Sierra Veterinary Clinic: Pet Blog

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

Beware of Holiday Health Hazards for your Pet

Beware of Holiday Health Hazards for your Pet

The holidays are a great time for baking, decorating, and gift giving, but all the festivities can present some unexpected hazards for your pets, most of which wouldn't be obvious. Plants, treats, decorations, and even the busyness of the season can pose threats to your pet's health which wouldn't be an issue the rest of the year.

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Why is my pet itchy?

Why is my pet itchy?

Okay so I can’t tell you why your specific pet is itchy without seeing it and talking to you but I can tell you about how we start to figure out why your pet is itchy.

The most common cause for chronically itchy pets are environmental allergies, flea allergies, and food allergies.

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Have a Heart for Heartworm Awareness

Have a Heart for Heartworm Awareness

You’ve probably heard of “heartworm” disease, but what do you really know about it? Heartworm is a dangerous disease and should be a genuine concern for you if you’re a dog owner. Luckily, prevention is easy and affordable.

What is Heartworm Disease?

Once considered a parasite mainly of southern climates, heartworm disease is now considered a real risk for pets in all 50 states. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 1 million dogs in the U.S. suffer with heart- worm disease today.

Heartworm is a life-threatening parasite transmitted by mosquitoes and is caused by worms that manifest themselves in your dog’s heart, lungs, and arteries. These parasites will mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring. If left untreated, their numbers can increase to several hundred worms and may grow to be 14-inch-long adults.

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Is your dog's dry nose a sign of illness?

Is your dog's dry nose a sign of illness?

Questions that come up regarding our pets is why is my dog's nose cold, hot, wet or dry? Is he or she sick?

Possible reasons for a wet nose may be due to humidity. Their noses can act as a barometer and adjusts according to how much fluid is in the environment. Another reason may be that they are sweating. Ways that dogs sweat is through their paws and their noses. When their noses are dry it can also be due to the dryness in the air. Again, like a barometer. If your pet is not feeling well a dry nose may be due to a fever or dehydration.

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Laser Therapy –Sammy Oliver

Laser Therapy –Sammy Oliver

From time to time, our staff contribute stories about their experiences with our patients. Amy and Carol have enjoyed working with Sammy, so Amy wrote up this story about his case:

Sammy Oliver is a 12 yr old Rottweiler mix that has been using Laser Therapy to treat what ails him since he was diagnosed with a cranial cruciate ligament injury and had surgery October of 2013.

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What happens when your dog tests positive for Heartworm

What happens when your dog tests positive for Heartworm

Heartworm is a disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an issue in our area, and indoor pets are also at risk. Prevention of this condition is easy and inexpensive, especially when you compare it to the expense of trying to treat the disease, the pain it causes your pet, and often the heartbreak of losing your pet.

In cats there is no treatment, and 1-2 worms can result in death. For canines, the treatment involves using a medication that is a form of arsenic. The treatment process itself has risks and is expensive; the exact therapy process and risk is dependant upon your pet's stage of illness.

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Avoiding Zoonotic Disease

Avoiding Zoonotic Disease

They're our best friends, but our pets sometimes carry some nasty bugs that can make us sick too. Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are infections or conditions that can be passed from animals to humans. While most pets pose minimal zoonotic risk to their owners, the risk is higher for those who have weakened immune systems, the elderly, or pregnant women.

The most common conditions carried by our pets are intestinal parasites such as Salmonellosis, Giardia, or Cryptosporidium; skin conditions like scabies; or worms, including Ringworm, Hookworm, and Roundworms. More serious conditions such as Rabies and Lyme disease can also be passed to humans in certain cases.

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Springtime Pest and Parasite Prevention

Springtime Pest and Parasite Prevention

The weather has warmed up, and both you and your pets are probably spending more time outside. The warmer weather also increases exposure to fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasites, which can cause problems ranging from annoying itching, all the way to potentially fatal conditions like Heartworm.

This spring promises to be even worse than normal due to the mild winter and early warm weather. We're already seeing an unusually high number of cases relating to fleas and ticks coming into the clinic.

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Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in pets can be easily missed

Osteoarthritis is the progressive and permanent deterioration of joint cartilage. This can happen over time with age, and/or may be secondary to underlying congenial bone or joint abnormalities. It develops slowly in both older dogs and cats; symptoms can be easily missed, especially in the earlier stages. Large breed canines (dogs weighing over 50 lbs.) tend to have more severe problems.

Problems can start with difficulty or a delay in getting up and down. Dogs or cats may not jump on and off of furniture with the same ease as in the past. Over time muscle loss can take place along the back legs, front legs, or along spine. Limping at a walk or run can happen occasionally or frequently. Difficulty posturing to have a bowel movement is also fairly common. Pets may not want to be as active as in the past: less likely to play fetch, or go on long walks. On examination, there is generally some degree of tenderness at the hips, shoulders, elbows, knees, and/or along the back. Colder weather does seem to aggravate this condition.

