Treat yourself NOT your pet- Chocolate Toxcicity 

Most everybody loves to have a treat of chocolate now and then, especially during the Halloween and the holiday season. Some of us also like giving our pets treats too, or our pets treat themselves to some treats we may have neglected to put away. Chocolate however, is toxic to dogs and cats and can make them very sick. Chocolate contains theobromine which is a substance that causes release of the hormone epinephrine and the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Those substances have multiple effects on the intestinal tract, cardiovascular and neurological systems. 

There are varying levels of theobromine in different types of chocolate, for example:

  • Milk Chocolate:                          60mg/oz
  • Baking chocolate:                     450mg/oz 
  • Semi sweet chocolate:            260mg/oz
  • Dry cocoa powder:                  800mg/oz
  • Hot chocolate:                          12mg/oz
  • White Chocolate                       1mg/oz

Mild symptoms of toxicity start at approximately 20 mg (1kg=2.2lb), cardiotoxic effects start at 40-50 mg/kg and neurological effects generally start around 60mg/kg. Half of the dogs exposed to a level of 100-200mg/kg will die. To put it into a more practical terms, the average chocolate bar contains 2-3 oz of milk chocolate which equals 120-180mg of theobromine. That means a 6 kg (13 lb) dog will start to show mild symptoms if they were to eat one chocolate bar. A 50 lb dog would need eat 3-4 chocolate bars that start seeing mild symptoms, although they would only need to eat 1 oz or 1 square of baked no chocolate to see those same symptoms. 

Milder symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting, and restlessness. More severe symptoms include muscle tremors, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, cyanosis ( blue lips or gum color), seizures and could ultimately lead to cardiac arrhythmia and death. Most commonly, we see the milder symptoms. If you know your pet has eaten a large amount of within the last 2 hours then your veterinarian. There are many things your vet can do to treat the symptoms, even if they are severe.

So as much as we would love to treat our pets to a little chocolate like we do ourselves the safest thing is to not give them any chocolate treats. We hope your fall holiday season is an enjoyable one! 

By: Dr. Pam Pussich


Endangered Species of the Week: Proboscis Monkeys

Proboscis monkeys are endemic to the jungles of Borneo, never straying far from the island’s rivers, coastal mangroves, and swamps. They are a highly arboreal species and will venture onto land only occasionally to search for food. They live in organized harem groups consisting of a dominant male and two to seven females and their offspring. Various groups often congregate near water at night to sleep.
Unfortunately, Borneo’s most threatened landscapes are home to these highly specialized primates. The rampant clearing of the region’s rain forests for timber, settlement, and oil palm plantations has depleted huge tracts of their habitat. The fragmentation of the monkeys’ range means they are being forced to descend from the trees more frequently and often must travel perilously long distances to find food. Their land predators include jaguars and some native peoples who consider proboscis monkey a delicacy.

Over the last 40 years, proboscis monkey populations have plummeted. They are currently protected from hunting or capture in Borneo.

It may seem hard to believe, but male proboscis monkeys use their fleshy, pendulous noses to attract mates. Scientists think these outsize organs create an echo chamber that amplifies the monkey’s call, impressing females and intimidating rival males. Sounds good to us!

Thank you to National Geogrpahic for providing the information about the Proboscis Monkey.

Endangered Pet of the Week: Snow Leopard 

This week, because we are all dreaming of cooler weather, our featured endangered species of the week is a Snow Leopard. Snow leopards have evolved to live in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Their white-gray coat spotted with large black rosettes blends in perfectly with the steep and rocky mountains of Central Asia.

The snow leopard’s powerful build allows it to scale great steep slopes with ease. Its hind legs give the snow leopard the ability to leap six times the length of its body. A long tail provides balance and agility and also wraps around the resting snow leopard as protection from the cold.

For millennia, this magnificent cat was the king of the mountains. The mountains were rich with their prey such as blue sheep, Argali wild sheep, ibex, marmots, pikas and hares. Snow leopards are found in 12 countries—including China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and Mongolia—but their population is dropping.

The sole predator of snow leopards? Humans. Hunting, habitat loss and retaliatory killings are the main reasons this big cat is now listed as an endangered species.

Snow leopards are often killed by local farmers because they prey on livestock such as sheep, goats, horses, and yak calves. The animals which snow leopards would typically hunt—such as the Argali sheep—are also hunted by local communities. As their natural prey becomes harder to find, snow leopards are forced to kill livestock for survival.

All information provided by the World Wildlife Foundation.

Give us the scoop!

Bring us poop. 

No seriously, we want your pets fecal sample! July is fecal testing month, and we are offering our fecal lab tests at a great discount!

