MPH Blog

Posts for: May, 2013

By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
May 24, 2013
Category: Pet Care


Did you know that fleas are the most common external parasite of companion animals? Or that flea allergy dermatitis is one of the most common skin diseases of dogs and cats?

If you’ve ever dealt with a flea infestation, you know that the fleas don’t just affect your pet, but also your household!  This is why 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 (think carpeting, curtains, even Fluffy’s favorite cushion).

What’s worse is that warm weather brings the fleas out of hiding, and San Diego, although one of the more pet-friendly cities in the nation, is also very inviting to flea populations, which tend to be a year-round threat here. 

What can pet owners do?

The best measure to take is PREVENTION! Even if your pets are indoor-only, it only takes one flea to get tracked inside and wreck havoc on you, your pet, and your home. Fleas have a tendency to thrive, sometimes for months and can lay as many as 50 eggs a day. 

Here are some tips to help us pet owners turn the tide against the flea population:

  • Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum! Be sure to examine areas where your cat or dog spends the most time.  If you have noticed live fleas or flea larvae in your carpeting, we recommend using Fleabuster powder application prior to vacuuming. (Note: Fleabuster powder can be added to vacuum bag also to help kill any live fleas you vacuum up). Be sure to treat under beds and furniture as well.
  • Wash, Wash, Wash! Be sure to wash all pet bedding regularly.
  • Brush, Brush, Brush! Examine your pet’s coat and implement a daily brushing routine.  Not only will this be better for your pet’s coat quality and your human-animal bond, but also it can help you to identify pest problems before they become infestations.
  • Apply a monthly topical or give a monthly oral preventative.  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. Our doctors and staff here at Morena Pet Hospital can help you make the best choice for flea prevention.  Recently, some new products have been added to our flea control arsenal. These appear to be highly efficacious, long lasting and have a very low potential of harmful side effects.  [Our current favorite products include Comfortis, Revolution, Vectra, and Trifexis. An old favorite, Sentinel, is once again available as well].  Trifexis and Sentinel are both oral medications that control fleas and prevent heartworm and intestinal parasitism.  Comfortis, available for dogs and cats, is an oral flea preventative. Vectra and Revolution are topical preventatives that control fleas, ticks, etc. in dogs and cats.
  • Don’t forget that it is equally as important to treat your yard as thoroughly as your house. Be sure to concentrate on shady areas, where fleas live.  If using an insecticide, please follow application instructions and keep pets away from treated areas for the proper length of time.  We carry a safe yard/kennel spray or fogger called Siphotrol.  A more natural, non-toxic approach is to use nematodes, microscopic worms that kill flea larvae.  Products are available at local plant nurseries, home repair stores, and there are companies that will come and treat the environment for you (such as Fleabusters).  Just make sure any products used are pet-friendly and non-toxic!

If left untreated?

Complications can arise if your pets are not effectively treated for fleas.  Fleas attach themselves to their host (your poor unsuspecting cat or dog).  According to the ASPCA, fleas can consume about 15 times their own body weight in blood.  If not treated, over time this significant amount of blood loss can cause anemia.  Symptoms include pale gums, cold body temperature, and listlessness and can be life-threatening.  The blood loss resulting in severe anemia is most likely to occur in very young, old, small, or immunocompromised pets although it can occur in any pet.  Anemia can become so severe that pets may require blood transfusions, along with intensive supportive care.

Other associated problems include flea allergy dermatitis, which can cause intense itching and discomfort and often leads to secondary bacterial infections.  Signs include hair loss, irritated skin, scabs, and hot spots.

Pets can also develop infestation with tapeworms, which are rice-like segments that result when the pet ingests fleas carrying the tapeworm larva.  Tapeworms are usually first recognized from the passing of segments of tapeworms in the stool. However, other symptoms may include hunger, dizziness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and vomiting.  

Fleas can also act as a vector for disease.  Fleas transmit not only a variety of viral and bacterial diseases as well as blood-born parasites, including (but not limited to) Bubonic plague, Bartonella, and Typhus, any of which can result in serious disease or death in both humans and other animals.  Secondary to bouts of anemia, in addition to the diseases noted, may include long-term kidney damage.

If you find traces of flea infestation or any of the above symptoms, be sure to contact your veterinarian for advice on ways to best manage the problem.

Annual Wellness Recommendations

Our current recommendations include having your pet on heartworm prevention year- round with annual heartworm testing, flea control year-round, and having a stool sample checked once to twice a year, or more often if indicated, for intestinal worms and parasites.

Please refer to our Pet Care Library for more information on fleas, heartworms, and parasites, such as the flea life cycle, heartworm disease, and how pets (and people!) get worms.


Flea, Heartworm, and Pet Parasites. Morena Pet Hospital.

Fleas. ASPCA. 2013.

By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
May 17, 2013
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged


As fellow animal lovers, we at Morena Pet Hospital are committed to ensuring the highest level of support, information, and service to give your companion the best care possible for a lifetime.  That is why we concentrate on building upon the pet/pet owner relationship and aim to educate you throughout your pet's various life stages from puppy/kitten to adulthood.

