Dental Month at PBVC

February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Did you know that by the age of 3, 70% of cats and 80% of dogs will have some form of dental disease? Maintaining dental hygiene is a big step in keeping your pets happy and healthy. Dental disease can lead to many other health problems. Animals with dental disease are at an increased risk for heart, liver, and kidney disease. We’re celebrating dental month by offering our clients a 15% discount on our dental packages!

At Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic, we see our fair share of pets with dental disease. We offer dental prophylaxis (dental cleaning) where we fully sedate the animal and give their teeth a thorough clean and examination. While the patient is anesthetized, we are able to better assess any trouble teeth and perform dental radiographs to see the extent of the dental disease. We are then able to clean the teeth and extract any teeth that are beyond saving.

We will then polish all of the remaining teeth and apply a gel coating that will keep them clean for 2 weeks. The rest is up to you! With dental disease, prevention is key! We are all about client education when it comes to keeping your pet’s teeth disease free. There are many options out there to maintain dental health: daily dental treats, dental wipes, gel, and plain old tooth brushing. Want to learn more? Check out our videos below!

Interested in scheduling a dental exam or cleaning for your pet? Give us a call!

How To Brush!

HAPPY NATIONAL PET DENTAL HEALTH MONTH! For the entire month of February we will be posting about dental care, how to prevent dental disease, what to expect at a dental procedure/consult, and we will even be giving our clients the chance to win some dental goodies!One common question we hear a lot is HOW to brush your pets teeth. It can seem a little bit intimidating at first but is super easy for both you and your pet with a little bit of practice. Brushing can help slow dental disease meaning less frequent dental procedures at the clinic.

Posted by Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic on Thursday, February 1, 2018

We stand for equality.

We stand for equality.Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic stands for equality.

Now, more than ever, I feel so fortunate to be able to live, work, and play on the beautiful Central Coast. I cannot imagine a better place to shelter-in-place and enjoy the incredible and diverse environment that we inhabit.  I feel, though, that I should preface this with the fact that I am lucky enough to have a psychologically and financially rewarding job and a supportive family. I was raised Jewish so I have some experience with intolerance, but as a white male I am able to “hide in plain sight.” I recognize that this is a huge privilege and has sheltered me from many, many challenges that others in our community face daily.

Though in many ways the Central Coast is idyllic, I think that it’s critical to acknowledge the ever-present undercurrent of racial, sexual/gender, religious, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparity and prejudice that exists in our community.

Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic exists, at its core, to help our clients and our patients live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. To this end, we feel that we cannot remain silent when insidious issues threaten the very livelihoods of so many of our friends, colleagues, and clients. We cannot stand idly by in the face of hate speech, ignorance, intolerance, and racism. We are greatly saddened to hear racial slurs pour from the mouths of locals and to see an image of a gallows and noose marring the wall of a local school.

Though I have always been involved in issues of tolerance and diversity in my personal life, I struggled with the appropriateness of involving my business. I have come to the conclusion that as local business owners and leaders we have an obligation to make our opinions heard and step beyond the bounds of day-to-day business. Only in this way can we hope to de-radicalize and de-politicize the ideals of racial justice and tolerance.

So, here goes…

At Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic, we believe that Black Lives Matter.  We believe in the equality of all people, regardless of race, religion, or sexual and gender identity.  We believe that all life has inherent value. We believe that science is real and fear the loss of trust in our scientific community.  We worry about a willingness from many to accept the concept of alternate truths and facts, treating statements from laypeople and pundits with equal weight to those of experts. We believe that we should be open to discussion, continuous education, and always be striving to learn (and teach). We believe that we, humankind, represent a huge threat to our environment and climate and that every day is an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint. We believe that history is important and should be taught honestly and remembered but not necessarily celebrated. We believe that COVID-19 is a real threat, and we wear masks to show respect and to help keep community members safe.  We believe in the fallacy of false balance: not all issues have two sides and not all sides of an issue deserve equal treatment or are equally worthy of consideration.

At Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic, we believe that actions speak louder than words. We love our community and get involved whenever and wherever we can. Being active and giving our time to great local organizations like Rotary, the Diversity Coalition San Luis Obispo County, Stand Strong, and the YMCA of SLO County is more important now than ever.

At Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic, we believe in love, tolerance, and understanding.  It’s a time for unity, not division. We believe that NOW is the time for kindness.

Joel Conn 
July 20, 2020

Our Response to COVID19

Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic is committed to helping our staff and clients remain as safe and healthy as possible. As such, we are closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 situation and are acting according to the guidelines and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, as well as local and state authorities.

We want to share with you the actions we are taking to help protect our employees and clients.

