Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hot Weather & Summertime Activities Safety Tips

We have gathered all of our hot weather tips from previous posts and made one handy list. We cover how to keep your pet cool, heatstroke symptoms, pool parties, hiking, camping and even how to keep your pocket pets cool! This is an indispensable resource for protecting your pets when its is hot outside!
General Guidelines
  • If possible, keep your pets indoors with the shades drawn and the air conditioning or an oscillating fan on.
  • If your pet has to stay outside make sure they have access to cool and shaded areas.The best option is to keep your pets indoors during the heat of the day.
  • Whether they are indoors or outside, make sure your pet has access to plenty of cool, fresh water. You can even try putting ice cubes in their bowls to keep the water extra cool.
  • Keep long, thick fur trimmed in a lightweight summer cut.
  • Only take your dog on a walk early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperature is cooler. Not only can exercise in extreme heat cause heat stoke but the hot asphalt can burn sensitive paw pads.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise or play in general in the hot weather; don't go on long hikes or lengthy walks.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:
  • Excessive panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate
  • Drooling
  • Weakness, stupor, and possible collapse
  • Seizures
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting

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!  Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes. The result can be devastating for your pet. 

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.

Tips for Keeping Pocket Pets Cool 
  • Place a large, ceramic tile in the freezer overnight, then place inside the pet's cage. Make sure to cover the sharp edges so your pet won't get cut. You can purchase tiles at most hardware stores for fairly cheap.
  • Make sure they have access to full, fresh water bottles.
  • Place a cold, damp (not soaking wet) towel in one part of their cage, insuring your pet still has warm, dry spots in their habitat. You can also drape the towel on the outside of the cage, over one side to create a cool, shaded shelter.
  • Keep their cages indoors and out of direct sunlight.
  • Place frozen water bottles wrapped in towels in their cage for pets to lean against. Secure them so they do not have the chance to roll over.
  • Use an oscillating fan near their cage. This way the fan is not constantly blowing directly on your pocket pet but is still providing cool air flow.
  • Feed them frozen fruit and refrigerated veggies.
  • Mist rabbit ears lightly with water to help them regulate their temperature.
  • The House Rabbit Society has an informative page on rabbits and heat exhaustion with useful tips that can be applied towards other pocket pets as well. 

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.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Kitty Corner: Cat Carriers

Ernie and Zim: Trying to look innocent!
“Ernie was having some major aggression issues with his carrier..."
Do have trouble getting your kitty into his carrier? It often requires planning ahead of time, subterfuge, sneakiness, fast reflexes, and other daring deeds. After it's all over both the pet owner and the cat are an emotional wreck! 

For all the challenges of getting kitty in the carrier it really is for the best.  A cat safely in her carrier is protected in case of a car accident. And a carrier prevents your cat from escaping or being harmed by other pets once you are at the vet office. 

Helping your cat get used to the carrier will reduce the stress involved for both you and your cat. Plus, if there is ever an emergency - whether it is a medical  emergency or a fire or you need to leave in a hurry - being able to easily get your cat into his carrier can make all the difference.

One way you can help kitty get used to the carrier is to leave it 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!

Deanna, one of our veterinary technicians, was having a difficult time with her cat Ernie. She used this tip to address the issue with great success! 

"Ernie was having some major aggression issues with his carrier so I left it out in my room for a few days with his favorite blanket inside. Now he treats it like his little castle and goes in and out without being nervous. He plays in it and lets Zim crawl inside with him!"

Here is Ernie, hanging out in his castle!
What has helped your cat get used to trips to the vet?  Email your suggestions, tips, and questions to, subject line: Kitty Corner!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Star: An Island Rescue Story by Meghan and Patrick

Riley and Star
In May my boyfriend and I took a trip to Nicaragua where we saw abandoned and malnourished stray dogs everywhere.  It was overwhelming to see this number of street dogs. We wanted to pack them up and take them home.  By the end of our trip we were on a small Caribbean Island called Little Corn; staying in beach bungalows run by a couple from Fort Collins, Colorado.  On our first night we met Star, an extremely abused yet loving island dog.  She had open wounds covering her entire neck which we found out later came from her owner hanging her by lobster rope - a thick, coarse fishing rope.  Immediately we wanted to give her a better life, so for the next week we planned how to take her back with us to California.  

Star riding in the car
To make a long story short, Star’s escape off the island included a wheelbarrow and boat ride in a small covered crate to keep her concealed, a taxi ride and then a short trip in a 12-seat airplane.  This all took place on her first day off the island that had no cars and a population of 1,000.  When we arrived in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, we spent five stressful hours running around obtaining her paperwork, getting her shots, getting her airplane crate and getting her ready for her flight the next morning.  After spending the night on the floor in the airport, we put Star on the plane headed for San Francisco.  After a layover in Houston, she arrived  later that night ready to start her new life.

Five days after seeing her first car, having her first plane ride and receiving her first toy, Star was adopted by our family friends Gianni and Melanie.  Star now has a loving family, a big brother named Riley, a lab mix 3 times her size, and a little sister named Abby, a cocker spaniel.  She is so happy to be living in Danville with her new family who love her so much.  Her wounds have healed and her life of abuse is forever behind her.

