Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Steven Berkowitz, DVM


Steven Berkowitz, DVM is a doctor in the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, he talks about when he knew he was going to be a veterinarian, how the critical care service works, and his favorite thing about working at NorthStar VETS.

How Dr. Berkowitz got into veterinary medicine
We caught up with Emergency and Critical Care veterinarian, Dr. Steven Berkowitz, who was examining a patient. “I originally wanted to become a veterinarian when I was eight years old. My father is a physician, and my uncle was a veterinarian. I fell in love with the science aspect of it, but obviously love dogs and cats and felt like that really was my calling. Even in my elementary school yearbook, it asked what everyone wanted to be, what their favorite character was, and what their favorite food was, and I wanted to be a veterinarian in fifth grade already.”

“I went to undergrad at the University of Miami, did my veterinary studies at St. Georges University in Grenada in the West Indies, and did my final year at the University of Illinois. After that, I did an internship at ASPCA in New York City, and was an emergency doctor at a hospital in North Jersey for a couple of years before deciding to go back and do a residency in critical care, which I completed at Oradell Animal Hospital up in North Jersey. Shortly after that, I started in the critical care department here at NorthStar VETS.”

How the Critical Care service works
Chesterfield Fire Company Recieving Award from NorthStar VETSThe Critical Care department at NorthStar VETS sees a huge variety of different emergency cases each week. “In Emergency, we take in patients that have traumas, toxicities, have severe metabolic derangements, or have things like diabetes and hyperthyroidism. What we do is we take them in from their local veterinarians or on an emergent basis, take care of them overnight, and then transfer them to other specialty services. In Critical Care, what we do is take care of those same patients, and help out all the other services in the hospital. For example, if the Surgery department has a really complicated anesthetic case and they need to focus on the surgery, we can focus on the anesthesia, whether that be with the protocol or helping out in the operating room suite. If the Internal Medicine team has a complicated case that requires special attention and needs more surveillance, they may have us monitor cases as well. The Critical Care service is like a catch-all to help the other services and help take care of the sickest of the sick animals.”

“Even with bad days, we’re still helping patients and their families, so at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how busy we are, how crazy the cases are, or how crazy the day is, we feel great knowing that we’re helping people and we’re helping maintain pets’ quality of life, which to me is the most important thing we can do.”

This is Dr. Berkowitz favorite thing about working at NorthStar VETS
Dr. Berkowitz and the team at NorthStar VETS will continue to provide world-class care for you and your pets. “My favorite thing here is not only the volume of patients that we see, but the camaraderie between the different departments and how well we all work together. It’s an awesome place to be. From the front desk to the back, we all get along very well, and it’s a nice cohesive team.”

“…we’re helping maintain pets’ quality of life, which to me is the most important thing we can do.”

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

Steven Berkowitz, DVMSteven Berkowitz, DVM
Dr. Steven Berkowitz attended St. Georges University and did his clinical year at the University of Illinois. Berkowitz joined NorthStar VETS after serving as the Chief of Emergency and Critical Care at another specialty hospital. Prior to that, he completed a three-year residency in Emergency and Critical Care medicine at the Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. His residency was completed at one of only a few recognized veterinary trauma centers in the United States. Prior to his residency, he was a staff Emergency Veterinarian at Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers, NY as well as serving as an emergency doctor at Animal Emergency and Referral Associates in Fairfield, NJ for 3 years. Dr. Berkowitz can be seen on seasons 5 and 6 of “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet, which was filmed during his internship at The Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital of the ASPCA in New York City.
Dr. Berkowitz has special interest in the management of metabolic and endocrine derangements, trauma, as well as management of the septic patient.

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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Rudy


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 is a new series of posts to be shared highlighting 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. Watch the doctor tell you the story in their own words via the video below. This is the story of Rudy, a patient of Veterinary Dentist and Oral Surgeon, Dr. John Lewis, and how a relatively new technique helped this dog overcome a partially diseased jawbone.

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



John Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDCJohn 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 five boys, two dogs, and two cats, all of whom keep him busy outside of work.


