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:

puppy kitty.jpg

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


Meet the pup with the GREAT pawsonality - Mika!

Mika is our August Sunrise Vet Pet of the Month

For a couple of years now, Mika has been such a great member of our Facebook and Sunrise Community - we can't get enough of her ADORABLE photos and outgoing paww-sonality!

As the Sunrise Vet Pet for the month, Mika also won a $25 coupon off her next service at Sunrise, a free bag of veterinary-approved treats, and of course - a  feature on this blog and our social media. 

We sat down with her Mom, Stephanie, to learn a bit more about her. 

1) Mika has such a great smile! Can you tell us a bit about her? How did she become part of your family?

Mika found her way into our hearts when she was only 6 months old. We adopted her privately from someone who could not keep her, and she quickly charmed us with her big smile and gentle spirit. She loves to play with her toys, suntan on the deck, or snuggle on the couch. 

2) What does Mika love most about living in the Comox Valley?

Mika loves going on walks, exploring at the beach, going kayaking with us, and most of all she loves to play fetch with her chuck-it at the park, which she will happily do until she is exhausted! 

3) It's often said that our pets can be our greatest teachers. Can you tell us about the impact Mika has had on your life?

When we adopted Mika, I was at a low point in my life. I was suffering from depression and anxiety and felt very alone. When we welcomed her into our lives immediately I felt a deep connection with her. She never left my side, and would follow me around like a little shadow. She is the most loving, loyal, sweet and gentle dog. She has brought me so much joy over these past 4 years. I am so lucky to be able to share my life with her.

Thank you so much for sharing, Stephanie and Mika! 

We think you two were MEANT for each other - wouldn't our Sunrise community agree???

Comment below - how has YOUR pet impacted your life in a positive way? We'd love to know!


Please, please - it CAN'T be fleas!

If your pet is doing a lot of THIS....

Chances are, they're not feeling too hot!

Skin problems are one of the MOST common reasons why people bring in their cats and dogs to see us. Often people notice it more at night time, when the house is quiet (and they're trying to get some sleep).

We can only imagine that our itchy cats and dogs have a decreased quality of life and can even feel quite miserable due to their discomfort, so 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.

Apollo,  9 week old Shepherd cross, was in for his Advantage®  application today!

Apollo,  9 week old Shepherd cross, was in for his Advantage®  application today!

Some signs you might notice in your itchy pet include: 

  • 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)

and of course... excessive itchiness!

What are the most common causes of skin problems?

Flea allergies, atopic (environmental allergies), adverse food reactions, and skin infections are common culprits.

While there are different stand-alone reasons for the itch like: fleas, infection with bacteria, yeast, ringworm, and mites to name a few, your dog or cat may have an allergy that continuously drives the whole thing. Infections can be quickly treated, however 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 discolouration 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. Recurring skin or ear infection is often a response to allergy. The allergy shows first.
Understanding is key for you to help your pet. And they need help. Having a constant itch is NO fun.



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

What Does My Dog Have - Skin Allergies or Bug Bites?


Did you know that one of the most common reasons people bring their pets to see us, is itching?

Why is my dog scratching?

Your doggie is scratching because of inflamed skin - medically referred to as dermatitis, with derma- referring to skin and -itis meaning “inflammation of.”  This can be the cause of intense scratching in the dog.

Why does their skin get inflamed?  Two of the most common types of dermatitis are allergic and parasitic. Allergic dermatitis can be caused by seasonal allergies, non-seasonal allergies, food allergies, etc. Parasitic dermatitis, on the other hand, is associated with insect bites or stings or contact with their secretions (feces, saliva, etc.).

 So how can I tell the difference between allergies and bug bites?

 Because they can have similarities in their clinical symptoms, it’s imperative that you have a consultation and physical examination with your veterinarian.

We can help you determine the cause and help prescribe or suggest the best treatment route for your BFF – one that fits the needs of your family!

 Allergic Dermatitis

Dogs affected by allergies may have allergies related to seasonal, food-related causes, or other causes. Seasonal allergies can be triggered year-round depending on what your pet is allergic to (yes, not just spring!). Blooming plants and flowers, grasses, weeds, and trees are common triggers. Other common allergies include dust, molds, environmental materials, and chemicals. Don’t forget food, too - some dogs can be allergic to certain proteins (beef, dairy, chicken, etc.) and/or grains (wheat, corn, rice, etc.).

