepping stone than a definitive reference.

Learn more about the Behavior service at NorthStar VETS

Laurie Bergman, VMD, DACVB
Dr. Laurie Bergman received her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. She worked in small animal practice on Cape Cod and completed an internship in Wildlife Medicine and Surgery at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She began working in behavior practice in 1998 and entered a residency in behavioral medicine at the University of California Davis in 2000. Since becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in 2003, Dr. Bergman has worked in academic practice in California and private practice in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Bergman’s interests include pet-family interactions, finding practical approaches to behavior problems and treating behavior problems in birds and exotic pets. Dr. Bergman lives in Pennsylvania with her two human children, senior dog, Riley, Australian Terrier puppy, Ivan, Leopard Gecko, Mo, and Bearded Dragon, Frederick. She competed in agility with her previous Australian Terriers and hopes that Ivan can grow up to be an agility dog, too.

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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Ranger


The team at NorthStar VETS is doing innovative and amazing things every day as they work to advance the level of care available to your pet. This series of posts highlights cool cases at NorthStar VETS and the types of things done to save pets and improve their quality of life. These are cases using innovative and cutting-edge medical techniques, and/or stories of pets beating the odds. This is the story of Ranger, a patient of both our Oncology and Surgery teams.

RangerRanger’s Story
Ranger is an eight and a half year old Golden Retriever who was diagnosed with a bone tumor. It was in an unusual location involving the right ulna, which in dogs is a non-weight bearing bone. The radius in the front limbs bears most, if not all, of the weight. Because of this, Ranger did not have to undergo a forelimb amputation. Instead, he had an ulnar ostectomy which allowed us to remove just the affected bone. Biopsy was diagnostic for hemangiosarcoma. This tumor arises from blood vessels and is mostly seen affecting the spleen and heart. Ranger is doing well since surgery and just received his third dose of chemotherapy in hopes of delaying disease recurrence for as long as possible.

The middle of Ranger's ulna is less bright in this radiograph due to disease in the bone.

The middle of Ranger’s ulna is less bright in this radiograph due to disease in the bone.

In the post-operative radiograph, Ranger's ulna is removed to prevent the spread of cancer. You can also see little circles near where the bone used to be. These are implantable beads that deliver medicine to the area.

In the post-operative radiograph, Ranger’s ulna is removed to prevent the spread of cancer. You can also see little circles near where the bone used to be. These are implantable beads that deliver medicine to the area.


This CT image confirmed the extent of Ranger's disease.

This CT image confirmed the extent of Ranger’s disease.

Ranger's diseased ulna can be seen in cross section on this CT image. It is the one on the bottom left.

Ranger’s diseased ulna can be seen in cross section on this CT image. It is the one on the bottom left.

Learn more about the Oncology and Surgery services at NorthStar VETS.

Dorothy Jackson, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)Dorothy Jackson, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
Originally from the South, Dr. Jackson attended Mississippi State University for her undergraduate studies and veterinary school. Following veterinary school in 2009, she completed a rotating internship at the University of Missouri followed by a specialty internship at Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Atlanta. Dr. Jackson was lucky enough to obtain both academic and private practice experience during her residency, training at the University of Pennsylvania and Veterinary Cancer Center in Connecticut. Following her residency, Dr. Jackson obtained board certification in Oncology and worked at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital for 2.5 years before joining the Northstar VETS team.

Being an Italian from the South, Dr. Jackson loves food. She loves cooking new recipes and trying new restaurants with her wife…another Italian. When not traveling to new places, they enjoy their time at home with their 3 cats who keep them quite entertained.

Daniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS - Chief of StaffDaniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS – Chief of Staff
A New Jersey native, Dr. Stobie completed his undergraduate work at Cook College/Rutgers University and is a 1990 cum laude graduate of the University of Missouri-College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed an internship in small-animal medicine and surgery at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, then went on to complete a three-year surgical residency at the University of Minnesota and earn a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Surgery, Radiology, and Anesthesia in 1994. Dr. Stobie became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1995. In 2007, he completed the mini-MBA certificate program at the Rutgers School of Business.