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Cat Scratch Fever

Cat scratch disease is an illness that affects people, cats, dogs, and other wildlife. This syndrome was first identified in the 1950’s. People often experience fever, low energy, skin papules, and lymph node enlargement with the potential for much more advanced illness. In the United States the incidence is about 9.3 cases per 100,000 people annually-Jackson et all 1993. It is transmitted to humans from infected cat scratches and bites. A causative agent, Rochalimaea henselae was not identified until 1992; and the following year it was reclassified as Bartonella henselae a gram-negative bacteria. Since then, additional types of Bartonella that cause infections in people have also been identified.

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Keep your pet safe and calm through Independence Day fireworks

As we celebrate the 238th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we're sure to have plenty of fireworks in the area, both the "Safe and Sane" variety as well as the louder and more dangerous illegal types. For pets who are unaccustomed to loud noises, the constant barrage of noise and flashing lights can create a frightening and stressful situation. Fortunately there are some things you can do to help your pet cope.

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What you should know about Roundworms and Hookworms

If you have a pet, you may have heard of Roundworms and Hookworms. These are intestinal parasites that many pets are born with, and some contract after birth through contact with infected feces or other surfaces in parks, playgrounds, or even your backyard.

Both Hookworm and Roundworms are zoonotic parasites, meaning that they are easily passed from pets to humans, most often to children. Children seem to be more vulnerable than adults since they often play on the ground and sometimes place dirty objects into their mouths. The parasites are usually passed between species as eggs, which hatch into larvae and then begin to move throughout the body.

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Why Is My Dog So Itchy?

Why Is My Dog So Itchy?

Allergy season is here. Not only for us; but for our canine and feline companions as well. Unlike us, our four legged friends usually show symptoms related to their skin and ears, such as scratching and liking, hair loss, inflammation, scabs, crusting, scales, and pustules. As symptoms progress, animals can do significant self-destruction to their skin; and secondary fungal and bacterial infections can develop. Other secondary issues such as food allergies can compound this problem.

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Modern treatments in ear care are helping to speed healing and reduce the need for ear canal surgery

Ear infections are very common in dogs. Typical symptoms include but are not limited to head shaking, scratching, swelling or closure of the ear canal, discharge, odor, inflammation at the ear flap, and formation of a hematoma or fluid filling in between the two layers of the ear flap.

Many different things can trigger ear infections. Allergies are a common predisposing issue. The lining of the ear canal is just an extension of the skin. So anything that causes skin inflammation can result in an ear infection. Certain activities such as swimming can predispose a patient to ear maladies.

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Chewing on an electrical cord can be life threatening to a dog or a cat

Generally this happens in young animals, and occurs more commonly with canines. It is seen more frequently around the holiday time with decoration lights; but can occur at any time that a pet has access to an electrical cord.

It can result in a wide range of problems. Locally there can be direct trauma to the tissues of the mouth, especially the tongue and lips. The duration of chewing time will affect the severity of damage.

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Routine health exams are critical to pet wellness

Physical examinations are recommended at least annually for pets less than 7 years of age, and twice a year for seniors. We at Sierra Veterinary clinic want to play a central role in maximizing the quality and quantity of years for your cherished companions; and are pleased that you have chosen us as your pet care provider.

A through head to tail evaluation can help to identify issues early on, giving a better chance for a positive outcome. Factors such as diet, dental care, body condition, mobility, heart health, preventative care, and others are all essential facets of wellness for your canines and felines, and should be routinely discussed. Additional lab work may be recommended depending on your pet’s age or condition.

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Simple things to keep your pet healthy and happy in the New Year and for years to come

Keep current identification information on your pet. It can save his or her life. We routinely have lost dogs or cats brought into the clinic. Most of them do not have collars with current contact information or microchips. Visible identification is the easiest way for someone to return your pet if found. Microchips are magnificent because unlike collars, they don’t fall off. Please remember to update the information with the microchip company when you move.

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Keeping your pet at a healthy weight will help to extend his or her life

A healthy body condition is just as important for our companions as it is for us. Obesity in animals can lead to a multitude of health problems including heart disease, joint and bone maladies, diabetes, constipation, and others. January is healthy weight month at Sierra Veterinary Clinic. We have chosen this issue to help your pet start off right in 2014.

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Canine Wellness Depends on Routine Health Care

Routine preventative health care is important at every stage of life for the overall wellness of your dog. Sierra Veterinary Clinic can play a pivotal role guiding you in the healthcare decisions you make for your canine. A good wellness program will help to extend both the quality and duration of your companion's life, giving you many great years together.

