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! 

Untitled design (5).png

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! 

How Pet Owners Can Take Care of Their BFF's Mouths

Your doggie's dental health is just as important as yours!

Many pet owners never take a good look at their dog's mouth to see if there is a tartar build-up, swollen gums, or to give their pearly whites a good brush. 

As your dog ages, bacteria build-up in the mouth occurs. Some good - some bad. Without proper home care and professional pet dental cleanings, this build-up of bacteria can lead to health issues like gum disease, periodontal disease, gingivitis, and much more. Dental health can impact the entire body of your pet. 

What Can Pet Owners Do?

The first step to a healthy mouth is a well-balanced diet, and in addition to some veterinary-recommended nutrition, encouraging them to chew on treats that are designed to fight plaque and tartar can help improve your best friend’s teeth - and may be easier than brushing. Make sure you offer your pet the right size product, and watch how they react after you give them the treat. If your dog wolfs down the chew - it won't be effective! Dental treats work best when dogs have to spend at least a couple minutes chewing on them. 

Though you and your pet may not enjoy it, brushing on a daily basis is the most beneficial thing you can do to improve your dog’s teeth. You'll want to bring your pet in for their regular (thorough) professional pet dental cleaning, too. 

Where to Start?

During February, dental exams are FREE. Book an appointment to see how your dog's mouth checks out, and learn more about home dental care tips. If you decide to proceed with professional pet dental cleaning (sedation only), you'll receive 20% off this month, too! 

Be sure to call ahead to book your spot! (250) 339-6555

Yours in good health. 



From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis    

Dental Health for Kitties




Dental health is often overlooked by pet owners. Kitties need strong and sharp teeth to do all of the things they love - hunting and catching - even if all they are catching are mouse toys and kibbles! Getting an annual check-up and cleaning with your vet will help to combat any potential dental health risks - potentially saving you big vet bills down the road, too! 

Staying on top of your cat’s dental hygiene starts at home.

Here are our top five home care tips for feline dental care:

Good ol’ fashioned brushing: Brushing doesn’t have to be a chore. A small toothbrush or cotton swabs and cat-specific toothpaste are all you need. Be sure never to use toothpaste designed for people, as the ingredients can be unhealthy for your cat. Expect to get a little resistance at first. Start slowly by letting your cat smell the toothbrush and build up from there by doing 30-seconds at a time until your furry friend is comfortable with getting its teeth brushed. 

Breath check: Take a sniff! Now, your cat’s breath will probably not smell like flowers, but it shouldn’t be offensive. If you take a sniff of your kitties breath and you smell a very terrible strong odour, he/she may either have a gum condition or a digestive issue. Both of these are potential problems you should get examined by your vet. 

Peek inside: While you’re doing your breath check, take a good look inside the mouth of your cat. Indicators of dental health problems or risks that you should be looking for include: dark, red gums, swollen gums, ulcers, pus or loose teeth. Outside the mouth, keep your eye on any behaviour changes from your kitty (e.g. excessive pawing at the mouth area, difficulty chewing food and excessive drooling can all be signs of a dental health issue). 

At any sign of gum inflammation, take your cat for a visit to the vet. If left untreated, gum disease can develop. Inflammation of the mouth can also be an indication of internal issues, like kidney disease.

Chewing: Chew toys are very important for indoor cats. It will satisfy your cat’s desire to chomp as well as help make teeth strong and healthy. Chewing on toys is good for your your kitty’s dental health; massaging the gums and helping fight tartar. 

Diet: If your cat has trouble with its dental hygiene,  we can recommend some great nutritional products for their individual needs. 

Jump on our February promotion and book your FREE pet dental exam before the end of the month. If you decide to proceed with cleaning, you'll save 20% on professional, sedation-only pet dental cleaning this month too!

Book now by calling the clinic at 250-339-6555.

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


Shiloh’s Visit to Sunrise Veterinary Hospital 


You can’t imagine what delight it brought us to see sweet Shiloh bounding into the clinic for his post-op check-up appointment… it’s days like this that we truly live for what we do as veterinary professionals. 

This 4-year old male Bernese Mountain Dog was brought into the clinic by his concerned owner, Ken; he wasn’t acting like himself, and he had blood in his urine. Furthermore, he was vomiting and had lost interest in his food. 

