Category: Things to Watch For

Sugar Substitute Xylitol is Poisonous to your Pet

By: Dr. Anne Dayton ALD

Sugar substitutes may sound wonderful and may they are if you are a human. If you are a dog, one particular sugar substitute, Xylitol, is potentially lethal. It is often found in sugarless gum, certain baked goods, and some sugarless candies. It may also be found in certain flavored human medications and toothpaste. The potential toxicity to cats is still unknown.

There are two deadly effect Xylitol can have. The first is Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In a dog the pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar ad releases insulin to store the “sugar”. The problem is that Xylitol does not offer the extra calories of real sugar and the rush of insulin only serves to remove the real sugar from the circulation. Blood sugar levels plummet resulting in weakness, disorientation, tremors, and potentially seizures.

Labwork The other reaction associated with Xylitol is Hepatic Necrosis the actual destruction of the liver tissue. How this happens remains unknown, but the doses of Xylitol required to produce this effect are much higher than the hypoglycemic doses described above. Signs take longer to show up (typically 8-12 hours) and surprisingly not all dogs that experience hepatic necrosis, will have experienced hypoglycemia first. A lucky dog experiences only temporary illness, but alternatively, a complete and acute liver failure can result with death following. Internal hemorrhage and inability of blood to clot is commonly involved.

It does not take many sticks of gum to poison a dog, especially a small dog. Symptoms typically begin within 30 minutes and can last for more than 12 hours. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. A example of a Hypoglycemic dose of Xylitol would be if you have a 10 lb dog it could be poisoned by as little as a stick and a half of gum.  The dose to cause the Gum and Xylitol Hepatic Necrosis would be a whole unopened pack of gum for the same 10 lb dog.

To treat a dog with Xylitol toxicity the patient ideally should be seen quickly (within 30 minutes) and hopefully can be made to vomit the gum/ candy. Beyond that point a dextrose (sugar) IV drip is prudent for a good 24 hours. Liver enzyme and blood clotting test are monitored for 2 to 3 days. Blood levels of potassium are ideally monitored as well. If you are worried about your pet, and think that they might have gotten into a product that contains Xylitol please first contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at  (888) 426-4435 (please note there is a fee of $65). If they recommend treatment give us a call, or if you have questions please give us a call at (775) 358-6880.


How to Help Your Pet Age Gracefully

By Sara Hogle, DVM use sh

The majority of dog breeds have reached their golden years by 7 to 10 years old with large and giant breeds becoming seniors earlier than small breed dogs. Cats are typically considered seniors around 10 years of age. Many dogs will experience some graying of the coat (especially around the muzzle or face) as they age but there are many, more subtle signs of aging to watch for.  Some owners will report diminished hearing in their geriatric dogs and cats. Often times older animals are noted sleeping more and tiring more easily when playing. These changes in activity tend to be very gradual in the healthy older dog or cat. Rapid changes in activity level, or excessive lethargy/sleepiness are often indicators of health problems and a visit to your veterinary is strongly recommended if this is noted at home.

senior dogsOther aging changes to watch closely for include excessive thirst, unexpected weight loss or gain, large changes in activity level or ability, and any signs of pain or discomfort. I recommend regularly evaluating your pets ears and mouth for odor or debris, feeling the belly for tenseness, pain, or bloating/distention, running your hands through the coat to feel for masses or lumps, and to screen for any eye or nasal discharge. Additionally, monitor your pet’s activity level and abilities on a daily basis. For example, if you start to notice hesitation, difficulty or reluctance to sit down, climb stairs, get in or out of the car, go for walks, changes in how they are posturing to urinate or defecate, or with a cat, difficulty or inability to get into or out of the litter box, these may all be indicators of pain and possible underlying arthritis, back problems (e.g. disc disease), or even cancer. If any of these changes in odor, activity, etc. are noted at home we strongly recommend a visit to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Many of the problems that our senior pets face can be managed and/or resolved more easily early in the course of disease, making early diagnosis very important.

