Sierra Veterinary Clinic: Pet Blog

Tips on caring for your pets from the Veterinarians and staff of Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton, California.

Common Skin Conditions in Animals

Skin conditions are a frequent problem for animals. On a daily basis veterniarians treat patients for rashes, hair loss, and itchiness. These symptoms can occur individually or together; and can be caused by several underlying health issues. Sometimes multiple factors can be contributing to a problem. This can complicate a diagnosis, and extend treatment times. Depending on the underlying cause, some conditions require life long therapy or prevention. This article is meant to be an overview of the most common skin conditions in dogs and cats, and is in no way meant to include all of the many skin conditions that can occur in these species.

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The Art of Excellent Pet Ownership

Recently I was asked to speak at the local chapter of The Philanthropic Educational Organization on ‘The Art of Excellent Pet Ownership’. This is a non-profit women’s group that raises money to provide scholarships for women to go to college. This column contains the highlights from that discussion.

Over the past decade, pets have become an integral part of the family. Many canines and felines now live primarily indoors, sleep in their caretaker’s beds, and often have their own wardrobes. A significant number of pet owners have pictures of their pets displayed in the home, at their work areas, and on their phone. Dogs and cats have their own birthday parties, travel with their family, and are a significant consideration with holiday event planning. Doggy day care is now offered at many boarding facilities; and several hotels now allow canines. Check out bringfido.com for availability.

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Where your dog treats are made can make a difference

China has been in the news again the past few weeks related to problems with a dog food product, this time it is with chicken jerky treats. In 2006, China was responsible for the melamine contamination of the food additives/extenders known as wheat gluten and rice protein concentrated. This triggered a nation-wide recall of several different dog food items from a wide variety of manufactures.

As of November 2011, the Food and Drug Administration is now warning pet owners that chicken jerky food products that are imported from China may cause a Fanconi-like syndrome in dogs who routinely consume them. Fanconi’s syndrome is a disease that affects the kidneys causing them to leak glucose and electrolytes into the urine.

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Salmonella, your pets, and your family

At the end of last year, the United States Food and Drug Administration began testing pet food for Salmonella because of evidence of human related illness. This study includes food and treats for a multitude of animals. The plan is to remove products that have high levels of this organism.

Salmonella is a rod-shaped bacterium that can live in the intestines of animals and people. It can also survive in the environment for weeks, and is not destroyed by freezing. Salmonella is killed by ultraviolet radiation and heat/cooking.

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Cats are very good at hiding illness

Cats are very good at hiding illness. This is a protective instinct from the wild. They do this to prevent potential predators from knowing that they a in pain, weakened, or ill. Unfortunately this means that a pet owner may not realize there is a problem until an illness is fairly advanced.

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Valley Fever can affect both animals and people

Valley Fever or Coccidioidomycosis is a fungal infection that can develop when spores are inhaled. It affects people, dogs, cats, and other mammals. In the United States it is common in certain parts of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. Elsewhere it is also present in Northern Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. In California the fungus is present in the San Joaquin Valley and Central Valley. In the United States, 50,00 to 100,000 people contract this illness annually. 60% of the time when spores are inhaled by animals or people, there is no illness created. When animals or people do become infected with Valley Fever, they are not a source of disease for others.

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Please don’t feed bones or people food to your buddy this holiday season

Many pet owners associate giving food to your pet with showing them love; however, many items that caregivers may want to feed their pets may cause more harm than good.

I have written several columns on an illness called Pancreatitis, a malady that is often triggered by feeding food items that are spicy and/or high in fat. Symptoms include decreased appetite, decreased energy, vomiting, and diarrhea. This problem commonly takes place during the holiday season. A bland diet, medications including antibiotics and acid blockers, and intravenous fluid are the cornerstones of therapy.

In today’s column I want to focus on a separate medical issue that also stems from caregivers feeding non-dog food items to their pets, namely bones.

