Pet Always Itchy? It May Be Atopy

atopic, allergiesIf your dog or cat has environmental allergies, chances are that you have heard the term “atopy.” Atopy is one of the most common causes of chronic itching in pets, and refers to animals that have a genetic predisposition for developing reactions to allergens in the environment such as dust, pollen, and molds. Continue…

How Do I Know When My Pet Needs Emergency Care?

veterinary emergenciesWe have all been there.  It is midnight on a Saturday and something is not quite right with yourself/your child/your pet.  But is it urgent enough to warrant emergency services or can it wait until Monday morning?  Pet emergency centers have staff on hand that can help you decide whether you need to bring your pet in and are happy to talk through the symptoms with you. If you are debating whether to phone your regular veterinarian or wait, here are handy guidelines:

  • Vomiting/diarrhea:  If these things occur more than once or are accompanied by blood or any signs of illness such as fever, lethargy, or anorexia, it is better to have your pet checked out.  Dehydration can occur quickly, especially in small or young animals.
  • Wounds:  Anything that is bleeding, has a discharge, or is deeper than a superficial scrape should be checked out immediately.  This includes punctures and burns.
  • Urine troubles:  Blood in the urine or difficulty/straining to urinate is an emergency that should be addressed as soon as possible.
  • Fever:  A rectal temperature that is greater than 103oF warrants investigation.
  • Not eating:  Anorexia that persists for greater than 24 hours should not be ignored.
  • Breathing problems:  A pet that is panting, coughing, or otherwise seems short of breath should be looked at immediately.
  • Eye troubles:  Any sign of an eye problem such as squinting, tearing, or redness should not wait, as eye issues can turn serious at the drop of a hat.
  • Sudden lameness:  Not putting weight on a limb or a new lameness can indicate a serious problem.
  • Trauma:  Don’t wait after a pet is hit by a car or falls.  Even if it seems fine, there may be internal injuries that don’t show up until it is too late.
  • Ingestion of a foreign body or toxin:  If you are not sure if it might be a problem, don’t hesitate to call and ask.
  • Seizures:  If it is your pet’s first seizure, it is having back-to-back seizures or seizures are lasting longer than 3 minutes, your pet should be seen.
  • Trouble delivering puppies/kittens:  If your pet has been in active labor for longer than an hour without progress or if it has been greater than 3 hours since the last baby was delivered, your pet may need help.
  • “Just not right”:  When in doubt, call.  Signs of a problem can include (but are not limited to) a bloated abdomen, collapsing, weakness or lethargy, pale gums, pain, or a change in behavior.

Long story short, if your pet is experiencing a symptom on this list or you’re very concerned, don’t hesitate to call us!  We are here to help you when you need it most, and are happy to answer your questions and take care of your pet whenever needed.  If there is no need for immediate treatment and you can monitor the problem at home or you can wait to see your regular veterinarian, we’ll let you know that. Sometimes, though, seemingly minor problems can become serious quickly, so please contact us if you are concerned about your pet’s health. We’re here for you 24 hours a day.

Have a Happy, Safe Holiday Season!

Oakland Veterinary Referral Service wishes you and your furry family a very happy, and above all safe, holiday season this year!  Don’t forget the following during your festivities this year:

  • Dangerous objects

Christmas trees, holiday decorations, and wrapped gifts can all be dangerous items that your pet is not used to having around.  Keep decorations and candles out of the reach of playful paws and wagging tails.  Decorative ribbons, string, and tinsel should also be kept away from pets.  Electrical cords can pose a danger as pets may chew on them or become tangled in them.  Before bringing any plants into your home, be sure to check the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants to avoid problems.

  • Hazardous treats

Food and goodies of all kinds abound this time of year!  Beware of treats containing chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, and the artificial sweetener xylitol.  Table scraps, particularly those that are fatty or rich, can cause stomach upset ranging from mild vomiting or diarrhea to severe pancreatitis.  Don’t forget about alcohol, either.  That punch or eggnog might be irresistible to your pet, but can cause serious problems upon ingestion.

  • Scary situations

Pets don’t always take to the holidays like humans do.  A houseful of noisy strangers can be a disturbing event for shyer animals.  Make sure that they have a quiet, safe place to “hide” away from the hub-bub.  It is also a good idea to make sure that all pets are wearing identification and/or are micro-chipped with your current contact information in case they slip out the door with Uncle Bob.

