Things That Go Boom in the Night

The Fourth of July is upon us! Yes, I know it is still June, but it seems that the Fourth starts the last week in June and extends into the second week of July nowadays. Certainly, that is the case with the use of exploding fireworks. Unfortunately, these explosions can be very stressful for our companions, especially our canine companions.

The stress caused by exploding fireworks can lead to true anxiety attacks in some of our dogs and, in some cases, can result in tragedy as these dogs will escape in panic and be hit by cars. I have seen cases where dogs have chewed off doorknobs trying to get indoors, at times breaking off multiple teeth. I think you get the picture. It’s truly heartbreaking.

How can I help my dog with firework anxiety?

Those of you who have dogs like this are aware these companions need help to avoid these anxiety-provoking incidents and this is where we as veterinarians can help. There are anti-anxiety medications that can help these dogs cope with their condition. There are also tranquilizers that can be used as well. Your veterinarian can help you make the proper choice for your dog.

Microchip your Companion

Also, this is an excellent time to make sure your companion is microchipped and that your contact information is up to date on the database. Your veterinarian should also be able to help you with this. Microchipping is an excellent way to help reunite lost companions and their people.

Here’s to a safe Fourth of July two weeks for you and your companions!!

What is RHDV?

We are currently monitoring reports of a viral outbreak in wild rabbits in the Southwest United States. New to North America, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) is a fatal viral disease found in rabbits: it does not affect humans or domestic species other than rabbits. While there is potential for spread throughout California, there are no reports of cases within the Central Valley at this time. Symptoms of the disease can include loss of appetite, lethargy, high fever, and spasms. However, we are concerned and want to provide you rabbit caretakers with some information to help keep your bunny companions safe.

Is there a vaccination available?

Currently, a vaccine is not widely available in the United States, nor does Central Valley meet the criteria for importing European vaccines. Here at VMA, we are staying abreast of the latest information on vaccine criteria and availability and are continuing to work with regulatory agencies, working to receive special permission to import European vaccines in the event we meet the criteria.

How can I protect my rabbit?

We encourage the practice of basic biosecurity measures, such as hand washing and changing clothes/removing shoes once returning home, to help prevent potential spread to your pet rabbits. We also recommend keeping your bunnies indoors, with no outdoor playtime. 

Can my other pets catch this virus?

This disease is not known to affect any species other than rabbits and hares. In an abundance of caution, however, keeping your dog or cat from contact with wild rabbits will also help keep your companion bunnies safe. 

VMA will continue to keep you updated on the latest information about the RHDV spread and how you can protect your rabbit at and our Facebook page,

And if you have any questions or concerns about your companion rabbit, please call us at 209-527-5855. 

How to Prevent Foxtail Injuries

Field with Foxtails

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. 

Best Practices for Sheltering in Place with Your Pet

How are you all doing sheltering in place?  More importantly, how are your companions doing with you sheltering in place?  I suspect there are a few cats out there who are completely out of their routine with their humans taking over their territory during the day.  What the heck is that all about? 

Working from home means different coworkers.

This extra time together, though not ideal in its genesis, does carry with it the wonderful benefit of added time to be with our companions. Hopefully, this increased time together has served to reinforce what a true blessing they are in our lives.  Maybe you are teaching your bird how to talk or taking your dog out for more and longer walks.  I know I am, and perhaps talking to them more as well; all good stuff!   Continue…

The Truth About Fleas

To steal a famous movie line, “They’re baaack.” Actually here in Central California they never really leave. I am referring to fleas, as you might have guessed. Flea populations in our neck of the woods do decrease some in the wintertime however for our predominately indoor companions, these bloodsuckers can hang around all year long.

Fleas are a very successful parasite whose adult population loves nothing more than to hang out on your dog or cat’s skin merrily sucking out blood meals as needed to produce eggs which then fall off the animal into the environment. The eggs develop into larvae, which further develop into pupae, which later become new adult fleas. Five percent of the flea population are adults on the animal-the other 95% reside in the environment. Yuk! I know. 

The good news is we have very effective preventative medication that will not only kill those blood-sucking adult fleas but as a result, stop the life cycle from continuing in your companion’s environment. Here at VMA we use and recommend Bravecto for flea control on your dog or cat. This amazing product need only be given once every three months to eliminate fleas. And to top that off, Bravecto also prevents ticks, which not only are disgusting bloodsuckers themselves but also can carry other diseases that can be very bad for your dog.

Stay ahead of the flea on-slot and prevent those ticks as well. It is easy now that we have a product that has been proven highly effective and one that the fleas have yet to develop a resistance against. This can not be said for many of the other flea prevention/treatment products.

For more information about Bravecto and flea control, please call us at 209-527-5855. 

What should I feed my bird?

All of our companions need to eat and what they eat is hugely important to their overall health. No group of companion animals reflects this truth more than birds. Many of these species, particularly the parrots, macaws, and cockatoos have a potential lifespan of decades, making proper diet and care vitally important to long term health. Most often, we head to the pet store for “bird” food and end up with a bag of seeds. Seeds are simply not an appropriate base diet for your bird. 

Why Not Seeds?

Seeds are loaded with fat and as a result, make your bird fat, which can lead to multiple disease processes including liver disease, heart disease, gout, poor skin & feather quality and many other problems. While high in fat, seeds can also be deficient in some important vitamins and minerals, which, over months to years, can affect nearly every aspect of your bird’s health.  Continue…

Heartworm Disease in Dogs

images[10]What Is Heartworm Disease?

Canine heartworm disease develops when a dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larvae (juvenile worms) of a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis.

As a mosquito feeds, these microscopic larvae are deposited on the dog and quickly penetrate the skin to begin their migration into the dog’s bloodstream.

Adult heartworms can grow 10-12 inches in length and make their home in the right side of the heart and pulmonary (lung) arteries, often causing lung disease and heart failure.

Adult heartworms can grow 10-12 inches in length.


Pet-Proofing Your Home

Terrier PicCommon-sense Precautions

So you adopted a new pet? Congratulations! The next step is pet-proofing your home- safety first!

There are many hidden dangers to your new friend within your home in the form of every-day objects. With a few simple precautions, you can protect your pet and prevent many of the common veterinary emergencies. Continue…