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Why Trust Diamond Certified Veterinarians Rated Highest in Quality?

Photo: Antioch Veterinary Hospital (2013)

You are the customer. If your goal is to choose a veterinarian that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified veterinary hospital. Each has been rated Highest in Quality in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Here’s why the Diamond Certified ratings and certification process will help you find a top-rated veterinary clinic and is unparalleled in its accuracy, rigor and usefulness:

1) Accuracy: All research is performed by live telephone interviews that verify only real customers are surveyed, so you'll never be fooled by fake reviews.

2) Statistical Reliability: A large random sample of past customers is surveyed on an ongoing basis so the research results you see truly reflect a Diamond Certified company’s top-rated status.

3) Full Disclosure: By clicking the name of a company above you'll see the exact rating results in charts and read verbatim survey responses as well as researched articles on each qualified company.

4) Guaranteed: Your purchase is backed up with mediation and the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you can choose with confidence.

Click on the name of a Diamond Certified company above to read ratings results, researched articles and verbatim customer survey responses to help you make an informed decision.

More than 200,000 customers of local companies have been interviewed in live telephone calls, and only companies that score Highest in Quality in customer satisfaction–a 90+ on a 100 scale–as well as pass all of the credential-based ratings earn Diamond Certified. By requiring such a high score to qualify, the Diamond Certified program eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies. Read detailed information about the ratings and certification process.

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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Contra Costa County – Veterinary CATEGORY

Dr. Howard Schutzman is a 42-year veteran of the veterinary field and owner of Antioch Veterinary Hospital, a Diamond Certified practice since 2002. He can be reached at (925) 399-1975 or by email.

Dr. Howard Schutzman

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Dr. Howard Schutzman: Veterinary Vitality

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

ANTIOCH — After four decades in the veterinary field, Dr. Howard Schutzman traces his beginnings to a formative childhood influence. “When I was five years old, I went to visit my second cousin, who was a veterinarian,” he remembers. “His profession made quite an impression on me, and I decided that I wanted to be a veterinarian myself.” Years later, Howard hadn’t lost sight of his vocational aspirations. “After high school, I spent four years at Cornell University, followed by another four years in veterinary school. Upon graduating in 1981, I moved from my home city of New York to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I began working as a veterinarian.”

Not long after relocating to the West Coast, Howard contacted his former veterinary school classmate, Arnie Gutlaizer, and proposed they form a professional partnership. “Arnie and I knew we were compatible because we had worked together in college,” he explains. “We started working together again at a practice in Walnut Creek, during which time we sought an opportunity to open our own.” After three years, the opportunity arrived, and the two partners purchased a practice in Oakland. By the following year, they’d expanded with two additional locations in Antioch. “In just a few months, we went from owning nothing to owning three hospitals, without any prior experience running a business! It was a little nerve-wracking, but it was also very exciting.”

It may have been a big risk, but to Howard and Arnie’s relief, it was a risk that paid off—within a short time, their business began to show signs of exponential growth. “When we first started, we had less than 10 employees, and today, we have more than 70,” says Dr. Schutzman. “We actually won a national design award for our hospital in Deer Valley, which we built four years ago.”

Today, after three decades as owner of Antioch Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Schutzman says he enjoys multiple aspects of his job. “One great thing about being a veterinarian is the variety. On any given day, I can go from examining a cute puppy or kitten to performing a major surgical procedure, so it’s hard to get bored. I also enjoy the management aspect. From working with our employees to keeping the practice vital, I take a lot of pride in maintaining our exceptionally high standard of care.”

In addition to the fundamental components of his job, Dr. Schutzman enjoys utilizing his practice for charitable purposes. “Giving back is really important to me,” he affirms. “Whether it’s providing low-cost spay and neuter clinics for local rescue organizations or facilitating tours for students, we make a sincere effort to stay involved with our community. We also hold an annual essay contest through which we give scholarships to four students. That’s something I find especially rewarding—it’s very touching to read these students’ essays and hear their stories.”

Outside of work, Howard enjoys a number of active pastimes, from working out and playing poker to following his favorite sports team. “I’m a rabid Golden State Warriors fan,” he says. “I’ve had season tickets for 12 years now, so no one can accuse me of being a fair-weather fan!” Additionally, he enjoys spending time with his family, including his wife, Theresa, their three adult children and his own parents. “My parents are both in their 90s, so I’m very intentional about spending time with them these days,” he says. “I actually have a ritual with my father where I take him grocery shopping every weekend.”

In regard to his professional career, Dr. Schutzman says the veterinary field is just as much about people as it is about animals. “People often say to me, ‘You’re a vet, you must love animals,’ which is true, but it’s even more important for a veterinarian to like working with people. Whatever treatment or procedure you prescribe, you always have to go through the animal’s owner, so if you don’t have the ability to communicate with people, you’re going to have a hard time being successful.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Dr. Schutzman says he wouldn’t. “I’m not going to retire for quite a while because the job is still too interesting to me. Even as I come to a point where I’m less able to do the physically demanding parts of my job, I’m shifting more of my attention to the management side. When I do eventually retire, I’ll probably travel more and spend more time with my kids, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first pet?
A: A mixed-breed Spaniel named Misty.