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Saving lives one horse at a time

Anita Dayton is a wonderful horse trainer and owner of KISS Horse Center, 10576 Arno Road (916) 591-2481. Kiss stands for kind, intelligent, soft, simple. This 20 acre facility is nestled in the center of an agricultural area of Galt; and is home to anywhere from 20-50 horses. Some of them are student owned boarding and training equines; but most of them are abandoned ex-race horses, discarded research horses, and other equines that people didn’t want or could no longer take care of. Her goal is to work with them and re-home them when possible.

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Cats are another victim of the poor economy

Felines are now becoming victims of the poor economy when it comes to routine medical care. In the past few years, a large number of pet owners are not bringing their cats in for annual examinations, vaccinations, spay/neuter, or routine dental cleanings. This means that these pets are not getting the preventative or necessary care that they should receive and deserve.

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Strut your Mutt at Victory Park

Strut Your Mutt was a fabulous Animal Protection League canine celebration that took place this past Saturday September 10Th, 2011 at Victory park. There were many fun activities for both people and their cherished companions, all to raise money for this animal rescue group that does so much in Stockton. This year Mr. Andy Prokop, CEO of The United Way of San Joaquin, was the master of ceremonies. A wide variety of vendors and informational booths were in attendance; and microchips, vaccines, and dog licenses were available.

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Lymphocytic Plasmacytic Gingivitis Stomatitis in Cats

Lymphocytic Plasmacytic Gingivitis Stomatits is a specific type of gingivitis or gum inflammation that occurs in cats. The felines with this illness have an abnormal often progressive allergic reaction to the plaque that develops on and along their teeth resulting in a severe, painful, malodorous swelling and possible ulceration/cobblestone appearance along the gum line.

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Pool safety for your dog

Swimming can be a great way to exercise for your dog, just like it can be for people. It is low impact on joints, and can be beneficial for weight loss, building muscle tone, and keeping patients with arthritis active. It's also a wonderful way to keep cool, and spend time together. Please keep in mind, that the swimming pool can also pose several risks to your buddy, some of which are life threatening. With a few simple precautions, you can make this a fun and safe haven for your canine companion.

Many dogs love to swim, and several breeds of dogs are genetically designed to do this. However, it is important to keep in mind that many breeds of dogs are not good at swimming, and that their respiratory conformation can predispose them to drowning. Dogs that are Brachycephalic-have short, pushed in noses, are not well designed for aquatic adventures, and you may be putting them in serious danger by trying to make them swim. These includes, but are not limited to Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus. Dogs with short legs such as Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Pomeranians, Papillons, and Basset hounds are also not good in the water. Also, some dogs are afraid of the water; even in dog breeds that are associated with water sports. If they are fearful, they can be predisposed to injury. The art of swimming may not come naturally to your pet, even if he or she is a breed commonly associated with water. Dog breeds that love to swim include; but are not limited to Labrador Retrievers, Spanish Water Dog, Irish Water Spaniel, Newfoundland, Irish Setter, English Setter, Golden Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, American Water Spaniel, and Schipperke.

If you want your dog to swim, introduce the idea slowly. Start at the shallow end of the pool, with your canine by your side. You can gently lead him or her in with a leash. You can also give a few tasty treats to motivate your buddy to enter the water. If your dog is good at fetching, a ball or other toy can be a great source of motivation. Slowly bring your dog into the pool enough that he or she has to paddle to stay afloat. You may need to have your hands under his or her belly initially for support. If your dog is afraid of the water, starting out on a floating raft may be less intimidating. Life jackets are available for dogs. They can be used for swimming, and are a great safety item if you take your dog boating. Paws aboard www.pawsaboard.com has a wide variety of life jackets, and also sells steps to assist your buddy with getting in and out of the pool. Never just throw your pet into the pool. This can trigger fear, and can easily lead to drowning. If your dog has started to drown, take him or her to your veterinarian for immediate care.

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Treatment for dogs with Heartworm is no longer available

Immiticide, an arsenic-based chemical, is the only product that exists in the veterinary industry to kill adult heartworm in dogs. Unfortunately, the manufacturing company is no longer making this medication for an unknown duration of time. It is now more important than ever to make sure your canine companions are protected from this deadly disease. No effective Heartworm treatment exists for cats.

