Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital™ Blog

Clearing Up Dog Food Confusion

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 11:43 - Carol

The short version is: if you get your dog food from us, you can ignore this issue.  Otherwise, you may have heard that the FDA is looking at what's causing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain types of pet food. 

CBS News issued a story about the 16 different dog food brands being looked at by the FDA. NBC covered it as did other reputable media outlets. The issue is significant since DCM is a form of canine heart disease that can cause congestive heart failure in dogs, even sudden cardiac death.

Each of the 16 brands named represent the most reported cases. They typically are labeled as "grain-free" (90%), and typically with high levels of peas and lentils (93%). Researchers found that most dogs on this diet had low levels of taurine in their bloodstream. Taurine is an amino acid which is crucial for heart health. Researchers from UC Davis originally sounded the alarm, which led to a notable collaboration with the FDA, who started their own investigation and issued their report

The good news is the UC Davis researchers also found that these new dietary cases can be reversible! That said, a complicating factor is that reversal isn't necessarily a simple case of "stop feeding the food." 

Therefore, if your dog has been eating from the list of brands, you may want to consult with your veterinarian who may want to test your pet's taurine level and get an echocardiogram. Changing the diet, or adding supplements, without prior testing can interfere with a correct diagnosis and delay appropriate care. Clinical signs of lethargy, weakness or coughing only appear in the late stages of the disease. DCM is a hidden disease in the early stages when it's the most easily treatable.

The 16 most reported brands are as follows: Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, Blue Buffalo, Nature's Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Natural, Natural Balance, Orijen, Nature's Variety, NutriSource, Nutro, and Rachael Ray Nutrish.

The issue raises the topic about how we choose the brands we carry here at Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital(tm). We carry none of these brands, but some are popular and our clients may use them. We only carry prescription diets from long established manufacturers, which are regularly tested using scientifically-validated practices and peer-reviewed studies. Rigorous scientific testing isn't cheap. It just isn't.

It's also not something you do once and stop. It's continual. It's a mindset. Case-in-point, last winter a brand we carry caught a "too much Vitamin D" issue *before* it became widespread. We heard it from them. Turns out, it affected some folks around Ohio. It proved the system works. None of our clients were affected, but that's not the point. We need to trust the ongoing rigorous science and we need to trust the company.

But we are extraordinarily impressed by the level of collaboration and transparency we've seen with the FDA and the UC Davis researchers, who issued their own statement. We're also impressed with the dog-owner social media groups who are not only getting the word out but collecting and submitting useful data. Way to go. We love data.

Clearly, if you have concerns, potentially want DCM screening or to set up time to consult with your veterinarian, just give us a call.

Summertime Canine Influenza

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 07:56 - Carol

We're a little worried. Recent reports of the Canine Influenza (CIV) outbreak coming out of Oakland became locally significant to us with newly confirmed cases in Sunnyvale, Campbell and Mountain View.  

We haven't seen any cases at the hospital here yet. If we we do, we may start conducting Canine Influenza vaccination clinics like we did last winter. 

Winter or summer, the concerns are the same, whether holiday boarding or summer vacation. If you haven't vaccinated before, you need four or five weeks to get your dog ready. If your dog was vaccinated last year, you just need a booster shot.

One thing that matters is 'herd immunity.' Preventing an outbreak locally may be all about 'herd immunity.' The term sounds like it's referring to a cluster of dogs, but it's really the concept that refers to the entire population. 'Herd immunity' (or 'community immunity') is indirect protection from an infectious disease, which happens when a high-enough percentage becomes immune to infection, it provides some protection for those who can't be vaccinated or are not themselves immune. CIV is highly contagious. The more contagious a disease, the higher the vaccination rate needs to be to achieve herd immunity.

So, even if you're not boarding your dog for vacation, or you don't take them to doggie day care, it's likely your dog should still be vaccinated. The visit to the dog park, or walk around the block could expose them. 

As a reminder, Canine Influenza vaccination requires two injections, three to four weeks apart, and an annual booster injection.