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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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Peliosis Hepatis


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 an article summary from a case seen by Dr. Steven Berkowitz of the NorthStar VETS Emergency and Critical Care team. To read the full story (requires subscription or paid access to full journal article), visit Wiley.com.

Article Title
Resolution of spontaneous hemoabdomen secondary to peliosis hepatis following surgery and azithromycin treatment in a Bartonella species infected dog

Case Summary
A 3-year-11-month-old 22.5 kg female spayed mixed breed dog presented for progressive lethargy and vomiting. An abdominal ultrasonographic examination revealed moderate ascites, which when sampled was nonclotting hemorrhagic fluid. An exploratory laparotomy revealed a large volume of nonclotted blood in the dog’s abdomen and blood-filled vesicular lesions dispersed diffusely along multiple lobes of the liver. Biopsies revealed lesions indicative of PH. Serology testing for Bartonella species was positive. Treatment with azithromycin resulted in Bartonella serology negative status and no further evidence of hemoperitonium at recheck examination 12 months after initial presentation.

This is a rare condition with a positive outcome for this pet. Read the rest of the article at Wiley.com

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

Steven Berkowitz, DVMSteven Berkowitz, DVM
Dr. Steven Berkowitz attended St. Georges University and did his clinical year at the University of Illinois. Berkowitz joined NorthStar VETS after serving as the Chief of Emergency and Critical Care at another specialty hospital. Prior to that, he completed a three-year residency in Emergency and Critical Care medicine at the Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. His residency was completed at one of only a few recognized veterinary trauma centers in the United States. Prior to his residency, he was a staff Emergency Veterinarian at Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers, NY as well as serving as an emergency doctor at Animal Emergency and Referral Associates in Fairfield, NJ for 3 years. Dr. Berkowitz can be seen on seasons 5 and 6 of “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet, which was filmed during his internship at The Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital of the ASPCA in New York City.

Dr. Berkowitz has special interest in the management of metabolic and endocrine derangements, trauma, as well as management of the septic patient.


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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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Parker


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 is the first in a new series of posts to be shared highlighting 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. Read the story below and watch the doctor tell you the story in their own words via the video at the end. We begin with the story of Parker, a patient of Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Heather Knapp-Hoch, and how new technology helped this dog in a minimally-invasive way.

About Parker
Parker is a miniature poodle that presented to NorthStar VETS at 18 weeks of age for urinary incontinence. Her owners noted that she had been incontinent since they rescued her. She would constantly dribble urine and had been diagnosed with multiple urinary tract infections. A contrast study was performed by her referring veterinarian which was suspicious for a left ectopic ureter. She presented to the surgery service for evaluation and treatment options.

Ectopic Ureters
Ectopic ureters are a congenital abnormality where the distal aspect of the ureter does not enter the bladder in the normal location of the trigone of the bladder. They most commonly bypass this location and enter the urinary tract system distal to the urethral sphincter which results in urinary incontinence. Surgical correction of the abnormal ureter is recommended to improve urinary incontinence. Traditionally this was accomplished with an open abdominal surgery which involved a cystotomy and the creation of a new ureteral opening in the trigone of the bladder via various surgical techniques. Recently the surgical treatment of this disease has shifted to a minimally invasive procedure which allows for diagnosis and treatment of this disease in the same anesthesia episode with no need for an open abdominal surgery.

About the new procedure
Cystoscopic laser ablation of intramural ectopic ureters is accomplished via a minimally invasive scoping procedure and ablation of the ureteral wall with a cystoscopically-guided laser fiber. Advantages of this technique over an open surgical approach are diminished surgical time, postoperative pain and hospitalization time as well as the diagnosis and treatment of this disease within the same anesthesia episode. The rate of continence post laser ablation or open abdominal surgery is similar with 50-75% of dogs improving or becoming fully continent post-procedure.

How things went for Parker
Parker was the first patient at NorthStar VETS to undergo this new minimally-invasive treatment for ectopic ureters. During the scoping procedure, she was diagnosed with a definitive left ectopic ureter which entered the urinary tract in the urethra. A holmium – yag laser was used to ablate the ureteral wall and take the opening of the ureter to the level of the trigone in the bladder. She stayed in our hospital overnight and went home on antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication to help with pain and inflammation. She was discharged from our hospital less than 24 hours after surgery and the best news of all is that she was fully continent when she was discharged.