Following his residency, Dr. Stobie headed a surgical service at the Animal Medical Center in New York City for two years, joining a specialty practice in New Jersey as a staff surgeon in 1996. In 2000, he formed Veterinary Surgical and Diagnostic Specialists (a mobile surgical and ultrasound practice) that evolved into what is today, NorthStar VETS, where he serves as Chief of Staff.

Committed to helping advance the veterinary industry, Dr. Stobie participates in many organizations and is a member of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association (where he has served on the executive board), the South Jersey VMA, Jersey Shore VMA and the Metropolitan VMA.

He also has served as an adjunct clinical instructor in small-animal surgery at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. He is widely published in veterinary journals and textbooks, and lectures locally, nationally and internationally. Dr. Stobie also participates in veterinary management groups, providing guidance on veterinary economics and practice management.

In addition, he is involved in development of new and novel surgical techniques including the dome trochleoplasty for patellar luxations in dogs, and is currently helping an implant company to develop a new hip replacement prosthesis. In March 2013, he led a group of veterinarians to Malawi, Africa to help improve animal health in local villages there.

Dr. Stobie is a strong advocate for child welfare and the more than 60,000 children in New Jersey’s foster care system. He lives on a farm with his husband, their three children and enough animals to fill Noah’s Ark. He enjoys spending time with his family and loves the beach. His hobbies include horseback riding, gardening, and beekeeping.


The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your family veterinarian’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice via this blog. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. We do not recommend the self-management of your pet’s health problems.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Laura Tasker, DVM, CVMA


Laura Tasker, DVM, CVMA is a doctor in the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS. In this video, she talks about how horses got her into small animal medicine, the types of cases she sees, and what she loves about working at NorthStar VETS.

Dr. Tasker’s Path to Small Animal Veterinary Medicine
We caught up with Dr. Tasker, who was seeing a patient. Dr. Tasker has been riding horses since she was two, and caring for her animals inspired her to become a veterinarian. “I did my veterinary school training at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and did my clinical year at Colorado State University. I did an Emergency and Critical Care internship at the Veterinary Surgical and Emergency Center. Originally, I went to veterinary school to become an equine veterinarian, but I felt like I should have a little more experience with small animals, which is why I chose a small animal internship not knowing it would turn into a career! I really liked it, and I keep the horses as my hobby.”

The Most Common Types of Cases Dr. Tasker Sees in the Emergency
Dr. Tasker sees a wide variety of different cases each day. “I see anything from congestive heart failure, bite wounds, toxicities, collapse, trauma, and anything along those lines. One of my favorite cases to treat was a ‘big dog-little dog’ bite wound attack. The little dog had so much trauma that the skin flap came entirely off the dog’s side. He was very unstable when he came in. We were able to stabilize him and take care of the wounds. He went home a completely happy, healthy, and well-adjusted dog who looked great at the time of recheck.”

The Best Thing About Working at NorthStar VETS According to Dr. Tasker
Dr. Tasker enjoys the team atmosphere at NorthStar VETS, and she can always find another doctor to bounce ideas off of and help. “We’re all a cohesive group, which is wonderful because you can always get optimum care any time. It’s a beautiful environment in which to work, and we have everything we need at our disposal. It’s definitely gold-standard medicine.” Dr. Tasker and the team at NorthStar VETS are available 24/7 to help you and your pets. “It always keeps things fresh, I never know what I’m going to see, and I love my coworkers. I really like people in general, so I like communicating with the public and sometimes getting people through some hard times.”

Learn more about the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS.

Laura Tasker, DVM, CVMA
Dr. Tasker earned her bachelor of science degree in animal science from the University of Delaware. She continued her veterinary studies at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, with a year of clinical training at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an internship in emergency and critical care at the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Her professional interests include trauma stabilization, wound care, and metabolic diseases. She is certified in both large and small animal veterinary acupuncture, and has a particular interest in pain management. Outside of NorthStar VETS, Dr. Tasker enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing with her Australian Shepherd, and all things horses.

