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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rattlesnake season (April – October) can be a scary time for pet owners. With our climate in the central coast, rattlesnakes can be seen nearly year round. Here at PBVC, we urge pet owners to always be vigilant and proactive. There are many steps owners can take to increase the safety of their pets.
Although a rattlesnake vaccine does exist, PBVC along with the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis does not advocate for its use because of the lack of independent verification to prove that it is effective and safe. There is no concrete scientific proof that this vaccine makes a difference for the affected pet. There are many different types of snakes (40+ in our area) that can pose a threat to your animal, and the vaccine only claims to produce antibodies for one. We also aren’t sure how long this “resistance” lasts, or if it works at all. In a study done with 272 cases of rattlesnake envenomation in dogs, there was no evidence that vaccination lessened morbidity or mortality in these dogs.
Rattlesnake aversion training is the most effective method to avoid rattlesnake bites and is highly recommended as a proactive measure for pets with a high risk of exposure. This training is performed by professionals who teach your pets that rattlesnakes are dangerous and can hurt them. Scent and sight are used to train your dog to recognize a snake and the risks that come with interacting with them. The training, recommended yearly, is a great tool to keep your pets safe.
Whether or not your pet has been vaccinated, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts of a rattlesnake bite:
DO try to find the wound. You may not immediately know it was a snake bite. Be aware of increased lethargy, small puncture wounds, swelling/bruising near the wound, slow breathing, and whining in pain.
DO take your pet to the closest hospital immediately. Call PBVC (M-F 8am-10pm, and weekends 8am-5:30pm) or PETS Hospital (24/7).
DO NOT give any medication like ibuprofen or aspirin. This can lead to clotting disorders that can be life threatening.
DO keep the wound below heart level. This will help keep the venom from the heart for as long as possible before you can get your pet to the vet.
DO NOT try to remove the venom by sucking on the wound or cutting it out.
“It is important for community members to be aware of how easy it can be for a snake bite to occur. It can happen in a backyard without you realizing it. If you notice that your pet’s face, leg or paw seems swollen, painful or bruised, seek medical attention immediately. Snake bites happen to cats as well as dogs.”
Dr. Joel Conn, owner of PBVC and founder of PETS Hospital
Memorial day is a time of celebration, good food, great company and an overall fun filled weekend! Here are some tips to keep the weekend fun for everyone, including your furry friends.
No table scraps! Grapes, avocados, onions, alcohol and chocolates are all common foods to find at a BBQ but are extremely toxic to dogs.
Bones are not a good treat. Delicious bones from the grill are very dangerous to dogs. They can splinter, causing tears in the stomach or intestines of your pup. This is life threatening, painful, and includes a long recovery process.
Always keep an eye on your pet when you are near water, whether that be in a pool or out at a lake. Some pets can swim better than others, and even the best swimmers can get tired out.
Pets don’t always understand danger. Watch your pet when you are near bonfires or fireworks. It’s best to keep your pet indoors where they are safe from these threats.
Never leave your pup in the car! Temperatures can skyrocket in a car, even with the windows cracked! When in doubt, leave your pet in your temperature controlled home.
When outside, be sure to provide your pet with access to shade and fresh drinking water at all times.
Keep these tips in mind while you’re celebrating this weekend. If you have an emergency, please call PETS Hospital at (805) 250-5600
Spring has sprung and it’s officially gardening season for many people. While beautiful, many plants and flowers can be toxic and potentially deadly to pets. Want to create a beautiful space that both you and your pets can enjoy? Check out some of our tips below.
Cat Safe Gardening
Cats are the ultimate adventurers and explorers. A safe garden can provide hours of entertainment and fun for a cat. If your outdoor kitty enjoys romping in the garden, you might as well make it a safe and enjoyable place for them to play. While usually selective in what they choose to eat, try to only use cat-friendly plants in your garden. Some of these include:
These plants can attract butterflies, an excellent source of entertainment for your kitties to chase! Be sure to use cat safe organic soil/mulch. You can also include sand for your cat to play and dig in. Another fun touch is to add posts or sun spots where your cat can bask in the light. Cats also enjoy a little bit of cover, so plant some hardy shrubs.
Dog Safe Gardening
Many common house plants can be dangerous for your pups. You should always keep these on shelves or hang them from your ceilings. Outdoor gardens can also have hazards, but there’s plenty of dog safe plant options to make your space pretty and still stimulating to your pets.
If you’d prefer a safe but dog-free garden, an important part to keeping it that way is landscaping. If you plant areas densely, your pets are less likely to run through. You can also strategically use paths and fences to keep your dogs from running right through all your hard work. Use raised flower beds and plant hardy shrubs around the outside that can take a little bit of potential paw-traffic.
We hope you learned a few tips to create a livable, secure, and purposeful area that both you and your pets can enjoy!
