Pets and Allergies

Dr. Oldenhoff sets the record straight about pet allergies and some of the myths around them.

Like humans, pets suffer from all sorts of allergies. And like in human medicine, allergies in pets are not a black and white area.There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to diagnosing, testing, and treating allergies. Our board-certified dermatologist, Dr. William Oldenhoff set out to get the record straight and debunk some of the myths about allergies.

Myth 1: All animals with skin disease have allergies

The primary manifestation of allergy is itch. But it can also be caused by parasites or infection. The only way to diagnose allergy is to rule out all other causes of itch. If treating infection or parasites resolves the itch, then allergy is not present.

Myth 2: Pet allergies can be diagnosed with an allergy test

A common misconception about allergy testing is that its results can be used to avoid the relevant allergens. Allergy testing never gives a simple answer about what can be avoided by the pet. Its primary use is for formulating allergy shots or allergy drops. Allergy testing should be done ONLY in animals that are definitively known to have allergy through the clinical process of elimination other causes (parasites or infection).

Myth 3: Symptomatic therapies can replace immunotherapy

Symptomatic treatments like Apoquel and Cytopoint help with the allergy symptoms but don’t address the underlying problem. They do not replace immunotherapy. Rather, they are symptomatic treatments to be used while immunotherapy starts working. The goal of immunotherapyis to reduce or eliminate the need for these symptomatic therapies.

Myth 4: Immunotherapy doesn’t work

Immunotherapy is a natural product with a proven history of safety and efficacy, and it’s an effective method to treat allergies if performed properly. In the hands of a trained dermatologist, the typical response rate is between 66-75% response to immunotherapy. But it is a long-term commitment that typically requires 6-10 months to START working. This means that no patient who starts immunotherapy should have it discontinued before one year of treatment. In animals who have had good response, the immunotherapy should be continued, often indefinitely.

Myth 5: Symptomatic therapies can’t be used together with immunotherapy

All of the symptomatic therapies available (Atopica, Apoquel, Cytopoint, even steroids) can be given at the same time as immunotherapy. These medications do not interfere with the ability of immunotherapy to start working. They should be continued for the first several months of treatment until allergy shots or drops start working.

Allergy cases can be complicated and veterinary dermatologists are a valuable resource to primary veterinarians in managing these cases. Here are a few helpful tips on how to prepare a patient for a successful referral appointment along with information on how to perform a hypoallergenic diet trial.


To find out more, please contact William Oldenhoff, DVM, DACVD at:

(818) 887-2262

ACCESS – San Fernando Valley
20051 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Say hi to Dr. Joseph Zarin – Cardiologist and Adventurer.

What we love about many of our doctors at ACCESS is that they are not only excellent veterinarians but also fascinating people. This is true for our cardiologist Dr. Joseph Zarin.

After accepting an offer to join ACCESS Pasadena’s Department of Cardiology, Dr. Zarin decided the best way to travel from his home in Boston to his new job in California was by cycling a few thousand miles across the country.

So, he loaded his camping gear, strapped his guitar to his bicycle, and headed west to upstate New York, the Great Lakes, and Chicago. With the Windy City behind him, he hit the pedals for Minneapolis, then across South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho and over the mountains until he reached the Oregon coastline, sixty-nine days later.

Camping on beaches and in the coastal forests, it took another three weeks cycling south along the edge of the Pacific until he finally arrived in his new home in California.

Without a doubt, an adventure like this takes a lot of heart, know-how, commitment, effort, and perseverance – many of the necessary values required for an excellent cardiologist.

To find out more about how Dr. Zarin can help your pet with cardiovascular care, ask your primary veterinarian for a referral to Dr. Zarin or contact him at ACCESS – Pasadena.

He’s here for you.

Paws Fur Pink

Our South Bay hospital teamed up to do the Paws Fur Pink walk in February. This wonderful charity helps fund breast cancer and canine cancer research, and our team was all smiles knowing they were helping the greater good!

Cat ate your…Dinosaur?

Here’s a cute story with a happy ending from Dr. Danielle Sawyer at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital–South Bay.

Mr. Pickles is a high energy, playful, and very handsome one-year-old Bengal cat who presented to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital—South Bay after 36 hours of profuse vomiting.

