Friday, August 31, 2012

We're Open on Labor Day! Plus Summer Holiday Pet Tips

Summer time is coming to an end. While the official last day of summer isn't for another few weeks, Labor Day weekend certainly feels like the last hurrah of the long, lazy days in the sun. 

We wish all of our clients and their pets a safe and wonderful holiday weekend! As a reminder - we are here if you need us. We will be open on Labor Day, Monday, September 3rd from 8am to 8pm.

Keep reading for some summer time pet safety tips for warm weather, pools, barbecues, hiking, camping and more! 
Summer Holiday Pet Tips:

Warm Weather

Make sure your pets have access to plenty of fresh, cool water at all times. If the days are warm it is important to provide them with shade and shelter from the heat.  The best option is to keep your pets indoors during the heat of the day. Access to fresh water is important whether they are indoors or outside. Try taking your dog on a walk early in the day or at sunset when the temperature is cooler. Dogs can burn the pads of their feet on the hot concrete and can suffer from heat stroke, which is a veterinary emergency. See our document Hot Weather Tips: A Guide to Keeping Your Pet Cool.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:
Excessive panting
Difficulty breathing
Increased heart and respiratory rate
Weakness, stupor, and possible collapse
Bloody diarrhea
Flat nosed breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Persians are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. Other pets at high risk include the elderly, overweight pets, and pets with heart or lung disease. If you think your pet may be suffering from heat stroke, get them to a vet immediately. In the interim you can try to cool them off by dousing them with cool (but not COLD water) especially on the groin, arm pits, and paws. You do not want to soak them completely with cold water. This can cause shock and can also cause the blood vessels to constrict, thereby trapping heat inside the body. 

Never leave your pet unattended in the car. The result can be devastating for your pet; even with the windows slightly cracked. Remember that it is against the law in California to "confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health...of an animal due to heat...lack of adequate ventilation…or other circumstances that expected to cause suffering...or death to the animal." If you come across this situation contact the police right away or Contra Costa Animal Control at 925-335-8300 and select option #1.

Pool Parties & Barbecues

Do not leave your pet unsupervised by the pool or any other bodies of water. Even swim savvy pets can get tired and struggle to keep afloat. Better yet - get your dog a special life jacket!

Avoid feeding your pet any human foods or scraps from the grill. Bones pose many dangers, including chocking and intestinal obstruction. Fatty, sugary, and greasy food can cause pancreatitis.  This is a serious illness that often requires hospitalization. Keep alcohol out of reach. Alcohol is poisonous to pets and can cause severe stomach upset. Be especially aware of the grease trap on your grill - dogs love to lick it clean. Make sure you clean it out before they do! 

Make sure your pet has a safe and secure room. This is especially important if you are having a party. This room should be off-limits to guests. Set it up so that it is quiet and escape proof with plenty of fresh water. Place their favorite things in the room such as toys and a bed. If the safe room is for a cat, make sure to place a litter box in the room. This should be a place for your pet to feel secure when things get noisy as the night goes on. Some people like to leave a TV or radio on to help counter act loud party noises or to provide familiar sounds for your pet if you are away.

If you are having guests over, remember to inform them that you have pets and to keep all doors and gates closed at all times. Make sure your pet has a collar with a current idea and is micropchipped! It is not uncommon for indoor kitties and dogs to be accidentally let out the door or gate when people have guests over for back yard cook outs. Current collars and a microchip give you that extra layer of protection and ups the odds of a missing pet returning to your loving arms. A microchip placement is a quick and easy procedure done with a technician - call us today to schedule!

Outdoor Activities, Camping, & Hiking

Make sure your dog is in good health before going on a camping or hiking trip. It is a good idea to bring a copy of your pet's medical records when you go camping in case of any accidents. It will also be helpful to have on hand to put other campers at ease with proof that your dog is up to date on all their vaccines. Protect your pet by applying flea and tick preventative prior to leaving for your trip to avoid infestation.  Always make sure your pet has a current ID tag and collar on, as well as a registered microchip. Don’t forget to pack plastic baggies for bathroom breaks, portable water bowls, and a pet first aid kit.
Every day in the summer we remove foxtails, a weed rampant in California with seeds that look like a fox's tail. The tip of each seed has barbs, allowing it to move only deeper into your pet's eyes, ears, nose, feet, genitals, and coat. Foxtails cause a lot of discomfort to dogs and cats and can even migrate internally, potentially causing organ damage and severe illness. Check your dog's feet and coat for foxtails after a hike. If you think your dog or cat has a foxtail that you cannot remove at home, take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible to reduce the risk of the foxtail migrating deeper.

Have a safe and wonderful summer with your family, friends, and pets! And remember - we're here when you need us. If you have any questions, concerns, or need to schedule an appointment, please call us at 925.866.8387.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ask the Vet: My Cat Does Strange Things by Kristel Weaver, DVM, MPVM

Who needs television when you have a cat? They are as unique as we are and endlessly entertaining. Some of the strange behaviors we see in our domestic cats are related to wild felid behaviors.

