NorthStar VETS Cool Case Casey


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. Read the story below and watch the doctor tell you the story in their own words via the video at the end. This is the story of Casey, a patient of Dr. Steven Berkowitz of our Emergency and Critical Care team, and how a relatively new technique helped save this dog’s life in an innovative way.

About Casey
Casey was an 8-year-old Labrador Retriever that presented to NorthStar VETS late one morning after her owner found her laying on her side and minimally responsive. After a little investigation, they realized that she had eaten an entire bottle of her phenobarbital that she was on for seizures secondary to a brain tumor. Unfortunately, she had ingested just under 100mg/kg of body weight (her actual dose was 2mg/kg)!

About Phenobarbital
According to multiple sources, the elimination half-life of phenobarbital in dogs is anywhere from 12 hours to 2 days. In other words, it could remain active in her body for up to 5 times the half-life, or up to 10 days in her system, and thus have harmful effects.

For years, the treatments for phenobarbital and other barbiturate intoxications was to merely treat the symptoms with supportive care and IV fluids, and there was some literature that recommended using activated charcoal to speed the gastrointestinal clearance of the medications, with limited success.

How things went for Casey
On presentation, Casey was found to be minimally responsive, had a heart rate of 60 beats per minute with poor pulses, and a respiratory rate of 20, and had lost her gag and swallowing reflex. At the dose of phenobarbital she got into, she was at risk of severe central nervous system (CNS) depression, including cessation of breathing and heart contractions secondary to medullary depression.

About the new procedure
Due to recent studies and case reports, Dr. Berkowitz of the Emergency and Critical Care team opted to try a novel therapy of giving her intravenous lipid emulsion. This is a product made of 100% soybean oil that has been purified and approved for parenteral nutrition and some intoxications. The exact mechanism of action of this therapy is not well established, but in cases of highly lipophilic (fat soluble) medications, it has been surmised that there is a “lipid sink” effect as well as an “extended lipid phase.” In these two theories, we suspect that by giving a substance with a high fat content, that we prevent the toxins from leaving the vasculature, and therefore preventing it from reaching the neurological tissue, thus preventing the effects of the drug. The extended phase theory also intimates that it can actually cause the bound medication/toxin from the tissue, and back into the highly lipid filled vasculature, thus removing the toxin from the affected tissues.

Within 1 hour of initiating the intravenous lipid emulsion, Casey was not only more alert, but she was wagging her tail and trying to stand up and walk to the nursing staff. Now that she was able to swallow, she was then also given an oral dose of activated charcoal. Approximately 4 hours later, she started to become very dull again. She was given a second round of intravenous lipid emulsion, and within hours, she was walking around, barking at other dogs and eating well. By the next morning, which was less than 18 hours after presentation, Casey was doing so well that she was discharged and walked herself out of the front door! Beyond the obvious success, what is so wonderful with this result is that in cases where lipid therapy was not given, many of these dogs passed away as a result of intoxication and the inability, even with CPR, to maintain a respiratory drive. In addition, those patients that did make it, often needed to be hospitalized for several days and Casey left in less than 1!

NorthStar VETS had recent success with the lipid emulsion technique when a dog got into insecticide.

Be prepared for pet emergencies at home. Download your free copy of the NorthStar VETS Pet Emergency Care Handbook.

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 Romeo


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 Romeo, a patient of Dr. Heather Knapp-Hoch and Dr. Kelly Kraus of our Surgery team, and how advanced wound management and a skin graft helped save this dog’s leg.

About Romeo

Dr. Kraus with a healed Romeo

Dr. Kraus with a healed Romeo

Romeo is a 7-year-old male neutered Cock-a-poo who came to NorthStar VETS in January after being hit by a car. After initial stabilization, he was transferred to the Surgery department for management of degloving wounds sustained to the right forelimb.

About this type of wound

Figure 1

Figure 1

A “degloving” wound is one in which a large portion of skin is stripped off the body, and they are a common injury when a high-velocity object (car) shears across a limb. These wounds are notoriously difficult to manage, because as well as skin damage, there may also be damage to the joints, ligaments, vessels, and nerves. Because these wounds are often contaminated with asphalt, dirt, and hair, combined with the damage to the delicate blood vessels supplying the skin, just stitching the skin back together often fails.

