Archive for Exotic Pet Health

Coyote Alert!

Coyote Alert! We are receiving reports of increased coyote sightings, coyote attacks, and dog disappearances from a number of different sources right now including Next Door. Per our prior warning post, we are now in coyote breeding season which lasts from January to early March. Coyotes are more aggressive during the breeding season as they defend their den/home territories against other coyotes, foxes, and, unfortunately, domestic dogs. Recent weather patterns may have also contributed to the increased coyote activity. Please be very careful during this time and keep yourselves, your families, and your pets safe.

Posted in: Cat Health, Dog Health, Exotic Pet Health, News, Pet Health, pet safety, Westminster Veterinary Group

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Client Education Websites and links

Client Education Website

American Veterinary Medical Association

Canine Inherited Disorders Database, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada

Indoor Pet Initiative, The Ohio State University

Partners in Animal health, Cornell University

Pet Health Library, American Animal Hospital Association

Pet Health Network, IDEXX

Pet Poison Helpline

Works and Germs Blog by Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, DAVCIM

Posted in: Bird, Bird Health, Blog, Dog Health, exotic animal health, Exotic Pet Health, News, Pet Health

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Caring for Your Rabbit

Often we see rabbits and the pet parents on a regular basis. We see some great care of rabbits and then there are days we know there is a lack of knowledge of how to care for a rabbit or senior rabbit. We want to educate clients on best care tips for a rabbit.
The first thing is yearly appointment with a knowledgeable veterinarian. Here are some simple tips for a rabbit care:

  1. Diet review-know the nutritional needs and proper diet habits
  2. Flea control applied
  3. Bloodwork drawn and lab tested
  4. Check the perianal area for cleanliness
  5. Monitor for molar issues by watching for drooling, rubbing the face, and unable to eat
  6. Watch for clogged eye ducts
  7. If you observe any changes in weight, posture, uneven gait while moving, lumps or bumps, coughing and changes in urine output report immediately to your veterinarian.

Examine your pet regularly while grooming your rabbit. If you see any changes in your rabbits health according to the list above, you need an appointment please call 714-899-1100. Waiting too long to resolve an issue can leave your pet in pain. Our goal is to keep a pet parent well informed and a pet rabbit pain free and happy. Our doctors are here to give advice, support, education, and even some rabbit pampering.

Posted in: Blog, Exotic Pet Health, How to properly care for you rabbit, News, Pet Health, Rabbit, Westminster Veterinary Group

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July 4th Safety

July 4th Safety

Fireworks, picnics and other Fourth of July traditions can be great fun for people; but all of the festivities can be frightening and even dangerous for animals. Noisy fireworks and other celebrations can startle animals and cause them to run away; holiday foods can be unhealthy; summer heat and travel can be dangerous; and potentially dangerous debris can end up lying on the ground where pets can eat or play with it.Whether or not you’re planning your own Independence Day celebration, it’s important to take precautions to keep your pets safe both during and after the July 4th festivities.

Preparing in advance:

  • Make sure your pets – cats and dogs alike – have identification tags with up-to-date information. If you have horses, you might consider marking a safety (breakaway) halter with your contact information and leaving it on your horse during this stressful time.
  • If your pets aren’t already microchipped, talk with your veterinarian about microchipping. This simple procedure can greatly improve your chances of getting your pets back if they become lost.
  • If your pets are microchipped, make sure your contact information in the microchip registry is up-to-date.
  • Take a current photo of all of your cats, dogs and horses – just in case.
  • If your pet has historically been anxious on this holiday, or if you have reason to expect potentially harmful reactions, consider behavioral therapy to desensitize your pet and reduce the risk of problems. Some pets may need medication. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist.
  • Make sure the environment is safe and secure. If your neighbors set off fireworks at an unexpected time, is your yard secure enough to keep your pet contained? Are pasture fences secure enough to keep horses or other livestock confined? Evaluate your options, and choose the safest area for your animals; and make improvements if needed to make the area more secure.

Safety during July 4th celebrations:

  • Leave your pets at home when you go to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there’s great risk of pets becoming spooked and running away.
  • Consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.
  • Keep horses and livestock in safely fenced areas and as far from the excitement and noise as possible.
  • If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.
  • Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.
  • Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewersaway from curious pets.
  • Don’t let pets get near your barbecue grill while it is in use or still hot.
  • Avoid the urge to feed your pets table scraps or other foods intended for people. Be especially careful to keep them away from these common foods that are actually toxic.
  • Remember that too much sun and heat (and humidity!) can be dangerous to pets. Keep them inside when it’s extremely hot/humid; make sure they have access to shady spots and plenty of water when outdoors; don’t leave them outside for extended periods in hot weather; and know the signs that a pet may be overheating.
  • Never leave your pet in your car when it’s warm outside. Vehicle interiors heat up much faster than the air around them, and even a short time in a locked car can be dangerous to pets.
  • If you’re travelling out of town for the holiday, consider leaving your pets at home with a pet sitter or boarding them in a kennel. If you need to bring them with you, be sure you know how to keep them safe.
  • Follow safe food handling and hygiene practices to protect your family and guests.

