MPH Blog

Posts for category: Pet Safety

By R. deLeon-Mims for Morena Pet Hospital
November 15, 2013
Category: Pet Safety


Coyotes are common throughout North America, including here in San Diego. From canyons to gated communities to public parks, coyotes have found their way into our neighborhoods. Though they are an important part to our ecosystem, we must take precautions to keep our pets safe from close encounters with coyotes.

Here is a list of safety precautions to help keep your pet safe from coyotes:

1.  Fencing

A coyote can easily scale an 8 foot fence if it has toeholds, so a smooth fence of 6 to 7 feet tall topped by a “coyote roller”, either a DIY PVC pipe roller, or a commercially available one can     keep coyotes from going over a fence. Alternatively a tall topped by     15-20” long extension outward at a 45 degree angle (picture the     fence behind the home plate on a baseball field) can be substituted.     Coyotes dig extraordinarily well, so hardware cloth sunk 2 feet at     the base of the fence is recommended.    

2.  Do not feed coyotes!

Willingly or by accident. Coyotes are opportunistic feeders, and though they enjoy large and small mammals they also enjoy the trash that you left in the backyard! Though 80% of a coyotes diet usually are small rodents, they will scavenge through compost, fallen fruit from trees, garbage, and will also prey on your pet! Please remember to feed your pets indoors, outdoor food bowls may attract coyotes.

3.  Secure your pets indoors.

Especially your cats! If you must let your cat outside, provide a “cat post”. A cat post is your cat's escape route, it is a 7 foot or higher post with a platform at the top of it. Rabbit hutches are also tempting for coyotes, so you may want to bring them inside, or provide protection around the hutch (coyote safe fencing or chain link fencing with a roof). Small dogs should never be left unattended outdoors and larger dogs should be kept on leash.

4.  Bring noise makers or pepper spray with you on walks or when hiking.

If  you encounter a coyote while walking or on a hike, do not turn your back to it, and create plenty of noise if it approaches. Noise allows you to appear larger and therefore more threatening, and hopefully will help you to avoid a confrontation.   

5.  Remove undergrowth and hiding places in your landscaping.    Enclose under porches and decks to eliminate those hidden areas.

6.  Spay and Neuter your pets!

In heat female coyotes can lure intact male dogs to the pack and attack.  During mating season, January through March, coyotes are more likely to attack over territorial issues. 


Additionally, Coyotes are also disease carriers of Distemper, Rabies, Parvo and internal parasites. A recent study determined that 20% of Southern Californian coyotes are positive for heartworm. So, keeping dogs safe may include parasite prevention, both intestinal and heartworm as well as vaccinations.

Coyotes will continue to be close neighbors to us here in San Diego. We need to continue to take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of our families including our furry family members!

Farley, Amy D.V.M. (2013) Keeping Pets Safe From San Diego

California Department of Fish and Wildlife. (2012) “Keep Me Wild” Brochure

Simons-Krupp, Vikki. (2012) Living With California Coyotes. Native Animal Rescue

By Natalie Kushner for Morena Pet Hospital
October 18, 2013
Category: Pet Safety
Tags: pet safety   Halloween  

Every parent knows the rules for keeping their children safe during Halloween, but are you aware as a pet parent how to keep your furry family member safe during the holiday? Use these pet safety “treats” to protect your pets.

·         Keep your pet away from anything they might eat. Everyone knows that chocolate is bad for your pet, but the xylitol in sugar free gum can be just as toxic. The danger doesn’t stop at candy – chewing on costumes, glow sticks, electric cords, decorations, and Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn, can cause gastrointestinal upset and potentially life-threatening blockage.

·         Only use safe, non-toxic costumes for your pet that they like to wear. No, really, they have to like it. Don’t force your dog or cat to wear anything that can restrict their ability to see, hear, breathe, or move. Halloween is already a stressful time, and adding more stress with complicated costumes is not ideal. Always supervise your pet when wearing costumes.

·         Keep your pet secure in a quiet environment.  Noises such as doorbells, shouting, and loud music can be upsetting to animals and add excess anxiety, leading them to bark, chew, or even bite.  With so many strangers coming to the door, your pet may be better off in a comfortable room or crate until things return to normal.

·         Don’t leave your pets outside unsupervised. Pets can be a target to thieves and mean-spirited pranksters. Although reports of stolen pets, such as black cats, are usually exaggerated around Halloween, pets are an easy target in high-traffic neighborhoods visited by lots of strangers. Walk your pet on a leash or use a litter box to deter would-be thieves.