Humans don't catch it from dogs. Dogs are shedding the virus before they show any symptoms, which makes Canine Influenza very contagious. It makes vaccination all the more important. The fatality rate is less than 10% and can be quite sudden. Unlike a human 24-hour flu, canine influenza recovery takes two to four weeks, which can be rough.

To learn more, or to refresh your recollection, check out Dr. Janet Lowery's letter at the bottom of the 2018 blog post from when we conducted canine influenza vaccination clinics.  

The current outbreak is confirmed as H3N2 - the same strain we experienced early in 2018. If it spreads our way we will issue an update, however be reminded: immunity takes two weeks after the second vaccination. Also, if your dog was vaccinated last year, it may be time for a booster. Headsup. Pay attention. No need to panic, but you can see why we might be a little worried.

Pet Ready! Earthquake Checklist

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 17:24 - Carol

The magnitude 7.1 quake over the weekend reminds us that we could be next. If you have a pet, you'll want to be Pet Ready! as well. We've put together a quick checklist to make it easier.  

Click on this: link for the Pet Ready! Earthquake Checklist

Download it. Use it. Share it!  

Just focus on one item at a time and before you know it, it's filled. If you're slammed, we're happy to pull together a proper first aid kit for you. Overall, the Pet Ready! checklist is straightforward and shouldn't take too much of your time. You'll be glad you did.

Feel free to share the Pet Ready! checklist with your friends and family even if they live somewhere else and their disaster preparedness doesn't focus on earthquakes. That said, especially for anyone who lives in earthquake country, it's important to be ready -- and also to be Pet Ready!

 

 

 

4th of July Reminder

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 16:24 - Carol

Quick reminder about the 4th of July, which can be scary for dogs in particular, since they hear a greater auditory range. We've posted about the 4th of July before, but it bears repeating.  Here are a few things that you can do:
 
1) If your festivities end before dark, consider hanging out with your animal after dark and keeping them with you. The simple dynamic of your presence in the room can be a tremendous comfort, particularly if you can project calm. Sometimes being with you is all it takes. If you, yourself, get spooked or project your own anxiety, maybe not; and move on to suggestion number two.
 
2) Keep your animals in a location where, if they do get spooked, they can not escape and run away. Use common sense: if you know they can clear the backyard fence, or worry that with some adrenalyn they might be able to, then put them in a location where they simply can't escape.
 
3) Maybe a Thundershirt. A Thundershirt, like swaddling a baby, is a soft compression wrap, shown to help many fearful dogs overcome their anxiety, such as when thunder storms or other loud noises trigger anxiety. Many families find it helpful, and it comes with a money-back guarantee of satisfaction.
 
If this is your first Fourth of July with your animal it is particularly important that you take your animal into consideration. If this is not your first Fourth of July and your animal freaks out enough where a medical intervention is the ticket, you probably have it dialed in with your vet already. If you've been looking for a good deadline to make sure your pet is microchipped as well as having their collar tags, this is a good one. We're open, so you can give us a call and see about availability.
 
As long as you remember they hear more than you do, and take your animals into consideration, we can all have a safe and sane Fourth of July.

Sundays Are Back to 9am

Fri, 06/07/2019 - 13:03 - Carol

The new transformer is working great and we've moved our Sunday hours back to opening up at 9am. 

While we were waiting through rain delay after rain delay for the new transformer (which is not a complaint because we need and appreciate the rain!), we had to use the interim generator. Thus, we had delayed opening up until 10am on Sundays to let our neighbors sleep in.  

With the new transformer in place, we're now back to opening up at 9am on Sundays.
 

Heartworm Infection on the Rise

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 08:44 - Carol

The March 2019 data ranks San Francisco as second highest percentage increase heartworm infection in the US. Even if you don't treat your cat or dog for heartworm every month, as recommended, please try to this year, and be sure you don't miss the next few months. 

Heartworm is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Unfortunately, our wet spring has resulted in a dramatic increase of the mosquito population which then has led directly to an increase in the documented cases of heartworm infection.

