Summertime Safety Tips for Your Doggie


It's summertime, and the livin' is easy! Sunshine, cool breezes, dips in the lake - every dog has their day, and we're certain it HAS to be a summer one.

However, it's not as easy for our canine counterparts to cool down as it is for us. They don't sweat the way humans do (they sweat a bit, but not much) and cool themselves down by panting; which is rendered useless if they only have hot air to breathe in.

Keep your pup cool as a cucumber with our tips this summer:

1. NEVER leave your dog in a hot car. In only a matter of minutes, a dog can suffer heat stroke and suffocate in a car. If you have to bring your dog out with you, bring a water dish and fresh water with you, and bring your dog with you when you get out of the car. Flat beds of trucks can be very dangerous, too - the metal gets very hot, and dogs can accidentally jump out or be involved in a collision far too easily. 

2. Protect your dog from parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Living on lush, beautiful Vancouver Island, this is a must! Ask our team today for preventative care options. 

3. Make sure they're not too hot to trot! If the pavement is hot to the touch for you, chances are it could burn their paws! 

4. Shade and water. At all times - help them keep cool!

5. Supervise play in and out of water. Never assume your dog can swim or has water safety knowledge! Accidents happen. 

6. Protect their skin. Did you know that dogs can get sunburns? Most people don't realize this, but it's true! Protect their skin by avoiding direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time, and offering plenty of shade and indoors time.

Fun idea - give your dog a kiddy pool! It's a safe way to help them cool down.


Do you have any summer safety tips for dogs? Let us know! 

7 Reasons to Care For Your Pet's Teeth

You wouldn't forget to brush your teeth every single day, or miss the dentist for years on end, would you? Dental care is so important for the overall health of our pets. 


Here are 7 reasons why we should take care of our pet's teeth:

1. Better kisses! Healthier teeth = fresher breath. 

2. Dental disease can lead to organ problems - like heart trouble.

3. Retained baby teeth can lead to problems like gum irritation and tartar build-up. 

4. Periodontal disease is VERY common in pets. It's caused by the buildup of plaque, so it’s important to go in for regular dental checkups and cleaning. 

5. Prevent pain for your pet. Worn out teeth, and losing their teeth, can be extremely painful for our BFFs. 

6. You'll save a lot of money and stress in the long run by taking preventative care of your pet's mouth. 
We must remember that our dogs and cats are experts at hiding pain - evolutionarily speaking, it's in their genes to do this. You might not even realize your pet has a serious dental issue until it's too late. 

Call us today to book your FREE dental exam today and receive 20% off your professional, sedative-only pet teeth cleaning (now available for the month of July). (250) 339-6555

Your pet will thank you! 

Why Does My Pet's Breath Smell?

In most cases, bad breath is caused by a build-up of odour-producing bacteria in your pet’s mouth. Diet and dental issues can be contributing factors, however, persistent bad breath can also indicate more serious medical problems such as abnormalities in the mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidneys. 

In all cases… smelly breath should be investigated!

How can I determine the cause of my pet's bad breath?
Your trusted family veterinarian is the best person to determine the cause of bad breath. Be ready to answer questions about your pet’s diet, oral hygiene, exercise habits and general attitude and behaviour. A physical exam will be conducted by your vet to look into potential causes. 

When is it time to see the vet?
The following symptoms will require veterinary attention:  Excessive tartar on your pet’s teeth, especially when accompanied by drooling, difficulty eating and red, inflamed gums, could indicate serious dental or gum disease. Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if your pet has been drinking and urinating more frequently than usual. Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.  An unusually foul odour accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged corneas and/or gums could signal a liver problem. Pawing at the mouth is also something you'll want to pay attention to. 

How Is Bad Breath Treated?
Determining the ideal course of treatment is best left to you and your family veterinarian.  If plaque is the culprit, your pet might require a professional cleaning. If the cause is gastrointestinal or an abnormality in your pet’s liver, kidneys or lungs, your vet will determine the steps you should take.

How Can I Prevent My Pet From Having Bad Breath
Many people assume that bad breath in pets is normal - but it’s not! In fact, being proactive about your pet’s oral health will not only make your life together more pleasant, but it’s also smart preventive medicine:

  • Bring your pet in for regular checkups to make sure he has no underlying medical issues that may cause bad breath.
  • Make sure your vet monitors and tracks the state of your pet’s teeth and breath, especially if there have been previous issues.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth frequently (be sure to use toothpaste formulated for pets as human toothpaste can upset your pet’s stomach).
  • Discuss home-use oral health products with your vet (i.e. food and dental cleaning).

