Posts Tagged ‘pet health’

Protect Your Pet from Heatstroke

Thursday, July 30th, 2015
Leaving your pet in the car puts them at risk for heatstroke.

The temperature in the car can rise quickly even on a nice 75 degree weather day. Leaving your pet in the car puts them at risk for heatstroke among other life threatening issues.

Heatstroke is a life threatening condition that occurs when body temperatures go above 106 degrees F. This happens most frequently to dogs, but can occur with other pets including cats and even guinea pigs. Brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs and pugs, obese dogs, or dogs that have upper airway obstruction are particularly at risk. At such high body temperatures, thermal injuries occur to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys and brain.


The prognosis for surviving heatstroke depends greatly on catching early signs. These include: increased respiratory rate, increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea and altered mentation. If not treated, this may progress to respiratory distress, collapse, hemorrhaging, bloody diarrhea and seizures. Eventually, body temperatures may actually drop to below normal and your pet may go into a coma before death occurs.  Even if your pet survives heatstroke, there may be permanent organ damage.


As always, prevention is better than treating the problem. Here are some helpful tips to follow:


1)    Never leave your pet unattended in the car, even with the windows open. The temperatures in your car can rise to excessively high levels in just minutes.

2)    Take your dog out for exercise early in the morning before temperatures rise, or later in the evening when temperatures have fallen.

3)    Take plenty of cool water with you whenever you go out with your pet.

4)    Pay attention to the early warning signs. If you feel your pet may be going into heatstroke: stop, find shade and try to cool your pet with water. If possible, see if you can find others to help you. Do not use ice water, as this can actually cause vasoconstriction which prevents the body from cooling. Take your pet to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible for continued treatment.


If you are not sure whether or not it will be too hot for your pet, contact your veterinarian and ask for their advice. Or, just err on the side of caution and keep your pet at home in a cool environment.


Mike Cao, DVM

Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital

Bark in the Park: October 5, 2013

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Bark in the ParkBark in the Park is on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at Waverly Park. The park is located at 1300 Avenida De Las Flores in Thousand Oaks, CA. The event is from 12 pm to 4 pm. Come out and support the event and the local sponsors, there will be tons of fun things to do. We hope to see you there!


For a complete list of activities and more info visit:

Canine Atopy- Why is my dog so itchy?

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

SIS02C4W1Group2-1Definition of Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy):

Atopy is an inherited predisposition to develop allergic symptoms in response to repeated exposure to allergens such as dust mites, grasses, and pollens.  Symptoms include licking, chewing, scratching and reddening or thickening of the skin, particularly of the feet, ears, armpits, and groin area.

  • Most dogs exhibit symptoms between 1 and 3 years of age.
  • The symptoms may begin as a seasonal problem, but may progress to year round scratching, or may not be seasonal at all.
  • Other types of allergies must be ruled out first before the diagnosis of atopy can be made (although some dogs have all three problems!)
    • FLEAS:  Since many pets are allergic to flea saliva, any itchy pet must be on a year round, monthly flea preventative such as Comfortis and Frontline Plus.
    • FOOD:  Many pets are allergic to their food.  Talk to your veterinarian about doing a food trial with a prescription, hypoallergenic diet.

Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis: 

  1. Avoidance:  It is nearly impossible to avoid environmental allergens completely, but you can decrease your pet’s exposure by avoiding tall grassy fields, avoid bathrooms or areas with molds, and control dust mites.
  2. Antihistamines are effective in 10 –20 % of atopic pets.  When combined with fatty acids, their efficacy is increased.
  3. Antibiotics may be needed to control secondary bacterial infections, especially if there a rash, or if areas of crusting are present.
  4. Topical products (shampoos, rinses, sprays) with anti- itch or antibacterial properties may also benefit.
  5. Steroids (prednisone, Temaril-P) are effective in controlling itching, but have many potential side effects, especially if used long term.  Other non-steroidal drugs such as cyclosporine may be just as effective for some pets.
  6. Desensitization vaccines can be formulated based on results of a blood or skin test.  This treatment is effective in approximately 60% of pets, but may take some time to see a response.

-Hilary Lookingbill, DVM

The Trouble with Fleas

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

FleasFleas bite. They bite your pets. They bite you. Jingle – jangle, cling – clang, goes the loud annoyance of your pet’s collars as they try to scratch their itchy misery away. For many of us living in Southern California, fleas are a year round problem. We may think it’s a seasonal problem, but the reality is fleas can be a problem at any time of the year.

