Assisi: Tell us a bit about your background in the veterinary world and your interest in infectious disease and animal welfare. What made you want to focus on shelter medicine?


Dr. Contreras: I entered vet school later in life, after already having dabbled in the psychology and ecology/conservation fields. After my beloved dog, my best friend and true companion of 14 years passed away, I decided I was finally going to pursue a career as a veterinarian – and specifically – a shelter veterinarian, to provide medical care for those animals without a personal caregiver. I
ally have a desire to help in understanding the experience of each individual animal and to prevent or alleviate suffering, not only physical but also mental and emotional.


Being involved in the shelter medicine field and working under one of the world-renowned veterinary infectious disease experts, it was a given that I’d be immersed in and intrigued by infectious disease research. Understanding and knowledge about infectious diseases is key in shelter medicine, since prevention and management are absolutely critical for the physical and emotional health, as well as for the ultimate survival of all of the animals in the shelter.


Assisi: How did you first hear about the Assisi Loop®?


Dr. Contreras: At the annual American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Conference in 2017.


Assisi: Was there a particular complicated case that convinced you of the power of targeted pulsed electromagnetic field technology (tPEMF™)?


Dr. Contreras: I don’t recall a particular case that first convinced me, but rather – I was intrigued by the overall clinical trials that were ongoing and being led by Dr. Deirdre Chiaramonte of Assisi Animal Health. I liked that Assisi had an Internist as its lead veterinarian and researcher and that they seemed to have increasing evidence of tPEMF’s positive effects in the veterinary field. And I definitely appreciated that Assisi was interested in additional research and questions regarding the technology.


Cabo on his Loop LoungeBut the particularly complicated case that convinced me of the potential power of tPEMF was my personal senior cat that had chronic rhinitis and otitis and also had no dentition (I adopted him in this state). I had tried practically all other treatments and management modalities for his conditions, and none provided consistent relief, nor were there any treatments that I would continue to administer for the long-term, since that would have the potential to cause more harm than good. Cats with chronic rhinitis typically find minimal long-term relief from their symptoms. I was therefore always in search of any strategies to relieve his chronic inflammation. So when I learned about the Assisi Loop at the AAFP Conference, I figured that tPEMF might be able to provide alleviation of clinical signs, potentially similar to what could be achieved with laser therapy, although understandably via a different mechanism. Targeting and upregulating anti-inflammatory molecules and processes – while also promoting tissue regeneration and remodeling – seemed exactly what my cat’s skull o’ inflammation needed. And considering the Loop also had the NPAID seal, it seemed a safe and promising avenue to explore. So when my cat finally had some of his symptoms controlled while consistently using the Assisi Loop, I realized that tPEMF technology might be achieving what no other therapy had accomplished – safely, effectively, and consistently.


Assisi: How is Cabo doing? For those who haven’t read his patient spotlight, can you summarize his condition(s) and how the Loop has helped him?


Cabo on a blanketDr. Contreras: Cabo is doing GREAT! I adopted Cabo as a senior cat from a local shelter from a hoarding situation. He was very thin, matted, had no teeth, had chronic otitis externa and otitis media (ear infections from outside to inside of the ear canal), and had chronic upper respiratory tract disease, eventually diagnosed as “chronic lymphoplasmacytic rhinosinusitis” or – more affectionately referred to as a chronic snuffler. Needless to say, he wasn’t actually an “adoption candidate.” But he was so sweet! For the first couple of years, we tried a variety of treatment options in the hopes of managing his chronic otitis  and chronic rhinitis.


And then we were introduced to the Assisi Loop. I figured we should give it a try. After overcoming a few operational obstacles, I finally constructed a neck brace for the 10cm Assisi Loop that Cabo wore a few times per day. His otitis symptoms did not return. His chronic rhinitis symptoms stabilized to a state in which his nasal discharge no longer progressed to the thickened character that would prompt other treatment interventions. His appetite also remained fantastic, suggesting that his rhinosinusitis was not interfering with his senses of scent or taste. It then became the only treatment modality that I considered safe and appropriate to use long-term for Cabo’s conditions.


In October 2018, Cabo was also diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Of course he also had osteoarthritis (OA), considering his geriatric age. Around this time, Assisi Animal Health launched the Assisi Loop Lounge™. So when I attended the New York Vet Conference in November 2018, I purchased a Lounge. The Lounge has been a total life changer – for Cabo and for myself.  I placed it in his breakfast-eating-napping location and turned it on during post-breakfast-napping while he was lounging on top of it. So, every morning, Cabo happily jumps up onto his Loop Lounge, and he commences high-decibel-purring and snoozing. Results have been remarkable. His otitis has been non-existent for the past year, and his chronic rhinitis is still very well managed with minimal to no need for ancillary therapies – as long as he receives at least 2 treatments per day. But also noteworthy, his CKD has been stable for the past year with no progression of clinical signs nor worsening of laboratory values; in fact, his laboratory values have improved since initial diagnosis. His appetite is fantastic and he is still playful and active, thus his OA is very well managed! Every night, he scampers around the house, chasing toys, following me, and running at full speed toward the most enticing venue. My geriatric, chronic otitis, chronic rhinosinusitis, osteoarthritis, chronic kidney disease cat, behaves as if he’s a youthful adolescent! And I feel that we can attribute at least some of this rejuvenation to the Assisi products and tPEMF therapy.