How to Leash-Walk Your Dog

Understanding your dog’s behavior and beginning obedience training from an early age are key components to having an enjoyable relationship with your pet.  We asked our expert veterinarians, Dr. Jeanne Potter and Dr. Crystal Steib, to provide us pet owners with some tips on how to create a dog training method that is built on a foundation of respect and positive reinforcement.  Although they were sure to mention that no single method works for all dogs, here are some general guidelines they shared to help you and your pet through the process:

First things first, dogs are not naturally born to know how to walk on a leash, nor do they understand that they should not pull, or lag behind too far.  This is where leash training comes into play--which can be challenging for all parties involved (both owner and pet) because dogs have the tendency to move quickly and are usually very excited to venture outdoors.  Leashes work to lessen these natural behaviors and movements.  Drs. Potter and Steib reiterate that teaching your dog to walk without pulling takes time, patience, and lots of positive reinforcements. 

You may notice a remarkable difference between the obedient and well-mannered service dogs or those you see at dog shows versus the dogs you meet at your everyday dog park.  The difference being that the ones in dog shows have been extensively trained in precision heeling and how to walk on a leash and thus prance gracefully alongside their owners, as opposed to the ones you see out-and-about in the neighborhood, pulling and jumping up on their owners.

Training Guidelines:

Consider all walks as training sessions until your dog learns to properly walk on a leash and heel on command.  The ASPCA recommends keeping the training sessions short, but frequent (and fun) for your dog. 

During your walks (aka training sessions), your dog should be taught to walk on your left side, next to and not in front of or behind you, and never pulling ahead.  Teach to sit at corners, stoplights, and curbs.  Note: This is work time for the dog and reward time is the visit to the dog beach or park.  The ASPCA refers to these training sessions as ‘Red Light, Green Light’ and another option is the ‘Lure and Reward’ ( 2013).

One tip for success is to tire your dog out before taking him/her on a training walk.  So before you train, play a game of fetch or tug of war to expel some of that energy.  This will make your pet less likely to pull during training.

Also, remember that if you expect your dog to be controlled during a walk, it is equally important for them to control themselves before the walk!  If your pet is one that gets overly excited when seeing you reach for the leash, wait for them to calm down before opening the door.  This may be easier said then done, but it is important to repeat this sequence until your dog has all four paws on the ground. (Dr. Potter also encourages owners to practice having their dogs sit and stay before putting their food down and before greeting them when you first arrive home). 

If you walk with your pet at a quick tempo, they will be less likely to be distracted to sniff around or relieve themselves every few steps.

And keep in mind this is hard work for a dog; and all good behaviors should be reinforced with plenty of rewards.  One possibility is to use highly desirable treats that your pet does not usually receive at other times.  Reward with your pet with the treat and continue training.

Ultimately, in order for your dog to understand you are in charge, he/she needs to be taught to obey your commands by obedience training and daily reinforcement.

In addition, with the hot summer days approaching, both Drs. Potter and Steib remind owners to walk your dogs at a time of day when it is not too hot outside, especially if your dog is of a brachycephalic breed (e.g. Bulldog).  To learn how to recognize the signs of heat stroke and prevent it from happening to your furry companion, please refer to our blog article: Hyperthermia (Heat Stroke) in Pets.

Have questions in regards to which collar and leash combo is best to use for your training?  For recommendations, please refer to our previous blog article, Dog Training Part One: How to Choose the Right Collar and Leach.


Teaching Your Dog Not to Pull on a Leash. ASPCA. 2013.

Dr. Potter's Dog Care Tips. Jeanne Potter, DVM.

By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
May 16, 2013
Category: Pet events
Tags: Untagged


Thank you to all who came out and participated in the Humane Society's 19th Annual Walk for Animals!  We are pleased to announce that the event was a huge success raising over $430,000 for the animals.

Here are some of the great photo memories taken throughout the day!

For additional photos, please visit our Facebook photo album at


Join us this Saturday, May 4, 2013 for the San Diego Humane Society's 19th Annual Walk for Animals at the *NEW* location in NTC Park at Liberty Station!

Images by San Diego Humane Society/SPCA

Why Attend?

You and your "pawsitively" patriotic pets will have a great time as fellow San Diegans gather to celebrate their love for animals, while raising the vital funds to benefit the San Diego Humane Society's programs that ensure every homeless animal can find a loving home.

Event Details:

Location:     NTC Park at Liberty Station
                    2455 Cushing Road
                    San Diego, CA 92106

The morning festivities include a delicious pancake breakfast, a scenic two-mile walk with an optional half-mile walk, fun-filled doggie activities and contests, and array of vendor booths.

7:00 A.M.        Registration, Pancake Breakfast*, Doggie Activities, Contests and Vendor Village
8:45 A.M.        Blessing of the Animals
9:00 A.M.        Walk Begins
9:30 A.M.        Doggie Activities, Contests, and Vendor Village continue until Noon

Our Morena Pet Hospital Booth:

Morena Pet Hospital is (again) a proud sponsor of the Walk for Animals for the third year running and we are looking forward to seeing you and your pets at the event!

Be sure to stop by our booth for games, pet care tips and information, and discount coupons!  Don't forget to enter our FREE RAFFLE, to win some great pet care products & services!

Hope to see you there!

For further event information, please visit the event home page at