Monday, December 1, 2014

Is it an emergency?

13 animal emergencies that should receive immediate veterinary consultation and/or care

  1. Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn't stop within 5 minutes
  2. Choking, difficulty breathing or nonstop coughing and gagging
  3. Bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine
  4. Inability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool
  5. Injuries to your pet's eye(s)
  6. You suspect or know your pet has eaten something poisonous (such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.)
  7. Seizures and/or staggering
  8. Fractured bones, severe lameness or inability to move leg(s)
  9. Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety
  10. Heat stress or heatstroke
  11. Severe vomiting or diarrhea – more than 2 episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here
  12. Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more
  13. Unconsciousness
The bottom line is that ANY concern about your pet's health warrants, at minimum, a call to your veterinarian.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us!

Dog with pumpkins, gourds and other holiday decor

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink.
Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.
Talkin’ Turkey 
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don't offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.
Sage Advice 
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.
No Bread Dough 
Don't spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.
Don't Let Them Eat Cake 
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.
Too Much of a Good Thing 
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don't allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.
A Feast Fit for a Kong 
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Santa Monica Pet Medical’s
Halloween costume event!
Oct 19th, 2014
10am – 2 pm

Pet photos & fundraising for “Pennies for Pets”

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Beware the Bug: Parasite Prevention and Screening for Dogs

Beware the Bug: Parasite Prevention and Screening for Dogs

Reviewed by Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM in April, 2014

Halloween isn’t the only time for creepy crawlies. As the weather gets warmer and you spend more time outside, your pets are more likely to be exposed to sometimes-serious infections and parasites. Each year, many pets are diagnosed with diseases carried by insects and parasites. Cost of treatment can be expensive and some diseases can lead to serious illness. Just as bad, many of these diseases can be transmitted to people the very same way our pets get them.
Pet Health Network and are looking out for your whole family with tips for parasite and disease prevention, ways you can test your preventive-health prowess, questions to ask your veterinarian about preventive-health screenings and prevalence maps of some of the most-common pet-health infections. Check out these quick parasite prevention tips from the Companion Animal Parasite Council and Dr. Ruth MacPete, then learn more about parasites A-Z below:
  • Deworm your pets according to your veterinarian’s recommendations
  • Keep your pets on monthly year-round parasite preventatives
  • Take your pet to the veterinarian annually for routine parasite screenings
  • Wash your hands after any exposure to soil, sandboxes, and raw meat
  • Don’t let children eat dirt or food that has fallen to the ground
  • Pick-up after your pet and keep your yard free of feces
  • Cover sandboxes and play areas
Parasites 101
By Dr. Ruth MacPete
All dogs and cats are at risk for parasites. External parasites like fleas and ticks are usually easy to spot if you know what to look for, but others, like intestinal parasites and heartworm, can easily go undetected. Learn the basics about protecting your whole family from parasites. Read more>
Parasites 101
Check out and share our free Beware the Bug website badges, info-graphics and help us keep pets and families safe:
Intestinal Parasites and Dogs
Reviewed By Bill Saxon DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC
These harder-to-detect parasites can cause issues from weight-loss, to diarrhea, to human infection. Find out what you need to know about common intestinal parasites, which ones to ask your veterinarian about and how to protect your whole family. Read more>
Fleas and Dogs
By Dr. Ruth MacPete
Although fleas can be a year-round problem depending on where you live or whether they have settled inside your home, summer marks the peak of flea season. Get the facts about preventing, detecting and getting rid of these pesky parasites.  Read more>
Heartworm and Dogs
Reviewed By Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM
Mosquitoes can carry the Heartworm parasite, a dangerous and common parasite that can affect your dog's heart and other organs. Get the facts on Heartworm prevalence, screening and prevention to keep your pup safe.  Read more>
Dogs and Ticks
Reviewed By Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM
Ticks are more than just creepy; they can spread a number of different diseases that affect both pets and people. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, tularemia, and babesia. So what can you do to protect your pets and your family from tick-borne diseases?  Read more>
Cats and Parasites
Reviewed By Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM
Are you a proud cat parent as well? Don't forget that kitties need protection against many of the same parasites as dogs.  Read more>

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pet Owner Alert!


