What You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Wellness Exam

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As pet owners, we have the honour and joy of loving and caring for our beloved pets.

In return, they provide us with unending loyalty, companionship, and unconditional love!

It’s our responsibility to ensure these beloved family members are healthy, happy, and well-adjusted. As part of that responsibility, it’s imperative we bring our pets in for their regular wellness exams.

Regular veterinary visits allow veterinarians to prevent disease or provide early treatment if problems arise - before it’s too late.

My pet “seems” healthy enough - do they still need a wellness exam?

And yes, it’s important to bring them in regularly even if you don’t suspect there is an issue - our pets are masters at disguising their pain and illness (it’s an evolutionary skill which has helped them survive). Even if they wanted to, they can’t tell us what’s hurting!

Those regular wellness exams save lives - and they can save you costly vet bills down the road, too.

How often is a wellness exam required?

Although the frequency can vary by breed and by your pet’s unique health circumstances, adult dogs and cats should see a veterinarian annually for a full comprehensive examination and blood work. If you have a senior dog or cat, it is recommended to make appointments with your veterinarian every six months. Pets can age several years over a six-month period of time compared to humans, so a lot can change quickly. This will help you catch changes in your pet’s health more efficiently so they can continue to live a healthy life in their golden years! Your veterinarian will advise you on how often you should be bringing in your pet for their wellness exam.

And while those regular visits to the vet are a must, that’s not the only time you may need to schedule face time with your veterinarian - adult pets may require yearly vaccinations depending on their age and lifestyle, the region you live in, health concerns, disease risk, or plans for travel.

What can I expect in my pet’s wellness exam?

Here you can address any questions or concerns with your vet, and your doctor will perform a hands-on, full body tip of nose to tip of tail examination.

Nutrition and behavior are also addressed, allowing us to make any modifications or recommendations for your pet to live their healthiest and happiest life.

Not to be forgotten – vaccinations and parasite control are part of our yearly visits with your pet. Because we live in a high-risk area, we will ask about your pet's exposure to fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites. We will develop an individualized treatment/preventive plan to address these issues.

Additional testing may also be recommended to diagnose/verify a health problem if any abnormalities are found during your pet’s examination.

A regular wellness exam ensures the health of your pet, and saves you heartache and any financial surprises down the road.

Call today to reserve your spot - and you’ll save 20% off for the month of August only! (250) 339-6555

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

5 Reasons Your Doggie Has Dragon Breath

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Dogs aren’t shy - spend just a few minutes with one, and typically you’ll catch a whiff of their breath! This can range from fresh, to neutral, to downright unpleasant.

When your dog’s breath is bad, it’s important to remember it’s not just unpleasant for us, but it is usually an indicator of something serious for your pet.

Here are some of the common causes of your doggie’s “dragon breath” (known medically as halitosis) and what you can do to make it better.

A healthy mouth = a healthy pet!

Dental or Gum Disease

A dental condition - from gum disease, infection, or even tooth decay - can cause bad breath in your pet. While some issues can be seen (like red, inflamed gums) some issues (like cavities below the gum line) will not be visible to the owner. We will look for signs of dental disease during your pet’s dental exam.

Kidney Disease

This culprit of bad breath may not be obvious at first, but metabolic diseases like kidney disease or failure can cause foul-smelling breath. Why? Waste products that usually would be processed and eliminated by the kidneys begin to build up in the bloodstream, and the smell seeps out of your pet’s breath.

Diabetes

If you smell a sweet (almost fruity) scent coming off your dog’s breath, this could be an indication of diabetes. When uncontrolled, diabetes can suppress the immune system, which allows bacteria to multiply in the mouth.

Foreign Or Toxic Substances

We can all agree that sometimes dogs can get into unusual (and undesirable) thingas. If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, there is always a possibility they have gotten into feces or rotting animals, which can get stuck in their teeth and contribute to nasty-smelling breath.

Nutrition

When it comes to food and treats, your pet will likely have their own unique needs for fresh breath - what works for one pet may not work for another. If there is an underlying food allergy, this can also exacerbate your pet’s bad breath as well.