Heartworm is transmitted to dogs and cats from the bite of a mosquito. If the mosquito is infected with Heartworm, a larva is then released into the bloodstream of your pet. The larva travels to your buddy's heart through the bloodstream, maturing as it migrates. The right side of the heart is where the worms settle. Adult heartworms are able to reproduce in your pet's heart. As the worms proliferate, they start to affect the function the heart. They also migrate to other organs of the body, such as the liver and lungs, and cause tissue damage there.

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Care for your companions when you travel

When you have to travel away from your buddies, there are different care options to consider, and some things to keep in mind. Typically you would choosing between boarding your canine or feline, or using a pet sitter.

If your choose to board your pets, make sure their vaccines are current, and have been updated at least a week prior to the boarding date. Also, make sure your companions receive their monthly flea and Heartworm preventatives before their stay. When able, it is best to bring your own food. Rapid diet changes often cause digestive upset, and can lead to significant illness. Personal bedding and toys can also bring the comforts of home.

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Don't let your pet be a victim to insects this summer

This year's weather pattern of rain and heat, and then rain again creates the perfect environment for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes to rapidly multiply. The numbers of these pests is expected to escalate this summer well beyond those of prior years. I have already had several clients tell me that they are finding fleas in their yards this year when they have never seen them before. This means that it is critical to act now and continue to routinely act to protect your pet, your home, and your family from this sudden onslaught of varmints.

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Your backyard is not a safe playground for your puppy

Parvo is a major threat. This virus attacks the lining of the intestine, triggering a cascade of symptoms including low energy, low appetite, vomiting, diarrhea-often bloody, and can result in death. It is transmitted to your buddy by walking through poop from an infected dog, and then your pet licking his or her feet. However, flies can also spread this illness to your canine companion. Flies can land on your pets face, but can also spread Parvo by landing on food and water bowls or toys. It can also be spread on clothing or shoes.

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Establishing a plan for pet care for when you pass on

There are several ways to make arrangements for the care of your cherished companion. Some are more formalized than others. A pet owner cannot just leave money to a pet, as animals are considered property. The more specifically things are outlined, the better chance that your wishes will be followed.

The most important thing that you need to do is to identify a person that is willing to provide the care. This person agrees to house and care for your cherished companions. It is best to also have an alternate as well. Spend time talking with both of these people. Make sure the level of care that you wish for your cherished companions is clearly outlined, and that both of these people truly agree with undertaking this level of responsibility. If you do not designate someone, then whoever inherets your assets, will also inherit your pets. You also want to inform your family members of your wishes early on, and make sure they have needed contact information for your chosen pet provider.

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Dog aggression is a serious problem

I chose to write about this topic because of concern for my clients, and other pet owners. Recently I have seen several pet owners with aggressive, highly uncontrolled dogs that don't seem concerned about these mannerisms in their canines. This is a serious problem that can lead to severe injuries, and even death. I want to promote responsible pet ownership, and happiness for both people and their cherished companions. A dog that is well socialized will be more likely to be taken places, and be able to participate in more events. This is also a safety issue for your dog. If your buddy needs medical care; but it is difficult to handle him or her, than sedation may be required for treatment. If your buddy is choking, you need to be able to remove something from his or her mouth without issues. You should be able to comfortably evaluate your dog's mouth, touch his/her ears, hold him/her for vaccines, etc. If you are not able to do these basic tasks, there is cause for concern.

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The dangers of ordering medication at an online pharmacy

In these difficult economic times, it is understandable that people are very concerned about the cost of medications and preventatives both for themselves and their four-footed companions. However, saving a few pennies now can add up to big expenses in the long run. The Federal Drug Administration has written warnings regarding the purchase of medications through the Internet. The publication can be found at http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm048164.htm. The California Veterinary Medical Board has printed similar warnings. As a consumer, there are several things that you should be aware of before you decide to purchase products at an on-line pharmacy.

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Preventative medicine is healthy for your pet and your wallet

Statistically, in both human and animal medicine, preventative medicine has a much higher ratio of positive outcomes. In addition, early detection and treatment of disease or illness provides a much higher comfort level for both people and their pets. It is also a less costly way to care for yourself and your companions. Think about it, if you identify a problem early on, it is less advanced, and there are fewer complications. The sooner treatment is initiated, the more likely for a good recovery, the less likely for secondary illnesses; and often a shorter term of care is needed.