Additionally, we recommend regular senior wellness exams, every 6 months ideally. Annual blood work, fecal examination Labwork when indicated, and urinalysis can allow for early detection of diseases. Many diseases can be managed and progression prevented by early detection and medical treatments. For example, cats may appear healthy and happy for a long period of time early in the course of kidney failure but kidney problems can be detected during this time by regular bloodwork monitoring in the older cat. If caught early kidney disease progression can be slowed or prevented keeping your cat healthy and happy at home. Once a cat is clinically sick from kidney disease it has progressed to a point where treatment is more challenging, more expensive, and the cat’s quality of life may be affected long term or altered due to the condition.

older-dogFinally, it is important to consider your aging pets changing dietary and exercise/comfort needs. We recommend feeding a complete and balanced, high quality diet specifically formulated for geriatric or senior pets. Some pets will require a specialty or prescription diet due to other concurrent illness, so we advise following your veterinarians dietary recommendations in these cases. Additionally, older dogs can have more difficulty effectively maintaining their body temperature, so keeping them comfortably warm (not hot) and dry is important. Arthritic dogs may benefit from ramps to get up steps and extra padding where they sleep and arthritic cats may require litter boxes with lower sides for easy access. If your older dog or cat is losing sight or hearing, removing obstacles and avoiding unnecessary movement of furniture, food/water dishes, etc. can help to reduce anxiety and maintain mobility and comfort in the home. If at any time you notice any unusual symptoms or evidence of pain/discomfort we strongly recommend an exam with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Ultimately, with you and your veterinarians tender loving care, support, and guidance we can keep your aging pet comfortable, happy, and healthy into their golden years.

Bob Baker, DVM   

Dr. Baker

Leptospirosis is a potentially life-threatening bacterial disease that can affect animals, as well as humans. In northern Nevada, we have not typically vaccinated against this disease, but it is increasing in frequency.  Northern California is now considered a leptospirosis “hotspot.”
The Leptospira bacteria is typically spread through the urine of infected wildlife or domestic animals.  The bacteria pass into water and soil, where they can survive for months.  When animals come in contact with this contaminated environment, the bacteria can enter the body through broken skin and mucus membranes.  Drinking contaminated water is another source of infection.
Leptospirosis is a very serious disease that can cause liver problems, kidney failure, and death.  It can also be difficult to diagnose.  There is no one perfect test to confirm the disease, although some of the newer polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are much better than the older (titer) tests.  The incubation period for leptospirosis is usually between 5 to 14 days.
Early treatment is much more successful than delayed intervention.  Treatment involves antibiotics, fluid therapy, and, in some instances, referral for dialysis.
318619_166854683394618_1910788172_n Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans.  The infected animal’s urine, blood, and tissues are contagious, and humans get lepto if the bacteria enters cuts or broken skin, or if they drink contaminated water.
Leptospirosis is rare here in northern Nevada, but, as mentioned above, northern California is considered a hotspot for the disease, so dogs that travel there definitely run a higher risk of contracting leptospirosis.  To minimize your dog’s risk of exposure:

Avoid exposure to standing water, especially where wildlife or livestock congregate.  Bring your own source of water for your dog to drink.  Vaccinate your dog.  The leptospirosis vaccine is not a core or required vaccine, but we strongly recommend it for dogs that have an exposure risk.  A small dog that lives in an apartment in northern


Nevada does not need to be vaccinated for lepto.  A dog that hunts or has exposure to cattle farms would be at risk and should be vaccinated.  Leptospirosis vaccines have been available for years, but they were not very effective and ran a high risk of side effects, so they became unpopular. With newer technologies, the vaccine is highly effective with less risk of allergic reactions. We recommend the Merial RECOMBITEK 4 vaccine for the best available protection while having a high margin of safety. Initial vaccination requires a booster in 3-4 weeks, followed by annual vaccination to afford the best protection.  Again, not all dogs need to be vaccinated for leptospirosis.  It is a non-core vaccine for a specific population of at-risk dogs. Our doctors are happy to answer any questions you may have.


Why is Decon Bad For My Pet?

