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Caring for Dori

Apr 03, 2018 09:23PM ● By Louisa Asseo

Dr. Louisa Asseo, owner of Oasis Veterinary Hospital, 6635 Alhambra Ave, Suite 100, 925.954.8087

Caring for Dori

Being on the Other side of the Exam Room

When we go to our physicians for wellness exams, many of us have blood work taken to screen for medical problems and assess our general health.  This way, our physicians can detect problems early, which allows us to address these issues better.  The same is true for our furry (and scaly) companions.  As a veterinarian, I see the benefit of early detection of diseases and problems to my patients. I have always advocated screening for common problems in my patients, especially as they age.  Our pets cannot tell us early in the course of a disease if they are not feeling well.  It is only until later that they show us signs of emerging problems. For this reason, screening my patients is very important.  I believe that good practices also start at home, and thus, I follow this rule with my own furry and scaly family members annually.  

This year, I found an unexpected problem in my beloved tabby cat, Dori. Her physical exam showed she was perfectly “healthy.” To my surprise, her blood panel showed a condition called hyperthyroidism.  This condition causes weight loss, high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney disease if left untreated.  If treated, cats with hyperthyroidism can live full and healthy lives.  Treatment consists of lifelong daily medication to regulate the disease.  Alternatively, cats with hyperthyroidism can undergo a curative treatment involving an injection of radioactively labeled iodine, which selectively targets the abnormal thyroid cells and leaves the normal thyroid cells alone. 

Because of the radiation hazard, cats undergoing this treatment must be quarantined in a hospital equipped to handle this for several days.  Once they return home, extra precautions are needed for a few weeks.  Those that know my connection to Dori will understand how difficult it was to leave her alone in a strange hospital for days; however, I knew this was the best course of action for her. I wanted her “cured.” So we made the trek to the SAGE Centers for Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Care in Redwood City. I had to be a client.  I had to leave my precious kitty.  The technician was kind and professional, which helped ease my worries but not my dread of leaving her. She is now home. I am ecstatic to be reunited with my “kitten.” I am pleased with the choice to pursue a curative treatment. 

Time and again in my career, my own pets have taught me valuable lessons.  This experience reinforced the benefit of screening testing.  It also reminded me what it feels like to be on the other side of the exam room, to be a client.  Having to trust in another to care for my cat as I would do is a good reminder that even if what my team and I do every day is “routine,” it is not routine to my clients and their pets. Keeping your companions happy and healthy takes more than skill and knowledge.  It takes a team, compassion, and kindness.

Dr. Louisa Asseo, Oasis Veterinary Hospital, 6635 Alhambra Ave, Suite 100, 925.954.8087,


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