Category: Seasonal Topics

Hiking Hazards

Hiking Hazards, How to Keep You and You’re Pet Safe.

By: Dr. Ben Davidson

If you are anything like me, you love exploring this wonderful wilderness that surrounds us.  If you’reBen and Tater reading this, you must love taking your faithful four-legged companion with you.  There are a few things you can do to make the hiking experience much safer and more enjoyable for everyone.  Most importantly is controlling the severe elements that we experience on our treks.  In our area, these include the heat and the dry climate.  Our pets tend to walk at least 50% further than we do, running ahead, circling back, and chasing that chipmunk off the trail.  Between the extra exercise and their hair coat, they get a whole lot hotter than we do.  Try to hike in shaded areas, with water around to cool off in. Try to leave early enough to avoid the hottest part of our day, the afternoon.  Make sure you bring plenty of water and a good drinking bowl for them.  Even if it’s a cool day, they hike-with-dog-1need plenty of water.

Hopefully accidents and injuries won’t be a problem, and a few careful steps can prevent a lot of them, but just in case, a few simple additions to your first aid kit are a good idea.  The most common injury we see is pad wear, or blisters on the bottom of their feet.  Just like us, if their little feet aren’t accustomed to long walks, they can get very sore, or crack and blister.  Try to get your pet back into good shape before you take off on that long walk.  Also, wet feet are more prone to injury, so if you are hiking up to some beautiful alpine lake, make sure you plan on letting your pup dry out before heading back down.   It’s hard to prevent little nicks and cuts from them running through the bushes and jumping rocks, but if it is possible to avoid those situations, it’s probably a good idea.  Exercising a little caution and moderation, especially early in the season can also prevent injuries such as muscular and ligament strains, sprains and tears.  Like I said, some basic first aid may be necessary for some of the unavoidable problems.  A pair of tweezers for cactus, foxtails, or other thorns is useful.  Superglue or Pet_First_Aid_Kitany commercially available tissue adhesive can quickly repair a small cut on the fly. Saline eye flush (not a medicated Visine type product) is helpful in case they get something in their eye.  There are some really nice pet first aid kits available at the pet stores or at the large sporting good and outdoor stores.

Finally, just know where you are hiking. Do a little research into what toxins and wildlife you might encounter. If you’re headed off to the east, or just locally, you need to be aware of 45796878.GreatBasinRattlesnake07_05_05rattlesnakes. Up in the mountains it’s not as much of a threat, but still, if you hear that suspicious rattle, get Fido back to you and walk on bye carefully. Flea, tick, and absolutely heartworm prevention is important when out in the elements.  There are certainly other predators out there, and although these incidents are incredibly rare, it’s important to keep an eye out. If you are a horticulturalist and without question know the difference between toxic and safe plants, you are in a great place to go hiking. For the rest of us, don’t let your pets eat plants out there. They may be unsafe both in toxins and also by causing GI upset or obstructions.

Everybody have a great hiking season!

Seasonal Allergies

Every Year Around the Same Time My Dog Gets Itchy.

By: Dr. Tony Luchetti Dr Luchetti

  Many pets, like people, can get seasonal allergies. These allergies usually occur in the warmer months when grasses, trees, and sagebrush are blooming. Some signs of seasonal allergies are: red/inflammed skin, scratching and even excessive paw licking.

Dealing with seasonal allergies can be a frustrating endeavor for the pet, the owner, and also the Bulldog-puppy-scratching_1019491631veterinarian.  There are multiple treatments for seasonal allergies, and as the old adage goes, when there are multiple ways to treat something, there isn’t a great way to treat it. Certain antihistamines can be used orally to try and decrease the itchiness.  However, unfortunately only 30% of pets respond to antihistamines. The nice thing about antihistamines are their side effects are minimal with drowsiness being the most common.