Romeo’s initial wound removed approximately eighty percent of the skin from the wrist down (Fig. 1), and also damaged part of the pad tissue. The carpal (wrist) joint was open and several important ligaments were missing. The options at that point were either amputation of the leg, which the surgeons did not recommend, or allowing his body to try and heal the wounds, followed by likely reconstructive surgery, which is what was elected.

How things went for Romeo

Figure 2

Figure 2

Surgeons use a variety of techniques to help severe wounds heal. Some possible methods include surgery for removal of unhealthy tissues (debridement), vacuum-assisted wound therapy (“VAC” therapy), and management with sequential bandaging to allow the body to start to heal. Drs. Kraus and Knapp-Hoch managed Romeo’s initial wounds with a combination of surgical debridement and open wound management with bandaging. In the beginning, part of Romeo’s pad, one of his digits, and a large portion of skin required removal (Fig. 2). Once all the unhealthy tissue had “declared” itself and had been removed, the doctors used various types of bandages, in combination with a splint, for Romeo’s tissue to heal enough to accept a graft. This time also allowed the wrist to scar in place after the ligament loss. The process from initial injury to obtaining a tissue bed healthy enough to accept a graft took approximately 1 month.

About the skin graft

Figure 3

Figure 3

A free skin graft involves removing a healthy piece of skin from another area of the body and transplanting it to a new location. When a skin graft is transferred, it relies upon nourishment from the bed onto which it was placed. That is why it is so important that the tissue bed is healthy, like Romeo’s granulation bed (Fig 3). Drs. Kraus and Knapp-Hoch performed Romeo’s skin graft (Fig 4) using a piece of skin from his side. He was kept in a splint and bandage for 2 weeks while his body finished healing, and the majority of the graft (around ninety-five percent) survived, which was excellent news for Romeo (Fig. 5). After hair regrowth (Fig. 6), Romeo is looking fantastic and living a normal life.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 6

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.

Kelly Kraus, VMD, DACVSKelly Kraus, VMD, DACVS
Dr. Kraus is originally from Connecticut. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland in 2003 before moving to Philadelphia, where she did molecular genetics research for two years at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kraus then completed veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. After graduating, she completed a rotating internship at Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ. She then moved to Texas to complete a one-year internship in surgery at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists. She was fortunate to then move back to New Jersey for a three-year residency in surgery at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, which she completed in 2014.

She is excited to be part of the surgery team at Northstar Vets. Her special surgical interests include, but are not limited to, wound management and reconstructive surgery, surgical oncology, cardiothoracic surgery, and hepatobiliary surgery. Dr. Kraus also enjoys management of orthopedic conditions. She is trained in the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) for cranial cruciate ligament disease. Outside of work, Dr. Kraus enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, traveling, and helping her local SPCA.


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: Jason Coggeshall, DVM


Dr. Jason Coggeshall is a member of the Veterinary Surgery team at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, he talks about the first big decision of his career, the kind of cases veterinary surgeons typically see, and the thing that gets him excited about working on this team.

The first big decision of Dr. Coggeshall’s career
We caught up with Dr. Coggeshall, who was checking up on his patients. Dr. Coggeshall is relatively new to NorthStar VETS, but brings a wealth of experience from working in veterinary surgery throughout the country. “I always knew I wanted to do surgery, but didn’t always know I wanted to be a veterinarian. I had to make the choice between human surgery and veterinary surgery, and ultimately decided to go the route of veterinary surgery. I went to Tuskeegee University down in Alabama, did a few internships, then did a residency, and now I’m here at NorthStar VETS.”

_AD_8087_RT2What surgeons like Dr. Coggeshall see from day to day
Dr. Coggeshall and the surgical team at NorthStar VETS perform a wide variety of procedures. “Typically we do orthopedic and soft tissue procedures and some neurologic procedures. Mainly, for orthopedics, we look at a lot of dogs with tears of their ACL and fractures. For soft tissue procedures, it’s mainly mass removals, and dogs who swallow things and need intestinal surgery.”

The thing that gets Dr. Coggeshall excited about working on this team
NorthStar VETS sees hundreds of pets each week, and Dr. Coggeshall really enjoys people’s passion for their pets. “What I like about being a veterinarian is the interactions with the clients. I think it’s always nice to bring a smile to a client’s face, make them happy, and make them feel like their dog or cat is getting the best of care.”


