Sierra Veterinary Clinic: Pet Blog

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

Helping others find their way


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record November 7, 2009

As pet caretakers we value our animals for companionship, affection, entertainment, exercise, and so much more.  What if your daily activities depended on the help of your cherished friend?  This column is dedicated to the generous work of an organization that provides life changing canines for many in need, Guide Dogs For The Blind.  Our clinic has cared for some of these canines, and I have observed the amazing partnership and independence these dogs bring to people's lives.

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Making 2010 a great year of health and happiness for your pet

January 1, 2010

Wondering what actions can you take now, and all year long, that will make a significant difference in the life of your cherished companion?  Here is a list of recommendations for the new year.

Feed a high quality premium pet food, one that comes from the pet store, and meets AAFCO  Association of American Food Control Officials standards .  You are what you eat.  Just like for people, a diet rich in fat and carbohydrates is not healthy.  Do not share your plate with your buddy, or feed chicken or pork bones, or grease drippings.  Consult with your veterinarian on what to feed if your pet won't eat kibble, or will only eat people food.

Exercise is just as important for your companions as it is for you.  A leash and some tennis shoes provide a wonderful workout.  Your feline companion may enjoy going out on a harness, or playing with a laser light or other interactive toy.  5 days a week is optimum for good health.

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Foxtails can create a multitude of problems for your pet


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record May 30, 2009

A foxtail is the dried seed portion of tall grass or weeds, and it is shaped like an arrowhead with barbs. As these plants mature and dry out, the seed separates. Because there are barbs, the seeds stick easily to fur. Loose seeds enter normal openings of animals such as the nostrils, ears, eyes, genitalia, and mouth; as well as penetrate and migrate through the skin. This may sound minor; but it can actually be quite serious, especially when the foxtails travel internally.

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Dressage: Ballet with horses


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record July 11, 2009

Dressage is a competition in which rider and horse become one. It is an art. The challenge is to communicate actions to the horse almost silently, with subtle gestures of the equestrian's hands, legs, and shifts in weight. All breeds of horses can participate, and this form of training is thought to maximize a horse's riding potential.

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Don't let anyone play tricks on your pet at Halloween


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record October 24, 2009

There is already a chill in the air, as Fall has finally arrived. Plans for spooky festivities have begun  Keep your pets safe by keeping the following guidelines in mind.

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Become an advocate for homeless pets in our community


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record September 26, 2009

Pet overpopulation is a huge issue in our area, with approximately 10,000 dogs and cats euthanized annually at our local Stockton city/county animal shelter. Most, at least 80%, of these animals are healthy and would make wonderful pets.

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Pets still need heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives in the winter


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record October 10, 2009

Just because the weather is colder doesn't mean you should stop giving heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives to your cherished companions. It rarely freezes in our area, so these pests are always lurking year-round, just in smaller numbers.

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When you should consider euthanasia for your pet


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record September 5, 2009

As caretakers of animals, this is one of the most agonizing decisions that we have to face. Unfortunately the lifespan of our cherished companions is much shorter than ours. One of the kindest, yet most difficult things you can do for your pet when they are suffering, is to euthanize him or her to stop the pain.

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Puppy Mills are a significant problem in California


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record September 12, 2009

Many dogs are imported into California from puppy mills; the true numbers are not known at this time. Several of these animals are from within the United States. Just this week the Humane Society rescued 500 dogs from puppy mills in four different states: North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and South Dakota. There are also recent problems in the state of Texas and Missouri. The animals are confined in cramped quarters typically wire cages with poor sanitation, poor nutrition, limited access to water, poor veterinary care, and limited socialization or exercise.

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Trail riding with your horse


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record July 26, 2009

Trail riding with your horse can be a magnificent activity for the both of you. Depending on the endurance of your horse, it can allow you to experience tremendous views and sites in nature that can be very difficult to explore by any other means. It is also great exercise for your horse. It is both mentally and physically stimulating, and can help to improve the training of your horse for almost any other modality that you and your equine participate in.

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Cigarettes pose multiple threats to animals


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record August 15, 2009

Cigarettes and Tobacco materials can pose significant health threats for animals in several ways.

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Ear infections in dogs


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record June 27, 2009

Ear infections in dogs can happen any time of year; but in our area seem more frequent in spring and summer. Such conditions can be a frustration for both pets and owners, and can lead to other more serious problems if left untreated.