Meghan and Patrick

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Four "W's" of Puppy Weaning by Dr. Janice Cain DVM, Diplomate, ACVIM

WHO is weaning the puppies? 
It is up to the breeder to determine when it is an appropriate time to initiate the weaning process as some mothers may continue to nurse until the puppies go to their new homes.  All breeders will likely have their own recipe for success when it comes to weaning a litter of pups. Still, I get a lot of questions and I'm often surprised to find that even the most experienced breeders can be frustrated with the weaning process. For those that are new to breeding or raising a litter, the best overall advice I can give is to have a good mentor in the breed. A relationship with a mentor will provide an excellent opportunity to learn and develop your own skills and techniques for success!

WHY do we wean the puppies?

We do this to augment the correct growth and development of the pups, and to also lessen the stress on the dam. This is very helpful to allow the dam to start her recovery. Some dams will continue to nurse until the pups leave for their new homes. This is not necessary and will delay the dam's "drying up". You may have to physically separate them at some point to stop her milk production.

WHEN do we begin the process?

We typically start the introduction of semi-solid food at 3 to 4 weeks of age. Starting at this time will enable a nice smooth transition from the dam's milk and ensure adequate nutrition during the rapid growth process. Starting at this age will also lessen the stress on the dam; producing milk is a huge metabolic burden and the larger the litter  the more the bitch could use some help! On the other hand, if you have a small litter and the pups are overly chubby, you can start solid foods that are lower in calories than the mother's milk and perhaps slow down the growing a bit. Consider the first week a transition week while the pups will still nurse often. By 4 to 5 weeks of age, the nursing should decrease and most pups can be weaned from the dam by 5 to 6 weeks entirely.

WHAT to use for weaning?
This can be a controversial topic as many breeders have varying opinions on what to use when weaning puppies. Some breeders will use a transition diet of either human-baby rice cereal mixed with either a canine milk replacer (such as Esbilac®) or goat's milk. If the pups are overweight, use water to cut down the caloric intake. We've recently heard some good reports about the Esbilac® second stage product as part of a transition diet. After a few days of the rice cereal mush, breeders will gradually add in ground kibble soaked in water or milk replacer to also make it mushy. Many breeders will go directly to kibble and skip the rice cereal stage. I have not seen a difference with the final outcome of these two regimens. To use kibble directly, some will grind it in a food processor. Whether you grind the kibble or not, it needs to be soaked in water or milk replacer for about 45 minutes until it has absorbed the moisture and is quite mushy. Then spread this in a flat dish (a pie tin works well) and let the pups at it. They will make a mess and it will be everywhere, but they do figure out how to eat! Next question is what kibble to use? At this age, we want a growth formula/puppy food - but not the ones considered "large breed" as these are protein restricted. You will have to use your judgment regarding how fast the pups are growing - if they get too fat, feed less and/or use the protein/calorie restricted foods. I always advise to stay within the line of dog food that you will use as they continue to grow; people have their favorite brands for a variety of reasons. Some breeders prefer grain-free diets if their breed is prone to allergies. As the pups grow, the soaking of the kibble can lessen as they will be able to eat dry food by 6 to 8 weeks of age. Some breeders like to mix in a bit of canned food as well, which is fine. By 8 to 10 weeks of age, when they are ready to go to their new homes, the pups should be on dry kibble three times per day. At this point, they can also transition to a restricted growth puppy food to encourage a slow, steady growth curve to allow them to reach their full growth potential without getting there too quickly.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Help Find Cleo a Home

We would like you to meet a very sweet 10-month old kitty named Cleo. Her foster family can no longer take care of her and needs to find her a loving, forever home. Currently she is staying with her friends at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care but she has an appointment with the SPCA on Saturday, September 8th.  If she meets the SPCA's criteria they will take her in and place her up for adoption. While the SPCA is a wonderful, no-kill organization we would like to try and help find Cleo a home before Saturday. The SPCA has a lot of kitties who need homes and Cleo might have to wait awhile before she is adopted.

You can read about the charming Miss Cleo below. She is a truly sweet cat; very shy and scared at first but you can tell she is a total love bug.  We have included some video of her playing as well. 

Please do not contact Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care directly about Cleo. If you are interested in learning more or arranging a meeting you can call Leslie at 925.323.9676 or email her at

Cleo's Bio

Hi my name is Cleo, short for Cleopatra.  I was rescued in February from an oil refinery.  I was approximately 3 months old and was being fed by some very nice workers.  In February the company decided to trap all the feral cats and that was how I was saved.

I have been living with my foster family since I was rescued.  They have taken very good care of me.  I am unable to stay with them so I am looking for my forever home.

Here are some of my special qualities.

·        I am approximately 10 months old
·        I get along with dogs
·        I have been spayed and tested and in perfect health
·        I love to be around people (once I get to know you)
·        I DO NOT use furniture as a scratching post
·        I will kiss you on the lips when you put your lips near mine and say kiss, kiss
·        I shed very little.  Hard to believe but so far I part with very little of my fur
·        I love to talk to you
·        I love to play with my mousey and chase things around
·        I can play by myself but prefer to play with you
·        I do not bite or scratch unless provoked (I am still a kitten)
·        I am an indoor cat.  I really don’t want to go outside.  

Here is a fun video of me being my playful, kitty self!

If you adopt me I do have a few belongings.  I do have my nice litter box, a new cat tree, a few toys and a sleeping bag.  I also come with a bag of food and litter. 

I would love to go home with you! 
I would love to go home with you.  If you have any questions you can call my mommy Leslie at 925.323.9676 or email her at