What Your Dog Wants For the Holidays

I can’t help you decide what to get your wife, your mother, your son, or your best friend, but I can help you with what to get for your dog. I know how much you were all worried about what to get Fido, so I figured I would step up and help with a couple of ideas. My goal as a veterinarian is to allow you to have a long, happy, and healthy relationship with your pet, and these ideas will help you achieve that goal.

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  1. Flea and tick prevention!! Let’s be honest, fleas make your pet feel miserable, and nobody likes the idea of fleas in your carpet and bed. We have safe and effective products that can help keep your dog feeling good all year long. I personally like Bravecto and Nexgard for my own dogs currently. There are other safe and effective products as well, but I like the ease of these two oral chews (and most dogs seem to actually enjoy these chews). Bravecto keeps dogs free of fleas and ticks for 3 months per dose, and Nexgard keeps them free of fleas and ticks for one month per dose. They have also been found to treat Sarcoptes and Demodex mites, so you can feel comfortable knowing that you are protecting your dog from numerous parasites. A good portion of my day as a veterinarian is treating flea related skin disease, so this would be a great gift for your furry canine companion this year!!
  1. Heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention!! There is nothing quite like the panicked phone call from an owner who just noticed worms in the dog’s stool. I agree that heartworm disease is not common in Livermore, CA, but there are cases in Northern California every year. Intestinal parasites are incredibly common, and something that we treat on almost a daily basis. Heartworm disease is simple to prevent, and complicated to treat. We have safe and effective products to keep your dogs safe from heartworm disease, and free from hookworm and roundworm infestations. Heartgard Plus comes in a tasty monthly chewable treat, and your dog will thank you for keeping him/her safe from nasty parasites.

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  1. Get those teeth cleaned!! Let’s be honest, bad breath ruins cuddle time with your dog. Your dog wants to be able to cuddle with you more for the holidays, and its not going to happen if you need to leave the room every time Fido opens his mouth. Dental disease is honestly painful and uncomfortable, and will not get better until it is treated. This year give Fido the gift of cuddle time. Let’s get that mouth smelling fresh and clean again!

 

  1. Everyone’s favorite healthy stocking stuffers!! I get it, it’s hard to jump for joy when you open that bottle of multivitamins, but your dog is less judgmental than your teenage son. Fully digestible CET and Oravet dental chews can be used as a frequent treat to help keep Fido’s teeth clean. He won’t know these are special dental treats, and he will just think you are being an awesome dog parent. A new toothbrush is also a great idea. Daily/weekly brushing is the key to keeping your dog’s teeth clean. I know it’s a hassle, but it is cheap and effective, so give it a try!

 

  1. Toys and Puzzles!! We love Kong toys as we have big dogs that destroy everything you give them in about 20 seconds. The Kong toys are fairly durable, and can be great for keeping dogs mentally stimulated when you hide treats and snacks inside. Puzzle feeders are a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated, while also preventing her from setting a new world record in dog food consumption time. There are plenty of other toy options as well, but the Kongs and puzzle feeding toys are some of our favorites.

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  1. Get your dog a gym membership!! Ok, maybe don’t go crazy and bring your dog to the gym, but let Fido know that this year you are dedicating more time to being active. Get outside and go for a weekly hike, dedicate 20 minutes each day to being active with your dog, or just get outside and spend some time together. I know everyone is busy, but it is good for dogs and humans alike to get outside and be active. As it is getting dark early these days it is a good idea to get reflective collars, leashes, or dog vests to make sure that you and Fido are being safe together while enjoying the outdoors. The best gifts don’t always cost money, so no matter your holiday budget this gift is well within reach.

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So, I hope this has eased your holiday anxiety a bit, and you now have a plan for your favorite pooch (sorry I was of no help with what to get your mother-in-law). Stay tuned for what to get your cat, but to be honest cats are a bit more judgmental, and I am going to make the other doctor figure out what you can buy for them 🙂 Happy holidays to you all, and please let Ohana Animal Hospital know if you need help with any of the above gifts for your canine friend.

 

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The New Age of Reptile Medicine and Surgery Is Here

The future of reptile medicine and surgery is here, and it’s exciting! Reptile medicine and surgery is complex and interesting, and the general body of knowledge is growing at lightning speed. At Ohana Animal Hospital we are routinely performing blood work, performing ultrasounds, obtaining x-rays, collecting samples for viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic evaluation, anesthetizing and performing surgery, and amazingly, we only rarely send home Baytril! I don’t mean to say that Baytril is an inappropriate antibiotic for certain cases, but we can do so much more now, and it is time we all expected more for our reptilian companions. I admit that we are by no means perfect, and we cannot fix every case that walks through the door, but with owners having an open mind and a desire to provide the best care possible, we are doing amazing things (as are many of our incredible colleagues).

I have recently seen a large number of cases of reptilian respiratory infections, and that really got me thinking how far we have come in this field. I remember when I started out early in my career thinking respiratory infections were simple, and even boring (oh, how little I knew)! The snake would come in with some oral and nasal discharge, and it would go home with some antibiotics. Some of them got better, some of them didn’t, and that was just how it was. Working through snake respiratory infections today can be a significant process because we know so much more about the various, and NUMEROUS, causes. We now understand that many respiratory infections are multifactorial in nature, and are commonly the result of suboptimal husbandry conditions (yes, that client handout you fill out before the appointment is really that important), viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic infections, trauma, foreign bodies, inhalation of toxic fumes, and even cancer. One of those things will respond well to an antibiotic, and the others will not. I am amazed at how many of my early patients actually did well actually!!

