Why That Annual Pet Checkup Saves Lives


Bringing your dog or cat to the veterinarian's office on a regular basis can ward off serious illness and help to avoid high bills.

While our pets have many clever (and often endearing) ways of expressing themselves, your dog can't tell you in words that his teeth hurt, nor can your cat confide that her leg doesn't feel right. In fact, our pets are masters at disguising pain - it's in their evolutionary makeup so do so. Take dogs, for instance - as wolves back in the wild, they developed the instinct to hide pain and sickness as not to show signs of vulnerability. Today, it's still hardwired in our pets instinctually to hide any signs of weakness for self-protection. This can make it tough for us humans to tell when our pets are hurting or sick. 

Plus, when you consider that our pets age approximately 6-7 times the rate that we do, it's easy to see that our yearly veterinary exams are imperative - not just for vaccinations and vital statistics, but to detect any early signs of disease or other issues. By the time your pet reaches their senior years (which can be as early as 7 years of age, depending on the breed and size), those yearly visits become even more important. The cost of a routine wellness exam is going to be much lower than treatment of an advanced disease.

For pets of all age, regular checkups keep your pet healthy by allowing us to spot small problems before they escalate - allowing us to resolve them more easily, less expensively and with a greater outcome of success. They can also help your pet to avoid common discomforts such as heartworm and dental disease that may otherwise go undetected. 

This month only, we're offering 20% off your Pet Health Exam.

A few spots left - call today to book: (250) 339-6555

- From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

5 Tips to Help Us Care for Our Senior Dogs

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You probably already know this, but our senior pets have different health requirements than their younger counterparts.

We’ve got 5 tips to help keep your BFF in tip-top shape as they head into their golden years (typically around 7-8 years of age, depending on the breed). 

1.  Bring them in for regular check-ups

Our senior pets require more care and attention, which includes regular visits with your veterinarian. In fact, many veterinarians recommend that senior dogs should be examined twice a year, even more so if the dog has serious health issues. You veterinarian will be performing thorough physical examinations to uncover any potential health issues that can impact your pet’s life and comfort level, such as dental disease, arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease and more. 

2. Watch for changes in behavior

Our pets are masters of disguise – they are experts at concealing illness and poor health, and we must watch them closely. Why? Changes in your dog’s behaviour may be a symptom of disease, pain, or discomfort. 

Things we want to watch for - look closely for any changes in your dog’s appetite or water consumption, urinary/bowl habits, and changes in sleep patterns. If your dog suddenly becomes irritable for no reason, it may be because he is in pain, having difficulty seeing, or having a hard time hearing properly. Any changes in your senior pet’s routines or behaviours should prompt a consultation with your veterinarian.

3. Help them get around with ease

Our senior dogs may not have the agility and mobility they once did, and they may have pain caused by arthritis or other health issues which can slow them down. One day, you might notice they have difficulty getting into the car or onto furniture! It can take awhile for us to recognize that our doggies are slowing down. You can consider providing ramps or stairs to allow your senior dog to access furniture, and you could even look at placing some carpeting on slippery floors – and let’s be honest, helps us ALL gain our footing!

4. Consider their nutritional requirements

Just as our diets change and evolve as we age, so will your senior dog’s nutrition plan. Our senior dogs can have a tendency to gain weight, whereas some have a difficult time holding on to a healthy weight, and older dogs with diseases may need to address certain dietary requirements for best treatment and/or prevention. Your helpful veterinarian can help you sort through the "nutrition noise" and help you choose an appropriate diet for your pet.

5. Trick out your pet’s bed

This is a great way to say “Thank You” to your pet for being such a valuable part of your family for all of these years.  Help your senior dog rest easier by ensuring they have a comfortable, quiet space to sleep. Pad their bed with extra pillows and blankets, and if needed, consider a special orthopaedic bed made just for senior dogs. These can have a denser form to help cushion your senior pet’s joints, and can even be equipped with a heat and/or vibration source. This is great for increasing circulation and reducing any stiffness – ideal for our doggies with arthritis! 

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When in doubt? Give us a call. We love our senior pets - let's ensure their lives are as happy, healthy, and pain-free as possible. 

