CAT | Health Topics

Up to $25 off Trifexis and Comfortis!

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Only two more weeks left to save up to $25 on Trifexis or Comfortis!


Both Trifexis and Comfortis are flavored tablets that can be administered orally, so no residue, no worries about washing off after swimming, bathing, or grooming.

Call us at 415.664.0191 for more information on how to save on your pet’s heartworm and flea preventatives.

For more information visit and


CCI10172013_0000     trifexis     comfortis

Virbac Recalls Six Lots of Heartworm Preventive Iverhart Plus Flavored Chewables | petMD

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Virbac recently announced that it is voluntarily recalling six lots of Iverhart Plus Flavored Chewables due to efficacy concerns. According to PetMD, the heartworm preventive failed to meet stability specifications throughout the life of the product.

Virbac Recalls Six Lots of Heartworm Preventive Iverhart Plus Flavored Chewables | petMD.




Foxtails are arriving…minimize your pet’s risk!

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

With the arrival of warm weather comes one of the canine’s (and sometimes feline’s) worst summer foes:  the foxtail.  Foxtails are sadly one of the reasons why spring and summer months at Irving Pet Hospital are so busy.  Animals are often presented to us with symptoms such as sneezing, head shaking, squinting or limping – all of which could be symptoms of a pet being affected by a foxtail in its body.  Before you go hiding in your house thinking that foxtails have invaded the streets of San Francisco, take a moment to learn about what a foxtail is, and find out why this seemingly harmless plant can be a hazard to your pet.

What is a foxtail?

Foxtails are grass awns, or seeds, that are especially prevalent in the Western United States.  These seeds form bushy spikes that resemble the tail of a fox, which allows the foxtail to easily cling onto animals.  At first glance, they almost resemble wheat grass in appearance. These plants generally sprout up in spring, and are often found along the edges of grass lawns or wild fields.  The sad truth is that as long as your pet goes outside, it is almost impossible to eliminate all chances that your pet will come across a foxtail.  Foxtails are very light in weight and can easily be carried by wind so they can practically be found anywhere outside.

Why should pet owners worry?

As the weather warms, foxtail plants dry out and the pointy seed pods begin to scatter. These seeds have one-way barbs that allow the seed to work its way into an animal’s skin, coat and mucous membranes, but not work its way back out.  This irritating physical quality almost makes it impossible for the seed to detach from an animal’s skin once it penetrates the surface.  Foxtail weeds also shed tiny black seeds which can also work their way into the animal’s coat and skin and cause irritation.

We often find foxtails between the toes (most common), in the nose (also very common), and in eyes, ears, mouth and basically everywhere else on the body.  Animals with long hair coats are at a greater risk.  Once a foxtail enters the body, it can even work its way through into the interior body cavity such as lungs and abdomen, causing very serious infections as they migrate through and get lodged in body tissues.  If left unattended, a tiny foxtail in the skin can cause a baseball-sized abscess, requiring surgical removal that can sometimes almost be as challenging as finding a needle in a haystack!


Foxtails removed from nose

Sore on foot from a foxtail track

Signs to look for

Some of the common symptoms seen in pets that are affected by foxtails are

  • Excessive licking of a specific area on the body
  • Swelling between the toes or on other parts of the body
  • Drainage
  • Pawing at the nose or muzzle
  • Head shaking
  • Sneezing (especially if nasal discharge is bloody)
  • Squinting (foxtail hidden beneath the upper or lower eyelid)

*If you notice any of the above signs, call us to consult with a medical staff member immediately.  Finding and removing a foxtail before it can embed and cause an infection will save a lot of trouble.  These grass seeds will rarely fall out on their own so the problem tends to worsen the longer you wait.


Removing a foxtail can be very difficult and painful for an animal and should therefore be performed by a veterinarian.  A doctor will often provide the animal with an analgesic and/or sedative to minimize their discomfort. An antibiotic may also be prescribed to treat or prevent infection.