The most common treatment for seasonal allergies are corticosteroids. These medications are relatively inexpensive and highly effective. The major disadvantage to corticosteroids are their side effects. The side effects are directly proportional to the dose needed to control the allergies, and 106906243include: increased water consumption and urination, increased appetite, and increased panting.  Long term, high dosage treatment can cause ligament and muscle weakening, skin and liver changes.  When using corticosteroids we always try to use the lowest effective dose which controls the allergies in order to minimize these side effects.

Another treatment for seasonal allergies in dogs is hyposensitization therapy. With this therapy we try to find out what the dog is allergic to by either a blood test or by injecting different allergens under the skin in small amounts to see if they form a welt (this is done by a veterinary dermatologist).  Once we know what the dog is allergic to, a company formulates allergy injections to these allergens. We then teach the owner how to give these injections (in small amounts) at home in the hope of desensitizing the dog’s immune system to what they are allergic to. Unfortunately these injections don’t work all the time, and the testing and injections can be somewhat expensive. Approximately 25% of patients see no improvement, 50% see some improvement, and the remaining 25% can see complete improvement.

There are currently two additional medications which help to minimize the immune systems response to allergens.  These medications are Atopica and Apoquel.  Atopica is usually effective, but has the disadvantage of being expensive for larger dogs.  Apoquel has just recently come on the market and appears to be very effective and relatively inexpensive with minimal side effects.  We are hopeful that Apoquel will replace corticosteroids as the most common treatment for seasonal allergies.  The biggest hurdle to Apoquel currently, is it is very difficult to get ahold of.Dr. Luchetti

If you think your pet is having seasonal allergies, please give us a call and schedule an appointment with us, and we can help you determine which treatment is the best fit for your situation.

West Nile Virus
Authored by: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionCDC-Logo

*A recent article (Austgen et al. Experimental Infection of Cats and Dogs with West Nile Virus, EID, Vol. 10, no.1 Jan 2004) in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases discusses WNV infection in dogs and cats in detail.

Can West Nile virus (WNV) cause illness in dogs or cats?

A relatively small number of WNV infected dogs (<40) and only 1 WNV infected cat have been reported to CDC during 2003. Experimentally infected dogs* showed no symptoms after infection with WNV. Some infected cats exhibited mild, nonspecific symptoms during the first week after infection–for the most part only showing a slight fever and slight lethargy. It is unlikely that most pet owners would notice any unusual symptoms or behavior in cats or dogs that become infected with WNV.

  1. How can my veterinarian treat my cat or dog if they are/may be infected with WNV?  
    There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. Full recovery from the infection is likely. Treatment would be supportive (managing symptoms, if present) and consistent with standard veterinary practices for animals infected with a viral agent.
  2. Does my dog/cat becoming infected pose a risk to the health of my family or other animals?
    There is no documented evidence of dog or cat-to-person transmission of West Nile virus. The evidence suggests that dogs do not develop enough virus in their bloodstream to infect more mosquitoes. Cats develop slightly higher levels of virus in their bloodstream, but it is unclear if this would be enough to infect mosquitoes. It is very unlikely that cats would be important in furthering the spread of the virus.  If your animal becomes infected with WNV, this suggests that there are infected mosquitoes in your area. You should take measures to prevent mosquitoes from biting you (use repellent and wear protective clothing.)

How do cats and dogs become infected with West Nile virus?  Dogs and cats become infected when bitten by an infected mosquito. There is also evidence that cats can become infected with the virus after eating experimentally infected mice. *

  1. Can I become infected with WNV if a dog with the virus bites me?  Preliminary studies have not been able to detect virus in the saliva of infected dogs. This suggests that dog bites pose a low risk, if any, of transmission of WNV from dogs to other animals or people.
  2. Is there a vaccine for cats or dogs?     No
  3. Q. Can I use insect repellent on my pets?   DEET-based repellents, which are recommended for humans, are not approved for veterinary use (largely because animals tend to ingest them by licking.) Talk with your veterinarian for advice about the appropriate product for use on your pet.

Why is my Dog Afraid of Thunder and/or Fireworks?