Do you have a senior cat? Be sure to read our tips for caring for our senior felines, too!

This month only, receive 20% off your Senior Pet Exam @ Sunrise. 

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis.

What We Need to Know About Caring for Our Senior Cats


Generally, cats over 7-10 years of age should be considered seniors, and as they age, changes in the body occur as well. For instance, in one study, roughly 90% of cats over the age of 12 years were noted to have radiographic evidence of arthritis! Needless to say, with arthritis comes pain and mobility issues. If your older cat has become less active and is now reluctant to jump on counters and couch tops - it may be less that he/she has become obedient, and more that they are in pain due to arthritis.

Dental disease can also pose a problem for our senior cats. This can be painful, even causing your cat to have difficulty eating or even avoiding eating. Talk about discomfort! This is no way to live.😿

Weight loss is not only attributed to dental disease, but our senior cats can also suffer from kidney disease, thyroid disease, liver disease, heart disease   and other conditions that may result in weight loss.

On the other hand, some senior cats may have the opposite problem. Some cats will become less active with age, essentially becoming couch potatoes, and will gain weight as a result! 
What can you do to help your senior cat?

Come in and receive 20% off your Senior Pet Exam this month only. We're here to help!

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

How to Help Your Senior Pet Feel Better

When pets have reached the approximate age of seven (varying by breed and size) they have reached their senior years and the care they require will begin to change. Many pet owners see their pets slowing down and showing signs of age, thinking these are a normal part of the aging process. It’s important to remember that many of these signs are symptoms of larger issues that often affect senior pets, such as arthritis, kidney disease, heart conditions, and more.

Our wonderful companions are masters at disguising pain and ill health. Good history history and exam for me tells a lot about where to go from here - always keeping in mind quality of life over simply extending life that’s not being enjoyed. 

Senior pets require increased attention, including more frequent visits to the veterinarian, possible changes in diet, and in some cases alterations to their home environment. 

Geriatric pets can develop many of the same problems seen in older people, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Kidney/Urinary Tract Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Joint or Bone Disease (like arthritis)
  • Senility 
  • Weakness
  • Nutritional Deficiencies 

If you’ve been thinking “something’s up but there’s nothing that can be done” this is probably not the case. There usually is something that can be done to improve quality of life.

These questions are best answered in the exam room face to face. We will work together to decide what is best so your doggie or kitty can enjoy his or her golden years! 

If your pet is over the age of seven, we recommend that you contact our team right away to schedule their senior care visit. This month only, we are offering 20% off your Senior Pet Exams, making it easier for you to bring in your senior pet.

Let's help your senior doggie or kitty feel as good as they possibly can!

- From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis 

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Make Sure Halloween Isn't a Nightmare for Your Pets!

Sunrise Halloween

Skip the stress and keep your pets safe this year with these tips from your Sunrise Vet family:
1. Keep the treats out of reach.
Sugary candies and chocolates and our pets simply don't mix! All forms of chocolate—especially baking or dark chocolate—can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures.

One important thing to remember, too? When pets get into the candy bowl, they don’t usually bother to unwrap the treats first!
2. Bring your pets inside.
While we like to consider our Comox Valley community to be relatively safe, the reality is that Hallow's eve is a time that we want to keep our pets indoors; due to increased foot traffic and potential for mischief in our neighbourhoods. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents during this time of year. 

3. Keep your pets in a safe room - away from the front door.
You've got your furry pals inside, but be sure to keep them away from the Halloween excitement. Your door will be opening and closing, and strangers will be on your doorstep dressed in unusual costumes. Our pets simply don't understand the context for this; and it can be extremely threatening and scary to them. This can result in an escape attempt or unwanted aggression. Reduce stress and keep them far away from the door; safely tucked in a room they feel safe in or in their crate. Be sure to comfort them as frequently as possible!

4. Don't keep lit pumpkins around pets.
Our pets can easily get burned from jack-o-lanterns; it's best to avoid them and stick to the battery operated kinds for everyone's safety! However, keep in mind our pets can receive electrical shocks and burns from chewing on the cords, too - so keep them out of reach! 