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?
A: I played basketball.

Q: Are you fluent in any foreign languages?
A: I took six years of French, and the answer is “no.” (Laughs)

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving—the whole family gets together, but there isn’t any pressure to pick out gifts for people.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Both. I stay up late and get up early.

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Caring for Your Pet’s Dental Health

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ANTIOCH — Periodontal disease is a common condition found in dogs and cats—in fact, 70 to 80 percent exhibit symptoms by the time they reach three years of age. The most basic form of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is an infection… Read more

The Importance of Routine Pet Checkups

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ANTIOCH — Many pet owners take an “as needed” approach to veterinary visits, but just like with human checkups, this can have negative consequences. A better plan is to bring in your pet for regularly scheduled checkups. Ongoing exams are… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Laser Treatment for Pets

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Complete Video Transcription:

ANTIOCH — Host, Sarah Rutan: If your pet is experiencing chronic arthritis, urinary tract infections or another painful condition, therapeutic laser treatment can be a beneficial option.… Read more

SELECTED PHOTOS FROM THESE TOP RATED COMPANIES

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INDUSTRY INFORMATION AND RESEARCHED ARTICLES BY THE DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESOURCE

  • Comfortis

  • Heartgard

  • Revolution

  • Rimadyl

  • Frontline Plus

  • Metacam

  • ProHeart

  • Science Diet

  • Vectra

Revolution Flea & Tick Control
BioSpot Flea & Tick Control
Bach Rescue Remedy Anxiety Treatment
Rimadyl
Science Diet Prescription Pet Foods
Cosequin
Hills Prescription Diet Dog & Cat Food
Purina Prescription Dog & Cat Food
Greenies Dental Treats
Frontline Flea & Tick Treatment
Advantix Flea & Tick Preventative
Advantage Flea Treatment
Zodiac Flea & Tick Products
Heartgard Heartworm Preventative

mobile veterinary clinic
holistic veterinary medicine
spaying & neutering
small animal veterinary treatments
large animal veterinary care
bird veterinary care
pet x-rays / radiology
pet diabetes treatment & diagnosis
pet ultrasounds
dog and cat boarding
pet dentistry / veterinary dentistry
dog & cat grooming
veterinary surgery
animal vaccinations
veterinary check ups
emergency veterinary treatment
veterinary acupuncture

Alamo
Antioch
Bay Point
Bethel Island
Blackhawk
Brentwood
Briones
Byron
Canyon
Clayton
Clyde
Concord
Cowell
Crockett
Danville
Diablo
Discovery Bay
El Cerrito
El Sobrante
Hercules
Hilltop Mall
Kensington
Knightsen
Lafayette
Los Medanos
Maltby
Martinez
Moraga
North Richmond
Oakley
Orinda
Pacheco
Pinole
Pittsburg
Pleasant Hill
Point Richmond
Port Chicago
Port Costa
Rheem Valley
Richmond
Rodeo
San Pablo
San Ramon
Tara Hills
Vine Hill
Walnut Creek
Walnut Heights
West Pittsburg

94506
94507
94509
94511
94513
94514
94516
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94518
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94850

American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) (www.aahanet.org/)
American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) (www.aaep.org/)
American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) (www.abvp.com/)
American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) (www.dacvb.org/)
American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD) www.acvd.org/
American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC) (acvecc.org/)
American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) (www.acvim.org/)
American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) (www.acvo.org/)
American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) (www.acvn.org/)
American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR) (www.acvr.org/)
American College of Veterinary Surgery (ACVS) www.acvs.org/
American Heartworm Society (AHS) (www.heartwormsociety.org/)
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (www.aspca.org/)
American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) www.avdc.org/
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) (www.avma.org/)
Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) (www.aldf.org/)
Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) (aafco.org/)
California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) (www.vmb.ca.gov/)
National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) (nasphv.org/)
RedRover (financial assistance for animal care; formerly United Animal Nations) (www.uan.org)
World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) (www.wsava.org/)

Know What You Want
Know What You Want in A Contra Costa County Veterinarian

It’s always best to find a veterinarian before an emergency occurs. If you have a vet and are looking for a new veterinarian, consider what you think needs to change. Do you want more consultation time with the doctor? Do you want less pressure to perform extreme and costly procedures? Do you need more information about cost considerations? Do you feel shy about asking for more details of what tests are being performed and why? What exact issues can you pinpoint that are making you dissatisfied with your current pet care provider?

The more you can identify precisely what’s wrong, the more you’ll know what to look for in your next veterinary clinic. You’ll also have a good idea of what to ask to find a veterinarian who offers high-quality services.

