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Feline Hyperthyroidism – The Basics to Know

Feline Hyperthyroidism

The Basics to Know

Feline hyperthyroidism is a very common health condition in aging cats. Because the thyroid hormone affects nearly every organ in the body, it can have very serious repercussions for untreated felines. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of the disease, along with symptoms to look out for, how it affects your cat’s health, and how it can be treated. By learning this, you’re putting yourself in a fantastic position to be able to look out for your loving companion!


A little background

Thyroid hormones have many essential tasks – such as regulating the body’s metabolic rate, heart and digestive function, muscle control and bone maintenance. Hyperthyroidism arises from an increase in the production of thyroid hormones due to an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This is usually caused by a non-cancerous tumor. When the corresponding excess of thyroid hormones is left untreated, especially for a long period of time, it will wreak havoc on several important systems inside your cat’s body. This is very serious, and can be life threatening.



  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased fecal volume
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity


Secondary Conditions

Kidney Disease
There is strong evidence to suggest that feline hyperthyroidism leads to a significant increase in risk of kidney disease. Some studies suggest that up to 40% of cats with hyperthyroidism develop kidney disease. Troublingly, hyperthyroidism often masks the development of kidney disease, which can often allow the disease to progress to late stages without the pet owner knowing there was anything wrong.

The kidneys act as a filter for waste in your cat’s bloodstream. As kidney disease progresses, the kidneys progressively lose their ability to filter harmful toxins from the blood into urine. This causes a dangerous accumulation of should-be waste products in your cat’s bloodstream. Kidney failure is a common cause of death in aging felines.
When a cat has both hyperthyroidism and kidney disease, the treatment must be very delicate. This is because hyperthyroidism can actually improve kidney function through increasing blood flow to the kidneys. When hyperthyroidism is treated, the increase in blood flow vanishes, and the cat can suddenly appear to be very sick because the kidney disease is no longer masked. These cats need to be monitored very closely, and require extra cautious care strategies.

Heart Disease
When hyperthyroidism goes untreated for a long time, many cats begin to develop an enlargement of the left heart ventricle. The left heart ventricle is responsible for pumping blood into the circulation system through the aorta. If this is left untreated, it will eventually compromise the normal functioning of the heart. Sadly, this can ultimately progress to heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the heart’s ability to pump blood is compromised. It is always a serious and life threatening situation that requires immediate veterinary care.
Consequently, many cats who are treated for hyperthyroidism also require treatment for the secondary condition of heart disease. There is some very good news though – often times when the hyperthyroidism is treated, the cardiac conditions improve or even resolve completely!



Anti-thyroid drugs do not cure hyperthyroidism, but they can be very useful in controlling the disease. These drugs work by reducing the thyroid hormone output from the thyroid gland. The advantage of going this route is that the medication is typically readily available and relatively inexpensive. However, this is not usually very practical lifelong treatment, as your cat will require multiple doses each day, which can be difficult to stick to with the regularity it requires.

Removal of the thyroid glands is a relatively simple procedure that has a high success rate for curing hyperthyroidism. This can be an attractive course of action, as it eliminates the need for a long-term and intensive medication regiment. However, there may be added risks for older cats with secondary conditions (such as heart or kidney disease), which means this won’t be an appropriate course of action for some felines with hyperthyroidism. The procedure has an inherent risk of damaging the parathyroid glands, which have other crucial functions.

Radioactive Iodine Therapy
When possible, radioactive iodine therapy is quickly becoming the treatment of choice for cats with hyperthyroidism. Radioactive iodine is injected and absorbed into your cat’s bloodstream. This is fantastic, because the iodine is taken in by the thyroid glands but no other bodily tissues. The radiation destroys the defective thyroid tissue without damaging anything else, and most cats return to normal hormone levels within just two weeks of treatment. Radioactive iodine therapy is curative, has no serious side effects, and does not require surgery or anesthesia.
If you notice any symptoms of hyperthyroidism in your cat, or if you have any further questions about the disease and its complications, please contact us at (310) 517-1832. We’re always here for you!


Black dog portrait

Preventing Heat Stroke in your Dog

Preventing Heat Stroke in your Dog

Heat stroke is a life threatening condition that is particularly dangerous for dogs. It is always an emergency. And with this Summer looking especially hot, it’s vitally important to understand how to keep your pup safe in the heat. Fortunately, it’s simple! In this article, you’ll learn the basics of how your dog keeps cool. You’ll learn how heat-stroke affects dogs, signs and symptoms, how to treat it, along with the most commonly dangerous situations. Finally, we’ll teach you easy tips on how to help keep your companion comfortable in the heat!


How a dog keeps cool

Dogs can’t perspire in order to cool themselves like humans do. Dogs mainly rely on panting in order to cool themselves, which allows them to exchange warmer body temperatures with the cooler air outside. However, when the surrounding air is not significantly cooler than their body temperature, their cooling process can’t work. Panting also becomes much less effective when there are high levels of humidity – such as in a parked car. This often leads to a dangerous rise in body temperature, and can trigger heat-stroke.


Heat stroke – the basics

Remember, dogs have much less efficient temperature regulating mechanisms than we do. Heat stroke occurs when these mechanisms are overpowered by the environment. Certain breeds (especially small snouted breeds, like pugs), older dogs, along with pets with medical conditions, are more susceptible. Moderate heat stroke (body temperature of 104-106 degrees) can be treated with prompt veterinary care and first aid. Severe heat stroke (above 106 degrees) is life threatening, and can cause permanent damage to your pet’s vital organs.