Heartworm disease in dogs is serious and can be fatal. From the time a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito to the time a positive test confirming infection can be achieved is 6 to 7 months. During this time, damage to the infected individual begins. The adult worms that develop reside in the heart and in the pulmonary artery leaving the heart on the way to the lungs. The presence of these adult worms in these locations is responsible for the clinical signs that include coughing, lethargy, excercise intolerance and weight loss. This can progress to heart failure in some of its worst forms.

Cats respond differently to the few adult worms that develop and present essentially with asthma which can be severe. Unlike dogs, cats cannot be treated for heartworm infection, which makes a good case for prevention.

Even indoor pets are at risk. Studies have shown the percentage of heartworm infected mosquitoes is higher in the indoor population versus the outdoor population of mosquitoes. Heartworm infected mosquitoes understandably seek out the less challenging environment of the indoors.

Heartworm disease in dogs is treatable, but has many difficulties. The treatment occurs over several months, requires multiple drugs that can be costly, and some come with their own risks. The primary drug used to kill the adult worms is an arsenical derivative. Most dog owners, as well as veterinarians, would prefer not to find themselves in a situation where such a drug is necessary. Needless to say, prevention is far easier, more affordable and comes with essentially no risk to your pet.

Obtaining heartworm prevention is easy. It does require that dogs be tested for heartworm and, if negative, we start them on a preventative. Heartworm testing can be arranged simply by calling the hospital and making an appointment for a heartworm test. Or, we'd be happy to arrange for a veterinary technician to come to you.

If ever there was a case of ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ this is it. With heartworm infection on the rise locally, we encourage the use of preventatives for the health of your pet.

 

 

 

We Are Transformed!

Sat, 04/27/2019 - 14:31 - Carol

Terrific news today -- the new transformer is installed and working beautifully. This is huge news because it let us remove the generator we'd been using in the interim. 

That transformer upgrade was about a year in the making. We tried to push it along because we didn't like the generator noise, and our neighbors didn't like the generator noise, and we didn't have any other choice. We want to thank our neighbors for being as patient as they possible could. Watching the transformer go up made clear why so many agencies were involved, and why avoiding rain (or even a robust mist) was such an important factor. 

Several times before, crews were planned or assembled only to be thwarted by the rain. A different winter and the transformer would have been up months ago, but rain is far better than drought. Besides, it's up now!  

Along the way we met the guy who had installed the original transformer, which was eons ago in technology time, but not that long ago, really. At one point, the new transformer was going to get installed overnight. Instead, it happened during the day. We appreciate our neighboring businesses' endurance of a daytime outage. The installation involved taking over one lane of El Camino Real to stage two cherry pickers working in coordination with each other -- a high-voltage dance truly amazing to behold.

We want to thank all of the people from PG&E, CalTrans and the County who made this happen, with safety a first consideration and everything else falling in line behind. They have a thankless job of confronting impatient types like us, and coordinating numerous regulations and considerations, interrupted by emergencies and really no glory.  We appreciate their hard work and look forward to using this new transformer for decades to come.

 

 

 

Not Quite Transformed

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 13:58 - Carol

We had hoped that our next construction update would report a new transformer, completing the overall transformation, and an Open House date to celebrate. Alas, the new transformer install was delayed.

The backstory: The original electrical transformer is a dinosaur. Initially it was thought to suffice, particularly with our energy-efficient new systems. However, new considerations came up as the work moved forward, and it was determined that a new electrical transformer would be required after all. The County, PG&E and CalTrans are all involved, besides ourselves, our engineers and construction team.

Then, epic wild fires and winter storms made transformer work unsafe, and required transformers for recovery. Added to the local building boom, there have been unprecedented delays. We finally had an installation set in Feb. when the latest big storms hit, making work impossible on our date. We think we have a new date later in March, when the "storm door" hopefully closes, and crews are first available.

The transformer work happens overnight to minimize the impact on other businesses. Once the transformer is installed we can also return to our normal business hours. And we can throw a party!! The new transformer represents the completed transformation of the facility. We really can't wait.