Puppies need a high level of monitoring and care as they have a very minimally developed immune system, and continuously explore their world with their mouths.

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Dental disease affects more than your pets teeth

Dental disease is the most common yet ignored and undetected disease affecting both canines and felines today.

Why is this the case? People don’t like to or are not able to look inside their canine or feline’s mouth. It is not pleasant to evaluate the teeth and gums, and can be difficult as well as dangerous depending on your pet’s temperament. Animals don’t like this either. Unless a pet owner is diligent from an early age, it can be challenging to start brushing a dog or cat’s teeth once that pet is older. Because we don’t see what the teeth look like it is easy to ignore dental disease in the earlier stages. Animals are also very good at hiding pain and are survivors; therefore, they may not show symptoms of dental pathology until it is very advanced. I see patients on a daily basis that have had teeth fall out of their mouth due to rotting, and yet these animals are still eating dry food and have good energy. People are also worried about cleanings that are performed under anesthesia.

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How to ease the stress of moving for your pets

Moving is stressful for everyone, even your four legged friends. They do not like the noise, packing of items, and transporting furniture out of the house. In addition to the commotion, they are also sense your emotions. They are keenly aware of your trepidations.

On the actual moving day, and the surrounding days, you may want to board your companions or keep them with a friend. This will not only help to keep them calmer; but also you won’t have to worry about them escaping or being injured with furniture being moved around. If you can’t do this, keep them in a spare bathroom or other quiet location that they can’t escape from.

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Allergies in Dogs and Cats

Allergies occur in animals just like in people, but are more common in dogs than cats. People’s symptoms often involve congestion and sneezing, which can occur in canines and felines as well. However, animals more typically present with symptoms affecting the skin and ears. I routinely see skin problems on a daily basis that are allergy related, especially in the Spring and Summer months.

Symptoms can occur year round or seasonally depending on the underlying trigger(s). At the skin, pet owners may notice many different things including hair loss, moisture, inflammation, bumps, scabs, and others. Pets often will scratch, lick, and chew at many locations of the body. At the ears there can be inflammation, closing down of the canals, odor, discharge, and head shaking. The ears are really just an extension of the skin.

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Chinese Herbs in Veterinary Medicine

Chinese herbs have been used in people for centuries. They are now more available for use in animals as part of alternative medical treatments. The term herb is actually a misnomer, as not all of the therapies are plant based, some are from animals, and some are minerals. At one time human materials such as teeth, nails, or bodily fluids were utilized; but this is no longer commonly done. Herbal medicine can be used in combination with other alternative treatments such as acupuncture, or used alongside modern Western medicine. Many types of illness and symptoms can be treated with this modality of care including organ disease, cancer, paralysis, seizures, allergies, and others.

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Microchipping can help a lost pet return home

A microchip is a small device about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted between your pet's shoulder blades. The microchip contains a unique identifier code which is linked to your information in a national database. In the event that your pet is separated from you, the microchip can be read by any veterinarian or animal shelter. Inputting the ID code into the owner database allows them to contact you so that you and your pet can be reunited.

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More cases of parvovirus than normal

Puppy infected with Parvo

Canine parvovirus is a serious, deadly virus that attacks the intestinal tract of dogs. Normally contracted through exposure to an infected dog's feces, the virus is extremely hardy and can survive extreme temperatures and direct exposure to sunlight. A surface exposed to infected feces can remain contaminated long after the feces are removed, and the virus can even be carried on shoes and clothing.

Puppies are the most likely to contract the parvovirus. Certain breeds are more susceptible (Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls), but all dogs are at risk. Cats rarely contract the virus. Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea (often with blood), loss of appetite, fever or low body temperature, and depression.

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Don’t let your pet get into a sticky situation with Gorilla Glue

Curious dogs can be harmed by Gorilla Glue

Gorilla Glue toxicity is a very serious problem, and can rapidly end your companion’s life. Many people are not aware that this common household item could pose a health risk for their pets.

Gorilla Glue is a polyurethane material that is activated with moisture. Diphenylmethane Diisocyanate (MDI) is the active ingredient. When triggered, the foaming action allows this product to expand as needed to fill empty space as it cures. This is wonderful if you are using it for the intended purpose of holding items together; however, the results are hugely detrimental when Gorilla Glue is accidentally ingested by a curious canine.

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Heartworm prevention for your dog and cat is now more critical than ever

Heartworm infection in pet heart

The past few years we have seen a rise is this terrible disease in our area. Last year our clinic identified 9 new cases, and so far this year we have already diagnosed 5. This is significant when you consider that 10 years ago we might find a case each year or every other year, and mainly in animals that traveled outside the area. Now it is happening with patients that have lived here their entire lives. 2 of the patients that were diagnosed so far this year have been on prevention during this year; but missed some months.