Tony Luchetti, DMV Dr Luchetti

To explain why Decon is bad for pets, we must first understand how the body stops bleeding.  When a blood vessel (similar to a pipe) breaks, the body tries to repair this break first with cells called platelets.  The platelets are similar to a band-aid.  They adhere to the broken portion of the blood vessel within 5 minutes and temporarily seal the break.  However the platelets need special proteins called clotting factors to permanently seal the break.  Some of these clotting factors require vitamin K to adhere to the platelets, and thus permanently stop the bleeding.

Decon and other so called “anticoagulant rodenticides” work by lowering the levels of vitamin k in the body to levels so low, that a permanent seal can not be formed on broken blood vessels.  Most pets who ingest decon do not show signs of being sick for a few days until their body’s vitamin k reserves are exhausted.  Some signs the pet may then show are bruising of the skin, external bleeding (such as from the nose or blood in the urine), or internal bleeding (which may cause D-CONdifficulty breathing or the pet may just be  “acting more tired”).

If a pet is known to have ingested decon, timely treatment is crucial.  If we can treat a pet before the vitamin k reserves are exhausted (ideally within the first day), treatment is very effective.  Early treatment consists of usually inducing vomiting to remove any residual toxin, and then placing the pet on an oral prescription form of vitamin k (vitamin k1).  The over the counter form of vitamin k is vitamin k3, and unfortunately this form is not readily absorbed when taken orally, and thus is not an appropriate treatment for decon ingestion.

If a pet has already exhausted their vitamin k reserves and is showing signs of bleeding, treatment is more complicated.  Vitamin k1 can take up to 24hrs to start working, so in the pets who are already bleeding, the only way to quickly stop the bleeding is to give them the specialized proteins we discussed above called clotting factors.  These are given intravenously with plasma.  The plasma buys us time for the oral vitamin k1 to kick in.

In conclusion, if your pet has ingested decon, the sooner you can get your pet in for treatment, the better.  Even though your pet may look fine, the vitamin k reserves are slowly becoming diminished.  Once the vitamin k reserves are depleted and your pet starts showing signs of bleeding, treatment becomes much more expensive, and the prognosis worsens.

Shedding 101

Dr. Baker

                                         Bob Baker, DVM

Everyone that has a pet dog or cat knows that they shed hair.  While this is most often not a problem for the pet, it can be a problem for owners for the aesthetic displeasure of having a “hairy home” or even more serious for those with pet allergies.

Truth be know, most people that are allergic to pets are mostly allergic to the dander, or shed skin proteins rather than the hair itself.  Techniques used to minimize shedding problems are helpful though to people with pet allergies.


There are some dogs and cat breeds that are considered “low shedders.”  There are some dogs that shed smaller amounts of hair continuously like people (yes we shed too!), and certainly we’ve all experienced the seasonal “blowing of coat” where there is fur flying everywhere.  There are also the cats and dogs that develop hair mats, big thick clumps of fur that can grow to enormous proportions.

So how can I manage my pet’s shedding?  Well first of all, there is no magic cure for shedding.  There is no spray or food additive that will stop this naturally occurring condition.  But here is a straightforward plan that will make your world a less hairy place.


  •  Brush your pet.  The more hair that ends up in the brush, the less will end up in the  nvironment.  How often would depend on your pet, use some common sense. There are also different types of brushes and combs for different types of hair coat. Try to make it into a positive enjoyable experience for both of you
  • Feed good quality diet. We at Baring recommend the Hills Diets. 
  • bulldoginbathBathe your dog (and cat) as needed. Bathing helps remove dead hairs, and keeps the remaining coat clean.  Pets will normally shed a great deal during and right after a bath as the dead hairs come loose.  Be sure to use a shampoo for pets, not human shampoos…wrong pH.
  • Have regular checkups. Many diseases can affect the skin and hair coat. Regular visits to your veterinarian will help identify problems early, and provide more effective treatment.
  • Problems: Under no circumstances should there be areas of bald skin during a normal shed.  This is called alopecia, and it is not normal.  If there is a rash, itchiness, or odor from the skin, those problems need to be investigated.  Also, some pets that have very heavy coats, or get matting of the fur, shaving becomes an option.  Be careful of sunburn though!