Signs and symptoms

  • Rapid panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Sticky saliva
  • Red or pale gums
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
  • Diarrhea
  • Coma


What to do

If your dog is showing any signs of heat stroke, you need to call us immediately – it’s an emergency situation. If immediate veterinary care is unavailable to you for some reason, take the following steps: Immediately remove your dog from the hot area. Lower your dog’s temperature by wetting them with cool water. If it’s a smaller dog, the water should be lukewarm. Increase air movement around them with a fan. Make sure not to use cold water – if you lower your dog’s body temperature too quickly, it can trigger other life-threatening situations. Take your dog’s rectal temperature every 5 minutes. Once they are down to 103 degrees, dry them off, and cover with clean towels so they don’t continue to lose heat. Your dog may be dehydrated, or have other complications, so bring them to us (or a nearby veterinarian) ASAP.


Preventing commonly dangerous situations

  • Even if the windows are rolled down, the car is an extremely dangerous place to leave your pet. Just don’t ever do it. The car essentially acts as an oven, causing temperatures to rise quicker than most realize. Temperatures in a parked car can quickly rise to upwards of 120 degrees.
  • If your pet has breathing problems, obesity, heart disease, or old-age, you need to be sure to keep them with access to a cool, shaded spot with water at all times.
  • Limit exercise on especially hot days – jogging is especially dangerous. Don’t go on hikes with your dog in the heat. Often times pets will try to keep up, and then just collapse from heat stroke.
  • Avoid surfaces like sand/asphalt or concrete – prolonged exposure can quickly cause increases in body temperature.
  • Never muzzle your dog in the heat – you’re taking away their best way of temperature regulation.
  • Always provide access to water.
  • If your dog is outdoors during the day, always provide a shaded area with plenty of water.


Three ways to keep your dog comfortable

  1. Conduction – One way that pets keep cool is by transferring body heat to a cooler surface, especially through the belly. This is why it’s important to provide them with cool surfaces to lay on, such as tiled areas, or a hole in the shade.
  2. Convection – Your dog relies on air movement to speed the loss of heat. This is why dogs love to stick their heads out of the car when you drive. Set up cross breezes for your dog – whether through fans and open doors, or air conditioning.
  3. Evaporation – Humans can perspire in order to be cooled by evaporation, but dogs need a little help. Consider periodically wetting your dog down with a cool, damp towel, or allowing them to go for a (supervised!) swim.



7 Pet Safety Tips for July 4th!

7 Pet Safety Tips for July 4th!

More pets are lost on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. Beyond that, it is usually a highly stressful time for our pets, and leaves them severely anxious and afraid because of the noise, commotion, and amount of activity. There are also other common dangers that you should be aware of. We want to help you make this holiday as safe, fun, and worry-free for both you and your pets. In this article, you’ll learn easy tips that you can follow in order to make sure that your pet is happy and safe this holiday!


1 – Sedatives

Pets that get very anxious from the fireworks and commotion can benefit immensely from a prescribed sedative or calming agent – such as Zylkene. Before we can prescribe your pet a sedative though, your pet is required by law to be up to date on their annual exam. If it’s been over a year, just give us a call and we’ll get you in before the 4th! Also, it’s important that you never give your pet anti-anxiety medication or sleep aids that are meant for humans, as this could be incredibly dangerous for your pet.


2 – Microchipping

Your first priority should be making sure that all of your pets are microchipped. If a pet does escape and they are brought to a veterinary facility or animal shelter, the first thing done is microchip scanning. If the pet has a microchip implanted, the owner’s contact information is immediately available to the facility. This is crucial, as a large amount of collars get damaged or lost when a pet escapes, whereas a microchip is a permanent form of identification. It is a quick, inexpensive, and relatively painless procedure. If your pet isn’t microchipped yet, please call us and set up an appointment.


3 – Never use fireworks around pets

Often times, fireworks are curious and interesting to pets when they are lit, before they begin making a lot of noise. If given the opportunity, pets will often investigate, which can cause burns, trauma, and even serious injury if the pet gets too close. Don’t let pets around used fireworks either, as many fireworks use toxic substances and heavy metals in their chemistry.


4 – Setting up a safe environment

Keep your pet at home, and create an escape-proof and relaxing room for them, preferably in a quiet part of the house. If you plan on having guests over, make sure that your pet isn’t able to run out when doors and gates are being opened. In their dedicated room, turn on a familiar television station, or play continuous and soothing classical music to help mask the noise of nearby fireworks. This is very important, because the loud noises will cause your pet to seek safety, and often causes them to desperately try to escape.


5 – Alcohol is toxic to pets

Keep your dog or cat away from alcohol at all times. This includes alcohol-infused dishes, such as rum-soaked cakes or other deserts. The kidneys of pets are not equipped to process alcohol like people can, which means even a small amount can result in a dangerous situation for your pet. Alcohol poisoning in pets can happen quickly, and can result in symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to coma, kidney or heart failure.


6 – Keep away from table food

Barbecues are very common on July 4th. And while most people enjoy barbecued food immensely, many common foods can be unhealthy or even dangerous for pets. Some common foods to keep away from your pets are:

  • Raw/Undercooked meat
  • Avocado
  • Citrus
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Cherries
  • Apple seeds
  • Caffeine
  • Coconut
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Yeast dough


7 – Substances that are dangerous

There are many common substances and liquids used on the 4th of July that are dangerous to pets. Make sure to keep your pet away from any of the following:

  • Insect Repellant (that isn’t made specifically for pet use)
  • Glow Jewelry
  • Lighter fluid
  • Matches
  • Repellants that contain Citronella (such as oils, candles, and insect coils)

If you have any other questions about how to best enjoy the 4th of July while keeping your pet safe, give us a call or ask us during your next appointment! We’ll talk to you soon!