5. Dispose of pumpkins, gourds, and corn displays after use
We want to prevent our pets from ingesting large amounts of uncooked and potentially mouldy Halloween pumpkins or corn displays; which can cause BIG problems in little tummies.
6. Don't dress your pet in a costume unless you know they'll love it.
No need to cause unnecessary stress and suffering - if your pet hates their costume, it's best not to push it. We might think it's cute, but they don't understand what the fuss is all about! If you decide your pet needs a costume this year, please be supervising them at all times to ensure they can see, hear, and move with ease. Pets can easily become strangled and/or suffocate in costumes without supervision or choke on removable parts. 
7. IDs, please!
If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper ID will increase the chances that he or she will be returned. Collars and tags are a start, but microchips offer permanent identification should the collar or tag fall off. Just make sure the information is up-to-date. We suggest using Halloween as a yearly reminder to double check your address and phone number on tags. 

Now you've got the lowdown... we wish you a pawwsitively Happy Howl-O-Ween! 

-from your Sunrise Vet team

Pet Health Alert in the Comox Valley – Toxic Mushrooms


Whether you’re headed out for a walk, or staying on your own property, you’ll want to be vigilant about mushrooms when it comes to your pets (and your children of course). Poisonous mushrooms that grow in the wild can cause serious – and sometimes lethal – harm to your pets if you’re not careful.

How do you know which mushrooms are poisonous?

Mushrooms are very difficult to identify, so when in doubt, we should always assume worst-case scenario – and keep our pets away from ALL wild mushrooms. Depending on the kind of mushroom ingested, poisoning can even occur with one small bite! This spring, a warning from Island Health was issued about a poisonous mushroom known as the “Death Cap”, which has been spotted in residential areas near Victoria. They can resemble safe cousins, and sadly, even caused the tragic death of a three year-old following accidental ingestion.

How do you keep your pets safe?

To stay safe, clear your yard and property of all wild mushrooms, and be on the watch for these when you go out for walks.

What do you do if your pet ingests a wild mushroom?

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a mushroom, call our emergency line immediately. (250) 339-6555. 

When you bring your pet in, bring the mushroom if possible.

And don’t hesitate; the sooner you bring your pet in, the sooner we can decontaminate (e.g., induce vomiting or administer activated charcoal to bind the poison from the stomach) and treat. This is less damaging to your pet, and comes at less cost to you. Additional treatment often includes IV fluids, blood work monitoring (for 2 days), liver protectant drugs, anti-vomiting medication, and supportive care. If you wait until clinical signs develop, it may be too late to treat your pet effectively.

Do you remember? In 2015, Rock Johnson’s dog Brutus passed away following the ingestion of a toxic mushroom.

Unfortunately, we do see accidental mushroom poisonings occur here in the Comox Valley as well. The good news is, we can do our best to prevent these from happening. Please share this post with your friends and family members with pets here in the Valley to spread the word!  

"I encourage all of you out there to be mindful of mushrooms in your yards, parks or anywhere outside your dogs play. What looks innocent, can be deadly to your lil' family members. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Instagram

"I encourage all of you out there to be mindful of mushrooms in your yards, parks or anywhere outside your dogs play. What looks innocent, can be deadly to your lil' family members. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Instagram

Has your pet ever had an encounter with wild mushrooms here in the Comox Valley? 

Our family, caring for yours. Come and get to know us today. 

from the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Meet Blueberry - sweet as can be!

This month we are welcoming a new #SunriseVetPet to the family. Meet Blueberry. With Kelly and Blueberry, it was ruv at first sight. And after a few years of walks and time together, Blueberry wiggled her way into Kelly’s heart and home. Blueberry quickly became part of the pack, which includes… 4 feet and 24 paws!

As the Sunrise Vet Pet for the month, Blueberry also won a free bag of veterinary-approved dog food, and of course - a feature on this blog and our social media. 

Blueberry’s mom, Kelly, shared with us a bit about Blueberry.


Q. Tell us a bit about Blueberry - how long has Blueberry been part of your family?

A. Blueberry has been part of our family for six months, but she has been in my life for around three and half years. I used to walk her as a pup, and we grew a strong bond because of it! She was rehomed to me due to her previous housemates not getting along! She has fit nicely into our pack, making our group complete with four dogs, two cats, and two humans.