Assisi: What indications did you initially use the Loop to treat and how have these indications grown or changed over time? What lesser-known applications of tPEMF have you used in your practice?



Dr. Contreras: I initially began using the Loop as an alternative therapy for chronic rhinosinusitis and otitis. Considering how fantastic my personal cat was doing, I now consider use of the Loop tPEMF technology whenever the goal is to decrease inflammation. For instance, I consider the technology useful for chronic kidney disease since there is thought to be a component of inflammation in types of kidney disease. Although it’s unclear what systems and modes of inflammation are being targeted when using the Lounge in Cabo, the overall outcome is that Cabo feels great, has minimal mobility issues, and his CKD has improved over the past year. Meanwhile, the inflammation in his head (ears, nose, etc.) is extremely well managed with consistent Lounge treatments.


We are also using tPEMF therapy through the Lounges in our feline spay/neuter clinic for post-op recovery and treatment. I have also recommended it for chronic gingivitis or stomatitis as part of a multi-modal therapy approach, as well as for chronic otitis and allergic inflammatory issues.


Assisi: Tell us about the process of introducing tPEMF to a client/patient. How do you explain the benefits to them?


Dr. Contreras: I try to explain it in everyday language. Of course I refer them to the Assisi Animal Health website for the “real” info. But it depends on who I’m talking to and for what condition they’re considering using tPEMF. Anyhow, I typically start with saying that “there is a new, alternative product on the market called the Assisi Loop that uses targeted pulsed electromagnetic field therapy for potential assistance with decreasing inflammation and assisting with pain.” I encourage trying it because it might help and definitely won’t hurt. I also tell them about the amazing successes I’ve had with it from a personal perspective. I tell them that I’ve purchased multiple Loops and Lounges for my own pets and tell them my stories so that they understand that I’m only recommending it because I believe in it.


Assisi: Tell us about some of the work you were doing at the Feline Fix.


Cat on Loop LoungeDr. Contreras: I was previously a part-time Medical Director and Veterinarian at The Feline Fix, a small non-profit in the Denver, Colorado area. One of The Feline Fix’s primary functions is as a high-quality, high volume feline spay/neuter facility. But it is not “just another” feline spay/neuter clinic. I feel that they have raised the bar tremendously. With all of the new research and findings regarding the experience of pain, immune system, stress levels, and general feline welfare and well-being, The Feline Fix has embraced that knowledge and continually strive to implement top-notch, multi-modal pain management protocols for all of their feline clients – whether they are stray, feral, owned, young, or old. They now provide premiere, high quality feline spay and neuter services that utilize multi-modal pre-peri-and-post-operative pain management strategies – at a very affordable cost.


Assisi: What are the benefits of bringing Assisi Loop technology into a shelter setting? How are the post-op cats and kittens at the Feline Fix doing with their new Loop Lounges?


Dr. Contreras: Having Loop Lounges in the spay/neuter post-op setting is HUGE. After surgery and after the cats or kittens receive their post-operative supportive care and medications, they are placed in their carriers on top of a Lounge. First and foremost, this provides additional alleviation of pain and excess inflammation post-operatively. Usage assists in quicker recovery for the cats and a faster return to activity – whether that is as an outdoor feral/community cat or as a kitten awaiting adoption. This therefore adds tremendously to The Feline Fix’s exceptional multi-modal pain management protocol that I discussed earlier. I feel that trying to help our cats in every way possible is the ultimate goal. I also feel that using this premiere technology in clinic sets them miles apart and above so many other spay/neuter clinics. Second, I feel that their use of the Lounges can also bring further awareness to other feline owners and veterinarians about how cats can benefit from this technology. So I hope that by their use of it, they can bring awareness to other clinics and cat owners. I feel that use of novel, innovative ways to provide compassionate care to our cats engages the community further and opens discussions about how we need to think “outside of the box” and always strive to do even better and even more for our kitty companions, no matter what was done or not done in the past.


Assisi: What would you say to other vets (particularly those working with cats!) interested in finding new non-invasive treatment options?


Senior Cat in LoungeDr. Contreras: Keep an open mind to non-traditional methods as long as the other methods are not harmful and are being evaluated using the scientific method to support efficacy. Just because something has “always been done xyz way” in the past, does not mean that something should continue to be done in xyz way in the future. Because maybe, just maybe, what we think we know or used to know might have been wrong, or at least a misunderstanding. Misunderstandings can lead to misapplications of theories, ideas, treatments, and results. And these could lead or could have already led to deleterious effects of which we were not previously aware. We are always making new discoveries and gaining new and deeper or very different understandings. So we have to always be amenable to changing our views and methodologies with the changes in times and ideas. If instead we become “stuck in our ways” with only traditional or linear ways to think, manage, and treat, then we do a grave disservice to our clients and patients. We all want to do what is best for our client and patient, and that means being open to always learning and discovering what we do not yet know. So read those journal articles, talk to all sorts of colleagues, and reach out to the veterinarians and others in the field that are working on and with these novel, non-invasive options for not only treatment and management of conditions, but also when thinking about diagnosis and evaluation of conditions. So much of what we think we know today is what we do not know tomorrow.