Does your pet have spring allergies? – How to know and what to do!

Does your pet have spring allergies? – How to know and what to do!

Springtime brings the wonderful bloom of flowers – but with this bloom comes the release of large amounts of pollen in the air. Many humans are acutely aware of this, as it means the advent of allergy season. But what many people don’t know is that pets can have seasonal allergies too, though they usually have different symptoms than the ones humans experience. In this article, you will learn the basics of how allergies affect a dog or cat, how to tell if your pet has seasonal allergies, and a few easy steps that you can take for your pet to ease the intense discomfort of Spring allergies!

The Basics of Spring Allergies

As incredible as the immune system is, it sometimes makes mistakes. Allergies are a result of a hyper-sensitive immune system. When an allergen (like pollen) is inhaled or absorbed through the skin, it stimulates histamine production. This causes inflammation, as the immune system mistakenly believes it is under attack. The resulting effort of the immune system to rid the body of the foreign invader is what causes those deeply uncomfortable symptoms in humans and pets. Humans typically experience respiratory symptoms (like sneezing and congestion), while pets are a bit more prone to skin symptoms (like excessive itching and hot spots).

On rarer occasions, weight gain can be caused by illnesses, such as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurs when insufficient thyroid hormones are produced. Thyroid hormones help to regulate the metabolism. This is usually a readily treatable disease, but many pets suffer for a long time without treatment because their owners don’t realize there is an underlying medical condition to their excessive weight.


Symptoms of Spring Allergies

As we mentioned, Spring allergies typically cause more skin-related symptoms in pets than respiratory symptoms (though it’s not too uncommon for cats to have respiratory symptoms). This is because dogs and cats have many more histamine receptors in the skin than they do in the nose. When histamine is released, the pet experiences an itchy sensation, which typically makes them want to scratch the affected area. The scratching actually generates more histamine production, causing a vicious circle. This causes all sorts of secondary symptoms (even infection), and with it, intense discomfort. Unfortunately, allergic reactions tend to worsen as your pet ages.
Be on the lookout for any of these common symptoms of Spring allergies in your pet:

  • Chewing at the feet
  • Intense scratching
  • Rubbing of the face
  • Constant licking of the side or groin areas
  • Inflamed ears with a foul odor
  • Hot Spots (raw and bleeding skin) – most commonly in dogs
  • Wheezing and sneezing – most commonly in cats

What to Do

First off, if you notice your pet is suffering from any of the symptoms above, we highly recommend giving us a call and scheduling an appointment so that we can help alleviate your pet’s suffering and guide you on ways you can help between appointments.

There are three different ways that you can help ease the suffering from your pet’s allergic reaction: removing the allergen (as much as possible), giving your pet medication and supplements to curb the symptoms, and administering allergy shots for your pet. Shots are typically reserved for pets with more severe reactions. We’ll go over each of those three now!

Removing the allergens

There are a few easy things that you can do right now to remove the sources of pollen that may be irritating your pet. We’ll list them below:

  • Wipe your pet’s feet with a damp cloth when they come inside so that you remove the pollen they would otherwise track in.
  • Wash or change your pet’s bedding at least once a week so that pollen doesn’t accumulate where they sleep.
  • Bath your dog or cat once or twice a week to remove any allergens in their coat – we can even recommend a medicated shampoo to use on your next visit (different pets may require different medicated shampoos).
  • Keep windows and doors shut when possible so that pollen doesn’t enter your home.

Medication and Supplements

Fortunately, there are helpful treatments and supplements that you can use to ease the discomfort your pet is feeling. For any medications (such as antihistamines), it is very important that you consult with us first so that we can tell you whether or not your dog or cat can take it, and instruct you on dosage. We will list different treatments that may be helpful below, but it is a very good idea to give us a call before starting these:

  • Topical Therapies – such as anti-itch solutions and shampoos. These offer immediate but short term relief. If you are bathing your pet, talk to us about using hypoallergenic or oatmeal shampoos.
  • Fatty Acids – New research has demonstrated that Omega-3 fatty acids can prove especially helpful at working with your pet’s immune system to decrease histamine production. Not every pet benefits from Omega-3’s, but some show quite an improvement. Call us for a recommendation on dosage and brand.
  • Antihistamines – You have to be careful with these, because if done without proper veterinary guidance, they can have nasty (and even dangerous) side effects. However, when administered under proper veterinary guidance, antihistamines can prove very effective at curbing the symptoms of allergies. They are especially effective when used in conjunction with topical therapies, fatty acids, and the allergy removal strategies we shared above.

Allergy Shots

For some pets, it may be appropriate to administer long-term allergy shots. This is usually reserved for pets with severe allergic reactions. We would first perform an allergy test in order to determine what allergen is bothering your pet, and then set up a schedule of shots. It usually takes time for these to work, but they can prove to offer your pet long lasting relief!

Allergies can be a miserable experience for humans and pets alike. In this article, we have covered seasonal allergies from pollen, but pets can also be allergic to food or even flea bites! Please know that as your partner for your pet’s health, we are always here to help!

Healthy dog on the grass

Help your pet shed the pounds!– Get your pet bikini ready!

Help your pet shed the pounds!– Get your pet bikini ready!

