Monday, November 11, 2013

Check Out Our New Video!

Happy Birthday!

7 Homemade Dog Food Recipes

We all love our furry friends, but they can really be expensive! If you're looking to save some money on dog food and treats, or just want to take comfort in knowing what is in their dish, try making your own with these seven recipes.
From: Homemade
NextPhoto: Thinkstock

Doggie Birthday Cake

Here's an extra special cake that you can feel good about offering your dog.

⅓ cup (50 g) flour
⅓ cup (50 g) polenta (cornmeal), bran or rolled oats1½ teaspoons baking powder½ teaspoon garlic powder500 g minced chicken30 ml honey1 large egg¼ cup (60 g) live-culture plain yogurt4 teaspoons vegetable oil1 container (125 g) spreadable cream cheeseDelectable Dog Biscuits, as needed to decorate cake 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre and add the chicken, honey, egg, yogurt and oil. Stir just until mixed.
2. Pour into a greased cake tin and bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken is done and a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
3. Turn out onto a cake rack to cool.
4. Ice the cake with cream cheese (thin cheese, if needed, with a little milk) and decorate with the dog biscuits. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 week.

Makes 1 cake with 4 to 6 servings

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Is Your Pet In Pain?

Clues to Detecting Fluffy and Fido’s Painful Secrets

To protect themselves from predators, animals naturally hide their pain. Your pet may be suffering even though he isn’t showing obvious signs. Advancements in veterinary science have decoded subtle telltale signs of animal distress. Observing your pet’s behavior is vital to managing his or her pain. How well do you know your pet? Use these five clues from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) to help you understand your pet’s body language.

Clue 1: Abnormal chewing habits

If your pet is showing abnormal chewing habits, such as dropping its food or chewing on one side of the mouth, it may have a dental disorder or a mouth tumor. Additional signs may include weight loss, bad breath or excessive face rubbing. Routine dental checkups are important to prevent and treat dental disorders and related pain.

Clue 2: Drastic weight gain or loss

Pain directly influences your pet’s weight and eating habits. Animals carrying excess weight have an increased chance of tearing ligaments and damaging joints. Pets with arthritis or muscle soreness may not want to access their food because bending over is uncomfortable. Arthritis pain may also cause pets to gain weight while their eating habits remain the same due to lack of exercise. Pain can also cause animals to loose their appetites which will lead to weight loss.

Clue 3: Avoids affection or handling

Did Fluffy used to be active and energetic, but now sits quietly around the house? Avoiding affection or handling may be a sign of a progressive disease such as osteoarthritis or intervertebral disc disease. Although your pet may appear to be normal before petting or handling it, the added pressure applied to its body may expose sensitive and painful areas. Hiding is also a sign of pain. Because the animal is hurting, she will hide to avoid a vulnerable position (this allows the pet to prevent painful interactions).

Clue 4: Decreased movement and exercise

Osteoarthritis or joint disease is the most common cause of pain. Pets that limp may be reluctant to go up or down stairs, exercise, or play. Weight and joint injuries can also go hand-in-hand. Losing unnecessary pounds will help overweight pets decrease pressure on sore joints and reduce pain. Consult your veterinarian about exercises, diets and medical therapies that can help improve your pet’s health.

Clue 5: “Accidents”

Pet owners often believe that “accidents” are a result of behavioral issues. Although behavioral issues may cause unwanted surprises, going to the bathroom in inappropriate places may be caused by pain. Pets with sore joints or arthritis may not make it to a convenient location due to painful obstacles like stairs.
Urinary tract infections also may cause a messy situation. In addition to having “accidents,” symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include, lethargy, fever, tender lower abdomen and difficulty urinating. Even after the urinary tract infection is dealt with it may be necessary to get a new litter box because the cat makes painful associations with the old litter box.
The lack of verbal expression does not mean that your pet is not experiencing pain. Minor behavioral change can be cause for alarm. Being aware of your pet’s habits can help you and your veterinarian assess and treat your pet’s pain. Pain management has become an integral part of your pet’s overall healthcare. Diagnosing and managing pain is among the 900 standards an animal hospital is evaluated on in order to become accredited through AAHA. For more information about the advancement of pain management, check out the AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. Feel free to download a handout that help detects cat and dog pain courtesy of AAHA Trends online.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

National Dog Day is August 26th!