Ceva – Future Leader Dog for the Blind!

What’s better than a snuggly, happy puppy?  A snuggly, happy puppy with a job description that includes helping others!  Oakland Veterinary Referral Service’s very own Dr. Theresa DePorter has had the honor to help train a puppy named Ceva to become a Leader Dog for the blind.  Ceva earned her name from Ceva Animal Health, who has sponsored her care and training.

Dr. DePorter with Ceva at Leader Dog School

Dr. DePorter with Ceva at Leader Dog School

Dr. DePorter, along with an experienced Leader Dog trainer, took on the important task of
training Ceva to be the best guide dog possible.  Tremendous dedication was required as Dr. DePorter spent the first year of Ceva’s life exposing her to all sorts of situations and locations similar to what she will face on duty.  This has helped Ceva to build a foundation that will allow her to be comfortable and confident for her future owner.   Because a guide dog is expected to keep her owner safe in any range of situations, Dr. DePorter took Ceva many places throughout her training including restaurants, veterinary conferences, and even New York City!  This taught Ceva to be very good at ignoring distractions, even tasty ones!

In October, Ceva “graduated” to Leader Dog, where she will continue her training before being placed.  This is the equivalent of her heading off to college!  Dr. DePorter misses Ceva, but is very proud of her.  We are all excited for Ceva to continue on to help someone in need.  Feel free to follow Ceva along with us on her very own Facebook page!

Keeping a Pet-Safe Garden

dog and cat in a gardenIt’s that time of year again, when warmer temperatures and longer days make us head outdoors to spend more time in the fresh air and sunlight. If you happen to be a gardener, it’s probably also the time that you’re just itching to start digging in the dirt, and you may be deciding what flowers and veggies you may want to plant. It’s important to keep in mind that although gardening can be a very rewarding hobby, it can also be dangerous for our furry friends. Luckily, creating a pet-safe garden is not very difficult. We just need to take a few extra precautions to ensure that our yards and gardens are as safe as they are beautiful.

Avoid Poisonous Plants

The most obvious way to create a pet-safe garden is to choose the right plants. Not all pet owners realize that a great many garden plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Popular varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, oleander, foxglove, lily of the valley, sago palm, tulip and daffodil all fall into this category. Pets that eat these poisonous plants can experience everything from an upset stomach and diarrhea, to seizures and liver failure. Be sure to  check the ASPCA’s comprehensive list of toxic plants before deciding which plants will make it into your garden.

While not toxic, it’s also a good idea to avoid trees, shrubs and plants that are likely to cause allergies. Many of the same plants that cause allergies in humans will affect your pet as well. Look for pollen-free plant species whenever possible. If you do select a plant with a high allergy potential, avoid planting it under windows that you’ll have open during the summer.  If you already have one of these trees or hedges in your yard, keep it heavily sheared so it will flower less.

Choose Your Mulch Carefully

Many gardeners use cocoa bean mulch—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. It has an attractive odor and color that make it a popular choice, but cocoa mulch can pose serious problems for your dog. To be safe, opt for shredded pine, cedar, or hemlock bark instead. Also try to avoid mulch that has been treated with weed inhibitor or insect repellent.

Rethink Toxic Chemicals

Try to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or weed killers in your yard and garden. These pose a danger to dogs and cats because anything picked up on their paws could be licked off later. There are plenty of organic, earth-friendly products available as an alternative that are safe for both pets and humans. Ask your local gardening center for recommendations and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Insecticides are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren’t safe for our furry friends. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton and most forms of rat poisons. Again, a conversation at your gardening center may be able to provide you with some effective but natural alternatives.

Compost Piles and Worm Bins

These eco-friendly practices can be great for your garden, but be sure they’re not accessible to your pets. Dogs that view garbage and rotting food as a special treat may consider this a buffet, but it’s one that could make them sick.

Garden Tools

Just like toddler-proofing, be sure to keep all pruning shears, trimmers, tillers, rakes and other gardening tools picked up and stored safely out of reach of your pets.

Gardening is a great hobby, and with a little extra planning and effort, it’s not difficult to ensure that your hobby will be safe for your pet.