The percentage of overweight or obese dogs and cats has grown extraordinarily high – some surveys put it over 50%. This is very sad, because the extra pounds decrease a dog or cat’s life expectancy, puts your pet at risk for certain health conditions, and harms their quality of life. In this article, you will learn the different possible causes behind your pet’s weight gain, how it affects your pet’s life, and easy tips that you can implement right now to help your pet shed those pounds so that they are happy and healthy this Spring!


Why is my pet overweight?

Many pet owners don’t realize that the recommended portions on the pet food bags aren’t necessarily accurate for their pets. The unique nutritional requirement of your dog or cat depends on several variables, such as health, medical history, age, genetics, breed, lifestyle, and other factors. Your pet needs a veterinarian to assess their nutritional requirements and set their daily food portioning.

Another common cause of weight gain is feeding dogs or cats pet food that is excessively high in carbohydrates. Unfortunately, many commercial dry pet foods are high in carbohydrates – likely because carbohydrates are a less expensive energy source than proteins. This is a problem because dogs and cats evolved as carnivores, and their digestive system wasn’t meant to handle such large amounts of grains. It is perfectly alright for your dog or cat to have some amount of carbohydrates in their diet, but if it becomes their main source of energy it is likely to cause weight gain.


On rarer occasions, weight gain can be caused by illnesses, such as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurs when insufficient thyroid hormones are produced. Thyroid hormones help to regulate the metabolism. This is usually a readily treatable disease, but many pets suffer for a long time without treatment because their owners don’t realize there is an underlying medical condition to their excessive weight.


How does it affect my pet?

One of the most heartbreaking ways is the diminished quality of life that overweight pets experience. Overweight pets commonly suffer from labored breathing, reduced flexibility (which makes self-grooming difficult), poor body-temperature regulation, and persistent illnesses. And tragically, overweight pets have a significantly shorter life expectancy than pets at a healthy weight.


Being overweight also puts your dog or cat at increased risk for several health conditions. Overweight cats are 2-4 times more likely to develop diabetes than cats at a healthy weight. Overweight dogs are at increased risk for diabetes as well. Overweight pets are at especially high risk for developing arthritis, as the increased strain on their joints quickly wears away cartilage. Obesity can also cause liver problems, increased risk of cancer, heart disease, skin problems, and weakened immune function.

How to help

The first thing to do is to bring your pet in for a physical examination! We may want to screen for endocrine disorders (such as Hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome) in order to see if there is an underlying (and treatable!) medical condition to your pet’s excessive weight. On your visit, we will be able to assess your pet’s current nutrition intake and educate you on what food to use, along with the unique portion and frequency that your dog or cat requires. We will also give you lifestyle tips for your pet’s specific situation, and will help you create a plan to get your pet’s weight under control!



A great rule of thumb is to look at the ingredients on your pet food’s nutritional information – if you can’t understand or pronounce any of the first three on the list, you probably shouldn’t buy it! Your pet’s food should be as close to their natural dietary needs as possible – this means real meat with a full array of vitamins and minerals, as well as a low or moderate amount of carbohydrates. It is important not to put your pet onto a “crash” diet where you immediately and severely reduce their calories – that can cause serious health risks. Try to limit the amount of treats you give your pet – many owners equate treats with love, but this can cause harmful eating habits. During your next visit, we will educate you on the specific food brands that are best suited for your pet’s dietary needs.

Exercise & Lifestyle

Many pets become overweight because of a sedentary lifestyle and lack of stimulation. If your pets sit at home all day without much to do, they probably spend most of the day sleeping and lounging around. Dogs should go on regular walks, though it is very important to ease into an exercise routine. We can help you formulate an effective exercise routine for your dog’s unique needs on your next visit. Cats should have plenty of toys that stimulate their hunting instincts – such as the poles with a feather at the end of it. And food puzzles can be a wonderful way to stimulate their minds, slow their eating (which is great for digestion), and help them shed the pounds.

Remember… being overweight might seem cute, but it is a serious negative for your pet’s health, well-being and longevity. But you are never alone – we are always here to make sure you have a dedicated partner for all of your pet’s needs!


brown cat looking at camera

Caring for Senior Cats – What to Know

Caring for senior cats – What to know

It is a wonderful fact that cats are now living longer than ever. But as cats age, they become susceptible to particular health issues, and will require changes in the way you care for them. It is important to learn about these issues, as it is typically much easier and affordable to treat problems early on. In this article, you will learn when a cat is considered a “senior,” common health issues for aging cats, and proactive steps you can take right now to enhance and extend the life of your faithful companion!


Is my cat a senior?

The short answer is your cat is probably a senior at 10 years old. The long answer is that it’s complicated; different cats age at different rates. Factors like genetics, diet, weight, exercise and environment can all contribute to when your cat starts to possess senior traits.


Common health issues


Cats are notoriously good at hiding health problems, which can make it difficult for pet owners to notice when something’s wrong. One of the best things you can do for your cat is to educate yourself about common health issues and watch for any deviations from your cat’s normal behavior. This, in tandem with regular wellness screenings with us, is incredibly powerful for your cat’s health and well-being. We can’t stress enough how important it is to catch these problems early!

Below, you’ll learn about some of the most common health conditions in senior cats, along with the changes in behavior and symptoms to look out for.

Chronic Renal (Kidney) Disease


Common symptoms: Cats usually show no symptoms until stage 3 or 4 of the disease, when the kidneys are operating at less than 25% of their usual capacity. The earliest signs you will notice will be excessive thirst and urination. Once the disease is advanced, common symptoms are vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, dehydration, diarrhea and mouth sores.

