MPH Blog

Posts for: April, 2012

By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
April 27, 2012
Category: Pet Care
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One of the newest advances in both human and veterinary medicine is digital technology, and one of its main uses is in radiography. This method of taking patient images has numerous advantages over traditional x-ray film, including exposure to far less radiation, the ability to take more images, and faster (almost instantaneous) display of images. In addition, our veterinarians can now send images to other computers within the hospital, as well as to a specialist off-site or send you home with a copy of your pet's x-rays by CD or e-mail.

Stay tuned for a behind-the-scenes look at our digital radiology technology in action!

By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
April 27, 2012
Category: Pet Care
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Fleas are the most common external parasite of companion animals. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin disease of dogs and cats! Flea control has always been a challenge for veterinarians and pet owners because the adult fleas cause the clinical signs, yet the majority of the flea population (eggs, larvae, and pupae) is to be found off the pet in and around the home. The ideal flea control program utilizes products that target the various stages of the flea life cycle, not only the adult fleas on the pet.

Heartworm disease is being reported with increased frequency in San Diego County due to the increased number of mosquitoes resulting from the wet weather. Mosquitoes transmit the heartworm larvae, which grow into adult spaghetti-like strands of worms in the heart and surrounding blood vessels; left untreated, this disease causes heart failure and death. The treatment for heart disease is costly and bears some risk-when the adult worms are killed with treatment, the pet may suffer a major stroke, embolism, or other severe side effects, which may also be fatal. The best measure to take is PREVENTION, which consists of giving a monthly application to prevent any larva from developing into adult worms. Prior to starting heartworm preventative, a simple blood test is run to confirm heartworm infestation is not already present.

Our CURRENT RECOMMENDATIONS include having your pet on heartworm prevention year round with annual testing, flea control year round, and having a fecal sample checked once a year, or more often if indicated, for intestinal worms.

Our current favorite products include Trifexis, Vectra, and Comfortis:


- Trifexis is a once-monthly tablet for dogs that kills fleas, prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult hookworm, roundworm and whipworm infections. And since it's beef-flavored, you can offer it as a treat. 

-This is a topical product that is applied monthly.  It protects your dog against four species of ticks, three species of mosquitoes, and fleas.  It works by killing adult fleas, preventing development of immature flea stages, and repelling ticks and mosquitoes. 

-This is a topical product for cats and kittens that is applied monthly.  It kills all fleas and controls the various flea stages.

- Comfortis provides month-long flea protection for dogs, and is available in a beef-flavored chewable tablet. Comfortis chewable tablets kill fleas and prevent flea reinfestations. It starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes.

Please refer to our pet-care library article, Flea, Heartworm, & Pet Parasites for further information.

By contactus
April 27, 2012
Category: Uncategorized
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One of the best things about summer is the vacation that allows ample time for leisurely reading.  Nothing beats settling into your beach chair or hammock with an excellent book in your hand. 

Here are the Top 10 Best Books about Animals according to

1.      Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

-An affectionate pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, White reminds readers to open their eyes to the wonder and miracle found in the simplest of things.

2.      Watership Down by Richard Adams

-One of the most beloved novels of our time, Richard Adams's "Watership Down" takes us to a world we have never truly seen: to the remarkable life that teems in the fields, forests and riverbanks far beyond our cities and towns. It is a powerful saga of courage, leadership and survival; an epic tale of a hardy band of adventurers forced to flee the destruction of their fragile community...and their trials and triumphs in the face of extraordinary adversity as they pursue a glorious dream called "home."

3.      Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

-A loving trio, they ranged the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country.  Old Dan had the brawn, Little Ann had the brains, and Billy had the will to train them to be the finest hunting team in the valley.  Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too.  An exciting tale of love and adventure you’ll never forget!

4.      Animal Farm by George Orwell

-Animal Farm is the most famous by far of all twentieth-century political allegories. Its account of a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their vicious human master, only to submit to a tyranny erected by their own kind, can fairly be said to have become a universal drama.