Fleas live outdoors. As soon as you and your pets open the door and walk out into the world, you become a food source for hungry fleas hatching from their pupae (similar to a cocoon). In fact, they’re drawn to the vibration you create as you walk and the carbon dioxide you emit as you breathe. Fleas looking for a food source will jump onto your pet and live their lives happily sucking blood, mating and laying eggs to continue their species. As your pet lives its life going in and out of your home, the fleas continue the process of feeding, mating and laying eggs, day after day after day. A female flea lays dozens of eggs each day, all while living on your pet. The eggs fall off into the environment; your yard, your home, your car, the sidewalk on your evening walks with Rover.

The flea life cycle varies; we can never know for certain how long it will last. An adult flea can live for three or four months. The life cycle of the developmental stages depends on weather and humidity. However, in Southern California, we have a temperate climate all year long so fleas never completely go away.  In the summer their developmental cycle usually lasts three weeks, in the winter months this can be longer; this is why we tend to “see” more fleas in the warmer months.  But don’t be fooled into thinking the fleas aren’t there, they’re just waiting for an unsuspecting food source to walk by to spring from their pupae’s and into action.

As pet owners we don’t want to see our pets suffer and don’t like the idea of an insect living in our homes, sleeping in our beds and existing with us 24/7. Fleas are a nuisance and carry diseases. So, how do we get infestations under control?

An effective way to prevent a flea infestation inside your home is to use a veterinary endorsed flea product every 30 days all year long, on all your pets, including cats that may never go outside. Any pet not protected by a flea control product can keep an infestation going. When your protected pet goes outside and picks up new fleas, the fleas will die before they have a chance to lay eggs inside. While you occasionally may still see a few fleas on your pets, you won’t have an active infestation inside your home. If you’re currently working on eliminating an infestation, it’s helpful to vacuum daily and wash your pets bedding in hot water and dry on a high heat setting.

What about the outside? It is much more difficult to control the outdoor environment because your yard is subject to animals that aren’t treated with any flea prevention. Squirrels, possums, raccoons, rabbits, coyotes and feral cats all carry fleas and spread the flea eggs into every environment they go into. The eggs falling off of them into your yard will develop into an adult flea that will once again look for a host to feed on once it’s hatched, quite possibly your pet. You may need to call a professional to treat the yard. Another recommendation is to discourage wildlife from entering your yard; remove pet food bowls or water sources that may be attractive to these animals.

So there you have it! The trouble with fleas is they never completely go away in Southern California. Using a quality flea control product on your pets, purchased through your veterinarian, consistently every 30 days all year long will help prevent flea infestations inside your home.

-Meredith Ford

Senior Sales Representative


Shredder Terror!

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
This is a patient of our, not the one from the story, but look at that tongue... you can see its possible.

This is a patient of ours, not the one from the story, but look at that tongue… you can see it’s possible.

One day while I was getting the days surgery list from reception, I looked out the window and saw a girl running across the parking lot. She was covered in blood and carrying a small dog in her arms. The girl was also carrying a rectangular shaped object. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was, but it appeared to be attached to the dog’s head. I ran to the front door and opened it for her since she had her hands quite full at the time.

To my surprise, she was very calm considering the amount of blood and overall circumstance she was in. I asked her what had happened and looked down at the dog in her arms. I realized that the rectangular shaped object attached to the dog was the business end of a paper shredder. As I looked closer I realized that the tip of the poor Jack Russell Terrier’s tongue was sticking out the other end of the shredder! He rolled his eyes up to look at me as if he was saying, “Help me!” So I took the dog (and the shredder) from her, ran to the back of the hospital, and yelled for help.  The doctors came running when they heard me and we were able to sedate the Jack Russell. Thank goodness!

Now that he was sedated and no longer in pain, for the moment at least, we could take a good look and see what we were dealing with. I went back to the front to talk to the owner and find out more information.  The owner happened to be a vet tech at a hospital in the valley which explained her calm demeanor. Turns out she was shredding papers before work; her dog went crazy and started jumping over and attacking the paper shredder. The poor Jack Russell finally got too close and his tongue went through the shredder. I now had an idea of what happened.