It can be easy to panic if your animal experiences an emergency and you don’t already have a veterinarian. In this case, it’s a good idea to have some questions already noted down. That way, you’ll have less to think about and can focus on the answers you’re getting. Whether in an emergency situation or not, here are some questions to help you when you when you prepare to speak to a veterinarian:

  • Do I want a Diamond Certified veterinary hospital that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Guarantee?
  • What are my pet’s exact healthproblems? (coughing, bleeding, diarrhea, vomiting, allergies, itching, etc.)
  • How long have I noticed the symptoms in my pet? Have they happened before?
  • Has your animal’s behavior changed in any way? (sleeping, eating, grooming, itching, behavioral changes, etc.)
  • Has your animal’s outward appearance changed in any way? (coat condition, eye discharge, thinning hair, weight loss, etc.)
  • What does your animal eat? (brands, amount, type – wet or dry)
  • Have you noticed any change in your animal’s way of moving? (hesitations, missed jumps, moving slowly, limping, favoring a limb, etc.)
  • How old is your pet?
  • What vaccines has your animal had? When were your pet's vaccines last adminstered?
  • Does your animal have any chronic or other conditions?
     
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What To Ask In Person
Meeting with Veterinarians in Contra Costa County

Once you’ve done some preliminary interviews with the veterinary clinics in Contra Costa County, take the step of going to Concord, Richmond, Antioch, or other to smaller cities such as Hercules, Lafayette, Point Richmond, or El Cerrito to speak to the veterinarians in person.

Some questions to keep in mind include:

  • What is your recommended schedule for a sickly animal or routine vet care at my pet's age?
  • Do you perform routine health tests for pets? If so, what are they, and what are they looking for?
  • What are the typical issues, if any, for my type of pet? (for example, hip dysplasia for large dogs)
  • How do you determine if my pet needs care from a veterinary specialist? And how will communication between your office and the specialist work?
  • I want to take a wellness approach to maintain my pet’s health. What would you recommend?
  • Can you tell me what you consider extreme medical care for my animal –pacemakers, dialysis?
  • Can you help with my animal's behavioral problems?
     
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  • What To Ask References
    Interview Previous Veterinary Clients in the Contra Costa Area, Including Towns Like Pacheco, Rheem Valley, Oakley, and Port Chicago

    It’s best to choose a Diamond Certified veterinarian because all certified companies have passed an in-depth ratings process that most other companies can’t pass. If you want quality from a veterinarian in Contra Costa County and the greater Bay Area, you can have confidence choosing a Diamond Certified company. Diamond Certified reports are available online for all certified companies. And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews. That’s because all research is performed in live telephone interviews of actual customers.

    If you do call references on your own, specifically ask for a list of the practice’s 10 most recent customers. This will help avoid them giving you the names of only customers they know were satisfied. Some useful questions include:

    • Why did you ask for veterinary advice from this Contra Costa County vet clinic? Was it routine care, or a critical issue?
    • Were you satisfied with the care provided?
    • If you had a pet care emergency care after hours, were you pleased with the availability of the veterinarians and their response times?
    • Are costs made clear up front? Do you think the costs are fair?
    • Did you feel the veterinarian listened to your concerns and questions?
    • Do you think that the tests performed on your pet were useful? Did you understand why they were performed and what the outcome was?
    • Were you ever referred to a veterinary specialist? What type of issue led to the referral?
    • Are you still with this veterinary clinic or are you looking for a new pet doctor?
    • Would you recommend this veterinarian?
       
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  • Review Your Options
    Find and Retain Good Veterinarians in Contra Costa County

    The Diamond Certified symbol has been awarded to companies that scored Highest in Quality in an accurate ratings process.

    In an emergency, you just want help – fast. So it’s a good idea to have discovered a veterinary clinic you feel comfortable with before an issue arises. Even if your own vet is not on call at the time of emergency, you can ask them in advance for recommendations for the best available emergency care in Contra Costa County.

    Invest a little time in getting to know the local veterinarians in Contra Costa County, so that you can develop a relationship with a veterinarian you trust. You’ll then feel more comfortable talking to the vet when important decisions do arise. And if you take a wellness approach and have regular visits with your veterinarian, your animal can also become more comfortable with the vet. The vet will be able to immediately review the long-term record of your animal’s health. You’ll feel comfortable that you and your veterinarian have your animal’s best interests at heart.

    Before deciding on the best veterinarian in Contra Costa County for you, it’s important to consider the following questions:

    • Can the veterinarian satisfy your needs for outstanding communication, knowledge of specific species or breeds, medical philosophy, emergency care, specialist referrals, and costs?
    • Can you communicate issues to the veterinarian?
    • Can the veterinarian clearly make suggestions, procedures, and recommendations so that you can understand your choices?
    • Does the veterinarian share your determination to provide the most healthy life for your animal?
       
