Wednesday, December 03, 2014

When Dogs Take Their People’s Medicine...

Occasionally, we will get calls at the hospital when dogs (puppies in particular) accidentally take their owner’s medication.  This can be dangerous depending on the medication, and the size of the pet, compounded by the fact that certain medications are metabolized differently by dogs than by people.
While most animals are not particularly interested in pills or medication, some have an odor and/or size and shape that make them curious to our dogs.  Dogs are also often interested in trying things that we consume, as sometimes they aren’t half bad! ;) 

A recent episode involved a 10 month old puppy that presented seizuring, and the owner had recently had surgery and was on a fair amount of pain medication, and lived with an elderly person who was also on a fair amount of medication.  The potential for a toxic reaction with multiple medications is even greater.  Another incident involved an owner who had her medication and the dog’s heartworm medication on the counter for the morning doses, and when she looked down to take her own, she realized she almost took the dog’s and hers was missing. It happens.  Rule of thumb should be to separate all human and pet medications during administration, as well as where we keep these medications.

It is also important to remember that dogs metabolize medication differently than we do, so even when they are prescribed medication that people take, the dose is often different.   Recently with changing state laws on the use of both medical and recreational marijuana, cannabis related products are more available.  By far the most dangerous exposure for dogs is related to accidental ingestion of an owner’s supply, or food cooked with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis.  According to Dr. Lee, a consultant for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, signs can include incontinence, low or high heart rate, respiratory depression, seizures, agitation, pneumonia and even unconsciousness.  The truth is that we do not know enough about how cannabis can affect dogs, and several dogs have died from ingesting baked goods containing THC.  According to Dr. Robert Silver, chief medical officer for a veterinary nutraceutical company, literature shows that dogs “have the same endocannabinoid receptors that let humans benefit from the therapeutic effects of cannabis,” but that “dogs have a higher concentration of these receptors in the hindbrain, which is why they develop more severe neurologic effects…”   At this time and until more research is done, we cannot safely recommend marijuana for pain relief or any other use in pets.

The point is we just don’t know enough about how many things, pharmaceutical or nutraceutical, will affect our four legged companions.  Even something that may seem very mild like green tea or green tea extracts are potentially harmful in dosages inappropriate for our pets.  So please, be careful not to share too much with your pet, even accidentally!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pet Nails: How to Trim and What Can Happen If You Don't

Written by Danielle, Veterinary Assistant
Edited by Dr. Ku, DVM

Trimming your pet's nails can be a scary task to most people.  How much do you trim off?  How often should nails be trimmed?  What do I do if I trim my pet's nail and it starts to bleed?
Our hope is to help you understand how to trim nails,
and why it is important.

Photo Credit:
First, nail trimmers come in many different shapes and sizes.  Some people are more comfortable with the scissor-like nail trimmers, while others prefer the guillotine-like trimmers.  Some nail trimmers will file down the nail instead of cutting it; however, not all pets are comfortable from the noise that comes from these tools.  Another product to have on hand is Quik Stop.  It's a yellow powder that will stop the bleeding if you accidentally trim too close to the blood supply in the nail.

Secondly, let's help you understand the anatomy of the nail.  Below is a helpful diagram that explains how the blood supply (quick) in a pet's nail grows and shortens over time when trimming the nails.
Photo Credit:
And now it's time to begin!  Start with having your pet in a comfortable position--that could be sitting on your lap, or being held in the arms of another household individual.  Next, play gently with your pet's paws.  Having them get used to you touching their paws will help this process.  Lastly, trim the tip of one nail, and then give praise and a treat if needed!  We want to positively reinforce a good nail trimming experience.  Sometimes, no matter how much praise or treats are given, a pet is not a willing participant for having their nails trimmed.  Different restraint techniques, practice, and on occasion anxiety medication can help you succeed at trimming the nails.  Each pet is different--be patient and consult your veterinarian if you are having difficulties.

But what happens if you decide to not trim your pet's nails?

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Unfortunately, nails left untrimmed may eventually cause problems.  Longer nails make it easier for them to get caught and then torn or broken, causing the pet to bleed and feel pain.

When nails become too long, they start to curl and can become embedded in the pads.  This can cause infection and pain, making it uncomfortable for the pet to walk.
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When this happens, a veterinarian will need to remove the nail from the pad, possibly prescribe medication for infection, and maybe wrap the paw to control bleeding if needed. Each case is different and should be assessed by your veterinarian.  If left untreated, the infection may get worse and the pet will continue to feel the pain as the nail grows further into the pad.
Photo Credit:

And if you're looking for a video on how to trim your pet's nails, please click on one of these great informational videos!