Dr. Coggeshall enjoys working with the team at NorthStar VETS and he is excited for the chance to help you and your pets. “Everybody here is extremely friendly, outgoing, and it really seems to be a collaborative effort which is something I’d like to be a part of.

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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NorthStar VETS Cool Case Ozzie


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 Ozzie, a patient of Veterinary Internist Dr. Deborah Ward and Veterinary Surgeon Dr. Daniel Stobie, who received an innovative cryotherapy technique on his adrenal glands that eliminated both his Cushings disease and Diabetes.

Learn more about the Internal Medicine service at NorthStar VETS


Deborah Ward, DVM, DACVIMDeborah Ward, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Deborah Ward received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University in 1996. After completing a rotating small animal internship at Southwest Veterinary Specialists, she completed her residency in small animal internal medicine and Master’s degree research in gastrointestinal disease at Virginia Tech in 2000. Since obtaining her board certification in Internal Medicine in 2000, she has been practicing in the Northeast for the past 14 years, and in New Jersey since 2005. Dr. Ward’s special interests include diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disease, renal and immune-mediated disease. She is an experienced endoscopist and ultrasonographer.

Daniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS, Chief of Staff and FounderDaniel Stobie, DVM, MS, DACVS, Chief of Staff and Founder
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. Read the full bio.


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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What to Expect when you have to Say Goodbye


What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia, a Greek word that literally means “good death,” is performed to end a pet’s terminal illness and painful suffering. Many pet parents ask the difficult question . . . “Am I keeping my pet alive for me, or do I really think he/she is going to be okay?” This is the controversial debate we confront when we love and are loved by these wonderful creatures. To make such delicate medical decisions, pet parents need to reach deep into their hearts and understand what is truly best for their beloved animal companion.

NSV-rainbow1BIn critical veterinary situations, pet parents needing to visit an emergency hospital (such as NorthStar VETS) will discuss options with the emergency doctor and/or specialist. Based on the severity of the case, a NorthStar VETS professional will help the pet parent consider the pet’s future quality of life.

What to Expect During This Difficult Process
Should the decision be made to euthanize a pet, please know that NorthStar VETS treats all cases as compassionately as possible. On most occasions, the pet and extended family members are directed to our “family room” — a private, quiet and relaxing environment. This thoughtfully-designed suite was created to silence the sounds, commotions and overhead pages of a busy animal hospital.

The euthanasia process begins when an emergency doctor or veterinary technician takes the pet to a treatment area and places an IV catheter, allowing easy access for medication administration. The pet is then returned to the family for an open-ended visitation with their loved ones. Once the family is comfortable, a simple phone call to the front desk moves this peaceful process forward. Arrangements for the pet’s “after care” are discussed with a NorthStar VETS Client Service Representative. Final preferences and details are determined by the family’s wishes and are executed with the utmost care, dignity and grace.

Euthanasia is oftentimes a conflicting subject, but making informed decisions can help reduce pet-parent remorse and guilt. To assist families through difficult transitions, NorthStar VETS offers a complimentary pet loss service. Certified bereavement counselor, Ann Rooney, helps grief-stricken pet parents cope with the passing of their cherished family member.

For more information on NorthStar VETS pet loss support and bereavement service, please visit the Pet Loss and Bereavement service page at northstarvets.com.

Ann RooneyAnn Rooney
For over 16 years, Ann Rooney has worked in the veterinary field comforting pet parents in times of crisis. Certified by the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement in 2016, Ann has committed her career to supporting the emotional needs of clients who have lost their trusted animal companion. By working with veterinarians, connecting with various pet cemeteries, and even experiencing her own pet loss, Ann is a terrific resource for helping clients navigate the difficult part of mourning a pet.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Stacey Rebello, DVM, MS


Stacey Rebello, DVM, MS is a doctor in the Emergency and Critical Care service at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about how she ended up in veterinary medicine, the types of cases she sees, and the kind of person who makes a good Emergency Veterinarian.

How Dr. Rebello Ended up Caring for Pets
We caught up with Dr. Rebello as she was checking on her patients at NorthStar VETS. She works in the emergency department, and has had a passion for helping animals her entire life. “I always wanted to be a veterinarian ever since I was little. I was that kid who brought home the stray kittens, and annoyed my parents by trying to entice all the stray cats in our neighborhood to come to our house and feed them milk. Being a veterinarian is just something I’ve always wanted to do.”