  • Wiping down all phones, computers and door handles continuously.
  • Wiping down exam room door knobs / frames, benches and counters after each visit.
  • No sharing pens, sharpies, food/communal food, stethoscopes – and where it is necessary cleaning after each use.
  • No hugging, hand shaking, etc.
  • Washing our hands after all appointments and often.
  • Hand Sanitizer is available in the lobby and the hallway.
  • We recommend that you not come to the clinic if you are feeling ill, and we expect the same of our staff.  Please give us a call to reschedule your appointment to a later date.
  • We are now exclusively providing “Touchless” Curbside Appointments! Simply schedule your appointment as usual, call us when you get here, and we will come and get your pet from you. We will use our own sanitized leashes – we just ask that you open the car door for us!

We appreciate the trust that you place in us. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and take actions necessary to help keep our staff and clients safe while providing the products and services you and your pet need.

The Dangers of Non-Anesthetic Dentistry in Your Pet

Non-anesthetic dentistry (NAD) can sound wonderful when compared to a dental cleaning under anesthesia. It boasts clean teeth without the use of anesthesia and often comes with a smaller price tag. However, we here at Pismo Beach Vet, along with the American Veterinary Dental College, have found that NAD has no benefit to your pet and can even be harmful to their health.

Dental disease, or periodontal disease, occurs when plaque (loose bacteria) builds and turns into tartar (hardened bacteria). As the tartar continues to build, the bacteria within it spread under the gums or inside the tooth and eventually begin to destroy the jaw bone surrounding the teeth. During NAD, only the tartar on the outside of your pet’s teeth can be removed, but most everything underneath the gumline is left behind. Additionally, once that tartar has been removed with scaling or scraping, a detailed polishing is most often impossible in a wiggly pet. The small grooves left behind by this process are nice homes for new bacteria. Dental x-rays can also not be taken in an awake pet, which often misses infection below the bone and gums. Therefore, your pet is left with sparkly-looking teeth that have hidden dangers lurking beneath. Many patients who have received NADs still end up losing many of their teeth, and can even have broken jaws. NAD can also be very scary for pets and often requires them to be held down.

“So what happens when my pet is put under anesthesia for a dental cleaning?” Once we have found that your pet can safely undergo anesthesia, your pet’s dental health journey can begin. With the help of anesthesia, this will be a fearless process. Once asleep, a thorough examination and probing of the teeth, just like at your dentist, is performed (including checking for any tumors that could be hidden in the mouth or throat). Dental x-rays are then taken, based on your pet’s needs, to find any issues not seen on the outside and to evaluate the extent of disease. If your pet has infected teeth that require removal (extraction), this can be done safely and painlessly under anesthesia. Once any extractions are performed, your pet’s teeth will then be thoroughly scaled, polished and have fluoride and anti-plaque gels applied. Your pet will then wake up with a healthy mouth that is beautiful on the outside and the inside. 

During “Dental Month”, the month of February, remember that your pet’s dental health is important and the best care comes with a full anesthetic dental exam. 


National Pet Diabetes Month

November is National Pet Diabetes month! Did you know diabetes affects about 1 in 424 dogs, and 1 in 230 cats?

Similarly to humans, there are different types of diabetes that our furry companions can get. The main types are type 1 (insulin dependent diabetes) and type 2 (insulin resistant diabetes). Dogs most commonly have type 1, while type 2 is more common in cats.

There are different causes to type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Insulin dependent diabetes refers to the destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas and their inability to produce insulin. Insulin resistant diabetes describes the resistance to insulin caused by other medical conditions or by hormonal drugs.

Type 1 (insulin dependent diabetes) requires insulin to be replaced via daily injections. There is genetic susceptibility of certain breeds but there are lifestyle factors as well, such as environmental and dietary factors in play.

Type 2 diabetes may be caused by over use of medications like steroids, hormones during pregnancy, or other medical conditions like Cushing’s disease. In some cases, the primary medical problem can be treated and the affected animal can go to non-diabetic status.

Some symptoms to look out for in diabetic dogs and cats are polydipsia (excessive thirst), frequent/excessive urination (polyuria), increased appetite (polyphagia), weight loss, vision changes, vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, or weakness.

It’s important for pet parents to know the symptoms of diabetes, and to bring their pets in for regular veterinary visits. Diabetes can be medically managed with the help of your veterinarian. Many animals are able to live fairly normal lives with medication and lifestyle changes.

Happy Vet Tech Appreciation Week!

First celebrated in 1993, Vet Tech Appreciation Week takes place on the third week of October each year to celebrate the people who dedicate their lives to helping animals! Veterinary technicians are critical to veterinary medicine. They have many roles in the clinic. They are nurses, laboratory technicians, anesthesiologists, phlebotomists, surgical assistants, dental hygienists, and patient advocates.

