Keep Your Fluffy Friend Safe This Easter


With Easter around the corner - visitors coming and going, good food around - there are some considerations to keep in mind to keep our pet safe and healthy over the holiday weekend! Have a plan and talk to your vet in advance to discover where you would need to take your pet if anything happened. 

Stay informed and on top of your pet’s care this Easter with the following pet safety tips below:

Dangerous Foods

Keep the people food for the people. Make or buy a special holiday treat for your pet that is formulated for them, like a new bone or homemade treats. They will enjoy it just as much, and maybe more! Here are some holiday favourites that are hazardous for pets:

Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats. Although the toxicity can vary based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount they ate, it’s safer to consider all chocolate off-limits to pets.

Other sweets should be kept out of reach of pets. They are too rich for pets, and an artificial sweetener often found in baked goods, candy and chewing gum, xylitol, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.

Turkey and turkey skin can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. 

Table scraps should be kept away from pets. Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes.

Hosting Visitors

Having visitors come and go frequently can upset pets. Even pets that aren’t ordinarily shy may become nervous in the excitement and noise. Keep the following tips in mind to reduce emotional stress on your pet. 

Make sure your pet has a comfortable, quiet place inside if they want to retreat and get away from the commotion if they wish to.

Communicate with your guests that your pet will be around and a plan with your visitors if they are bringing pets to your house. Consider any guests who have allergies so they can take any needed precautions to protect themselves. 

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

Watch the exits, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming guests and collecting coats, your four-legged family member may make a break for it and become lost. Just in case, keep your pet’s collar and tags on during the holidays. 

Clear the food and trash from your table, and keep it off the counters and serving areas when you are done using them. A turkey or chicken carcass left out could be deadly to your pet. Dispose of carcasses and bones in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors. 

If you have any questions about your pet’s safety, give us a call at 250.339.6555. 

Yours in good health. 
From the desk of Dr. Gastis

"Feline" Fine - Here's What to Expect In Your Cat's Wellness Exam

Keeping up with your cat's health through an annual wellness exam is very important for the longevity and wellness of your feline friend. We understand that bringing your kitty to the vet can be a stressful experience for both you - and your cat! At Sunrise, we focus on creating a pawsitive and fear-free experience during your visit. 

Understanding what happens during the wellness exam is one of the ways we provide transparency and assist in creating a comforting visit. Here is an overview of what your vet  will be looking at during a feline wellness exam:

Weight - Taking and recording the weight of your cat is very important, especially as they age. We will monitor any weight gain or loss and recommend a healthy weight for your kitty. 

Temperature - Every so often a seemingly healthy pet tips off the vet that something isn't quite right simply through an elevated temperature.

Skin and Coat - Both the skin and coat are excellent indicators of your pet's health. The coat should be shiny, not brittle and coarse, and the skin should be clean and not greasy and flaky. If they are experiencing any itchiness or allergies, this can as well be assessed. 

Ears - Your vet will examine both ears. Deep in the ear canal is where infections can start, and if noticed early can be eliminated before it gets too serious. 

Lungs and Heart - Every good exam includes getting that stethoscope against your kitties chest and listening to the lungs and paying close attention to the heart sounds. A good ticker and breathing are important for a long life!

Abdomen - A careful evaluation of the abdomen can make surprising discoveries. Kidney issues, tumours, pregnancy and even bladder stones can all be spotted through the abdominal exam. 

Mouth - Oral hygiene (see our blog post last month on dental hygiene for your cat here) is one of the most overlooked aspects of feline health care. Infected gums, loose teeth and tumours can all be present, even without your pet showing signs of discomfort. Older cats especially may have oral hygiene issues that need dental work or treatments. 

Paws and Toenails - A good look at the paws and toenails is critical. Your vet may recommend clipping your pet's nails or treat any cuts or punctures on their pads. This is especially important for outdoor cats. 

During March, we are offering 25% off feline wellness exams.

Call the clinic at 250.339.6555 to book your appointment before the end of the month to claim this offer! 

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

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

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

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

What Can Pet Owners Do?

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

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

Where to Start?

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

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

Yours in good health. 



From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis    

Dental Health for Kitties




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Shiloh’s Visit to Sunrise Veterinary Hospital 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Winter Safety Tips for Our Pets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What is Kennel Cough and How Can I Protect My Dog?