We know about more diseases than ever before, and we are slowly developing a larger body of evidence-based medicine to base our therapies. We know that fewer bearded dragons die during treatment for Nannizziopsis guarroi (previously called CANV or Yellow Fungus Disease) if they are treated with voriconazole than itraconazole. We now know that the elusive inclusion body disease virus is not a retrovirus like was once suspected, but it is actually an arenavirus, and we can adjust our diagnostic testing to better evaluate our patients. We know that adenovirus is common in bearded dragons, cryptosporidiosis is common in leopard geckos, vitamin a deficiencies are common in insectivores not fed a balanced diet, nidovirus is common in green tree pythons, mycoplasma is a common cause of tortoise respiratory disease, and so many other things. We learn about new diseases every year, and this allows us to offer so much more to you and your reptile companion in terms of therapy.

We routinely perform complicated surgeries on reptilian patients. I have performed intestinal resection and anastomoses surgery (surgically removing a portion of intestine and sewing clean edges of the intestine back together), foreign body removals, eye removals, bladder stone removals, repaired traumatic wounds to the skull, amputations of limbs, spay surgeries, and biopsies of skin abnormalities just to name a few things. These patients are routinely placed under general anesthesia, ventilated to ensure they are breathing and oxygenating appropriately, have intravenous or intraosseous catheters placed to provide fluid and medication, are closely monitored while under anesthesia, and recover uneventfully. I remember when every reptile patient was given the same anesthetic cocktail, the recoveries were long and inconsistent, and I didn’t even think that an intravenous catheter was possible. Every patient now gets their own specialized anesthetic plan, we have numerous reversal drugs to help our patients wake faster, we have access to effective pain medications, and my bearded dragon patient gets the same level of anesthetic care and monitoring as a dog or a cat. This is cool stuff, and is something that I personally take great pride in.

I understand that it is not practical for everyone to perform blood work, a tracheal wash with culture and sensitivity testing, viral PCR evaluation, lung biopsy with histopathological evaluation, endoscopic airway evaluation, CT scan, etc. I want you to know that this is all possible now though. If you are on your third round of Baytril with your snake for a “respiratory infection” it may be time to look a little deeper. The new age of reptile medicine and surgery is here, and the future looks bright!

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Don’t Forget To Search For Treasure

I got the idea for this blog while I was watching my daughter this past Sunday. My daughter is just over 2 years old now, and as I suspect most 2 year old are, she is full of energy and wonder. She enjoys riding her bike, running with our dogs, helping take care of all of our crazy exotic pets, playing at the park, and as I learned on Sunday, looking for treasure. I sure had forgotten about searching for treasure, or at least the treasure she was thinking about. These days I suppose my idea of treasure has changed, but she has the right idea, and I am glad that she reminded me. Treasure to her was a beautiful butterfly, a fancy rock, an old tool long buried in the dirt. Treasure for me was a day exploring the natural world with my daughter.

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As Ohana Animal Hospital has quickly grown, I have noticed the increasing numbers of veterinarians and veterinary students following our Instagram, Facebook, and Blog accounts. I am so excited that I get to share my experiences with veterinarians and clients alike. I usually write about fun surgeries I have done, or interesting patients I have encountered, but today I want to write about trying to balance life (mostly because this is an area where I struggle, as do most veterinarians I know). At Ohana Animal hospital we not only care about animals, we also care about our clients, friends, and colleagues. This blog is dedicated to every adult who has forgotten the benefits of hunting for treasure.

I have had an incredibly interesting career so far. I have worked alongside some amazing veterinarians and co-workers, I have played a role in discovering a few new diseases, have had the honor of speaking to various groups, have published scientific papers, and have as of recently opened my own state-of-the-art hospital with my wife in Livermore, CA. I have accomplished a lot in my career so far, and to be honest, I feel like I am just getting started. It has not all been easy though, and even now, every day brings with it a new stressor. My stress now involves bank loans, student loans, managing numerous critical patients at once, did I remember to eat lunch, am I a good father, did we get any new good online reviews today, am I wearing two matching shoes, etc. We all deal with stress in our daily lives, and I am not going to try to tell you all that I deal with any more than anyone else. That is why I feel this message is important for everyone, and was worth me writing.

I was hanging out with my daughter on my day off, and I asked her what she wanted to do, as it was such a nice day outside. She is only 2, and I can’t always tell exactly what she is telling me, but this day she said, “Daddy, wait here”. “Ok” I thought, as she headed for the house. She crawled in through the doggy door (this leads me back to the stressor listed above—am I a good father) to get something she had in mind. She grabbed an empty bucket (from where I have no idea), came back outside, and said, “Look for treasure!” I am not going to lie, I did not even know she knew that term, but I heard her loud and clear. We spent the next hour walking around the yard, looking under trees, picking up fancy rocks, and anything else that was considered treasure to my budding pirate sidekick. It was not until we were done that I realized I had forgotten about everything that I had been pondering in my professional life. I was able to allow myself to be a kid again briefly, and it was nice.

Life gets busy, and I know that my fellow veterinarians understand the stress that comes along with this lifestyle. I am not complaining, and I would not have it any other way. I love what I do, and I am happier now in my professional life than I have ever been before. I know it helped put some things in perspective the other day, and maybe it will help you in your life as well. Make yourself a cup of coffee, get a nice treasure-collecting pail, and go out and search for treasure my friends. Doctor’s orders!!

Grapes belong in Wine Bottles, Not your dog, cat, or ferret’s stomach!

We at Ohana Animal Hospital are so excited to be a part of our first Livermore Wine Country Downtown Street Fest this weekend! To go along with the theme of grapes and wine we thought we should do a quick post about grapes and raisins (a post on the danger of hops in dogs to follow shortly), as many people do still not know that they can be very toxic for our pets.

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Our Pal Bruin from the Steven Kent Winery – Don’t worry, he avoids the grapes!!