Dr. Crumley

By: John Crumley, DVM

Adverse reactions to thunderstorms and fireworks are understandable since dogs don’t understand the origins of the noises. Loud and foreign noises from overhead are difficult to orient to and can cause panic and anxiety. While many dogs get accustomed to storms, others may become even more sensitive, resulting in additional fear with each exposure. The degree of anxiety is based on a dog’s perception of a threat. When a dog’s response to thunderstorms is extreme, it is considered a phobia.

Dogs may show a variety of anxiety signs during or before a thunderstorm: panting, trembling, hiding, pacing, vocalizing, being destructive, and attempts to escape. Many dogs are found lost after a storm and/or fireworks because they are scared and escaped from a yard or a kennel.

hiding puppy    Dogs may try to hide during a thunderstorm or firework display. This is understandably a normal response. If your dog seems agitated or restless, you may be able to assist by securing a safe haven and help him/her relax during storms. This safe location should be readily available, especially when no one is home. You can try to limit exposure to the overwhelming and fear-evoking elements of a storm or fireworks by closing doors and windows. White noise or music can block out the sounds as well. You can also redirect your dog with obedience exercises and other fun activities (agility or food puzzle toys).

Recordings of thunderstorm sounds may be played and you can associate them with pleasant outcomes. Programs such as Sounds Scary® offer gradual and positive exposure to noises in a non-threatening manner; this method is known as desensitization/counter conditioning. Rehearsing a safe haven routine or redirection strategies while listening to recordings of storm noises will prepare your dog for more imposing threats. Try not to show your own anxiety during storms to avoid making your dog’s anxiety worse. If your dog’s anxiety is minimal and recovery is quick, it may be appropriate for you to ignore the anxious behavior and allow a natural adaptation to storms or fireworks (habituation). Ignoring severe anxiety or extreme displays is not a good idea and may be confusing and could even make the anxiety worse. If the anxiety persists, seems extreme or your pet is at risk for self injury, medications should be considered.

Dogs with severe anxiety may benefit from long-term management wdog-take-ibuprofenith anxiolytic medications plus rapidly-acting anxiolytics that may be given immediately prior to or even during an event. Dogs with a more mild anxiety may require only the rapidly-acting anxiolytics given immediately prior an event.

1. Don’t leave uncooked turkey unattended on the kitchen counter – the smell is too tempting for your dog. Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria, and turkey bones could either choke your dog or break/splinter while they are eating them. Broken bones can tear, or get stuck in, any part of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract as they work their way through his system;
2. Once you’ve cooked your turkey, and before you sit down to eat, clear away all the wrappings such as tin foil, string and meat skewers – they are all potential hazards for your dog;
3. If you put the wrappings/ dripping in the bin or trash can, make sure the lid is on firmly. The grease goodness is a very tempting treat for dogs. While it might taste good it can be very harmful to their digestive system and pancreas. If you aren’t going to be taking the trash out for awhile try putting some bricks on the bin lid to keep out persistent foragers!
4. Prepare a turkey treat for your dog that they can eat whilst you are having your meal – a kong stuffed with white turkey meat and dried kibble will keep them busy. If your dog’s in the room with you, you know that they aren’t up to turkey mischief in the kitchen. However, once they finished their treat, don’t give in to any begging.
5. A tired dog is a good dog. Try and give you dog a good energetic walk in the morning,                          something that’s mentally and physically stimulating. That way they’ll be more inclined to sleep or at least lie quietly whilst you are preparing and eating your turkey roast – particularly if you give them their favorite toy to keep them busy!

              Things to Keep in Mind During Halloween 

By: Dr. Michelle Nguyen 

The spookiest night of the year is quickly approaching! Halloween!  With only a few days until you have goblins, witches, and fairies ringing your doorbell, please take into consideration your four-legged furry friends. During the week of Halloween, calls to the Pet Poison Helpline increase by nearly 12 percent. Although most of us already know that chocolate is toxic to our pets, many of us don’t know about the other dangers that may pose to our pets.  Here is a list of potential hazards to our pets:

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, found in many soft and hard candies can cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

Candy wrappers can cause GI obstruction, which if severe enough, may require surgical intervention

Glow sticks, if punctured, can cause pain and irritation of the mouth.