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  • How To Work With
    How To Get Good Service From Contra Costa County Veterinarians

    Caring for your animals is a big responsibility at any time. But once you’ve found a veterinary clinic you can trust, some of that burden is lifted. You’ll have a partner to help you keep your pet healthy throughout his or her life. If an emergency does come up, you’ll know that you can trust your veterinarian to give the best advice for your pet, based on really knowing it – and you.

    When you take your animal in, be very clear about what you came in for. If it’s a routine check up, and you are not sure what that means, don’t be timid about asking for a detailed description of what will happen. If it’s for a specific problem, describe the problem clearly. Mention any changes in behavior or anything that you think might be related. Don’t be intimidated into skipping what you feel is important.

    You may have to repeat answers you’ve already given to a receptionist or veterinary technician, if your veterinarian wants to go over them. Remain calm and patient – remember that everyone is trying to help your pet. Your veterinarian may have several options or care plans for you. If it’s not clear to you, ask about the differences between them – what steps each one involves, what different outcomes might be expected, what are the costs associated with each.

    Most veterinarians will provide an estimate for any costs. You should be clear that you understand what is covered under the estimate. For example, if your animal is being operated on, are overnight boarding costs already included in the estimate if an overnight stay is involved? Be aware that outside laboratories could cause additional charges. Remember to ask if there may be other charges that the veterinarian is not yet able to estimate.

    Always Communicate with Your Contra Costa County Veterinarian

    Once you’ve worked with your veterinarian to determine your animal’s treatment plan, make sure you are clear on the next steps. Determine what you must do as the owner – do you have to give medications? If so, what is the schedule? If the animal is undergoing surgery, how long is the operation expected to last? Confirm that the veterinary clinic will call you once the operation is completed, if you are leaving the facility. Make sure that you have numbers to contact the veterinarian at all times. Determine the best numbers to use outside regular hours.
     

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  • Be a Good Customer
    How Can You Be a Good Veterinary Customer?

    It's the veterinarian’s responsibility to provide high-quality health care for your animal. But you play a big part in the success of your veterinarian, too. Here are a few simple steps you can take to be a good customer when hiring a Contra Costa County veterinarian.

    • Be clear and upfront with the veterinarian. Let them know what you want from your veterinarian, the long-term outcome you’re expecting and specific ways they can satisfy your expectations.
    • Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way!
    • Before you hire a veterinarian in Contra Costa County, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate to the veterinary representative your understanding of the agreement. Most problems with local veterinarians occur because of a breakdown in communication. By being clear about your expectations and theirs, you can avoid most conflicts.
    • Ask your veterinarian if you should call to check on the progress or if he will call you with updates.
    • Be sure your veterinary clinic has a phone number where they can reach you at all times while they’re treating your animal. The work will move along more smoothly if your veterinarian can reach you for any necessary updates, questions or treatment authorizations.
    • When your veterinarian’s office contacts you, return calls promptly to keep the veterinarian on schedule.
    • Pay for the veterinary work promptly.

    Why would you want to be a good customer? Veterinarians in Contra Costa County appreciate customers who are straightforward, honest and easy to work with. Your good customer behavior sets the tone from your end and creates an environment conducive to a good relationship. Things may very well go smoother and any problems may be more easily resolved.

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Check The Work
Verify Your Pet’s Veterinary Treatment

Once your pet’s veterinary treatment is complete, ask for a report of what was done. Most veterinary clinics in Contra Costa County provide a detailed receipt for all treatment and routine health costs. Many will also offer detailed copies of blood work, test results and diagnostics.

Your veterinarian must give you copies of your animal’s treatment record if you request them. Make sure that the record includes details of medications provided, records for any overnight stays, and a record of what happened during those stays.

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Written Warranties
The Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee

Diamond Certified window contractors are backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. If the window company is Diamond Certified and you can’t resolve the issue by talking with the owner, contact the mediation department at [email protected] or call 800-738-1138.

Easy Ways to End Disputes with a Contra Costa County Veterinarian
Having a sick pet or animal causes worry, and on top of that, you don’t always know whether your animal is responding as well as he or she is expected to. The best way to alleviate this concern is to have a good relationship with your veterinarian. You should feel free to express any concerns you have about lack of progress.

Listen carefully to the veterinarian’s answers. As with human illnesses, healing times vary among particular animals. If you don’t feel pleased with your pet’s progress, you can always seek another opinion. If you do look for another vet, your veterinarian by law must provide copies of your pet’s records. Your veterinarian is allowed to charge a duplication fee for the records.

When you seek veterinary advice about your pet’s progress, try to remain calm. For your part, bring as much detail as possible. When did the issue first show itself? Compile a list of all the steps you have taken, whether change in diet, change in outdoor habits, medicines, procedures, operations, and the like. Ask your veterinarian for records of treatment during any overnight stays. Try to be calm and focused. Explain your expectations. Be open to revising unrealistic expectations to a more realistic approach.

