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Foxtails and Your Pets-Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo

This time of year, many dog owners are hitting trails to enjoy the beautiful weather with their canine friends.  Unfortunately, a fun day on the trail can turn into a painful experience for your pooch from a seemingly innocent source.

Foxtails are a frequent sight on trails, open spaces and yards in Southern California.  These invasive weeds are named for their clusters of spiked seed pods which resemble the tail of a fox.  Foxtails usually appear in our landscape in early spring.  Like the rest of San Diego county, they start out soft and green but by then end of the season they have dried to a brittle brown.

The dried, spiked clusters of the foxtail eventually break down into individual spikelets.  The pods are spiked and barbed, qualities that help them penetrate the tough San Diego ground.  Unfortunately, these qualities also allow them to wreak havoc on your pets.

Foxtails are a common emergency in veterinary medicine this time of year.  When a dog comes in contact with a foxtail, the barbs along the spikelet attach to the fur.  These barbs allow the foxail to move only one way: forward, while the sharp tip on the spikelet allows it to pierce skin or penetrate dense fur.

Foxtails will attach to almost any part of the dog that brushes against them.  Common sites of infestation are ears, eyes, nose, and between the toes.  They can also burrow beneath the skin along the body on thick coated dogs.  Occasionally veterinarians even see foxtails buried in tonsils or under the gums of dogs who enjoy chewing on these plants. 

Once embedded, these seeds rarely work their way out.  Their burrowing properties wreak havoc on infected pets and continue causing painful damage until they are removed. Veterinary intervention is usually required to treat foxtail infestation.  Sedation or surgery may be necessary, along with treatments to help with pain and infection resulting from “foreign body” invasion.

Signs of foxtails include:

A painful, infected ear

Head tilting or shaking

Acute, severe sneezing

Nasal discharge or bleeding

Squinting, painful eye

Red, painful bumps between toes or under the skin

There are some simple steps that owners can take to help their dog avoid a painful foxtail experience.  The simplest prevention is to avoid them altogether.  We find foxtails along trails, in open spaces, and in unlandscaped areas.  They are common in late spring through summer and can be identified by their bushy clusters of spikes resembling the tail of a fox. Foxtails can even be found in our yards, so carefully inspect unlandscaped areas for these invaders.
Even if you practice diligent avoidance, carefully check your pet after walks or hikes.  Common sites of infestation are between the toes, the legs, the underbelly, the eyes, and the nose.  With long coated dogs, it is a good practice to brush them out after hikes, as well.  Keeping your pet’s feet trimmed short can help prevent these dangerous hitchhikers; some owners even purchase hiking boots for their dogs to protect their feet on trail.

Dogs are not the only ones affected by foxtails.  Occasionally we see outdoor cats who have picked one up.  We most commonly see foxtails invade cats’ eyes, under their third eyelid.  Symptoms include painful swelling, redness, and discharge out of one eye.

Foxtails are not only painful but can be very damaging to your pet.  If you think your pet may be infected, contact your veterinarian immediately to prevent further pain and injury.

-Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

1691 Melrose Dr. Suite # 110
San Marcos, CA 92078
760-736-3636
www.sanelijovet.com

Pet Stress During the Pandemic

Stay at Home orders and the recent COVID pandemic have been a source of stress to many members of our community.  Our animal companions have provided comfort and relief from some of the stress we all are feeling; however, some pet owners are reporting concerning changes in their pets at this time. 
While it might seem that owners being home all day would be a dream for pets, we need to remember that their world has suddenly been turned upside down, resulting in significant stress.

Dogs, as a rule, tend to turn to their owners in times of stress and discomfort.  This is often expressed in things we consider “nuisance” behaviors.  Dogs may appear more needy by constantly following, nosing, and otherwise “pestering” their owners for attention.  In addition, dogs may act out by being more destructive, barking more, or even hiding in the house.  

Cats, on the other hand, often become anti-social during times of stress.  Feline family members may look for places to hide in the house and may disappear for hours at a time.  Additionally, cats may display destructive behaviors such as increased scratching and inappropriate urination behaviors.

While we can’t change the Stay at Home orders, we can do a lot to help our pets’ stress levels.  Patience, consistency, and creativity are key.

Be patient with your pets during this time and give them time to adjust to their “new normal.” Lashing out in frustration will only increase their stress.

Be consistent day to day.  Create a routine that your pet can depend on.  This does not mean that you can’t mix in fun surprises like hikes, walking adventures, and impromptu play sessions, but keep daily necessities like meal times and walks on a predictable routine.

Give your pets space: Make areas in the house where your pet can have “alone time,” and allow them to choose to be there.  Make sure these areas are safe, comfortable, and kid-free.

Create entertainment time: Make time to entertain your pet.  Exercise and mental stimulation are not only great stress relievers, but they increase the bond between owners and their pet.  There are many easy and inexpensive ways to exercise your pet’s body and mind.  Here are a few ideas:

Dogs:

Most dogs love physical exercise of one type or the other.  Ideas include playing ball in the backyard, simple neighborhood walks, or hikes on our beautiful local trails.  When exercising your dog, always take into account their level of conditioning and physical abilities.  Also consider current regulations regarding open trails, protective gear, and physical distancing.

Brain games can be as exhausting and stimulating as exercise for many dogs.  Try hiding toys and treats around the house for a game of “find it!” Mix up their meal time with maze/puzzle feeders, snuffle mats, and food stuffed Kong toys.  Finally, teach your dog some new tricks.  Pups both old and young love to learn!