Since Monday, we have seen 2 rattlesnake bites, heard about 3 more and have treated 2 cases of rat poison ingestion.

Please, please, please take care when hiking with your dogs!  Keep them on leash at all times and watch the path before you.

Please, please, please make sure that any rat poison is up and away from where your pets may get into it!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The dangers of rat poison to dogs and cats

Dr. Justine Lee, DVM, DAVCECC, DABT

Posted May 04, 2012 in Pet Health
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Dr. Justine Lee explains the dangers of active ingredients in rat and mouse poisons. For more from Dr. Lee, find her on Facebook!
As the weather gets colder, mice and rats start seeking shelter in warm locations… in other words, your house! Unfortunately, the start of autumn means the start of mouse and rat poisoning, putting your dog or cat at risk.
In today’s blog, we’ll talk about the 4 different types of active ingredients found in these mouse and rat poisons. These poisons all work (and kill) in different ways, so pay heed!
While the most common type of mouse poison (e.g., brodifacoum, bromadiolone, etc.) often affects your dog’s ability to clot properly, new EPA mandates by the government are reducing the availability of this specific type of poison (called an anticoagulant rodenticide or “ACR”). Unfortunately, this means that newer, different types of poisons are cropping up. Not even all veterinarians are aware of these newer active ingredients!
Depending on what type of mouse and rat poison was ingested, clinical signs can vary. When in doubt, please don’t use these poisons around your house if you have pets. I’m never an advocate of using these types of poisons, as they pose a threat to wildlife, pets, and birds of prey (e.g., raptors like red-tail hawks, owls, etc.). I’d rather you use the more human snap trap – much safer to you and your pet!
Anticoagulant rodenticides (ACR)
These ACRs inhibit the production of Vitamin-K dependent blood clotting factors (made in the liver), so when ingested in toxic amounts by dogs or cats, it can result internal bleeding. Thankfully, there’s an antidote for this type of mouse and rat poison: Vitamin K1, a prescription medication readily available at your veterinarian. With ACR poisoning, clinical signs don’t take affect for 3-5 days. However, left untreated, ACR poisoning can be fatal. Signs to look out for include:
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pale gums
  • Coughing (especially of blood)
  • Vomiting (with blood)
  • Bloody nose
  • Swelling or bumps on the skin (e.g., hematomas)
  • Collapse
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Death
Treatment includes decontamination, Vitamin K1 orally (typically for 30 days), blood transfusions, plasma transfusions, oxygen, and supportive care.
Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)
As an emergency critical care veterinary specialist, this is my most hated type of poisoning. Only a small amount can result in severe poisoning in both dogs and cats. This type of mouse and rat poison results in an increased amount of calcium in the body, leading to kidney failure.  Unfortunately, this type has no antidote, and is very expensive to treat, as pets typically need to be hospitalized for 3-7 days on aggressive therapy. Clinical signs include:
  • Inappetance/anorexia
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Decreased or increased thirst/urination
  • Halitosis
  • Kidney failure
  • Tremors
  • Weight loss
  • Death
Treatment includes aggressive IV fluids to flush the calcium and kidney poisons out, medications to help decrease the body’s calcium level (e.g., pamidronate, calcitonin, steroids, diuretics), and frequent blood work monitoring.
While this type of mouse and rat poison sounds like some ACR types (e.g., bromadiolone, brodifacoum), it’s totally unrelated to clotting and is not treated with Vitamin K. This is a mouse and rat poison doesn’t have an antidote, and works causing brain swelling (e.g., cerebral edema). Clinical signs include:
  • Lethargy or anxiety
  • Walking drunk
  • Vomiting
  • Tremoring
  • Seizuring
  • Coma
  • Death
Treatment includes inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal, IV fluids, anti-seizure medication, muscle relaxants, and supportive care.
While this type of poison is less common, you should care, as it’s potentially poisonous to you, your family, and your veterinary staff! Phosphides are typically used to kill slightly bigger creatures like moles and gophers (and is less commonly used as an active ingredient in mouse or rat poisons).  When ingested, the phosphides product a toxic gas in the stomach called phosphine gas.  Clinical signs include:
  • Drooling
  • Bloat
  • Gastric-dilatation volvulus
  • Inappetance
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Death
Treatment includes not feeding your dog (no milk, bread or other “anti-poison home remedies”). That’s because if there’s food in the stomach, it actually makes the poisoning worse and results in more phosphine gas production. This same gas is poisonous to humans too, so make sure you don’t inhale the gas. In other words, if you’re driving to your veterinary clinic and your dog vomits at home or in the car, make sure to ventilate the area well (e.g., open the windows, turn on the air conditioner in the car, etc.). Likewise, when the veterinary staff induces vomiting in dogs ingesting phosphides, they should do so outside or in a well-ventilated area. Treatment includes anti-vomiting medication, antacids, IV fluids, and supportive care.
If you’re not scared off by mouse and rat poisons now, your dog’s in trouble! When in doubt, keep all mouse and rat poisons out of reach of your family, children, and pets. If accidentally ingested, contact your veterinarian immediately to find out how to treat it. With aggressive treatment, the prognosis is fair to excellent, depending on what type of poison they got into. As with most poisons, the sooner you identify the poisoning, the sooner you treat it, the less problems for your pet (and the less cost to you!).
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Happy 7th Birthday, Frankie!!!