Chronic Renal Disease is common in aging cats, and is always very serious. The kidneys’ most important job is to filter waste from the blood. When they begin to lose their ability to do this, waste products can begin to build to dangerous levels in your cat’s bloodstream, causing a health emergency. Chronic kidney disease usually happens over the course of months or years, and can ultimately damage the kidneys so severely that they can’t function.

Treatment: The appropriate treatment of kidney disease depends on the stage the disease has been caught at. If we catch it early (like stage 1 or 2), it is much easier to slow its progression by treating the underlying cause of the condition, meaning your cat will have an excellent prognosis. Beyond the early stages, we will make specialized changes to your cat’s diet, and monitor for infections. With proper veterinary treatment, even cats with very limited amounts of kidney function can still survive for a long time.

The 4 stages of chronic renal disease:

Stage 1 occurs when waste filtering slows and waste begins to appear in the blood. There are no easily visible signs, and the only way to diagnose is usually through a laboratory test.

Stage 2 occurs when there is a further slowing of waste filtration and an imbalance of water in urine. Some cats will exhibit increased urination.

Stage 3 occurs when kidney filtration becomes seriously impaired – often at less than 60% of normal capacity. You will commonly see excessive thirst and urination in cats.

Stage 4 occurs when kidneys work at less than 25% of normal capacity and the toxic buildup begins to affect organs in the body. Cats typically appear very sick at this stage.



Common symptoms: Weight loss, excessive appetite, shortness of breath, increased excitability, increased thirst and urination, increased fecal volume, as well as vomiting or diarrhea.

Hyperthyroidism is a very common condition in senior cats and is characterized by the increase in the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in the body, which causes dangerous secondary problems.

Heart Problems – Thyroid hormones stimulate a faster heart rate and stronger heart contraction. This can cause some cats with untreated hyperthyroidism to experience a thickening of the left heart ventricle, which can impede the heart’s functioning and even cause congestive heart failure. Fortunately, once hyperthyroidism is treated, cardiac problems often improve.

Hypertension – Excess thyroid hormones often cause high blood pressure, which can lead to a range of secondary problems such as damage to the brain, eyes, kidneys and heart. Once the hyperthyroidism is successfully treated, these secondary conditions will usually improve, though they can often require their own unique treatment.

Treatment: There are three avenues for treatment for hyperthyroidism: radioactive iodine treatment, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, or a long-term regiment of antithyroid drugs. The treatment of your cat will depend on the unique particulars of your cat’s condition.

Diabetes Mellitus


Common symptoms: Increased thirst and urination, increased appetite and weight loss. May also develop chronic or recurrent infections. Diabetes is especially common in overweight cats.
Diabetes is caused by a deficiency of insulin or resistance to insulin, which results in improperly balanced blood sugar levels. Diabetes typically develops gradually, meaning the symptoms are usually hard to spot at first. Treating a diabetic cat is usually more about controlling (rather than curing) the disease. It is a very serious illness – there are a range of problems it can cause, and if improperly treated it can be fatal.

Treatment: The primary treatment for diabetes in cats is usually insulin therapy. If, for some reason, insulin therapy cannot be used, there are oral medications that can be used to treat diabetes. It is also usually highly recommended to switch to a special diet that is low-carbohydrate in nature.


Being Proactive


Regular Wellness Exams

Like we said, we really can’t stress enough how important it is to catch problems early on, especially for senior cats. So the most important thing to do is to make sure your cat has biannual wellness exams where we can screen for potential problems. If your senior cat hasn’t been in to see us in the last six months, please call us or request an appointment below!

Request Appointment


Keeping your cat at a healthy weight will pay incredible dividends for your cat’s health – and your wallet! Feed your cat exactly the amount required to maintain their ideal body weight. During your next visit with our staff, consult with us on the diet that your cat would best benefit from. Different cats have different nutrient requirements, and it’s important to treat each cat with individual attention.


Make sure your senior cat doesn’t have to go far for access to food and water. Also make sure your cat has access to plenty of toys and can easily stay stimulated. Older arthritic cats especially appreciate soft bedding that is easy to get to.

golden dog looking at camera

Taking Care of Your Pet’s Teeth – Easy Tips for a Longer Life

Taking Care of Your Pet’s Teeth – Easy Tips for a Longer Life

One of the most important things you can do for your pet’s short term comfort and long term life expectancy is to give them proper dental care. In this article you’ll learn the basics of why dental care is important. We will also teach you easy tips to keep your pet’s teeth healthy. And we will reveal an exciting promotion we are only running for February, which is National Pet Dental Health Month!


Why it’s important


As your dog or cat eats, plaque accumulates on their teeth. If the plaque isn’t soon removed, it hardens and turns into tartar. The accumulation of tartar promotes the growth of unhealthy bacteria, which erodes the supporting structures around your pet’s tooth. This is very painful for your pet, and can cause tooth decay and loss. Worst of all, the unhealthy bacteria can spread into your pet’s bloodstream and make its way into your pet’s vital organs. Alarmingly, this can cause heart, kidney and liver disease, which are very dangerous health conditions.

Home Care


Daily brushing keeps plaque from hardening into tartar. In this section, we’ll teach you how to turn this into an easy, fun and fast routine for your dog or cat!

Important Tip: NEVER use toothpaste designed for humans. It can be extremely toxic to dogs and cats. Always use toothpaste designed specifically for pets. You should also use toothbrushes designed for your dog or cat too.



Step 1: In order to make this process easy, you want to positively condition your dog to enjoy getting their teeth brushed. Find a flavor of dog-specific toothpaste that your dog likes. Give it to them periodically as a treat for 3-4 days, offering a lot of praise when you do.