Did you know that grapes and raisins can actually cause kidney failure in dogs, cats, and ferrets?? This toxicity is very interesting (we don’t actually know why some animals are affected, or if the level of sickness has to do with how many grapes are ingested), and about 50% of dogs that ingest grapes or raisins show no signs of being sick. The other 50% of dogs will develop lethargy (being sleepy), anorexia (not wanting to eat), vomiting (I think we all get this one), diarrhea, kidney failure, and even death. It is very important that if you ever notice your dog or cat ingesting raisins or grapes (out in the vineyard, off your kitchen table, trail mix, granola, cereal, etc.) that you call your veterinarian immediately. Grapes are actually digested fairly slowly, so we will usually try to get your animal to vomit any undigested grapes. It is always a good idea to have your veterinarian start your animal on intravenous fluids (to keep the kidneys flushed out, and to try to get the animal to excrete more of the toxin), and to check some blood work over the next 72 hours to see if the kidneys have been injured or not. Many animals will do well if treatment starts early; so don’t just leave these intoxications to chance.

 

We hope that this quick post will help keep your pets safe this weekend and beyond. We hope everyone has fun at the Livermore Wine Country Downtown Street Fest this weekend, and tastes some great wine and food. Ohana Animal Hospital will be having a booth out in front of Sauced the whole weekend, so make sure you stop in and say hello! Come spin the prize wheel at our booth for free exams, pet toys, and enter the raffle for free flea/tick and heartworm preventatives! We will have some tortoises to meet, and there may be a guest appearance by a very large lizard at some point on Sunday!

 

Ohana Animal Hospital Presents Our Favorite Dogs of Beer and Wine

For this blog we wanted to write about something fun. I figured I should write about two things I really love. After much brainstorming I decided you probably would not be excited to hear about my family, or my daughter’s swim class, so I decided on dogs and beer (Although I will admit, a 2 year old’s swim class is about the most fun any father can have). I have had dogs ever since I can remember, and being a veterinarian, I figured this was a relevant topic. I started brewing beer about 5 years ago with a good friend, at a time when my favorite beer was still Newcastle brown ale. As my wife and I got into the craft beer scene, we noticed how many of the breweries allowed pets, or even had pets of their own at the tasting rooms. That is how this blog came to mind, and it was not surprisingly a really fun topic to research. I met some great people, tasted some great beer and wine, and met some really cool dogs. I hope you have as much fun meeting these dogs as I did, and I really hope that the next time you stop in at one of these places you will make sure to say hello to their soon-to-be famous pups!

Mike Hess Brewing—Bear

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Bear, actually Bear The Magnificent, is a 2-year-old, male, Black Labrador Retriever. I have personally known Bear since he was a puppy, and he was the first brew dog I met when we lived and practiced in San Diego, CA. Bear has many important jobs within the Hess family. Bear helps drop the kids off at school in the morning before stopping at the park to play fetch to allow him to burn off some energy before his day at Mike Hess Brewing (if he does not get his daily exercise he can be a real handful). He usually keeps an eye on the production from the operations office, where he has his own dog bed (a Tommy Bahama beach chair). He occasionally likes to sneak out towards the cold box and production area to see if any of the brewers are eating anything, because if there is anything as important as brewing beer, it is snack time.

Bear loves the production of good beer, but stays away from the finished product (he has heard that hops are actually toxic to dogs—another blog to follow eventually). He loves the first runnings of wort though, which is the sweet liquid before it is actually beer. The first runnings are actually the strongest of the wort, they have the highest maltose content, and do not yet have any hops added (a little piece for all the beer brewers reading this). Bear can generally be visited at the main brewery (North Park) every day during working hours, until about 2:30pm. If you do not see him walking around the brewery with Lynda (the COO and Bear’s mom) greeting everyone, you can ask one of the beertenders to meet Bear (he loves to meet new people).

Mike Hess Brewing locations are all dog friendly, and they regularly host fundraisers and adoption events at the brewery and tasting rooms. Just this past month they hosted Greyhound Adoption Center, Labs and More Rescue, and Next Step Service Dogs (which trains dogs for former military members suffering from PTSD). I have known the Hess family for years, and I know how important their dogs are to them, and that shows in how dog friendly they have made their business.

Mike Hess Brewing has some exciting new beers in the works for this summer. They will be releasing three new canned beers this summer that I cannot wait to try. Watch for their grapefruit IPA, an American Craft Lager called Steel Beach, and a Little IPA named 4:59 (as in, it’s almost 5 o’clock). They are rolling out brand new packaging for their line this summer, and will now have 12 ounce cans. On July 29th they will be holding their 7th Anniversary Party/Beer Festival featuring 20+ great breweries, live music, and games. If you are in the San Diego area you need to stop by this brewery, and if you are in Northern California you need to try their beer the next time you see it at a restaurant, tasting room, or store. I will admit that their Grapefruit Solis is one of my favorite beers of all times, and is a must try for any IPA lover. Next time you stop in make sure to say hello from me, and give Bear a good pet for me. I love that guy!

 

Meet Bruin—The Steven Kent Winery

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Bruin, better known as Bu, is a 9-year-old, male, yellow English Labrador Retriever. He is a Livermore native, and can often be seen walking the vineyard (The Steven Kent Winery) with his companions, or politely nudging visitors on the patio to play fetch. Bruin is an Instagram star, and although I hate to admit it, he has about 2,300 more followers than I (He is significantly more photogenic). Bruin is obsessed with his blue ball, and loves swimming and playing in the snow (although he is not quite sure how he feels about the sweaters his mom has been making him wear up in Tahoe). Bruin makes everyone smile, and most of us could only hope to live a life similar to this lucky canine.

