Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital™ Blog

Fri, 07/21/2023 - 13:39 - Carol

Can you imagine being reunited with a pet more than a half decade after losing them in a wildfire evacuation? 

Mike Dewald of KCBS Radio recently reported a truly amazing story about a cat, presumed lost in the Tubbs fire in 2017, who was reunited with its family six (6) years later! Even more miraculous was that the cat survived in spite of a medical condition that had left him with only four teeth.

The animal had been microchipped. We encourage microchipping, though many people don't understand how it works. It's not the same technology as a Tile or an Apple AirTag, which lets you track location. Instead, it's a teeny, tiny little chip about the size of a grain of rice, which can be read with a hand-held scanner at any animal hospital or animal rescue center. 

The tiny microchip is implanted just under the skin, usually between the shoulder blades, using a needle. It doesn't require anesthesia. From there, just register your contact information, and that's it. If you move, you'll want to update your contact information. 

If you want to actually track your animal using an app, then you can couple a microchip with an AirTag or Tile collar. Your contact info on an ID tag or engraved AirTag collar can make it easy for a neighbor to get in touch. That said, collars come off, which is why we encourage microchipping.

The flip side is getting any found cats scanned. We reached out to Mike Dewald and he sent over other versions of the story, which included interview material with Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County, who facilitate such reunions. Mike pointed out that "the organization also recommended getting cats scanned as it can accelerate reunions like this one." 

"That cat could have been home much quicker than it was in this particular case," said Pip Marquez de la Plata, Executive Director of Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County. "That little, tiny piece of equipment is really magic in terms of getting your animal back."   

While it could have happened sooner, we're touched that Ozzie with his four teeth, after six years did finally get home. It's a potent reminder. You can make a special appointment to microchip your pet, or if you have an annual pet exam coming up you can just ask your vet to microchip them at that time (it's really that easy). 

At Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital we're passionate about emergency preparedness. We encourage being "Pet Ready" for earthquakes and other disasters, which these days includes wildfires. Our takeaway message is simple: as we all prepare our defensible space, make sure your pet is microchipped.



Fri, 04/14/2023 - 11:27 - Carol

A high-pressure system is building in through April, cutting off the Pineapple Express that brought a constant train of atmospheric rivers this winter. In the wake of all that water, we expect to see a dramatic spike in mosquitos spreading heartworm.

If you're a long-time pet owner, you know the drill – make sure the heartworm prevention medication for your furry friend is up to date and administered, and get rid of any standing water around the home. 

If you are a new pet owner, it's useful to understand why all this heartworm discussion is so important. Put simply, heartworm can be a matter of life and death, and prevention is absolutely key. If you have a few minutes, you might want to read our information page on Heartworm, an earlier blog post or both.

Cats cannot be treated for heartworm infection, which makes the strongest case possible for prevention. Indoor cats and indoor dogs are still at risk. Dogs can be treated, but by the time the mosquito bite turns into symptoms, adult worms have developed and populated blood vessels near the heart and non-trivial damage has been done. Plus, treatment is expensive, not without risks and difficulties, and by no means guaranteed. 

Heartworm prevention medication comes with essentially no risk to your pet. If your pet's been seen in the last year, reach out to us and we can take care of you. If your pet's not been seen in the last year, now is the time to get that appointment on our books. We're still working our way back to normal from the global pandemic and our calendar is still pretty slammed. Right now, the lead time to get in is running about four to five weeks out. With a 4-5 week lead time, it's easy to see why Heartworm, usually on our minds later in the spring, is on our minds now. 

We'll leave it to meteorologist to define mid-latitude cyclones, bomb cyclones and what qualifies as an atmospheric river. Some say California got 31 this winter, but while they figure it out, we all know it was a lot of water. Considering such an actively wet winter, what's coming is not rocket surgery – it's mosquitoes spreading heartworm. It's time to get rid of any standing water around the yard even in the smallest container, and time to make sure that heartworm prevention medication is up to date and administered monthly.



Fri, 03/31/2023 - 09:28 - Carol

Spring has sprung and with it new data, allowing us to change our masking policy from "masks required indoors" to "masks recommended indoors." This is progress; but we're also happy to accommodate those who are immunocompromised or just "not yet ready" by offering the same drop-off service we all used at the height of the pandemic.

