Hazards of Summer

After a long, very wet winter we are welcoming the warm sunny weather we’ve all come to enjoy here in northern California. That’s the good news. The other side of the coin is the danger that hot dry weather presents, especially to our pets. Heat During warm weather the temperature inside of a car can … Read moreHazards of Summer

Fleas & Ticks – Little Bugs That Can Cause Big Problems for Your Pets.

Each year, the flea problem seems to be getting progressively worse. Products that have been working for years now appear to have lost their effectiveness. Fleas are not only an annoyance, they can cause severe allergic reactions in dogs and carry diseases that can be transmitted to our pets and humans. Ticks, if left embedded … Read moreFleas & Ticks – Little Bugs That Can Cause Big Problems for Your Pets.

Pet Poison Prevention

Are You Serious About Pet Poison Prevention?

Have you safeguarded your pets from poisons in your home environment? It’s easy or overlook things that we may not consider dangerous, but they can be very hazardous to our pets. This month we turn our attention to an important pet health topic – poison prevention. March 17-24 is National Pet Poison Prevention Week so it’s a good time to take a look around your home and look for potential poisons that could harm or worse yet, result in loss of the life of your pet.

You wouldn’t think of chocolate as toxic, but it definitely can be for pets. Chocolate contains the chemicals caffeine and theobromine that can cause harm to pets. If ingested in sufficient quantity this will cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate and seizures and requires immediate medical attention. As soon as you realize your dog or cat has eaten chocolate you should call our hospital or the emergency clinic to determine if there is a potential for damage. The degree of risk depends on the type and amount of chocolate consumed and your pet’s weight. We often have to induce vomiting to prevent the pet from absorbing the toxins.

Rodenticides – rat and mice poison – are all toxic to our pets if ingested. Dogs and cats mayingest things accidentally by walking through the area and then licking their feet and fur. Read the labels, and save them just in case one of your pets ingests the toxin.

Another toxin that is found in many households is cannabis or marijuana. We see numerous cases of marijuana poisoning after a pet has ingested sufficient quantities of cannabis which now comes in many forms – raw plant, dried leaves or bud and edibles. Pets can get very sick and will appear lethargic, disoriented, hyper reactive and may urinate inappropriately.

Something that will be found in damp rainy weather like we’re experiencing now is moldy walnuts. This can result in a life-threatening condition caused by ingestion of moldy food – usually walnuts – that are lying on the ground. – Our pets, usually dogs, often eat them unknowingly while they are ingesting other items! (Like Kitty poop ?) Some dogs just like to put them in their mouths and chew. We also see this with the ingestion of compost.

The first symptom of this toxin is a head tremor, often a side to side tilting of the head, then the body starts with to quiver and shake. These dogs need veterinary care as soon as possible. If they don’t get medical care their bodies will continue to tremor and actually seizure and this can result in hyperthermia and death. So, watch them like hawks and don’t let them eat anything off the ground, including MUSHROOMS, and if you have walnut trees, try to get them all up and out of their reach! It could save their lives.

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Here is a list of the top 10 poisons for dogs and cats, compiled by the Pet Poison Hotline:

Dog Poisons
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  • Chocolate
  • Mouse and Rat Poisons (rodenticides)
  • Vitamins and Minerals (e.g., Vitamin D3, iron, etc.)
  • NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.)
  • Cardiac Medications (e.g., calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, etc.)
  • Cold and Allergy Medications (e.g., pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, etc.)
  • Antidepressants (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • Xylitol (common in toothpaste and chewing gum – read your labels to ensure your pet is safe!)
  • Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol)
  • Caffeine Pills


Note: While marijuana, onions and grapes didn’t make the Pet Poison Hotline’s top 10 list we would include these as common poisons, especially here in California.

Cat Poisons
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  • Topical spot-on insecticides
  • Household Cleaners
  • Antidepressants
  • Lilies – beware of Easter Lilies!
  • Insoluble Oxalate Plants (e.g., Dieffenbachia, Philodendron, etc.)
  • Human and Veterinary NSAIDs
  • Cold and Flu Medication (e.g., Tylenol)
  • Glow Sticks
  • ADD/ADHD Medications/Amphetamines
  • Mouse and Rat Poison


More information on pet poisons can be found at these web sites:

Pet Poison Prevention Week March 17-24
ASPCA Animal Poison Control
American Association of Poison Control Centers

Pets Need Dental Care Too

Of all the medical conditions that cause pain and discomfort, we find dental disease to be the number one problem. Our dogs hide their pain. They will continue to eat, drink, play and be their ever-loving selves even in the face of severe dental disease.

Have you ever had an infected tooth? Most people who have had one know that it really hurts, and that the pain often becomes so constant that we find ourselves in urgent need of a visit to the dentist. Dogs will live with this pain and can’t tell us that they hurt – and we don’t pick up on their discomfort unless we are really observant.

Dental disease not only causes mouth pain, but also can lead to heart, liver and kidney problems, as well as overall poor health because of the chronic bacterial load in the pet’s mouth.

We recommend you inspect your pet’s mouth at least once a month. Is there a noticeable odor? Do the gums look nice and pink or are they red and irritated? Are the teeth nice and white or are they discolored with plaque? Take a good look at their upper teeth near the back of the mouth. The big tooth is called the upper 4th premolar. This tooth is very prone to fracturing from chewing on hard treats, rocks, wood or even food treats that are harder to chew. We see dogs every day that have fractured this tooth and the owners never knew. This tooth will need to be removed or a root canal will have to be performed to stop the pain and the ongoing infection that will otherwise plague your dog.