Prognosis
It has been 3 months since Parker’s procedure and her owners were happy to report she was doing great at home. She is a normal puppy with no evidence of dribbling urine or incontinence. Her long-term prognosis is expected to be excellent with a decreased risk of urinary tract infections in the future.

Learn more about the Surgery service at NorthStar VETS



Heather Knapp-Hoch, DVM, MS, DACVSHeather Knapp-Hoch, DVM, MS, DACVS
Originally from New Jersey, Dr. Knapp-Hoch is excited to return home and join the NorthStar VETS surgical team. Dr. Knapp-Hoch earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Long Island University in 2001. She then traveled across the US to obtain a Masters degree in genetics and cell and molecular biology from Washington State University where she also obtained her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2007. Dr. Knapp-Hoch then completed a small animal rotating internship at Cornell University in 2008. Following her internship she completed a three-year surgical residency at Cornell University in 2011. She obtained board certification in 2012 and practiced as a small animal clinical instructor at Cornell University from 2011-2014.

Dr. Knapp-Hoch’s special areas of interest include surgical oncology and minimally invasive surgery including laser ablation of ectopic ureters. She is proficient in advanced wound management and has a special interest in the use of negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) to treat difficult surgical and traumatic wounds. She is trained in both the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and the tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) surgical procedures for cranial cruciate ligament disease.


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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Advice on Training your Dog


January is Train Your Dog Month. Jean Tomaselli is our certified veterinary technician in the Behavior service and a dog trainer. She has provided tips for families considering training their new pet.

My dual careers as both a professional animal trainer and a veterinary technician began in the mid-1980s. Over the years, experience has changed the way I train and present information to my clients. As a positive reinforcement trainer who specializes in aggression problems, I need to meet my clients’ needs by giving them useful information in a short amount of time. The dog’s life is often at stake. These are loving owners, most with families and busy careers. They have limited time and energy to devote to their pet. Helping dogs with problems is more about being dog savvy – more of a lifestyle change and less about training than you would think. The more dogs that you love in your lifetime, the more dog personalities you will encounter. You need to understand the needs of this dog, which may not be the same as your last dog. You will see better outcomes if you stay engaged and involved with your dog’s emotional responses to the world. Even if you can only devote a few minutes per day, you should expect to put that time in every day even when your dog is older.

Here are the first things to consider.

How to know when your dog needs training
All of us can agree that the the dogs with which we live need to have some manners and be enjoyable to have around! Domestic dogs sometimes do things that don’t seem to fit our expectations. Many of these behaviors can be a nuisance or even a safety issue when dogs live in a human world. Barking, destructive chewing, and using the house as a restroom can make life with a dog stressful, but barking and chewing and pooping are just a normal part of being a dog. Dogs can also develop behaviors that are dangerous, which can lead to hurting themselves or the humans with which they interact. So when do you start?

DSC_3222Don’t delay your training until your puppy reaches a certain level of maturity. Don’t delay training until your puppy finishes getting his vaccinations. Don’t delay training because you think there will be a better time or that you will have more time for it later. Do it today! Train for a few minutes every day to create a habit. Make each walk a training walk, train a little bit before each meal that you feed your dog, make every interaction a possibility for learning. When using positive reinforcement training, you do not need to wait until a puppy reaches a certain age because positive reinforcement should be fun for the puppy, like playing a game. As long as you are seeking venues for training that insist upon positive methods, do a variety of things: puppy classes, beginner classes, and personal training. Consider a sport or activity to do together with your dog. Don’t give up on those old dogs either, there are many older dogs out there at ten, twelve and even older that still compete in sports, search and rescue, etc.

How to identify a good trainer
There are a lot of things to look for in a good dog trainer. A good trainer knows the local board-certified veterinary behaviorist and will work with the behaviorist when needed. A good trainer carries accreditation with governing organizations that are respected among the positive reinforcement and veterinary behavior community. A good trainer keeps up-to-date on training methods and is not afraid to refer you to someone else if the problem you are having is beyond their level of experience.