Candy ingestion alone can cause GI upset and even pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) which can potentially become a life-threatening condition.

Candles and any open flames are dangerous and we should keep them in areas where our pets are not able to access them.

Loud noises and strangers throughout the night can make your pet stressed and may even cause them to bolt when the door is open.  It may be best to keep them in a quiet area of the house away from any open doors. Also, please remember to have some form of identification on them in the event that they run away.

Baring Boulevard Veterinary Hospital wishes you and your four-legged family a Happy Halloween!

Green thumbs, not green pawsGardening and Your Pet Things to be Mindful of. 

                    By: Bob Baker, DVM   

Dogs and sometimes cats can spend quite a bit of time outside and sometimes conflicts between your landscaping and gardens will arise with the family pet.

Probably the most common complaint we get is that the dog’s urine is killing the grass, creating those familiar brown spots in the lawn.  There are companies that market supplements to change the dog’s urine pH and composition to prevent this and my advice about these products is that they are a waste of time, money, and potentially dangerous for your dog.  The problem with dog urine killing grass is not so much with the dog urine but the lawn itself.  The waste products in the dog urine are very concentrated, almost like too much fertilizer for the grass to process.  The solution to the problem is to over water those dead patches of the grass, soon you will have very green patches in your lawn.

Another problem with pets and our yards involves intoxications or poisonings.  Probably the most common of where the beloved family dog or cat reverts to it’s natural instincts and finds a dead critter to chew on and eat…or even a live one to hunt down and feast upon.  This actually is most often the least dangerous intoxication, generally some gastrointestinal distress, a little vomiting and 24 hours of diarrhea and the problem has passed so to speak.  On occasion, we may need to treat these guys if the clinical signs persist.

Chemical intoxications from herbicides, pesticides…especially the rodent poisons are potentially the most serious for pets.  The herbicide 2-4-D has historically been implicated as a cause of cancer, specifically lymphoma in the dog.  Other herbicides, for example Roundup are reportedly safer alternatives, but common sense would dictate to minimize exposure to such products.  Insecticides such as disulfoton are extremely toxic to dogs.  Products such as ant bait traps however, are generally safer choices. The rodenticides such as D-con (anticoagulant poisons) essentially cause the victim to bleed to death internally, clinical signs may not show up for days after ingestion so my advice for anticoagulant poisons…if you have a dog, don’t have anticoagulant poisons around…they will find them and get into them.  Zinc Phosphide is another rodent poison that is highly dangerous, not only to rodents, but dogs, children, and veterinary staff that treat the poisoned individual.  Metaldehyde or snail bait is not used around here as we really have a minimal snail and slug problem, but again a very dangerous substance, poisoned individuals are call “shake and bake” because of the tremor, seizure, and high body temperature that kills rapidly.  If you are getting my point as a veterinarian, please don’t have these products around your pets.  If you need to use such products, I would recommend hiring a licensed and bonded professional exterminator.

Most basic fertilizers are not particularly dangerous, but can cause gastrointestinal distress, and rarely central nervous system signs. Again, avoidance of exposure is key.

We also have to be careful about the plants we choose in our landscape, some are toxic to pets, and things you would not even think of like grapes in dogs, and lilys in cats can be potentially toxic.  A full listing of poisonous plants is beyond the scope of this discussion but listings are available on the internet.

One last thought involves the use of power tools around your pet.  Generally lawnmowers, weed trimmers, rototillers, chainsaws, etc. do not mix well with pets.  Put them away in a safe place while using such devices.

The Reality Of The Temperature Inside a Car  

By: Cora and Lauren

 As summer temperatures heat up, so do the risks of heat stroke in your pet. Many of us want to include our dogs in our summer activities, but what we don’t realize is a couple minutes in a car while we run into the store can be like sitting in an oven for our pets. Take a look at some interesting fact we found below.  