The ear consists of a flap or pinna, which covers the opening of the ear. The ear canal that you see when you look in your pets ear is the horizontal canal. This is the short portion of the ear canal that dips down leading to a much deeper vertical canal. At the end of this tunnel is the ear drum, which separates the middle and inner ear canals. The structures for hearing and balance are located here. Severe infections can invade this area, and are much more complicated to treat.

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Strides to improve Pet Overpopulation in Stockton


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record May 16, 2009

The Animal Protection League is working hard to decrease pet overpopulation in Stockton one animal at a time. This non-profit organization was formed as a result of two city council task forces groups, and has been almost 10 years in the making. We are funded by grants, donations, and proceeds from the pet licensing ordinance. Stockton Animal Shelter Friends has played a key role in making this a reality through both financial and human resources.

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"Just one litter" may be more than you bargained for


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record June 13, 2009

Even with the changes in the economy and the vast problem with pet overpopulation in our city, our state, and nationwide; many pet owners will say to me that they want to have just one litter of puppies or kittens with their dog or cat. In many cases the pet is not a purebred or has underlying medical issues that may be inherited and could be passed on to offspring. Often times the owner thinks they have prospective homes for the puppies or kittens, only to find themselves stuck with most of the litter. Our shelters are filled with dogs and cats, both mixes and purebreds that are euthanized in numbers too high to comprehend, simply because there are not enough homes for them.

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Both you and your dog will love Carmel


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record May 2, 2009

If you like to travel with your dogs, you should really think about a trip to Carmel. This city caters to the canine population in so many ways.

Dogs are allowed to run freely on the beautiful city beach of Carmel-By-The-Sea. Canines of all breeds, ages, and sizes can be seen frolicking in the waves and along the sandy shore. Some dogs surf, some play fetch, and some just soak up the rays. There are social groups that meet at the beach at certain times of the day. The beach scene even has its own canine newspaper, The Doggie Gazette. This magazine features stories from the perspective of the beach dogs. There are also writers from out-of-state as well as some international correspondents. Some medical information is also provided.

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Medicating Your Pet: Some old tricks and some new innovations


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record March 21, 2009

Getting your dog or cat to take prescriptions can be challenging. Not all dogs or cats are willing to let you force a pill down his/her throat; and liquid medications may not be much easier. Some tricks may work initially; but become more difficult as products are repeatedly given. This makes caring for your cherished companion difficult, and can be frustrating if the medication is needed long term.

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Adopt a pet and save a life


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record April 4, 2009

Adopting a dog or cat means there is one less animal euthanized. Pet overpopulation is a huge problem across our country and state. Our local city/county shelter typically euthanizes about 10,000 dogs and cats each year. According to the Humane Society of the United States 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually.

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Indoor Cats Still Need Annual Vaccinations


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record February 7, 2009

Many people mistakenly believe that animals who live exclusively or primarily indoors don't need vaccinations; but this is not true. Although indoors pets are safer, there is still potential exposure to many airborne and other pathogens that can pose a significant risk and even death for cats.

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Dealing with Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

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Diabetes melllitus, an illness characterized by problems with carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism due to an insufficient amount of insulin present or an insensitivity to insulin; affects both dogs and cats. Problems usually develop in animals around 8 years of age or later. Symptoms commonly include drinking a lot, urinating a lot, weight loss despite a good appetite, poor coat, and low energy.

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The Annual Physical Exam


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record January 22, 2009

Every pet should have a physical exam at least once a year. This is medically important for indoor as well as outdoor pets. Canines and felines that are older than seven years of age, or companions that have debilitating health conditions should be evaluated at least twice annually and possibly more frequently depending on their health status.

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High Blood Pressure, It's Not Just a Problem in People


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record February 21, 2009

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common ailment, most frequently identified in older dogs and cats. Unfortunately, this condition often goes undetected. Blood pressure is a parameter that is not routinely measured by most veterinary practitioners. Patients are frequently anxious in exam rooms, which can lead to falsely elevated readings.

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No Winter Break for Pet Pests

Your Pets
By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record January 10, 2009

I know we think of these insects as only a spring and summer problem; but they do stick around all year long, just in smaller numbers. Unfortunately these pests still pose a significant health risk to both your dog and cat.

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Shiny objects and tempting food could make for unhappy celebrations


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record December 6th, 2008

Sparkling lights, glittering ornaments and a table full of fatty goodies may be reasons to celebrate for people, but for pets, these things could be lethal. The holiday scene, although warm and friendly, can be full of dangers for your dog or cat. Please keep this in mind to keep the season fun and safe for your cherished companions.