Recently, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced updates to several state public health officer orders that have guided Californians on how to best protect themselves and their families throughout the pandemic. Moving forward, COVID-19 vaccines, testing and treatment will continue to be available through providers and some pharmacies; and you can still visit MyTurn to locate these services.

The CDPH guidance encourages indoor masking, and we concur. As such, we especially recommend using masks indoors if you're vulnerable, live with people who are vulnerable or suspect you might be feeling a little bit "off" yourself that day. Of course, if you have symptoms, you can always switch to a drop-off appointment, even same day.

After a long, wet winter, which started with our community facing a triple whammy of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Covid and Flu, these updates are most welcome. 

Given all of the improvements to the numbers we see in the data, we think it's appropriate to move from indoor masking as a requirement to a recommendation. We hope enough people will stay current on vaccination to continue this path. That said, we recognize that health trends aren't like a light switch. We also recognize some folks may feel uncomfortable, and prefer to stay socially distant, or may face personal circumstances requiring they take extra care. And that's okay. We will continue to offer drop-off appointments to accommodate anyone. 

Still in all, we think it's a wonderful moment. We welcome it and welcome spring in all its glory.



Fri, 03/24/2023 - 10:39 - Carol

Joyful reunions are wonderful, and can remind us of what really matters. The residents of Pajaro, who had to evacuate with no notice and only the clothes on their backs, certainly have our hearts. 

Many had no choice but to leave their pets behind; we're sure most never imagined they'd be away for this long. We're heartened to learn of the efforts from SPCA Monterey County in rescuing animals and working to reunite them with their people.

It's a potent reminder that disasters often happen with no notice. It's also a reasonable reminder to take the time beforehand for emergency preparedness with your animals in mind. You may or may not be near a levy or a landslide, but we all live in earthquake country. To save you time, feel free to use our Pet Ready! checklist with links for additional helpful info.

It's also a dramatic reminder that pets can get separated from their humans. If you haven't already, you might want to consider having the microchip implanted the next time you're in to see your vet. The microchip itself is an extremely small electronic chip, encased in glass, and the whole unit is about the size of a grain of rice. It won't let you (or anyone else) track your animal; people who want tracking often get a special collar for a Tile or an Apple Tag or similar device. 

Instead, the microchip is placed directly in the animal's body and only gets activated when a scanner passes over the area. To learn more, feel free to discuss with your veterinarian. The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a nice FAQ on the microchip topic.

Finally, it's also a reminder of the wonderful work that local organizations can facilitate. Hundreds of individual volunteers came together for rescue, care and reunion, but it's SPCA Monterey County who made it all work. Unlike SPCA "chapters," SPCA Monterey County is a completely independent organization with everything made possible by their donors. 

During this crisis, they're also providing evacuated pet owners with the pet food they need. Often during local emergencies, such as wildfires, we will facilitate pooling resources with our clients, and work with our vendors to stretch those resources, to achieve a similar result. In this case it felt like duplicate effort. Instead, for anyone so inclined, we would suggest supporting SPCA Monterey County efforts directly, and perhaps specify "for Pajaro" in the comments field.

But whatever you do, please take a moment to appreciate your furry family members and include them in your preparedness efforts. When it comes to emergency preparedness, please let us know if we can help.



Fri, 03/10/2023 - 11:32 - Carol

You might assume that all animal hospitals are accredited, but here in the United States only about 12-15% are accredited. Most human hospitals are accredited. Such is not the case for animal hospitals.

We are very pleased to share that Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital has successfully passed our periodic evaluation for accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). It is a real team effort and we're grateful to everyone who pitched in.

This was the most challenging evaluation because of Covid. But, it's important and foundational to who we are. Plus in the end, it brought us all joy and satisfaction to have passed once again.

Accreditation is an extensive process. The evaluation is very rigorous each time, with new standards added as the profession advances. We undergo evaluation on nine hundred (900) standards: patient care, emergency protocols, pain management and other important areas of your pet's health. 

Our commitment to AAHA standards contributes to better outcomes and improved care. It contributes to excellence in preventative care for patients, including better education and support for the pets' families. 

We're fortunate to have state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, which we couple with well-defined, written protocols and investment in our own continuing education to stay up to date on the latest. Our caring team of experts, at all levels, focus on doing what's best for your animals always. 

AAHA accreditation shows we proudly meet highest professional standards which promote best practices for patients, families and our team members. It's not a process one person can complete -- the whole team gets involved. We really appreciate our entire staff for pitching in. 