 

Bruin would love for everyone to come and visit him at The Steven Kent Winery sometime soon. The winery has two dog friendly patios that are perfect for enjoying a bottle of the 2014 Cabernet Franc, or his companion’s favorite wine Lineage, which is known for its layers, structure, and complexity. The tasting room is open 7 days a week from 12:00-4:30pm, except on major holidays, and there is a special Reserve Room that can be reserved if desired. During the summer the winery has parties on the patio with live music and a food vendor, which make it a perfect place to hang out with your pooches, but make sure you check the website first as it is not every weekend.

 

Bruin would like everyone to know about the Pooches on the Patio event they will be having this year on Sunday, August 13th. There will be vendors selling pet merchandise, pet charities (the winery personally supports numerous local charities, including the Oakland Zoo), a great pet photographer, and of course food, music, and delicious wine! I have known Bruin for a couple of months now, and I can tell you that he is an incredible dog. If you have not yet met this guy, make sure you stop by the winery and give him a pet, and play a quick game of fetch. Bruin has also made sure that all the pets feel welcome by ensuring the winery always has water bowls on the property for the visiting pets.

 

Meet Citra—Altamont Beer Works

 

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Citra is an extremely photogenic 3-year-old, female, poodle/shih-tzu/schnauzer/yorkie mix that was adopted from the East County Animal Shelter in Dublin, CA. Citra’s name is reference to a hop variety, which is fitting being she is the brewery owner’s personal brew dog. Citra’s morning starts off with a drive to the brewery, where she gets to hang her head out of the car the whole way. Once arriving to the brewery she makes sure to check on her brew dog companions, Jake and Lola. She greets all of the staff members one by one, eats any extra malted grain off the brewery floor, and heads outside to make sure that all the other dogs still know this is her brewery. She then usually takes a nap on her chair in the office to ensure she is ready for her long day as canine hostess. I can tell you that she takes this job very seriously, as I have seen her climb over her gate to welcome guests to the brewery.

Citra is not a true beer lover, but does enjoy lapping up a bit of Nutty Operator (delicious peanut butter stout) if it happens to drip on the floor, but she knows any true beer lover will love the beer they produce. Citra would love to have everyone come and visit her at Altamont Beer Works Monday through Friday. I can personally tell you that the brewery has created an incredibly welcoming environment for canines and beer lovers alike, and I would recommend everyone stop in if you have not visited this Livermore brewery. In true dog lover form, they also partner with local animal shelters for fundraising events, and even sell cool dog schwag at the brewery.

Altamont Beer Works is the first brewery in Livermore since prohibition. They have a beer garden that is seasonally open on Friday-Sunday. They have great food vendors outside on Friday-Sunday (The South Smokin” BBQ is a must try), and some amazing beers. The beertenders know their beers, and the environment is fun and relaxed. I personally am a huge fan of the Shot Away IPA, and Green Collar Pale Ale. It is rare for me to rave about pale ale, as I am an IPA guy personally, but the Green Collar is truly exceptional. You can also see Altamont Beer Works at the Livermore Craft Beer Fest, and the Livermore Wine Country Downtown Street Fest this year (this weekend), as they are the major sponsor.

Meet Lola and Jake—Altamont Beer Works

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Lola is a 4-6-year-old, female, pit bull that was rescued from Modesto by one of the brewers at Altamont Beer Works. Lola is a great representative of this so often misunderstood breed (we have two in our family!). She is kind and gentle, and in true pitty form, appears to love cuddling up on her bed and relaxing with her friends Jake and Citra while at the brewery. Lola’s companion says she loves meeting new people, running, and cuddling. Her typical brew day involves greeting all of the employees to ensure that morale stays high in the workplace, and then supervising the group from the comfort of her bed. She is a sweet dog, and we think she has found the perfect home.

Jake is a 6-year-old, male, lab/pit bull mix that was adopted from a friend of one of the brewers. Jake is very important at the brewery as he takes the role of ensuring kegs are filled correctly, and occasionally enjoys a little quality control. Jake even makes sure the employees stay fed and happy, as the other day he walked next door and came back with a napkin and a slice of pizza to share. His tastes are not completely refined yet, but he appears to have a preference for the dank flavors and tropical notes of Maui Waui and Hella Hoppy when they occasionally happen to get on the floor (I like this dog’s taste!).

Lola and Jake would both love to make some new friends, and have you all stop by and say hello. Lola can be visited at the brewery on Fridays, and Jake can be visited Wednesdays and Fridays. They are both also happy to have any well behaved, and leashed canine friends stop in and visit as well. The weather is starting to warm up, and there are some fresh, hop-forward beers being released soon (Mr. Nice Guy and Ganja Juice), so make some time to go check these guys out. Bring your dogs, bring your appetite, get ready for some incredible beer, and tell them Ohana Animal Hospital sent you!

 

Meet Sadie and Gunner—Eight Bridges Brewing

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Sadie is an 11-year-old, female, miniature dachshund, and Gunner is a 1-year-old, male, chocolate lab. Sadie has been with the brewery since its inception, and Gunner is a new addition to the brew team. Sadie and Gunner are both the official greeters at Eight Bridges, and they make sure to greet everyone who passes through the doors when they are around. Gunner is usually at the brewery every day with his brewmaster companion Justin, and loves to play tug-of-war if you see him. Sadie has started to take a bit more time for herself as she has aged, and comes in when she feels she needs to check on operations (typical canine business owner). She still does make appearances though, and still occasionally tries to snag a bite of an unsuspecting toddler’s sandwich or pizza when the opportunity arises.

Eight Bridges has been working with the Tri-Valley Humane Society for the last couple of years hosting fundraisers, donating items for auctions, and even holding a “Name a Beer after your Dog” fundraiser. On Saturday, June 17 they are holding a fundraiser at the brewery to support the Tri-Valley Humane Society, and will be renaming one of their beers Ruby, who was the winner of the “Name a Beer after your Dog” fundraiser this year (Such a great idea, and next year there is no way I am not bidding).