Keep Your Pets Safe This St. Patrick's Day!

Thanks to Dr. Jason Nicholas with The Preventive Vet for providing us with these helpful tips.
  • First, keep all party fare away from Fido and Fluffy. The food and alcohol humans typically enjoy on this day is very unlucky for your pet.
  • Typical St. Patrick’s Day fare – especially corned beef - is high in salt, which can inflict gastrointestinal distress (such as vomiting and diarrhea) to neurologic issues, ranging from depression and possible seizure.
  • Alcohol is even worse. It doesn’t take much to a dog or cat to get alcohol poisoning, since they’re so much smaller than us. Keep alcohol away from your pets at all cost.
  • If you’re throwing a party, make sure your pet has a “safe room,” away from the crowd.
  • I can’t believe I’m about to write this but if you’re going to dye your pet’s fur, be sure you use a pet-safe or pet-specific hair coloring.
  • If you’re putting a costume on your pet, be sure it fits properly and it doesn’t obscure vision or breathing. Also make sure there aren’t any small costume pieces that Fluffy or Fido can nibble on.
  • Finally, watch out for drunk drivers. Make sure your pet wears a light-up or reflective collar. Make sure your dog is on a leash and your cat stays indoors.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dog Breath is not a joke

Bad breath in pets, particularly dogs, is often joked about, but it is not a laughing matter. Dental disease affects up to 80% of pets over the age of three, and just like humans, there can be serious consequences of poor dental health.
How many teeth do dogs and cats have, anyway?
Dogs start out with 28 deciduous (baby) teeth, cats start out with 26 deciduous teeth. By six months of age, these baby teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth, 42 in the dog and 30 in the cat.
Will I find the deciduous teeth, and what happens when they don't fall out on their own?
You may or may not find the teeth as they fall out. As dogs play and chew on toys, you might see a tooth. Likewise, as a cat grooms, you may find a tooth in the fur. If the deciduous teeth don't fall out and the permanent teeth erupt under them, this can lead to problems, such as increased tartar formation, malocclusion problems, and gingival (gum) irritation.
When should dental care start with my pet?
The earlier the better. With the help of your Veterinarian, be on the lookout for retained deciduous teeth and malocclusion (bad bite) problems. Your Veterinarian can teach you how to care for your pet's teeth and gums early on.
How can I tell if my pet has dental problem?
Bad breath is often a first indicator of dental disease. Gently lift the lips and check for tartar, inflamed gums, or missing/broken teeth. Cats may exhibit increased drooling. Both cats and dogs can exhibit reluctance to eat or play with toys, "chattering" of the teeth when trying to eat, lethargy, bleeding gums, eroded teeth, and failing to groom (cats). Dental disease progresses in stages -- if caught early, you can prevent further damage and save as many teeth as possible.
How is the rest of the body affected by bad teeth?
Infected gums and teeth aren't just a problem in the mouth -- the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract, and joints may also be infected. The tartar and any infected areas of the mouth contain a multitude of bacteria than can 'seed' to other parts of the body. With regular dental care, you can prevent some of these more serious side effects.
Where should I start?
With a new puppy or kitten, talk to your Veterinarian at the vaccination appointments on how to initiate a good dental care program at home. Most Veterinarians are happy to provide brushing lessons, and many carry brushes and toothpaste specifically for dogs and cats. (NOTE: do not use human toothpaste on your pet!)
If your pet is an adult over 3 years of age, it would be wise to schedule a dental check up with your Veterinarian. If a dental cleaning is necessary, it is advisable to do pre-anesthesia blood work to make sure your pet does not have any underlying problems.