Cats:

Cats benefit from physical and mental stimulation as well.  Keep some of those shipping boxes and make a “box fort” for your feline.  Few cats can resist the allure of a brand new box or bag!  Cats can also benefit from puzzle toys or maze feeders to make their meal time more interesting.  Look for puzzle feeders specially designed for cats (and make sure to keep the boxes for additional kitty play). You may also give your cat a new perspective by installing a new cat tree, wall shelves, hammocks, or window shelves for your cat to explore.

Finally, if your pet seems so distressed that it is manifesting physical symptoms.  Contact your veterinarian.  Psychological stress can be as hard on pets as it is on people, and there are medical options that can give your furry friend relief! 

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

1691 Melrose Dr. Suite # 110
San Marcos, CA 92078
760-736-3636
www.sanelijovet.com

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 5 Year Anniversary Open House

Over the last five years, Advanced Veterinary Care has proudly served San Elijo, providing high quality, compassionate veterinary care to the pets of this wonderful community.  To commemorate our five-year anniversary, we are opening our doors to the community we gratefully serve. 

We would like to invite you to join us for our upcoming Open House. 

Join us in celebrating this milestone with music, food, refreshments, and great company. Tour the hospital, meet our doctors and staff, and have a great time while learning what sets Advanced Veterinary Care apart.

We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Keeping Your Pets Safe this Halloween Season 

Halloween Pet Dangers

Keeping Your Pets Safe this Halloween Season

Halloween can be a wonderful holiday for children and adults alike.  Many people love to enjoy this festive season with the entire family, including their pets.

To make sure your pet stays safe and enjoys this holiday, we offer the following advice:

Keep Those Halloween Treats Far Out of Pets’ Reach:  Halloween candies are the source of several dangers to our animal family members.  Most owners are aware that chocolate is toxic to their pets.  Chocolate contains caffeine as well as a toxin called Theobromine that in high enough doses can be very toxic to our animal companions.  Toxicity is based on the amount of cocoa ingested (dark chocolate contains more) vs. the weight of the pet.

“Healthier” Halloween treats may contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol which is extremely toxic to dogs.  Ingestion is a veterinary emergency and can even be fatal to our canine friends.

Overindulgence in candy (or other holiday treats), even those that don’t contain chocolate or xylitol can cause gastric upset or even a dangerous condition called pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).  These can be serious enough to warrant a trip to the veterinary clinic or even a hospital stay!

Finally, candy wrappers also pose a risk to indulgent pets.  Most pets don’t bother to unwrap the candy that they sneak off with.  Ingested wrappers can be very irritating to the intestinal tract and in some cases could even result in an intestinal blockage.  Note that even empty candy wrappers are attractive to our pets as they still smell like the treats they once contained.

Beware of Raisins and Grapes: While raisins make for a sweet, healthy alternative to Halloween candies, they can be very dangerous to our pets.  Grapes and raisins are poisonous to many dogs (and potentially cats).  Toxicity can be severe enough to cause kidney damage or even death in some cases.  Experts are still not sure how much grape material is required for toxicity or why some pets react more profoundly than others, so all grape/raisin ingestion is considered a veterinary emergency.

Watch Out for Halloween PlantsPumpkins, gourds, and corn are traditional Halloween foods and decorations.  While eating properly prepared pumpkins, squash and corn is relatively harmless for our pets, in some situations they can be dangerous.  Corn cobs are very attractive to dogs.  If ingested, cobs very may get stuck in the pet’s intestinal tract and require surgery to remove.  Similarly, decorative gourds/squash can be chewed up in large chunks that can get bound up in the intestines.  Finally, festive carved Jack o’ Lanterns often start to mold before they are thrown out.  If ingested these molds can make our pets ill.  Some molds called mycotoxins can even cause neurologic problems in dogs and cats.

Keep Glow Sticks Away from Pets: Glow sticks and glow jewelry are fun and can help keep us safe during Halloween activities.  While the glowing liquid inside is not toxic if chewed and ingested it can be very irritating to our pets’ mouths.  Ingestion can lead to oral irritation, drooling, pawing at the mouth, and even vomiting.  Additionally, ingested plastics can lead to gastric irritation or even intestinal blockage.

Be Careful with Halloween Decorations: Decorations are a traditional addition to Halloween festivities. They are fun for us but can be scary or even dangerous to our pets.  Pets can be intimidated by decorations, especially those with eyes, faces, or moving parts.  Be sure to introduce pets to decorations slowly using positive reinforcement. Many decorations also require electrical cords or batteries, both of which can be very dangerous if our pets chew on them!

Beware of Costumes:  As adorable as our pets are when dressed up, not all pets enjoy wearing costumes.  They can be irritating, scary, or even painful to our pets.  Some pets may panic when placed in a costume, which can lead to injury. Humans in costume can be very scary to our pets, too.  Make sure to introduce your pet slowly to costumed guests and read the pet’s body language.  Better yet, find a safe space for your pet to stay if people come over in costume.

Keep Candles Out of Pets’ Reach: Candles are common in Halloween decorations.  Remember that your pet does not recognize the danger that candles pose, and they may accidentally burn themselves or knock candles over.

Give Your Pet a Safe Space During Halloween Activities:  Trick or Treating and Halloween Parties are fun for us but can be very scary to our pets.  Make sure that your pets have safe space in the house away from trick or treaters at the front door, or party-goers in the house.  It is also advisable to keep your pets indoors during activities to prevent panicking pets from escaping from the yard.

Make Sure Your Pets Have ID Tags and Microchips:  Finally, make sure that your pet has an updated ID tag and (even better) a microchip with updated information.  In the event that your pet does escape during holiday festivities, this will make it easy for them to get back home if found.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact us!  We are happy to answer any questions you may have! 760-736-3636  or www.sanelijovet.com

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

1691 Melrose Dr. Suite # 110
San Marcos, CA 92078
760-736-3636
www.sanelijovet.com

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