Sadie and Gunner would love for you to come and say hello at Eight Bridges Brewing, try some amazing beer, and support this dog friendly establishment. All friendly dogs are welcome to visit the tasting room with their companions, and can usually even get a special snack from the secret stash of dog treats. Gunner recommends you taste the O’Beardsley Stout as it is full of chocolate aromas and flavor. Sadie, in true German style, thinks the Golden Nektar Pilsner should make it into your tasting flight (also Debbie’s favorite beer, and if you want a good story ask her about this beer sometime). The last time I was there I really enjoyed the Hoppy Salvation, which is a great example of a west coast IPA, being very hop forward with some great floral and citrus aromas wafting from the glass.

The brewery holds Brewzza Palooza the 3rd Saturday of every month. They have a food truck out front, and live music in the late afternoon. There is not always a food truck, but they have menus for all the local delivery places, so it is very easy to find some good food to go with your beer. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday, and you can check their website for hours. We love this place, and we are sure you will as well. Just make sure you keep food close because Sadie is watching, and if she sees the opportunity, she may just help you eat your lunch.

 

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This has been my favorite blog so far, and I look forward to doing a second series as I meet more local animals. I want to personally thank all of the above breweries and wineries, as they made this a really fun experience. All of these establishments are doing things the right way, and I highly recommend you all check them out. Thanks again for reading, and if you see Dr. Jennifer Hacker or myself (Dr. Zach Steffes) when you are out tasting make sure you say hello.

The Ohana Way – What to Expect As Our Client

Over the past few weeks, we have had multiple people ask us if their pet doesn’t get better can they simply come back to see us or should they go to ER? We reassured every single one that as clients of Ohana Animal Hospital we do everything in our power to keep you and your pet out of the ER. Now of course there are true emergencies that a general practice can’t handle, special surgeries that are needed, or specialist opinions that we just can’t avoid. Also, if we are closed and your pet is sick, ER is going to be the best option for your pet. However, if you are our client and your pet is sick, and truly needs to be seen today, we will do everything possible to get him or her in TODAY.

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At Ohana Animal Hospital we always start off by taking a thorough history and performing a physical exam, which allows us to make the best recommendations for you and your pet. Sometimes those recommendations include simple things, and other times in our sick patients, it can include tests like blood work, urine tests,  X-rays, and sometimes even hospitalization on IV fluids and other medications. Sometimes we talk about all these options, but if your pet is acting stable we may decide together as a team to start off simple, and leave those more advanced tests for if we don’t start feeling better over the next 1-2 days.

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This is where the Ohana Way comes into play. Our philosophy of treating you and your pets like family isn’t just a cute thing we say- we named our hospital for this philosophy. What this means is you have nothing to fear if you say “hold off on the blood work today”, because if your pet still isn’t feeling well after a couple of days and you want to do that test NOW, even if we are completely booked up, we will find a way to see you. Whether its working you in between appointments or offering you a drop-off exam, we will make sure you aren’t turned away and forced to go to ER, unless that is in your pet’s best interest.

We hope you appreciate our way of doing things. Now if its something simple and non-emergent like a skin rash in an otherwise healthy dog, well, we might make you wait until tomorrow! 🙂

The Doctors at Ohana Animal Hospital

Ohana Animal Hospital’s Guide to Being Prepared For Rattlesnake Season in the Livermore and Tri-Valley Area

The weather is finally starting to warm up around the Livermore and Tri-Valley areas. As the weather warms up we will likely start to hear about more rattlesnake encounters. You do not need to fear rattlesnakes, but you should try to keep your distance if possible. It is well established that the most common demographic for rattlesnake bites are young males, and especially those who have been drinking. As a reptile enthusiast, and self-proclaimed beer connoisseur, I understand the drive to play with the rattlesnake you encounter out on the hiking trail. I am here to be that little voice on your shoulder, and to tell you to take a picture from a safe difference, post that pic all over Facebook and Instagram, but keep yourself and your dogs at a safe distance. I am a huge proponent of appreciating nature, but let’s do it in a safe way for our pets, the native wildlife, and ourselves.

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Since this is a veterinary blog, let’s talk about what you can do to keep your dogs safe this rattlesnake season (cats are occasionally bitten, but it is much less common). You may want to consider getting your dog the rattlesnake vaccination if you live in an area with a large rattlesnake population. This vaccination is designed to generate protective antibodies to rattlesnake venom, which should theoretically make reaction to envenomation less severe in the case your dog is bitten. The vaccine is given initially, boosted in one month, and then boosted annually. It is very important to note that you must still seek veterinary care ASAP if your dog is bitten, but it is designed to help buy you enough time to get to see your veterinarian. We do carry this vaccination at Ohana Animal Hospital, and we would be happy to talk with you about it more at your next visit!

The main goal is to prevent your dog from being bitten by one of our friendly (I know, how I could I possibly think that a rattlesnake is friendly??!! What can I say? I am a reptile guy!) local rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus/Northern Pacific Rattlesnake in the Livermore and Tri-Valley area). You can help prevent unwanted encounters by walking your dog on a 6-foot leash when you are in areas known to have rattlesnakes present. Most dogs bitten are not on a leash, and the owner was not able to remove them from the encounter fast enough to prevent the bite. Avoid hiking in areas with rocky or dense brush, or tall grass if possible, as this tends to be good rattlesnake habitat. It is best to stay on the worn trails when hiking, as it will be easier to spot a snake if it does happen to be in the area. At home it is best to keep your grass short, and remove any brush or rock piles, which are great areas for resting and sunbathing rattlesnakes.