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Give thought before giving a pet as a gift


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record December 13th, 2008

The holidays are a time filled with joy, but they are traditionally also very hectic. People are often not at home much, and there can be many pet hazards in the household this time of year. Even if someone really wants a new dog or cat, it may not be the best time for that person to work with a new companion.

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Holiday treats from table pose threat


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record November 11th, 2008

Soon millions of people will share food and festivities with family and friends. Unfortunately this frivolity is often followed by trips to the veterinarian and lost pets.

People food can cause a multitude of problems in animals. Don't feed pets spicy, salty or fatty foods from a holiday dinner. Even small amounts can trigger pancreatitis, a very serious and potentially deadly illness similar to food poisoning. Make sure all your guests know not to feed the animals from the table.

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Keep pets safe during holidays


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record December 5th, 2008

Sparkling lights, glittering ornaments, and a table full of fatty goodies may be reasons to celebrate for people, but for pets, these things could be lethal.

The holiday scene, although warm and friendly, can be full of dangers for your dog or cat. Please keep this in mind to keep the season fun and safe for your cherished companions.

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The cold facts on pet safety


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record November 1st, 2008

The cold weather is a significant health concern for both your outdoor and indoor pet. This is especially true if your pet is older or has an underlying disease, as its body defenses are weaker. And as with people, joint and bone issues tend to worsen in the cold weather as well. If your pet has short hair or a thin coat, it shouldn't be housed outdoors. And when you do take it outside, it should wear a sweater or jacket.

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Ultrasound offers finer evaluations


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record October 18th, 2008

Ultrasound is quickly becoming a standard in veterinary medicine, because it allows a practitioner to evaluate patients in a non-invasive way.

This technology - usually used in conjunction with X-rays - is often recommended when a patient is having chronic problems or when abnormalities are identified on an X-ray.

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Digital radiology new to pet care


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record October 4th, 2008

The next time Fido falls and is limping or Fluffy has failed to keep down her food, you may find your veterinarian using digital X-ray - a new radiographic technology - to help better diagnose the problem.

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Reward pets for desired behavior


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record September 20th, 2008

Name recall, sit, stay and down: These commands can make a huge difference for you and your dog. Behavioral problems are among the leading reasons for animal euthanasia. Obedience training, even at a basic level, makes behavioral issues far less likely to occur. Begin training your canine at an early age.

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Balance in diet is key to pet health


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record August 23, 2008

In the months since the pet food scare, more owners are cooking food or sharing food with their pets. What many people don't realize is that an improper diet can trigger significant health problems for their cherished companions. This is a concern for both dogs and cats.

One of the biggest problems is providing the correct balance of nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals. Errors here can lead to problems with bones or organs, and other health issues.

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Training helps avoid accidents


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record September 6th, 2008

House training your dog takes time and patience. It is normal for dogs to have accidents up to six months old and sometimes through their first year.

The nerve pathways to the bladder do not fully develop until dogs are at least three months old. Smaller dogs can be even more challenging as they often disdain the feel of wet grass on their feet. They also are not as good about signaling the need to relieve themselves.

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Heatstroke a danger for pets in and out of car

We have all heard horror stories about animals dying when left unattended in cars. It takes only minutes for the summer temperature to reach a level that can be fatal to a dog or cat.

These pets have very few sweat glands and therefore don't perspire the same way we do. They pant to rid themselves of extra heat, but that, unfortunately, is a very inefficient way of dissipating warmth; indeed, the process actually generates some heat. This problem is magnified in a small, enclosed space.

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Consider safety when traveling with pets


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record August 9th, 2008

Traveling with pets can be a wonderful experience, but there are things to consider if you want to make each outing a success.

Safety is important. Always have identification on your dog or cat, both tags and microchips if possible. If they escape, it increases the chances that your companions will be returned to you.

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Sweetener can lead to sickness


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record June 28th, 2008

Several brands of gum, candies, baked goods and other products contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which can be dangerous to your pet. Xylitol triggers the release of insulin in the body. Insulin is the chemical that helps to control sugar balance in the body. When too much insulin is present, the blood sugar can drop to very low levels, a medical condition called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, brain damage and even death.

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Chronic vomiting can signal other health risks


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record July 12th, 2008

If your pet is vomiting once a month or more, it is a symptom of some underlying disease process.