If your pet has smelly breath, book a dental exam with us. 

During June we are offering FREE dental exams and 20% off professional sedation-only dental cleaning. Call the clinic at 250-339-6555 to book your appointment.

The Dangers of Dog Breath

Do you ever get a whiff of your dog’s breath and are shocked by how bad it smells? Maybe it is just post-dinner kibble breath, or your pup got into something while walking, but bad breath can also be a sign of other health problems. If a simple tooth brushing doesn’t take the unpleasant smell away, bad breath can be the sign of a more serious problem that can require veterinary care. 

Here are some of the dangers of bad breath in dogs so that you can protect your four-legged furry friend. 

Dental or Gum Disease
Bad breath in dogs can occur when your dog has a dental condition—from gum disease or infection to tooth decay. Lift up your dog’s lip and take a peek at their gums. If you see they are very red and inflamed, or there is a lot of tartar build up on the teeth, there may be a more serious dental issue going on. 
Kidney Disease
Metabolic diseases like kidney disease or kidney failure can cause bad breath. In fact, a decrease in kidney function can make a dog’s breath smell like ammonia.
Toxic Substance
Just like people, all dogs are different, but many dogs will eat anything, including things that are bad for them. There are lots of toxic and/or foreign substances outside that you may run into while on a walk (e.g. everything from antifreeze or a rodenticide, to feces or bones). If you suspect your dog has ingested a potential toxin, call your vet immediately.
Diabetes, specifically diabetic ketoacidosis, can also make a dog’s breath smell unusual, giving it a more sweet smell. Diabetes can also suppress the immune system, allowing bacteria in the mouth to grow unchecked.

Oral Tumours
When bacteria builds up in dead areas, an oral tumor can develop. The bacteria is what causes the foul odour in your dog’s mouth. These should be visible if you peek in your dog’s mouth. Oral tumours can vary in shape and size (e.g. masses or discolourations). 

Different types of foods (i.e. dry or wet) both have pros and cons when it comes to how they affect breath. Some types of dry food can be better for teeth and help keep the mouth clean overall, but wet food has more water content which is also good for a dog’s mouth.
If you have any concerns about your dog’s dental health, book a dental exam with us.

In June we are offering FREE (yes, FREE) dental exams and 20% off professional sedation-only pet dental cleaning.

Call the clinic at 250-339-6555 to book your appointment! 

How to Prepare for Your First Visit to the Vet

Congratulations on your new best friend! A new puppy or kitty in the household is an exciting time. It is also a work in progress, and making sure you have your first vet visit scheduled should be at the top of your list! Ensuring your first visit to the vet is a happy and calming experience is essential for the long-term health care of your puppy or kitty, and it can lay the foundation for a lifetime of more comfortable, fear-free visits to the vet.

Here is what you need to know to prepare for your first visit to the vet:


Give lots of love

Many kitties and puppies are happy to meet new people and places with wagging tails. But a vet clinic has different smells, sounds, and sights than your home, and the staff needs to touch puppies in particular ways that can create puppy concern. Sometimes your pet will be shy, and one upsetting experience may turn off a once confident pet.

Pet and cuddle your new baby lots! This will help make sure when the technician picks up and touches your puppy or kitty that they do not get scared. Pet as you always do, but also gently handle his ears, lift up their tail, and hold each paw. Make head-to-tail touch part of your daily routine for three to five days.


Make car rides fun

Turn the car into a puppy or kitty place of fun! Try sitting with your pup in the car, engine off, and play with a squeaky toy or give them a few treats while someone else drives. The key is to make your vehicle a happy and safe place.


Schedule a trial run

Ask your veterinarian to schedule a “trial run” for your pup or kitty to visit the clinic and meet the staff. Visiting the clinic during a slow period for even five minutes in advance of the “real” visit will set them up for success.


At Sunrise, we pride ourselves on being a Fear-Free practice.


What does this mean? Employing Fear-Free practices means we promote a positive vet visit - both physically and emotionally - for both you and your pet. We look at the whole picture of your pet’s health; reducing stress and anxiety that may come with visiting the vet. We use a variety of practices, methods, and tools to create a low-stress environment so that many of the kitties and puppies that come through our doors don’t want to leave!