5.      Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan

-The heartwarming and unforgettable story of a family in the making and the wondrously neurotic dog who taught them what really matters in life.

6.      All Creatures Great and Small; And, All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Heriott

-Whether struggling mightily to position a calf for birthing, or comforting a lonely old man whose beloved dog and only companion has died, Herriot's heartwarming and often hilarious stories perfectly depict the wonderful relationship between man and animal. His wonderful stories make us laugh and cry, as we marvel at the everyday miracles he creates.

7.      Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

-Although Anna Sewell's classic paints a clear picture of turn-of-the-century London, its message is universal and timeless: animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness.  Black Beauty tells the story of the horse's own long and varied life, from a well-born colt in a pleasant meadow to an elegant carriage horse for a gentleman to a painfully overworked cab horse.

8.      The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

-The quintessential cautionary tale, Peter Rabbit warns naughty children about the grave consequences of misbehaving. When Mrs. Rabbit beseeches her four furry children not to go into Mr. McGregor's garden, the impish Peter naturally takes this as an open invitation to create mischief. He quickly gets in over his head, when he is spotted by farmer McGregor himself. Any child with a spark of sass will find Peter's adventures remarkably familiar.

9.      The Call of the Wild by Jack London

-An unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch shepherd, is forcibly taken to Alaska where he eventually becomes leader of a wolf pack.

10.  The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

-Complete with the endearing, original color illustrations of William Nicholson, "The Velveteen Rabbit" tells a triumphant and timeless story about the redemptive power of love.

What are your favorite pet-related books? 

We would love to hear what’s next on your reading list.  Please leave us a comment below.



By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
April 26, 2012
Category: Uncategorized
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Although chocolate has become a delicacy that is enjoyed around the world and in mass quantities during holiday seasons, it can cause a significant amount of harm to your canine companion.  While dogs tend to be most commonly affected largely due to their eating habits, chocolate can indeed be toxic to cats, as well as other pets. Here are some frequently asked questions we have received about chocolate toxicity in pets:

Why can’t pets eat chocolate?

-Chocolate contains theobromine, which is a xanthine compound.  This is in the same family as caffeine and theophylline—and is toxic to pets in large doses!  Xanthines are known to affect both the nervous and circulatory systems.  Some common symptoms include increased heart rate, hyperactivity, panting, increased urination, muscle tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and in extreme cases, death.

How much chocolate is considered to be a toxic amount for a dog?

-Susceptibility to chocolate toxicosis tends to vary according to a pet’s sensitivity and pre-existing health issues; the amount ingested and type of chocolate are also important indicators of the severity of toxicity.  For instance, milk chocolate has very little theobromine as opposed to baking chocolate which is much more concentrated.

According to, the following guidelines have been determined:

  1. Milk Chocolate – Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight is ingested; severe toxicity occurs when two ounces per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as one pound of milk chocolate for a 20-pound dog).
  2. Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate – Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.3 ounce per pound of body weight is ingested; severe toxicity occurs when one ounce per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as six ounces of semi-sweet chocolate for a 20-pound dog).
  3. Baking Chocolate – This type of chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine. Therefore, as little as two small one-ounce squares of baking chocolate can be toxic to a 20-pound dog (or 0.3 ounce per pound of body weight).

What should I do if my dog has ingested chocolate at a toxic dose?

-If your pet has ingested the chocolate within the first hour, your pet will usually need to be induced to vomit.  Ideally you should call your regular veterinarian before administering any medications, such as hydrogen peroxide, to induce vomiting.  If possible, first seek immediate veterinary attention.  Further treatment for chocolate toxicity may include some of the following treatment regimens:

  • Induction of vomiting
  • Administration of activated charcoal to inhibit absorption of the toxin
  • Oxygen therapy
  • IV medications to control cardiovascular symptoms
  • IV fluids

For additional information, you may contact the National Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.  This is a 24-hour service provided by the ASPCA with doctors available around the clock.  There is a consultation fee for this phone call.  It is vital to include all ingredients your pet has ingested.