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Why it is not a good idea to vaccinate your pet on your own

Some pet owners choose to purchase vaccines through feed stores and on line thinking they are saving money. What they do not realize is that they are actually short changing their companions.

When you purchase vaccines through an outside source, there can be several problems. There are no set standards for how vaccinations are handled. The vaccines may not be refrigerated correctly, and can easily be made inactive.

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Canine safety and etiquette at the dog park

Dog parks are a great place for your canine to exercise and socialize; but there are some important things to keep in mind.

The Basics: Make sure that your companion is fully vaccinated for Rabies, Distemper-Parvo, and Bordetella, to protect him or her from illness. Do not bring your cherished companion to the park if they are sick or injured. Do not bring female dogs that are in heat. Supervise your buddy at play, and clean-up behind him or her to make our parks a pleasant and safe place for everyone.

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Routine dental care is an important factor in the overall health and wellness for your cherished companion

Dental disease is the most common health problem for our canines and felines; yet it often goes untreated. Visibly, dental plaque or tartar is visible on the teeth above the gum line, as is gum inflammation or gingivitis. However, there can be marked pathology below the gum line that we are not able to identify by just looking at the teeth. Infection in the mouth can also spread into the bloodstream, and affect other organs in the body. Dental disease is also a source of pain.

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The Dangers of Rat Poison for your pets

Rodenticide is a potentially deadly toxin for your pets; and is a year-round danger for dogs and cats. These chemicals are especially insidious because you may not be aware that your pet has consumed them. Even if you don't have this product at home, your neighbor may be using it. In addition, animals that hunt can ingest this toxin indirectly by eating a rodent that has consumed this poison.

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Fractures in Animals

Pets can break bones just like people can; however, because of concerns for infection and mobility, it is critical that this medical issue is addressed right away. Fractures are most commonly the result of being hit by a car, falling/jumping, fighting, or exuberant play. This problem occurs more commonly in younger pets because they are more likely to run out in the street, play with gusto, and have bones that are more fragile. Broken bones are more common in cats that live outdoors.

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How to introduce a new pet into your home when you already have pets

It can be a stressful process to bring a new dog or cat into your home when you already have pets. Dogs usually adjust to changes more easily than cats. And sometimes it can take months for an established pet to accept a new one. In some cases the new dog or cat is not welcomed, no matter what you do. Here are some suggestions to help ease the transition for both you and your cherished companions.

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Your dog will leave his or her heart in San Francisco

San Francisco is a city of wonderful adventure for your canine companion.

There are over 30 parks, and 4 beaches to play on. Many of the parks offer great areas to hike and climb, with spectacular views of the city. And most of these facilities have large parking lots, and don't charge for parking. Some of the parks have signs posted requiring leashes; but we noticed that many patrons were able to play unrestricted even in those areas.

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Is pet insurance right for your family?

With the increased costs of veterinary care, many pet owners are looking at pet insurance. Pet health insurance differs from human policies in that you pay for all care up front, and then submit a claim and supporting receipts to the particular agency. Some clients are happy with this coverage, and others are totally dissatisfied. Pet insurance can definitely give you peace of mind when it comes to care for your cherished companions.

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Coping with the loss of a cherished animal companion

The loss of a cherished companion can cause tremendous grief.  For many people, the depth of sorrow is greater than with the passing of a person.  Animals are a source of unconditional love and endless entertainment.  Your pet will love you no matter what else is happening in your life.  Unfortunately, as animals have a short lifespan, this is an issue that all pet owners will encounter at some point.
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Horses are another victim of the bad economy

With the poor economy, many people are no longer able to pay the fees associated with care for their equines. Hard times for people, means hard times for horses. In our area, boarding for one horse is generally 200$-500$ per month depending upon the level of care. In the Bay area, it can be double this. These fees do not include shoeing and/or hoof trimming, vaccination, deworming, or other routine health care needs.