Here are just a few common reasons behind your doggie’s dragon breath - we can explain even more in clinic or over the phone.

July is Dental Month at Sunrise Veterinary Clinic!

Come in for your FREE Dental Exam, and receive 20% off sedative-only pet teeth cleaning for the month of July.

Remember… getting your dog’s teeth cleaned is NOT a big ordeal, but cleaning prevents tooth loss and dental surgery… which IS a big deal!

These dental appointments fill up quickly, so be sure to call today to book your spot: (250) 339-6555

Thanks for reading!

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Summer Safety Tips for Dog Owners

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Whether we’re headed to Comox Lake, taking the kids to the field, or simply heading out to run errands, we love to bring our doggies with us.

But how do we keep them safe when the temperature climbs?

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind to keep your dog as cool as a cucumber this summer.

Dogs Get Sunburns, Too!

This might come as a surprise, but dogs can get sunburns too. Along with providing our dogs with proper shade, fresh air, and hydration during the warmer months, sunscreen should become part of your routine.

Red, inflamed, ouchy skin, and even hair loss can all result from too much exposure. We even need to be cognicent of the common types of skin cancer in dogs that are associated with sun exposure – like squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanomas, hemangiomas, or hemangiosarcomas.

Ideally, pet parents should find a canine specific sunscreen – these have no health risks to dogs. But if doggie sunscreen isn’t an option, you can buy a broad-spectrum sunscreen for babies and children with an SPF of 15 or higher. Please be sure to read the label on baby sunscreen before applying it - since dogs may lick their skin and accidentally ingest it. Pet owners will want to choose a non-scented product without zinc oxide – the ingestion of this can lead to hemolytic anemia. Please also avoid para-aminobenzoic acid (also known as PABA) as an ingredient. This could also be toxic if ingested.

To reiterate, the following ingredients in sunscreens are toxic to dogs:

- zinc oxide

- para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)

Test a small patch on their belly first to check for an allergic reaction or sensitivity, and avoid getting sunscreen into their eyes.

Just like you do with your babes – reapply often, especially during peak sun exposure hours (10AM-4PM). Gone swimming? Don’t forget to reapply once more!

Additional Sun and Heat Protection for Dogs

If your doggie must be outdoors during the peak sunshine times, pet parents can consider accessories like bodysuits, shirts, and hats with ultraviolet protection, in addition to sunscreen to prevent sunburns. Dog goggles ‘aka DOGGLES’ can also be used to protect your pet’s peepers.

Don’t forget - dogs can also get heat stroke. Please be certain that your dog has ample access to shade, water, and a comfortable environment in the warmer months.

Although adding sunscreen to your dog’s summer arsenal, pet owners should still be aware of the risks associated with excessive sun exposure.

Every Dog Has Their Day – Keep ‘em safe on the summer ones!

From the desk of Dr. Stacey

Odin's Dental Success Story!

The difference a dental scaling/polish makes! ✨🦷

Meet #SunriseVetPet, Odin - his teeth are much cleaner after we gently scraped out the tartar build-up from underneath (his gums are still a wee sensitive in the 'after' photo) - and certainly, his breath is much fresher, too!

This photo of him was taken right after his sedation-only cleaning 🐾 what a great pawtient!

Come in for your pet's FREE dental exam this month, and save 20% off on your professional, sedation-only pet teeth cleaning.

Offer valid for the month of June only!

Call today: (250) 339-6555

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

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Common Skin Problems for Dogs

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Dry, dull coat…

Incessant scratching and chewing that keeps YOU up all night!

Sound familiar?

It may be hard to believe, but skin problems in our dogs (and cats too, which we will cover in a separate article) are often the most common presenting complaints in clinic!

So what are some of the most common pet skin problems, and what can owners do to keep a pet’s skin healthy?

1. Itchy Skin

Itchy skin (officially referred to as pruritus), when left untreated, can consume a pet’s life. In addition to feeling miserable, itchy pets can develop secondary skin lesions, infections, and hair loss from the trauma of teeth and nails on their skin. Itchy pets are not peaceful pets!

