4 Ways to Have a Pet-Safe 4th of July

Most people really love the 4th of July; it’s a time to celebrate with family and friends and officially kick off our summer and enjoy some fireworks. Please be aware, however, that your pets will not be enjoying most of these festivities! The 4th of July weekend is when the MOST pets go missing and/or never return home; an increase of almost 30%. So as you’re planning your celebration, look towards your pet’s safety as well!

Want to enjoy the show? Leave them at home!

Loud noises scare pets, and it’s impossible to let them know that fireworks aren’t dangerous. They will panic and potentially break what restraint you have, or attempt to jump the fence. If they could talk, they’d let you know, they’re happier at home where it’s quiet and all smells normal. HERE is a great article on fireworks/loud noise aversion and how you can help. Also, leaving your dog in the car while you celebrate can lead them to overheat and have a heat stroke (potentially fatal) EVEN with the windows cracked and sitting in the shade.

No People Products or Food

  1. Although it may seem like a no brainer, don’t use people sunscreenor insect repellant on your pet. Ingesting sunscreen can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling and lethargy. (There are doggy-safe versions out there!)
  2. One of the ingredients in most insect repellants (DEET) can also cause neurologic issues.
  3. If your pet drinks alcohol, they can become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma, or in severe cases, die from respiratory failure. Yes, even beer is toxic; fermented hops and ethanol are poisonous to dogs and cats.
  4. Glow sticks/wraps/jewelrycan cause GI irritation and potentially a blockage if ingested.
  5. Table scraps! ‘Tis the season, and we know some of us are notorious for sneaking a little scrap here and there when the BBQ is going. Don’t. They’ll be less likely to have indigestion, or potentially more serious problems.


Keep Him Free, Have an ID!

The busiest day of the year for shelters is July 5th. Every year. That’s because they’re working their behinds off trying to reunite lost runaways! Keep your pet out of the system by making sure he has an ID, either physical or electronic. If they have a microchip, PLEASE check and make sure your information is current! You wouldn’t believe the number of pets we’ll see at the vet hospital that have chips with old or disconnected numbers (and no addresses).

So What CAN they do?

Enjoy the peace and ‘quiet’ of their natural habitat. Home. It’s not a loss to them, and they’ll thank you for keeping them out of uncomfortable, stressful/frightening or dangerous situations. Want to give them a little extra something? Freeze yogurt or peanut butter in a popsicle or Kong and leave it for them to enjoy. 🙂

Click HERE for simple steps to help reduce your pet’s anxiety at home.



Don’t Pass on that Mass- Top 5 Pet Lumps and Bumps

We’ve all been there. Happily watching Die Hard (the original is always the best) on the couch with a glass of wine in one hand, and the other on your pup (cuddling by your side). As you’re scratching around, you notice a weird bump under his skin. Wait.. what? How long has THAT been there? Maybe it’s the only one, or maybe you notice a second or third. Your brain is going a mile a minute; “well, THAT wasn’t there before”, “is it serious?”, “could it be cancer?”

There are a number of reasons for lumps and bumps on your pet (some not serious at all, and others more worrisome), but the only way to find out is to chat with the Doc! And don’t worry about “going in for something small”. Lumps are among the top 10 reasons why owners head to the vet. They’ve seen ’em all.

Mass Exam 101- What Your Vet Will Want to Know:

  1. Is this a sudden appearance?
  2. If not, has the shape, color or size changed?
  3. Has Fido’s behavior, appetite or energy level changed?

Pulling Out the Wand of Immediate Answers- Not So Fast.

Masses are tricky, because no one can predict with 100% accuracy what they are by touch, and also what they’ll do in the future. After doing a full exam, your vet is going to recommend a few options. They’re being thorough, because again, you can’t always tell what a lump is without looking inside. Here are the main options:

  1. A fine needle aspirate: (Doesn’t that just sound dandy?) This is the most common. Your vet will poke Sir Mass with a needle (the goal is to collect some cells from the inside), and look at what they see under a microscope. Most of the time that gets you answers, but occasionally that slide will need to be sent to the lab to make sure.
  2. An incisional biopsy: A small bit of the mass is removed and sent to a lab. That gives them more of the lump to work with and hopefully find the evidence Doc needs to let you know what your next step is.
  3. An excisional biopsy: This gives you the best chance of a definitive diagnosis because the lab gets the entire lump! Usually means sedation or anesthesia to get it all.

Masses, Tumors & Cysts, Oh My!

So at this point, your vet has a good history and a sample of your pet’s mass (in one form or another). Here are the top 5 lumps and bumps you’ll see:

  • Fatty Tumors: Also called lipomas, these are the most common lump found in the vet’s office. Usually benign, they are fatty deposits that generally don’t spread, but grow to a certain size and then hang out. Occasionally, depending on the location, they may grow big enough to be a bother.
  • Sebaceous Cyst: Nothing to worry about! Easily treated, these are blocked skin glands that fill up with dead cells and/or fluid. Sometimes these guys burst on their own (picture a nice, big zit…), or your vet can remove the gland if it gets infected.
  • Warts: These are caused by a virus, and are usually harmless!
  • Abscess: Usually caused by an infection (did Fido get in a fight recently?), the lumps are full of puss. Even if they burst at home, they still need to be cleaned out, and your pet may need antibiotics.
  • Mast Cell Tumor: This is the most common skin cancer. Not only can these spread around the body, but the mast cells inside release a chemical that can cause a lot of systemic problems (think GI, allergy symptoms, etc.).

To Cut or Not to Cut

This varies widely depending on the mass and the vet. Obviously the more serious, the more likely Doc is going to recommend taking it out. Remember what I said earlier about not being able to predict 100% what a mass will do in the future? That also comes into play: even fatty tumors can spread and in very rare instances be malignant.

The Rule of Thumb? Keep a close eye and track any changes to a lump or bump your pet has. Don’t wait until tumor-row to check any you are worried about! 😉


May the 4th be with you- Tips for a Happy Ewok

The Ewoks are furred bipeds native to the moon of Endor, but have recently migrated to the Redwood National Forest of California. For those lucky few able to open their homes to one, here is a little more information on how to keep your Ewok happy and healthy. Continue reading “May the 4th be with you- Tips for a Happy Ewok”

5 Reasons Why Your Pet Shouldn’t Have a Beer

I get many questions regarding what someone’s pet should and shouldn’t have, ranging from foods to medications. And although many answers include “in moderation”, there are quite a few that are a sweet, simple, emphatic, “NO”. This is one of those answers! Not just because it can make them sick, but because alcohol poisoning can kill your pet. Here’s why: Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Your Pet Shouldn’t Have a Beer”

4 Ways to Help Our Pets with Stress

Science can measure stress and its effect on the health and well-being of our pets. Both short-lived and chronic stress can impact their health, healing process, and lifespan. Fear Free ideas help lower our pet’s level of anxiety, which results in a happier pet and a safer environment for treatment (both at the vet clinic and at home). Continue reading “4 Ways to Help Our Pets with Stress”