Preventative measures

Keep areas outside your house where your pet has access to free of weeds, and keep pets away from dry grassy fields or roadsides when you take them out for walks.   Since it’s almost impossible to have complete control over what your pet will come across when they are outside, it is also extremely helpful to conduct a full body inspection for foxtails after every walk.  Concentrate on areas between the toes, in and around the ears, armpits and groin.  Keeping your pet’s coat clean and well groomed will decrease the chances of seeds accumulating. Clipping the hair between paw pads in dogs will also greatly reduce the potential for clinging foxtails and allow easier screening.

Part of being a responsible pet owner is to pay close attention to your pet on a regular basis. They don’t know what is good and bad for them so it’s up to you as an owner to be educated and aware.  If you are ever in doubt that your pet may be a victim of a foxtail, don’t hesitate to call us and speak with a medical staff member.  Although foxtails can be a hazard to animals, taking proper precautions and paying close attention to your pet will greatly reduce the chances of it causing any problems.  So go out there and enjoy the sun!  Don’t let the fear of foxtails keep you and your pet inside this summer!

Things You Should Know About Parasites: Fleas, Heartworm and Intestinal Parasites

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

What you should know about fleas?

Your pet’s scratching could be an early sign of fleas!

Adult Flea

Adult fleas are small, flat, wingless, and have three pairs of jointed legs. They have siphon-like mouthparts and feed on the blood of their hosts by piercing and sucking. Dogs and cats are prime hosts, but three of the four stages of the flea’s life cycle are spent away from the host. The life-cycle stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult.  Under optimal conditions, the life cycle averages about 28 days. When conditions are not favorable, the life cycle can be longer. Because fleas prosper in warm, humid environments, temperature and humidity changes can affect the length and success of their life cycles.

The adult flea spends all of its time on a host, and this is the life-cycle stage.



First, adult female heartworms release their young,called microfilariae, into an animal’s bloodstream.Then, mosquitoes become infected with microfilariae while taking blood meal from the infected animal. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilariae mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. After that, the mosquito bites another dog, cat or other susceptible animal, and the infective larvae enter through the bite wound. It then takes a little over 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms. In dogs, the worms may live for up to 7 years. Microfilariae cannot mature into adult heartworms without first passing through a mosquito.



How do roundworms cause disease in pets?

Section of roundworm infested intestine

In your pet’s intestines, roundworms absorb nutrients, interfere with digestion and can damage the lining of the gut. Animals with mild infestations of roundworms may not show any signs of disease. Animals with more severe infestations may be thin, have dull hair coats and develop a pot-bellied appearance. Some may become anemic and show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Rarely, in severe infestations, the roundworms can cause obstruction of the intestines. A cough may be observed in some animals due to the migration of the worm larvae through the respiratory system. In young animals the migration of the larvae in the lungs can cause pneumonia. Adult worms may be seen in the feces or vomit. The worms are round on cross-section (hence the common name) and look a bit like spaghetti.

Are roundworms of any danger to people?

Accidental ingestion of roundworm eggs by people may cause blindness, nervous system damage or damage to internal organs.


Section of a hookworm infested intestine

Hookworms (Ancylostoma) are one of the most common intestinal parasites of dogs and cats (especially puppies and kittens), and can cause severe disease including anemia and serious diarrhea. Hookworms have either teeth-like structures or cutting plates with which they attach themselves to the wall of the intestine and feed on the animal’s blood. The mucous membranes e.g., gums will appear pale, the animal will become weak, and sometimes black, tarry stools can be seen. Growth in young animals is stunted, and the hair coat may appear dull and dry. Animals may become emaciated and eventually die from the infection.

Are hookworms of any danger to people?

Hookworm larvae can penetrate the surface of a person’s skin (usually through bare feet) and migrate through it, causing a disease called “cutaneous larva migrans” or “creeping eruption”. The lesions appear as red lines under the skin and sometimes break open at the skin’s surface. These lesions cause severe itching. Usually the larvae will die in several weeks and the condition will disappear. In severe cases the larvae may make their way through the skin and enter deeper tissues. This may cause lung disease and painful muscles.


