Have you ever wondered if your pet really needs an annual physical exam? Your dog or cat seems perfectly healthy, so is a regular wellness exam necessary?
If your pet is constantly itchy and scratching, it’s time to bring your furry family member into the clinic. Pet skin issues can be acute (temporary) or chronic (persistent), and caused by a variety of factors, including environmental allergies, flea allergies, and food allergies. Instead of just treating symptoms, it’s important to get to the root of the problem to bring your dog or cat relief.
We’re excited to announce the launch of our new automated loyalty program! Available through our free mobile app or Pet Page portal, this exciting program rewards you for every visit. We want to thank you for being a client and choosing Sierra Veterinary Clinic to provide your pet with advanced veterinary care!
Did you know that all pets are at risk for heartworm disease? Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect all pets, even indoor dogs and cats. The disease is caused by heartworms, foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of affected pets. Adult heartworms can grow up to 14 inches and cause heart failure, lung disease, organ damage, and even death.
You love your pets, but unwanted fur all over the house or on your furniture can be frustrating. While hair shedding is a natural process for all dogs and cats, preventing or controlling shedding is a common concern for most pet owners.
Flu season is in full swing, and humans aren’t the only ones sick. Dogs across Northern California are coming down with the flu, and researchers from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine believe it could spread throughout the Central Valley region.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death among pets, which is why we’re committed to raising awareness about the devastating impact of pet cancer. All pets are at risk for developing cancer, and just like humans, pets can develop many different types of cancer. The good news is that with early detection and treatment, cancer is frequently treatable.
Cancer in pets
Neoplasia is the uncontrolled growth of cells or tissues in the body, and the abnormal growth is called a tumor or neoplasm. Like us, pets can develop neoplasia in almost any organ or tissue in their body. Benign (non-cancerous) tumors grow slowly, and do not invade the surrounding tissue or spread throughout the body. Malignant (cancerous) tumors grow unpredictably, and can invade the surrounding tissue or spread to other parts of the body.
November is National Diabetes Month, and we’re joining with veterinarians across the nation to focus on this disease that claims the lives of thousands of pets every year. Diabetes Mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, is becoming increasingly common among both dogs and cats. Left untreated, the devastating disease is potentially fatal. With early detection and treatment, diabetic pets can continue to live normal, healthy lives.
If you have dogs, you understand the challenges of keeping your lawn lush and green. Lawn burn is a common issue for many dog owners, and occurs when your dog’s urine damages the lawn due to an alkaline pH, concentrated urine, and nitrogen load.
Urine pH and Nitrogen Load Ideally, dogs should have a slightly acidic urine pH of between 6 and 6.5. If your dog’s urine pH is above 7, the higher pH will burn your lawn and could lead to struvite stones, bladder stones caused by alkaline urine. To check your pet’s urine pH at home, you can purchase pH strips and collect a urine sample from your dog in the morning. A dog’s urine pH can be reduced with a low-carb, grain-free diet.
Dogs on a very high protein diet can also produce urine that causes lawn burn. When protein is broken down, nitrogen is excreted. Higher amounts of protein lead to increased nitrogen, and a greater chance of lawn burn. If your lawn is heavily fertilized, it may be receiving near maximum levels of nitrogen already, and the additional amount of nitrogen in your dog’s urine could damage the grass.
After a warm winter with above average rainfall in San Joaquin County, Leptospirosis is a growing concern for pet owners in our area. Commonly known as Lepto, this potentially deadly disease is caused by infection with the Leptospira bacteria.
The bacteria live in soil and water, and the disease is spread when your pet comes in contact with contaminated water or urine from contaminated animals. The bacteria enters the body through the eyes, nose, mouth, or an open wound. Mice and rats can spread the disease to your pet, and it can also be passed through the placenta from a mother dog to her puppies. While dogs are most commonly affected by Lepto, the disease can affect cats and can pass from animals to people.
Leptospirosis was once confined to rural or hunting dogs, but more and more household pets are contracting the disease. Last month, three pets at the clinic tested positive for Lepto, and new data from animal experts suggests that urban dogs are just as likely to be infected as rural dogs.
The sun is shining, the days are growing longer, and trees are in full bloom after a long and rainy season for the San Joaquin Valley. This spring will be a welcome relief to many of us who have endured one of the longest, wettest winters in the last 20 years. Your furry household members are also eager to get outside and enjoy the dry weather.
As your dogs and cats spend increased time outside, flea and tick care becomes critical. The lack of freeze this past winter means significantly increased flea and tick activity here in Stockton this spring. Plan to stay one step ahead and start your prevention now, before you start to see fleas and ticks on your pet—once you can see them, they’re already nesting in your home or yard.