Management – Enrichment – Education
My mantra for living successfully with dogs is MANAGEMENT-ENRICHMENT-EDUCATION. If you are not managing your pet correctly, your efforts to train a dog may be wasted. Here’s an example of a good management practice: Dogs often find the front door exciting – A knock, a doorbell, people who may be unfamiliar and carrying packages. Everything is exciting as people enter! It’s easy for dogs to become worked up at the front door. By going to the front door repeatedly without guidance, a dog can learn how to be unruly or aggressive at the door. To practice good management, simply put a dog or puppy away (in a safe place) whenever guests are expected. This will allow for you to bring your puppy or dog back (perhaps on leash and with training in mind) into the social situation and after the doorway excitement has dissipated. Learning how to be a good manager of your canine friend will keep them out of trouble and prevent them from developing bad habits in the first place. Crate training with the goal of teaching a dog that a crate is a good place, and the utilization of gates to prevent dogs from going into other areas of the house, can prevent your pet from getting into trouble or engaging with other pets or children unsupervised. Management is everything, and as a trainer I expect dogs to act like dogs no matter how much training they have.

“You can’t expect a dog that is under-stimulated or under-exercised to be able to live well in a home.”

Enrichment is also a vital part of living successfully with any dog. Enrichment is a piece that must also be in place for training to be successful. Enrichment is anything that you do with or for your dog that improves their quality of life or mentally stimulates them in good ways. Taking your dog for a walk or a hike has great benefits for many dogs. Spending time training for a few minutes or rigging up some homemade agility equipment in the backyard can also be considered enrichment. Food enrichment or eating from food toys is also incredibly powerful. My dogs (the dogs of a lifelong professional trainer) never eat food out of a bowl. All of their meals (dry dog food, wet dog food and treats) either come from my hands during training or comes from a food dispensing toy such as a Kong. When I present my dogs with their meals, their eyes light up, because they don’t just eat, they play with their food! Many dogs need to be taught how to use food toys, so don’t expect every dog to get it instantly. Meeting your pet’s species-specific needs must be in place in order for training to be successful. The bottom line is you can’t expect a dog that is under-stimulated or under-exercised to be able to live well in a home.

Getting started with training
Teaching your dog language and skills never ceases throughout the life of the dog. Dogs are never finished with training! They need constant refreshers, new skills and new learning for the situations that arise in an ever-changing life. The benefits of training your dog are endless. A few minutes of clicker training and progressive positive reinforcement every day can satisfy your dog’s need for human interaction, and you will both enjoy this time well spent. Don’t underestimate tricks – the more fun things a dog knows, the better that dog will be able to function in the human world.

You can always set up an appointment with us if your pet is having concerning behavior issues. And for those dogs new in your life, get started right away with a lifetime of training! All the best to you and your new family member!

Learn more about the Behavior service at NorthStar VETS

Find a trainer at PetProfessionalGuild.com/

Jean L. Tomaselli CVT, ABTA, ABCJean L. Tomaselli CVT, ABTA, ABC
Jean Tomaselli is a part of the NorthStar VETS team and has been a behavior technician at Northstar VETS since 2011.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Dorothy Jackson DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)


Dorothy Jackson, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology) is a doctor in the Oncology service at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about how she got into veterinary medicine, the types of cases she sees, and what she loves about working at NorthStar VETS.

Today’s patient: Taylor Blair
We caught up with Dr. Dorothy Jackson, who was examining one of her patients, Taylor Blair. “She’s an older Springer Spaniel and is still considered a hunting dog. She can still hunt while doing chemotherapy. She’s under chemo for lymphoma, one of the more common cancer diseases we see in dogs and cats. She presented for enlarged lymph nodes, and now with chemotherapy she’s feeling better and the lymph nodes are gone away. It’s not a disease we cure, but we can put in remission to where she can go out and hunt and do her normal routine.”