When your dog has an allergy, they can be affected all over their body, but often patients experience the most irritation in the armpits, ears, feet, groin, legs, muzzle, and around the eyes and anus. What to look for? Redness, oozing, skin pigment changes, thickening of the skin, crusting, oozing, and redness.

Parasitic Dermatitis

 Fleas, ticks, oh my! Here in the Comox Valley we have to be very aware of the fleas, ticks, and other biting or stinging insects, and take preventative measures for the health and wellbeing of our pets. Some dogs can be really sensitive to an insect bites and experience allergic symptoms to its saliva or venom. You may notice chewing, licking, or scratching as a result.

1.    Fleas

Fleas tend to hang out around your doggie’s head, neck, inguinal area, tail base, and perineum, which are locations where your dog will itch and scratch.

The saliva from fleas is very allergenic, so a single flea can cause flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) – which makes your pet VERY itchy and uncomfortable indeed.

2.    Ticks

These crawling parasites cling to fur when animals brush by (typically from leaves, blades of grass, or other environment surfaces) – so you’ll typically find them on the outward-facing sides of your dog’s body and limbs.

Like fleas, ticks look for blood in order to survive. That is why tick bites create inflammation at the point of entry that can worsen the longer the tick stays attached and releases its saliva into the skin. Not to mention, you can often find secondary bacterial infection on the tick bite site that will lead to further irritation and itching.

Not to be forgotten? Mites love our pets, too!

 So, Now What?

Your pet is itchy scratchy and it’s driving you crazy – can you only imagine how THEY must feel?

 Not just a nuisance - fleas, ticks, and other biting insects can transmit bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can have irreversible and fatal consequences. As well, skin allergies can be representative of a bigger internal health problem, and our doggies can even seriously injure themselves or receive an infection as a result of the itching.

That is why prevention and early treatment is key.

Final thought? Itchy pet, call your vet! Come in for your pet’s Itchy Scratchy Exam during the month of July and find the best solution for your dog or kitty.

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Summer Safety Tips for Pets

As the weather kicks up a notch, our natural tendency can be to get everyone up and out of the house... pets included. While spending more time outdoors can be a great source of exercise and fun for all involved, we have to be aware of the dangers that face our pets during the warmer months - and understand how to keep them safe!

Watch WHEN you exercise. Take walks in the cooler part of the day, in the early morning and evening hours. Bring enough water for both of you!

Never leave your dog in the car. No, not even if you think you’ll only be a few minutes. Even when it isn’t that hot outside, temperatures soar inside a closed car. Dogs can and do die of heat-related injuries after being left in cars every year - let's avoid this. 

Give them a cool place inside to chill out.  Help your pet cool down when they need to with a designated, cool and comfortable place in your home. 

Hot to trot? Before you head out for a walk, touch the pavement. If it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your dog's paw pads. Walk on the grass and stay off the asphalt. You also might want to try booties for your dog so his or her paws don’t burn!

Offer plenty of water and shade. Don't leave your doggie alone outside for long. And when he is there, make sure he has shade and lots of fresh, cool water - add ice cubes too! FYI: keep in mind that doghouses can trap the heat and make it worse. 

Make Dogsicles: Help your canine chill from the inside out. For puppy popsicles, make ice cubes with tasty treats inside. Or fill and freeze a chew toy to make a chilly snack.

Reuse your kiddie pool. Those cheap, plastic, child-sized pools that everyone seems to have laying around their garages?  These are perfect for for your dogs to wade or lie in. You could even make bath time out of it!

Headed out on the water? Life preservers aren't just for humans. Bring lifejackets for your pets, too. 

Be mindful of your dog's needs. If you have a snub-nosed pet like a pug or bulldog, be aware that their smaller airways make it harder for them to release heat when they pant. Pay special attention to the needs of your dog who is aging, overweight, or who have special medial concerns during the summer months. 

Talk to your groomer. Be sure to get rid of any mats and tangles your dog may have - it will help keep them cool. But before you shave or clip their coat, be sure to talk to your vet or groomer. The extra fur that keeps them  warm in winter may also keep him cool in summer!