My pet needs a dental cleaning -- what is involved with that?
As mentioned above, pre-dental blood work is recommended. This is a check on the overall health of the pet to make sure that liver, kidneys, and blood counts are within normal ranges and to reduce any risks possible prior to the anesthesia. Many pets with bad teeth will be put on an antibiotic a few days prior to the dental to calm the infection and reduce possibility of complications.
Your pet will be fasted from the evening before for the anesthesia. The dental itself is similar to a human dental cleaning - tartar removal, checking for cavities, gingival (gum) pockets, loose teeth, any growths on the gums or palate, removal of diseased teeth, and finally, polishing. The polishing is to smooth the tooth after tartar removal, as the tartar pits the tooth. A smooth tooth will not encourage tartar formation as easily as a roughened tooth. Click here for a photo essay on a dental cleaning in a cat.
With good dental care, your pet can enjoy a long and healthy life.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Want to save money on your veterinary bills?

​​During Pet Dental Health Month, the AVMA reminds pet owners that preventive dental care is always less expensive than oral catastrophes 

(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) January 30, 2013—It’s an integral part of your morning routine. Still half asleep, you step up to your bathroom sink and pick up your toothbrush. Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t make it a habit of providing good dental hygiene for their pets, too. Pet Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), is reminding pet owners that brushing their pet’s teeth can result in long-term savings.
"Good pet owners are concerned about their pets’ health and are careful to keep their vaccinations up to date, but may forget about the importance of oral health. Great owners know that this is a big mistake, as periodontal disease is the most common health problem that veterinarians find in pets,” explains Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of the AVMA. “Dental health problems are extremely common, and many are very painful and can lead to serious systemic conditions. I remind pet owners that an untreated dental infection can spread to the heart, kidneys and other organs, and suddenly become life threatening. Practicing good dental hygiene at home in addition to regular cleanings by your veterinarian is the most efficient and cost-effective way to extend your pet’s life, while keeping them comfortable and pain-free.”
 “Correcting dental health problems can be expensive. If your veterinarian diagnoses your pet with tooth or gum disease, they may recommend that your pet’s teeth be professionally cleaned, x-rays may be called for, and it’s possible that a tooth or even multiple teeth may need to be extracted,” explains Dr. Brook A. Niemiec, a board certified veterinary dentist and president of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry.  “Unfortunately, only about 1 percent of pet owners brush their pet’s teeth. Not only do more pet owners need to brush their pet’s teeth, but they should also use chew toys, treats and rawhides to help keep their pet’s teeth clean. There are a number of inexpensive and highly effective products available that can help keep your pet’s teeth clean between professional cleanings. If you have questions about the right products to use, consult your veterinarian.” 
A list of Veterinary Oral Health Council approved products is available
While regular dental checkups are essential to help maintain your pet’s dental health, there are a number of signs that dental disease has already started. If you notice any of the symptoms below, take your pet into your veterinarian as soon as possible:
*Bad breath—Most pets have breath that is less than fresh, but if it becomes truly repugnant, that’s a sign that periodontal disease has already started.
*Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth.
*Reluctance to eat hard foods.
*Red swollen gums and brownish teeth.