Q. What are Blueberry’s favourite activities?

A. Blueberry loves going for walks, especially anywhere she can swim. She isn’t a great swimmer, so she does have to wear a life jacket if the water is deep. She had a sheltered life before moving in with us and is slowing getting used to being out and about, and she is taking small steps into the big world!

What are some of your favourite dog-friendly activities in the Comox Valley? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

Beach days with Kelly's granddaughter. 

Beach days with Kelly's granddaughter. 

Come and Get to Know Us!

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Scaredy cats and fraidy dogs no more! Have you ever heard of the Fear Free movement in veterinary practices? The Fear Free movement promotes positive veterinary visit experiences for our pets (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.

After all, a peaceful, pawsitive visit to the vet leads to a happier, healthier pet (and parents, too!). 

The Fear Free movement was in large part, based on the wonderful work of some acclaimed animal behaviourists, trainers, and veterinarians. And what's not to love?  Like you, we love pets like family, and want what is best for them. Pets not only need veterinary professionals to look after their physical well being, but their emotional well-being too – they go paw-in-paw with one another.

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!

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

But if you don’t, be sure to give us a call or drop in (or even forward this email to a friend who hasn’t yet!) as we’re offering 30% off first visits for new patients this month only. 

Head to our Facebook page for regular, helpful tips on how to best care for your BFF. 

We are committed to the well-being of our pets (and their parents). Thanks for reading!

- From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis 


What's the difference between a SPAY and a NEUTER?

Wonder what the difference between a SPAY and a NEUTER is? You're not alone!

Both are procedures done to sterilize animals like cats and dogs (rendering them unable to reproduce), but spaying refers to the procedure done to females, and neutering refers to the procedure done to males. Both are serious surgeries - spaying involves taking out the uterus and ovaries, while male pets are neutered by taking out the testicles.

Wonder WHY people opt to have this procedure done for their pets? Read our last blog post, here. (And yes, we're offering 10% off this month, or when you plan for future months too!)

Why People Spay/Neuter Their Cats and Dogs

Are you wondering whether you should spay (female) or neuter (male) your cat or your dog?  

Here is a non-exhaustive list of reasons why families opt to:

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1. Unexpected pregnancies
The call of the wild! An intact male is programmed to find it difficult to resist a female in heat. An intact male can run away and follow the smell of a female in heat located miles away - sometimes getting lost or hit by traffic. In addition, you may be liable if your male procreates. For those with female pets, you might find yourself caring for an unexpected family member - as well as the female throughout her pregnancy and birth, who will require extra medical care. 

2. Pet overpopulation
Meanwhile, 3 to 4 million of unwanted pets are euthanized each year, when many of these deaths could have been prevented by neutering and spaying. Too many pets - not enough homes.

3. Behaviour
 When done early in life, neutering can reduce aggressiveness and improve behaviour overall in our male pets. For example - you'll find less of the always-embarrassing "mounting" behaviour in our doggies! 

4. Marking
Peeeee-yew! Few things smell WORSE than intact male cat urine.This increases the risk of being hit by a car. Neutering, when done early enough in life, virtually eliminates the odour of male cat urine and should prevent marking in male dogs.

5. Roaming
Our pets simply don't understand how to cross the street safely. The urge to roam or run away from home is greatly reduced by neutering our pets. This keeps them out of scraps, out of traffic, and out of unexpected pregnancies. Not to mention, every year millions of pets get lost - often from simply roaming away from home.

6. Important Medical Health Reasons

Intact male dogs can have a number of prostate diseases, which are prevented by neutering. A perineal hernia (often seen in intact male dogs) is dramatically reduced by neutering, and the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated. No testicles - less health problems! 

Female dogs have no risk of infections, cancers, or diseases of the uterus (which is removed), and also a reduced risk of breast cancer. 

If you're considering the procedure, we urge you to give us a call or come in to talk to us. We can help you identify the associated costs, timelines, and the individual needs of your family and your pet. 

From the desk of Dr. Gastis. Come and get to know us. 

For the month of August, we're offering 10% off the spay/neuter services for this month or for future months. 

Call us today to learn more.

(250) 339-6555
Get more great info @ sunrisevet.ca