2. Allergies

So what causes a dog’s itch? Allergies can be a major cause of itchiness, and can be attributed to fleas, environmental factors, and food. Dogs with a true flea allergy are hypersensitive to even one bite - but the good news is, once the flea infestation is under control (and it only takes one bite to cause itching!!!) the itchiness should subside.

A lot of us don’t take environmental or food allergies into consideration, but they can be major contributing factors. Environmental allergies (for obvious reasons) can be difficult to manage, but there are allergy shots or medications available to help keep them comfortable during allergy season. When it comes to food allergies, the only way to figure out what your pet is allergy to is by conducting a very strict elimination diet. Once we figure out what the allergen is, we can recommend a great dog food that doesn’t contain this ingredient.

3. Sores and Hot Spots

If you spot any red, sticky sores on your dog - this is likely a hot spot. Please get him or her evaluated before it worsens!

4. Hair Loss

Few things are sadder than the sight of a balding dog. In order to to accurately diagnose hair loss in dogs, a veterinary exam must be done, and oftentimes diagnostics (such as skin scraping to examine the skin cells under a microscope) will be performed in order to determine if the hair loss is occurring secondary to a systemic disorder.

5. Dull Coats and the Role of Fatty Acids

Dogs with dry skin or a dull coat will often improve with diets or supplements containing optimized levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, often sourced from fish oil, play an important role in reducing inflammation.

Successful management of any skin allergies, issues or diseases in the dog is a collaborative effort between you and your veterinarian.

With correct diagnosis and comprehensive management, many dogs with skin problems can eventually find their inner Fabio!

Come in today and get to know us.

For the month of May only, you’ll save 20% off on your Itchy Scratchy Exam.

(250) 336-6555

What's Causing Your Pet to Itch and Scratch?

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“Itchy Scratchy, Itchy Scratchy… my dog can’t sleep at night (and neither can we) and my cats got scabs all over!”

While there are different stand alone reasons for the itch like: fleas, infection with bacteria, yeast, ringworm, mites to name a few, your dog or cat may have an allergy that continuously drives the whole thing. Infections can be quickly treated, allergy is always about continuous management.

Do you notice any of these signs in your itchy pet?

-Ear infections

-Redness of the skin

-Wounds associated with scratching (“hot spots”)

-Secondary infections

-Hair loss

-Gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea (associated with adverse food reactions)

Signs of allergy may include one or more of: ongoing ear infections, fur loss around the eyes, chewing at the nails constantly, bronze discoloration of the paws from licking, swollen paws with red skin, red skin all over the whole body, scratching constantly, scooting on the bottom, colour change or rash on the belly, red skin on the temple area or small crusts all over your kitty, pulling fur out with bald patches and of course sudden red oozing ‘hot spots’ appearing with a vengeance.

Wow what a list!

Allergy is either present all year (food or dust mites) or seasonal (pollens). The most important thing is to get the diagnosis. Skin infection is often a response to underlying allergy.

Understanding is key for you to help your pet. And they need help. Constant itch is no fun.

Give us a call today, and receive 20% off your Itchy Scratchy Exam for the month of May.

All the best,

Dr. Stacey of Sunrise Vet Clinic in Comox

Please, please... it CAN'T be fleas!

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Thanks to our mild coastal weather here on the West Coast, fleas and ticks on Vancouver Island are a reality year-round (with April through November being the worst of it) for pets and their owners. Once the weather warms up, the risk of your pet (and ultimately, your home!) suffering from a flea infestation rises.

Fleas are very active insects, feeding on blood from dogs and people. They jump onto passing animals and burrow down into the fur to the skin, where they stay well hidden while biting and ingesting blood. This is irritating to the animal, and to humans as well, as the bites can cause severe itching and inflammation.

Thanks to more recent coverage in the media over the last few years, more people are aware of the potential health hazards these fleas and ticks can cause to both pets and their humans.

How do I know if My Dog Has Fleas?