Veterinary technicians see your pet at every stage of life, from the routine puppy visits, to the time they hurt their foot, to the routine dental cleanings, and on their final day. They answer questions on the phone and in person and ease the minds of hundreds of pet parents. They get down and dirty, expressing anal glands, cleaning poo, and getting slobbery wet kisses. Veterinary technicians back up their doctors in rooms, surgery, and all other things.

We appreciate our veterinary technicians every day and celebrate them every day of the year!

Blue-Green Algae: What to Know

What is Blue-Green Algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic bacteria found in freshwater lakes, streams, and rivers. Blue-green algae colonize to create blooms which can produce toxins. Though not all blooms create toxins, it is not possible to determine without testing. All blooms should be treated as if they are toxic. The blooms give the water a “pea soup” color which can also look like bright blue and green paint floating on the surface. The blooms can get blown around on the surface by the wind to form a thick layer near the shore, easily accessible to people, pets, and livestock. These blooms are most likely to form on still waters with excess phosphorus and nitrogen. They can also form in salt water.

How Are Pets Exposed?

Animals can be affected by drinking contaminated water, or licking it off their fur. Just a few gulps is all it takes to see affects. Dogs with exposure to water are especially at risk. Hunting dogs are at an increased risk due to increased environmental exposure.

Is it Harmful?

Blue-green algae poisoning can be fatal. Just last week, 3 dogs in North Carolina died after ingesting affected water. The algae blooms produce two types of toxins, microcystins and anatoxins. Microcystins can result in liver damage or failure, while anatoxins affect the nervous system.

What Happens After Ingestion?

Signs of liver damage include vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, pale membranes, seizures, shock, and death. Neurotoxicity symptoms can include muscle tremors, excessive salivation, muscle rigidity, paralysis, blue discoloration of mucus membranes, and difficulty breathing.

What is the Treatment?

Unfortunately, there is no antidote for the toxins produced by blue-green algae. Immediate veterinary care is imperative. Treatments may include anti-seizure medications, liver support, and oxygen. Please call your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog may have been exposed. If it is after-hours, please call PETS Hospital.

Meet Heidi, Our Featured Employee!

Heidi has been working with animals for many years but she’s been in love with them for as long as she can remember! Heidi has had the pleasure to work at a vet that treated Pacific Wild Life animals and had hands-on experience with owls, eagles, pelicans, etc.

Heidi & family

Heidi has also spent time in the Philippines volunteering at a wild animal rescue for fruit bats, brown long tail macaques, and bear cats. Heidi’s favorite experience in the Philippines was a whale rescue she participated in and she spent 8 hours with a Dwarf Sperm whale! As exciting as this experience was, Heidi missed small animal practice and is so happy to be a part of the team at Pismo Beach Vet! She has a special passion for veterinary dentistry and enjoys educating our clients about the importance of dental health.

4th of July and How to Help Your Pet Through the Stressful Holiday

Everyone loves to celebrate the Fourth of July. It’s a time for friends, food, and fireworks! While it’s a fun day for people, it can often be a very scary time for our pets. These are some ways to ensure your pet feels secure and stays safe!

Many pet owners think anxiety around this holiday is something their pets just have to deal with, but there are many ways to alleviate their stress! Medications are one tool but should be coupled with training. Check out some of these tips below to make your pet feel as safe as possible.

  • Keep your pets indoors. While you might want to hang out with your pet at your outdoor party to watch fireworks, it’s important to keep your pets indoors during parties and fireworks displays. Loud noises can spook pets to run away and escape from yards, especially with the chaos of extra house guests!
  • Offer a safe space with lots of distractions for your pet. By keeping your dog or cat in a quiet room in the house, you will be able to control the noise levels and stimulus your pets will receive. Try giving a few new toys and treats that night to occupy your furry pals. Stuffing a toy full of treats can keep them busy and their minds sharp! You can also turn on a TV or play some soothing music to drown out the loud bangs of fireworks.
  • Make sure your ID tags are up to date. By wearing a collar and being micro chipped, your pet will be easily identified if they get lost. Keeping your contact info updated will ensure that who ever finds your friend will be able to reach you!  
  • Talk to your veterinarian about anxiety medication. Maybe no matter what steps you take, your pet still seems to be terrified by the time the fireworks start. Many pets can manage this anxiety with medication that will make that day less stressful for everyone. Try a trial run of the medication beforehand to make sure you’re happy with the level of comfort of your pet. Remember though, medication should always be used in conjunction with other training techniques.

Meet Cassidy, Our July Featured Employee!

Cassidy recently moved here from Austin, Texas after living all over the United States due to her dad being in the U.S. Navy. She joined the PBVC team in February of 2019 to earn some more experience in the veterinary field as she is studying nursing but considering changing her major. Cassidy is one of our kennel assistants, helping out our doctors and technicians by running blood work, cleaning up, and holding patients. She is always a smiling face in the clinic and ready to help on busy days! Cassidy’s favorite patients to see in the clinic are pugs.


