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


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!


Dog Survives being shot in the face….

PJ, a lovable two-year-old Pit Bull, was at home in his yard when his owners heard a loud pop at 4:30am, then heard PJ run into the side of their house. His owners immediately rushed to check on him and were horrified to find that he had a large wound on his muzzle—PJ had been shot in the face.

PJ and his family rushed to the ACCESS LA emergency room and met with Dr. Nicole Skilling, who administered fluids and pain medication with his owner’s approval. Radiographs confirmed everyone’s suspicions— a fragmented bullet (see below) was in PJ’s face. Dr. Skilling was able to clean the wound and remove the fragments and even checked PJ’s eye and throat to make sure there were no further injuries. Luckily, other than a bullet in his snout, PJ was healthy.

After the procedure, Dr. Skilling closed the wound with stitches and PJ was sent home with antibiotics, pain medication, and a snazzy new cone to keep him safe and healthy.

We were overjoyed to see PJ back a few days later for his recheck. He greeted everyone in the lobby and gladly accepted pets and snuggles from our staff while he was in our treatment area! His stitches were examined and found to be healing well and as for his eyes—they’re perfect! PJ will return to the hospital in a few days to have his stitches removed once he is fully healed and is thankful for the quick actions of his owners.
Unfortunately, no one knows who did this to PJ or why, but the authorities have been notified and are investigating the case.

Please report any suspected animal abuse to your local taskforce.

24-hour notification hotline 213-486-0450
“Animal cruelty includes any activity that causes injury, disability, or death. Examples of animal cruelty are kicking, hitting, choking, punching, hanging, stabbing, shooting, setting on fire, or electrocuting.”





Time to celebrate!



This week we celebrated our owner, Dr. Rich Mills’ birthday!

We are lucky to work in a place where we’re able to help animals and make meaningful connections; and that is all because of Dr. Mills. We’re thankful for him every day and we’re excited to celebrate his big day with him!




Come work with us!

ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital is looking for new team members to join our Client Care Department.


The department is comprised of four main roles:

1. Client Care Representatives:
The face of ACCESS; a CCR is responsible for the first and last interactions with our clients. They prepare paperwork for patient arrival, care for the client/patient during check in process, maintain patient records, and guide the client through the discharge/check out process including handling financial transactions. They are also responsible for maintaining our lobby space and exam rooms to serve our clients.

2. Doctor’s Assistants/Departmental Liaisons
Guide clients through their pet’s appointment, procedure, or hospitalization. Assist the doctor with patient/appointment in take; organize/track patient diagnostics; coordinate hospitalize patient treatment; prepare patient discharge reports/in-hospital updates; and communicate with clients, pDVMs, and pharmacies as needed regarding appointments, medical concerns, patient updates, referrals, and prescriptions.

3. Charge Coordinators
Responsible for appropriate invoicing of in-house patients, coordinates financial updates during hospitalization, and performs financial transaction auditing

4. Phone Operators (Phone Operator is a sub role of our Client Care Representatives)
Responsible for directing calls to the appropriate person. Our phones are answered 24hrs a day by a live person. Responsibilities may include answering patient emergency calls, making appointments, taking messages, prescription refills, and handling general client inquiries.

We look forward to applicants interested in any of the above roles.

ACCESS is a multi-specialty veterinary hospital which includes avian & exotics (zoological companion animal medicine), cardiology, emergency/critical care, internal medicine, interventional radiology/endoscopy, neurology, and surgery departments. We combine advanced medical treatment with cutting-edge technology to provide compassionate comprehensive advanced medical care for our patients — 24hrs, 365 days a year. We strive to care for every patient as if they were our own pet.

Job Specifications:
All interested applicants should show a commitment to Quality in all of that they do, conduct themselves with the utmost Integrity, have Compassion for animals and humans alike, and be able to provide the best Service possible for our clients and patients. These attributes ensure the candidate will be an efficient, effective, professional, and positive team member.