How Dr. Jackson got into veterinary medicine
oncologyDr. Jackson’s passion for helping animals started as a child. “As cliche as it sounds, I have always loved working with animals. When I was growing up, I wanted to either be a veterinarian or a marine biologist, and I thought about a lot of other career options, but I got a job in high school with a local veterinarian and loved it. As I was going through veterinary school, I really liked the aspects of Oncology and working with clients to give their dogs and cats good quality of life for as long as we could. After veterinary school, I went through my internship and residency to become specialized to do that. Undergrad and veterinary school were both at Mississippi State University. I was born and raised in the South. I did two internships, one at the University of Missouri, and a specialty internship at a private practice in Atlanta. Residency brought me north. I did part of my time at the University of Pennsylvania, and the rest at a private practice in Connecticut. When I came up north for that, I stayed in the area, enjoyed it, and eventually ended up here at NorthStar VETS.”

The types of cases Dr. Jackson sees in Oncology
Dr. Jackson continued our conversation by talking about the kind of cases she sees, and she sees a variety of different cancers in pets. “I see mostly dogs and cats here at the hospital. There’s a new therapy for melanoma that horses are responsive to as well, so I do make a few farm calls for them. Typically, lymphoma is the most common thing we see, but we see bone tumors, splenic masses, splenic tumors, abdominal tumors, and most of the cases we see here now can be controlled with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is in the works, so eventually we’ll be seeing things like incompletely excised skin tumors where we follow up surgery with radiation therapy.”

What Dr. Jackson loves about working at NorthStar VETS
The team at NorthStar VETS works together closely to provide world-class care to its patients. “One of the biggest draws is not just the medicine we provide, but the people here. It’s a great working environment. The days in Oncology are not always happy days and we have our rough days here and there, but having people you can work with to get through those times and being able to work closely with the Surgeons, the Internists, and the Radiologists to provide the best care we can for these patients is good.”

“Don’t let the word ‘cancer’ scare you, because there are definitely options out there.”

Dr. Jackson and the team at NorthStar VETS are always available to help you and your pets. In her final words to us during this interview, this was the most important thing she wanted pet owners to know. “If you ever have any questions or concerns, definitely give me a call. I always tell owners, ‘Don’t let the word cancer scare you, because there are definitely options out there.’ If you’re not sure what you want to do, at least come in, chat, and we can figure out the best option.”

Learn more about the Oncology service 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 girlfriend…another Italian. When not traveling to new places, they enjoy their time at home with their 3 cats who keep them quite entertained.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS team: Gaemia Tracy, DVM


Gaemia Tracy, DVM is a doctor in the Neurology service at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, he talks about how he got into veterinary medicine, the types of cases he sees, and why he chose to work at NorthStar VETS.

How Dr. Tracy got into veterinary medicine
We caught up with Dr. Gaemia Tracy, who was running a test on one of his patients. Dr. Tracy recently joined the team at NorthStar VETS and works in the Neurology service. “I first wanted to become a veterinarian just from having a dog when I was little and going to veterinary appointments and seeing what they did with her. I watched them work with her and they let me follow them around a little bit, and that’s what piqued my interest. I ended up going for my undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, veterinary school at Ohio State, an internship in Charlotte, North Carolina at Carolina Veterinary Specialists, and a Neurology residency in Jacksonville, Florida.”

Why Dr. Tracy came to NorthStar VETS
Dr. Tracy heard about NorthStar VETS and joined the staff here a few months ago. “NorthStar VETS is an awesome hospital! I read about it, was intrigued by the hospital design of the year award in 2012, the hospital of the year award in 2013, and just reading up on it and following it. I also know they’ve been getting good reviews here. I really like that everybody works together for the good of the pet. That’s the bottom line. Whatever is best for the pet is what everybody’s mantra is. There’s no selfishness, no egos, everything just working together to make pets and pet owners very happy.”

What veterinary Neurologists do
Dr. Tracy continued our conversation by talking about the unique expertise he brings in Neurology to NorthStar VETS. “Veterinary Neurology is about working with diseases of the brain and spinal cord. Pretty much, any pet that can’t walk correctly due to weakness or disconnect between the brain and spinal cord is what we see. We also see seizures, ataxia, and difficulty walking. We treat patients either medically or surgically.”