Presenting somewhat dehydrated with abdominal pain, our emergency and critical care department got to work determining the problem. Abdominal x-rays revealed extremely distended loops of bowel with fluid and gas, which pointed to obstruction. The ER team worked closely with the internal medicine department to perform an ultrasound and diagnose a definite obstruction in the mid-intestines.

Board-certified surgeon, Dr. Tammy DaCosta Gomez, was called in and more than happy to come in on her day off to remove the item causing the obstruction. To her surprise, she found a toy dinosaur!

Mr. Pickles did beautifully in the hospital and was able to return home the following day. Luckily for Mr. Pickles, our teamwork saved his life, and he will live another day to play with his toys, but no more tiny dinosaurs! Instead, we recommend watching Little Foot on TV rather than eating him!

Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, But Our ER Can Help!

Astro is a six-year-old Husky who came in contact with the business end of a stick.

He went out in the yard to use the bathroom and when he came back inside, his owners were shocked to see a stick lodged in his left eye! Our emergency doctors were able to remove the stick successfully while Astro was under anesthesia and found that the stick had caused an ulcer on his eye. He didn’t need any stiches, but he will be on medication for the next few days to prevent any further injury or infection. Astro was back to being himself and unsurprisingly was very relieved once the stick was removed.

No foul play is suspected, other than that of a dog who played a little too hard outside.


Milo makes it…

Milo is a two-year-old dog who came to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital with severe injuries.

Milo was with a pet sitter, and just before he was about to be picked up, he went missing. Hours later, he was discovered on the roof of an apartment building next to the building where his pet sitter lives. Firefighters were able to get Milo off the roof and into the arms of his owners, who brought him to the hospital.

In addition to a broken metacarpal, or wrist, our doctors discovered that Milo did not have any feeling in his hind legs. His spine was broken in the middle, causing the spinal cord not to work. Dr. Laurent Guiot, a board-certified surgical specialist, performed a surgery to repair the spine and put it back into place.

Dr. Guiot was able to place a plate in Milo’s spine to stabilize it, as well as repairing the injury in his wrist. Today, he rests comfortably in our ICU with pain medication after two surgeries, receiving lots of love and careful cuddles from our team.

While Milo’s front legs are expected to function as normal, the severity of his injuries will likely render him permanently paralyzed from the waist down. With the help of a wheelchair specially made for dogs, Milo should be able to get around on his own for the first stage of his recovery.

We hope to have Milo go home with his family this weekend, and if anyone has information on how he sustained his injuries, they are encouraged to contact the LAPD.


The Woolsey Fire and Tipper’s Story…

WARNING: Graphic photos included.

Tipper, a young male cat, was found by ABC7 Reporter, Veronica Miracle, during the Woolsey Fire. According to Veronica, firefighters pulled Tipper from his burning home. Veronica then called around trying to find somewhere that could help him—that’s when she found ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital at Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley.

Tipper was admitted to the ICU on November 9th to be treated for severe burns and smoke inhalation. He had significant burns on his paws, belly, and chest, and had a wound over his right hip, which was surgically repaired. He had a feeding tube placed to ensure he was getting all the nutrients he needed to get better.

Thankfully, Tipper is microchipped, which made it possible for us to find his owners and reunite them while he was being treated!

After almost three weeks in the hospital, Tipper went home to be with his family on November 27th. He’s going to need regular bandage changes and he’s continuing his antibiotics and pain medication at home to keep him comfortable and continue the healing process.

Meet Milo


Milo is a super sweet eight-month-old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. He was adopted along with his sister, Luna, and his owners noticed Milo wasn’t as active as she was, even though he seemed like he wanted to play. They then realized he seemed to be in pain when attempting to walk, run, or play.

It turns out Milo has severe joint disease — specifically hip and elbow dysplasia. Even though he’s just a baby, he moves as if he is a senior dog with arthritis.

His owners learned Milo would need state-of-the-art arthroscopy and joint replacement surgeries, and came to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital to meet Dr. Laurent Guiot in the Bone & Joint Center.

Dr. Guiot presented Milo’s family with treatment options and they agreed surgery would be Milo’s best shot at walking, laying, and playing comfortably. Milo had his first procedure recently, on his elbows, and did well!

Can’t get enough of this cutie? Stay tuned for updates on his journey!