Learn more about our Fear-Free practice here.


Give Sunrise a call today at 250-339-6555 to book your BFF in for their first vet exam!


Enter Your Pet to Win!

We're looking for our next Sunrise Vet Pet!

Our Sunrise Vet Pets are part of our growing family of lifelong furry friends! 

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The winning Sunrise Vet Pet will be drawn at the end of the month, and will receive a free bag of veterinary-approved dog or cat food as well as a special feature here on our website and on social.

To enter.... tell us! What makes YOUR pet stand out from the crowd?

Can they downward dog on a paddle board?
Are they the fastest pup in agility class?
Have they helped make you a better person?

To enter, comment on our contest Facebook post or email us at with a picture of your pet and tell us what makes your pet stand out!

Meet some of our previous Sunrise Vet Pet winners:

💙 Blueberry, sweet as can be
🐶 Mika, the pup with the great personality
😻Hercules, the rescue cat

Is your pet the next Sunrise Superstar? We can’t wait to hear from you!

Yours in good health. 
From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis
Sunrise Veterinary Clinic

Itchy Scratchy Cats and Dogs - What to do?

Dr. Stacey, help! Our doggy/kitty won’t stop itching and scratching - it’s even keeping us up at night!”

You're not alone!

Skin issues are one of the MOST common reasons why people bring in their cats and dogs to see us! 

As you can imagine, the quality of life experienced by our doggies and kitties when they are so itchy is greatly reduced. For this reason, we aim to diagnose and establish a treatment plan as quickly (and cost-effectively) as possible. The underlying causes of your pet's itchiness can vary widely, and should be properly diagnosed by a veterinarian.

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)

The most common causes of skin problems, are as follows: flea allergies, atopic (environmental allergies), adverse food reactions, and skin infections are common culprits.

If your pet seems to be continuously itching and scratching, bring them in for their Itchy Scratchy exam. We can help you uncover the cause, and find them some relief!

This month only, we're offering 20% off our Itchy Scratchy pet exams.

Call us today. (250) 339-6555



You might have heard on the news - or from a neighbour - Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) is now suspected in the Comox area (tests pending). 

Our B.C. government is warning pet owners to take precautions!

Recent tests on deceased feral rabbits found in Nanaimo as well as Delta have shown the presence of RHD. It’s a serious viral disease which affects European rabbits. 

Our local pet owners should be aware that many of our domestic rabbit breeds are derived from the European breeds, and so are susceptible to infection. 


The virus spreads amongst rabbits by way of secretions and contaminated bedding, fur, and water and other surfaces. It can be contagious for a long time in the environment. At this time, it’s not known to affect humans or other types of animals. 

What are the symptoms of RHD?

The virus causes hemorrhages by affecting the blood vessels and attacks the liver and
other organs. Most affected rabbits die suddenly, but can show signs of listlessness,
lack of coordination, behavioural changes, or trouble breathing before death. There
is often bleeding from the nose at the time of death. Once infected, signs of illness
usually occur within 1-9 days. 

Tips from the BC SPCA on how to protect your pet rabbit:

o Limit human visitors who have been in areas where the disease was reported and avoid your travel to these areas.
o Avoid taking your rabbit to shows/fairs or introducing any new rabbits into your home.
o Ask visitors to remove footwear before entering your home and wash their hands before handling your rabbit.
o Use designated clean clothing that has not been outside when caring for your rabbit.
o Clean and disinfect any rabbit supplies entering your home (see below).
o Use only high-quality commercial feed from manufacturers with good quality control.
o Don’t use wild plants or vegetables or grass grown in areas accessed by feral rabbits or other wildlife, as food.
o Remove or tightly secure anything outside (feed, garbage) that could attract feral rabbits, wildlife, or flies.
o Exercise rabbits outdoors only in secured areas with no possibility of contamination.
o Do not allow cats or dogs who go outside to potentially contaminated areas to access your rabbit’s housing area.

See their website for more info, here. 

How To Disinfect Rabbit Supplies

Feeding and housing should be cleaned with soap and water, and then disinfected with a
disinfectant that is effective against caliciviruses following manufacturer instructions. Most
household cleaners are not effective against this type of virus. Advised to be effective: bleach
(1:10 dilution), potassium peroxymonosulfate (Virkon), accelerated hydrogen peroxide
(Prevail, Accel, and Peroxigard). 