What makes Dr. Tracy tick
Dr. Tracy is looking forward to the chance to help you and your pets. “I just like helping animals and pet owners as well. I know that the human-animal bond has been pretty strong in my life and I like to promote it in other peoples’ lives and make their best friend happy and healthy.”


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 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!

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Shiara Arulpragasam, DVM, CCRP


Dr. Shiara Arulpragasam is a Veterinary Surgeon at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about how she got into veterinary medicine, her love of Great Danes, and what she looks for in a great veterinary specialty hospital.

Dr. A confesses her love of Danes
We caught up with Dr. Arulpragasam, who was showing us her dog between appointments. “This is Ajax, he’s my dog. He’s a two-year-old Great Dane. We just adopted him about a month ago. His previous owners developed really bad allergies and so he needed a home. I ended up with a previous Great Dane that was rescued from the shelter and she was just the sweetest dog, and now I just think I can’t be without one. They’re goofy, and sweet, and there’s just more of them to love!”

How Dr. Arulpragasam got into veterinary medicine
Dr. Arulpragasam recently joined the Surgery team at NorthStar VETS, and gave us some background on how she got into this line of work. “Obviously, I’ve always been an animal lover, as most of us veterinarians are. I actually wanted to be a surgeon before I wanted to be a veterinarian and I was planning on going to medical school when I was in college. My roommate wanted to be a veterinarian and was telling me about it, and when I figured out I could be a veterinary surgeon, that was what made me switch career paths. So instead of applying to Tufts Medical School, I applied to Tufts Veterinary School, and here I am now!”

What Dr. A looks for in a great veterinary specialty hospital
Dr. Arulpragasam continued our conversation by talking about her job application process out of school. “You know, I was looking for a place where there were multiple surgeons so there would be a really good group to learn from as well as to work with. I also appreciate having other specialists, and NorthStar VETS is just a wonderful, state-of-the-art facility that blew all the other places out of the water that I applied to. I was really happy to end up here, and I’m from the northeast, I’m from Connecticut, so it was perfect for my family as well.”

The types of cases a veterinary surgeon sees on a daily basis and why she does what she does
NorthStar VETS sees more than 400 cases each week, and Dr. Arulpragasam can see a wide variety of patients. “I’ll see anything from something with the GI tract, or orthopedic like a torn ACL, as well as some neurosurgery like back surgeries.” Dr. Arulpragasam is looking forward to helping you and your pets. In her final thoughts during our interview, she commented on what she gets out of her work. “You know, it’s great to make the dogs and cats better, but when pet owners come to you with tears in their eyes and say ‘You know, this dog (or cat) is everything to me. I’m so grateful,’ that really means a lot to me.”


Learn more about the Surgery service at NorthStar VETS

Shiara Arulpragasam, DVM, CCRPShiara Arulpragasam, DVM, CCRP
Dr. Arulpragasam (“Dr. A”) is originally from Connecticut and is excited to return home to the northeast and join the NorthStar VETS surgical team. Dr. Arulpragasam earned her Bachelor of Science at Tufts University in 2007. She stayed at Tufts University for veterinary school and obtained her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. She then completed a small animal rotating internship at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Arulpragasam went on to complete a small animal surgery internship at the University of Florida followed by a three year small animal surgery residency at the University of Tennessee. While at University of Tennessee, Dr. Arulpragasam obtained her certification as a canine rehabilitation practitioner (CCRP). Dr. Arulpragasam’s interests include minimally invasive surgery, wound management and reconstructive surgery, congenital portosystemic shunts, cardiothoracic surgery and physical rehabilitation for orthopedic and neurologic conditions. She is trained in both the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) and Lateral Extracapsular Suture techniques for cranial cruciate ligament injury.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS team: Tammy Anderson, DVM, DACVIM


Dr. Tammy Anderson is a Veterinary Internist at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about how she got into veterinary medicine, the kinds of things she does most commonly for pets and the words her mother said to her that changed her life.