Step 2: Find a dog-specific toothbrush suitable for your dog’s mouth size. Put some toothpaste on the brush and allow your dog to lick the brush. This lets your dog get used to the bristles.

Step 3: Brushing time! Gently hold back your dog’s lips and place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. You only need to brush the outside of your dog’s teeth. Move the brush gently back and forth a few times for each tooth. Brush only a few teeth the first time, and gradually lengthen your sessions until you brush the outside of each tooth! And remember to give your dog a lot of praise when you are done!



Step 1: The first step is to get your cat used to putting something in their mouth. Dip your finger in your cat’s favorite liquid treat (like tuna water). Call your cat with your “who wants a treat” voice, and allow them to lick it off your finger. Then gently rub your soaked finger over your cat’s teeth and gums. Do this once a day for a few days.

Step 2: Find some toothpaste that your cat enjoys – many feline toothpastes are poultry or fish flavored. Present the toothpaste as you would a treat to your cat, and let your cat lick some off your finger. Then gently rub the toothpaste over your cat’s teeth and gums. Remember to be encouraging and positive throughout your efforts. Do this once a day for a few days.

Step 3: Brushing time! Use a cat toothbrush or a dental sponge and put a drop of toothpaste on it. Gently lift your cat’s lips and brush back and forth on the outside of your cat’s upper canine teeth (the large ones in front). After you do this for a couple days, you can brush the outside of all the rest of your cat’s teeth.


Veterinary Care


Your dog or cat needs to have a dental exam at least once a year to monitor for any oral health issues. If your dog hasn’t had a dental exam with us in this last year, please call us right away. Dental exams are important in preventing your dog or cat from forming periodontal disease, which causes the erosion of your pet’s tooth structures and the spread of bacteria to your pet’s vital organs.

Important tip: Please call us right away if you notice that your pet has bad breath, red or inflamed gums, excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth, or bleeding from the gums.

If your dog or cat has inflamed gums along with a buildup of tartar on their teeth, it is very important to schedule a professional dental cleaning in order to reverse the damage. Your pet will be very carefully anesthetized in order to remove any stress from the procedure. Then we will meticulously scale and polish your pet’s teeth in order to remove all tartar from your pet’s mouth – including below the gum line (where periodontal disease typically lurks).




In order to raise awareness about the importance of oral health for pets, we are offering you an exclusive promotion!

Only during the month of February, we will be providing dental cleanings for $150 off! Please click “redeem” below or call our team in order to claim your special discount!


German Longhaired on grass

Arthritis in Pets – The Pet Owner’s Guide

Arthritis in Pets – The Pet Owner’s Guide

Arthritis is the most common source of chronic pain in older dogs. It affects many younger dogs and cats too. In this article, you’ll learn if your pet is at increased risk, the basics of arthritis, signs and symptoms to watch out for, and easy steps that can be taken right now to treat arthritis in your dog or cat!

Extra: As a bonus, you’ll learn about special promotions we are running (right now!) to treat your pet!


What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is characterized by damage to the cartilage between your pet’s joints. In healthy joints, cartilage acts as a shock absorber to cushion the bones that form the joint. However, as the damage worsens and the cartilage thins, the bones begin to contact each other when the joint is moved. This causes inflammation and damage to the bones, which is usually very painful. There are actually a few underlying causes of arthritis with unique risk factors. We’ll outline what you need to know below!

The common kind:


Degenerative Joint Disease (or “osteoarthritis”) is the most common form of arthritis in pets. It typically occurs from prolonged wear and tear on a joint. In general, the more strain that is put on a pet’s joint, the higher the probability that the dog or cat will develop osteoarthritis. This is why osteoarthritis is so common in large breeds of dogs or overweight dogs and cats – weight and age are the largest risk factors.

Degenerative joint disease can also be triggered by joint injury (such as joint fractures and cruciate ligament tears) or developmental conditions like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia or osteochondrosis.

Immune-Mediated Arthritis


At risk: Immune-mediated (or “rheumatoid”) arthritis is most common in small or “toy” breeds of dogs, typically around the age of 5 or 6. It is very uncommon in cats.

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overreaction of the pet’s own immune system. Normally, an immune system reacts when it detects a foreign protein (an “antigen”) inside the body and creates antibodies in order to fight it. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system mistakes its own protein for an antigen, and begins fighting its own body. The antibody and protein form an “immune complex” which is deposited in the joint. This causes inflammation – the body’s normal reaction to injury. The immune system will then seek to destroy the cause of injury, which usually only leads to further damage to the joint(s). In this way, rheumatoid arthritis is self-perpetuating, and can become debilitating as the cartilage and bone are worn away.

Septic Arthritis


At risk: Septic arthritis is most common in male dogs between the age of 4 and 7. It is also more common in pets with weakened immune systems or diabetes. It is fairly rare in cats.

Septic arthritis is typically caused by bacteria that spreads through the bloodstream because of a wound from a penetrating foreign object. As the infecting microorganism spreads through the bloodstream, it makes its way into a joint (usually only one or two joints are affected) and causes inflammation.


Signs and Symptoms


Arthritis is notoriously difficult to spot at its onset. Cats are especially good at hiding health conditions. But because arthritis is a progressive disease, the sooner we catch and treat it, the better for your pet’s well-being and happiness!

In most cases of arthritis in dogs or cats, you will notice your pet generally “slowing down.” Regrettably, this means that often times the onset of arthritis is confused with old age, when it is actually a treatable medical condition!