Notoriously difficult to see, fleas are tiny - about the size of a head of a pin - and are a dark copper colour. They don’t like the light, so if you are looking for fleas, you’ll want to check within furry areas, on the belly, and on the inner thighs of your pet.

Another thing you’ll want to look for, is something called "flea dirt" - it looks like dark specks of pepper scattered on the skin’s surface. This is actually flea feces composed of digested blood (from your pet). Use a flea comb, and place some of these specks of flea dirt onto a wet paper towel. If the tiny specks spread out like a small bloodstain after a few minutes, it's definitely flea dirt, and your pet has fleas.

Prevention is Key

There are a few different options for the treatment and prevention of fleas and ticks (such as oral, chewable tablets, or topicals). Your vet can help you determine the bets treatment/prevention option for the needs of your pet.

This month only, we’re offering FREE Advantage Applications in-clinic.

NO appointment needed - you can walk-in!

Give us a call with any questions you may have, and we look forward to seeing you!

(250) 339-6555

Yours in good health,

Dr. Gastis, Sunrise Veterinary Clinic

When it comes to fleas, prevention is KEY!

Spring is upon us, and we’re in the throes of flea season now!

What you decide to do THIS month in terms of prevention and treatment will set in motion what you can expect for the next 6 months!

Fleas might be tiny… but the suffering they can cause your BFFS is huge.

Prevention is KEY when it comes to fleas… when you can spot the fleas in your home, you already have a real problem, and are already likely in the middle of a flea infestation.

Fleas are as old as the hills - with an outer shell like a tank, and a bite that is one of the ITCHIEST on the planet, this mighty insect has developed fantastic abilities to adapt and survive. When bitten, your pet itches like crazy, which of course, causes scratching. By intelligent design, this excessive scratching causes the baby flea eggs to spread all over your carpets and grass. The eggs then hatch into larvae, and attach themselves into carpet fibres, settling in between couch cushions and in your yard. They wait for up to 2 months to hatch out. When they do, they need to feed.

Flea bites can cause real suffering in your pet, with constant itching and scratching that can lead to skin irritation and even infection, especially if your pet is allergic to flea saliva.

Pets—and people—are also at risk of diseases carried by fleas.

This is why constant vigilance and a preventative program is needed!

You have two choices…

a) do nothing, and take your chances

b) begin a prevention medicine now - and spare your pet the all-night scratch session!

If option B sounds like a better choice, we’re offering you an easy (FREE) way to spare your pet the itchy, scratchy skin sores and discomfort.

Anytime during the month of April, you can bring in your pet during business hours for their complimentary application of Advantage.

You don’t even need to make an appointment - walk-ins are welcome!

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All the best,

Dr. Stacey of Sunrise Veterinary Clinic in Comox

Traveling With Your Cat

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Many feline parents are apprehensive about leaving their cats with a pet sitter or in a boarding facility when taking a road trip - and perhaps even more apprehensive about bringing them along for the ride. As a matter of fact, we see a lot of feline parents who (understandably) are unsure of how the car ride to our clinic will go when it comes time for appointment day!

Luckily, there are some great options today which allow a sitter to mind your cat in the comfort of your own home - so you can even call home to check in on them, and see how they’re doing! Or, sometimes a family member can be appointed to watch them while you’re gone.

However, this luxury isn’t always pawsible. If spring break dictates that your pet cat must go with you for the holiday - here’s what you should know!

Traveling by car can be the perfect opportunity to bond while showing him or her the world. But to make sure the experience is as enjoyable as possible, you’ll want to pay heed to a few important details to ensure their needs are met during the vacation.

Make Comfort - and Safety - a Priority

First things first - make sure your cat has proper identification and is up-to-date on their vaccinations. If you have any concerns about motion-sickness or hyperactivity while driving (take them for shorter test drives, before the longer trips!) you can consult with us prior to leaving to discuss the options at hand.