On Cassidy’s days off, you can find her playing with her pug, Cochina, at the dog beach, playing roller derby, bowling, or doing her homework at the last minute. She loves all things honey bees and the color yellow. Animals have always been a huge part of who she is, and she is very excited to be able to take care of your best friends!

Using a Basket Muzzle at the Vet

Can my dog breathe? Can he drink? Does it hurt? Is it humane? Why would my dog need to wear a muzzle? These are all questions that can come up around the topic of muzzles. There can sometimes be a stigma surrounding dog muzzles that the animal wearing the muzzle is aggressive or dangerous, but by using a muzzle, the situation is safer.

Muzzles are a great tool to keep yourself, your pet, and others safe in times of stress. Though they may look scary, a basket muzzle is the safest and most humane option for keeping your pet from nipping. Basket muzzles, however, do not replace training and behavior modification. They are meant to be used in conjunction with ongoing training for the best results.

What is a basket muzzle?

Basket muzzles are made of hard plastic or coated wire. They cover the entire muzzle and mouth of the dog while still allowing them to pant and drink.

When to use a basket muzzle

  • Emergencies – Painful dogs can bite. Even if your dog has never showed aggression, in times of extreme pain/stress they may lash out. Imagine if you had pain you did not understand and strangers were touching the part that hurt. You may bite too!
  • Potential for someone to get hurt – Some dogs can get overstimulated and stressed in new situations. A basket muzzle may be appropriate when introducing new dogs to each other, meeting strangers, or going to a stressful place.

When NOT to use a basket muzzle

  • Punishment – Never use a muzzle as a punishment as it will only make the dog more fearful and react poorly to future muzzling.
  • Excessive barking – Muzzles are not an appropriate response for barking. Muzzles should not be left on without close supervision and only for short periods of time.
  • Chewing – Muzzles should only be worn with close supervision and should not be left on while the pet is home alone. This is not an appropriate solution for chewing.

Addressing the stigma

For someone who isn’t accustomed to seeing a basket muzzle, they can be daunting and scary looking. Some dog owners worry about how their pet will be perceived. At PBVC, we are huge advocates for basket muzzles because of the safety they bring to a potentially dangerous situation. We know that the vet can be a scary and stressful place, and even though we love your animals, we understand if they don’t feel the same about us! Just because a dog needs a basket muzzle at the clinic, it doesn’t mean they are a bad dog.

Spice modeling her basket muzzle with her sister, Lolly

Training your dog to accept a muzzle

Beth Nash, AKC Gazette breed columnist for the Vizsla Club of America, has this advice for how she trained her pup, Bartok, to wear a muzzle:

It’s pretty amazing when you think about it: Our dogs generally accept all kinds of unpleasant things without biting us. They learn to tolerate (and sometimes even seem to enjoy) our doing very uncomfortable things to them like trimming toenails and cleaning ears. At the vet, they allow people to draw blood, insert thermometers, and give shots. They let strangers examine them. Dogs are capable of biting us and doing serious damage, but typically they choose not to do that. There are times, however, when even the sweetest dog would not be able to stop himself from biting. When any dog is very frightened or in serious pain, there is a real risk of a person getting bitten and the dog acquiring a “bite history.”

Bartok was terrified of the vet clinic due to a combination of unstable temperament and a series of unfortunate incidents. We needed to muzzle him for everyone’s safety. The clinic staff did their best to be gentle and patient, but Bart was seriously stressing out, and we needed to help him.

Over a period of several days, here’s what we did—using small, soft treats, and making sure he was comfortable with each step before going on to the next.

  • Let him sniff the muzzle. Give a treat. Repeat a few times.
  • Touch his nose with the muzzle. Treat. Repeat until he indicates that the muzzle looks interesting in a good way.
  • Hold the muzzle with one hand and a treat with the other hand, so he needs to put his nose inside the muzzle to get the treat. Repeat until this step is no big deal.
  • Gently slip the muzzle onto his nose and give him a treat. Remove the muzzle immediately. Repeat a few times.
  • Put on the muzzle and fasten the buckle. Treat. Remove immediately. Repeat a few times.
  • Put on the muzzle, fasten it, and count slowly to five. Treat. Remove the muzzle.
  • Each time you put on the muzzle, gradually increase the time the muzzle is on. Hold his collar and give treats.

If we had introduced the muzzle before Bart associated it with scary things, we probably could have gone through these steps in less than a day—possibly a matter of minutes. We’ve done this with each successive dog, including rescue dogs we’ve fostered. If the dog isn’t interested in treats, you can substitute other rewards. I use verbal praise, but this is optional.