Typically, the first sign of arthritis is an altered gait, as your dog or cat attempts to put less weight on the affected joint. Your dog or cat may begin to take a longer amount of time rising after lying down. Arthritic dogs may stop jumping into your car, and arthritic cats may stop jumping on counter tops. Many pets with arthritis find it difficult to go up or down stairs. Arthritic pets usually begin sleeping much more, can become irritable because of the pain, can experience muscle atrophy, and some lick or chew at the affected joint(s).

It is crucially important that a veterinarian diagnoses the type and severity of arthritis in your pet. That way we can form a thoughtful and effective treatment plan to enhance your dog or cat’s quality of life!


How to treat arthritis


If you suspect your pet may have arthritis, the first step is to call us right away. Arthritis cannot be cured, but there are a number of ways to slow its progression and alleviate the pain felt by your loving dog or cat. Below, you’ll learn about commonly effective methods, along with things you can do at home right now!

Laser Therapy


Many pets afflicted with arthritis benefit immensely from laser therapy. Laser therapy is a modern, non-invasive and totally painless procedure that harnesses light to stimulate blood flow, improve cell health, reduce inflammation, and release endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller). This can greatly improve arthritic conditions. Laser therapy is a very exciting advancement in veterinary medicine!

Promotion: If your pet is a good candidate for laser therapy, you’ll receive your first laser treatment session free! Just click “redeem” or call us to schedule an appointment!





Some dogs and cats experience beneficial effects from nutritional supplementation. One of the most effective supplements is glucosamine. Glucosamine is a natural substance found in your pet’s body that helps repair tissues like cartilage. As your pet ages, their body’s production level of glucosamine slows. When we supplement your pet’s diet with glucosamine, we are using your pet’s natural healing mechanisms to repair damaged joint cartilage. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect, which reduces pain! Side effects are very rare, but consult with us before starting a regimen.

Promotion: If your pet is a good candidate, get a free sample of glucosamine by clicking “redeem” or calling us!



Around the house


Make sure your dog or cat has access to well-padded and warm bedding. Hard and cold surfaces exacerbate arthritic symptoms and can be painful for your pet, so make sure your dog or cat has carpets or rugs to walk on. If your pet is overweight, consult with us on how to use diet and exercise to shed the pounds so that your pet’s quality of life improves!

Always remember, we’re here to help! Call us right away whenever you need us!

Dog Beagle on grass

Caring for Senior Dogs – What to Know

Older dogs are a constant sources of affection, love and fulfillment. However, as your dog ages, they become susceptible to common health conditions and require a different pattern of care. In this article, you will learn when your dog is considered a “senior,” the common health conditions that older dogs face, and steps you can take right now to enhance your senior dog’s quality of life and longevity!

When do dogs become senior?


It’s actually a complicated question. In general though, the larger the breed, the faster the process. A Great Dane might be considered a senior at 5-6 years old, while a Chihuahua probably won’t be a senior until 10-11 years old. Most dogs usually become senior between the 7-10 year range. Genetics, nutrition and environment all contribute to how fast your dog ages.


Common health issues for senior dogs


Senior (or “geriatric”) dogs are prone to common health conditions. Here, we’ll briefly describe what you should know about some of the most common ailments. As your dog’s owner, you’re in the best position to notice and report any of these symptoms to us. The earlier we catch the disease, the better the prognosis for your beloved companion.




Arthritis is a very common condition in older dogs. It is especially frequent in large breeds or overweight senior dogs. Your dog’s joint cartilage thins as they age, and cartilage cells die. When the cells die, they release an enzyme that causes joint inflammation and fluid buildup. This creates joint pain, which is why arthritic dogs tend to decrease their joint movement.

If your dog is arthritic, you’ll probably notice them shying away from once loved physical activities – like going for runs, bounding up the stairs, and jumping on the couch. Your dog might have difficulty sitting or standing, they may favor a limb, sleep more, gain weight, or just generally slow down.




Cancer is responsible for about half the deaths in dogs over the age of 10. Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. Some –like breast and testicular- are mostly preventable by spaying or neutering. Cancer is essentially an uncontrolled division of cells which then spread into surrounding tissues. As the cancerous cells spread, they can impede normal functioning in different bodily systems. This can cause devastating and fatal effects.

There are many different symptoms for cancer in pets, but a veterinarian is always required to accurately diagnose cancer. Often times when a dog has cancer you’ll notice abnormal swellings that persist and continue to grow. You may notice sores that heal slowly. Your dog may unexpectedly lose weight, have a decreased appetite, or have difficulty eating or swallowing. Some dogs change their urination patterns, bleed or discharge from a bodily opening (like the eyes or ears), and become less active. If you notice any of these symptoms in your older dogs, please know that it’s not necessarily being caused by cancer, but schedule a health exam with us right away.




Signs of canine cognitive dysfunction (or “dog dementia”) are found in 50% of dogs over age 11. Dementia is a condition related to the aging of your dog’s brain and it inhibits normal mental abilities (such as memory, awareness and responsiveness). Dementia is a progressive disease; symptoms are usually mild and almost unnoticeable in the beginning. But as the disease progresses, the symptoms start to severely impact your dog’s quality of life.

Dogs suffering from dementia will usually exhibit changes in behavior. They may become easily confused, incessantly anxious, or overly irritable. Many dogs change their sleep cycle to be active at night and asleep during the day. Dogs with dementia might also forget past training, and will have difficulty learning new tasks.


Kidney Failure


Kidney failure is one of the most common causes of death in geriatric dogs. In healthy dogs, the kidneys filter the blood to remove potentially harmful toxins through urination. During kidney (or “renal”) failure, the kidneys lose their ability to remove these toxins. When this happens, dangerous toxins begin to accumulate in the bloodstream. Renal failure usually progresses over the course of months or years.