Whipworm eggs visible on a fecal test

The whipworm is one of the four most common intestinal parasites of dogs. Whipworms reside in the cecum, which is inside your dog’s body where the small intestine and large intestine meet. Dogs become infected with whipworms by swallowing infective whipworm eggs in soil or other substances that may contain dog feces.

Dogs that are infected with a few whipworms may not have any signs of infection. More severe infections can cause bloody diarrhea. If an infected dog is not treated, then severe whipworm infection can cause serious disease and even death. Whipworm infections can be prevented by removing your dog’s feces regularly from your yard.

There are many of products out there that will get rid of some of these pesky parasites.  The ones we recommend are:



Frontline Plus: is a monthly topical flea and tick preventative for dogs and cats.



COMFORTIS: chewable tablets kill fleas and are indicated for the prevention and treatment of flea infestation on dogs. (1 tablet monthly)



Heartgard Plus: is a real-beef chewable tablet for dogs that provides protection against heartworms, and treats and controls roundworms and hookworms. Heartgard Plus is given monthly and requires a prescription from your veterinarian.


Advantage Multi: Monthly heartworm and flea prevention in one easy topical application. Prevents heartworm disease. Kills fleas and treats flea infestations.  Treats and controls hookworms and roundworms. Treats and controls whipworms (Dogs).  Treats and controls ear mite infestations (Cats).



Trifexis: is a once-monthly tablet that kills fleas, prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult hookworm, roundworm and whipworm infections. And since it’s beef-flavored, you can offer it as a treat.



For any additional information on any of these products, please click on hyperlink next their images – you will be redirected to each of the companies websites.  If you are unsure on which product would be best for your pet, please contact us for further information.  If your pet has not been in for a recent Heartworm test or Health Maintenance visit, these may be required before we can make any recommendations.

Meet Pippa!!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012


Pippa is a 6 year old Persian.  She was rescued as an adult cat by her owner a few months ago.  Pippa has a condition called “brachycephalic syndrome.”   This condition is commonly seen in dogs and cats bred to have a “short” head such as the Boxer, Boston terrier, Persians, Himalayans.  Due to this Pippa was having a difficult time breathing.  Her daily life consisted of always snorting, and occasionally she would pant like a dog, which is very abnormal for a cat.  Luckily we were able to fix her condition.  Some extreme brachycephalic cases are not as successful.

Pippa Pre-surgery



Dr. Sean Wells performed an alapexy which involved removing a small wedge from each side of her nostrils.  Because her nares were so stenotic, she could not pass air through them like a normal cat.



10 days post op Pippa is feeling great and breathing much easier!  Her owner reports that she has also become much more energetic. She is a  very sweet kitty and we are so happy to have helped her feel better.

Pippa Post-surgery

February is DENTAL month!

Friday, February 10th, 2012

What is dental disease and why is it harmful to my pet?

Dental care for our pets is just as important as it is for us. Dental disease is the most common diagnosis in dogs and cats and is something that can be prevented!  Dental disease starts as bacteria combines with saliva and food to form plaque, and over time it accumulates and hardens to form tartar. Tartar then starts to grow under the gum line destroying the tooth and surrounding bone and tissue.  Studies show that swallowing all the bacteria from dental disease can move into the bloodstream potentially causing problems in the heart, liver and kidneys.

Indications of dental disease are bad breath, red and bleeding gums, not wanting to eat or any pain or swelling around the mouth.  If you do notice any of these signs bring your pet in for an exam so a proper treatment plan can be made, and if a dental is needed blood work and additional tests may be necessary to ensure they are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.

What happens during a dental cleaning?  Does my pet really need to go under anesthesia?

Anesthesia is necessary because to properly evaluate the mouth all surfaces of the teeth need to be assessed as well as back in the throat or under the tongue. Also the use of the mechanical and sharp instruments would be impossible if the animal was awake.