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Hidden forms of animal communication

Your dog or cat is in ongoing communication with a multitude of animals that he or she may never even see. Animals, especially dogs, have their own elaborate system of leaving messages for each other that go way beyond the boundaries of email. These are forms of communication that are not seen or heard. Humans may find the mediums and methodology that our pets utilize distasteful; but if we think about what our canines and felines are doing and why, it actually is very ingenious.

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Urinary Problems in Cats

Abnormal urination is a common problem in felines. Symptoms center around urinating in inappropriate places; but problems can also include spraying, an increased frequency of urination, straining to urinate, the inability to urinate, and the presence of blood, bacteria, pus and/or crystals in the urine. Urinary problems can occur for a multitude of reasons; and if the underlying cause is not addressed, the patient can become very ill, and clients sometimes opt to euthanize.

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Recognizing signs of pain in your dog or cat

It can often be difficult for people to identify signs of pain in their cherished companions for several reasons. Animals rarely cry out in pain, unless the level of discomfort is very high. This is a protective instinct from living in the wild, and helps to prevent predators from knowing that a creature is wounded. The cues that our companions provide are most often very subtle, and people may not necessarily associate them as signs of pain.
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Could your cat have Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is the most common hormone imbalance in felines, and typically affects middle to older cats starting at about 8 years of age.  It is a very serious illness, that over time can cause damage throughout the body.  Unfortunately, this disease often goes undiagnosed; and the incidence of hyperthyroidism has increased markedly in recent years.  It is not known why there has been an increase in the last 10 years.  It could be that blood work is more routinely run.  There is a potential connection to canned cat food containers.  Hyperthyroidism is not associated with a particular breed of cat; and males and females are equally represented.
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Could your older dog be suffering from Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is the most common hormone imbalance in dogs.  It usually occurs in canines over 5 years of age, and is caused most frequently by an immune-mediated destruction of thyroid gland tissue, or occasionally by the natural shrinking or atrophy of the glands.  Any breed of dog can develop this problem; but certain breeds such as Great Danes, Doberman Pinchers, Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Miniature Schnauzer, Cocker Spaniel, and Dachshunds are more commonly affected.
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Shaving your dog may not be the best way to beat the heat

As the temperature outside heats up, many dog enthusiasts contemplate shaving off their canine companion's fluffy locks.  Shaving can make it easier to identify fleas, ticks, and foxtails.  It also reduces shedding and will make it easier to groom and keep your buddy clean.  However, there are several other important factors to keep in mind before visiting the groomers.

Please remember that a well brushed coat acts as insulation in both warm and cold weather.  Hair also protects animals from biting flies, mosquitoes, and other insects.  Dogs don't sweat like people do.  Canines are limited to sweating just at their foot pads and nose.  Instead, they pant to keep cool; getting rid of warm air as they breath.  As a result, dogs don't need exposed skin to stay cool.

Different breeds of dogs have different types of coats in terms of thickness as well as the hair life-cycle time.  Most dogs have an outer protective layer, or top/guard coat; and a softer layer or undercoat.  Dogs that can live in cold climates, such as the Siberian Husky, Malamute, Samoyed, Akita, Newfoundland, and Sheltie, have a very thick undercoat to keep them warm.  These dogs can overheat if their coat is not properly maintained.  It is critical for these dogs to be bathed and brushed out routinely so that their coat is free of matts, dirt, and debris.  Breeds like Poodles and Yorkies have no undercoat, and they shed a lot less.  Dogs that have a short hair life-cycle time, like Labradors, Jack Russel Terriers, and Golden Retrievers will shed more frequently as their hair turns over.  A poodle's coat has a longer life-cycle, so this breed sheds less for this reason as well.

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Here are some guidelines to ensure summer safety for your animals

Making summer safe for your petThis is a special article exclusive to SierraVetClinic.com.

The hot sun is a real concern for your pet. Cats and dogs don't sweat like we do; they are limited to panting to get rid of heat. Unfortunately, many dogs and cats die each year from heatstroke. In this process, an animal's temperature climbs so high, that it basically cooks the brain. It doesn't take very long for this horrible problem to happen. Pets that are young, older, or ill are more at risk for heatstroke. Their bodies simply don't have the resources to deal with the heat. Common signs of heatstroke include a high body temperature >103, panting, a rapid heart rate, not wanting to get up, poor balance, and vomiting. If you suspect heatstroke, your buddy needs immediate medical attention.