For fee disputes, try to resolve the matter with your veterinary clinic. Fees should be clear upfront, and changes should be discussed with you, when possible. Sometimes a veterinary clinic cannot quote an exact price, for example, if work is being performed by an outside laboratory. In this case, the veterinary clinic should be clear about the possibility of increased fees. If you cannot work out a fee disagreement, the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) recommends small claims court to resolve the issue. You can also report the firm to the Better Business Bureau.

For those who need financial assistance with vet care, some help may be available. The organization RedRover offers some grants, based on need and circumstances. Their Web site describes how to apply for these grants. The site is also a good place to look for additional resources for pet care funding, including state and national programs, as well as programs devoted to certain breeds or diseases.

If you believe your pet has suffered from poor treatment or that a veterinary clinic is acting in a way that harms or may cause harm to animals, you can file a complaint with the VMB by downloading a form from the Web site. When filing, focus on factual information, rather than any conclusions you have drawn. The VMB requests the following information:

  • Animal’s name
  • Breed
  • Age
  • Current condition
  • Dates of veterinary visits
  • Complaint summary
  • Supplementing information including bills, forms from veterinary hospitals, letters, and any witness statements

A complaint can take two-four weeks to be received by the VMB. The VMB then reviews to ensure that they have jurisdiction. The VMB explicitly does not address issues of fees or fee collection. The VMB takes cases related to fraud, incompetence, negligence, unprofessional conduct, and facility standards, among others. The VMB resolves the case with a range of outcomes, from fines, to closing the case, to referrals for further investigation or review.

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Top 10 Requests
Top Service Requests for Veterinarians in Contra Costa County

Veterinary clinics treat all kinds of animals for all kinds of reasons – preventative care, accidents, diseases, increased production in farm animals, and poisonings, to name a few. The reasons for veterinarian visits also vary according to the species or breed involved. The following are some of the most common reasons that patients see a veterinarian.

Preventative Care
Pets see a veterinarian for standard examination and care. Routine care can include vaccines against contagious diseases. The rabies vaccination is required in all states. Other vaccine laws vary by state. Routine care can also include heartworm prevention, or neutering or spaying, or follow-up care. Preventative care schedules vary based on the species and age.

For example, a young puppy may need several visits a year to get all required vaccines and to check on healthy development. Dogs from one to five years may only require an annual visit, if generally healthy. After five years, more frequent visits may be required to monitor health, especially in large breeds.

Accidents
Accidents that require a visit to the vet can range from car accidents with bruising and broken bones to accidental poisoning . Vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea may be signs the animal has eaten something he should not have.

Ear Infections
Ear infections typically occur when bacteria causes inflammation. Infections could also be caused by tumors or polyps in the ear, foreign objects in the ear, or trauma, such as that from an auto accident Signs of an ear infection range from no visible symptoms, to head shaking or pawing at the infected ear, to balance problems. Most bacterial infections are treated by antibiotics. Cleaning your the ears regularly can help prevent infections, but at the same time, too vigorous and frequent cleaning can hurt the ear.

Skin Allergies
Skin allergies cause itching, licking, scratching, and rubbing. Sometimes there is a family history of skin allergies. Pollens – from weeds, trees, or flowers – can cause problems for allergic animals. Mold spores and dust mites, and even animal dander can also excite allergies. If the allergy source can be identified, veterinarians may be able to inject the allergen into the animal, decreasing sensitivity to that allergen. In other cases, anti-itching treatments are applied. Diet may also contribute, and changes may be recommended.

Stomach Upsets
Stomach upsets happen for a any number of reasons. Often the animal has eaten something he should not. Other causes include parasites and irritable bowel syndrome. A noisy stomach, diarrhea, bad breath, bloating, pain, no appetite, and vomiting are all signs to pay attention to. Resolution depends on what the underlying cause is.

Intestinal Inflammation
Intestinal inflammation can be caused by parasites, sudden changes in what the animal is eating, or by foreign objects. Look for not only frequent defecation or runny stool, but also a failure to defecate. Treatment often includes medication and fluids to replace any losses. Change in diet may also be recommended.

Eye Infections
Eye infections appear as redness in the eye, swollen eyelids, discharge, and scratching at the eyes. Eye infections can turn serious quickly, eventually causing permanent vision damage. Act as soon as you see signs. Eye infections causes range from allergies to conjunctivitis. Treatment depends on the underlying cause but usually requires medications or steroids.

Lower Urinary Tract Diseases
Especially common in cats, lower urinary tract disease has no defined cause, though there are some thoughts about why it happens, some considering viruses as the source.

Cats with the disease have a hard time urinating, may have blood in the urine, may urinate frequently, or may urinate in inappropriate places. The treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Some cases require surgery when the urethra is blocked. In other cases, medication is used. In some cases, changes in diet designed to increase urine volume to improve bladder flushing are sufficient.

