Spay and Neuter Awareness Month: Promoting Responsible Pet Ownership

national spay and neuter awareness month.

We all want what is best for our pets so that we can enjoy them for as long as possible. Doing everything that we can to support overall pet health is important to us at Veterinary Medical Associates. We also have to think about overall animal wellness within our communities. Pet spay and neuter can play a big role in individual health as well as within the greater whole, and fall among one of the more important pet owner responsibilities. 


How to Prevent Foxtail Injuries

Foxtail grass.
A cluster of foxtail that shines in the backlight

Their relentless presence is upon us once again.  They are growing right before our eyes just waiting to attack.  What is he writing about you might ask?  These “beasts” to which I refer are foxtails. 

Foxtails are the collective term we use to refer to seed awns of certain grasses that grow throughout California.  These are non-native grasses that have invaded our state and they can cause all kinds of problems in our companions, especially our canines. 

Why Are Foxtails Dangerous?

Foxtails have rows of barbs that face one direction and allow the foxtail to stick to various surfaces including hair coats of our dogs, as well as find their way into any available orifice the dog might have and even create their own opening as well.  These barbs allow migration in only one direction, in, and they do not come back out.  

I have pulled them from ear canals, vaginal vaults, rectal spaces, lung lobes, tonsil recesses in the throat, nasal passages, inside the feet and up the legs and the list goes on. As one might imagine there can be considerable damage and infectious disease caused by foxtails invading these various areas.  Left untreated these processes can lead to grave consequences.

How to Prevent Foxtail Injuries?

Be on the lookout when you are out walking/running your dog in any area where these grasses are growing. I like to check my dog’s legs and paws after walking through any area with nearby foxtails and immediately pull them off before they migrate.  Make sure your yard is clear of them as well.  Do not simply mow them down as the seed awns will still be ready to attack. Clean them up!  

How Can I Tell If My Dog Has a Foxtail Injury?

The ears and the paws, in that order, are the most common sights of a foxtail injury. With a foxtail in the ear, you may see your dog shaking his head, pawing at his ear, or in a more advanced stage of infection, discharge, or odor from the ear. In a paw, you may see a raised lesion between the toes and possible oozing puss. Your dog may also be licking his paw excessively. 

An inhaled foxtail will likely lead to sneezing, discharge (often bloody) from the nose, and possibly breathing difficulties. Red, swollen, irritated eyes may be an indication of a foxtail, along with pawing at the eye. Signs of a less common vaginal foxtail include excessive licking and discharge that may or may not be bloody.

If you suspect your dog has a foxtail injury, please call us at 209-527-5855. 

National Adopt A Senior Pet Month

old dog.

Homelessness is heartbreaking at any age, but is especially distressing for senior animals. Too many senior pets spend long periods of time in shelters waiting for their people to take them home. This November, during Adopt a Senior Pet Month, we encourage every animal lover to consider adopting a senior pet. 


Celebrating Adopt A Dog Month

man holding his adopted dog.

Most people that love animals have heard the phrase “adopt, don’t shop,” but why exactly is adoption considered a better option? For starters, adopting a homeless pet is typically the more affordable option. Perhaps more importantly, adoption saves lives and frees up space in the shelter system for more pets to find their forever people. 

October is Adopt a Dog month. This nationally-recognized effort is designed to encourage prospective dog owners to take the leap toward adoption and responsible ownership. Since we know first hand the powerful impact that dogs have on our lives, we’d like to help others embrace this experience of lifetime. 


Amphibian & Reptile Care Basics

vet holding a lizard.

If you’re more of a lizard or frog person than a dog or cat person, you might be wondering how to care for your reptile or amphibian. It takes a whole different set of skills than caring for a furry friend, that’s for sure! But we think it’s pretty fun.

To help you get started, the team at Veterinary Medical Associates shares the basics of amphibian and reptile care. 


The Importance of Immunization For Your Pet

dog getting immunized.

We’re dedicated to helping pet owners protect their best friends from many terrible diseases all year round, but August is National Immunization Awareness month. This important campaign aims to elevate the importance of routine vaccines so that more of our furry friends achieve the health and happiness they deserve. 


Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe

lost dog.

Heatstroke is a real risk to pet safety during the summer months, but it isn’t the only threat. Many pets get lost or go missing in the days surrounding the Fourth of July. The reasons for this include noise anxiety and insecure fencing, but there’s more to this preventable situation. Pet owners can promote pet health and wellness with our tips to keep your pet safe.


An Act of Love: Why Microchipping Your Pet Matters

Dog in a cone.

Pets wear snazzy collars as a way to highlight their style and personality, but they’re useful, too. Not only necessary for their leash, but collars show proof of license, rabies vaccination, and ownership. Despite their obvious utility, collars can be removed on purpose or fall off accidentally. As a result, pets need an added layer of security in case they get lost or go missing. Microchipping your pet is an incredible act of love that never stops working to prevent permanent loss. 

All It Takes

One small moment can change a pet owner’s life forever. Whether you lose a grip on the leash at the park or your pet nudges their way out through a cracked front door, their fate could become sealed in a short time. In addition to simply roaming around without a clear way to return home, pets can get stolen by strangers, re-adopted, or seriously injured. 

The Little Things

Microchipping your pet is a type of insurance against permanent loss. Not a substitute for their ID tag and collar, microchips add another layer of protection. We include microchipping as part of our puppy and kitten wellness plans.

About the size of a grain of rice and enclosed in biocompatible glass, microchips are implanted between the shoulder blades. They do not track location or transmit data of any kind. Instead, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology stores a unique identification number. When a handheld scanning device is placed over the area, an LED screen on the scanner will display the chip’s number. 

Animal shelters and many animal hospitals have these scanners and use them all the time to either look for the existence of a chip or read its number. 

Does It Hurt?

The mechanism to implant the chip is similar to a routine vaccination, and can be done at your pet’s next wellness exam. Sometimes we can microchip pets during a surgical procedure, like a spay/neuter or dental cleaning. Perceived as a valuable, yet low-cost, preventive measure, microchipping your pet is an essential component of responsible ownership. 

Other Key Points

Once a pet’s unique identification number is keyed into a national database, their owner’s name and contact information will be revealed. However, this step is not automatic. It is up to the individual pet owner to register their pet’s microchip with the manufacturer and update any information if it ever changes. Without this crucial step, microchips are ineffective at facilitating a safe return home. A shocking number of microchips are never registered or updated every year. 

Together Forever

Your pet is an integral part of the family. They deserve to have a chance to get home safely if they ever get lost or go missing. Microchipping your pet is a part of a great defense against permanent separation. 

When pets are picked up by animal control or brought to shelters by well-meaning civilians, only a small percentage of them ever return to their original home. With millions of pets entering the shelter system every year, be sure that your pet can be returned to you by way of their microchip.

Microchipping Your Pet

This process is fast, easy, relatively, cheap, and totally worth the peace of mind. If you have any questions about microchipping your pet, please give us a call at  (209) 527‑5855. Veterinary Medical Associates is always happy to help you!