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pixie Pop-tart: How She Became Part of RVT Lisa's Family

It was three days after Christmas 2013 when we first saw her.  She was less than a year old and not quite 5-1/2 lbs., and had been living in a car eating poptarts to survive just the day before.  A Good Samaritan took her home and unfortunately had unwittingly left some rat bait under their couch, not having had any pets before.  Within a short time, the little orange tabby kitten was very weak and pale.  Turns out, the rat bait toxin she had been exposed to contained an anticoagulant that prevents blood from clotting.*  This leads to internal bleeding which can, and does, result in death.  Little Pixie was not the intended target, but now that she had eaten it (most animals find it very tasty), the clock was ticking.  She had to be administered Vitamin K to counteract the effects of the toxin.  In addition, the doctor induced vomiting to remove any unabsorbed anticoagulant, and administered some activated charcoal to help bind any remaining toxin in her stomach. 
It took her several weeks to recover from her anemia from the blood loss.  Even three months later, her clotting times were still prolonged, and she had to take additional Vitamin K before she could be spayed.  Most rat bait toxins are extremely dangerous for our pets.  Some newer rodenticides, as they are called, carry other toxins which do not have an antidote, and can cause liver or kidney failure.  Bottom line, the health and financial costs are high, and these products should not be used around pets.  If they must be used, be sure the pets cannot reach the bait, and that it is enclosed in a bait box to limit its spread beyond where you have placed it. 
In Pixie’s case, her Good Samaritans were not prepared for the cost of her treatment and surrendered her care to us.  We nursed her back to health and Lisa became attached to her sweet personality and took over responsibility for her.  Now she is a seasoned member of Lisa’s household, but we still enjoy her visits now and then! 

*Anticoagulant rodenticides include: Havoc, Liqui-Tox II, Final Blox, D-Con, Contrac Blox, Enforcer, and Tomcat.  

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

When Your Golden Retriever Starts To Look Like A Sharpei…

Summer is a great time for picnics, pool parties, pretty flowers, and .. bees!  Wasps, hornets, bees, are out in force in warmer weather, and dogs are often curious enough to get a little too close.  If your dog reacts to bee stings, you will likely notice swelling around the eyes and muzzle, and possibly hives over the entire body.  The medical term for generalized raised welts or hives is urticaria.  

If the welts are increasing and an oral dose of diphenhydramine (generic for Benadryl), at approximately 1 mg/lb. body weight, doesn’t cause the process to reverse within 10 minutes, I would suggest you bring your pet to a veterinary hospital.  Once there, your pet will likely receive a diphenhydramine injection and a steroid injection to arrest the reaction and that will usually reverse the process more quickly. 

The risk is that if left unchecked, a pet’s airway could become obstructed and this would be life threatening.  Or less dangerous but still problematic, the pet could become uncontrollably itchy and uncomfortable.  That is what happened to Zoe the other day at 5pm.  Luckily her owners live close enough to rush her in, and within 15 minutes after her shots, as she waited in the waiting area, you could see her swelling subside.  We looked for a stinger, which you can sometimes find near the area of greatest swelling, but did not find it.  

Zoe will need to take an antihistamine regularly for a few days.  We suggested 50 mg diphenhydramine every 8 hours for the first day, then every 12 hours for 48 hours.  Some pets have stronger reactions and need to be treated longer, and at times with more than just an antihistamine.  Each case is different.  If you notice your pet’s face looks swollen, you may not be imagining it.  Enjoy the summer and keep an antihistamine on hand just in case!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lapcats Paint & Sip Fundraiser Event: Painting Our Beloved Pets!

On May 3rd, 2014, several Hatton Vet staff members, with their some family, attended the Paint & Sip Fundraiser for the Lapcats Rescue Organization.  The event was held at the new Sacramento County Animal Shelter on Bradshaw Road and lasted for about 4 hours.  Creative animal lovers attended the Saturday afternoon painting workshop that was lead by artist and instructor Aimee Rebmann of Creative Juices Events.

Before attending the event, attendees submit a photograph image of their pet (or any animal) so that they can print a black and white copy of it on canvas.  Attendees also bring a full page, full color print of the picture they submitted to use a reference while painting.

Aimee instructs the group on techniques and demonstrates how to do backgrounds like grass, and painting the eyes and fur.  Over the next few hours, Aimee and other instructors would come around and help or give advice to painters.