You like to be comfortable while traveling - and your pet cat is NO exception! Likely they’ll be lulled to sleep over a long car ride, so you want to make sure their zzzzZZZzz time is as cosy as possible. They’ll need to travel within a carrier (at ALL times - a free-range cat in a moving car is a recipe for an accident!) so you need to make sure it’s the right size. They should be able to stand up easily within the carrier and turn around with no difficulty. Light, mesh carriers can get scratched up, so it’s typically suggested that hard plastic carrier with peepholes low enough for your cat to see you while you’re driving. If they’re not much of a scratcher, a durable soft sided carrier with a shoulder strap can be fantastic for stops or sight-seeing breaks.

If you’ll be travelling by way of an airplane, you’ll need to call the airline first to determine which kind of carrier they require - some will require soft bags, while other will require hard cases. They can be very strict about these rules, so you want to make sure you have the right kind of carrier prior to arriving at the airport!

Whichever carrier you choose, be sure to line the bottom with their favourite blanket from home. The familiar scent and fabric will be comforting to them!

If you’ll be driving, keep his or her carrier in the front seat, with the seat belt to hold it in place beside you, and offer your fingers through the holes to reassure her that although she is not allowed to roam around in the car, you are still close by.

When it comes to your music selection - now is not the time to blast your favourite tunes! Our pets can be very sensitive to loud noise, and this could make them feel anxious or uneasy. The Fear Free methodology suggests playing gentle or classical music to make your pet feel at ease.

Mind the Weather

Spring or fall (milder months) can be an ideal time to travel with your pet, so you don’t have to worry as much about your cat getting too hot or too cold.

If you must leave the car for more than a few minutes – longer then a gas stop – take the carrier with you. Longer excursions outside of the car should only be taken once you’ve gotten a pet-friendly hotel room to stay in while you’re touring around and seeing the sights.

Pet-Friendly Hotels

When you book your hotel room, be sure to call ahead and ensure they are indeed a pet-friendly hotel, and inform them you will be travelling with your pet cat. While they should come equipped with water and food dishes, we strongly suggest you bring your own - it will make your pet cat feel much more comfortable and will also serve as a back-up in case the hotel doesn’t have any. You’ll need these for the drive, too!

Once you’ve checked into your room, you can let them out of the carrier to explore while keeping a close eye on them. Place their food and water bowls, along with her open carrier, in one corner of the bathroom and their litter box in the opposite corner — cats do not like their potty to be near their food.

When you leave the room for any reason, and also when you go to bed, put her in her carrier in the bathroom with a ticking clock to simulate a heartbeat, i.e. your nearness.

Have a Purrfectly Fun Vacation!

If you can, try to take your pet on vacation with you when they are young - establishing this routine early in their life will make it easier for them (and you!) down the road.

Do you have any tips on travelling with your pet cat? Leave us a comment below - we’d love to hear from you! 🐾

In March, we're offering 25% off Feline Wellness Exams! Call today: (250) 339-6555

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Stacey Gastis

Your Cat's Wellness Exam, Explained

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Your cat’s yearly (or twice yearly, for older cats) visit to the vet is an important part of their overall health and wellness plan. Remember, a year is a LONG time in a cat’s life!

Here you can address any questions or concerns with your vet, and your doctor will perform a hands-on, full body tip of nose to tip of tail examination.

Nutrition and behavior are also addressed, allowing us to make any modifications or recommendations for your pet to live their healthiest and happiest life.

Not to be forgotten – vaccinations and parasite control are part of our yearly visits with your pet. Because we live in a high-risk area, we will ask about your pet's exposure to fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites. We will develop an individualized treatment/preventive plan to address these issues.

Additional testing may also be recommended to diagnose/verify a health problem if any abnormalities are found during your pet’s examination.

But what about our “healthy” cats?

Do they still need regular examinations? You bet!

We must remember that it’s in our cat’s DNA to hide any pain or sickness. This type of coping mechanism is what helped them survive in the wild – it’s an evolutionary thing.

Once pain or illness manifests itself into actually showing itself in our cats, the unfortunate reality is that it’s very likely it’s been going on for some time.

A regular wellness exam ensures the health of your pet, and saves you heartache and any financial surprises down the road.

This month only, we’re offering 25% off your cat’s wellness exam.

Call to book as appointments fill up quickly: (250) 339-6555