    • Minimum two year experience in a customer service role
    • Experience in a medical setting preferred, veterinary is ideal
    • Must be able to multi-task and think fast
    • Must exhibit a high level of customer service in stressful situations
    • Must be able to read, write, and speak English fluently in a clear and audible voice
    • Must be comfortable working with business related computer software as well as Microsoft Office Programs (Word and Excel)
    • Schedule Flexibility is needed due to the 24 hours, 365 day operation of the hospital

Additional Preferred Job Specifications for Phone Operators

    • Minimum one year experience handling a large volume of telephone calls
    • Experience in a call center
    • Experience discerning incoming caller’s needs and routing appropriately
    • Medical (human or animal) call routing is a plus

Additional Preferred Job Specifications for Doctor’s Assistants/Departmental Liaisons

    • Familiar with standard medical abbreviations
    • Ability to use proper medical terminology when speaking and writing
    • Adept at prioritizing tasks given from multiple sources

Additional Preferred Job Specifications for Charge Coordinators

    • Experience in medical billing/coding
    • Should be methodical and meticulous adhering to procedures/policies
    • Familiarity with medications (human or animal) and dosage calculation is a plus

Physical Requirements

    • May need to stand and walk around the hospital for an extended period of time to facilitate client care
    • Must be able to sit for an extended period of time
    • Must be able to lift objects up to 10-15lbs, such as office materials, patient files, and small animals
    • Excellent hearing and listening skills required
    • Continuous typing is required
    • Must be able to bed, kneel, and reach in order to troubleshoot computer, phone, and multi-functional device problems

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resume ( detailing experience specifically as it would correlate to the position you are applying for.


From Dino Doc to Exotics Doc…


Olivia Petritz, DVM, DACZM, joined ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital, Los Angeles, in the fall of 2013 to head up our new Avian and Exotics department. Although her future was fairly clear cut, Dr. Olivia Petritz has had a few very exciting moments along the way. We sat down with Olivia to find out what led her to veterinary medicine and learn more about her.

How did Dr. Petritz decide she wanted to work with animals?
She has always loved animals and science. Since childhood, Olivia was certain she wanted to be a paleontologist. “I wrote letters to Paleontologists all over the world from the time I was five to about eighth grade. I have big manila envelopes full of letters from about 40 countries.” Once in high school, Olivia went to visit paleontologists in several museums and realized she wanted to work with living animals. Despite her change in occupation, the Brontosaurus still has a place in her heart.

What is her favorite animal?
Great Danes and Guinea Pigs. Why? “They have great personalities!”

Why exotic animals?
Dr. Petritz’s first job was at the Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette, Indiana, which housed several species of big cats, primates, birds, lizards, and more. At 18 years old, Olivia Petritz was simply cleaning cages and assisting staff to make sure the animals were happy and properly cared for; but she fell in love with the idea of being an exotics/zoo veterinarian and having the knowledge to treat all species. This job inspired her to become the avian and exotics specialist she is today!

What is the coolest procedure Dr. Petritz has ever done?
As a resident, Dr. Petritz treated an electric eel that had swallowed a plastic bag. “It swallowed not only the food in the bag but the whole bag as well! The bag got stuck in its mouth, and the eel couldn’t spit it out. We anesthetized the eel, removed the bag with an endoscope, and the eel did great!”

What is her favorite procedure to do?
Abscess surgery on any species. Dr. Petritz likes being able to fix, clean, and help heal patients with these infections.

Does Dr. Petritz collect anything?
“Masks. I have some from about nine different countries!”

Where is her favorite place to visit?
Dr. Petritz went to South Africa as a veterinary student. There, she helped dart and anesthetize rhinos, wildebeest and giraffe, and learned about conservation medicine. She fell in love with the country and was even able to extend her trip to see more of the area.

What’s her favorite dish?
“Anything with mashed potatoes—I’m still Midwest at heart!”

What about the Norman Rockwell painting?
Dr. Petritz’s father has been a Normal Rockwell historian for over 30 years, and has interviewed numerous people who modeled for the famous artist. Through her father’s hobby, she was able to meet the man who was the subject of Rockwell’s 1961 “The Veterinarian.” She even has a signed copy framed and hanging in her office.

What does she consider to be her greatest achievement?
“Becoming boarded in zoo and exotic medicine.” Dr. Petritz happens to be the first American and the second person in the world to become a board-certified veterinarian under the sub-specialty ZCA (Zoologic Companion Animal) in the American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM).

What is one thing Dr. Petritz would like to tell pet owners?
Become knowledgeable about your pet before purchasing or adopting. It is so important to know about their diet, husbandry, life expectancy, and more before bringing your new family member home!

Dr. Olivia Petritz is one of over a dozen skilled and interesting doctors at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals, but one of less than 200 to be board-certified in her specialty worldwide. She brings cheery optimism, fierce knowledge, and passionate dedication to each patient she works with, and we are thrilled to call her part of our team. Dr. Petritz is available by appointment Monday through Friday, but is on-call 24×7 for emergencies with the assistance of our emergency department.