College of Veterinary Medicine


Elena T. Contreras, DVM, MS, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences


Dr. Elena Contreras is an Assistant Professor of Animal Welfare and Behavior in the College of Veterinary Medicine. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 2013 from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine that she attended via the university’s Eliza Ann Grier scholarship for under-represented minority groups. She also has a Master of Science degree in ecology from Colorado State University (CSU), where she studied the effects of rural development on grassland bird populations. After veterinary school, Dr. Contreras completed a small animal shelter medicine and surgery internship, a shelter research fellowship and received a PhD in Veterinary Clinical Sciences from CSU. Her doctoral dissertation focused on novel strategies for the prevention and treatment of feline herpesvirus-1 and feline upper respiratory tract infections in cats in shelters and laboratory environments. During this time, she also earned Maddie’s Graduate Certificate in Shelter Medicine, and was the 2017 recipient of the first Winn Feline Foundation/Miller Trust New Feline Investigator Award that supported her grant to assess novel non-invasive methods of measuring chronic stress in cats. She was also the Medical Director and veterinarian at a feline non-profit clinic. After completing her PhD, she was a clinical educator at CSU for the sections of Foundations of Veterinary Medicine that focused on feline physical examination and handling skills, veterinary ethics, and canine basic dermatology skills. Her research interests include non-invasive measures of chronic stress, behavioral indicators of animal welfare in shelters and confined animal populations, veterinary animal welfare and ethics education, feline chronic stress, and feline upper respiratory infection.

Publications - (selected manuscripts)

  • Contreras ET, Lappin MR. (2020) Quantification and evaluation of cortisol in feline fur and claws: a novel, non-invasive measurement of chronic stress in cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 22(1): 49.
  • Contreras ET, Olea-Popelka F, Wheat W, et al. (2019). Evaluation of liposome TLR ligand complexes for non-specific mucosal immunoprotection from feline herpesvirus-1 infection. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 33(2): 831-837.
  • Wheat W, Chow L, Coy J, Contreras ET, et al. (2019) Activation of upper respiratory tract mucosal innate immune responses in cats by liposomal TLR ligand complexes delivered topically. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 33(2): 838-845.
  • Contreras ET, Hodgkins E, Tynes V, et al. (2018) Effect of a pheromone on stress-associated recrudescence of feline herpesvirus-1 in experimentally inoculated kittens. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 32, no. 1: 406-417.
  • Contreras ET, Worley DR, Palmer RH, et al. (2018) Post-amputation orthopedic surgery in canine amputees: owner satisfaction and outcome. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine 33, no. 3: 89-96.
  • Contreras ET, Dowers K, Moroff S, at al. (2018) Clinical and laboratory effects of doxycycline and prednisolone in Ixodes scapularis-exposed dogs with chronic Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine 33, no. 4: 147-149.
  • Souza CP, Rosychuk R, Contreras ET, et al. (2018) A retrospective analysis of the use of lokivetmab in the management of allergic pruritus in a referral population of 135 dogs in the western USA. Veterinary Dermatology 29(6): 489-e164.
  • Souza CP, Schissler JR, Contreras ET, et al. (2018) Evaluation of immunological parameters in pit bull terrier-type dogs with juvenile onset generalized demodicosis and age matched healthy pit bull terrier-type dogs. Veterinary Dermatology 29(6): 482-e162.
  • Torres-Henderson C, Bunkers J, Contreras ET, et al. (2017) Use of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet UR Urinary St/Ox to dissolve struvite cystoliths. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine 32, no. 2: 49-54.
  • Contreras ET, Giger U, Malmberg JL, et al. (2016) Bilirubin encephalopathy in a domestic shorthair cat with increased osmotic fragility and cholangiohepatitis. Veterinary Pathology, 53, no. 3: 629-632.
  • Contreras ET, Hawley JR, Lappin MR. (2016) Effects of administration of Carnivora on clinical signs in cats after repeat challenge with feline herpesvirus. International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine 14, no. 3: 208-216.
  • Contreras ET, Moroff S, Lappin MR. (2016) Evidence for genetic predisposition to Borrelia burgdorferi infection in purpose-bred beagles. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 30, no. 4: 1473.
  • Tenne R, Sullivan LA, Contreras ET, et al. (2016) Palatability and clinical effects of an oral recuperation fluid during the recovery of dogs with suspected parvoviral enteritis. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine 31, no. 2: 68-72.