After the celebrations:

  • Check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard, where curious animals may pick it up to play with or eat.
  • Check your pastures and remove debris to protect horses and livestock.
  • If you hosted guests, check both your yard and home for food scraps or other debris that might be dangerous to pets, such as food skewers.

Related resources:

Podcast: Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

Posted in: Dog Health, exotic animal health, Exotic Pet Health, News, Pet Health, Westminster Veterinary Group

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Tackle Tick Control

By Michelle Russillo

Surprising most people are unaware that ticks are second only to mosquitoes in the number of diseases they transmit. Ticks can live in unfavorable conditions which is why they are so prevalent and a concern for people and pets.

What ticks are found here in California? According to  DVM 360  black-legged tick is found on the Pacific coast and can be found in grassy areas or woodland and warm, sandy areas. Tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF) is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected soft ticks. TBRF has been reported in 15 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming and is associated with sleeping in rustic cabins and vacation homes Also, 364D rickettsiosis is transmitted to humans by the Pacific Coast tick is a new disease that has been found in California. (SOURCE: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL).

There are ways to lessen ticks on your pets

  1. Inspect pets daily- creased areas like armpits
  2. Keep grass short-Ticks like dark, shady and moist shrubs and grass.
  3. Stack wood in a neat dry place
  4. Discourage wandering wildlife with fencing
  5. Indoor cats do need to be on preventatives because dogs can bring the ticks into the home.

Refrain from killing the tick before removal. Ticks can inject bacteria while being agitated before the kill.  Additionally, tick’s saliva has an anesthetic property so the bite can’t be felt by the host. The best method to remove tick is to go to the veterinarian but if you are unable get to the veterinarian use a tweezer and remove the tick like a splinter

Lastly, pet owners should monitor your pets for ticks and symptoms of illnesses. Tick-borne diseases are slow migrating diseases.  Talk to your veterinarian about annual disease screening to protect pets.

Posted in: Cat Health, Dog Health, Exotic Pet Health, Pet Health, Westminster Veterinary Group

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How to tell if your turtle is ill

by Lisa Mori

Both terrestrial and aquatic turtles are commonly kept as pets. Providing proper nutrition and appropriate housing for your shelled friend is important to maintaining their health. However, despite your best efforts, your pet may become ill. While there are a variety of conditions that can affect turtles, here are a few common diseases and clinical signs you may see.

Vitamin A deficiency (hypovitaminosis A) is a disease commonly seen as result of an inadequate diet (iceberg lettuce, poor quality commercial diet). A lack of vitamin A causes changes in the epidermis (outer layer of skin) with signs including puffy eyelids with eyes swollen shut, nasal discharge, or tympanic (ear) abscesses.

Shell fractures are common and are frequently due to trauma. Traumatic fractures can occur from dog attack, being run over by a car, stepped on, or dropped. Additionally, fractures or shell deformities can also occur due to an underlying nutritional deficiency.

Egg binding occurs when a female is unable to pass eggs and needs intervention to clear the obstruction. This can occur due to malnutrition, underlying disease, or large egg size. Signs include straining, restlessness, or a profound decrease in energy.

Respiratory tract disease is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection, but also occurs with vitamin A deficiency. Signs include clear to milky white nasal discharge, increased oral secretions (bubbles in mouth), stretching the neck, noisy breathing, and decreased energy or appetite. Since turtles use limb movement to aid in respiration, you may see increased “pumping” movements with each breath. An aquatic turtle may float off-balanced as buoyancy will be affected.

Remember, you don’t have to wait until your turtle becomes sick to see your veterinarian. Just like cats and dogs, yearly wellness exams for turtles can help address husbandry or other issues before they become serious problems!


Posted in: Blog, exotic animal health, Exotic Pet Health, Pet Health, turtle, Westminster Veterinary Group

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Backyard Chicken

Backyard Chickens!
by Dr Tara Hueston

Backyard chickens can be wonderful pets, companions, egg-producers, or food animals. Raising your own chickens may sound like an appealing idea, but be sure you do your research before investing in your new chicks.

Make sure that raising chickens is legal in your area. Double-check your local city/town ordinances and homeowner’s association to confirm that having backyard chickens will not cause any legal problems. Please check that your neighbors are ok with you having chickens as well.

Where to get Baby Chicks and Chickens

A question you may have is: where is the best place to get chickens and chicks to start your new flock? A more important question is: what do you want your chickens to do for you, and what breed is best for your needs?

Choose a chicken breed that works for you, whether it will be primarily used for eggs, meat, or a pet. Raise a breed that you want to nurture and love. As their primary caretaker, you will need to clean up after your chickens, feed them, and take care of them when they are sick or injured.

Animal feed stores carry day-old chickens from February to June, and you can acquire day-old chicks or fertilized eggs from hatcheries such as Metzer Farms. You can also buy chicks from breeders. Be sure that your source is reputable to avoid acquiring sick or subpar chickens or chicks.