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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Shorty


The team at NorthStar VETS is doing innovative and amazing things every day as they work to advance the level of care available to your pet. This series of posts highlights cool cases at NorthStar VETS and the types of things done to save pets and improve their quality of life. These are cases using innovative and cutting-edge medical techniques, and/or stories of pets beating the odds. This is the story of Shorty, a patient of our Neurology team.

About Shorty
Shorty Weaver is an 8 year old female, spayed dachshund from Cary, NC that came to NorthStar VETS for a percutaneous laser disc ablation (PLDA) procedure. She became acutely paraparetic in February 2018. She was originally diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease by Dr. Sarita Miles, the neurologist at Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas. She had an MRI performed, which revealed a herniated disc at L1-2 predominantly compressing the left side of the spinal cord. The owners were very concerned as Shorty had a guarded prognosis for recovery with medical management due to Shorty suffering from acute paraparesis.

Shorty’s condition
Medical management for Shorty’s IVDD consisted of anti-inflammatory medication, pain medication, muscle relaxants, activity restriction, bladder expression, and light physical therapy (passive range of motion and massage of the pelvic limbs). During medical management, Shorty developed a urinary tract infection and black, tarry stool that also had to be managed. She was treated with antibiotics and gastrointestinal protectant medication, respectively, for these complications.

Shorty’s initial recovery
Shorty made a consistent recovery over the next eight weeks, showing gradually improved strength and coordination in her pelvic limbs over this time. Her medications were gradually decreased until she was no longer receiving them, and her activity level was slowly increased until she was back to her normal activity.

After making a complete recovery, Shorty’s owners began to question how they could avoid going through another episode like this in the future. Dr. Miles discussed the PLDA procedure with them. She mentioned that this procedure is offered at only four hospitals throughout the country, and only in one place on the east coast. The owners were very interested in the procedure and they wanted to know more about it. Dr. Miles called Dr. Tracy to discuss Shorty’s situation.

The next step for Shorty
After Dr. Miles spoke with the owners about the procedure, they decided that this would be a good thing for Shorty to receive so they can decrease the likelihood of another episode of disc herniation. They drove up from North Carolina on the morning of their scheduled procedure (approximately an 8-9 hour drive). When Shorty arrived, Dr. Tracy re-evaluated her (she was still pain-free) and the PLDA procedure was performed. The procedure itself took about one hour from start to finish. The owners stayed at a nearby hotel.

Shorty was re-evaluated the next morning. She was not painful and was walking normally. She was scheduled for discharge later that morning. The owners picked her up and made the drive back to Cary, North Carolina.

Dr. Tracy is an advocate of the PLDA procedure because it decreases the likelihood of chondrodystrophic breeds having disc herniations, and helps to prevent them from having to endure a surgical procedure.

What is Percutaneous Laser Disc Ablation?
PLDA is a minimally invasive preventative procedure that decreases the likelihood of disc herniation in chondrodystrophic dogs from 25 percent down to less than 10 percent. The patient is placed under anesthesia and spinal needles are inserted into each disc space from T10-11 through L4-5. A Ho:YAG laser is then inserted through the spinal needle and directly into the disc space and a laser pulse is delivered to each disc space. This laser pulse reverses the degeneration of the nucleus pulposus and decreases the intradiscal pressure and thus the likelihood of disc herniation.

Who is Eligible for PLDA?
PLDA is for any chondrodystrophic dog or any dog that has previously experienced an episode of suspected or confirmed disc herniation. It is important that patients are pain-free and medication-free for two weeks prior to the procedure. It is okay if patients have had surgery for a previously diagnosed disc herniation as long as they are fully recovered and fit the above criteria.

What is aftercare like?
Patients remain in the hospital overnight for pain control and observation. Typically patients are discharged to go home the following day. They are sent home with 3-5 days of pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication. They should be leash walked for 2 weeks following the procedure for recovery.

