How Can I Help My Senior Pet?

“I have an older dog who’s really having a hard time walking. What do you suggest, or should I be thinking it’s soon time to say goodbye?”



I understand how heart wrenching this can feel. Our senior pets have been with us a long time and they are our friends and family… they are our heroes!

I think if your pet is still having fun, wanting to be with you, and they can get around with some ease, then it’s not time to say goodbye yet. If they are in trouble past this, we must ask ourselves if it is possible to bring some quality back to their lives. To me, this means less arthritis pain and feeling well more than they feel nauseous or sick.

The question of arthritis in older pets is not “does my pet have it” it’s “how much does she feel it?” Remember we humans are the ones who have to see the signs. They won’t tell us. And we can miss this for months. A simple 1 week trial treating pain can reveal any pain they have been in.

Hand in hand with arthritis, is making sure other diseases easily treated are not making the pain look worse. A good history and exam for me tells a lot about where to go - always keeping in mind quality of life over simply extending life that’s not being enjoyed.

I think keeping treatment as simple as possible is important. This may mean fewer medications which is easier for us to give (a must with busy lives). Also, finding ways to make medicines a daily treat and not a struggle is important for your relationship with your aging pet.

If you’ve been thinking “something’s up but there’s nothing that can be done” this is probably not the case.

There likely is something that can be done to improve quality of life.

These questions are best answered in the exam room face to face.

Find out what you can do for your senior pet.


We’re here to help.

All the best,

Dr. Stacey

Keep Your Doggie and Kitty Smiling! (with fresher breath, too!)

It's true that most of us are well aware of our own dental health - we know about plaque control, cavity prevention, and the social importance and hygiene of having fresh breath. Many of us also realize the important role that dental health plays in the overall health of our bodies, too.

We're seeing more and more pet owners catch on to the notion that pet dental health is just as important for the overall health of the animal. Why is that?

In simple terms, bad teeth can lead to a sick animal - a very sick animal.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases in our pets. Our pets are subject to broken teeth, cavities, and other orthodontic issues like inflammation and infection. Scientific studies continue to demonstrate that chronic infection or inflammation in any part of the body can have serious negative impact on systemic health.

Not to mention, a painful mouth = a painful life for your pet. Some pet owners are shocked to see the condition of their pets' mouth post-exam, exclaiming "I had no idea!". Let's not forget that our pets are masters at disguising their pain. Masking pain and continuing to eat are evolutionary adaptive measures which have progressed the species over time - your dog has become wired to not show too much pain.

So what can you do? In cases such as these, preventative measures are simply the best. When you're in, we'll advise you on some great tips and tricks to establish a regular homecare routine.

At some point you need to make the decision to have your pet’s teeth cleaned. Cleaning saves teeth, heals red inflamed gums that are painful and freshens breath. Pet’s teeth can only be 100% cleaned with a sedative or alternatively general anesthesia. Awake, they simply will not accept a metal instrument under the gums or around the entire tooth and this is exactly where the most important scaling happens – under the gums.

Non-sedation cleaning is incomplete, painful and frankly very stressful for your pet. Is anesthesia safe then for pets? Yes it is, with the monitoring that’s done and the anesthetics used today and the quick procedure that it is… it is very safe.

In our practice we prefer to professionally scale with a sedative only to achieve 100% cleaning. This means your pet is not under a general anesthesia, they are simply relaxed. We are also able to x-ray teeth as well to examine tooth roots and look for painful disease.

So getting your pet’s teeth cleaned is not a big ordeal. Cleaning prevents tooth loss and dental surgery (which is a big deal)!



(250) 339-6555

Thanks for reading!

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Your Questions About Your Cat’s Dental Care, Answered

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We often hear that one of the best things a pet owner can do to ensure the overall health of their pet is to do routine checking of the teeth, gums and oral cavity and to schedule their pets for routine dental cleanings with their trusted veterinarian.

Oftentimes, we’re asked if that includes our pet cats, too.

And the resounding answer is yes!

Cats use their mouths for all sorts of activities: eating, hunting, play, defence, and grooming. Subsequently, their teeth are exposed to many different materials and can develop various forms of dental disease over time.

Some of the most common dental problems in cats include:

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is the number one medical condition diagnosed in cats — more than weight problems, or even kidney disease!

By the age of 3, many cats will have some degree of periodontal disease.

What begins as a buildup of plaque and tartar on the tooth, can turn into a spread of plaque below the gum line, which leads to inflammation, infection, and tooth loss.


Cancer of the oral cavity is a commonly diagnosed cancer in cats. Early diagnosis is imperative to the successful treatment of this kind of cancer; making routine cleanings and oral examinations extremely important.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Bad Breath

Yuck, yuck, yuck! Dragon breath is a very common complaint in veterinary medicine.