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Water sport safety for your canine companion

There are many water activities that you can enjoy with your canine buddy.  Water sports are a great way for your pet to exercise and beat the heat.  Here are a few helpful tips to ensure the safety of your cherished companion this summer.

Supervise your dog whenever he or she is in the water.

Hundreds of dogs drown every year, even in their own pools.  A pool cover or fence will prevent your canine friend from swimming when you are not there, and will also help to prevent Fido from accidentally falling into the pool.  Floating ramps and steps to ease getting in and out of the water are available that can be used on boats or swimming pools.  They can be purchased for $65-125.

Make sure Fido can swim.

You can teach your dog to swim starting at 3-4 months of age.  Start by using a child's wading pool, and gradually work your way up.  Not all dogs are natural swimmers, and some are too fearful.  Dogs under a year of age, or over the age of seven, are especially prone to hypothermia and drowning.  Big boned dogs such as Boxers and Bulldogs are not as agile in the water, and can't swim for long periods of time or long distance.

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The value of running a fecal floatation for your pet

A fecal floatation for your cherished companion is one of the least expensive tests that I routinely recommend for every dog and cat. It can not only keep your pet safe; but it can also help protect your family as well.

Why is the fecal floatation test so important and valuable?

First, animals explore their worlds with their mouths. This is especially true for dogs, but cats do it too. Our pets have a tendency to chew on almost anything with eyesight. And if it tastes good, they might even eat it. This is not limited to toys or things we can disinfect. The outdoor palate of a typical dog or cat commonly includes grass, plants, flowers, twigs, leaves, insects, mice/rats; and our favorite, poop from another animals. All of these items can be sources of parasites and/or bacteria.

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Hairballs can be a serious problem for felines

Any cat can be affected by hairballs; but it is more commonly a problem associated with long-haired felines.  Cats are fastidious groomers, and they swallow hair as they clean themselves.

Hair is not well digested by the body.  Some of it passes through the gastrointestinal system mixed in as part of the waste material.  If large quantities of hair are consumed, it may sit in the stomach for weeks forming large clumps.  This hair is irritating to the lining of the stomach, and can then trigger vomiting.  This is what is classically known as a hairball, a hard and slimy congealed coil of hair and mucus.  Fur can also accumulate throughout the intestine, leading to blockages and/or constipation further down in the gastrointestinal tract.

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Leptospirosis, is your dog protected?

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that is transmitted from contact with urine from other infected animals such as skunks, raccoons, rodents, dogs, cattle, pigs, and others.  The bacteria, Leptospira interrogans has over 200 subtypes identified world-wide.  Each sub-type is adapted to a particular type of animal, and many animals harbor the bacteria without any problems.  People can contract the illness from contact with contaminated water, soil, food, as well as fluids or excrement from their own dog if she or he is harboring the disease.  The bacteria enters the body when inhaled, consumed, or absorbed through wounds or damaged skin.

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Don't let your puppy be a victim of Parvovirus

We are on the edge of Spring, and Parvovirus is already flourishing. I have seen over 10 cases in the past 3 weeks. Parvo is a virus that invades the cells that line the intestine; thelymphatic system can also be affected. Symptoms typically include weakness, low energy, low appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, secondary dehydration, and possible shock. Often the excrement will have a fetid, foul odor and may have blood. The disease progresses very quickly, and can easily result in death.

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Cocoa bean mulch can be harmful to both dogs and cats

Be aware that what you or your gardeners use on your lawn can be toxic to your pets.

Cocoa mulch, made from cocoa bean shells, is known for its fine texture and sweet aroma.  Unfortunately it can contain the same harmful ingredients as chocolate:  theobromine and caffeine.  Both of these chemicals can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, seizures, muscle tremors, hyperactivity, and even death.

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Some Easter items can be very harmful to pets

As Easter festivities are rapidly approaching, please be aware that some of the common materials can be dangerous and even deadly for both dogs and cats. Here are a few things to watch out for to help keep this holiday fun and safe for your cherished companions.