Ask your hatchery if they vaccinate chicks, and what diseases they vaccinate for. If you hatch any of your own chickens, consider vaccinating them at home.

Some breeds do not mix well, so be aware that although a mixed-breed flock sounds good in theory, it may not work in reality.

How to Care for Chicks:

Pine shavings and corn cob bedding are best. Stay clear of other kinds of wood shavings, because they might be toxic, and avoid newspaper or straw, which can be messy and quickly become soggy. Chickens create a lot of organic waste so be prepared to clean up after your chicks.

Temperature should be 90-100 degrees for the first week, and then decreased by five degrees per week for your chicks.

Chicks grow rapidly! Make sure that you have a brooder large enough for all of the chicks you acquire.

Chicks should be fed chick crumbles starter, and a chick waterer should be used. Nipples are preferred for waterers. Chicks can drown in water dishes. If you choose to use water dishes, then be sure to put large petals inside of the dish to prevent accidental deaths.

Please play with and handle your chick so it gets used to being around people and any animals that you wish to socialize your chicken with. Exposure with supervision is the best way to introduce chickens to dogs. Remember that dogs will naturally be inclined to chase and kill chickens. The more you socialize your chick, the better it will behave when you have to handle it for other reasons.

After the First 60 days, General Chicken Care:

Chickens need a lot of room! Provide 2-3 feet per chicken inside the chicken coop and 4-5 square feet per chicken outside the chicken coop. Please keep local chicken predators in mind when you build your pen and coop! Hawks can pick off chickens, and foxes, coyotes, raccoons, dogs, and cats will eat chickens and their eggs, so build sturdy fencing. Chickenwire is often not sufficient for protecting chickens from coyotes and foxes.

For litter inside your coop and in the yard, consider pine shavings or pine chips. For nesting boxes, use straw, don’t put pine shavings or chips. Buy water heaters for your chickens and make sure they are sufficiently warm at night. Temperature requirements are breed dependent.

Be aware that normal chicken behavior can be destructive. Chickens may scratch away gravel and destroy your manicured lawn.

Feed a balanced commercial chicken feed to your chickens. Make sure that treats do not make up more than 10% of your chicken’s normal diet. Bananas without the peel, strawberries, apple slices or applesauce, and whole cabbage heads can be excellent treats for chickens.

Lice and mites are a threat to chickens. Be sure to prevent parasites.

Chickens need to be dewormed every 6 months, and new chickens should be quarantined for a month before introducing them to the flock.

Remove any sick birds from the flock and put them in a separate coop. Other chickens will pick on them.

Remember: Chickens are an investment and a responsibility just like any other pet, and they can be a lot of work! Consider all the needs of the chickens before purchasing any.

Happy chicken keeping!


References: is an excellent source for your chicken questions.

– Dr. Hueston

Posted in: Blog, Chickens, Exotic Pet Health, News, Pet Health, Westminster Veterinary Group

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Dental Health: How to comfortably brush your pet’s teeth By Dr Kim Tran

By Dr Kim Tran

Dental health WVG pet blog

(Above, a before picture of a dog with severe dental plaque and dental disease)

 Dental health WVG pet blog

Dental health is extremely important to the overall health of your pet, whether a cat or a dog! 

Tartar levels have been correlated with heart disease and kidney disease. We believe it is because the dental tartar creates a pocket of bacteria that are shed to the rest of the body through the blood stream. 

Dental tartar starts to build up earlier for small dogs, who can also be born with defects such as retained deciduous teeth, a condition where the baby teeth do not fall out. Tartar is trapped between the teeth and severe dental disease between them can cause the loss of both the baby teeth and adult teeth. 

Dogs with short faces can also have more crowding in their mouth. The close contact of the teeth can lead to food being trapped between them and eventually severe dental disease.

Dogs who overgroom and eat hair can get it stuck between their teeth. The trapped hair can collect food particles and cause severe dental disease. 

Routine dental cleanings can prevent painful, abscessed teeth, allow removal of diseased teeth, and keep breath smelling fresh and clean. 

Dogs are put under full anesthesia to allow us to clean under the gum line and remove severely diseased teeth. 

Keeping a pet’s teeth clean greatly enhances their quality of life. Clean teeth create fresh breath, and give you peace of mind.  

Teaching dogs how to accept having their teeth brushed can slow the progression of dental disease, and keep their teeth healthy longer. 

How to comfortably brush your pet’s teeth. Our technician Jesse demonstrates with her dog Hendrix, who loves getting his teeth brushed! 

 Dental health WVG pet blog

First, gently introduce the dog-specific toothpaste to your dog’s mouth. He or she often likes the flavor and will take it well. 

Dental health WVG pet blog

Now, gently introduce the brush to the front teeth and use gentle circular motions to clean the surface of the teeth. In general, without preexisting crowding, the front teeth tend to be cleaner than the back chewing molars.

Posted in: Blog, Cat Health, Dental health, Dog Health, Exotic Pet Health, Pet Health, Westminster Veterinary Group

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