Dogs perform a great service in our society as companions, guide dogs and even emergency responders. Once a year we get a chance to observe their amazing contributions to our lives.  This happens on August 26th with National Dog Day.  National Dog Day was established by animal behaviorist Colleen Paige, known for her contribution to the Animal Miracle Network, in order to help us remember to “paws” and celebrate dogs.
The aim of the day is not just to generate sales of dog treats for pups, or bumper stickers to proclaim our passion.  Although those are fun ways to show we care, the purpose of the day is to highlight the respect we should be showing dogs by participating in actions that point out the value of a dog’s “work” and actions that will help the cause of needy animals. Some of the best ways to support the cause include donating time, money and your voice.
Pet Holidays
Celebrate our canine companions with National Dog Day on August 26th!
Stumped for ideas on how you can help?
Here are six easy ways to show your support for National Dog Day:
  1. Opt-to-Adopt: If you are looking for a new dog, check your local shelter or breed-specific rescue organization first!  Whether you want a pup or an old-hound, you’ll be able to find the perfect companion without purchasing from a pet store, back-yard breeder, or questionable Internet and classified ad sellers.
  2. Donate: Animal rescues are always in need of funds to support their work. Even $5.00 helps their cause.  Some rescues also need blankets, toys and other supplies. Ask around and check with your local rescue to see what they need.
  3. Get Educated: Learn from the Humane Society how misconceptions and breed-specific bans hurt dogs and communities.
  4. Walk: Assist an elderly or disabled neighbor by walking their dog.
  5. Share: Post your support and ideas for National Dog Day on your blog, Facebook or Twitter. (Link back to this article for a quick & easy post.)
  6. Pamper: Don’t forget the pooch in your own home!  Give your dog a special bath with herbal therapy, a good brushing and a massage!

- See more at:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Heat Stroke is Serious!

Hot Weather Tips

woman walking dogs outside
We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger, ASPCA experts warn.  
"Most people love to spend the warmer days enjoying the outdoors with friends and family, but it is important to remember that some activities can be dangerous for our pets," said Dr. Camille DeClementi, Senior Toxicologist at the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center. "By following a few simple rules, it is easy to keep your pet safe while still having fun in the sun."
Take these simple precautions, provided by ASPCA experts, to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately. 
Visit the Vet 
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren't on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Ask your doctor to recommend a safe flea and tick control program. 
Made in the Shade 
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to notover-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it's extremely hot. 
Know the Warning Signs 
Symptoms of  overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. 
No Parking! 
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. "On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time-even with the windows open-which could lead to fatal heat stroke," says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states. 
Make a Safe Splash 
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset. 
Screen Test 
"During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets-mostly cats-fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured," says Dr. Murray. "Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions." Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured. 
Summer Style 
Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs' coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
Street Smarts 
When the temperature is very high, don't let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch's body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum. 
Avoid Chemicals 
Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets' reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance. 
Party Animals 
Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.
Fireworks Aren't Very Pet-riotic 
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tick Season is here and it's worse than ever!

Common ticks in Southern California

Bottom of Form
Ticks are little guys with big problems. Many species of ticks reside throughout California however the three most common ticks are distant cousins in the Ixodes family that includes, Ixodes Pacificus (Western Black Legged Tick), Dermacentor variabilis (American Wood Tick) andDermacentor occidentalis (Pacific Coast Tick). These ticks are found in moist coastal regions, the Sierra foothills and central valley.

Ticks scout out their hosts by crawling up vegetation near a trail and wait with arms extended on a well-placed grass stem or leaf. When an unintentional animal or human passes by, they climb onto them. Once onboard, ticks literally dig in to the host’s using their needle like mouthparts to puncture the skin and obtain a blood meal.