The teeth are cleaned using and ultrasonic scaler to knock away tartar on the surface of the tooth and under the gum line, then polished to smooth any irregularities made during the cleaning. Charting and a full mouth exam is done to find anything abnormal such as periodontal pockets, fractures, loose teeth, oral masses or to see if x-rays are necessary.  A plan is then formed as to the best way to treat the problematic areas whether it be removing teeth or trying to save them with root planning.  For the more complicated procedures specialty veterinary dentists are available.

Is there anything I can do for my pet at home?

The best way to prevent dental disease and minimize the amount of anesthetic procedures for your pet is with regular home dental care.  To start brushing your pet’s teeth make sure you have a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically for animals. Be sure to start slow by allowing the m to lick the toothpaste off your finger and then gradually introduce the toothbrush.  Bushing daily is ideal, but for those unable to, there are other options such as chews, diets and rinses.

Catching dental disease early and preventing at home can save against an extensive procedure and discomfort in your pet. Call today to get your pet’s teeth checked and save $40 on all dentals during the month of February.

Keeping Your Pet Safe This Holiday Season

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The holidays can be a joyous time for many but for your furry family it can be some of the most harmful!  Keep your home safe for your furry companions this holiday season.  Be sure to steer clear of the following toxic plants, dangerous decorations and unhealthy treats.

Decorations – the best advice with holiday decor is to keep them away from curious mouths!

    • If you have a Christmas tree, beware of pets drinking the tree water.  The water may contain fertilizers which, if ingested, can cause stomach upset.  Stagnant tree water can also act as a breeding ground for bacteria and if ingested a pet could end up with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
    • Keep any breakable ornaments and hooks off the ground.  Decorate the bottom half of your tree with non-breakable ornaments (i.e. wooden or plastic ornaments).
    • Keep tinsel and ribbon away from cats as they are attracted to this sparkly decoration and often mistake them as a “toy.”  If ingested, tinsel and ribbon can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction.  This is a very common problem, particularly with cats.

Food & Drinks – During holiday parties, inform your guests of any pets in the house and ask they not be fed human food.  Any diet change, even for one meal, may give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea.  This is particularly true for older animals that have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements.  Keep your pets away from the following foods:

  • Turkey & chicken bones – poultry bones can splinter and cause blockages.
  • Grapes, Raisins & Currants – if ingested, these can cause gastroinestinal upsets such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.  It can also cause kidney failure.
  • Chocolate – depending on the dose ingested, chocolate (bakers, semi-sweet, milk and dark) can be potentially poisonous to most animals.  In general, the less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it can be.  In fact, unsweetened baking chocolate contains almost seven times more theobromine (a substance similar to caffeine) as milk chocolate.  Vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10lb dog.
  • Alcoholic beverages – place unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot reach them.  If ingested, the animal could become very sick and weak and may go into a coma, possible resulting in death from respiratory failure.
  • Candies & gum (including wrappers) – candies and gum containing large amounts of the sweetener xylitol can also be toxic to pets, as ingestions of significant quantities can produce a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, un-coordination and seizures.  Candy wrappers can cause vomiting and intestinal blockage.

Flowers & Plants

  • Poinsettias – they are considered to be very low in toxicity.  However, they could cause mild vomiting or nausea.
  • Lilies – Lilies are commonly used this time of year and all varieties including, Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats.  Safe alternatives can include artificial flowers made from silk or plastic.
  • Mistletoe & Holly Berries – These plants can be potentially toxic to pets.  Should a cat or dog eat mistletoe, they could possibly suffer gastrointestinal upsets and cardiovascular problems.  Holly can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and lethargy if ingested.

Additional Hazards

  • Antifreeze – pets should be kept away from driveways, garages and any place that antifreeze may have spilled.  It is also important to make sure your car isn’t leaking antifreeze.  If ingested, it can cause kidney failure.
  • Rock Salt – keep ice melting products off of ground level.  Rinse off any salt or ice from the ground and dry thoroughly.  Dog boots can help protect sensitive feet.

If you feel your pet has ingested any of these items, please contact the ASPCA Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 or view their website at

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