What are the risks/complications of the procedure?
The main risk following the procedure is transient ataxia and/or back pain that typically resolves within one week. Other possible complications include abscess at spinal needle insertion sites, proprioceptive deficits, and diskospondylitis.

Learn more about the Neurology service at NorthStar VETS.

Gaemia Tracy, DVMGaemia Tracy, DVM
Gaemia Tracy was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Tracy attended The University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts (Biology) degree. While there, he played baseball and Sprint Football. He attended The Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine from 2008-2012. Immediately after graduating veterinary school, Dr. Tracy completed a rotating small animal medicine and surgery internship at Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Tracy then completed a Neurology and Neurosurgery residency in Jacksonville, FL at North Florida Neurology with Dr. Andrew Hopkins and Dr. John Meeks as his mentors. Dr. Tracy completed his residency before joining Northstar VETS.

Dr. Tracy’s professional interests include IVDD, spinal surgery, management of seizures and inflammatory diseases of the brain and spinal cord.

Dr. Tracy currently lives with his wife, son, and their two cats, DD and Bunny. In his free time, Dr. Tracy enjoys taking in any baseball game, and cheering for the Buckeyes and Steelers!


The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your family veterinarian’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice via this blog. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. We do not recommend the self-management of your pet’s health problems.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: John Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDC


John Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDC is a doctor in the Dentistry and Oral Surgery service at NorthStar VETS. In this video, he talks about his education in veterinary medicine, the types of cases he sees, and what he loves most about NorthStar VETS.

Dr. Lewis’ Path to Veterinary Dentistry
We caught up with Dr. John Lewis, who was performing a procedure on a patient. Dr. Lewis is a veterinarian who specializes in veterinary dentistry and oral surgery. He grew up in a household with a large family of pets. “I knew as I got older that I wanted to do something in the health professions, so it seemed like a natural fit to go into veterinary medicine. I went to the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from there in 1997 and then I went out into general practice for five years. In every rotation I did in veterinary school, I felt like I would possibly be doing thas as a specialty long-term, but I decided to go into general practice to sort that out and determine if there was really a specialty I wanted to do or if I just wanted to stay in general practice. I enjoyed general practice quite a bit, but I found myself doing more and more dentistry and felt like I needed to go back to the University to do a residency. I wanted to learn more about it and do a better job with it. After I finished my residency, I stayed on as a professor at Penn, but started to do some work at NorthStar VETS on the weekends. I was really impressed by the facility, and I knew if I was ever going to leave academia, it was going to need to be a place like this that has all the bells and whistles and has a good collegial atmosphere.”

“There is so much benefit that you can bring to the lives of pets in terms of removing dental pain and other issues. We can really help to improve the quality of life of a lot of patients.”

The Most Common Types of Cases Dr. Lewis Sees in the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service
Dr. Lewis sees a wide variety of different cases each week. “We see cases where the patient may need dental work such as extractions, cleanings where there is a higher anesthetic risk, oral tumors that require having a portion of the jaw removed to try and get a cure on a cancer, or jaw fractures that need to be repaired. Those are some of the more fun and challenging cases.”

Regular cleanings and dental checkups with your family veterinarian can make a huge difference in a pet’s health. “Dentistry and oral surgery is such a new profession that’s only been around since 1988. It is an up-and-coming profession and it’s something that anyone who does it on a regular basis realizes that there is so much benefit that you can bring to the lives of pets in terms of removing a potential dental pain and other issues that if you ever had a toothache, you know how painful that can be. We can really help to improve the quality of life of a lot of patients.

The Best Thing About Working at NorthStar VETS According to Dr. Lewis
The team at NorthStar VETS helps Dr. Lewis provide world class care to dozens of patients each week. “I think my favorite part about being here is the team. It’s a very good group of people that I work with and it is nice to be able to have all the various specialties all together under one roof. For example, I can get a consult from a doctor who needs to help us out with a particular case and so it is something that is really nice to have. And not just all the equipment, but all the professional people who are experts in their field. I think that pet parents who come to us are obviously very concerned about their pet and hopefully they’ll end up leaving happy with how their pet is doing, how they can function, and how they look.”