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Socializing our dogs is a major part of healthy development - it's important we help them integrate into the world around us in a healthy, pawsitive way. Beginning with puppy socialization classes, to walking them in the community, and bringing them to their vet and grooming appointments, our dogs thrive on the opportunities we provide them to be out and about. 

Although exposing them to different things at a young age helps their healthy development (and reduces the likelihood of fearful behaviours later on), you might be missing out on an important vaccine. 

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium commonly associated with respiratory disease in dogs. It can also infect cats, rabbits and, in rare cases, humans. It is one of the more common bacterial causes of canine infectious tracheobronchitis, which is also sometimes called kennel cough - causing inflammatory respiratory illness of the trachea and airways.  Dogs that are exposed sometimes produce a “honking” sound when they cough.  It can be in combination with another viral infection or on its own.  Dogs transmit this bacterial through airway secretions and exposure can happen from social interactions with sniffing and licking or from contaminated objects in the environment that is shared with other dogs (such as dog bowls at the park).

If your pet does get exposed, treatment is usually not fatal but can cause more severe illness in puppies, senior pets and the immunocompromised. By protecting your pet with the vaccine, if exposure occurs to this bacteria your pet can mount a stronger immune response, decreasing the recovery time as well as decrease the severity of the symptoms.

To vaccinate your dog against kennel cough, we provide a nasal vaccine that goes into the nose and generates protection for your pet in 2-3 days after administration. Your puppy can have the vaccine as young as 8 weeks old.   

Protect your pet from kennel cough today and help keep your four legged friend happy and healthy!

Get Pet Health Started On The Right Paw

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Have you welcomed a new furry friend into your household? 

After the excitement comes down from welcoming your new puppy or kitty, it is imperative to ensure you get your pet off to a healthy start in life by taking them to the vet for their wellness exam.  During the exam, your vet will examine your pup or kitten to ensure they are growing well and do not show any sign of illness or injury. 

Bringing in your pet early can also prevent any future medical issues and big bills! It is very important to bring your little one to the vet for their vaccines (we can give you the right schedule for them) until he or she is 16 weeks old. 

Some of the tests and vaccines include...

Puppies: rabies, kennel cough, Lyme disease, distemper-parvo, influenza, heartworm and flea/tick prevention Kittens: feline leukaemia, feline immunodeficiency virus and any diseases, heartworm and flea/tick prevention

Having a great first vet experience with new puppy or kitty can lay the foundation for a lifetime of easier, fear-free visits to the vet. At Sunrise, we pride ourselves on being a fear-free practice.

What does this mean? Being a Fear-Free clinic means we promote a positive vet visit - both physically and emotionally - for both you and your pet. We look at the whole picture of your pet’s health; reducing stress and anxiety that may come with visiting the vet. We use a variety of practices, methods and tools to create a low-stress environment, so that many of our pawtients don’t want to leave!

Here are a few examples of how we implement fear free techniques into our practice:

Cat Burritos: swaddling your kitten when they are fearful can create a comforting feeling, as well as ease the nervous system and anxious reactions that can come with coming to a vet. 

Treat and Toys: we know many pets feel great when they get their favourite treats and toys! To help create a pawsitive experience and reward your pet for being so brave, we give treats (and sometimes even peanut butter - yum!) during their visit. 

We Are Sensitive: for pets that are very nervous, we like to meet them halfway. We do this by examining them right in the waiting room, or on your lap! Our entire staff is highly trained on how to create a comforting and fear-free environment. We use low voices, play relaxing music in our waiting area,  or spend time with the patient on the floor before the examination. Overall, you can count on us to be sensitive to the needs and unique personality of your pet.

Gentle Handling Techniques. These techniques promote confidence and trust in our team with your pet.

For January, we are offering our clients (new and current) FREE wellness exams for their new puppy or kitty.

Give the clinic a call at 250-339-6555 to book your appointment. Space is limited! 

Yours in good health. 

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis
Sunrise Veterinary Clinic


Decorating Safely for the Paw-lidays!


Celebrating the holidays is made even sweeter by including our fur babies! We want 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.

Holiday Decor Tips for Your Pet's Safety

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. 

By all means, have FUN sprucing up your home and wrapping presents! 

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 comment on Facebook with your pet holiday photos this year. You know we love to see our Sunrise Vet Pets enjoying the festivities!

Yours in good health. 

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis

Sunrise Veterinary Clinic 


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