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Advances in Veterinary Medicine

As pets are becoming more and more a part of the family, veterinary medical advances are enabling the level of care to parallel and even in some cases surpass that of human medicine. This is driven by the human animal bond. Pet caregivers often have pictures of their cherished companions on their phones, are housing them indoors, and even welcoming them in their beds. It only makes sense that they would demand a higher level of care, and want their canines and felines to live as long as possible.

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What to do after a dog fight, and some prevention tips

This past week I treated 6 patients for dog fights, and this doesn't include those that my associates worked with. I don't know if the warmer weather is creating tension amongst the canines; but this is a very high number of incidences. This column covers what to do when a dog attack happens to your companion to increase the chance of a full recovery; and provides guidelines to help protect your cherished companions from such confrontations.

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Unwanted Pet Behaviors

Our dogs and cats do things as puppies and kittens that we think are cute at the time; but that we may not necessarily want them to do as adult members of the household. Unfortunately, each excited or even remotely positive reaction that we give just feeds into a pet’s natural drive to seek attention and/or please his/her caregiver. Some of these actions have minimal long term effects; but some can create serious problems over time. For some households, the same behavior may be perceived in a wide range from benign to extremely serious. I am going to cover a few of the common behaviors that we may be encouraging.

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Common eye problems in pets and what is an emergency

Growths around the eye on the eyelid and surrounding tissue often do not pose a serious threat to you companion. Most commonly they are caused by cysts of the Meibomian glands that secrete lubrication to the eye, or are warts. Even when they touch the surface of the eye, the cornea, they may not need to be removed if they are not causing trauma or significant discomfort. Swelling or infection of the gland of the third eyelid, commonly called a Cherry eye is significant. It seldomly responds to topical therapy, and usually requires a surgical repair.

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Protect your dog from Rattlesnakes

As the temperature rises, the climate is perfect for Rattlesnakes to come out; and they are active from March through September. This year it is expected that many more snakes will be out and about due to our unusually weather patterns this year and last year. For people that take their canines camping, hiking, and/or hunting in the areas surrounding Stockton, both they and their buddies are at a significant risk for a snake encounter.

Rattlesnake bites commonly occur on in animals on the legs or face. The level of toxicity depends on the age and type of the snake, as well as the size of the dog. In 20-25% of bites, no venom is injected. 30% of bites are mild and only cause local inflammation and pain with no systemic effects. 40% of bites are severe and cause systemic problems. And 5% are fatal.

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Heartworm shouldn't be ignored

Autopsy of heart infected with heartworm

Canines and felines are now more at risk for Heartworm than ever before. The recent change in rainfall patterns has allowed mosquitoes to flourish in our area. On average Sierra Veterinary clinic diagnoses 6-7 cases of canine Heartworm per year. It is only May, and we have already identified this deadly disease in 5 dogs. In the past, many of the pets had traveled outside of California; now most of the patients are just local inhabitants. Please protect your cherished companions with routine preventatives.

Heart-worm is a deadly disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Even indoor pets can be exposed to mosquitoes, and it only takes one bite by an infected mosquito to create a problem.

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Intervertebral disc disease in animals

Any dog can develop intervertebral disc disease. In between each back bone there is a soft material that cushions the space between each vertebra, allowing for movement, and preventing the bones from rubbing against each other. As the body ages, the pad of fibrocartilage tissue becomes much harder, making the disc more prone to rupture.

Some dog breeds, especially Dachshunds, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Pekingeses, and Doberman Pinchers are prone to this problem. The discs in the Dachshund age prematurely due to water loss, cellular necrosis, and calcification. As a result, making the material becomes more brittle and prone to breaking apart. When material oozes out of the discs, it can put pressure on the spinal cord causing a wide range of problems from limited activity, stiffness, pain, hunched back, crying out, inability to urinate or defecate, paresis-partial loss of movement, to paralysis-loss of muscle function, full loss of movement. This problem also occurs in felines; but is much less common.

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Dogs can benefit from using a treadmill

Exercise is important for dogs, just like it is in people. Increasing your canine’s activity level is not only a good way to maintain a healthy weight; but it can help to prevent joint and bone disease, improve heart health, and protect against diabetes. Treadmills also have the advantage that they can be used regardless of the weather, light, or time of day. This is also a great option for pet owners who are not physically able to walk their companions. Aquatic, or water filled tanks with a treadmill at the bottom are now more commonly used for physical therapy in patients that are recovering from bone or joint surgeries, as well as others who are covering from trauma.

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