The FDA has issued a recall of the Natura Pet Products which includes California Natural Dog and Cat food for Salmonella contamination. If you are feeding these diets please check 

out this link. If you are feeding these diets and your pet starts to act lethargic, has diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or abdominal pains please give us a call.

Helpful Guidelines and Tips On What To Do If Your Pet Has A Seizure

By: John Crumley, DVM JPC


Seizures (often called convulsions or fits) are involuntary behaviors caused by abnormal firing of the synapses in the brain. The behaviors vary depending on which part of the brain is involved. The classic seizure is a grand mal type convulsion where the pet may fall over, paddle its legs, lose consciousness, and possibly lose control of its bladder and/or bowels. There are three phases to the seizure: 1) the pre-seizure or “pre-ictal phase” which is a period of disorientationyour pet may cry out, or seem anxious and try and seek you out during November-27-2012-18-40-11-mqwthis stage, 2) the seizure itself – where the pet usually falls over and displays classic convulsions, and 3) the post-seizure or “post-ictal”phase – marked by disorientation, stumbling, and anxious or even aggressive behavior. Sometimes this may appear to be a “regrouping” or a recovery/rest period after the seizure and can last from a few minutes to several hours.

Seizures are fairly common in dogs and cats, but are always very frightening and stressful to the family of a cherished pet. There are many causes of seizures, some relatively benign (such as juvenile epilepsy, while others are much more serious (such as brain tumors). A thorough examination and full labwork are warranted if your pet has a seizure. In this blog, I would like to focus on the seizure itself and what you can do at home if your pet unfortunately has a seizure.

The first thing to remember is that in most cases the seizure is harder on you and the family than your pet. During a seizure your pet is unconscious and will have no memory of the event. They may vocalize, thrash, and yelp like crazy, and this often appears as if they are in pain, but they are not. They are unconscious and unaware of what their body is doing. So, don’t panic (I know, easier said than done, right?). The average seizure lasts about two minutes, some shorter and some longer, but it can seem like Cat-and-Clockan eternity. Try and stay objective, note the time, then start timing the seizure. Look at your pet’s surroundings and see if there is any way your pet could be hurt (e.g.,are we at the top of stairs, in the street, are there other animals around, etc.)? If there is danger, try and move your pet, but be careful you do not get hurt! Stay away from your pet’s mouth as you may be inadvertently bitten during the seizure. Do not place anything in your pet’s mouthyour pet will not swallow its tongue. I am not sure where this myth came from, but it is simply not true. Now, back to the clock. Hopefully, the seizure has stopped in a minute or two, but if it lasts longer than 10 minutes, try and safely get your pet to a veterinary hospital. cropped-baring-vet-3.jpgHaving long, sustained seizures (greater than 10 minutes) is called status epilepticus and requires immediate veterinary attention to stop the seizure. Similarly, if your pet has more than three seizures in a day, regardless of how long they lasted, you should get to a veterinary hospital as quickly (but safely) as possible.If it is just one or two seizures lasting less than 10 minutes, make sure your pet is comfortable and call your veterinarian for an appointment for a medical workup to try and determine the cause.

After the initial evaluation and labwork has been run, your veterinarian may begin medications to control the seizures, depending on the severity and frequency of the seizures. We always want to monitor the seizures whether medications are indicated or not. Keeping a “seizure log” is a simple tool to help your veterinarian decide if your pet needs to start medications. Make three columns, one for the date, one for the duration (not the pre- or post-ictal phases, just the fit or convulsion’s duration), and a third one for the severity. You could use a numbering scale (such as 1 through 5) for severity, or you could just jot down some information, like “lost consciousness”, or “this was much milder than the first seizure.” Just pensomething that you and your veterinarian will understand. This log will help us make medication adjustments based on increases or decreases in frequency, duration, and severity and make sure your pet is treated appropriately.