Vaccine

It is important to have a plan in the case your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake. The first thing you want to do is calmly remove yourself and your dog from the snake’s area. Do not try to collect the snake, and definitely do not try to kill the snake. The snake did not want to bite your dog, but it was scared that it was going to be attacked, and the last resort for the snake was fighting back (I understand how angry you might feel as I had one of my dog’s bitten by a rattlesnake many years ago). The main focus needs to be getting your dog to the veterinarian, and specifically a veterinarian who carries antivenin. At Ohana Animal Hospital we are always stocked with antivenin in the case your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake. It is always good to call ahead to the office to make sure your vet has antivenin stocked, and they can start getting everything ready for your arrival. I have treated roughly 30 cases of rattlesnake envenomation, and with appropriate care and antivenin therapy, I have yet to see one not respond favorably.

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Prevention is the always the best medicine, but being prepared for disaster can be life saving in an emergency. I have worked on rattlesnakes as a veterinarian, they are great for pest control in the environment, and they are some of my favorite animals. I personally love seeing a rattlesnake in the wild, but I also have a very healthy respect for them. I hope the above information will help keep your dog safe this rattlesnake season, but if you do happen to have an unhappy encounter, you know we are waiting and ready for you.

Schedule an appointment today!

Zachary Steffes, DVM and the Ohana Animal Hospital Team

Does Itchy Skin Have Your Pet Feeling Down?

Livermore is finally warming up, and the trees and plants are blooming once again. That’s great for those of us who have been waiting for spring, but it has also been bringing with it fleas, ticks, and environmental allergies. I don’t know about other veterinary hospitals, but here at Ohana Animal Hospital we have been seeing red and gooey eyes, and itchy dogs, cats, and rabbits all day long! Poor Dr. Steffes has been sniffly and sneezy as well, so he is extra understanding of how your pet feels now as well! Let’s take a little while to discuss what we can do to keep our pets comfortable in the safest, and most effective ways possible.

First of all, let’s take a look at what we are using to prevent pesky fleas from causing your dog, cat, or rabbit unwanted discomfort. Unfortunately, there is not just one product that works the best for every animal, and not all products do the same thing. My favorite products for dogs are currently Nexgard and Bravecto, and there are a couple of reasons why. I have found that dogs LIKE THE TASTE of the chew treats, and we all know how difficult it can be to give a dog medication. When the dog likes the chew tablet it much less stressful for you at home. They Work, and they seem to keep dogs from being itchy, which is our whole reason for using them in the first place. I have also found them to be Very Safe, and I know that is often one of the biggest concerns owners have when using flea and tick products. These products are even being shown to be effective for other parasitic diseases such as demodex and sarcoptes mites!!

For cats and rabbits my favorite product is Revolution. Revolution is a topical, spot-on product, which is very easy to apply to the neck and back of cats and rabbits. I don’t know if you have ever tried to give a rabbit a pill, but let’s just say there are simpler tasks. I lean towards Revolution currently because it has been shown to be safe, effective, and easy to use. I actually use Revolution in rabbits and other exotic animals to treat many other skin diseases as well, so there are lots of benefits to using this product. Hedgehogs are really difficult to medicate, but a topical product makes treatment simple. Revolution even helps prevent heartworm disease, which can be a problem for cats and ferrets.

Revolution

Have you noticed your dog’s eyes being red, scratchy, and building up yellow debris lately?? You are not alone! This week has been full of environmental irritation causing redness of the eyes, irritation, and gooey buildup near the eyes. Of course environmental allergies are not the only cause for a red eye, and it is important to discuss this with your veterinarian. Your vet will likely want to test the tear production in the eyes to rule out a disease called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), test for a corneal ulcer with a fluorescein stain (green dye that helps find tears in the cornea), and may even recommend testing the pressure in the eye to rule out glaucoma and inflammation in the eye. Environmental allergies will result in normal test results, and can generally be very easily treated with some special drops. Don’t let your dog’s eyes be irritated and scratchy, give your vet a call so they can fix the problem!

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KC is a much happier dog when her allergies are under control!!!

Worried about the cost of the newest and most effective flea and tick products? We want your animals comfortable just like you do, and we have some ways we make it very affordable for you to get your hands on these products. Stop by Ohana Animal Hospital, or give us a call, and we can tell you about our individual monthly dose plans! We all want the best for our pets these days, and we are here to help. If you have another flea or tick preventative that you love we are not going to try to change your mind, but if you need a little help this year let’s talk.

How Often Should My Exotic Pet See The Vet?

“When do I need to bring my pet back to Ohana Animal Hospital to see you again Dr. Steffes?” That is the most common question I hear at the end of an appointment with my exotic animal clients, and I think one that it’s time we discuss. At the beginning of my career as an exotic animal veterinarian I would answer with once a year, but was not so sure how much I really meant it. I was young, and did not yet have the experience under my belt to be able to answer that question with absolute confidence. At this point in my career, I realize that many of the issues that arise in our exotic pets could have been easily prevented with a yearly, or bi-yearly health evaluation. So, when I am now asked that question I answer without any doubt in my mind, “once yearly in young pets, and twice per year once your pet reaches his/her senior years.”

 

“Why should I bring my pet to see the veterinarian when it seems healthy Dr. Steffes?” I knew that was what you were thinking, so let’s address that. The majority of exotic pets are very good at hiding signs of illness. If you appear sick and weak in the wild, you are most likely going to be some predator’s next meal. This is one of the main reasons why so many people have stories that go like this: “My bearded dragon was acting completely normal, but it had not eaten for the last 4 months. Yesterday it started to act lethargic so I figured it was time to bring it to the vet. The vet put my beloved beardie on medications, and it died the same night! The vet killed my bearded dragon with the medications he/she gave, and now I will never bring my exotic pet to the vet again because they can never fix these pets anyway.” I understand this thought process, but I want to try to help us move past this. Is it possible that the medication caused the demise of your beloved lizard? I suppose it is possible, but it is much more likely that your dragon was too sick to be saved. I never blame an owner for coming in too late, and I never try make people feel bad. It can be very hard to tell when your exotic pet is sick, and we exotic animal veterinarians know this. That is why it is beneficial to go to your exotic animal veterinarian once to twice per year, even if your pet looks healthy. We are here to help you, and you should not be afraid to use us. Believe me, we are much less likely to bite than your hamster or green tree python. 🙂