Chocolate contains 3 materials that can be harmful to pets: fat, caffeine, and theobromine. Dark chocolate contains higher levels of theobromine. Fat can irritate the Pancreas--see the section on people food below. Both theobromine and caffeine can cause an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and trigger symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, hyperactivity, increased thirst, panting, increased urination, gait abnormalities, and exaggerated reflexes. If chocolate intoxication is not treated within 3-6 hours, it can lead to heart failure, seizures, coma, and possibly death. Treatment includes hospitalization on IVs, monitoring, and possibly several days of care.

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Regenerative stem cell therapy in dogs

Stem cells are currently being used in dogs and horses to treat many health problems. Stem cells are cells that can transform into many types of cells including bone, tendon, ligament, cartilage, muscle, liver, cardiac, nerve, and others.

Vet-Stem, a laboratory located in San Diego, California, can provide concentrated stem cells from 2 teaspoons of a patient's fat. General anesthesia is needed to harvest the fat cells. The samples are then shipped to Vet-Stem, where the stem cells are concentrated. The process takes about 48 hours. The cells can then be injected directly into the injury site. Most patients are able to receive the regenerative cells without anesthesia; but sometimes local anesthesia is needed.

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Disaster Preparedness for you and your pet


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record January 30, 2009

Disasters can be tragic, as we have seen recently in Haiti and a few years ago with Katrina.  Fortunately hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and land slides are not common here; but we are at risk for earthquakes, fires, floods, or terrorist attacks.  Planning ahead can help protect your family and your cherished companions; it may save their lives.

Have collars on all of your pets, even if they have another form of permanent identification.  On the tag have a local phone number as well as the phone number of a relative that lives outside of California because local phone service may not be working.  Have a form of permanent identification for your companion such as a microchip or tattoo.  Our clinic has been able to reunite several wandering pets with their owners because of microchip technology.  You may not think that your dog or cat may roam; but it is always possible if windows are broken, or fences get knocked down.

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Pyometra, a significant threat for female dogs and cats

Pyometra is an infection of the uterus that can occur in female animals that haven't been spayed. It can be in an open or closed form (see next paragraph). Pyometra typically occurs a few weeks after a heat cycle, as changes in hormones create the ideal conditions for harboring bacteria in the uterus. Pyometra happens more commonly in older pets, as they are not as able to fight infection. Isolated organisms are frequently those found in the intestinal tract like E. coli. The incidence rates of canine pyometra vary in the literature, but range from 23-45 %. The disease is less common in felines.

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Mushroom Toxicity


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record January 23, 2009

Mushrooms are sprouting up in lawns everywhere.  The rains and cooler weather stimulate their growth, so now is the time for pet owners to take action.  Please monitor your lawns and gardens, and remove these fungi as soon as possible for the safety of yourself and your pets.

Mushrooms are toxic and can be deadly to your family members, including your dog and cat.  Mushroom toxicity is more common in dogs because they tend to scavenge more frequently.  Initially the fungi can cause signs of generalized stomach upset including vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, abdominal pain and poor appetite.  Unfortunately it can progress from there.  Often the pet owner is not aware that their dog or cat has consumed anything.  Later he or she finds the deceased pet.  Many cases of mushroom toxicity go unidentified because often a necropsy isn't performed.

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Choosing the "purrfect" present for your pet


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record December 5, 2009

My dogs really seem to enjoy receiving gifts.  Any time that I purchase a new stuffed animal or dog bed, it is like nothing else they have exists, at least for 5 to 10 minutes.

All jokes aside, there are some things to consider for health and safety when getting or making a gift for your cherished canine and feline companions.

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Take the chill out of winter for your pet

Cold and wet weather can cause significant health problems and potentially death for your pets.  When the temperature hovers around freezing, it is a serious concern for animals that live outside.  I have had a few owners tell me that they have had cats freeze to death this winter.  Very young, older, thin, or immunocompromised animals are at a much higher risk for the damaging effects of Winter.  Please keep these guidelines in mind if you have dogs or cats that spend a significant amount of time outdoors.

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