Watch for signs of overheating. Your dog can't tell you when they don't feel well, so keep an eye out for heatstroke, which can have these symptoms:

  • Heavy panting
  • Heavy drooling
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dark or red gums and tongue
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Agitation

If you see any signs, get them to the vet right away.

See your vet. Keep your pet's shots up to date, especially in summer. The parvo virus spreads in warm weather. When your dog spends more time outside, the likelihood of them coming into contact with a critter with rabies increases. As well, preventative treatments are needed for fleas and ticks, which spread many diseases. We can prevent these pests from getting your BFF sick!

We hope you found these tips to be useful! Prevention is always easier than dealing with a crisis later.

How do you keep your dog cool in the summer? Do you stay inside as much as possible? Share your tips on how to keep dogs cool in summer below!

Fruits & Vegetables Dogs Can and Can’t Eat

How many of us share our table scraps and favourite snacks with our doggies? While it's nice to occasionally treat your pup, what's safe for us to consume is not always the case for our four-legged friends.  Dogs digest differently than humans, and eating the wrong foods can lead to long-term health problems and, in extreme cases, even death. As carnivores, they have no need for fruits and vegetables as part of their diet, but an occasional fruit or veggie as a treat is OK.

Here are the fruits and vegetables OK for sharing in moderation:

Apples: Yes, dogs can eat apples. Apples are a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as fibre. They are low in protein and fat, making them the perfect snack for senior dogs. Just be sure to remove the seeds and core first. 

Bananas:  Yes, dogs can eat bananas. In moderation, bananas are a great low-calorie treat for dogs. They’re high in potassium, vitamins, biotin, fibre, and copper. They are low in cholesterol and sodium, but because of their high sugar content, bananas should be given as a treat, not part of your dog’s regular diet. 

Blueberries:  Yes, dogs can eat blueberries. Blueberries are a superfood rich in antioxidants, which prevent cell damage in humans and canines alike. They’re packed with fibre and phytochemicals as well.

Broccoli: Yes, broccoli is safe for dogs to eat in very small quantities and is best served as an occasional treat. It is high in fibre and vitamin C and low in fat. However, Broccoli florets contain isothiocyanates, which can cause mild-to-potentially-severe gastric irritation in some dogs. Furthermore, broccoli stalks have been known to cause obstruction in the esophagus. 
Cantaloupe:  Yes, cantaloupe is OK for dogs. Cantaloupe is packed with nutrients, low in calories, and a great source of water and fiber. It is, however, high in sugar, so should be shared in moderation, especially for dogs who are overweight or have diabetes. 
Carrots:  Yes, dogs can eat carrots. Carrots are an excellent low-calorie snack that is high in fiber and beta-carotene, which produces vitamin A. Plus, crunching on this orange veggie is great for your dog’s teeth. 
Celery:  Yes, celery is OK for dogs to eat. In addition to vitamins A, B, and C, this crunchy green snack contains the nutrients needed to promote a healthy heart and even fight cancer. As if that wasn’t enough, celery is also known to freshen doggy breath. 

Cranberries:  Yes, cranberries are OK for dogs to eat. Both cranberries and dried cranberries are safe to feed to dogs in small quantities. Whether your dog will like this tart treat is another question. Either way, moderation is important when feeding cranberries to dogs, as with any treat, as too many cranberries can lead to an upset stomach. 
Cucumbers: Yes, dogs can eat cucumbers. Cucumbers are especially good for overweight dogs, as they hold little to no carbohydrates, fats, or oils and they can even boost energy levels. They’re loaded with vitamins K, C, and B1, as well as potassium, copper, magnesium, and biotin. 

Green beans:  Yes, dogs can eat green beans. Chopped, steamed, raw, or canned –- all types of green beans are safe for dogs to eat, as long as they are plain. Green beans are full of important vitamins and minerals and they're also full of fibre and low in calories. 
Mango:  Yes, dogs can eat mangoes. This sweet summer treat is packed with four, yes four different vitamins: vitamins A, B6, C, and E. They also have potassium and both beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. Just remember, as with most fruits, remove the hard pit first, as it contains small amounts of cyanide and can become a choking hazard. 

