Patient Story: Quint

Today on the blog, meet Quint! A 7-year-old German shepherd, the handsome Quint came to our hospital to meet with veterinary surgeon Dr. Margo Mehl, to have a lump checked out.

After a successful surgery, there was good news: The mass turned out to be a lipoma (a benign fatty mass). We are pleased to report that Quint recovered within a few days and is living a happy, healthy life.


quint and his family

Here’s a little more about Quint, as shared with us by his human companion Luda:


Quint has been in our family since he was 8 weeks old and has truly become a beloved family member. His favorite activity as a puppy was to walk with his dad, Paul, to a hot dog stand and get a plain hot dog (no ketchup or mustard, please!).

As Quint grew up, he developed into quite a lazy dog and his favorite “activity” was to lie on the couch. Quint also really likes to dress up in costumes, hence the “Doggula” picture below.



He is an incredibly smart and loyal pet. He loves to go to Tahoe and enjoys playing fetch in the lake. Even though he is an 85-lb. shepherd, he is absolutely terrified of our cat and begs his sister, Kaila (another beautiful shepherd), to rescue him.


that’s the ticket!

To say that Quint is part of our family is an understatement. He brings so much laughter, joy and happiness to our family, and we are eternally grateful to the staff at VCA, and especially to Dr. Mehl, for saving our boy!

Thanks to Luda for sharing these photos and Quint’s story with us. We are honored to be on his veterinary care team and wish him many more Tahoe trips to come!


Recently, a pet parent had a question about a senior Labrador retriever who developed frequent, heavy panting. The dog is at a healthy weight, and he lives in an air-conditioned house (i.e., the panting isn’t related to obesity or heat).

So what could the heavy panting be a sign of?


According to Dr. Emily Adamson, a member of the VCA SFVS 2013-2014 intern class, the description of an older Labrador with heavy breathing and panting is most consistent with a condition called laryngeal paralysis.

The larynx, or voice box, is located in the beginning of the throat. In addition to controlling sound, it protects the airway. It opens to allow air to enter during inhalation, and closes when eating or drinking. With laryngeal paralysis, the muscles of the larynx do not work correctly and obstruct the dog’s ability to take a full breath.

Labradors are the most common breed to be diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis. In addition to frequent panting, affected dogs often experience noisy breathing, have a voice change (different bark), and tire easily with exercise.

The inability to take a good breath may also lead to anxiety and restlessness, and dogs may cough, gag and sometimes vomit. Vomiting is especially dangerous to an unprotected airway.

Diagnosis involves a sedated examination of the airway. On exam, the larynx does not open and close appropriately. Surgery is the treatment of choice and usually involves tying back one side of the larynx to keep the airway open.

Excessive panting can also sometimes be associated with feeling pain or anxiety.

The dog should receive a thorough physical exam by a veterinarian, who can help determine the appropriate diagnostics and treatments.

Related Resource:

Our own Dr. Winnie Ybarra, an internal medicine specialist here at VCA SFVS, was interviewed for an ABC7 News piece on drug development for the veterinary industry. We think she (and Sookie!) were great on camera.

Watch the video here > http://abc7news.com/pets/bay-area-company-researching-human-drugs-for-animal-use/245979/


In the segment, Dr. Ybarra warns pet owners about giving human drugs to their animal companions:

Ybarra said this doesn’t mean people should be turning to their medicine cabinets to treat their pets. Pets can be poisoned by some human-approved medications. “The ER service probably sees that at least once a day, if not more,” Ybarra said.

If you have questions about your pet and medications, please contact your furry friend’s primary care veterinarian or specialist.


Our staff spotlight series allows our clients and friends to learn a little more about the people at VCA SFVS. This week we feature Terry, lead customer service representative at our hospital.

Name: Terry Green

Your position/title: Lead customer service rep

When did you join VCA SFVS? April 2013


terry with teco and dugan, marin headlands

Favorite part of your job? Meeting all the special animals and clients

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I grew up in the Southeast Coastal Region of Florida. I lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina and Upstate New York before moving to San Francisco.

I have a B.S. in psychology from Florida State University, and worked as a social worker for people living with AIDS for almost 10 years. Then, I owned an antique store and art gallery for about eight years.

I have always had animal companions, ranging from mice, gerbils, hamsters, ferrets and fish, to cats and dogs. I have been working with rescues/shelters for almost 20 years now, from volunteer to board member to shelter director. I began working with vet clinics about four years ago, and was very excited to come on board with VCA SFVS, as I find specialty medicine really interesting.

What does your work day entail? Working directly with clients to check in and out. Answering lots of phone calls. Rooming patients. Creating charts and making sure all records are here. Balancing the daily books and making deposits.

Any animal companions of your own? I have two dogs, both Pembroke Welsh Corgis. The boy is 10 years old and his name is Dugan. The girl is 11 years old and her name is Teco. I also have two cats. The female is 14 years old and her name is Luna. The boy is 17 years old and his name is Arlo.

What do you enjoy doing outside work? I spend a lot of time exploring the city with my husband, Marco. We love to go to parks and the beach with the dogs. I love to see movies. I also enjoy volunteering to give back to the community.

What are you currently reading? Journey of Souls

What’s in your music rotation right now? Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Eva Cassidy, Sara Brightman and Amy Winehouse

Favorite TV shows? Six Feet Under and The Newsroom

Patient Story: Sneezy

Today on the blog, we feature Sneezy, one of Dr. Alan Stewart’s patients. Sneezy recently celebrated his 20th birthday, no small feat for a kitty! Below, his human companion Lisa shares some really wonderful photos of this special cat, along with a little more about him.