Take Home Message:  Let’s keep our furry companions safe by keeping them away from all forms of chocolate!  There are many safe and healthy treats available for pets that are just as tasty and satisfying.

By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
April 16, 2012
Category: Uncategorized
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It may surprise you just how many substances found in and near your home can be detrimental to your pet’s health and safety.  If you suspect that your pet has ingested any of the following, early and aggressive treatment is recommended and you should have him/her evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.

Common toxins in the kitchen/bathrooms

  • Trash

-If you are a coffee drinker, be mindful where you toss those coffee grinds containing caffeine, which can cause increased heart rate, hyperactivity, shaking, or seizures in pets.  Also, be sure to keep any female hygiene products away from pets.  Pets have the tendency to ingest such toiletries and often require surgery to remove the obstruction.

  • Foods

-Some common toxicity cases seen in our hospital include the ingestion of grapes and raisins, chocolate, onions, and garlic.  Other potentially harmful foods include yeast dough, avocado, alcoholic beverages, tea, macadamia nuts, salt, fatty table scraps, and those foods containing the sweetener xylitol.  Some common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive thirst.  These hazardous foods can cause acute renal failure and possibly death.

  • Painkillers & Medications

-Many human medications can be deadly to pets (even in small doses!).  Never give your pet medication of any kind unless directed to do so by your veterinarian!  Some common medications that are potentially lethal to pets include pain relievers (e.g. Advil, Tylenol), cold medicines, anti-depressants (e.g. Zoloft, Cymbalta, Effexor), sleep aids (e.g. Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta), muscle relaxants, heart medications, anti-cancer drugs, vitamins, and diet pills.  Please keep any medications safely away from all pets.

  • Soaps, Detergents, & Cleansers

-Can cause upset stomach, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea in pets.  Bleach can cause sever oral burns and irritation to the respiratory track.  Dryer sheets are another potential hazard that if ingested may require surgery to remove obstruction and prevent death.

  • Mothballs

-Can cause serious signs in pets such as vomiting, lethargy, seizures, anemia, and even death.

Some common garage/yard hazards to have your pets stay clear of include:

  • Antifreeze, gasoline, insecticides, fertilizers, rat poison, snail bait, paint, glues, & adhesives. 

-Many of these chemicals can sicken or kill pets.  Always be sure to follow label directions and keep pets away from area of application for the required length of time.

Warm Weather hazards

-While enjoying the fun in the sun with your pet, here are some common summertime hazards to be aware of to keep your pet healthy in the warmer weather: fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, insects, spiders, snakes, certain plants, fish hooks and bait. 

-Dogs can have severe reactions to insect bites this time of year.  If you notice any signs of swelling or hives, it is best to get him/her to your nearest veterinary clinic as soon as possible.  If left untreated, the inflammation can cause severe illness and respiratory distress. 

-Foxtails are also a serious hazard this time of year.  These are hard seed-bearing structures of grasses that have sharp points at one end, which can easily get imbedded in the fur, paws, ears, eyes, nostrils, and we have even seen cases with foxtails inside the mouth!  These pesky structures have the tendency to work themselves “in”, but never to work themselves “out”.  They can cause infection and if left untreated can sometimes prove fatal.

-Hyperthermia in dogs and cats is also a grave concern in the summertime heat.  For this reason, never leave your pet in a closed car on a hot day for any length of time.  Also, be careful when taking your dog out for long walks on very hot days, and ensure that they have access to shade and water.  For more information, refer to our article Heat Stroke in Dogs in ourpet care library.

To learn more about common household toxins and ways to prevent accidental poisonings, and also for a listing of toxic and non-toxic plants, and tips from veterinary specialists, please visit