How Dr. Anderson got into Veterinary Medicine
We caught up with Dr. Anderson while she was checking on her patients. Dr. Vygantas was originally a nurse, before she found a passion for working with animals. Here is how she tells her story. “I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was a little child. People used to tease me because I would gather any kind of animals that I could. I think I’m a thwarted biologist. I went to nursing school because I admired my mother, and I was wild when I was quite young (Dr. Anderson gives a mischievous wink) and couldn’t get through vet school. After doing nursing for about five years, I decided that I really needed to go back to school. I listened to Tracy Chapman’s song, ‘If Not Now, When?’ and had my epiphany of my lifetime which was to go back to school. I went back to school while doing nursing, which was great. I still love nursing. I like working with people, and as an internist, we get to do that all the time. As corny as it sounds, I still do like helping the animals.”

“I went to school at Ohio State, then did my internship at Michigan State, then did my residency in Internal Medicine in Tennessee. New Jersey is my home, I graduated from Wall High School, so I love the people here in New Jersey.”



DSC_4379The words Dr. Anderson’s mother said to her that changed her life
Dr. Anderson has been practicing medicine for more than twenty years, specializing in Internal Medicine. She went on to tell us a powerful personal story that really touched us. “My mother became a nurse in 1959 because she wanted to work for a veterinarian down the road and she found out that he would hire a nurse in his office. She always wanted to be a veterinarian, but back then, women didn’t really go to vet school. When I graduated, during the white coat ceremony where we give our oath, I was walking down the aisle and I saw that she was weeping like a baby. Afterwards, I said, ‘Mom, what was that about?’ and she said, ‘I always wanted to be a veterinarian.’ and she never told me until I graduated. That was the first time that she told me. “

What it takes to be a veterinary internist
Dr. Anderson gave us some background on the kind of training it takes to become a veterinary internist. “Internists are people who are trained for an additional three-to-four years specifically in medicine where we deal with difficult cases. My first year of vet school, Dean Fenner said to us students, ‘Some of you are going to want to do medicine, some of you are going to want to do surgery’ and the minute he said ‘medicine,’ (medicine referring to the type of cases that are puzzles and interesting to work with) I knew I was going to be away from home longer than four years. It took me about ten because I stayed at Tennessee and did some teaching, which I very much enjoyed, but I was home-sick and wanted to spend time with my family.”

NorthStar VETS sees more than 400 cases each week. Dr. Anderson and the team at NorthStar VETS are always available to help you and your pets 24/7. Dr. Anderson gave us her final thoughts. “Here we do more than just the medicine. We do a lot of outreach, a lot of continuing education, and to me, it isn’t just a career, it’s a calling. I know that sounds very corny, but I really think it’s true. One of the benefits for me is that I really enjoy people. So being able to help pets allows us to help people. And even in a case where the outcome is terrible, you can be gentle with people, and be knowlegeable, give them information, and help them feel good about their decisions.”

“The people here are really easy to work with. My clients are great, but by the time they see me, they are really devoted to their pets as I am to mine and so I really respect the group of people that we have. Most people respect the job that we do, and I really love working with other veterinarians. I count some of them as friends and almost all of them as fond acquaintances (she gives a big smile) and that’s really important to me as well.” Dr. Anderson will continue to provide world-class veterinary care to her patients.


Learn more about the Internal Medicine service at NorthStar VETS

Tammy Anderson, DVM, DACVIMTammy Anderson, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Anderson is a New Jersey native who received her veterinary medical degree from Ohio State University in 1995. She completed her small animal internship at Michigan State University in 1996, and her residency in small animal internal medicine at the University of Tennessee in 1999. She remained at UT as an assistant professor of small animal medicine until 2001, when she returned to New Jersey and entered private practice. Dr. Anderson joined NorthStar VETS in 2004.

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Signs That Your Pet Needs Immediate Care


http://www.northstarvets.com/ebookYour pet may require emergency care due to trauma from an accident or fall, for example, or other life-threatening situations such as illness, choking, heatstroke, an insect sting, or poisoning. These are some signs that you should seek veterinary care immediately:

  • Change in body temperature
  • Difficulty standing/walking
  • Disorientation
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pale gums
  • Paralysis (apparent/sudden)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Weak or rapid pulse

This excerpt is from our Pet First Aid Handbook. To learn more about what to do in a pet-related emergency, download the NorthStar VETS Pet Emergency Handbook.

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