I completed my undergrad degree in Connecticut and then I then I sought some warmer weather and went down to the University of Florida in Gainesville where I completed my Masters and my Doctorate. I actually did my Masters degree working with horses and then changed gears to do small animal medicine, which is what I always intended to do.”

“I came to NorthStar VETS right after my internship, which I finished in 2009. I always wanted to do emergency work and I always wanted to work at a really big specialty and referral practice, and there aren’t that many of them, so I was lucky enough to land here.”

The Types of Cases Dr. Rebello Sees at NorthStar VETS
NorthStar VETS sees hundreds of cases each week, and the Emergency department is often busy. “We see a lot of trauma stuff, including hit-by-cars, lacerations, dog fight wounds, but we also see a lot of really sick pets that couldn’t wait to see their family veterinarian or one of our specialists. It’s a little bit of everything, which is what I like about emergency medicine.”

The Kind of Person who Makes a Good Emergency Veterinarian

Dr. Rebello enjoys working alongside her colleagues at NorthStar VETS. “My favorite thing here is my coworkers. We have an amazing cohort of emergency doctors. They’re all really lively, have a good sense of humor, which is especially important in emergency medicine where it can be difficult and emotionally draining. It makes this job easier and a lot more enjoyable.”

Dr. Rebello and the team at NorthStar VETS are always available to help you and your pets. “A lot of us get into this line of work because we love animals, but it ends up being more about people. One of the big reasons why I like what I do is because I’m a people person not just an animal person. That’s important because of lot of my job is advocating for the pet and working with clients to help them through some of these really emotional decisions.”

“A lot of us get into this line of work because we love animals, but it ends up being more about people.”

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

Stacey Rebello, DVM, MSStacey Rebello, DVM, MS
Dr. Rebello is a New Jersey native who completed her undergraduate degree in biology at Fairfield University while working as a technician at a local veterinary clinic. She earned a master of science degree in theriogenology, studying equine placentitis and placental drug transfer at the University of Florida. She continued her studies at UF and was awarded her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 2008. Dr. Rebello returned to New Jersey for an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls. She joined the NorthStar VETS emergency department in 2009, where her clinical interests include trauma care and perioperative management of surgical emergencies.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Deborah Ward, DVM, DACVIM


Deborah Ward, DVM, DACVIM is a doctor in the Internal Medicine service at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about her schooling, how she ended up in veterinary medicine, and what keeps her motivated every day.

How Dr. Ward ended up caring for pets
Dr. Ward has always had a passion for animals, but she originally wanted to practice medicine on humans. “I took some work-study time working at an Oncology center and I found it so depressing that I moved completely out of the field. Then one day, I decided I wanted to do something completely different with my life, so I got a job at a veterinary clinic just because I liked working with animals, and it was close to school, and everything I didn’t love about human medicine, I loved about veterinary medicine. I’ve been full-steam ahead every since.”

What Dr. Ward does at NorthStar VETS
Dr. Ward specializes in Internal Medicine. “I went to undergrad at Duke University where I was a Political Science major. When I made the switch into science, I went to Tufts for veterinary school. When I did my internship, I followed one of my mentors out to Tucson, Arizona, to work at Southwest Veterinary Specialists, and then I went to his alma mater, Virginia Tech to do my internal medicine residency and get my master’s degree. My family is from the New York area, and I moved back when my grandmother was ill. I was working at another specialty hospital nearby then. I had known Dr. Anderson, who was one of my colleagues for many many years, and the opportunity to work with her came up. I had heard nothing but amazing things about NorthStar VETS. That’s how I ended up here and I love it!”

Dr. Ward is one of more than 40 veterinarians who work together at NorthStar VETS. “I’ve worked at many specialty hospitals, and have been in the business for more than twenty years. I’ve never worked anyplace where I felt like there was such a common goal of making sure the patients and clients receive the absolute best every time. That’s my primary motivation and the motivation of all my colleagues, and that’s one of the things I love about being here.”