Hypo/Hyper- Thyroidism
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough of the thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism. Indications of hypothyroidism include weight gain without increased food, droopy eyelids, flaky skin, dull coat, baldness, and stiff joints. The treatment requires thyroid supplements, for the life of the animal.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when there is too much of the thyroid hormone that regulates metabolism. Indications can include weight loss, bigger appetite, poor appearance, breathing problems, heart murmur, lump on the next indicating an enlarged thyroid gland, or hyperactivity. Treatment can reduce the amount of excess hormone produced.

Diabetes
Diabetes occurs in animals, as well as humans, including dogs and cats. In early stages, animals can be very thirsty and hungry. They may lose weight even if eating the usual amount of food and will have lots of urine. Later on, they may lose all appetite and show depression and lethargy. Diabetes can be treated with diet and exercise, though in some cases, insulin therapy is required.
 

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Glossary Of Terms
Glossary of Terms for Contra Costa County Veterinarian

Below are some terms you may come across in your veterinary adventures. Use the definitions below to help understand your animal’s issue, but never be shy about asking the veterinarian for further explanation about any term or phrase you would like explained.

acute renal failure
The animal’s kidneys no longer function.

Also known as: ARF

anorexia
A refusal to eat or decline in appetite. In animals, often a signal of an underlying medical condition.

bumblefoot
In guinea pigs, the feet can become red, swollen, overgrown, or have sores. In very severe cases, amputation may be required, so quick treatment is recommended.

The simplest preventative is to keep the guinea pig in a smooth-bottomed cage, instead of a wire-bottomed cage, and to keep the environment clean and dry. In cases that have gone beyond the basic remedies, the feet may have to be cleaned and treated and medications prescribed.

Also known as: pododermatitis

caudal
The part of the animal toward the tail, or cauda. The region toward the head is called the “cranial” region.

cloaca
In lower vertebrates, turtles, birds, a tube used to pass body fluids include excrement and reproductive matter.

cruciate
A “cruciate injury” refers to damage to ligaments in the knee, often apparent from limping or refusal to walk on the leg. Treatment, up to surgery, is required to prevent long-term damage.

Also known as: ruptured cruciate

decubital ulcer
Appears when the animal has had pressure applied to a specific point for too long – a skin or tissue is lost and a sore appears.

Also known as: bedsore

diabetes
Diabetes occurs when the body lacks sufficient insulin (Type 1) or does not respond properly to the insulin present (Type 2). As a result, the body cannot convert glucose to energy for use by the organs and muscles. Diet and exercise are part of the treatment, but some animals will need insulin.

dystrophy
A phenomenon that occurs when a body part or muscle grows in a way that is not expected, or that is defective.

eye infections
Eye infections have many causes, from foreign objects in the eye, to allergies, to conjunctivitis. Eyes appear red, or swollen, or watery. Get help as soon as possible, since permanent eye damage can occur.

epizootic catarrhal enteristis
In ferrets, this viral disease attacks the intestinal lining, so that the animal cannot absorb or digest food.

Symptoms include watery greenish diarrhea, black stools, weakness, or weight loss. ECE is treated with medication and possible changes to diet.

Also known as: ECE

fungal infections
In fish, fungal infections can attack several body systems, including the brain, liver, and kidney. Treatment varies but may include medicating the fish’s water or adjusting salt, calcium, and electrolyte levels, or even raising the tank’s temperature.

The Saprolegnia fungus appears as cottony growths on the fish, light grey in color. The fungus appears when dead and decaying organic matter is present in the environment.

The Ichthyophonus hoferi fungus is less common, and symptoms vary by fish species. All fish show small growths, black in color. It is most often caused by infected raw food.

glycosuria
Glucose appears in the animal’s urine.

heartworm
Heartworm develops when an animal is bitten by an infected mosquito and acquires the parasite Dirofilaria immitis. Prevention offers the best approach, and medications are readily available to prevent heartworm.

Symptoms vary based on the species involved, and can include anything from coughing to weight loss and lethargy. Once established, heartworm can be difficult to diagnose or treat, depending on the species.

histology
The science devoted to understanding how body tissue behaves.

immunization
When an animal is immune from a disease, they are cannot contract that disease. It’s important to know that if a vaccine fails or the animal does not react properly to the vaccine, the animal is not protected against the disease. A vaccination must succeed to product immunity.

inflammatory airway disease
In horses, inflammatory airway disease appears as a loss of energy or performance, along with nasal discharge, mucus in the airway, and coughing. No one knows exactly what causes this respiratory condition, but horses of all types can get it. There seems to be a correlation between horses that spend large amounts of time in dusty stables and the presence of the disease. Antibiotics typically clear the disease.