Many thanks to Lisa for putting all this together. It’s been our honor to be on Sneezy’s care team.

From Lisa:

Sneezy came to us (Simon and me) when he was 17 years old. He was born in Austin, Texas, and spent some of his early years with Phil, his original owner, in Austin, Los Angeles, and a few cities in the SF Bay Area.

Sneezy is a very cheerful and affectionate cat; he loves to be with people either to play or eat. He especially enjoys massages and shoulder-rides to get a glimpse of everything.

He loves to eat every kind of morning pastry from French croissants to Chinese pineapple buns (see photo below) or egg custard tarts. His palate for human delicacies is pretty internationally trained as well (just don’t let the vets know): rotisserie chicken, duck pâté, cheese, corn soup, porridge and broth.

our little secret

our little secret

His favorite pastime is to nap under the sun either on the back porch or anywhere inside the house where the sun hits. But he certainly has claimed ownership of all the chairs in the living room and our bed (whenever he can successfully sneak into the master bedroom).

Sneezy is a sweet darling and everyone thinks he’s still a baby kitty with his youthful appearance. We have just celebrated his 20th birthday with a triple-layer ice-cream cake.

happy birthday, handsome!

happy birthday, handsome!

We love him a lot and wish to celebrate many more birthdays with him, our sweet Zyzy (his nickname).

this looks like a job for superzz!

this looks like a job for super zyzy!

Our 2014-2015 intern class has arrived! We are excited to have them at VCA SFVS for their internships, and they look forward to meeting and working with clients, patients, and members of the Bay Area veterinary community during their time here.


You can read a little more about our six new interns below:

Mori Afraz, DVM (top left)
Dr. Mori Afraz was raised in Palo Alto and graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2014 after receiving a master’s in nutrition from San Jose State University. She plans to pursue a residency in dermatology and has additional interests in internal medicine and surgery. Mori enjoys road trips, sailing, great food trucks, and spending time with her husband, pug and pit bull in their home in San Francisco.

Erika Beck, DVM (top center)
Dr. Erika Beck graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 with a B.A. in Japanese and Chinese. In 2014, she earned her DVM and International Veterinary Medicine certification from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Her interests include surgery, pain management, exotics and conservation medicine. In her spare time, Erika enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding, film festivals and traveling, especially to East Asia. She is excited to be in the Bay Area with her ginger cat, Bento.

Bailey Gage, DVM (top right)
Dr. Bailey Gage is originally from Kansas City, Missouri. She received her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Kansas and her DVM from Kansas State University. She is excited to be on the West Coast and living in San Francisco with her dog, Norman, and cat, Randall. Her special interests include internal medicine and ophthalmology. In her spare time, Bailey likes spending time outdoors, cooking and trying new restaurants.

Koko Shishida, DVM (bottom left)
Dr. Koko Shishida is a 2010 graduate of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Since 2010, she’s been working as a general practitioner in Sacramento, the East Bay and the Peninsula. Originally from Santa Cruz, she received her B.A. from UC Santa Cruz with a double major in biology and feminist studies in 2006. She is thrilled to be returning to her studies at VCA SFVS and to pursue her interests in emergency medicine, internal medicine and dermatology. In her free time, Koko enjoys yoga, dance, weight lifting, and taking in the many sights, sounds and tastes of the Bay Area with her 11-year-old terrier mix, Kaiser.

Catherine Stevenson, VMD (bottom center)
Dr. Catherine Stevenson, originally from the suburbs of Boston, received her B.A. in biology from Boston University in 2010, and her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2014. She loves running, traveling, being outdoors and exploring new cities. She just moved to San Francisco with her cat, Michu, who hails from Ecuador. After completing an internship at VCA SFVS, Catherine plans to work in general practice and emergency.

Emily Young, VMD (bottom right)
Dr. Emily Young spent her childhood overseas in Europe and Asia until returning to the U.S. to attend Tufts University, where she received a B.A. in psychology. She worked as a veterinary technician in the Boston area before heading down to Philadelphia for vet school at the University of Pennsylvania. At the hospital, she is interested in both small-animal internal medicine and emergency medicine. Emily enjoys hiking, camping, cooking, traveling and scuba diving in her free time. She is thrilled to be here on the West Coast with her sturdy companion, Walter the St. Bernard.

Related resource:


VCA SFVS is pleased to announce that Winnie Ybarra, DVM, DACVIM, has joined our internal medicine department. Her first day at our hospital is tomorrow, July 2. We are very happy to have her on the team!

Dr. Winnie Ybarra

dr. winnie ybarra

Here’s a little more about our newest veterinarian: Dr. Winnie Low Ybarra was born in Rangoon, Burma, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She worked as a veterinary technician prior to obtaining her veterinary degree from the University of California, Davis in 2008, and went on to complete a medical and surgical internship at North Carolina State University. Dr. Ybarra moved back to the Bay Area and worked as a general practitioner, emergency veterinarian and shelter veterinarian. She then completed an internal medicine residency at UC Davis in 2013.

Dr. Ybarra’s professional interests include immune-mediated, endocrine, renal, urinary and respiratory disorders, as well as endoscopic procedures and laparoscopy. Dr. Ybarra has always been an advocate for animal welfare and rescue. She shares her home with three four-legged dogs, one three-legged dog, and several cats that rule the household (all rescues). In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking and trying out new restaurants. She speaks fluent Burmese.


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