After a year absence from La Jolla, Dr. John Morizi, formerly of The Animal Hospital of La Jolla, returns to the Village with the Pet Health Center of La Jolla accompanied by a host of familiar faces from the old practice. We sat down with Dr. Morizi and learned how he relates to the movie, My Dog Skip, his most memorable patients throughout the years, and why he loves what he does.
La Jolla Blue Book: Tell us a little bit about yourself and Pet Health Center La Jolla.
Dr. Morizi: I founded and directed the Animal Hospital of La Jolla, formerly located on Draper Avenue. We were there for 26 years from 1989 until June of last year. When that place closed, this place [Pet Health Center of La Jolla] was in the developmental stage which took quite a bit of time with the city permitting. So it took us almost a year to get the new facility developed. In the mean time I was practicing over in Kearny Mesa with Dr. Bruce Lindsey. He’s a former La Jolla veterinarian as well. We kept our Animal Hospital of La Jolla staff intact. All key people including our technicians, our receptionists and our groomer all came to the new office. So our staff knows the clients from the previous hospital and they’re really good and experienced. The clients love them.
La Jolla Blue Book: Why did you become a Veterinarian?
Dr. Morizi: I was the kid whose dog followed me everywhere. My Dog Skip the movie, that was so much like my childhood because my dog Coco, a little mixed breed of an American Eskimo, literally went everywhere with me. She was my constant companion. She went wherever I went. She came to school with me a lot of times. My best friend growing up was the son of the local vet, Dr. Matt Troy, and he became my role model. So I decided that if I had the opportunity that I would pursue this profession. Fortunately for me I was eventually accepted for admission the the veterinary college at Cornell University.
La Jolla Blue Book: That’s great! So your dog would follow you to school?
Dr. Morizi: Yeah, she’d wait outside when I was in elementary school. If kids went out for recess she would run into the door and run upstairs and go into every classroom until she’d find me. She eventually learned to wait outside until school was over to walk me home.
La Jolla Blue Book: What part of your work do you enjoy the most?
Dr. Morizi: I think interacting with the patients. That’s probably my biggest thing. Technically wise, I like doing surgery. We do a lot more surgery in-house than most general practices because I’ve had a lot of experience doing orthopedic and other procedures that most practices won’t do themselves.
la Jolla Blue Book: What makes a good veterinarian?
Dr. Morizi: I think you gotta be very compassionate, you have to love what you’re doing. Love the animals and you gotta be patient. You gotta be thorough.
La Jolla Blue Book: Who are your most memorable patients?
Dr. Morizi: I have three that I’m particularly fond of. We used to have a little dog patient named Friendly. He was a little Chihuahua cross and he lived up to his name. He used to board with us all the time because his mom was on the road for business a lot and I just loved that dog, he was so cool. Friendly used to jump into my arms when he saw me and give me a thousand licks in about six seconds. There’s actually a dog now who’s in our ads, her name is Ruby. She’s a Pit-Bull cross and we’ve done multiple surgeries on her and Ruby is still as loving as can be. She comes running in here and just loves being here. I love seeing her, she’s just so full of love and life. Also, Kima…she’s a Boxer, goes everywhere with her mom to charity balls, restaurants and everything else. She’s a socialite Boxer and a love bug.
La Jolla Blue Book: What type of services does Pet Health Center of La Jolla offer?
Dr. Morizi: We are a complete small animal medical and surgical facility,… We take care of dogs and cats 100%,..we don’t do any pocket pets or exotics. We offer every facet of canine and feline health care including medicine, surgery, dermatology, allergy medicine, flea control, and dietary management.
La Jolla Blue Book: Do you see a lot of conditions requiring dietary management?
Dr. Morizi: We have a lot of diet responsive conditions for sure. A lot of GI signs, respond very well to certain prescription diets. A lot of allergies which can manifest as itchy skin or as GI signs that respond really well to hypo-allergenic diets. We have specific diets for weight reduction which are prescription diets and get away from commercially available low-calorie foods. We have specific diets for organ dysfunction like kidney diseases.
La Jolla Blue Book: What are some common symptoms that pet owners can easily manage at home?
Dr. Morizi: If your dog has diarrhea once or vomits once, there’s no need to rush to the vet right away. You can wait and see how it shakes out. If there are no other symptoms present and they are still running around they’re fine. If it happens more than once then you bring them in. You don’t want to wait overnight. Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days, or has blood in it, or vomiting multiple times, that’s when you see a vet.
La Jolla Blue Book: What do you recommend for dogs dealing with seasonal allergies?
Dr. Morizi: Apoquel, It’s a prescription anti-itch drug (non-steroid), it just came out last year, it’s been so successful, that for months and months we couldn’t get it, because it was on back-order and it works really, really well.
La Jolla Blue Book: What about dogs overheating when the temperature rises?
Dr. Morizi: Never leave your dog in the car unattended. They heat up so fast. It’s the biggest problem during the hot season. If it’s sunny and above 60 degrees, you get a greenhouse effect inside the car, it can get up to 120 degrees inside the car, even if the temperature is just 60 outside. If it’s less than 70 degrees and you’re parked in the shade, you’re okay. But if you’re in the sun, never. You also have to keep in mind that shade moves so you really don’t want to leave your dog for too long.
La Jolla Blue Book: What about dogs walking on hot pavement?
Dr. Morizi: If it’s hot outside, the darker the pavement the hotter it’s going to be, so cement is probably not gonna be a problem,..black top can be 150 degrees surface temperature,… So dog should not be walking on that for more than a few minutes. You want to protect your dogs paws and there are some wonderful booties on the market now for dogs. REI carries terrific booties for dogs.
The Pet Health Center of La Jolla is open Monday through Saturday and is located at 1135 Torrey Pines Rd La Jolla, CA 92037. To make an appointment please call (858) 945-4565.