MPH Blog

Posts for tag: pet safety

By Morena Pet Hospital
April 06, 2014
Category: Pet Safety


We are no strangers to the traumas that may occur during training exercises with your pet.  We don’t claim to have seen it all, but we have seen enough (hit-by-cars, rope burns, leash injuries) to warrant caution when choosing your pet’s training equipment. 

Although one of the hottest selling pet products in recent years, you may be surprised to learn that retractable leashes have also drawn much criticisms from the veterinary profession.  According to a recent article on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), communities have considered trying to ban the devices, and some pet-friendly businesses and dog-related events discourage owners from using them.  Even most puppy training classes and behaviorists require you to use a standard 6 ft. leash in class because they give you more control over your dog, keep your dog at a manageable distance, and it is relatively easy to use especially during the early learning stages.

Use caution when using products such as retractable leashes, prong collars, choke collars.  Improper use of these training mechanisms can be very problematic for both you and your pet. 

Teaches dog to pull on leash.

Having your dog on a retractable leash, allows them too much freedom especially if used for training.  Your dog may not learn that there are pressure restrictions while being on a retractable leash, allowing your dog to pull even harder.

No control

Many times it also puts the handler in a position of constantly being reactive instead of proactive on the walk.  A dog may be allotted too much leash and for whatever the reason, run into the road with oncoming traffic or even fight with other animals before the owner has time to retract the leash. 

Referring back to our previous article, Dog Training Part One: How to Choose the Right Collar and Leash, you must take on the role of the pack leader and train your dog to view you as the one in charge.  A dog that thinks that he/she makes decisions AND that he/she is entitled to unlimited space and freedom is a dog that will never recognize you as a leader, which has the tendency to cause greater behavioral issues down the line.

Easy to break

The cables aren’t infallible, especially for use with strong, energetic breeds. Always check your gear for bites or rips before walks. During training exercises, practice calling your dog back a lot, so it works in an emergency.  If all else fails, make a game out of it to try to get your dog to chase you should he brake off his leash.  Remember, to have your pet microchipped or use a GPS locating collar for instances like these.

 May cause injuries to both pets and people if not used properly. 

The most common injuries reported are muscular injuries (such as neck strain or sprain) or more severely, a cervical intervertebral disc herniation from the pet being yanked back with the leash (DeGioria, 2014).  To prevent such occurrences, always use a back-attachment harness when using retractable leads, never a prong collar, head collar, flat collar, or front-attachment harness, because of the damage they can inflict on your pet.  It is also possible for the pet to be entangled in the leash cord or ingest the cord, both of which may cause even further harm to your pet.

People certainly aren't immune to injury, either. Manufacturers warn that if used improperly, a suddenly yanked retractable leash can cause people to fall or sustain friction burns or get fingers/hands tangled in the cord itself.

With so many options available nowadays (from traditional leashes to harnesses and gentle leaders), it is no wonder the immense amount of time one can spend in the pet aisle searching for the best collar and leash option for you and your pet. 

Please refer to our previous blog articles listed below for training tips and recommendations for collars/leashes or contact our office directly for specific recommendations for your pet based on his/her medical and breed background to ensure your pet’s safety and happiness.

Dog Training Part One: How to Choose the Right Collar and Leash

Dog Training Part 2: How to Leash-Walk Your Dog


DeGioria, Phyllis, Injuries, Behavioral Problems Linked to Retractable Leashes, The Vin News Service. March 27, 2014.


By Heather Beeson-Mazzone of Morena Pet Hospital
December 10, 2013
Category: Pet Travel


The holidays are often a magical time of year for sharing good cheer with family and friends, but it can also be stressful if traveling with pets.  No matter if you are boarding your pet ‘away in a manger’ or taking your pet with you while you ‘traverse afar’, here are some tips that will help you and your pets make the most of this holiday season.

  • Always plan ahead with your travels (whether you are traveling with your pet, leaving them at a boarding facility, or having a pet-sitter check in on them).  Each airline has its own pet policy, so it’s a good idea to check with the specific airline you plan on using in advance.

Tip: Non-stop flights are highly recommended when traveling with pets.

Tip: Always try to fly your pets in-cabin whenever possible (this will often depend on the size of your pet and the airline you use).

  • Do you hear what I hear?  We understand that traveling for the holidays is not always an option for our furry loved ones.  If you are looking for safe pet boarding, we here at Morena Pet Hospital offer the perfect place to board your special friend. With comfortable accommodations, we provide loving care when your pet needs a "home away from home".
  • Many airlines now require pets to have a health certificate to ensure they are fit for travel. Check with your veterinarian ahead of time to ensure proper procedure is met, especially when traveling abroad.
  • Often times an airline approved carrier is required.  A good choice is the Sherpa carrier, which was the first soft-sided pet carrier to be endorsed by major airlines for pets on the go.  If your pets are flying cargo, do splurge on a good-quality carrier that has secure construction, metal doors, effective locking mechanism, and is well-ventilated.  The carrier should also be large enough for your pet to comfortably stand up and turn around in.

Tip: Remember to get your pet accustomed to his/her carrier before your expected travel day.  Put a familiar blanket or article of clothing to help calm your pup or kitty while in route.  For more tips on getting your pet comfortable with the carrier, visit our previous article, Tips on Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian.

Tip: Have your pet’s carrier clearly labeled with your name and contact information.

  • If you are traveling by car, it is a good idea to take your pet on some “test drives”.  If he/she gets car sick, consult your veterinarian for some suggestions on how to make the trip more comfortable. 
  • Consult your veterinarian if you plan on using calming treats, supplements, or sedatives for your pet’s travel; also it is best to know how your pet will respond to these medications at home, before traveling.
  • If making stops on the way, plan ahead and know which hotels, motels, or campgrounds are pet-friendly and book accordingly.
  • Whether you are traveling with your pet, leaving them at a boarding facility, or having a pet-sitter check in on them, it is recommended that you have all of your pets micro-chipped (and registered!) and that they are wearing proper identification with updated contact information.  Consider purchasing and setting up the TAGG Pet Tracker, a recent product on the market that uses GPS technology to locate your pets.

Remember, spending a short amount of time preparing for your travels now will greatly benefit you and your pets and ease your worries during the real hustle and bustle of the holidays.

For more tips on how to protect your pet from holiday dangers, visit our blog article, Holiday Pet Safety Tips.


Boswell, Laura. Holiday Pet Travel Guide. TravelChannel.

AVMA. Traveling With Your Pet FAQ, 2012.

Quaker Pet Group. Sherpa

SnapTrac's Inc. TAGG, the Pet Tracker

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
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!