How to choose a vet for your best furry friend

The decision of which vet to select is a personal one, however there are some guidelines which are helpful during the selection process. Choosing a quality health care provider for your furry friend is a decision not to be taken lightly. Your vet will be responsible for all aspects of care regarding your pet and will be instrumental in prolonging a long, healthy, and vibrant life for them. Taking the time to choose a provider who will offer the highest standard of pet care will ensure that you have many years of enjoyment ahead with your best furry friend.

What to look for first

When selecting a vet, you may wonder what to look for first. Some people decide on a care provider based on location while others use a vet that their friend has recommended. When it comes to the first thing to look for in a pet care provider, the answer is personal and depends on your priorities. Some people find it important that the vet be personable and provide excellent customer service to them while others demand that the vet interact well and put their pet at ease. Still others want a vet who can provide after hours service depending on their work schedule. Once you have found a vet who can deliver the highest standards of care, the next step is to choose according to your own personal priorities.

What to ask when choosing a vet

When selecting a vet, you may have your personal preferences, however there are certain set questions which you should ask when making your choice. Some of the questions which are beneficial to ask during the selection process include:

  • Are there licensed vet technicians on staff?
  • Is the veterinary practice accredited by the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association)?
  • What is the standard protocol for managing pain?
  • In what way are surgery and overnight patients monitored?
  • How are patients in need of anesthesia and surgery evaluated?
  • Is the equipment used modern and up to date?
  • How many vets are on call at all times?

By taking the time to ask these questions, you can get closer to finding a vet who will offer the highest quality of care for your pet.

At All Creatures Hospital, we are committed to fully servicing your pet care needs. Make an appointment for your pet by calling us at (858) 481-7992.


Keeping Pets Safe: Poison Prevention Week

For more than 50 years and since its inception by Congress in 1961, the third week in March has been designated as National Poison Prevention Week. The veterinarians and toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline are urging everyone to remember the four-legged members of the family, as they are among the most vulnerable.

“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year, we receive calls from distressed pet owners  across the country,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT and assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “In addition to dealing with the stress of an emergency situation, they are often forced to cope with feelings of regret in light of a mishap that, in most cases, could have been avoided. It takes only a few minutes to educate yourself on how to pet-proof appropriately and avoid the inevitable heartache that so often happens when a beloved pet is accidentally poisoned.”

Awareness is the key to preventing poisoning emergencies. Almost 91 percent of calls to Pet Poison Helpline in 2014 involved dogs – a testament to dogs’ curious nature and indifference to eating just about anything. Of these calls, nearly half were for dogs that ingested human medications. It’s clearly wise to keep medications out of their reach, but there are many other common, household substances toxic to dogs.

Below are the five most common toxins that poisoned dogs in 2014.

Human Medications

43 percent of calls to Pet Poison Helpline in 2014 were for dogs that ate over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. The majority of them involved antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Effexor, and common OTC drugs containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) and  NSAIDs (e.g. Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin), which can cause serious harm to dogs when ingested.

Human Foods

16 percent of calls were for dogs that helped themselves to foods that are safe for humans, but poisonous for dogs. The most prevalent cases were for dogs that ate chocolate. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous since it contains high amounts of theobromine – a relative of caffeine that can be deadly. Xylitol, a sweetener in sugarless gums and candies, is also very dangerous and can be life-threatening even when ingested in small amounts. Raisins and grapes are often overlooked by dog owners as potentially dangerous, but they are extremely toxic and can cause kidney failure. Other human foods toxic to dogs include macadamia nuts, garlic, onions, yeast-based dough and table salt.


7.5 percent of calls for dogs were because they ate insecticides in the form of sprays, granules, insect bait stations and more. While many household insecticides are well tolerated by dogs, certain potent types such as organophosphates (often found in rose-care products), can be life-threatening even when ingested in small amounts.


6.5 percent of calls for dogs were for dogs that got into mouse and rat poisons, which contain various active ingredients that are poisonous to dogs. Depending on the type ingested, poisoning can result in moderate to severe symptoms—anywhere from uncontrolled bleeding, swelling of the brain, kidney failure and seizures. Only one type of mouse poison (anticoagulant or blood thinner) has an antidote to counteract the effects of the poison. The rest, unfortunately, have no antidote and are more difficult to treat. There is also potential for relay toxicity, meaning that pets and wildlife can be poisoned by eating dead rodents that were poisoned by rodenticides.

Dietary Supplements and Vitamins

5.5 percent of calls were concerning dogs that ingested dietary supplements and vitamins. While many items in this category such as Vitamins C, K, and E are fairly safe, others such as iron, Vitamin D and alpha-lipoic acid can be highly toxic in overdose situations. Additionally, Pet Poison Helpline has managed several cases involving xylitol poisoning from sugar free multi-vitamins.

If you think your pet may have ingested something harmful, take action immediately. Contact our office, ASPCA at (888) 426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.


How often should you bathe your dog?

Times have changed and we wash our dogs more often! Today, dogs enjoy shampoos and conditioners that are on par with the best human shampoos- that don’t have harsh chemicals and that don’t strip the hair of all of its oils.