Our local rabbit owners should talk to their veterinarian about taking precautions to protect their pets. A vaccine is not yet available in Canada, but may be later this year. If you do find a dead rabbit, do not handle it - contact local animal control. 

Please get in touch directly with any of your questions: (250) 339-6555
From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Keep Your Fluffy Friend Safe This Easter


With Easter around the corner - visitors coming and going, good food around - there are some considerations to keep in mind to keep our pet safe and healthy over the holiday weekend! Have a plan and talk to your vet in advance to discover where you would need to take your pet if anything happened. 

Stay informed and on top of your pet’s care this Easter with the following pet safety tips below:

Dangerous Foods

Keep the people food for the people. Make or buy a special holiday treat for your pet that is formulated for them, like a new bone or homemade treats. They will enjoy it just as much, and maybe more! Here are some holiday favourites that are hazardous for pets:

Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats. Although the toxicity can vary based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount they ate, it’s safer to consider all chocolate off-limits to pets.

Other sweets should be kept out of reach of pets. They are too rich for pets, and an artificial sweetener often found in baked goods, candy and chewing gum, xylitol, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.

Turkey and turkey skin can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. 

Table scraps should be kept away from pets. Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes.

Hosting Visitors

Having visitors come and go frequently can upset pets. Even pets that aren’t ordinarily shy may become nervous in the excitement and noise. Keep the following tips in mind to reduce emotional stress on your pet. 

Make sure your pet has a comfortable, quiet place inside if they want to retreat and get away from the commotion if they wish to.

Communicate with your guests that your pet will be around and a plan with your visitors if they are bringing pets to your house. Consider any guests who have allergies so they can take any needed precautions to protect themselves. 

Pets that are nervous around people should be put it in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. 

Watch the exits, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming guests and collecting coats, your four-legged family member may make a break for it and become lost. Just in case, keep your pet’s collar and tags on during the holidays. 

Clear the food and trash from your table, and keep it off the counters and serving areas when you are done using them. A turkey or chicken carcass left out could be deadly to your pet. Dispose of carcasses and bones in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors. 

If you have any questions about your pet’s safety, give us a call at 250.339.6555. 

Yours in good health. 
From the desk of Dr. Gastis

"Feline" Fine - Here's What to Expect In Your Cat's Wellness Exam

Keeping up with your cat's health through an annual wellness exam is very important for the longevity and wellness of your feline friend. We understand that bringing your kitty to the vet can be a stressful experience for both you - and your cat! At Sunrise, we focus on creating a pawsitive and fear-free experience during your visit. 

Understanding what happens during the wellness exam is one of the ways we provide transparency and assist in creating a comforting visit. Here is an overview of what your vet  will be looking at during a feline wellness exam:

Weight - Taking and recording the weight of your cat is very important, especially as they age. We will monitor any weight gain or loss and recommend a healthy weight for your kitty. 

Temperature - Every so often a seemingly healthy pet tips off the vet that something isn't quite right simply through an elevated temperature.

Skin and Coat - Both the skin and coat are excellent indicators of your pet's health. The coat should be shiny, not brittle and coarse, and the skin should be clean and not greasy and flaky. If they are experiencing any itchiness or allergies, this can as well be assessed. 

Ears - Your vet will examine both ears. Deep in the ear canal is where infections can start, and if noticed early can be eliminated before it gets too serious. 

Lungs and Heart - Every good exam includes getting that stethoscope against your kitties chest and listening to the lungs and paying close attention to the heart sounds. A good ticker and breathing are important for a long life!

Abdomen - A careful evaluation of the abdomen can make surprising discoveries. Kidney issues, tumours, pregnancy and even bladder stones can all be spotted through the abdominal exam. 

Mouth - Oral hygiene (see our blog post last month on dental hygiene for your cat here) is one of the most overlooked aspects of feline health care. Infected gums, loose teeth and tumours can all be present, even without your pet showing signs of discomfort. Older cats especially may have oral hygiene issues that need dental work or treatments. 

Paws and Toenails - A good look at the paws and toenails is critical. Your vet may recommend clipping your pet's nails or treat any cuts or punctures on their pads. This is especially important for outdoor cats. 

During March, we are offering 25% off feline wellness exams.

Call the clinic at 250.339.6555 to book your appointment before the end of the month to claim this offer!