My cat plays fetch with pompom balls.  Isn't this behavior typical of dogs, not cats?
Cats love to pretend to hunt small furry items and young cats are especially playful.  In the wild, a mother cat brings food home to her kittens, so retrieving is also instinctual. Not all cats play fetch, but if your cat has figured out this game of hunting and retrieving it’s a great way for her to play and exercise.

Why does my cat suddenly start racing from room to room at night?
Cats are hunters and have bursts of energy to catch their food. Indoor cats have an abundance of energy after napping all day and expend it by zipping around, hunting imaginary things or chasing shadows. Cats in the wild are nocturnal so this behavior is most often seen at night. Some cats also do it after using their litter box.

Why does my cat suckle on my wool blanket?
Kittens knead and suckle on their mother when nursing to stimulate lactation. You can imagine this is a very pleasant experience. Many cats retain these behaviors and continue to knead or suckle when they are content. Some cats also knead or suckle to self-soothe.
What is my cat doing when he rubs his face on me?
When a cat rubs his face on you he or she is marking you as part of his territory. As they rub their face on you they leave trace amounts of (harmless) chemicals called pheromones. Pheromones are produced by scent glands located on their face, tail and feet. Other methods of marking are scratching, spraying urine or deliberately placing their feces. If you own a cat, you know that it is actually the cat that owns you.

Why does my cat eat weird things?
I’ve had several clients tell me that their cat chews adhesive materials, plastic, or ribbon among other things. Perhaps they find the texture or smell appealing.  Perhaps it feels like chewing on parts of their prey. Or perhaps there is something missing in their diet. Ingesting large chunks of material can lead to an intestinal blockage. Ribbon is extremely concerning because it's life threatening if it gets caught in the stomach and cuts through the intestinal walls. Keep your cats safe and put away whatever they might fancy eating.

Hopefully this sheds some light on the wacky kitty behaviors going on in your household.  Cats definitely have some very mysterious behavior, but let’s face it – that’s part of why we love them so much!

Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master’s of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM).  She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007.  She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their daughter, Hayley.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lucy Needs a Home!

Help me find a home!
We received an email from our client Janet this week asking for help. Her family has rescued a dog and they need to find her a good home. Lucy is a boxer and the story of her rescue is an example of what caring and loving clients we have. Below is Janet's email to us as well as what kind of home they are looking for for Lucy, photos, and contact information.  Please read Lucy's story and help us find her a home!

Here is her story....

Four weeks ago, she was dumped at a local park near our house in the middle of the night.  The neighbor saw her the next morning and tried to catch her. They lured her with food, treats, etc. She would come close but then run away. Animal control became involved and also tried, unsuccessfully, to catch her. That was 4 weeks ago. She evaded capture for more than 3 weeks.  She lived in the park and adjacent field. She made a den in some brush under an oak tree. Neighbors left food, water, and chew toys for her. She survived a week of 90+ degree heat. Getting skinnier and starting to limp, Pieter sprung into action. Tired, sore and weak, she finally gave in to Pieter and he was able to get a leash on her. It took about 3 hours of sitting in the brush at night, slowly inching closer to her to get her - but he did and she didn't resist. As he emerged from the field with her on a leash, the local neighbors cheered as they had also been watching her plight and feeling sad she was still loose.

Fast forward 4 days. She is now with us and we have gotten to know her well.

She is very afraid of people at first and cowers but settles in pretty quickly. It appears she has been treated poorly in the past. She has become very cuddly and attached to all of us at home. She is sweet and mellow. She is gentle and will take food by hand by licking and does not get agitated if we encroach on her food bowl while eating. She whines to come in the house and just wants to be next to us, sleeping at our feet. Yesterday, she started wagging her tail, carrying her food dish around and almost being playful. 

I'm a little camera shy
We took her to the East County shelter to report her as lost. She does not have a microchip. She rode in the car fine, walked on a leash into the shelter fine and shied away from people but has not acted out. We did not want to leave her there, as it would stress her out and she has made such great progress in a few days. But, we cannot keep her much longer.

We then took her to Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care (the vet we use for our myriad of animals). They said she is a boxer, has a great temperament and should not be hard to find a home for. She recently had a litter of puppies and at some point needs to be spayed. She is otherwise a young (about a year), healthy dog. They treated her with flea/tick. She has a few areas of rash on her face and feet, which are wear and tear from her road trip. Her foot burns are healing well and she no longer limps.

So - we really need to find a good place for her - either a new foster or permanent home.   

So glad to have regular meals!
She is currently at my mom's house (also here in Pleasanton). We shuffled dogs around, so she is alone with an adult. Bear hugs from my kids were too much to expect from her.  She is being crated at night and loose in the day in the house and yard. She appears to be house broken, but does not know much else. She has learned to come and sit. She is very active with her paws, asking for attention, etc. She was afraid of the dog bed and would only lie on the hard floor - but has now learned that dog beds are good.