Tue, 12/20/2022 - 11:11 - Carol

We have some of the best clients in the world who tend to be smart and compassionate. You've been really terrific throughout the pandemic. I can't tell you how much we really appreciate your supportive respect for the mitigations that have allowed us to follow the science and still remain open. As we move from drop-off-only to welcoming in-person appointments, we're going to keep masking indoors.

We want this to be a safe place for everyone, especially those who are literally immunocompromised. We have a duty to protect the vulnerable among our client community and staff by wearing masks and keeping current on booster shots. If you're vax'ed and boosted, then wearing a mask indoors is, indeed, a kindness – and we appreciate it. 

We will also continue to offer drop-off as an appointment option, particularly since some folks feel that an enclosed exam room poses more risk during the winter surge than makes them comfortable. For everyone else, we hope the indoor masking policy provides a comfortable level of reasonable protection.

Secondly, this winter is different. The triple whammy of upper respiratory viruses this year is worrying health care providers. Recently, the rate of Covid infection in California jumped 36% in a single week, typically a precursory rate to a surge. 

In addition, this year’s flu virus is leading to more hospitalizations than normal, and hitting much earlier in the season than normal. Masks help us avoid Covid and flu viruses as well as the current outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), for which there is no vaccine currently. It's a simultaneous triple whammy that poses a significantly increased concern this winter.

For these reasons, we will continue to require indoor masking throughout the winter. 

The good news is the virus match with the current flu vaccine this year is excellent. The county health department has asked us (and encourage you) to help spread the word to get protected. Nationally, only 10% of young kids are fully immunized for COVID and flu, and hospitals are filling up with sick kids. 

Kids and older adults are most vulnerable to Covid, RSV and flu so please help them get boosters and wear well fitting masks in crowded indoor settings. County-shared data show that cloth masks do not work very well. They advise, at minimum,  a surgical style mask should be used, but the most effective is a well-fitting KN95 or N95 respirator style mask. 

San Mateo County Health offers updated, bivalent boosters, which are effective against both the original strain of the virus and the Omicron variants, at its community clinics. Advance appointments are not required, but available, on MyTurn. Updated boosters and flu vaccines are also available from primary health care providers and pharmacies, such as Walgreens, CVS and others.

We encourage you to protect your families, help spread the word, and are tremendously grateful for your continued support of our indoor masking policy. Most of all, we hope everyone has a safe, healthy holiday season, and stays safe and healthy all winter long.



Tue, 11/22/2022 - 13:09 - Carol

As we take a moment to give thanks, we thought we'd share with you the most profound, inspirational photo we've seen all year. It is of displaced dogs in war-torn Ukraine lining up for their turn at a pet feeding station in Kramatorsk. 

It blows us away that all on their own, they behave in such an orderly, civilized way.

As Nate Mook explained in a twitter thread, "I’ve never seen anything like this. Yesterday we installed a displaced pet feeding station in Kramatorsk (with your support!). This morning, the Ukrainian dogs waited in line to eat."

Nate Mook, the former CEO of the non-profit World Central Kitchen started by Chef Andres, has long followed the approach of getting in there and doing the work, and then making a way for people worldwide to support it. In contrast, our "Stand By You" disaster response projects gather the resources first, then optimize for value upon execution, which makes perfect sense for our single-strike direct actions. For this particular project, the local Ukranian volunteers and the right guy seem to have found each other.

"Food need is huge in liberated areas, but also for vets & evacuating pets from the frontline. Volunteers are risking their lives rescuing cats & dogs. So we’re going to establish a fundraiser to help cover costs." Nate Mook continued in the thread, along with posting an interim paypal link.

Isn't it incredible that it's the cats and dogs who are giving the rest of the world an object lesson in how to behave as they set a perfect example. 

One can take heart from their example, and take their example to heart. 

It may come in handy at a Thanksgiving gathering. Who knows? One thing we do know is that we have so much to be thankful for, this year. We're very grateful for all of you and for all of the animals who share our lives. Happy Thanksgiving.



Fri, 10/28/2022 - 11:22 - Carol

A little consideration in advance can prevent a scary Halloween-related animal emergency! Before you open the door to trick or treaters and watch your animal bolt out of it, or before someone gives your dog chocolate, perhaps take a few minutes to avoid turning Halloween into an actual 'fright night.'

