MPH Blog

Posts for tag: pet care

By Heather Beeson-Mazzone
January 13, 2014
Category: Pets


Still pondering ideas for a New Year’s Resolution? Perhaps 2014 is THE YEAR… that you really want to go above and beyond to not only implement change in your life, but also in your local pet community.  Join us as we unveil some top ways to go about helping animal welfare organizations in your community and save animal lives in the process.  Bonus: One idea below will even allow you to implement that new exercise resolution you were thinking about committing you and your pet to in the New Year!

  • Trap/Neuter/Return. 

Gone are the days where feeding stray or feral neighborhood cats is deemed status quo.  This year why not help your local rescues and animal shelters by supporting their Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) programs, which have been successfully implemented nationwide to help stabilize and maintain healthy feral cat colonies. 

In order to adequately care and manage a cat colony, one must be willing to humanely trap, transport, and care for the feral cats.  With TNR, the cats are transported to a veterinarian (like us!) where they are spayed/neutered and properly vaccinated at low cost.  Since feral cats are extremely difficult to socialize and not readily adoptable, they are often released back into their original environment, where caregivers agree to provide them with food and water.

The Feral Cat Coalition has humane traps (with instructions) available to borrow.

  • Volunteer

If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of homeless pets, consider volunteering at one of your local pet rescues or animal shelters.  Just a little time can end up meaning the world to a homeless animal!  You can find opportunities from animal care, to pet therapy programs, and local adoption events.  Visit for current volunteer opportunities in your area or visit your favorite organization’s homepage for more information regarding volunteering.

  • Foster

If you are looking for a commitment opportunity that you can do from the comfort of your own home in 2014, consider providing short-term, in-home care for friendly dogs, cats, and other animals while preparing them for adoption into a loving home.  Fostering a pet is not only a rewarding experience, but it’s a great way to help out your local shelter and helps to free up more kennel space thereby helping even more animals in need. Fostering can last from a few days to several months.  If interested, please contact your local pet rescue group or animal shelter for more information.

  • Donate

Want to help out, but can’t find the time?…consider donating to your local animal shelter or rescue organization.  Even the smallest amount can help, especially given the number of homeless pets. 

Wish you could donate, but don’t have the extra funds to do so?…consider donating supplies!  Shelters can always use some extra supplies. Contact your local shelter or rescue group to see if it has a wish list of items it needs.  Supplies can range from food and litter to pet beds, dishes, towels, blankets, and even old newspapers!

We mentioned that you could help pets and commit to that New Year’s exercise regimen at the same time…here’s how! Register you (and sometimes even your pet, too!) for an upcoming pet-sponsored walk/run.  San Diego is home to many of these events, allowing supporters to come together and celebrate with their pets while raising vital funds towards animal welfare causes.  Some past events that Morena Pet Hospital has sponsored include the Humane Society’s Walk for Animals, Petco’s 5k Run/Walk, Gaslamp Holiday Parade, and Doggie Street Festival. Hope to see you and your pets there!

  • Shop

Did you know that you can now support many pet organizations and rescues with your online shopping? When you use Living Zoe or AmazonSmile, the prices are the same as if you went directly to the Retailer’s Website; the only difference is that a portion of your purchase can be donated back to a pet welfare group, such as the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA!  Next time you need to purchase things from online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Macy’s, iTunes, or even E-bay, remember to use the above shopping portals to help animals!

  • Share your voice.

Help put an end to animal suffering at the hands of puppy millers, factory farmers, animal fighters, poachers, sealers, and others who mistreat animals by making your voice heard.

If you are active on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), consider simply sharing posts about pet adoption events, those pets in need of forever homes (especially those in high-kill situations!), and lost pets.  Like/Follow us today for current adoption posts, events, etc.

Have any New Year’s resolutions that will help benefit animals this year?  Share them in our comment section below!

By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
May 31, 2013
Category: Pet Care
Tags: pet care   dog care   cat care   foxtails  


Being a San Diegan and having worked in the veterinary field for many years, one becomes accustomed to the influx of pets that present each spring and summer with foxtails, a type of hard seed-bearing grass structure that are known to cause problems for our furry loved ones.  These foxtails are notorious for becoming lodged into a pet’s ears, nose, eyes, between the paw pads, and other various parts of the pet’s body.  We have even had a dog come in that had numerous foxtails on the inside of his mouth from when he chased his ball into the grass bushes!