After hearing the story, I went to the back of the hospital to help with the poor dog. At this point my question was, “How do we get this thing off of his tongue?” We couldn’t just run the shredder backwards or pull the tongue out; it would have shredded his tongue more and made it worse. So we decided that a sawsall would come into play next. We had to saw the shredder completely apart to free his tongue. Upon examination, we saw that the tongue was severely lacerated with long cuts. While the Jack Russell was under general anesthesia we sutured his lacerations and place a feed tube so he could receive nutrition while his tongue healed. I went up to reception and brought the owner back so that she could see the damage. She looked him over and decided to take the Jack Russell to her practice for follow-up treatment. Pretty soon her precious pet was up to his usual terrier pranks. Pretty amazing if you ask me!           

-Laura Root, R.V.T.

Dog Food Conundrum

Thursday, August 8th, 2013


There are a variety of pet food option, not all are as good as they claim to be though.

There are a variety of pet food options, not all are as good as they claim to be.

With such a wide variety of dog food diets available, how can you choose the best for your pup? This is a question, even as an ER vet, I get asked frequently. Unfortunately, there is not any one single answer as each pet may be a little different in terms of stomach sensitivity or food allergy; however, the diet that you choose to feed your pet MUST be well balanced and safe to eat.

My cousin just recently told me she was giving a small brand grain- free diet to her dog, who she believed had a grain allergy, and she opened the can one day and found whole chicken bones inside (which could have been deadly to her little Chihuahua, but they were cooked until very soft). While small brand dog foods may have seemingly more nutritious ingredients, they occasionally are not as regulated as the larger brands (Hills, Eukanuba, Iams). An easy way to determine regulatory quality is to look for the “Guaranteed Analysis” on the food container. In general, foods with this label have been evaluated well. If you feed a grain-free diet, keep in mind the first and second most common food allergy in dogs are beef and chicken.

Recently many people have started looking at healthful alternatives to feed their pets, and homemade diets have started to become popular. I have to caution you about feeding your pets these diets, especially in light of a recent publication from UC Davis evaluating 200 homemade dog diets. The fact is that homemade diets are rarely well balanced for your dog. Frequently there are deficiencies of vitamins and minerals which create major problems with long term usage. The large brand dog foods have been researched, analyzed and scientifically meet the nutritional needs of dogs. They may have small faults, but in general they contain all the proper nutrients for a well-balanced diet. Please ALWAYS consult with a veterinarian, preferably with a veterinary nutritionist, if you would like your pet to be on a fully homemade diet.

To read about the most recent study, please click below:

Danielle Sawyer, DVM

Emergency and Critical Care

Fleas not just bugs… A serious problem!

Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Fleas can cause an allergic reaction in some animals.

Fleas can cause an allergic reaction in some animals.

Has your pet been itching lately? Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin disease in dogs and cats. It is important to note that fleas themselves do not make pets itchy. Only pets that are allergic to the flea’s saliva become itchy. Because it is an allergic reaction, it only takes a few bites anywhere on the body to make them break out. Diligent, continuous flea control is crucial in treating the skin disease. Today, there are a multitude of flea control products available that will suit individual needs.

Despite the availability of flea control products, many pet owners do not use anything to help protect their pets. A common misconception is that indoor pet’s do not need to be on a flea control product.  Fleas do very well indoors, where the temperature stays well regulated year round. If you do not see fleas on your pet, it does not mean they are not there. Not only are fleas good at hiding in hair coats, but many animals are very good at catching them before the owner can see them. Remember, it only takes a few bites to cause an allergic reaction in your pet.

Since not all pets are allergic to flea saliva, some owners never really notice if there is a flea problem until it becomes rampant. It is much easier to prevent a flea infestation than to have to treat it. Flea allergy dermatitis is not the only problem fleas can cause. A flea infestation can cause anemia, which can be lethal to puppies, kittens, immunocompromised and geriatric pets. They can also indirectly cause Cat Scratch Fever, which does not make the cat ill but can make the owner or any other person ill. Fleas can also cause unsightly tapeworm infections in pets that ingest the fleas.

If your pet is itching and not currently on flea control, or if the flea control doesn’t seem to be working, please give us a call and we will be happy to discuss options with you.

Here is a link to a picture from Hills Client Education site:


- Mike Cao, DVM