·         Always make sure your pet has proper identification. Most importantly, pets can easily get spooked or over-excited by the commotion of Halloween and escape their homes. At the very minimum, make sure your pet has a pet ID tag updated with current information. The best defense against a lost pet is a microchip which can’t be removed by a cat or dog losing their collar.

Keeping an eye out for these simple safety steps can save an unnecessary trip to the vet. However, at Morena Pet Hospital we’re always ready to provide you with care should your pet need it! If you suspect your pet ingested a toxic substance, call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435, and call us immediately about our emergency services.


By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
September 20, 2013
Category: Pet Safety
Tags: Untagged


Did you know that September is also National Preparedness Month and according to the American Red Cross only 7% of households in San Diego County are prepared for a disaster (  Although San Diego is one of the nicest cities to live in, we are no strangers to natural disasters having experienced earthquakes, wildfires, household fires, floods, and tsunami warnings ( When preparing for a potential disaster or emergency situation, it is important not to forget about your furry, scaled, and feathered companions as you draw up your family’s plan.

At Morena Pet Hospital, we are passionate about helping you keep your pets happy, healthy, and safe.  That is why we have listed some tips on how to prepare a plan for both you and your pets. This preparedness guide also pertains to everyday emergencies, such as car accidents, missed flights, road closures, etc. in which you may not be able to get home to your pets.

  • Prepare before an emergency or disaster hits.  Remember, that emergencies come in many forms and it is best to take a few extra minutes NOW rather than LATER to make a plan of action and assemble an emergency kit for you and your pets.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification that has up-to-date registration and contact information.  You may also wish to consider micro-chipping your pet. This unique form of identification is an easy, yet permanent way to bring your pet home quickly should he/she become lost.
  • It is also beneficial to have your pet’s health records handy (best to store in a waterproof container) and include some current photos/descriptions of your pets in case you become separated.
  • Always keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier, especially when traveling (an unrestrained pet not only endangers itself, but everyone in the vehicle as well).
  • Put together a pet disaster kit.

A basic disaster kit should include food and water for at least five days for each pet, bowls, and a can opener if necessary.  Any dry food should be kept in an airtight container and refreshed typically every few months. Keep an extra gallon of water on hand if your pet has been exposed to chemicals, injured, or needs to be washed off and remember to never let your pet drink from other natural "doggie bowls," such as puddles, ponds, storm, or and bay water, as these may be contaminated with parasites and/or bacteria leading to upset stomachs and causing further dehydration.

For cats, remember to include a litter box, litter, and scooper; for dogs, don’t forget to pack some extra bags to collect your pet’s waste. Try to pack a pet bed and favorite toys if easily transportable to help calm your pets and reduce stress.  A pet first-aid kit should be assembled including any medications, information on feeding schedules, and details of any medical or behavioral issues.  Finally, include your veterinarian’s and local animal emergency hospital’s contact information.

  • Plan your evacuation route and arrange with a close neighbor or friend/family member to help you out with the pets if a temporary caregiver is needed.  In the event that you are not at home, the ASPCA has designed rescue alert stickers that let people know that pets are inside your home.  To obtain these free stickers, simply fill out the following order form and allow 6-8 weeks for delivery:
  • Do not assume that you can bring your pet with you.  Find a pet-friendly safe place to stay ahead of time.  Consider contacting officials from your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets or jot down a list of local hotels that accept pets (be sure to include their location and contact information).


Remember, spending a short amount of time preparing for the above situations now will greatly benefit you and your pets and ease your worries should a disaster come your way in the future.


Pet Care: Disaster Preparedness. ASPCA. 2013.

Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets. The Humane Society of the United States. 2013.

Emergency & Disaster Preparedness For Your Pets. The Preventative 2011-12.

Pets: Emergency Preparedness. American Red Cross. 2013

San Diego, CA Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes. 2013.




By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
August 16, 2013
Category: Pet Safety
Tags: Untagged


Even though many kids are already back to school and the last day of summer isn’t until September 21st this year; for many, Labor Day always feels like that last hurrah of summer!  However, before you break out the grills and set the tables, it is important to take into consideration your pets, especially since these long, extended holiday weekends tend to be the busiest times for veterinary emergency hospitals.  The good news is that keeping your pets safe is easy to do! Simply follow these guidelines:

Keep Things Cool

Since higher temperatures seem to translate into more time spent outdoors with our pets, it is important to remember that pets have the tendency to get dehydrated quickly.  In order to keep your pets cool, ensure they always have plenty of fresh, clean water available to them at all times and assess to a shady place. Some other things to consider:

  • Know the warning signs of heat stroke in pets. Refer to our Pet Care Library, Heat Stroke in Pets article
  • Never leave your pet in the car (not even for a short period of time!).
  • Pets need sunscreen too! Even though the fur provides some protection from the sun, your pet is still susceptible to getting sunburned.  Apply a pet-safe sunscreen that is formulated especially for pets.
  • Avoid the brutal mid-day sun by scheduling exercise time for mornings and evenings. Keep pets that do not handle the heat well inside (those pet that are elderly, very young, ill, or brachycephalic have a hard time regulating their body temperature, so make sure they stay out of the summer heat!).
  • Avoid blistering, cracked paws by restricting any walks on hot concrete/asphalt, scorching patio, or hot sand.
  • Remember, not all dogs love to swim. Don’t leave a pet unsupervised around a pool, lake, or ocean and if you do plan on taking your dog into the water, best to have your dog sport a pet life preserver jacket.

Avoid Food Dangers

It is important to resist those begging eyes and stick with your pet’s normal diet.  Any table scraps (even in the smallest amounts!) can result in upset stomachs and potential intestinal obstructions in pets.

  • Certain foods, such as onions, avocado, chocolate, grapes, and raisins can be toxic to pets!
  • Keep alcoholic beverages out of paw’s reach. Alcohol is potentially hazardous to pets, so make sure you pet does not accidentally consumer any leftover wine, beer, or mixed drinks.
  • Keep your pet a safe distance from the grill and any citronella candles, neon glow jewelry, matches, and/or lighter fluid.

Travel in Safety

Labor Day may seem like the perfect time to get out of town for an end of summer vacation. A few precautions will make sure that your pets have a great vacation too! 

  • Vacations often mean new faces; make sure that your pet is fully vaccinated to protect him from any potentially contagious disease that may be carried by other pets or by wildlife. 
  • If you are traveling with your pet, be certain he wears current ID tags (consider having your pet microchipped as well and make sure the registration is up-to-date!) and always keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier, especially when traveling in the car (an unrestrained pet not only endangers itself, but everyone in the vehicle as well).
  • Many hotels and campgrounds often allow pets, but it is best to check ahead. 
  • Lastly, if it turns out that bringing your pets along on your vacation is not an option, consult your veterinarian.  Our MPH staff would be happy to extend our boarding services to you, in which your pet will receive the same love and care he/she would get at home and be regularly monitored by our highly trained veterinary staff to ensure his/her health and happiness.

By following the above tips, both you and your pet can enjoy these last days of summer!

By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
July 19, 2013
Category: Pet Safety
Tags: pet safety   dog park  


We have all heard the saying before: “It’s all fun and games until somebody (or somebody's dog) gets hurt".  But what options does a dog owner have when they want to reward their dog with some physical exercise or address their dog’s need for social interaction at the local dog park?  Working in the veterinary field, we are not estranged from the occasional canine patient presenting to us with multiple lacerations inflicted from an earlier dogfight.  So how can pet owners ward off these dangers that exist and ensure that their visit to the dog park is a happy and safe time for their pets? 

Here are a few suggested dos and don’ts on how to handle trouble at the dog park.


Do educate yourself on the signs of healthy play and how to read dog body language. If you can observe and respond effectively to gradually increasing signs of arousal, you will find yourself being well equipped to intervene before “play-time” turns into a trip to the veterinarian.

Do remember to have a leash handy at all times.

Do keep your eye on your dog, just as you would a child.  Remember, this is reward time for your dog, so you should be focused on your dog for the entire time you are at the park.

Do clean up after your pet.  Taking initiative to keep the park clean will increase the likelihood that the park stays open and protect both your dog and all other attending dogs from communicable illnesses.

Do remember to bring a water bowl and some water for your pet even on cooler days.

Do know the number and location to the closest veterinary hospital in case of emergency.


Don’t allow your dog to get so far away that you cannot intervene and control a situation.

Don't expect the dogs to work it out. Remember, it is ultimately the dog owner’s responsibility for maintaining peace & order at the dog park.

Don’t expect the other dog owner to take action if a troubling situation arises. Some pet owners do not consider their dog’s behavior to be a problem or do not handle emergency situations as well as others.

Don't think of the dog park as a great place to socialize a dog with behavioral issues (reactivity, aggression, fear, etc.) toward other dogs or people.  In doing so, your pet will be left relating the dog park to a place of scary, overwhelming, and stressful happenings instead of the fun and joyful place it should be.

Don't bring your dog to the park if he/she is suffering from any sort of transmissible illness. Find other ways to provide your dog with exercise until he/she is no longer contagious.

Readers, what are your best tips for keeping the peace at the dog park? Which San Diego dog parks are your favorite? We’d love to hear about your (and your pet’s) experiences so please feel free to leave a comment!