Easter is fun for people but can be a potentially dangerous time for pets! With all the festivities and treats, things can get a little hectic for our furry friends. Keep these tips in mind this Easter to keep things safe!
Chocolate – Keep chocolate away from dogs and cats as it can be very toxic. Think your pup got into candy? Don’t wait, call PETS Hospital or ASCPA Poison Control right away.
Easter basket fillers – This shiny bedding can look like a great toy to a dog or a cat, but can easily become a choking hazard or become lodged in the intestines. This can lead to difficulty keeping food down and may result in a lengthy surgery for your pet.
Raw eggs – Cooked eggs can be a great snack for your pet but raw eggs are not due to potential risk of salmonella.
Ham – This can be too fatty for your pet and can cause inflammation in the pancreas, called pancreatitis.
Lilies – Possibly the most dangerous part of spring time for cats is lilies! These are extremely toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure.
We are closed on Easter Sunday to allow our staff time with their families, but if your pet has an emergency please call our friends at PETS Hospital, who are available 24/7, 365 days a year.
Everybody loves holidays and the delicious food that comes with it and many people want to share this joy with their pets, but is it safe? Learn what foods are ok (in moderation) for your festive pup and what foods to keep on your plate and away from Fido.
Plain meat is usually just fine, just be sure to remove the skin before you feed it to your pet. The heavily seasoned skin on the turkey can cause pancreatitis and in large chunks can even be a choking hazard. Never allow your pet to chew on leftover bones as they can easily splinter or get stuck in the intestines.
Pork is usually pretty high in fat content and can really pack on the calories. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis. Save your pet from a tummy ache, and skip on the ham.
While plain potatoes may be ok, mashed potatoes usually contain lots of butter, milk, and cheese. This can cause diarrhea in lactose sensitive pets. Mashed potatoes also sometimes contain garlic or onion powder, both of which are seasonings to stay far away from!
Stuffing usually contains garlic, onions, and all sorts of other delicious human ingredients. These can cause life threatening anemia in dogs so it’s best to skip it.
Cranberry sauce is too high in sugar for your pup.
Be sure your salad does not include things like grapes or raisins, as both are very toxic to dogs.
Plain old green beans and carrots are great treats for your furry loved ones, but not when they are in casserole form or heavily seasoned. The cream in green bean casserole is far too rich and can cause stomach upset. Sweet potatoes are ok in moderation but candied yams are not.
While pumpkin can sometimes be beneficial in the diet of a canine, pumpkin pie is not. Steer clear of offering desserts to your pets, including pies, ice creams, and anything containing chocolate!
If you do decide to let your dog have a little taste of the holiday, only feed these things in moderation, as any change to a normal diet can cause an upset stomach. When in doubt, don’t risk it. If you think your pet may have eaten something toxic, call us or PETS Emergency Hospital!
So we’ve all heard of a foxtail but what really is it? A foxtail is a a barbed plant seed of a foxtail plant, a grass-like weed. They grow throughout the West of the US and are especially prevalent in the dry summers. Foxtails can embed themselves into your shoes, clothes, and even your dog’s skin. These tough seeds don’t break down in the body, but actually continue to migrate until your pet is left with a nasty infection and painful sore. Here at Pismo Beach Vet Clinic, we see foxtails all the time. They can be in between toes, inside of ears, eyes, vulvas, mouths, and just about anywhere else you can imagine! If left untreated, they can lead to severe infections and possibly travel into the chest cavity or abdominal cavity. Sometimes you can pluck the foxtail right out, but many times we will need to sedate patients and follow the foxtail’s tract in order to remove it entirely.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure that foxtails don’t ruin your summer.
Know what foxtails look like and remove them when possible. Removing them from your yard might not be the easiest thing, but will make a huge difference to your pet. Lessening your pets exposure to foxtails will decrease the likelihood of getting one embedded. Try fencing off part of the yard where there are no foxtails so your pet can hang out worry free.
Stay on the path. Also easier said than done, try not to let your pet run through fields or parks during foxtail season. Keep your walks on the path or in areas without foxtails.
Keep vigilant. When caught early, foxtails are usually fairly easy to remove. Take a moment each night to search through your pet’s coat and in between their toes for any foxtails.
Know the signs. When your pet starts excessively licking at a paw, holding an eye shut, shaking their head, or violently sneezing, you should consider the possibility of a foxtail. Call us to schedule an appointment, where we will try to find the foxtail and get it out as soon as possible. Left untreated, these little seeds can cause massive infections and a lot of discomfort to your pet.
Try alternative methods. There are some products that may help with keeping foxtails away. It’s best just to avoid foxtails all together, but you can always try to use booties or a mask on your pet when the foxtails are especially bad!
Foxtails can be a pain, but hopefully with the steps listed above you can try to keep them off of your pet!