Lumps and Bumps. When Is It Time To Get Them Checked Out.100_1925

By: Ben Davidson, DVM

We all know, have known, or will soon know a dog or cat that has had a lump or bump that we can feel on or just beneath its skin.  The unfortunate truth is that these growth and lesions are incredibly common in small animal medicine.  Fortunately, however, many of these lumps are benign and non-cancerous, but getting it looked at and checked out is the only way to know for sure.  These lumps can be cysts, abscesses, scar tissue, benign growths, or yes, cancerous tumors.  There is not a great algorithm or set of criteria for when a growth is safe of when it could be dangerous.  Fast growing, very inflamed looking lesions tend to be worse, but we always worry about that sleeping giant that may not fit those generalizations.  At your visit, your veterinarian will look at it, feel it for consistency, location, and attachment, and will likely recommend pulling some cells Doctor Looking Through a Microscopeout of it to evaluate under the microscope by us or by a board certified pathologist.

The question bigger than when to get it checked out, is when or if to get it removed?  In our opinion there are four reasons to have a growth removed: 1) It is known to be aggressive and thus will cause problems either locally or systemically without intervention.  Better to get these off early, when they are small.  2) If its size and location will make surgery down the road more difficult on your pet.  Even benign growths do continue to grow and if they get too big they can cause problems or pain and surgery will only be harder on everybody later on.  3) If it is open and/or bleeding.  A growth like this is painful and prone to infection.  Ruptured growths are unlikely to heal without removal and surgery.  4) If the growth is upsetting or troublesome to either your pet, or to you.  If your pet is licking, chewing, or scratching at the lesion, or it is causing trouble with certain movements, it is upsetting to them.  If you don’t like the look of the lesion, or you don’t like feeling it when you are petting your furry friend, then get it out of there.

Together, we can determine the best course of action for your pets specific problem.  It may be surgery, medication, or cat with cone perhaps even no treatment at all, but we need to know what the exact problem is before we know how to make it go away.  If your pet has any of these lumps and bumps that have not been checked out, we strongly recommend contacting us for an evaluation so we can make sure to not let that little bump become a bigger mountain.

There’s a wide variety of toxic items that the average pet owner is aware of; however, there are also toxins lurking around our house that may not be so obvious or well known.  The following list can help you be more aware of these worrisome products.   The symptoms for these toxins may be as mild as an upset stomach or as extreme as death.  In any event, if your pet is exhibiting signs of a possible toxic ingestion or exposure, immediately bring it to a

veterinarian or directly contact Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.  Do not try home remedies or making your pet vomit, because some items are caustic and can cause more damage coming back up.  Some severe burns caused by a caustic material may not be seen (and may take up to several hours to be apparent) or may be located in a place that is out of view (the esophagus).  If you suspect a poisoning, the best thing you can do for your pet is to have them seen by a veterinarian.  Many toxins cause initial changes that can only be detected through bloodwork, that only later (sometimes when it’s too advanced) show up as symptoms you might detect.

Most toxicities to pets involve human medications.  NSAIDS:  Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Naproxen, aspirin; other pain meds, like Tylenol; prescription pain medications: like Vicodin, Percocet; antidepressants: Zoloft, Cymbalta; sleep aids: Ambien, Lunesta; muscle relaxants: Lioresal, Flexeril.  Several of these drugs can be lethal if ingested.

An important veterinary medication to be extra cautious about is Rimadyl.  This commonly prescribed NSAID is unique in that it is extremely tasty to pets; they’ve been known to eat through the plastic bottle and the entire contents, which at these high doses could harm their intestines, kidneys, and liver.  Please make sure it is kept in a drawer or cabinet, not left on a countertop where pets may find a way to reach it.

Other common household items include, but are not limited to:

Detergents: toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners, dishwashing granules/tablets/liquid, and laundry soap


Ice Melts


Xylitol: sugarless gums and mints

Glow Jewelry

Homemade Play Dough

Hand Warmers

Fluoride: human toothpaste or children’s fluoride supplements

Zinc: pennies


Macadamia Nuts


Dark and Milk Chocolate

Moldy/Spoiled Food/Compost piles


The best way to keep your pets away from potentially toxic exposures is to lock items away safely as though you had a toddler in the house.  Instead of “child-proofing” your house, you’re “pet-proofing” it.  If you think an item might be toxic, it probably is.  It’s always worth checking with your veterinarian so your pet stays safe.



Written by: RiAnn Yano, Licensed Veterinary Technician