Learn more about the Dentistry and Oral Surgery service at NorthStar VETS.

John Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDC
Dr. Lewis graduated from University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1997 and spent five years in general practice prior to returning for a residency in dentistry and oral surgery. He became a Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry (AVD) in 2004 and a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) in 2005.

At the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Lewis has served as Associate Professor of Dentistry and Oral Surgery, associate director of the Mari Lowe Center for Comparative Oncology, and more recently, as Chief of Surgery. His research interests include oral surgical oncology, maxillofacial fracture repair, maxillofacial reconstruction, new therapies for treatment of feline oral squamous cell carcinoma, and lasers in oral surgery and dentistry.

Dr. Lewis is a past president of the American Veterinary Dental Society, and has served as examination chair of the AVDC and credentials chair of the AVD. Prior to joining NorthStar VETS full time in October 2013, Dr. Lewis was the residency director of the world’s first academic residency in veterinary dentistry and oral surgery at The University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Lewis received the AVDC Outstanding Candidate award in 2004, the Hills AVDS Education and Research Award in 2012 and the AVD Fellow of the Year award in 2013.

Dr. Lewis is the proud father of six boys, two dogs, and two cats, all of whom keep him busy outside of work.

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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Manning


Manning the WonderdogCancer treatment is often considered difficult with many side effects. Most of us have experienced a family member go through cancer treatment and have watched as our loved one gets sick in the hope of getting better. When our pet gets diagnosed with cancer, it is upsetting and most people are afraid of treating their pet for cancer because of the side effects they have seen in their family members or friends.

Classically, we have considered cancer treatment to be harsh and to cure at all costs. In veterinary medicine, the goal has always been more to maintain good quality of life. We are learning both in human and veterinary medicine that it is possible to live with cancer rather than trying to get rid of it.

In this video below, you are meeting Manning. He first came to me in February 2016 as a 6-year-old dog with an anal gland tumor. Initially, the tumor was removed and he had 5 doses of chemotherapy. In January 2017 he was found to have metastatic (spread of) disease to his abdomen. He was started on Palladia (toceranib) which is not a classic chemotherapy but a molecularly-targeted therapy. Classic chemotherapy works by attacking any dividing cell. Palladia works by targeting a specific protein on the cell and slowing the progression of the disease. This video was taken in the last month. As you can see, this is a dog who has lived with metastatic cancer for 1.5 years, and he is living well.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of cancer and therapies, one of my favorite books is Emperor of All Maladies written by Siddartha Murkherjee which is also a PBS mini-series.

Learn more about the Oncology service at NorthStar VETS


Jennifer Kim, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
Dr. Kim grew up in New York and received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania. After two years at the National Cancer Institute performing cancer genetic research, she attended veterinary school at Tufts University. Dr. Kim completed a rotating internship at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, New York, and an oncology internship at Cornell University. She began at NorthStar VETS as an emergency clinician in 2005 and returned in 2010 to treat oncology patients after completing her residency in medical oncology at Michigan State University School of Veterinary Medicine. In her free time, Dr. Kim is an avid foodie and knitter.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Laurie Bergman, VMD, DACVB


Laurie Bergman, VMD, DACVB is a doctor in the Behavior service at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about why her specialty relates so closely to the human-animal bond, the most common types of cases she sees, and how Veterinary Behaviorists save lives.

Dr. Bergman’s Discovery of Animal Behavior and the Human-Animal Bond
We caught up with Dr. Laurie Bergman, who was showing off the new things her dog, Ivan, has learned. Dr. Bergman is a veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior. She first grew interested in animal behavior from a class in veterinary school. “I first learned about animal behavior from watching a nature documentary when I was a kid. I was really interested in it. When I was in veterinary school and I learned there was a study of clinical animal behavior, I just found it so fascinating. After school, I was out in general practice doing work with dogs and cats in the Boston area, and I knew there was a Behaviorist there, so I started going on appointments with her. She became my first mentor. I love helping the animals, but I’ve learned a lot more about the bond that we have with our pets and how we live with them. I enjoyed this much more than just doing small animal practice.”