Another reason why it is so important to bring your exotic pet in to see the veterinarian, even though it appears healthy, is that we can help you keep it that way. There is a good chance that with a good physical exam we will find issues well before your pet will ever show signs of disease. We may find early signs of pododermatitis (irritation on a rabbit or rodent’s feet that can lead to serious bone infection), and we can help you redesign your housing. We may palpate a mass in the abdomen of your monitor lizard, and with early diagnosis we may be able to save your pet before disease spreads. We may find out that we need to adjust the diet you are feeding your panther chameleon, or that you need to switch the multivitamin supplement you are using for your insectivore because it lacks preformed vitamin a. You may not have known that we can almost completely prevent ferret adrenal disease with the implantation of a deslorelin implant every 16 months. We may find that your animal has a parasite on a fecal test, and by treating it early we can prevent weight loss and gastrointestinal disease. There is great value in preventative medicine, and believe me it will save you money and heartbreak in the long run.

 

I have learned over time that many of the issues I encounter in exotic animal medicine could have been prevented with early diagnosis, or early adjustment of basic husbandry. Exotic animal medicine has unfortunately been very reactionary in nature, and we often start working on these pets when they are very ill, and the prognosis for recovery is poor. I have started to see a shift in exotic animal clients though, and many people are now interested in preventative care, just like they are for dog and cat family members. This is allowing us to keep many of these exotic pets healthy, and in the home with their caregivers for a much longer time. I am not going to lie and say that by seeing us you will never have a problem with your exotic pet. That is, unfortunately, not how medicine works. If we partner together, and we both take an active role in care, we can provide your exotic pet the best opportunity to thrive.

Here at Ohana Animal Hospital we are doing our best to keep you and your pets together as long as possible. Dr. Zach Steffes can’t wait to meet you and your exotic pet! If you do not live in the Bay Area, a good place to start looking for a good exotic veterinarian is on the ARAV (association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians), AEMV (Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians), and AAV (Association of Avian Veterinarians) websites. They have excellent find-a-vet sections, and are a great resource when you are looking for a vet who sees exotic pets.

Thanks for reading!

Zach Steffes, and the Ohana Animal Hospital Team

Part III: Breed-Specific Activities for Your Canine Friend(s)

While a majority of dogs spend their days doing very little physical activity, many dogs were originally bred for working. Knowing what your dog was meant to do can really help you understand its behavior.

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If you are looking for a new dog, knowing about the breed(s) can help you pick one that fits your family.  If you currently have a dog (or multiple dogs), understanding breed-specific traits can help you to provide an even more fulfilling life for your canine(s).

Working Groups

Herding Dogs

Herding dogs include German Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Border Collies (just to name a few). These dogs are full of energy, very smart, and highly trainable. These dogs were bred over hundreds of years for their ability to control and move herds of livestock — which is why many people also refer to them as shepherd dogs.

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Although they are still a favorite for farms, the majority of herding dogs today never get a chance to see a farm animal. Still, many owners notice their pet’s instinct to “herd” their families, which often results in owners becoming worried about their dog’s tendency to urgently nudge or even nip at people.

It’s important to recognize that these behaviors are not aggressive.  Instead, they are traces of the genetic lineage of herding dogs.  These dogs not only require serious physical activity on a daily basis, but they need mental activity as well. Thinking is one of the things herding dogs are great at, and they’re not truly happy without daily mental exercise.

Bird Dogs

This group is comprised of several types of dogs — pointers (German shorthair), retrievers (Golden or Labrador), setters (English, Irish), flushers (Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel), and water dogs (Poodle, Portuguese Water dog).  These dogs were developed over time to help hunters of fowl find and retrieve their game.  Bird dogs are known for being smart & loyal, energetic, and loving the water.

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Guard Dogs

Guardian breeds such as Giant Schnauzers, German Shepherds, Tibetan Mastiffs, and Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers are oftentimes seen as aggressive and untrustworthy because they can be quite ferocious when it comes to protecting their home. However, it’s important to not forget that we bred them to be that way.

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The most important thing for these dogs is socialization when they’re still puppies. Young dogs that are exposed to as many strangers as possible tend to be less aggressive with age. If they aren’t exposed to these things when they’re puppies, it can lead to issues with aggression—which may be devastating for you and your dog. These dogs are incredibly intelligent and easy to train, so providing them with appropriate outlets to get out their extra energy will go a long way.

Sight Dogs

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These dogs were bred for helping hunters track prey by sight.  The Greyhound, Saluki, and the Irish Wolfhound are sight dogs, which makes them very visual and extremely fast. They will chase anything with quick movement (including kids) and tend to be highly energetic.

Although this group includes some of the fastest dog breeds, they are known for being “couch potatoes” at home.  If there is nothing for them to chase, they are usually quite content to lay by their human pack leader.  Therefore, don’t misinterpret their laziness as them not wanting to be physically active—it’s the owner’s responsibility to engage them in activities they will enjoy.

Trackers

Like sight dogs, tracking dogs were bred to help hunt prey, but instead of using their eyes, they use their noses. Breeds such as the Beagle, Bloodhound, and Coonhound belong to this group. Their amazing sense of smell is so instinctive that even dogs with no formal training will “track” a scent they pick up. As some of you may have experienced firsthand, if your dog picks up a scent, he/she will probably tune out everything else as his scent drive takes over.  Due to this, it’s not a good idea to let a Hound off of their leash without proper training.  If a scent dog finds a scent, will be long gone, having tuned your voice out completely. With training, however, these amazing dogs are great for search & rescue and scent work.