Dental care is an important aspect of your pet’s overall health, and if left unchecked, dental problems can lead to other serious health issues. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, most dogs and cats are experiencing some form of dental disease by age three. Pet owners don’t always recognize the early signs of oral health issues, and dental disease is the number one undetected illness for both dogs and cats. Without effective preventive measures, the disease process will only advance with age. Routine pet dental care—both at home and in-clinic—can help your pet live a long and healthy life.
Home Care Ideally, dental wellness begins at puppyhood and kittenhood, when it’s easy to get in the habit of routine preventative care. Puppies and kittens are usually very willing to let you rub their teeth with gauze, and later introduce a finger brush or small toothbrush and enzymatic toothpaste.
In addition to regular brushing, our clinic offers a variety of dental care products to help you maintain your pet’s oral health at home. OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews clean teeth and block bacteria to help prevent plaque, calculus (tartar), and bad breath. Dental treats can help reduce plaque and tartar formation while your pet chews, and water additives are products you can add to your pet’s drinking water to freshen your pet’s breath and prevent plaque accumulation. Oral rinses, gels, and sprays all contain active ingredients that help fight plaque and bacteria.
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.
As you may know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We likely all know someone affected by this disease, and unfortunately, our companion animals are affected too. Mammary Gland Neoplasia is something we see in our patients here at Sierra Veterinary Clinic, and it is the most common tumor in intact female dogs. Certain breeds at increased risk include Spaniels, Pointers, Poodles, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, and Yorkshire Terriers. One of the risk factors is related to the timing of when you spay your pet, so this is also a good reason to spay early. According to the Clinical Veterinary Advisor, intact females and females spayed after two years of age have a sevenfold greater risk of mammary neoplasia compared to those spayed before age 6 months.
Thanks for once again voting Sierra Veterinary Clinic “Best of San Joaquin” in 2016! We appreciate your ongoing support and the many relationships that we’ve built in the Stockton community. We are honored to have you all as our clients.
As Stockton’s leading full-service veterinary facility, we’ve been committed to providing the best possible routine and advanced care and services for your pets from the start. Thanks for thinking so highly of us, and for choosing our team of experienced doctors, technicians, and support staff as the best in San Joaquin County.
Are you a new client? Check out our new clients page for special offers and discounts.
Halloween can be a fun time for you and your pet as long as you follow some simple pet safety tips. Unfortunately holidays are a common time for pet emergencies. On halloween in particular, pets are more likely to eat things they shouldn't and escape out of the house. Here are a few potential problems to be aware of.
Candy: This may seem obvious but you should never let your pet eat any halloween candy. Any candy containing chocolate, especially dark and bittersweet, xylitol, a sweetener, or raisins is very bad for them and can be fatal. Make sure you and your kids put all the candy in a place unreachable by your pet. Don't let them get into the wrappers either. It's likely the wrapper still has the smell and taste of candy on it and if ingested can create a blockage.
Costumes: It's fine to dress your pet in a halloween costume, you just need to make sure it's safe and comfortable for them. It needs to fit well and not be too tight or loose or impair them in any way. Supervise them while they are in costume.
Did you know that senior pets have special needs and may be faced with a new set of age-related conditions? Thanks to improved veterinary care and dietary habits, pets are now living longer than ever before. The downside to aging is the possibility of health problems and behavioral changes for your pet.
First, it’s important to understand when a pet is considered a senior. Cats and small dogs are usually considered a senior at 7 years of age. Larger breed dogs typically have shorter life spans, and are considered a senior at 6 years of age.
From nips to bites to actual attacks, dog bites are a serious problem. Even the sweetest, cutest dog can bite if provoked. Approximately 800,000 dog bite victims require medical attention in the US every year. Children are the most frequent victims of dog bites, making up half of all victims, followed by the elderly and postal carriers. Even dogs can be victims of dog bites. Fortunately, most dog bites are preventable by following some common sense tips, teaching children how to behave around dogs and training your own pet.Tips for Everyone
Keep these tips in mind If you encounter an unfamiliar dog.If a dog approaches to sniff you, stay still. In most cases, the dog will go away when it determines you are not a threat.If you are threatened by a dog, remain calm. Don’t scream or yell. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly. Avoid eye contact. Try to stay still until the dog leaves, or back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Don’t turn and run.If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.Keeping the Kids Safe
Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs. Parents and caregivers should:
With the warmer weather, all of us are spending more time outside enjoying the sunshine, and that includes our pets. Unfortunately this always means we see a spike in Parvovirus infections, and this year is no different.
Parvo is a highly contagious virus that is spread through oral contact with infected feces. As disgusting as that sounds, it could be as simple as your pet walking through an area that contains infected feces, and then licking his feet afterward. Even walking through an infected area yourself can contaminate your clothing and shoes, and is often enough to infect a pet when you return home. Many scientists suspect that flies can also pick up the virus and spread it to your pet by landing on his face.