Dr. Bergman’s Schooling and the Type of Medicine She Originally Thought She was Going to Practice
Dr. Berman grew up in Bergen County and has practiced medicine around the country. “I went to veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania and then I was in the Boston area for a while. I eventually went out to California to do my Behavior residency before coming back to the east coast. I spent the past eight years doing behavior house call work, but I really wanted to be at a practice with multiple specialties where I could collaborate. I was especially drawn to NorthStar VETS by the Exotics department. I originally went to veterinary school thinking I was going to be a bird doctor, so I wanted to be somewhere I could be doing Exotics behavior as well as dogs and cats.”

“With fears, phobias and anxieties, it’s just how they manifest that results in the behavior problem we’re seeing.”

The Most Common Types of Cases Dr. Bergman Sees in the Behavior Service
The majority of animal behavior problems are based on anxieties. “It’s really anxiety that leads to most of the behavior problems that we see. It’s anxiety that we’re treating that may lead to a cat that is urine spraying, or a dog that’s aggressive if a stranger tries to pet them, or a bird that’s yelling and screaming and pulling out its feathers. It’s all about coming up with ways to treat those underlying anxieties. As a veterinarian, I also have the ability to prescribe medications.”

Dr. Bergman treats a wide variety of anxieties and phobias in pets. “Most of the cases I see are dogs, and mostly aggressive dogs. Some of that is because that’s what people recognize as being a problem that needs to be addressed. It’s not that these are bad or mean animals, it’s that they are anxious and they don’t know any other way to deal with the world in which they are living. I’ve also treated a lot of cats who are house-soiling (urine or feces in places it shouldn’t be), cats who are fighting within the household, cats who might be aggressive toward their owners, and fearful cats. With birds, it’s a lot of the same thing. We treat birds who might be aggressive, we see a lot of parrots with anxieties they act out by pulling out their own feathers, but also phobias. With fears, phobias and anxieties, it’s just how they manifest that results in the behavior problem we’re seeing.”

The Best Thing About Working at NorthStar VETS According to Dr. Bergman and How Her Specialty Saves Lives
The wide variety of specialists at NorthStar VETS helps Dr. Bergman to better treat her patients. “It’s the ability to work with a team to collaborate. I have a great team, and we really work together to treat the cases. Being able to refer to other doctors, that’s really the best thing about being at NorthStar VETS.” Treating and improving animal behavior helps to save countless pets every year. “For dogs and cats, we know that more of these pets lose their homes and ultimately their lives because of behavior problems than because of any single disease or anything else. This is why the Behavior service really is a lifesaver and it’s also rebuilding that bond because you really want to enjoy your pet. That’s what it’s all about!”

Learn more about the Behavior service at NorthStar VETS

Laurie Bergman, VMD, DACVB
Dr. Laurie Bergman received her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. She worked in small animal practice on Cape Cod and completed an internship in Wildlife Medicine and Surgery at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She began working in behavior practice in 1998 and entered a residency in behavioral medicine at the University of California Davis in 2000. Since becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in 2003, Dr. Bergman has worked in academic practice in California and private practice in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Bergman’s interests include pet-family interactions, finding practical approaches to behavior problems and treating behavior problems in birds and exotic pets. Dr. Bergman lives in Pennsylvania with her two human children, senior dog, Riley, Australian Terrier puppy, Ivan, Leopard Gecko, Mo, and Bearded Dragon, Frederick. She competed in agility with her previous Australian Terriers and hopes that Ivan can grow up to be an agility dog, too.