Dr. Ward’s Primary Motivation
Internists like Dr. Ward deal with a wide variety of cases. “We deal with systemic and internal disease, primarily gastrointestinal disease like vomiting and diarrhea, respiratory disease, endocrine or hormonal diseases, and kidney disease. We deal with both the diagnosis and the short-or-long-term treatment. There are a number of procedures that we do in Internal Medicine that are very specific including endoscopy, washing of the lungs, evaluation of the urinary tract using endoscopy, and abdominal ultrasound. Those are some of the tools that we use quite frequently.” Dr. Ward and the team at NorthStar VETS will continue to provide world-class care to our clients. “For me, it’s about the patients and the clients. In veterinary medicine, there are so many things you can be, from a teacher to a scientist, but primarily, I’m a clinician. I love treating patients, I love the relationship between the patients and pet parents, and every time I help a patient live longer or better, and everyone is so grateful, I’m so happy. That’s what keeps me motivated and coming in every day.”

“I’ve never worked anyplace where I felt like there was such a common goal of making sure the patients and clients receive the absolute best every time.”

Learn more about the Internal Medicine service at NorthStar VETS.

Deborah Ward, DVM, DACVIMDeborah Ward, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Deborah Ward received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University in 1996. After completing a rotating small animal internship at Southwest Veterinary Specialists, she completed her residency in small animal internal medicine and Master’s degree research in gastrointestinal disease at Virginia Tech in 2000. Since obtaining her board certification in Internal Medicine in 2000, she has been practicing in the Northeast for the past 14 years, and in New Jersey since 2005. Dr. Ward’s special interests include diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disease, renal and immune-mediated disease. She is an experienced endoscopist and ultrasonographer.

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Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Christina Marino, DVM, DACVIM


Christina Marino, DVM, DACVIM is a doctor in the Internal Medicine service at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about her schooling, her favorite type of cat, and her favorite thing about working at NorthStar VETS.

Dr. Marino’s favorite breed of cat
We caught up with Internal Medicine specialist, Dr. Christina Marino, who was showing off her cat, Snips. “She is a two-year-old Devon Rex kitten who I got about two years ago. The Devon Rex are my favorite breed. I also have two other, just shorthair domestic cats at home. Not to say ‘just,’ I love them just as much as I love Snips. I also have a Dwarf Lionhead bunny at home as well as two salamanders.”

Dr. Marino’s schooling
DSC_9674Dr. Marino came to NorthStar VETS in 2016 after completing veterinary school and a residency. “I went to The Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine for veterinary school and it was there that I fell in love with Internal Medicine, which deals with internal organs like the kidneys, liver, GI tract, and pancreas. We try to figure out how those organs and diseases relate to each other.”

Dr. Marino is an internist, dealing with a variety of cases involving internal medicine. “An Internist specializes in all things that deal with organs on the inside of the body. So, we might see a patient with pneumonia, or a cat or a dog with chronic kidney disease or acute liver disease, even something as simple as vomiting and diarrhea and we try to figure out what the underlying cause is so we can actually treat the disease rather than just put a band-aid on the symptoms.”

Dr. Marino’s favorite thing about working at NorthStar VETS
Dr. Marino and the team at NorthStar VETS see hundreds of different cases each week. “My favorite part about my job is getting to form relationships with the pet parents, and talking to them every day via email and phone and trying to see what we can do to make their pet’s life better with regard to any chronic diseases that we’re managing.”

Dr. Marino has been at NorthStar VETS for a little while now, and enjoys working with her colleagues and clients. “My favorite part about NorthStar VETS is that everybody is a big family. I have yet to meet anybody who had a frown on their face, or when they were having a bad day, weren’t willing to smile and chat about it. I love coming here and feeling welcome and knowing that it’s a second family away from home.”

“…we try to figure out what the underlying cause is so we can actually treat the disease rather than just put a band-aid on the symptoms.”

Learn more about the Internal Medicine service at NorthStar VETS.

Christina Marino, DVM, DACVIMChristina Marino, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Christina Marino is a Colorado native who received her veterinary medical degree from The Ohio State University in 2012 graduating number one in her class. She completed a 1-year small animal internship at North Carolina State University in 2013, and a 3-year residency in small animal internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. During her residency, she completed the 2-year Hemodialysis Academy through the University of California, Davis, taught by hemodialysis experts and is well-experienced in hemodialysis and other extracorporeal therapies, including plasma exchange. Her interests include, but are not limited to, feline medicine (she loves anything and everything cats!), hemodialysis, kidney disease, gastrointestinal and autoimmune diseases. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband who is also a veterinarian, their three cats, and bunny. In her free time she loves to bake yummy goodies and cook new recipes. She is also a passionate Buckeye always rooting for her college football team (O-H-I-O).

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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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