Top of the list of things to think about is to keep the chocolate away from dogs. Actually, keep any sugary or high-fat foods away from dogs, or even sugar-free foods with xylitol in them. At Mid-Pen, what we see most at Halloween (or any of the holidays, really) is urgent treatment for dietary lapses. Sometimes owners forget. Sometimes big-hearted relatives and friends just don't know. Sometimes people forget to tell their kids (don't forget; tell your kids!). But as you know, most animals won't themselves refuse.

Also, did you know that raisins or grapes - even those peeled fake-eyeball grapes - can be toxic to some dogs? 

Be aware of Halloween noises that could cause any pet to try to escape, or experience high anxiety. Perhaps put your animal where they can not escape, even with adrenalyn. This goes double if you're hosting a party, tripple if your animal is not yet microchipped.

Clearly, you know your animals best, but please remember they react differently than you do. If they are prone to anxiety, perhaps confine the pet in a crate or in cozy room with the TV on during trick-or-treat hours, or during a party.

A little consideration beforehand, can go a really long way to ensuring your Halloween - whether festive or chill - doesn't become a nightmare. 

Be safe out there and have a Happy Halloween!



Fri, 10/14/2022 - 10:44 - Carol

If you keep birds, poultry or have a backyard bird feeder, headsup. A particularly nasty strain of bird flu is skyrocketing here in the US with the fall migration of wild birds. Worldwide, people are acting to try to mitigate its spread. In the UK, some call it the "flockdown."

This week, San Mateo County Animal Control formally notified us about recent detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in San Mateo and neighboring counties, and asked us to inform you. Why? Because there are things we can do together to slow the spread of this disease that is highly fatal to birds. For example, mortality rates in domestic poultry can be up to 100%.

They also assured us that poultry and eggs remain safe to eat; cook thoroughly.

The big picture is to keep our birds socially distant from the wild birds who are migrating south for the winter. If you have pet birds or backyard poultry, whenever possible, secure birds inside an enclosure that wild birds cannot access. To avoid attracting wild birds, remove bird feeders and bird baths from your property. Clean up any uneaten feed promptly. Use water from commercial sources, rather than ponds shared with wild birds.

One can add more mitigations like, clean and disinfect clothing, footwear and equipment before entering bird housing areas or handling birds. Wash hands with soap before and after handling birds. Wash vehicles in a commercial car wash after driving onto other farms or areas with birds. Veterinarians working with birds will wear the full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) garb.

If you want to do a deeper dive, information is also available from the Department of Fish and Game. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers information on "How Bird Flu Spreads" to other birds (and rarely to humans), and "What to know about Bird Flu." Another terrific flier, particularly for sharing with family, comes from the California Department of Food and Agriculture called "Biosecurity for backyard birds." You can also read the official statement from the County of San Mateo, which includes even more resources.

Please tell people you know who have backyard bird feeders and bird baths about this warning. Together, let's do what we can to slow the progression and mitigate the spread.



Fri, 06/10/2022 - 11:04 - Carol

We will be closed on Friday, June 17th for a very exciting garage door upgrade. You may want to adjust plans for food or med orders, but it's also a good time for a few thoughts about the garage. 

"Go slow" usually goes without saying, but a couple of other helpful tips go a long way when it comes to leaving the garage. 

The first tip is: check the two displays for outside pedestrian, bike and car traffic. The displays (or TV monitors) let you see the sidewalk and street traffic before exiting the garage. From within the garage, when you stop your car at the Stop signs, the displays are positioned on each side of the exit at a height which should be comfortable for sedans and SUVs alike. That said, it's not a typical habit to look at the side of the door opening; the habit requires practice to develop. But try it: check the displays and see what's out there.

Second tip: also when you're at the Stop signs, if there's a lot of traffic, just hold that thought. Don't battle trying to get out in it. Just chill, because the typical street traffic consists of "waves" of very heavy traffic, punctuated by welcome breaks which are very low traffic. The low traffic part of the pulsing pattern is about as long as the high traffic part of the traffic pulse. This pattern is caused by the traffic lights on the corner. 

So, if you stop and there's traffic, sit back and relax for a bit, until the no-traffic time when you can exit in the leisurely, no-stress luxury that you deserve.

Those are our two helpful tips, but we also want to thank our wonderful client community for keeping animal safety in the garage top of mind. People do use the free leashes, and do transport cats in carriers, taking care to not open the car door without first securing the animal. It's pretty wonderful. You're pretty wonderful. Thank you!