Bad breath occurs as the result of multiple different problems in the oral cavity, from simple periodontal disease to an infected mass, or it can be the result of a systemic illness such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Bad breath (halitosis) may be the only sign of a more serious underlying problem, so it’s important to check out a stinky mouth!


This is an extremely painful condition caused by severe inflammation or ulceration of the tissues lining the oral cavity. Cats with feline stomatitus have extremely reddened, inflamed mouths and may often resist having their teeth examined. We often see a reduction in appetite, and even malnourishment in more severe cases.

While mild cases may respond to medical care and home care, often surgical removal of the affected tissues will be necessary.

Following the complete removal of the roots, many cats will show great progress and will resume their normal eating habits soon post-surgery.

Tooth Resorption

Did you know that tooth resorption affects up to three-quarters of cats over the age of 5? This is when the body starts to resorb the dentin, loosening the tooth and causing painful exposure of the root.

The erosion begins below the gum line, making it impossible to determine which teeth are affected without dental X-rays.

This is commonly under diagnosed, because the symptoms can be very subtle; think of the cat who begins showing a preference for soft food, or who swallows his food without chewing.

Once the affected teeth (or tooth) is pinpointed, the affected tooth needs to be extracted.


We’re all likely familiar with the signs of an infection - swelling, redness, pus, abscesses, and discomfort. You may notice your cat pawing at their face. Infections in the oral cavity can result in pain and swelling in the jaw, quickly spreading to surrounding tissues. Owners may notice facial swelling or even a protruding eye if the infection spreads! Treatment involves extracting the infected tooth or performing a root canal, and treating the infection with antibiotics and pain control.


When feline teeth are in abnormal positions, this presents the mouth from closing comfortably, which can lead to pain and trauma to the gingival tissues as the teeth bite into the sensitive gums. This can predispose a cat to periodontal disease.

A veterinarian can ensure the teeth are properly aligned by evaluating the bite in a thorough oral exams.

Treatments such as extractions (and even orthodontics!) can be suggested to improve the placement of the teeth.

Keeping your cat’s mouth clean and healthy

There are two things cat owners can do to ensure their cat’s mouths are healthy and clean - that is home care and regular veterinarian exams.

This isn’t a “one or the other” kind of thing either; you’ll want to do both for the best health of your feline friend!

We’re offering FREE PET DENTAL EXAMS + 20% off Sedative-Only Pet Teeth Cleaning for the month of October.


(250) 339-6555

Thanks for reading!

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Cats and Dogs


Before you defrost the turkey - 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.

Here are some tips all dog and cat owners should keep in mind this holiday season:


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.


Having visitors come and go frequently can upset pets. Even pets that aren’t ordinarily shy may become nervous in the excitement and noise!

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.

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


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.

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.

There are just a few helpful tips to make entertaining this year a breeze!

With that said, we wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving weekend.


Yours in good health.

From the desk of Dr. Gastis

Puppy Housebreaking Tips


Have a new puppy at home? 🐾 With these puppy potty training tips, your carpet will thank us!

Puppy accidents are to be expected in the early days of training - however, there are a few tricks you can use to keep them to a minimum.

A very important thing to keep in mind, is that we must act kindly to our puppies - without overreacting! Remember puppies are not like humans - punishing them long after the accident will have no purpose; as they don't have the same sense of cause and effect and memory as we do.


you'll want to keep an eye on the puppy✔️

distract them from eliminating in the wrong place✔️

and bring them to the appropriate place to go✔️

once they've eliminated, reward them with a treat! ✔️

Signs your puppy is about to eliminate? Sniffing at the floor, scratching at the door, whining or looking uncomfortable.

You want your new puppy to associate going outside to eliminate with good responses from you!

If your puppy has an accident, be sure to clean up the area - so they don't "remember" it by smell as a good place to go!

We’re offering 30% off the first visit for new patients for the month of September.

Call us today to book!

(250) 339-6555

Thanks for reading! Wishing you a great September.

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis


Putting the "treat" back into "treatment!"

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

We'd love to share with you how we are dedicated to being a "Fear Free" practice! 

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. 

What is a Fear Free practice?

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. 

If you’re receiving this, chances are you already know us.

If you know a friend who has a new pet at home, please consider sharing this blog post with them. We'd love to offer them the chance to get to know us, too! 

Thanks for reading! Wishing you a great September. 

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis


 Call us today to book! 

 (250) 339-6555
Get more great info @


Itch, scratch, bite, lick!


While there are different reasons for an itchy pet, 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.

Whereas infections can be quickly treated, allergy is always about continuous management.

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
  • small crusts all over your kitty
  • pulling fur out with bald patches
  • sudden red oozing ‘hot spots’

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.

This month only, come in and receive 20% off your Itchy Scratchy Pet Exam. 

Together, let's get to the bottom of it! 

All the best,

Dr. Stacey of Sunrise Vet Clinic in Comox

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.