We have little kids, a bunny, chickens, an elderly special needs dog, etc. and I don't think this is the best place for her. Our house is loud and busy. Someday, it might work for her, but for now it just adds to her stress. She has been indifferent to the kids and chickens, barks at the bunny and has growled at our old dog. It seems that a house with adults and older kids would be best. She will need a lot of TLC at first. I am not sure how she will do with other dogs.

Any help would be much appreciated. I have attached a few photos. She is afraid of the camera and puts her ears back, but when relaxed, they look much cuter :)

We would really like to make a move in the next week. 
A potential family should be gentle and kind and especially patient. They should have previous experience with dogs and understand a scared dog.  They would need to allow her inside and also they would need to be home much of the time.  A quiet household…either in the country or city.

Will you be my new family?
If you are interested in learning more about Lucy and potentially making her a part of your family please contact Janet via email at: We ask that you do not call the hospital regarding Lucy since our staff will be unable to assist you. Please restrict all inquiries to email.  


Lucy has found her new forever home! Thank you so much for everyone's interest and help!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Pet Tip: Going to the Vet

Okay, we can go to the vet's . . . but only if I drive!
Here are a couple of tips to help your dog or cat get used to going to the vet. We'll start with the dogs and then move on to the cats! 

I binged on treats this week.
You can help ease your dog's anxiety about visiting the vet office by making frequent visits that aren't medically related. For example, stopping by to walk around the area, say hello to staff, and then reward your dog with a treat before you leave. Another great idea is to stop by and weigh your dog on our scale. Remember to reward them each trip. Short frequent trips where nothing "bad" happens and with lots of positive reinforcement can really make the difference!  It's the most effective when you start this practice with puppies.
You can't make me go!
See, it's not so bad!
With cats, it is a little bit trickier since they tend to be more stressed out by car rides than their canine counterparts. One idea is to just leave the carrier open and out in the house for your cat to explore on their own. Put a soft blanket, some catnip, and treats in the carrier to help entice them inside. You can even leave the carrier out all the time to really downgrade its kitty cat threat level.  This may help your feline friend start to see the carrier as a safe place as opposed to a reason for them to run and hide!

What has helped your dog or cat get used to trips to the vet? Please share your suggestions with us in the comments - we would love to hear!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lisa Hermes Pet Photo Casting Call!

We often receive compliments on the stunning pet photographs we have decorating the walls of our hospital. They are the work of talented local photographer Lisa Hermes. She is currently holding a casting call for fresh canine faces of any breed to feature in her photographs! Do you think your dog has what it takes?! Winners will receive a free custom photo session, two free high resolution images, and your dog's photo may be featured on the wall at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center. Visit her web page at for specifics about how to enter and further details regarding the rules of the casting call. The initial deadline is October 31st. Feel free to share your submission by posting on our Facebook page!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lives Saved: Lightening Hendricks

Name: Lightening Hendricks
Breed: Desert Tortoise
Age: Over 60 years old
Diagnosis: Trauma to legs and abdomen 

Having a pet in the family for over 50 years seems nearly impossible, but the Hendricks estimate that Lightening, their not-so-speedy California Desert Tortoise, is probably over 60 years old. She has lived in their yard for, literally, decades. In September of 2009 they found her not moving, with large gaping wounds in front of both of her rear legs. The wounds were deep, all the way through the skin, perhaps entering the belly, and filled with debris and maggots.The Hendricks brought her to Dr. Ikezawa at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care.

Lightening was understandably painful and ill, not moving much and losing interest in eating. While it is not known for sure what caused Lightening's wound there is a high probability that they were caused by a raccoon. She was sedated and her wounds were cleaned aggressively. Tortoises are slow to heal and she would require daily treatment in order to give her a chance at survival. The Hendricks decided to move forward full force with Lightening's care. She was hospitalized for two weeks with daily wound care, antibiotics, and force feedings, when finally the wounds looked clean enough to try to surgically close them. Under anesthesia, the wounds were surgically closed and a feeding tube placed so that the Hendricks could continue to medicate and feed her at home. 

Lightening seemed to be recovering at home when it started to get cold outside and her instinct to brumate (reptile version of hibernate) took over. At the end of October, her wounds were still not healed, but the feeding tube needed to be removed and she needed to be allowed to brumate. The Hendricks kept their fingers crossed that their aggressive care before her brumation would allow her to wake up in the spring still healthy and healing. 

In March of 2010, Lightening “woke up” and started to eat on her own. A recheck revealed that the sutures could finally be removed. There were still small defects in the incision but they appeared to be healing without complication. The Hendricks still needed to clean the wounds and apply topical medication but it appeared Lightening would make a full recovery!

A final recheck in June 2010 has shown that Lightening has healed completely. The Hendricks are finally able to take a break from tending to her wounds, and are both happy and unhappy to report that she is healthy enough to be breaking into their garden and stealing green beans off their plants! While dogs may take weeks to heal, reptiles can take months or longer, but can recover from severe injuries given the proper care and time.