What's Causing Your Pet to Itch and Scratch?


“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!


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


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


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

Dental Care - not JUST for humans!


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 and wellbeing of our pet!

Here's why:

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 cleanings.

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, sedation-only pet dental cleaning (for the month of February only). Your pet will thank you!

(250) 339-6555

Thanks for reading!

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Have A New Puppy or Kitty At Home?


Do you have a new pet at home? Or know someone who does?

We are dedicated to being a "Fear Free" practice, and would love to share with you what this means.

If you haven’t heard of it before, Fear Free has become one of the single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice, with nearly 33,000 veterinary and pet professionals committed to becoming Fear Free certified.


The Fear Free movement promotes positive veterinary visit experiences for our pets AND their parents (reducing any associated stress and anxiety that may come with a visit), to encourage better healthcare.

It’s a set of practices, methods, and tools that help to calm our veterinary patients and create a low-stress environment for their care.

Our staff is trained and experienced with Gentle Handling techniques, as well as other veterinary visit protocols which align with the Fear Free movement – like creating a calm, relaxing environment in our waiting area, using veterinarian-approved treats, choosing a suitable room for examinations, and cradling every pet’s physical and emotional needs. And yes – every visit seems to end with a Sunrise snuggle!

We also educate our families on how to best prepare their BFF for visits with us - be sure to ask us.

Many choose to pop in when they’re in the neighbourhood for a treat - which we greatly encourage - and we might even ask to snap a photo for our Facebook page! We welcome you to learn more on our website.



For the month of January only, we’re even offering FREE PET EXAMS to new puppies and kitties!

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From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Call us today to book or ask any questions: (250) 339-6555

Preparing Your Home for Your New Puppy


When you bring a new puppy home, most people (and we’ve been there!) have more questions than answers about how to take care of their new family member.

Bringing home your new best friend is an amazing experience, so you’ll want to make sure you have everything at home at the ready for him or her!

Here’s a checklist of things you’ll want to make sure you have ahead of time:

1. An appropriately-sized crate

Dogs are den animals, and they love the comfort and security offered by a snug space of their own. This crate should have three walls, and a gate your pet can see you and the home through.

It's very important to find a crate that is the right size, with enough space for the puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. However, if it’s too large, they lose the sense of cosiness that a small crate provides, and also can increase the chance they may have an accident in it. Inside the crate, you should have comfy bedding and blankets - but be warned, these might become a target for chewing!

2. Playpen

As well as providing a place to play for your puppy, dog pens are great for blocking access to stairs and rooms you'd like to keep off-limits for the safety of your pet.

3. Puppy chew toys

Your shoes, furniture and even throw rugs become great toys for your puppy if you aren’t careful! They need to chew, so make sure you have plenty of dog toys for him or her to chew on. If you catch them chewing someone they shouldn’t be, redirect their focus and encourage them to chew on the proper toy.

Interactive puppy toys are always a good way to encourage brain development - toys that can be stuffed with fillings like peanut butter are great ways to keep your puppy occupied. Bring home a variety of toys for your puppy to see what they like best!

4. Leah, collar, and harness

Introduce your puppy to her dog leash and dog collar or dog harness, and get him or her accustomed to wearing it by letting them wear it in the house prior to taking going outside for walks. Please, don’t drag your puppy as they become used to this. They’ll get it over time, with lots of love, patience, and practice!

5. Puppy food and bowls

You’ll need to purchase veterinary-approved, high-quality pet food that is appropriate for your puppy. You can serve it in a stainless steel dog bowl (steel collects less bacteria over time than plastic), and there should always be a bowl of fresh water nearby. Come and see us for advice on the puppy nutrition that will suit your BFF best!

6. An enzyme cleaner

Even the best-trained puppy will have an accident at some point! The difference between enzyme cleansers and regular household spray is that the enzymes will eliminate odours that only your dog can smell. This works to reduce the chance they will remember that spot as a preferred destination to go potty! Pro tip - avoid any cleaning agent that contains ammonia—the chemical smells just like pee to a doggie!

For more of our Puppy Housebreaking tips, see here.

In January only, we’re offering FREE EXAMS for your new puppy or kitty.

Get in touch today to book yours!

Yours in good health,

From the desk of Dr. Gastis

Celebrating the Paw-liday Season Safely With Our Pets


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

We always want to share the best things in life with our pets; and that includes the holidays! When it comes to celebrating the pawl-idays with our beloved fur babies, the goal is to find ways to include them in the festivities, without causing them undue stress or placing them in harm's way.

Here are some simple steps that will allow your pets to join in the decorating holiday fun this year, while avoiding any trips to the animal emergency room.


1. Place your Christmas tree in a corner - ideally blocked off from your pet's wanting eyes. Watch out for the tinsel, too - it can potentially block intestines when ingested, and generally only remedied through surgical means.

2. Do not put lights on the tree's lower branches. They can present a burning hazard, plus your pet can get tangled in them, or even shocked by biting through the wire.

3. Ornaments need to be kept out of reach. They can potentially choke your pet or cause intestinal blockage, and when broken, the shards can injure their paws, bodies, and mouths. And those edible ornaments - like cranberries, popcorn, candies? Forget them!

4. Keep the area clear of pine needles around your tree. They might seem inconspicuous, but the needles can puncture your pet's intestines if ingested.

5. Know that holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs and cats. If you normally use these plants to decorate your home, keep them out of reach.

6. Watch out for burning candles and wagging tails. A happy tail can send a burning candle wayward! Homes with fireplaces should use screens to avoid accidental burns.

7. Tape it up. To help prevent electrocutions, be sure to tape any exposed indoor or outdoor wires to the walls or sides of your home.

8. When gift wrapping, be sure to keep your pet away. There's no doubt that there is a lot at play when it comes to wrapping gifts - from wrapping paper, string, bows, and plastic - there are plenty of threats which can cause choking and/or intestinal blockage. Not to mention, sharp scissors need to be considered.


We know it can be tough, but try to 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.

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.

This blog post is simply meant to help keep your pets happy and healthy during the holiday season, and hopefully preventing any unexpected stress or veterinary bills for you.

Be sure to tag us in your Facebook and Instagram holiday photos!

Yours in good health.

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Sunrise Veterinary Clinic

How Pet Owners Can Keep Up With Their Cat's Health Care


Keeping up with your cat's health through an annual wellness exam is very important for the longevity and wellness of your feline friend.

Our cats can be such independent creatures, that it can be easy for many pet owners to overlook their regular wellness exams. The truth is, that cats often mask the signs of illness (it’s a survival instinct) and they really do require ongoing veterinary care. Regular health exams will often increase the quality of their lives, as well as the longevity. Plus, preventative care can help save you big veterinary bills down the road!

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.

For the month of December only, we’re offering 40% off your pet health exam!

Call the clinic at 250.339.6555 today - holiday hours are limited.