Although some ticks can cause an intense inflammatory reaction, the tick itself does not cause the severe illnesses associated with ticks. Bacteria living within the tick’s gut are transmitted to the host when the tick draws blood. These bacteria are responsible for debilitating illnesses such as Lyme disease,Tularemia and Rickettsia.
Ixodes Pacificus commonly known as the Western Black Legged Tick is widely distributed in hardwood forests, woodlands within the leaf litter and open habitats such as grasslands. This tick has a lifecycle and appearance typical of ticks in the Ixodes family. The tick has four life stages, egg, nymph, larvae and adult, of which nymphs and adults are capable of transmitting disease. Nymphs look like a poppy seed with four legs and a translucent belly. Unfed adult females are 0.12 inches long with eight legs and a dark brown plate covering a light reddish back. Feeding ticks can expand up to 150% of their body size. This tick is best known for harboring the corkscrewed bacterium, Borrelia burgorferi responsible for Lyme disease. Colorado tick fever, Q fever and tularemia are also associated but less likely.
Dermacentor occidentalis also known as the Pacific Coast Tick is distributed throughout California. These ticks harbor the bacterium Rickettsia rickets the disease causing agent of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Tularemia, Colorado Tick Fever and the newly discovered 364D Rickettsiosis are equally associated with D.occidentalis.
Dermacentor variabilis, known as the American Wood Tick, is widespread in the US, Canada and Mexico. Notorious hotspots in California are the Coastal areas, Eastern Sierra range and central valley. These ticks carry Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Ehrlichia chaffeensis- causative agents of ehrlichiosis.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus also known as the Brown Dog Tick, is unique in that it can complete its entire lifecycle indoors using dogs as it's preferred host. These ticks are disease vectors forEhrlichia canis and Babesia canis.
If you or your pet is bitten by a tick- remove it immediately. Ixodes Pacificus transmits its bacterial friend, B.burgdorferi after two days of feeding whereas other tick-borne agents can be transmitted within the first day. Ticks are best removed with tweezers or a tick key, but fingers (no squashing!) can also work. Remove the tick by pulling steadily and straight-out, being sure to remove the mouthpiece. Applying alcohol, fingernail polish, petroleum jelly or heat from a lighted match is basically ineffective. However be sure to clean and disinfect the puncture wound. It is also a good idea to contact your physician or veterinarian. Resist the urge to smash the tick so it can be identified and tested for tick borne agents.
If you or your pet begin to display signs of illness such as lethargy, joint pain, rash or enlarged lymph nodes- see your doctor or veterinarian immediately. Untreated tick associated diseases have the potential to damage your heart, vision, respiratory system and mental acuity.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

When it's dogs vs porcupines, the porcupine always wins.......

Vet Talk
Dog vs. Porcupine: Same Winner Every Time
June 3, 2013 (published)
In any dog vs. porcupine encounter, the dog is guaranteed to lose. The dog will never learn to believe this, despite the pain from having quills stuck in his body. Despite the anesthesia typically required while the vet pulls the quills out, by hand, one at a time. Despite any repetitive lessons that should constitute aversive conditioning.

I can also guarantee that the dog will never learn that the porcupine has no need to run away. Why would a porcupine run? He may only have one defense, but it's a heck of a good one. He protects his quill-less belly by rolling into a ball, like a giant hedgehog, and the attacker simply falls onto a few of his 30,000 barbed quills. Who knows, maybe part of his defensive move is to hold his breath while waiting for a dog to start screaming in surprise. But that old saw about porcupines throwing their barbed quills as though they were some kind of rodent mega-warrior? Totally not true.

Granted, the porcupine has a few predators - martens, fishers, wolverines, pythons, eagles, great horned owls, cougars, and bobcats - but for porcupines, a dog will always rank as a predator wanna-be.

Porcupines eat foliage. They live all over; check out the map.

The North American porcupine lives in the western U.S. and throughout Canada. This porcupine climbs trees and noshes on pine trees - that's why they are called porcuPINEs. Kidding! They're called porcupines because the name in Latin means "quill pig" (some sources say it means "pig thorn") even though it is not a pig but a rodent of unusual size weighing 12 to 35 pounds. They mostly eat pine needles (not kidding) and bark, plus some roots, stems, leaves, and so on. Their preference for dining al fresco among the trees is why dogs tend to have up close and personal encounters in wooded areas.