During his exam, Shiloh was experiencing a fever and was feeling discomfort around his belly and hind end. His blood pressure had dropped below normal levels, and his heart rate had increased. He was given sedation to help manage his pain, allowing us to run some more tests to gather the information we needed.  We did find that he had fluid in his belly, so we collected a sample with a small needle for evaluation. 

His owner reported that Shiloh had a disorder that affects his clotting ability, called Von Willebrand Disease. We collected a blood sample to send out to a special laboratory to check Shiloh’s clotting ability as well as to check for Von Willebrand Disease. This test takes several days to process, so in the meantime, we gave Shiloh a transfusion of plasma that had clotting factors to make Shiloh feel better, in case this was part of his medical condition.  

The radiographs showed that Shiloh did have an intact bladder and there were no visual stones present. The fluid from his belly was evaluated and found to show an infection was present so Shiloh was put on several antibiotics.  His blood work supported an infection being present as well as low red blood cell (anemia) present.  Some of his liver values were also elevated.  We also tested for pancreatitis, and it was positive.   

Shiloh was receiving fluids, antibiotics and pain medication but was not improving.  The next step was to have a specialist perform an ultrasound that allowed for more detailed imagery of his abdominal organs and health. The results revealed that Shiloh had a Splenic Torsion (which is a twisted spleen). This is a very serious condition, and treatment involves removing the spleen surgically. The spleen filters the blood and is a reservoir for blood storage. It is not a vital organ and pets can live without a spleen.  When it twists it prevents proper blood flow through the spleen resulting in pain and swelling and the organ needs to be removed.   

We collected blood from a blood donor and administered a blood transfusion to Shiloh prior to surgery to help with his anemia.  During surgery we monitored Shiloh’s heart to make sure it was beating normally.  We also gave him a medication that helps with pain and heart rhythm during surgery for supportive care. His blood pressure was stable, and the doctor was able to remove Shiloh’s enlarged spleen successfully.  After the spleen was removed the doctor inspected his other organs before closing up his incision area and noticed that a part of the pancreas had also been affected by the twist, and so the unhealthy piece was removed.  

Shiloh recovered well after his surgery and was able to go home with his family the following day.  We stayed in close touch with his owner, and Shiloh progressively regained his appetite and energy level. 

Needless to say, when Shiloh came cruising in the front doors of Sunrise Veterinary Clinic after his post-op – there were smiles and high fives all around! Thanks Ken for allowing us to share Shiloh's pawsitive recovery story. 

Four Winter Safety Tips for Our Pets

winter pet.jpeg

During those blistering hot summer months, we see a LOT of information on summer safety around heat and vehicles for pets - but winter safety is just as important! When the snow starts to fall and temperatures drop here in the Comox Valley, there are unknown dangers that can damage your pet's health.

Spring isn't here quite yet - take care of your BFF with these four key winter safety tips. 

Paw Care
Winter can be harsh on your pup's paws. Rock Salt and antifreeze are two of the many dangerous chemicals found on asphalt and concrete surfaces that can irritate your dog's paws. Take care of your pet’s pads by towel-drying and cleaning their feet when they come inside. If you notice your dog stepped in salt, rinse the area as soon as possible. To prevent cracking and bleeding of the pads, trim the fur around your dog's toes and pads to help keep them clean. You can also use dog boots to protect your dog's feet and keep them warm! 

Fur isn’t always enough
Don’t be fooled by your dog's fur coat, it isn’t always enough! All types of dogs are vulnerable to extreme temperatures, especially older dogs, new puppies and dogs with short hair. Remember, keep your dog dry and warm by purchasing a coat and towel-drying your dog off after being outside. 

Vehicle Safety
Similar to the summer, it is important to not leave your dog in the car in chilly weather for a long period. Vehicles trap the cold and can drop to dangerously low temperatures. Be smart and treat your dog like a human. If you would be too cold to sit in your car for an extended time, so is your dog!

Be Cautious Off-Leash
During the winter months, it is important to keep your dog close and make sure they always have their ID tags and collars on. Keep your dog in sight and opt for on leash walks to ensure your dog is safe. If your pup gets lost during winter months, there are more dangers like frostbite and the potential of falling through the ice.

Lastly, be aware of any noticeable changes in your dog's behaviour and keep your dog warm and safe all year around. If you’re looking for more tips on winter safety, give us a call at the clinic, and we would be happy to help and recommend our best practices.

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