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Terriers

Terriers were bred to be expert hunters of game. This group, which includes the American Staffordshire terrier, Jack Russell and, West Highland Terrier, is well known for being stubborn, overbearing, and energetic.

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These dogs need a firm hand when it comes to training or your house will end up being destroyed. Since they were bred to kill, these dogs LOVE to rip, shred, chew, and shake anything they get their teeth into. Therefore, nip training and socialization are extremely important.

Activities for Working Dogs

  • Taking Turns (Learning Patience/Mental Stimulation)
  • Staying Focused (Learning Impulse Control/Mental Stimulation)
  • Being Attentive (Learning to be Responsive to You/Mental Stimulation)
  • Retrieve (Learning to Bring You Items/Physical Exercise)
  • Hide n’ Seek (Learning to Be Attentive/Teaches Responsibility/Mental Stimulation)
  • “Find It” (Teaches Names of Objects/Mental Stimulation)
  • Puzzles (Learning to Stay on Task/Concentration/Mental Stimulation)
  • Treiball (Satisfies Herding Instinct/Physical Exercise/Mental Stimulation)
  • Playing Fetch (Learning to Be Attentive/Physical Exercise)
  • Dock Diving (Physical Exercise)
  • Disc-Catching (Learning to Be Attentive/Physical Exercise)
  • Nose Work (Learning to Stay on Task/Mental Stimulation)
  • Digging Activities (Physical Exercise/Mental Stimulation)
  • Going for a walk/jog/hike (Physical Exercise)
  • Search and Rescue (Learning to Stay on Task/Physical Exercise/Mental Stimulation)

Non-Sporting Dogs

This is a diverse group of dogs in size and appearance. In contrast to other groups, these dogs lost their ability to perform the tasks they were bred for.  Nowadays, most non-sporting breeds are great companions and choice of many families. These dogs learn quickly and love any exercise as long as it suits their body type.  Non-sporting dogs include the Bulldog, Poodle, Dalmatian, Chow Chow, Boston Terrier, and Bichon Frise (again, just to name a few).

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The personalities and temperament of these dogs are unique. In fact, experts can’t make any generalizations about the behavioral traits for the breeds in this group. The tendencies of each breed are unique and can only be traced to their individual backgrounds. Some make excellent watch dogs, while others are lap dogs. Some are good for living in apartments, while others should only live in homes with large outdoor areas to be physically active.

Since it’s so difficult to make generalizations about the breeds in this group, owners should be sure to research breeds to help understand their unique characteristics, discover appropriate activities to do with them, and to determine whether or not that breed is appropriate for what they’re looking for.

Toy Group

The toy group is the smallest group of dogs and was bred to fit on laps. These dogs have diverse traits but they share the same characteristics of being small dogs. In the past, they were used to provide physical comfort and entertainment for their owners. Nowadays, they perform very similar tasks. These dogs are also known for their therapeutic value as therapy dogs. They are widely known for not leaving their sick owner’s bed side.

Some examples of dogs included in this group are Pomeranians, Pugs, Chihuahuas, and Poodles.

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Activities for Puppies

Playing with a puppy might seem fairly obvious, but if you’re not careful, you can play too rough or too long with your puppy, which can lead to aggression or grumpiness. Without preparing to play, you may create behavioral problems such as nipping or biting. The good news is that with simple preparation, there are a variety of games that will help your puppy to socialize and strengthen your bond.

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  • Choose a good time to play.

Pick a time when the puppy is full of energy and they haven’t just eaten.  If kids are going to play, make sure they are supervised.  An important thing to keep in mind is that puppies don’t understand the difference between playing and teasing.  So don’t be surprised if they “nip” out of confusion if kids (or adults) are teasing them.

  • Learn what your puppy likes.

Pay attention to what the puppy runs to or chews on. Test out some toys and see if the puppy responds or not.  Try out different textures and shapes/sizes.  A puppy won’t want to play with something they don’t like, so it’s the owner’s responsibility to provide them with preferred toys and activities.

  • Train during playtime.

Use this time to work on smaller tasks such as “sit” or responding to their name.  You’d be surprised at how fast a puppy can learn if you find the right motivator!

  • Know when to be done with playtime.

Since puppies are often energetic, it’s hard to remember that they can become overtired. A puppy has growing bones and slack ligaments supporting their bones. If the puppy becomes overtired, he/she might move awkwardly and damage those growing joints. Make sure not to overtire the puppy, so stop while he/she still has some energy left!

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When you do stop, end on a good note that leaves your puppy wanting more, instead of playing until they’re completely exhausted. If the puppy is worn out, he/she will become grumpy from tiredness—which could lead to the puppy associating play with negative experiences rather than positive experiences.

Activities for Older Dogs

Exercise is still extremely important with older dogs, so be sure keep them active for physical (and mental) well-being. Depending on your dog, consider slowing your daily jog together down to a brisk walk, or take a couple of short walks instead of one long one — use common sense to determine whether or not what you’re doing is at an appropriate level of intensity.  Just as people get sore as they age, dogs do, too!  So be mindful of the limitations your canine(s) may have.

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Swimming is a wonderful activity for dogs of all ages, but it’s particularly good for older dogs because it’s low-impact and easy on their weakening joints and muscles. Swimming also helps to build strength, is good for their overall conditioning, and is relaxing and comforting for most dogs.
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Tailoring activities as a dog ages is something that many people have a hard time with. Just remember that this is a natural part of life, and honoring that aspect of life is honoring your dog.

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Well, that’s it for today!  We hope you’ve learned something about behavioral enrichment for your dog(s), and maybe you’ll even decide to try out some of the activities this weekend!

Until next time,

Ayriel and the Ohana Animal Hospital Staff