Parvo most commonly affects puppies age 3-10 months, but is also a threat to older dogs who are immunocompromised, have had an incomplete set of vaccinations, or have had no vaccinations. We also see occasional breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated animals, but this is extremely rare. Puppies are at the highest risk because their immune systems haven't had a chance to fully develop, and their vaccines haven't been completed.
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.
My dog Cooper is 4 years old. In October I noticed a few things that were not normal for him. He was shedding a lot more hair and was waking me up more at night to go outside to use the facilities. When I brought him in, I spoke to Dr. Patterson and Dr. Yao about the issues he was having they suggested that we send out a comprehensive panel with urine just to make sure everything looked the way it is supposed to. The next day Dr. Yao sat me down and told me that Cooper was in stage 1 Kidney Disease. I was upset because there’s not much you can do but to slow down the progression of the Disease by changing his diet. I knew that this was going to be a challenge. Explaining it to my daughter was hard. She was no longer allowed to sneak Cooper snacks. I explained to her that there were still foods he could have like bananas, apples, green beans and carrots. We now make Cooper banana ice cream once and a while.
Seems like lately, we have been seeing a great deal of Giardia in our puppies, kittens, dogs and cats.
Giardia is an organism that causes diarrhea in some, but not all, infected animals including humans. There are different species of Giardia, groups A-G and different groups can affect different animals and humans. For now let’s focus on our dogs and cats.
Giardia comes in two forms: A trophozoite and a cyst. A trophozoite is the mobile form of the organism that can be found in the intestines and sometimes the feces. A cyst is the resistant stage that can survive outside of the host for several months. This stage is where transmission from one host to the other occurs. Cysts survive in areas where the weather is cold and there is a good amount of moisture, like water. However, they are not able to survive in hot, dry areas.
Just like we do, our furry friends need regular wellness exams to stay their healthiest. What may seem like a simple checkup really is the foundation for preventing more serious health problems and potentially not only saving money, but your pet’s life. Here are some guidelines and tips for getting the most out of your pet’s wellness visits.
The frequency of wellness exams coincides with the different points in an animal’s life. Puppies and kittens, for example, should see a veterinarian every three weeks for exams and booster vaccinations until they are16 weeks old. Adults typically need an annual wellness exam. Seniors usually need to be seen twice a year because their health can change more quickly than younger pets.
A wellness visit typically includes a head-to-toe physical exam. It also may include a check for growths and masses on the skin; checking the underbelly and groin for tenderness or swelling; an examination of the eyes, ears and nose for obstructions; and an oral exam to look for signs of gum disease, growths or tooth issues. Routine blood work and fecal exams also will be conducted to provide a baseline for evaluating changes or trends in your pet’s health that the physical may not reveal. Other diagnostics may include testing for heartworm disease and internal parasites. To ensure a happy, healthy pet, nutrition and behavior also will be discussed.
My dog Bella is 10 years old. Early in November she started limping on her front right leg. Of course, as a Vet Tech I started thinking the worst: cancer! Fortunately, after a few hours of monitoring her I realized it was probably just arthritis. She had recently had her senior checkup and lab work and all the results were normal.
I wanted to start her on something besides NSAIDs or pain medications, so I started giving her Dasuquin, a joint supplement for dogs and cats that contains glucosamine and chondroitin to promote healthy joints. After just a few days - I’m not joking - she was no longer limping when she got out of bed and was a lot more active. Her coat even had a new shine to it. I was amazed! I had always heard great things from clients about Dasuquin, but until I used it myself I did not understand how great it really is. Not only does it contain glucosamine and chondroitin, but it also has Avocado and Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASUs) which, in conjunction with glucosamine/chondroitin, have been shown to improve joint function and comfort levels.
You can help keep your senior pet moving easily and pain free with supplements like Dasuquin and Welactin, a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids which helps with aging joints and brain function as well as things like coat, skin and heart health.
This Is Moe.
He is one of our awesome veterinary technician’s fur-baby. (Please don’t worry about his eye. It developed that way and it is not painful).
Here are two x-rays of his fourth premolar on the left side from a dental cleaning we did for him a couple of months ago.
Notice the large, dark hole in the fourth premolar. That is a feline resorptive lesion. Amy is not feeding Mo too many sweets because they are not caused by sugar in the diet and although they are commonly seen with plaque and gingivitis, we don’t know how they are related. The most important thing to know about them is that they are painful.
Medical term originating in Greek “Poly” pertains to many and “Dactyl” pertaining to the toes/fingers.
Polydactyl cats have more than normal amount of toes usually on the front feet but they can also be on the back feet. Normal cats have 18 toes polydactyls usually have up to 28 toes.
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.