Pineapple:  Yes, pineapples are OK for dogs to eat. A few chunks of pineapple is a great sweet treat for dogs, as long as the prickly outside is removed first. The tropical fruit is full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. It also contains bromelain, an enzyme that makes it easier for dogs to absorb proteins. 
Potatoes:  Yes, dogs can eat potatoes. It’s fine to give your dog plain potatoes every once and a while, but only if they’re cooked, as raw potatoes can be rough on the stomach. A washed, peeled, plain boiled, or baked potato contains lots of iron for your dog. Avoid mashed potatoes because they often contain butter, milk, or seasonings. 
Raspberries:  Yes, dogs can eat raspberries. Raspberries are fine in moderation. They contain antioxidants that are great for dogs. They’re low in sugar and calories, but high in fibre, manganese, and vitamin C. Raspberries are especially good for senior dogs because they have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help take pain and pressure from joints. However, they do contain slight amounts of the toxin Xylitol, so limit your dog to less than a cup of raspberries at a time. 
Strawberries:  Yes, it is OK for dogs to eat strawberries. Strawberries are full of fibre and vitamin C. Along with that, they also contain an enzyme that can help whiten your dog’s teeth as he or she eats them. They are high in sugar though, so be sure to give them in moderation. 
Spinach:  Yes, dogs can eat spinach, but it's not one of the top vegetables you'll want to be sharing with you pup. Spinach is very high in oxalic acid, which blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to kidney damage. While your dog would probably have to eat a very large amount of spinach to have this problem, it might be best to go with another vegetable. 
Sweet potatoes:  Yes, dogs can eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients, including fiber, beta carotene, and vitamins B-6 and C. Just like with regular potatoes, only give your dog washed, peeled, cooked, and unseasoned sweet potatoes that have cooled down, and definitely avoid sugary sweet potato pies and casseroles. 

Oranges: Yes, dogs can eat oranges. Oranges are fine for dogs to eat, according to veterinarians. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, and in small quantities can serve as tasty treats for your dog. Vets do, however, recommend tossing the peel and just giving your dog the inside of the orange, minus the seeds, as the peel is much more rough on their digestive systems.
Peaches:  Yes, peaches are OK for dogs to eat. Small amounts of cut-up peaches are a great source of fiber and vitamin A, and can even help fight infections, but just like cherries, the pit contains cyanide. As long as you completely cut around the pit first, fresh peaches can be a great summer treat – just not canned peaches, as they usually contain high amounts of sugary syrups. 
Pears:  Yes, dogs can eat pears. Pears are a great snack because they’re high in copper, vitamins C and K, and fiber. It’s been suggested that eating the fruit can reduce the risk of having a stroke by 50 percent. Just be sure to cut pears into bite-size chunks and remove the pit and seeds first, as the seeds contain traces of cyanide. 

Peas:  Yes, dogs can eat pears. Green peas, specifically: snow peas, sugar snap peas, and garden or English peas are all OK for dogs. Peas have several vitamins, minerals, and are rich in protein and high in fiber. You can feed your dog fresh, frozen, or thawed peas, but do not give him canned peas, which have a lot of added sodium. 

Watermelon:  Yes, watermelon is OK for dogs to eat. It’s important to remove the rind and seeds first, as they can cause intestinal blockage, but watermelon is otherwise safe for dogs. It’s full of vitamin A, B-6, and C, as well as potassium. Watermelon is 92 percent water, so it’s a great way to keep your dog hydrated on hot summer days. 

Fruits and Veggies to Avoid: 

Asparagus:  No, dogs shouldn't eat asparagus. While asparagus isn’t necessarily unsafe for dogs, there’s really no point in giving it to them. It’s too tough to be eaten raw, and by the time you cook it down so it’s soft enough for dogs to eat, asparagus loses the nutrients it contains. If you really want to share a veggie, something more beneficial is probably best. 
  No, dogs should not eat avocado. While avocado may be a healthy snack for dog owners, it should not be given to dogs at all. The pit, skin, and leaves of avocados contain persin, a toxin that often causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. The fleshy inside of the fruit doesn’t have as much persin as the rest of the plant, but it is still too much for dogs to handle. 