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Anxiety-Based Aggression Among Dogs at Home


When Duchess and Bambi first came to the NorthStar VETS Behavior Service, their owner, Jen, wasn’t sure if she would be able to keep both of her girls. Although the two dogs had occasional fights since they were each adopted 2 years earlier, recently their fighting had gotten to the point where Jen was beginning to worry about their safety and the safety of her young son. The other pets and people in the house were all walking on eggshells in response to the tension between the two dogs.

First Visit
When Duchess and Bambi first came to see me, they were still recovering from their last fight. That fight was especially scary because it happened at night, in the dark when Jen invited Bambi to join her and her son and the other pets, including Duchess, in the bed. Not only were both dogs injured, but when Jen’s husband reached in to separate the dogs, he was bitten. Other fights had happened when the dogs got excited about having their harnesses put on before walks, on the stairs when one dog was going up and the other was going down, when putting new collars on the dogs and when trying to clean off Duchess’ backside.

The thought of rehoming either one of the dogs was heartbreaking to the family. Not only did the people in the house love Bambi and Duchess, but the two dogs really did like each other. Between fights, they played with each other and could often be found sleeping curled up together. When Jen tried separating the dogs to prevent fights, they would start to miss each other.

When I met Duchess and Bambi, I quickly realized that they were both sweet, but anxious dogs. Bambi was somewhat afraid of strangers and would also get worried and react if her owners tried to tend to her injuries or if there were problems putting on her harness. Duchess would get anxious as well when Bambi was getting worried about these things, and she was uncomfortable about being touched by people or dogs from behind.

At our first meeting, Jen was given a treatment plan that included recommendations on how to avoid situations that could make either dog anxious, including trying to have them sleep in crates rather than on people beds. Additionally, we discussed how to safely break up dog fights, should another fight occur. We also talked about doing some training with the dogs so Jen, her husband and even her son could have ways to redirect the dogs’ attention away from each other or things that make them anxious. In addition, Bambi was started on a medication to lower her anxiety. Bambi was worried about many different things and her anxiety would feed into Duchess’ anxiety and aggression.

Post-Visit Success
Within a couple of weeks of our initial appointment, Jen was already seeing improvement. Jen reported that “Bambi is a less anxious version of herself.” For the first time, Bambi would go into her crate without screaming and urinating on herself. This meant that the dogs were no longer trying to sleep in peoples’ beds.

Duchess and Bambi resting together after being helped by Dr.Laurie Bergman at NorthStar VETSSecond Visit
Six weeks after that, Duchess and Bambi came in for a follow up appointment. They were both less anxious at this appointment than the first time we met. At home Bambi was generally less anxious and there had been no more fights. Since Duchess was still showing some anxiety towards Bambi, she was also started on medication after this appointment. We were also able to talk about some specific behavior modification strategies to address the few remaining situations that caused tension between the girls.

Life at Home Today
Three months after the initial consultation, Jen reported that there had been no more fights between the girls. The family are all careful to watch the dogs’ body language and know how to diffuse situations if they seem tense. Bambi continues to be ‘a new dog’ and Duchess is less on edge. They’ve been getting along so much better, that Duchess let Bambi join her to nap on Jen’s son’s bed and pose for this picture!

If your pets have difficulty getting along, contact NorthStar VETS to schedule an appointment with the Behavior service.

Learn more about the Behavior service at NorthStar VETS

Laurie Bergman, VMD, DACVB
Dr. Laurie Bergman received her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. She worked in small animal practice on Cape Cod and completed an internship in Wildlife Medicine and Surgery at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She began working in behavior practice in 1998 and entered a residency in behavioral medicine at the University of California Davis in 2000. Since becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in 2003, Dr. Bergman has worked in academic practice in California and private practice in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Bergman’s interests include pet-family interactions, finding practical approaches to behavior problems and treating behavior problems in birds and exotic pets. Dr. Bergman lives in Pennsylvania with her two human children, senior dog, Riley, Australian Terrier puppy, Ivan, Leopard Gecko, Mo, and Bearded Dragon, Frederick. She competed in agility with her previous Australian Terriers and hopes that Ivan can grow up to be an agility dog, too.

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