Chronic vomiting can trigger several additional health problems. Any time a pet vomits, he or she risks inhaling some of the vomited material into the lungs.

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Dog park offers lots of perks


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record June 14, 2008

Although the official ceremony doesn't happen until June 21, Barkleyville, Stockton's first city dog park, is now open for business. Indeed, the Feather River Drive facility is already drawing large crowds on a daily basis.

Dog parks are beneficial for both canines and the community in general. Many people don't have space at their home for the vigorous exercise a dog park provides. The park also can enhance tourism by attracting those who travel with their pets.

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Dog flea products not for cats


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record May 17, 2008

In order to save money, people will sometimes use dog flea products on their cats. Unfortunately, this can have costly and potentially deadly repercussions.

Many flea products, particularly over-the-counter brands, contain a drug formulated from the Chrysanthemum flower called Pyrethrin; there is also the stronger synthetic version, Permethrin. These chemicals work by paralyzing the insects' nervous systems and kill fleas through both ingestion and direct contact.

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Heartworm disease is on the rise


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record May 31st, 2007

Heartworm disease is on the rise in San Joaquin County. Where I work, we have seen three cases in dogs in the past three weeks.

It is thought that human and pet migration to this part of the country is the main reason for this change, said Dr. Thomas Nelson, past president of the American Heartworm Society.

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Limping pet could be a sign of knee issue


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record April 19, 2008

Patellar luxation typically occurs in dogs weighing less than 20 pounds, although it can strike larger dogs and cats.

The patella, or kneecap, sits in a groove that runs along the femur. As the knee is bent, this bone glides up and down to accommodate the motion. Patellar luxation takes place when the patella moves out of alignment to either side. Frequently, this is because of an inherited problem.

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Digestive issues can be sign of big problem


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record May 3, 2008

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening condition in which an animal's stomach becomes distended with gas and twists. This differs from bloat, which is abdominal distention without the twist.

The exact cause of GDV is poorly understood, and it typically occurs in large-breed or deep-chested canines. It often happens just after a dog has consumed a lot of food or water. There also is a link with exercise or rolling after eating and drinking.

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Flea season is upon us


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record March 22, 2008

The weather is beautiful, but with sunshine come fleas. These pesky critters can be an annoyance for you and your pets.

The primary flea that affects humans, dogs and cats is the cat flea, or Ctenocehalides felix. It exists in warm, moist climates and thrives in Northern California. The adult flea lives mainly on animals and takes in blood to survive.

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Snail bait a toxic danger for your pet


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record April 05, 2008

Snail bait or metaldehyde toxicity is a very common dog poisoning.

This pesticide often comes in a pellet form that resembles a dog treat, and sometimes flavor enhancers added to attract snails entice the canine palate as well. The powder or liquid form can easily be tracked onto paws and ingested during grooming.

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Facts to know about feline lukemia


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record February 23, 2008

Feline leukemia virus is a contagious disease among cats, and a major cause of illness and death. All cats and kittens should be tested when adopted or purchased.

Feline leukemia is spread in many ways, but the most common mode of transmission is through nose-to-nose contact. Large amounts of the virus are excreted in saliva, but it also can be present in tears, urine and feces. That means litter boxes can be a source of transmission in multiple-cat households.

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Awareness critical in preventing worms


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record January 26, 2008

Most people don't know that they can pick up worms from their animals.

Roundworm (Toxocara), the most common internal parasite in dogs and cats, affects 1.3 billion people worldwide, with 10,000 new cases annually. hookworm (Ancyclostoma) affects about 1 billion people, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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Kidney disease takes a toll


By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record February 09, 2008

Kidney or renal disease is the leading cause of death in older cats and second only to cancer in dog mortality.

There are several symptoms to look for. The most common is your pet drinking and/or urinating a lot. Other manifestations include bloody urine, vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss and lethargy.

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How to keep pets safe from the dangers of...

Your Pets
By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record January 12, 2008

People commonly change their car's antifreeze at this time of year. That can be deadly for dogs and cats.

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Territorial fight turns ugly along the Delta

Your Pets
By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record January 18, 2008

THE DELTA - It's enough to give city folk the shivers: Seven dead coyotes, slung over a barbed-wire fence in a farmer's field on Lower Roberts Island.

Just down the road, Kent Kiefer explains the mystery: His cousin, farmer Rod Dement, lost his Jack Russell terrier last summer to a hungry coyote.

Dement, who used to carry his little dog everywhere, has been hunting coyotes since.

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