Types of foxtails:

Southern California has a number of different variations of grasses that are categorized as “foxtails”.  They bloom from January through late March/April and tend to dry up and stay throughout summer into early fall. The most troublesome is the annual Hordeum murinum, also known as wild barley.  Other varieties include the rip gut grass , Bromus diamdrus, the cheatgrass Bromus tectorum, and the red brome, Bromus madritensis (, 2010).


Some signs to watch for if you suspect your dog may have come in contact with foxtails include uncontrollable sneezing, constant head shaking, swollen and irritated eyes, labored breathing and coughing.  Cats that spend time outdoors may show up with an eye that has swollen shut, or gagging and retching from a foxtail.  These foxtails are very dangerous to pets and should be treated immediately.  If left untreated, they have the potential to barb the skin causing severe infections or even migrate through the body, causing severe tissue damage.


  • The best advice (and only foolproof method of prevention) is to avoid foxtail exposure. 
  • Pay particular attention to where your pet is allowed to play.
  • Ask other pet owners if their dogs have experienced any trouble with foxtails in the area
  • During the summer months, you may want to consider getting your pet groomed, especially those dogs and cats with long hair that are more likely to accumulate foxtails in their fur. 
  • It is also recommended that owners do a thorough inspection of your pet’s coat after walks to be sure there are no meddling foxtails trying to burrow into the coat, ears, eyes, mouth, between toes, on the abdomen, and even under the collar.  Believe us, your pets will thank you later. 

Take Home Message:

If you notice your pet is scratching at an ear, shaking its head, sneezing excessively, pawing at the mouth, crying in pain, licking at an area between the toes on a paw, or elsewhere on the body where you may notice swelling or an opening, or a swollen eye, etc. and has been exposed to foxtails previously-please schedule to come in and see us ASAP!


Clark, Curtis. Dog Owners' Guide to California Foxtails. 1998.

Kay, Nancy, DVM. Protecting Your Dog Against Foxtails. The Bark., 2010.

Weed Gallery: Foxtails. Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California., 2011.


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 25, 2012
Category: Pet Care


Summer is here!  And there’s no better way to kick off the Memorial Day celebrations than having some fun in the sun with a beach barbeque or picnic at the park.  However, before you ignite the grill and start the festivities, it is important to remember the safety of your furry companions!  ASPCA does recommend keeping your pets indoors as much as possible during outdoor parties.  However, if your pet insists on joining you out and about this Memorial weekend, we have provided some safety tips to ensure the day is fun for both pets and people!  

Keep alcoholic beverages out of the paw's reach.  Alcohol is potentially hazardous to pets, so make sure your pet does not accidentally consume any wine, beer, or mixed drinks.

Avoid scraps from the grill. 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.  Certain foods, such as onions, avocado, chocolate, grapes, and raisins can even be toxic to pets!

Only use pet-specific insect repellent and sunscreen.  It is imperative to only use products that are intended for those with four legs, such as Epi-Pet sunscreen for dogs.  Avoid human products—ingestion can result in excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and lethargy.

Supervise pets around pools, lakes, and oceans. Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool or lake (remember not all dogs are expert swimmers).  If you do plan on taking your dog into the water, best to have a doggie life jacket.  Also, beware of the possible chlorine and other toxic chemicals that can cause stomach upset.  Other natural "doggie bowls," such as puddles, ponds and bay water—may contain parasites.

Use precaution around the grill. Keep your pets away from matches, citronella candles, and lighter fluid, which if eaten can irritate the stomach, lungs and central nervous system.

Keep your pets hydrated. Always make sure your pet has plenty of fresh water available.

Do not leave your pet in the car.  Have you ever sat in a car on a hot day?  Most pets can’t open doors and it only takes a few minutes for the inside of your car to get excessively hot.  Even leaving a car parked in the shade with the windows down is no guarantee that pets will be safe.  Please avoid heatstroke in your pet by never leaving them inside a car on a hot day.

Keep your pet’s identification handy.  If traveling with your pet it may be beneficial to take all identification and health records with you.  Make sure they are wearing their collars/tags at all times in case they get lost.  You may also wish to consider micro-chipping your pet to prevent such occurrences.  Remember to keep all gates and fences closed and remind your guests as well.  This will ensure that your pet does not go running into oncoming traffic or a busy intersection.

Memorial day can be quite stressful and noisy on your pet so it is important to provide him/her with a safe and quiet place to rest and get away from the crowd.  Taking these simple precautions will go a long way to ensure your holiday is a joyful occasion to remember.

As always, if you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous from the picnic table, please contact a veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888) 426-4435.