Also known as: IAD

low passage vaccine
A low passage vaccine is used on young animals. Vaccines are biological products that contain microorganisms designed to prevent animals from contracting the disease contained in the vaccine. In the low passage vaccine, the disease organism in the vaccine has been less weakened than that used in a “normal” vaccine, which may work more effectively with young animals.

lymphocystis
In fish, lymphocystis is a viral disease that attacks both freshwater and saltwater fish, creating growths that resemble cauliflower. Sometimes medication is prescribed, but often no steps are taken because the disease does not harm the fish, and the medicine may not be effective.

mange
Mange is caused by mites and occurs in dogs and cats. Animals may show patches where lesions occur. If more generalized, manage can be identified by red skin, loss of coat, or lesions and scales.

Also known as: demodicosis

metabolic bone disease
In reptiles, metabolic bone disease occurs when animals do not have the proper balance of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorous. The disease appears most often in reptiles fed only plants and insects. Reptiles that eat whole prey typically do not suffer from the problem.

Symptoms can include a soft lower jaw, limping, lumps on the jaw, legs, or spinal column, or bowed legs. Treatment can range from changes in diet to supplements.

Also known as: nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism

mucosa
Membrane, such as those of the mouth and nose, that covers body cavities or passages that are exposed to the air. These specialized membranes often provide diagnostic signs – for example, dryness can indicate dehydration, while yellowing may indicate liver problems.

Also known as: mucous membranes

nephrosclerosis
Hardening of the kidneys.

parvo
This canine viral disease spreads most often through contact with an infected fog or through an infected dog’s feces. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and significant weight loss. Young canines are especially vulnerable to catching it and are more likely to die from it. Some breeds are similarly susceptible, including Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and English Springer Spaniels.

Also known as: canine parvovirus, CPV

pet insurance
Pet insurance provides coverage for cats and dogs. Most companies cover only cats and dogs, but one company is available to cover exotics. Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. You may have to choose from a network of providers.

Also known as: pet health insurance

pleurisy
Inflammation of the membranes lining the inside of the lungs.

rabies
Can be fatal and can pass to and infect humans. A disease transmitted by virus spread by saliva from infected animals.

raddle
In sheep breeding, a ram is marked with colors on its chest- known as a raddle. These colors transfer to the ewe during mating, making it easy to determine which animals have mated.

Tyzzer’s Disease
In hamsters, watery diarrhea and pain mark this bacterial infection. The hamster may also have not want to eat or show a hunched posture. The disease is highly contagious, since spores disperse throughout the environment. Treatment includes antibiotics and possibly supplements.

Also known as: Clostridium piliforme

urinary tract infections
This disease of the bladder and urethra does not have a known cause. Sufferers may have blood in the urine, painful urination, frequent urination, or blocked urine flow. They may also urinate in unusual places. Treatment can be a simple as changing to a moist food diet or as complex as surgery for a blocked urethra.

Also known as: Idiopathic Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (IFLUFD), Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), Interstitial Cystitis, Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS)

vaccine
A biological substance introduced to make the animal resistant to a specific disease. The vaccine often includes substances that are or are similar to the microorganism that actually causes the disease.

vital signs
The vital signs are temperature, respiration, and pulse; they indicate whether life is present or not.
 

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Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians in Contra Costa County

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified Veterinarian?
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a veterinarian with confidence by offering a list of top-rated local companies who have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only veterinarians rated Highest in Quality earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Most companies can’t pass the ratings. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. So you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified veterinarian.

Q: Who is taking care of my pet while it stays in your veterinary clinic?

A: In California, all veterinarians must be licensed and must display that license on their premises. If you are seeing a farm vet who comes to you, the veterinarian should carry a pocket version of the license. Veterinarians may also employ licensed and unlicensed help. Registered veterinary technicians must be licensed and display and carry their licenses. These technicians can perform some tasks on their own and can perform others under the direct or indirect supervision of a veterinarian. Unlicensed workers may also work under supervision, direct or indirect, of veterinarians or technicians.

In an emergency situation, you will see on-call staff. If they are veterinarians or registered veterinary technicians, they must be licensed.

If your animal stays overnight in a facility, you may want to ask what the overnight arrangements are.

If your animal has a serious condition or a condition your general practice veterinarian does not or cannot treat, you may be referred to a specialist veterinarian. Specialists focus on either a specific type of medicine – cancer, behavior, nutrition – or on a specific species – birds, cats, dogs.

Q: What are registered veterinary technicians or unlicensed veterinary assistants allowed to do? And what does direct or indirect supervision mean?
A: Direct supervision means the supervisor is on the premises where the pet care is happening and can quickly be reached. Indirect supervision means the supervisor has given instructions but does not have to be present.