Cherries:  No, dogs shouldn't eat cherries. With the exception of the fleshy part around the seed, cherry plants contain cyanide and are toxic to dogs. Cyanide disrupts cellular oxygen transport, which means that your dog’s blood cells can’t get enough oxygen. If your dog eats cherries, be on the lookout for dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, and red gums, as these may be signs of cyanide poisoning. 
Grapes:  No, dogs should not eat grapes. Grapes and raisins have both proved to be very toxic for dogs no matter the dog’s breed, sex, or age. In fact, grapes are so toxic that they can lead to acute sudden kidney failure. Definitely skip this dangerous treat. 
Mushrooms:  No, dogs should avoid mushrooms. Wild mushrooms can be toxic for dogs. While only 50 to 100 of the 50,000 mushroom species worldwide are known to be toxic, the ones that are can really hurt your dog or even lead to death. Washed mushrooms from the supermarket could be OK, but it’s better to be safe than sorry; skip out on the fungi all together. 
Onions:  No, dogs should not eat onions. Onions, leeks, and chives are part of a family of plants called Allium that is poisonous to most pets, especially cats. Eating onions can cause your dog’s red blood cells to rupture, and can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea. Poisoning from onions is more serious in Japanese breeds of dogs such as Akitas and Shiba Inus, but all dogs are very susceptible to it.
Tomatoes:  No, dogs should probably avoid tomatoes. While the ripened fruit of the tomato plant (the red part humans normally eat) is generally considered safe for dogs, the green parts of the plant contain a toxic substance called solanine. While a dog would need to eat a large amount for it to make him or her sick, it’s better to skip tomatoes all together just to be safe. 

Questions? Don't hesitate to reach out.

We've got you and your family covered!

Dr. Stacey, help! Does my doggie need to wear sunscreen?

Pet Health Alert in the Comox Valley

Dr. Stacey: Whether we’re headed to Comox Lake, taking the kids to the field, or simply heading out to run errands, we know that during the summer months wearing sunscreen is key to our health and safety. 

But what about our doggies – do they need sunscreen too? 

This might come as a surprise, but the answer is yes. Along with providing our dogs with proper shade, fresh air, and hydration during the warmer months, sunscreen should become part of your routine. 

Dogs can get sunburns, too! 

Much like us, our four-legged friends can be harmed by the sun’s harmful UV rays. Red, inflamed, ouchy skin, and even hair loss can all result from too much exposure. We even need to be cognicent of the common types of skin cancer in dogs that are associated with sun exposure – like squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanomas, hemangiomas, or hemangiosarcomas.

How to protect your doggie
Ideally, pet parents should find a canine specific sunscreen – these have no health risks to dogs. But if doggie sunscreen isn’t an option, you can buy a broad-spectrum sunscreen for babies and children with an SPF of 15 or higher. Please be sure to read the label on baby sunscreen before applying it - since dogs may lick their skin and accidentally ingest it. Pet owners will want to choose a non-scented product without zinc oxide – the ingestion of this can lead to hemolytic anemia. Please also avoid para-aminobenzoic acid (also known as PABA) as an ingredient. This could also be toxic if ingested. 

To reiterate, the following ingredients in sunscreens are toxic to dogs:
-    zinc oxide
-    para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)

 Test a small patch on their belly first to check for an allergic reaction or sensitivity, and avoid getting sunscreen into their eyes. 

Just like you do with your babes – reapply often, especially during peak sun exposure hours (10AM-4PM). Gone swimming? Don’t forget to reapply once more!

Additional Sun and Heat Protection for Dogs

If your doggie must be outdoors during the peak sunshine times, pet parents can consider accessories like bodysuits, shirts, and hats with ultraviolet protection, in addition to sunscreen to prevent sunburns. Dog goggles ‘aka DOGGLES’ can also be used to protect your pet’s peepers.
Don’t forget - dogs can also get heat stroke. Please be certain that your dog has ample access to shade, water, and a comfortable environment in the warmer months.

Although adding sunscreen to your dog’s summer arsenal, pet owners should still be aware of the risks associated with excessive sun exposure.

Every Dog Has Their Day – Keep ‘em safe on the summer ones!  
From the desk of Dr. Stacey