Dr. Ku painted Dillon, their rambunctious Coon-Hound. Her husband, John, created a very artistic painting of their Koi from their outdoor pond. 

Vet Assistant, Danielle, and her husband, Bobby, painted their crazy-but-loving girl, Vega, a Shepard mix.


Vet Tech, Judy, painted her mom's dog, Shadow, an adorable Cocker-Poodle.  Judy's daughter, Akemi, painted their cute-but-troublemaker calico kitty, Kuzu.

It was a wonderful experience and everyone had a great time painting pictures of their beloved pets!  If you are interested in attending the next Paint & Sip Fundraiser event, please contact Leslie at

To see more pictures from this event, click the links below:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Dog Farted…and She Scared Herself!

Co-written by Dr. Gloria Ku and vet assistant, Danielle

“My dog, Vega, has had a lot of challenges since my husband and I have taken her in off the street.  From social anxiety to diarrhea problems in her early years, patience and care has been the key to getting her to where she is today.  When she was young, her dry food diet changed several times until we found one with the highest fiber content to help stop her loose stools.  Dr. Ku has been there every step of the way with her sensitive stomach problems.  Vega is now almost 10 years old.  Earlier this year, my husband started noticing that she is farting more often.  When she does, if she is awake, she looks at her hind end in surprise and then runs out of the room.  At first, we thought she just didn’t want to smell her own stench.  However, it’s now at the point where if she releases gas while she’s asleep, she wakes up startled and runs away in fright!  Not only is her gas causing her to leave the room, but us too!!  Eventually, we were tired of gagging on her almost silent and deadly gas, and sad that Vega was scared of herself.  I approached Dr. Ku shortly afterwards and asked her, ‘Like people, when we get older, do dogs fart more often too?’  Dr. Ku laughed, and then told me…”
~Danielle, Vet Assistant

Dogs, and people, and most animals, naturally have gas related to digestive gas producing bacteria in their intestinal tract.  Sometimes, these gas producing bacteria overgrow or dominate more than they should due to the foods we eat.   The type of fiber found in different diets, or certain ingredients, may lead to an excessive amount of these types of bacteria in the gut, and the end result can be malodorous, or excessive (or both!) gas production. 

For Vega, we decided to first try her on a probiotic.  This is an abundance of “good” bacteria that we “feed the gut” in the form of a chewable dog treat called Prostora, or a capsule called Proviable.  There is also a powder known as Fortiflora.  These three products are similar, but again, the delivery system (chewable, capsule, or powder) can also affect how well some animals retain the good bacteria.  The idea is to flood the gut with enough “good” bacteria to out compete the “bad” (gas producing) bacteria.  She tried them all, and while they helped some, none were enough alone to control her gas.

Next we decided to experiment with her diet.  For years, Vega had been on an over the counter good quality lamb and rice diet.  Sometimes lamb based diets can be a little fattier, or the pet can have difficulty with that type of fat digestion.  We first tried an easy to digest prescription diet well tolerated by most dogs, but this did not seem to help either.  With this diet the main source of fiber was beet pulp, and thinking that this might be hard for her to digest, we then tried another brand of enteric diet (easy to digest).  After fully weaning to this diet for the past three weeks, Vega has not had any more noticeable, malodorous or frightening farts!  And now she and Danielle sleep well through the night 😉.
For better or worse, we are all made differently, and even at different stages of our lives, our ability to digest foods, our “gut flora,” and our need for fiber, can change.  This means things can change, but we can also learn to listen to the changes (literally!), and make the necessary adjustments.  Although it may be a bit tedious to do the trial and error approach, sometimes there is no other way to discover what works best for each individual.  And luckily we have lots of choices.  Bon appetit!   -Dr. Gloria Ku
Thank You, Dr. Ku!

Friday, April 04, 2014


A BIG THANK YOU to everyone that participated in this year's Facebook Cutest Pet Picture Contest!  It was a lot of fun seeing all the adorable pictures that were submitted!!  The winners will be contacted via Facebook message.

Congratulations to our winners!!!

B. Sander--57 Votes!

G. Riede--18 Votes!!

J. Chobanich--17 Votes!!


C. Franklin

C. Webb

C. Wenger

D. Aragon

A. Chan

J. Beam

 P. Le

T. Lester

 C. Condos

 K. Auch

M. Jones

P. Lindell
S. Cabelera
 H. Bar

 S. Mariano
G. Hinz
J. Worley-Pearson

 J. Reptiles
R. Posmanter
K. Orth
 S. Swinney
 B. Griffin

D. Audette
P. Shotswell
A. Ngo
B. Berzin