1.It might only be 82° degrees outside, but did you know that the inside of an enclosed car whether in the shade or the direct sun the temperature can reach up to 109°!

2. What if I crack open the windows??? If it’s 84° it still gets up to 98°.

  1. If its a 100° in a closed car it’s a 117° inside, if the windows are cracked its still a 114°.
  2. Heat stroke does not occur at a certain temperature. It happens when the dog’s body can no longer regulate it’s normal functions and as a result it’s temperature starts to rise.
  3. If a pet is locked in a car and the Police, Animal Services, or a concerned citizen rescues the pet,  the fines start at $100.
  4. If a pet is locked in a car and requires veterinary care, Animal Services can cite you under NRS with fines leading up to $630.

All in all the summer is an amazing season full of fun things to do with the whole family. Just be sure to plan ahead if your pet is going along, and to always bring fresh water. If you see a dog inside a car do not hesitate to call Animal Services @ 353-8900.

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 By : Bob Baker

It is rattlesnake season here in Northern Nevada.  Rattlesnake bites are painful, and can be deadly.  There are a few factors that influence the severity of the bite.

1)  Snake Factors

  1. a.   Younger snakes will generally inject more venom.
  2. b.   Single defensive bites are often dry, meaning very little venom injected.
  3. c.    Second and multiple bites will often infuse venom.

2)  Patient Factors

  1. a.   Small dogs and cats are relatively more affected, venom dose per pound.
  2. b.   Location, facial strikes are most common, bites over the chest can be very dangerous.
  3. c.    Curious, rambunctious dog is at higher risk.



1)  Avoid locations where snakes are more likely to be found…rocky areas, water, prey…if there is prey around there are likely snakes.

2)  Avoindance training…probably the BEST preventative option you can take.  Most bites occur with a curious dog investigating the snake.  Accidental stepped on defensive bites still occur.

3)  Vaccine.  There is a vaccine for the rattlesnake toxin, unfortunately there have been NONE (0), NO clinical studies supporting it’s use or substantiating if is of benefit to use in any particular patient.  There are however, a relatively high number of side effects from the rattlesnake vaccine…mostly skin inflammation, necrosis, abscess formation at the site of the injection.


All rattlesnake bite victims need to be seen by a veterinarian, regardless of previous vaccination or state of illness.  Do not apply a tourniquet, cut into the bite, try to suck the venom out…(yes it has been recommended), or give any medication unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.

Once in the hospital, patients are evaluated for severe reactions to the venom.  Treatment includes intravenous fluid therapy to support blood pressure, pain medications, and usually antibiotics.  Antivenin is controversial, there is some research that demonstrated that antivenin did nothing to improve outcome, while others support it use in lessening swelling and pain associated with the bite.  Antivenin is VERY expensive, so it’s use may be dictated by financial constraints as well as medical indications.


Most snake bite victims do quite well, it is rare to see snake bite victims die…but it does happen.  There is generally no long term issues associated with rattlesnake bites.  Once a patient survives the initial wound, the long term prognosis is excellent.

This year we have already seen 2 dogs that have had run ins with rattlesnakes. Below is some information from the Nevada Wildlife Federation regarding classes and training.

Dogs who hike, hunt, camp, or live in rural areas may be at risk of rattlesnake bites, especially in the summertime. Rattlesnakes are prolific throughout the Great Basin, and without emergency treatment, dogs can die from a rattlesnake bite. The benefits of training are obvious for dogs, but they are significant for dog owners too. The dog’s reaction to detecting a rattlesnake can signal owners to avoid the snake, and training may also save pet owners a hefty vet bill; bitten dogs must be treated right away with several days in the hospital, and a vet bill that can be unexpected.

Classes for 2012 are offered June 16 and 17, and July 7 and 8 at Davis Creek Park. Training appointments can be scheduled throughout the day beginning at 8am. For more information on prices and registration please go to