Have your vet do a thorough dental exam and follow their recommendations for a dental cleaning including dental x-ray’s. Don’t fall for having the teeth cleaned with “anesthesia free” techniques. To do a true dental cleaning, your dog will need a general anesthetic, dental radiographs, cleaning and polishing.

If your dog needs to have one or more of the teeth extracted make sure your vet will give him the pain medication he needs and deserves.

February is National Pet Dental Health month. Call your vet and set up an exam for all your pets. You will love their fresh breath and will be so happy to know they will be free of pain!



*This blog post, originally titled “Check those Teeth”, was written by Dr. Stallings and appeared on this page in January, 2014



Diet and Exercise – for your pets!

Diet and exercise play a critical role in your pet’s health just like it does for you. You want to live a healthy life as long as you possibly can and you want the same for your pets. The key indicator is weight as obesity is a major challenge to pets’ health just as it is in us humans.

Body condition: Whether or not your pet is under weight or over weight is determined using a body condition score chart. You can click here to download a printable body conditioning chart. See the comments about diet later in this article.

So here’s some helpful suggestions on how to help your pets live longer and healthier by making sure they’re getting good nutrition and exercise.

Start with exercise.

Just like in people, exercise is important both physically and mentally. Exercise can help alleviate stress and anxiety in our pets and reduce behavioral issues. Exercise in older pets is just as important in order to maintain current weight and muscle mass. Shorter, more frequent walks throughout the day can achieve this. Keeping the pet moving and preventing stiffness from longer duration.

It’s been suggested that dogs should get 30 minutes a day of walking at a rapid pace and cats should get at least 20 minutes of active play twice a day.

Realizing that most of us probably don’t have a safe way of walking our cats play is the way to go. Here’s some ideas from Hill’s:

“Smart, practical pointers for staying active and optimizing weight through exercise.
• Toys – Homemade or pet shop toys help to encourage your cat to get moving.
• “Catch the Light” – Shine a flashlight on the floor and walls and let your cat play.
• “Boxing” – Let your cat play in a box or paper bag.
• “Hunting” – Put a few kibbles of your cat’s favorite Science Diet® cat food or Ideal Balance™ cat food in different places each day (including on top of tall furniture) and bring out the hunter in your cat!”

Now let’s discuss diet.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) pet obesity rates have been increasing for several years. In 2017, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese! We see overweight dogs and cats at our hospital on a regular basis. Obesity can lead to host of medical problems including arthritis, cruciate ligament injury, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease and certain cancers.

If you think your pet may be overweight the first place to start is with your veterinarian. We’re more than happy to schedule a consult with you about your pet’s weight. We can recommend the right diet using the right portions based on your pet’s health and stage of life. It’s really important to know what you’re feeding your dog or cat including treats!

Give your pet the gift of optimal health through diet and exercise.

Hot Fun in the Summertime!

We Help More Pets

This may be a very hot summer and with that comes cautions for our pets!

We dog owners love to travel with our pets, even just to the store and back, but we have to remember how dangerous the summer heat can be. During warm weather, the temperature inside of a car can skyrocket to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even in the shade and even with the windows cracked! A study conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine showed that temperatures may rise dramatically inside a car even on mild days. With outside temperatures as low as 72 degrees, researchers found that the interior of the car can heat up by an average 40 additional degrees within 30 minutes. And a cracked window provides little relief if any at all.

Dogs and cats don’t sweat like we do, they can only exchange heat through their pads and by panting. Those pets left in a car even for “just a minute” may suffer from heat stroke, brain and organ damage and even death. Think twice about taking them with you, unless of course, your destination is pet-friendly. They may love to travel, but this summer they might just like lounging in their cool comfortable home.

If you happen to see a pet alone in a car and they appear in danger, take action. Tell the nearest store manager and if the owner is not found quickly call the police and animal control. Time is of the essence!

Short-nosed breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih-Tzus have an increased risk of heat stroke, not only in a car but also just on hot days when they may get excited or exercise more than they should. Senior pets, especially those with respiratory conditions like laryngeal paralysis are at very high risk of heat stroke. Overweight pets are also at danger, and those with thick arctic coats can easily overheat.

We know our pets need exercise but it should be in the early morning or in the cool evening time when the fog has rolled in. Not only may they overheat during the day but the asphalt and beach sand can get very hot and even burn their paws.

The most common sign of impending heat stroke is vigorous panting. The pet may be restless and agitated, lying on their side and possibly unable to stand. Their mucous membranes may be very pink to red but could also be pale or even “muddy” colored. They may have froth or thick saliva coming from their mouth or they may even be rigid with their head and neck extended. This is a true emergency. Move the pet to a cool space. Begin to cool them with cool water, not cold water or ice. And get to your veterinarian as soon as possible

Our pets can also get sunburned just like us, especially light colored pets and those that have recently been shaved down or groomed. Don’t let them stay out in the direct sun. Always have a shaded area where they can rest and of course plenty of fresh water. Keep extra water bowls filled and in the freezer. You can put those out in addition to their regular water bowls and this will help them stay cool.

One last word of caution – please be aware of pools and the dangers our pets face!

Install a pet safely fence and make sure your pets are not allowed around the pool when you are not there. I have seen many cases of heat stress and heat stroke. Unfortunately, I have seen many fatal ones. Prevention is the cure. Follow these preventive measures, be aware of the signs of heat stroke and get your pets to the doctor in time to save their life!