Under direct supervision of a veterinarian, registered veterinary technicians can remove teeth, create a hole in the skin for a catheter, put on a splint or cast, give anesthesia, or stitch skin and mouth tissue. Under indirect supervision of a veterinarian, registered veterinary technicians can draw blood or run lab tests, give medications, bandage animals, give some lifesaving emergency procedures, and operate x-ray equipment.

Unlicensed staff can give medicine. They can help a veterinarian under direct or indirect supervision and can help a registered veterinary technician under direct supervision. They are not allowed to work on animals except in a hospital. 

Q: Does pet insurance save me money?

A: Pet insurance, also called pet health insurance, is designed to help manage costs for pet health care. If you have no significant costs or crisis, you could end up paying for an insurance plan, and you will never get back as much as you paid in premiums.

If you do have a major crisis, pet insurance will be able to help pay the costs of treating that crisis. Pet insurance is best thought of as a risk management tool, not an investment vehicle.

Q: What should I look for in a pet insurance plan?

A: Pet insurance plans come in two major types. One covers emergency, or crisis, situations only. The other includes both crisis situations and routine health visits.

For plans that cover routine health visits, you may have a co-pay for each visit. You should be aware that you will have to pay your entire bill at the veterinarian’s office, then you will work with your insurer’s process to get reimbursed for your co-pay. Pet insurance operates differently from human health care plans because it is a form of property insurance.

Some pet insurance plans allow you to choose any veterinarian, while others require you to choose from a network of providers. Pet health insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. Be careful about how the plan defines pre-existing conditions. For example, if your animal has had a knee injury to one knee, the insurance company consider that a pre-existing condition and determine that any subsequent knee injury is a pre-existing condition, even if the injury is to different knee.

Q: Should I have my veterinarian neuter or spay my pet?

A: Both spaying and neutering refer to the ability to reproduce. For cats and dogs, spaying and neutering is recommended as a way to manage the overall population and avoid unwanted animals that can end up in shelters and euthanized. Spaying and neutering is also known to prevent reproductive system diseases, including some cancers. Neutering and spaying your pets can also have behavioral effects, and can limit marking and aggression in many animals.

Q: Why should I see a vet regularly if my pet is in good health?

A: Of course you want your animal to be healthy, but you also don’t want to feel you are paying for nothing.

It’s still a good idea to see a veterinarian on a regular schedule. This will help you establish a relationship with the veterinary clinic so that if something drastic does occur, you will feel comfortable accepting the veterinarian’s assessment. You’ll have a sense of what the veterinarian typically recommends and how aggressively he or she typically treats issues, so you’ll be able to judge the reaction when bigger issues arise.

Preventative treatment can also identify issues while they are still very curable or treatable. You can save considerable care and money if you can catch diseases in the earlier stages, when treatment is often less aggressive and less costly.

Discuss with your veterinarian what a reasonable schedule for visits would be for animals of your species, breed, and age.

Q: How do I know my veterinarian is properly licensed?

A: Veterinarians are licensed to work at the state level. In California, you can check for veterinarian’s license using tools on the Veterinary Medical Board’s Web site. The listing will also show information about complaints and pending complaints against the veterinarian.

License information for registered veterinary technicians is available at the same site.

Veterinarians in California are required to renew their license every two years and to take continuing education classes during each two-year period.

Q: What can I do to help my animal get the best care?

A: Always keep good records about your animal. Note down your animal’s age, which can be easy to forget in the heat of the moment. Keep a record of vaccines, as some vaccines must be administered over time, and some must be renewed at different periods, for example, annually.

You’ll also find it helpful to keep a record of veterinary visits, what happened, what treatments were given, what medications were prescribed. It’s important to note any surgeries or procedures your animal had and their dates. If your animal has particular trouble with one form of medicine – for example, if you find it difficult to give your cat a pill –ask about optional forms of the medicine in the future. If you move or change veterinarians for any reason, you can ask for a copy of your veterinary records. The veterinarian must give you your animal’s medical record, though they are allowed to charge duplication fees for preparing the material.

Q: I just saw a very dirty veterinary clinic. I am concerned about my animal’s health! What do I do?

A: To report unsanitary conditions, or any act or situation that causes harm or could cause harm to animals go to the VMB. You’ll need to include information specific to your animal, including name, breed, and age.

When describing the situation, be as factual as possible.

Q: Are microchips useful?

A: A microchip is an electronic device that can be put into an animal. As small as a grain of rice, the microchip stores an identification number for your animal.

The microchip does not include any battery or power source. A scanner must be used to activate and read the chip.
Microchips come in several different frequencies. The scanner must match the chip’s frequency to detect the microchip. Many scanners today can read all frequencies, but there is a chance that an older scanner might not read a newer chip. You can get multiple microchips implanted, if desired; they will not cancel each other out.

Most importantly, keep your contact information updated. The chip only stores an ID number. That number appears when scanned. The number is then compared against the database information for that chip. You can only be found if the database information found for your pet’s ID number is current. So if you move, make sure you update your information with your microchip service!

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