A lot of times we think a fat cat is a happy cat but this really isn't true. Obesity can make our pets more susceptible to several diseases. Some of these diseases include diabetes mellitus, hepatic lipidosis, dermatologic conditions, and pain from osteoarthritis. Hepatic lipidosis and diabetes are the scariest diseases but the extra pain from having too much weight on old joints is a problem that obese pets have to suffer from everyday of their life.
I tell people to get their cat to lose weight all the time but I have an obese cat at home who I love very much. So in honor of pet obesity day on October 7th, I have committed to getting my obese senior to lose weight.
There are kits and plans that are made in times of fire, earthquake, or emergency situations for people, but what about our pets? Here are some tips:
A collar and I.D. with your pets name, address and cell phone number will help return your pet faster. If the collar comes off and is destroyed, microchipping can increase the chances of finding your pet.
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.
One of our RVTs, Amy, was recently presented with a unique opportunity to use our Veterinary Cold Therapy Laser on an injured horse. Amy has enjoyed this experience so much that she wrote up her story for us to share with you:
This sweet girl is one of our latest laser therapy patients. She is a show and driving horse owned by Richard and Melanie Brandstad. One day in early January Dr. Luckars asked me if I would ever consider doing laser on a horse, with no question I automatically said yes, not thinking anything of it I went on about my day. In the following days I was in contact with Richard and we set up a day to meet at the Sargent Equestrian Center were Hannah stays. So in between work or on weekends I would make my way out to see Hannah for her laser therapy.
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.
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.
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.
We are all getting older, and that includes your pets. As pets and people age, those nagging aches and pains seem to get worse and worse. There are many factors which can contribute to joint pain in your pet, including lack of physical exercise, poor diet, weight control, and some medications. As we deal with this cold winter weather, joint pain which may normally be manageable can be magnified, to the point where it begins affecting your pet's daily life.
Symptoms of your pet's pain can be easy or difficult to identify. Obvious symptoms include lethargy, stiffness, limping, or reluctance to move. Other behaviors which indicate your much your pet might be suffering include aggressive or defensive reactions when touched, unusual barking for no reason, or uncharacteristic hiding.
We're all likely to put on a few extra pounds this Christmas season, but remember that the treats you love aren't so good for your pet. Don't worry though - we've got a recipe here for dog biscuits that is healthy for your pet and veterinarian approved!
Download the Christmas Dog Biscuit Recipe
Help us collect donations for pets who are awaiting adoption through Animal Friends Connection. They're constantly in need of basic supplies to help care for the animals in the shelter, and this month if you donate one of the items listed below and drop it off at Sierra Vet Clinic, we'll thank you with a voucher good for $5 off any product or service we offer.
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.
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.
November is National Diabetes Month, and along with veterinarians across the nation, we're focusing on this disease that claims the lives of many thousands of pets every year.
Unfortunately Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is becoming more and more common among both dogs and cats. Left untreated, this condition is fatal. However with proper treatment and careful management, pets who suffer from this disease can continue to live normal, healthy lives.
There are several simple and inexpensive things that pet owners can do to extend a dog or cat's life.
Brush you pet's teeth routinely. A toothbrush and a pet friendly tooth paste costs less than $15. It is best to start this practice when your dog or cat is young. It is a wonderful way to help prevent the build up of plaque on your companion's teeth and reduce periodontal disease. Dental disease is the number one undetected illness for both dogs and cats. Infection in the mouth is not only painful but can also lead to illness elsewhere in the body. This routine effort is great for you buddy's comfort and longevity. It will also save you money by resulting in less involved and potentially less frequent dental cleanings.
You've probably heard the formula: multiply your pet's age by 7 to come up with their human equivalent age. While this simple formula is a reasonable estimation, your pet's equivalent age is actually affected by many other factors, including species, breed, and weight.
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.
I have been volunteering at the Stockton City/County Animal Shelter as a member of the Animal Protection League for the past several years. I have dedicated my life to saving the lives of dogs and cats; and I feel that time spent here directly translates to fewer animals being euthanized in our community.
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.
Ringworm or dermatophytosis is not a worm but a fungus that can infect skin, hair, and nails; it can affect both animals and people. It appears in dogs and cats as areas of hair loss with or without a red ring in the center. Generally the lesions occur on the head, ears, or front legs; but can be anywhere on the body. It is also possible for a pet to be a carrier for ringworm, meaning they do not show any symptoms but are still shedding spores and can spread illness to others. This is most common in longhaired exotic cats. Animals contract ringworm via contact with other infected animals, carrier animals, or from the environment. The spores are very tough, and can survive on surfaces for a year. Young, geriatric, and immuno-compromised pets are the most susceptible. There are several species of dermatopytes; but Microsporum canis is the most common to infect dogs and cats. Generally patients that are infected are not itchy; and the incubation time from contact to symptoms is 10-12 days.
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.