Even when our pets are well taken care of, they are at risk for parasitic infections. Our neighborhoods are home to many wild species that can spread parasites – which puts your pet at risk! Typical behaviors, such as eating from the ground, grooming, playing fetch at the park, and drinking from puddles all predispose your pet to infection.

We recommend annual fecal exams for the best care of your pet! 

Endangered Species of the Week: Radiated Tortoise

“The Radiated Tortoise is a relatively large species of Tortoise, natively found on the island of Madagascar. Although having evolved in similar environments to other star-patterned Tortoises from around the tropics, the Radiated Tortoise has more striking and complex markings than those of the Indian Star Tortoise, for example. The Radiated Tortoise is also known as the Sokake in Madagascar, and although they are critically endangered in the wild, it is widely believed that they are the most beautiful of all Tortoise species. Naturally then, they are a popular exotic pet, which is thought to be one of the main reasons for their demise.” –
In their natural habitats, these ground-dwelling animals are prey to a number of predators including Snakes and large Birds Of Prey. Radiated Tortoises have a couple of defence mechanisms to try to protect them seeing that they can’t run away, including making a loud screeching sound and the ability to pull their soft limbs and head inside their hard shells. Humans are however, the biggest threat to the Radiated Tortoise both through habitat destruction and exploitation. The Radiated Tortoise is commonly consumed and captured for the exotic pet trade.

The oldest living reptile was a Radiated Tortoise known as Tu’i Malila that was given to the Royal family in the mid 1700s by explorer Captain James Cook, and she died in 1965 at around 250 years old from natural causes. Although Radiated Tortoises are native to Madagascar, they have been introduced to the islands of Reunion and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean to boost their Tortoise populations. Despite the fact that many Radiated Tortoises are eaten in Madagascar, it is actually people coming from other parts of the island, as the local tribes living alongside Radiated Tortoises believe there is a taboo against both touching and eating them.

Happy Independence Day!

With the approaching holiday we wanted to talk about 4th of July safety as it concerns your pets. Independence Day is one holiday that can have many negative effects on animals -from the anxiety caused by fireworks, to upset stomach due to stolen BBQ treats. 

There are several precautionary measures you can take in order to help your pet through the holiday with little to no upset. For starters, keeping your pet inside during firework shows can greatly reduce the chance of escape, as we see a dramatic increase in lost pets at this time. We also strongly recommend double checking (or getting if you do not have one!) a microchip for your pet. This month only, we are offering 15% off microchipping! 

If your pet has a strong noise aversion we recommend a product called Sileo. It’s a gentle anti-anxiety prescription that we have stocked up on for those extra sensitive patients. Please call for an appointment if this is one of your pets!! 

If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming holiday please don’t hesitate to call!!

Rattlesnake Vaccine: The Why-not’s

Summertime is here! Which means hiking, camping, and a number of other outdoor activities are on everyone’s agenda – which brings an increased risk of running into wildlife predators, such as rattlesnakes. We have had a number of phone calls inquiring about the rattlesnake vaccine, and so we wanted to take this opportunity to talk about why we do not offer this vaccination. 

Both of our veterinarians, Dr. Joe and Dr. Pam, are graduates of UC Davis, and we follow their recommendations closely, and stay up to date with the studies and protocol that UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine practices. The short story is that the rattlesnake vaccine has had minimal studies performed, and is still pending approval by the F.D.A. 

“The Canine Rattlesnake Vaccine (Red Rock Biologics) comprises venom components from Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondback). The vaccine became available in the early 2000s as a means of preventing morbidity and mortality in dogs likely to be bitten by rattlesnakes. Although there may be circumstances where a rattlesnake vaccine may be potentially useful for dogs that frequently encounter rattlesnakes, there remains little fact-based data to support the efficacy of the vaccine to date. Dogs do develop neutralizing antibody titers to C. atrox venom, but titers may vary and frequent boosters (4-6 months) may be required to maintain titers. Vaccine costs are between $20.00 to $40.00 per injection. According to the manufacturer, rare vaccinated dogs have died following a bite when there were substantial delays (12-24 hours) in seeking treatment. According to the manufacturer, no new efficacy trials have been performed to verify efficacy.

Although the product is relatively safe, even vaccinated dogs bitten by rattlesnakes should be considered a veterinary emergency. This is due to the fact that 1) snake venom components vary with species and some (e.g., Mojave rattlesnake) may not be covered by the vaccine 2) antibody titers may be overwhelmed in the face of severe envenomation, and 3) an individual dog may lack protection depending on its response to the vaccine and the time elapsed since vaccination. 

Antivenin and other types of supportive care are still recommended in vaccinated dogs as there is no significant difference in the course of therapy if the animal is bitten.”

The key points in this article from UC Davis, point out that even with the vaccine on board, the same treatment procedure is highly recommended for pets bit by rattlesnakes. If you have any questions regarding the vaccine, please feel free to call!