The arguments against washing your dog too often are generally about stripping the coat of natural oils. The more often you wash something, the more often the sebum (oil) is going to be removed. Think about your own hair. If you don’t wash it, what happens? It gets oily. Is the oil good for your hair? Probably, but we wash our hair everyday anyway so that it’s clean!

1. Does your dog live indoors or outdoors, and does your dog sleep in your bed?

If your dog lives in your house with you and more importantly, if he/she sleeps in your bed, then you are probably going to wash your dog regularly–depending on the breed anywhere from once a week to once a month. I know this is radical thinking, but, if your dog sits on your sofa, you probably don’t want him dragging in dirt, poop, insects and other grime onto your sofa. So, the trade off is that your dog’s coat ~might ~ be marginally drier but you will have a fresh smelling dog that you can cuddle without the fear that dirt/dust is getting into the sheets.

2. Breed of dog

Harsh-textured coats repel dirt pretty well so they don’t get as dirty as a soft-coated dog.  Breeds with harsh-textured coast include Shelties, Collies and labs and they can be bathed once a month. Dogs without undercoats like Maltese, Yorkies, Afghans and Shitzus should be bathed once a week. If you’re not sure, remember, a clean dog is a happy dog!

3. Is anyone in your household allergic to dogs?

If so, you SHOULD groom & bathe them as often as possible. According to the American Lung Association, doing so will help remove the dander that accumulates on a pet’s fur.

4. What activities does your dog partake in?

Do you take your dog to the dog park? Does you dog play in the sand or dirt? Does your dog roll in the grass or go swimming or hiking? What about sniffing butts, eating poop or drooling?

Well, if you have a normal dog, she probably partakes in several of the above activities– all of which warrant regular bathing. Again, you have to think of the trade off. Your dog’s coat may be marginally drier HOWEVER, he will be cleaner, smell better, and most important you will be more likely to give a clean dog lots of love.

5. Does your dog suffer from itchy skin?

Unlike humans who absorb most environmental allergens through their noses and mouths, dogs tend to absorb allergens through the skin. Weekly bathing can prevent itchiness, washing allergens away before they get a chance to penetrate the skin.

In conclusion

The answer for MOST dogs is to wash them every 2-4 weeks depending on the above circumstances. But remember, use a gentle pet shampoo and conditioner and do not use your own shampoo.


How Often Do I Really Need to Take My Animal Friend to the Vet?

We are frequently asked this question outside the office. There are lots of reasons that lead people to neglect their animal companions by not visiting the vet, including cost and the refusal to take time off work, and let’s face it, it can be a hassle transporting some animals (especially cats) from your home to the vet’s office and back.

As a general rule, there are two ways that vet visits can help you and your animal companion—we can treat your friend when he or she is ill, and we can help prevent disease. Preventing disease has largely been viewed as synonymous with vaccinations. Although vaccinations have protected dogs and cats from fatal diseases such as parvovirus and rabies, it’s become clear over the past 15 years that vaccinations can have potentially harmful consequences, including inducing malignant tumors of the skin in cats (vaccine-associated sarcomas) and over-stimulating the immune system, possibly resulting in allergic disorders, some of which can be very serious.

As our knowledge of the negative consequences of vaccines has expanded, veterinarians are reducing the frequency and number of vaccines we administer. Rather than a “one size fits all” approach, we are tailoring our recommendations to the individual animal’s level of exposure. In general, indoor dogs and cats with minimal exposure to other animals should be vaccinated less often than animals relegated to the outdoors or those who travel or board frequently. Because people’s response to vaccination reminders is so good, veterinarians are justifiably concerned that if we reduce the frequency of vaccinations to every three years, we may no longer see our patients on a regular basis, and the health of some animal companions may suffer. Why?

Because our animal companions tend to hide health problems from us, seeing your veterinarian on a regular basis will help pick up on these problems, sometimes preventing them from worsening and becoming serious. Dental disease (Winston really doesn’t like when I try to open his mouth at home!), lumps and bumps on the skin, increasing or decreasing body weight, and joint stiffness and changes in the ability to walk caused by arthritis occur so slowly that we often don’t notice them. Your vet can be an objective arbiter and help spot these problems.

The more serious and compelling reason to see the vet is when your animal companion is ill. How do you know if your animal companion is ill and you should visit our office?

– If your dog’s appetite has diminished relative to normal, your dog is sick. “He’s just tired of his dog food” almost never applies!

– If your cat has lost weight, see us immediately.

– If your dog or cat seems less active than usual, lethargic, or depressed; is lying around more; or is less interactive, it’s time to schedule a visit.

– If your dog or cat is vomiting or has diarrhea or loose stools, come to our office.

As our animal companions age, every month in their life is like seven months for us. So seeing the vet every two years with a senior dog or cat is like not seeing your physician for 14 years!

So, how often should you see us?

– At least annually for dogs and cats under 10 years of age

– At least every six months for those 10 years and older

– Immediately if signs of illness are noted