As a dog’s kidney fails, the dog requires more and more water to excrete the toxins through urination. That’s why sharply increased water consumption is a usual symptom of kidney failure in older dogs. You may also notice a chemical (or ammonia like) odor to your dog’s breath. Other common symptoms include pale gums, vomiting, blood in the urine, changes in urination patterns, or sudden weight loss. Some dogs begin to seem depressed or listless, and some even lose coordination which causes them to stumble around.


How to help your dog right now


Here we’ll walk you through steps you can take right now to enhance your senior dog’s lifespan and quality of life!

Biannual Health Exams


For your senior dog, the most important thing for you to do is to schedule veterinary health exams once every 6 months. This is very important for multiple reasons. First, it allows us to establish a baseline for your dog. This makes it much easier for us to spot when something becomes irregular. Another important factor is that it is crucial to catch diseases in geriatric dogs as early as possible. If we catch something early, we are much more effectively (and less expensively) able to treat it. This greatly enhances your dog’s quality of life and longevity!

During these biannual geriatric health exams, we will perform a thorough examination for your senior dog. We will check for signs and symptoms of possible health conditions. Depending on your dog’s individual needs, we may even perform diagnostic tests – such as urinalysis or a blood panel.


Keeping a healthy weight


Overweight geriatric dogs have higher rates of cancer, organ disease, arthritis, diabetes, and other health conditions. It’s important to keep your senior dog at a healthy weight through diet and exercise. Our veterinary team will educate you on your pet’s unique dietary and exercise needs. Overweight dogs must have a nutrition plan so that they still get vital nutrients while losing weight. Exercise will help keep your dog lean and maintain healthy joints and muscles. Every dog is different though – we can give you specific exercise recommendations based on your dog’s overall health.


Comfort at home


Older dogs are happiest when they’re mentally stimulated and physically comfortable. To keep your pet stimulated, make sure to have an abundance of safe and fun toys around their living area. Food puzzles can be a great way to accomplish this while cutting down on weight. Older dogs with joint problems find hard surfaces very uncomfortable, so make sure their bed has extra padding, and do your best to offer soft surfaces (like carpets and rugs) to walk on instead of hard floors.

And remember, you’re never alone. We care very deeply for you and your dog. We will be there for every stage of your dog’s life, and together we can make sure that your dog lives a wonderful, happy life by your side.

golden brown dog

Periodontal Disease – What You Need to Know

Periodontal disease is the most common medical condition in adult dogs and cats. In this article, you’re going to learn what it is, how it impacts your pet’s health, signs and symptoms, and steps that you can take right now to make sure that your dog or cat isn’t a victim of periodontal disease!


What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is the inflammation (and reddening) of your pet’s gums, as well as the damage and loss of the bone and soft tissue that supports your dog or cat’s teeth. It is caused by the accumulation of dental plaque, which hardens and forms tartar (or “calculus”). It is unfortunately a very common condition – the majority of pets will have periodontal disease by age three!


How does it affect my pet’s health?


The short answer is that there are several ways it can affect your pet’s health – from mild discomfort to organ damage. It really depends on the severity and stage of the disease. This is because as the tartar accumulates below your pet’s gum line, the growth of unhealthy bacteria is promoted. This bacteria damages the oral structures that support your pet’s teeth. This damage causes oral pain for your pet, and can lead to permanent dental damage, such as tooth loss. Even more alarmingly, the accumulated bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream and cause permanent damage to your dog or cat’s heart, liver and kidneys. This can actually shorten your pet’s lifespan.


Signs and Symptoms


Often times people laugh about “dog breath.” However, bad breath can actually be a sign of periodontal disease. Halitosis (bad breath) is caused by build up of bacteria in your pet’s mouth. So that foul odor that you’re smelling might actually be harmful bacteria!

Another common (though more subtle) symptom of periodontal disease is the refusal of crunchy food or treats. Pets with this condition will often opt for softer foods due to mouth soreness. You may also find them playing with chew toys less, chewing food on the sides of their mouths, or pawing and rubbing their face.




The good news is that periodontal disease is actually very treatable! If you (or your veterinarian) suspects that your pet may have issues related to periodontal disease, the first step is to schedule a dental examination. During the examination, our veterinary professionals will thoroughly examine your pet for symptoms of periodontal disease, and may even use advanced equipment (such as dental radiographs) in order to see its spread in ways that a visual check can’t!

If periodontal disease is present, the next step is for your pet to have a professional veterinary dental cleaning. During this procedure, your pet is carefully anesthetized, and we clean your pet’s teeth to get rid of any accumulated plaque and tartar. Importantly, we will also thoroughly clean below your pet’s gum line, where periodontal disease typically lurks. After this painless dental procedure, your pet will be much happier and healthier!

As in all of animal medicine, the best investment is in regular preventative care for your dog or cat. Your dog or cat should have at least one dental exam every year. It is also important to develop a routine with your pet where you brush their teeth. Doing this prevents the accumulation of plaque, which can harden into tartar within just a few days. Brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most important factor in protecting your pet from periodontal disease between professional veterinary dental cleanings. It’s best to brush your dog or cat’s teeth daily – and make sure to use a toothbrush and toothpaste that are both made specifically for your dog or cat.

For more information on your pet’s oral hygiene and health care, please contact our veterinary staff at (310) 517-1832. And if you suspect your pet may be exhibiting symptoms of periodontal disease, please let us know right away so we can help!

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