There is some other good news to report. CalTrans and the county inspected and approved our underground work and allowed us to repave the portion of the road in front of the hospital. That work has been completed, so we continue to make good progress. In the meantime, we are enjoying working in the new hospital, and look forward to scheduling our open house to show you.

 

 

 

Garage Now Open

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 11:27 - Carol

The indoor parking garage is now open to anyone with an appointment. If you only have a quick pickup, and there's space in the garage, feel free to use it. You're the "exception that proves the general rule." 

It's usually easier for quick pickups to park curbside, if there's space curbside, which is easy for loading stuff, but less optimal for loading and unloading animals. This is why we labeled the garage for Appointment Parking. The debate between calling it "Hospital Parking" and "Appointment Parking" centered around emphasizing that people with animals to unload, please park in here! 

It's truly okay for anyone to park in the garage, if there's room. We have faith in our lovely and sensitive community members who we know will strike the right balance. Our clients understand that animals are always top priority. 

Speaking of, please be mindful of animal safety. Most important: secure your animal before opening the car door. Specifically, this means you should secure your animal with a leash or a carrier before you open any car door -- even the driver's door. We have cardboard cat carriers available for around $7, and leashes are available for free in the garage. You can come by and get one beforehand. In a pinch, or an emergency, for cats the pillow case trick can work just fine, if you can manage to tie a knot with the open end. Most cats do seem to prefer a carrier.

Second most important message is: please feel free to call for assistance. If you want a little help, please call us at (650) 325-5671 and then be a wee bit patient while we finish what we're doing and come straight out to help you. Do not hesitate for a minute to call us and we'll be happy to assist you.

There are four bike racks located along the wall for bicycles. They have an eye hook for your lock. We think bikes are great! For cars, there is sufficient room, but not much extra room. Average size cars seem to have an easy time maneuvering in and out of the garage. Extra large cars also seem to maneuver just fine, but it just takes a few extra moves. Please be aware that pedestrians and bicyclists may be using the sidewalk, and go super slow when exiting. 

Welcome aboard!

 

Hill's Canned Dog Food Recall

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 16:55 - Carol

If you feed your dog Hill's Prescription Diet or Hill's Science Diet canned food, hold off (for now) and call us for a lot number cross-check, or food alternative. We've been made aware of a voluntary recall caused by an ingredient supplier overshooting the mark on Vitamin D – and too much Vitamin D can be a real problem.

The recall only affects canned food for dogs. None of the cat foods, dry foods or treats are affected by the recall, and are fine to feed your pet. It is also possible that the canned food for dogs that you are currently using may be unaffected as well. However, we'd rather spend time checking SKUs and lots and dates, than take ANY chances. 

Is this out of an abundance of caution? You bet. As of this posting, we have seen zero cases that we believe are affected by this. In addition, we have already reached out to every client who purchased Hill's canned food for dogs from us, directly. 

Most pets can tolerate short-term exposure to elevated Vitamin D without any ill effects. On the other hand, too much vitamin D can upset a dog's calcium balance. Symptoms can include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss; if consumed at very high levels Vitamin D overdose can lead to renal dysfunction, kidney failure and heart failure. If your dog has exhibited anything like these symptoms, please contact us at once. When caught early, simply stopping the food leads to full recovery, but more advanced symptoms may require additional interventions. 

Our confidence in Hill's is not yet shaken. They have such a long history of great nutrition research and high quality food. Plus, they are being quite transparent about this issue, and are taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. The preventative steps involve the supplier doing an additional check before sending the ingredient involved, as well as Hill's implementing additional testing steps upon receipt. Test, then trust but verify. 

Here's what the company is saying, "We care deeply about all pets and are committed to providing pet parents with safe and high quality products.  Hill’s has identified and isolated the error and, to prevent this from happening again, we have required our supplier to implement additional quality testing prior to their release of ingredients.  In addition to our existing safety processes, we are adding our own further testing of incoming ingredients."

If you did not purchase from us, call us anyway with a can in hand to determine if your batch is included in the recall. Alternatively, you can check against the list that Hill's has posted, which is available on their website.

While we are relieved that none of our patients seem to have been affected, our hearts go out to those who have.