In my 20 years of being a veterinarian, I've never seen a dog who learned to leave porcupines alone. They're all repeat offenders. When I was a kid, one of our dogs had three encounters with them in the forest, after which we finally wised up and leashed him when we were there. That leash is the only thing that kept him away from the porcupines. It's too bad more people don't do the same.

Like vampires, porcupines are creatures of the night. That's why dogs don't get nailed during the business day when it would be less expensive to run the dog into the vet for an emergency appointment. Heck no, they only do it when the emergency hospital is the only place open, or you have to call your vet after hours. I've never had one of these cases where the encounter happened in daylight.

It's so painful for the dog that you don't want to wait to see the vet. Immediately after the encounter, the dog will try to rub the quills out by rubbing his face anywhere he can, including on you (you won't be in pain...the sharp end is in the dog). He won't understand he's just pushing the quills in deeper and breaking the ends off so that they are harder to pull out.

The dog certainly won't understand that part of those quills will start migrating immediately. Quills can migrate to nearly anywhere: his face, lungs, haunches, and so on. A migrated quill came out right in front of one of my patient's eye globe; it had traveled up his sinuses and came out between his lower lid and globe. Quills can pop out weeks after the incident and can protrude from almost anywhere on the dog's body. I've heard of dogs dying from quills in the lungs or heart, and I heard of one that migrated to the brain. Here in Wyoming, pet owners know to bring the dog in immediately after the run-in.

Photo by Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
Dogs need general anesthetic to withstand all the yanking. Nonetheless, I've only had one dog, a lab mix, that could sit there awake while I pulled them out. Normally you'd get bitten trying to do that while they are awake. That dog is an escape artist and has five or six encounters a year.

The top photo was taken by a colleague, Dr. Chiara Switzer. She said that Buddy, the lab/chow mix, went flying to the other dog's rescue when he heard Dexter yelping. Dexter got about two dozen quills; needless to say, Buddy got the worst of the damage. She said Buddy still looked kind of proud of himself, though. There were a few buried in his feet that she couldn't get out.

The dog in the other photo was one of my patients. Looks uncomfortable, doesn't he?

Unlike bees who die after the loss of their only stinger, the porcupine grows new quills to replace the ones embedded in a dog. With over 29,000 quills to spare, he doesn't have to worry about predators while he grows new quills. Dogs are the ones who should worry, but of course they don't, the poor daft babies. They're too busy having fun romping in the forest until they find a porcupine and their brains evaporate.

The only prevention that I know of is to leash the dog when you're in the woods. Dog owners need to understand that the dog will not learn about porcupines, so when you're hanging out together in the forest enjoying the fun part of nature, Your best friend's best friend is the leash. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spay and Neuter Please!

Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Whether you’ve recently adopted a pet or you’re considering it, one of the most important health decisions you’ll make is to spay or neuter your cat or dog. Spaying—removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet—is a veterinary procedure that requires minimal hospitalization and offers lifelong health benefits. Neutering—removing the testicles of your male dog or cat—will vastly improve your pet’s behavior and keep him close to home.
Not convinced yet? Check out our handy—and persuasive—list of the top 10 reasons to spay or neuter your pet!
  1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life. 
    Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases. 
  2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. 
    Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age. 
  3. Your spayed female won't go into heat. 
    While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they'll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house! 
  4. Your male dog won't want to roam away from home. 
    An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he's free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males. 
  5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved. 
    Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering. 
  6. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat. 
    Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake. 
  7. It is highly cost-effective. 
    The cost of your pet's spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray! 
  8. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community. 
    Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets. 
  9. Your pet doesn't need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth. 
    Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way. 
  10. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. 
    Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Welcome to our new blog.  I created it to provide more ways to keep up to date on important information about caring for your pets.

Please also check out our Google+ page +Santa Monica Pet Medical Center !

Keep checking back!