How to keep your cat COOL

With the hot summer days upon us, we are doing an update on cooling off, for cats.

A cat that becomes overheated can suffer from dehydration, shallow breathing, and can even get heatstroke. Keeping your cat cool is an important part of ensuring that he/she enjoys a safe and happy summer, especially if there’s a heat wave.

Keel your cat calm. A cat that is running about too much during a really hot day or during a heat wave will soon become exhausted and dehydrated. Encourage it to calm down by providing a relaxed, indoor place that is both cool and darkened (see the next step). Do not initiate play when it is in an agitated state; you may need to sit with it, for a bit, to help it self-calm.

Create a “snug retreat”. This is a place where your cat can retreat to and relax and feel safe. It is simple to make – place a cardboard box on its side and put it somewhere that is quiet and out of the way such as in a closet, behind a chair, or near a cool spot in the house. Line it with a terry towel or other cotton, breathable natural fabric that is not too warm. Stick an ice pack inside a sock and place it into the snug retreat underneath the towel for added cooling effect.

Another good idea is to place towels or sheets over the spots the cat usually likes to sit, to create a cool barrier between their fur and the normally warmer surfaces.

A hot water bottle can be filled with very cold water and left out for it to lie on.

Ensure that your garden or yard has some shady spots for your outdoor cat to enjoy. It will find them readily enough, provided you supply them. If your plants are too young to throw enough shade yet, or you do not have a garden, at least set up some shade over a comfortable spot under which your cat can lie; choose somewhere that gets a gentle breeze. Water should always be easily accessible and available in the outside area, as well as indoors.

If you have an outdoor cat, be scrupulous about checking outdoor buildings and greenhouses before shutting them after use. If you accidentally lock in your cat, the building could overheat, if it is a shed or other uninsulated or unventilated building, and this might prove fatal.

Allow your cat to choose a cool spot. Cats are smart about comfort at all times, including during the heat. Cats love to curl up in the bathtub or sink because porcelain stays cool even when it is hot outside. They will also prefer tiled areas of the house, such as the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen. Some cats will even find the freezer and flop themselves over it. Do not reprimand your cat for picking the coolest spot in the house – be grateful that it is working out how to cool down using its own initiative.

Cool your cat down with damped towels. Most cats do not like getting wet, but you can at least help cool their fur down, a little, with dampened towels. Simply dampen a cloth or paper towel and gently stroke your cat with the cloth or towel from the top of its head and down the back. Do this a couple of times a day if it is very hot.

Where cats get the warmest are their bellies, the pads on their paws, their armpits, under their chins, and on the outside of their ears. Concentrate on keeping these spots cool.

Another way to use a small kitchen towel is to soak it with water and place it in the freezer. When the towel gets cold enough, lay it out on a smooth kitchen or bathroom floor for your cat to lie on; if it is too cold for your cat, leave it there as it will warm up enough over time. Do not force your cat onto it – simply introduce the cat to it, and if it likes it, it can make up its own mind.

Brush your cat daily. Matted fur traps heat; ensuring that the fur is not matted and allows air to flow freely through it will help to keep your cat cool. This is especially important for long-haired breeds of cats.

Avoid shaving your cat to the skin as this will expose your cat to the sun and can result in sunburn and risks skin cancer.

Use your usual cooling methods to help keep your cat cool too. If you have air conditioning or fans, keeping your cat indoors will ensure that it is benefiting from the cooling, too. Many of the things you do, usually, to keep the house cool for yourself, also benefit your cat; such as keeping the blinds, drapes, and most doors closed. Just be sure to allow it the choice to exit if it feels too cold, so that it can go into a warmer room when it pleases, as air-conditioning and fans can make things too cold and irritating for a cat, after a while. And be sure that your cat is actually inside and not stuck out in the heat if you do not have a cat door!

It is recommended to keep your cat inside during the hottest part of summer days.

Provide access to a good, constant supply of water for hydration. Dehydration is a real risk for cats during the heat of summer, so constant access to water is essential. Fill the water bowl and check that it is always filled during hot weather (indeed, a cat should have access to clean water at all times of the year).

You could try adding ice cubes to a second bowl of water. Not all cats will appreciate this but it is worth trying and if it likes it, the cat has access to some very cool water. However, do not make this the only source of water, because if it finds it too cold, it will get dehydrated by avoiding it. You might be able to encourage licking of, and drinking from, ice cubes if you flavor them with chicken or beef stock.

Create cool play. Even in the heat it is possible to find a way to cool down through play. A really fun game is to toss a couple of ice cubes on the floor in front of your cat. Watch him play with them as they scatter away from him and he chases them. Be sure to do this in a cool indoor environment.

Avoid Heatstroke Conditions. Cats are very susceptible to heatstroke in excessive heat conditions due to their small body weight and comparatively high surface area. Heatstroke is a fever brought on by the failure of the body’s normal temperature regulation system due to being in overly high temperatures. The most common cause of heatstroke is being left in a hot, poorly ventilated area, usually a car or a hot room. Do not leave a cat in a car during the heat of summer without ventilation and in the baking sun, and never leave a cat in a car, unattended. For long journeys in the car (if you are moving house, etc.), keep the air conditioning on, or the windows open, for ventilation while traveling, and don’t cover up the cat carrier in any way that impedes air flow through the cat carrier’s holes. It is a good idea to include a towel- or sock-wrapped ice-pack in with the carrier to help keep him cool. If you must stop briefly, park in the shade, roll down the windows completely, and do not leave the cat unattended. If you need to make a brief toilet-stop or rest-break, set the carrier down under a tree, on grass, when you stop during journeys, and have everyone keep an eye on him, as well as giving him some water.

The symptoms of heatstroke in a cat include agitation, extreme distress, stretching out and panting heavily, skin hot to the touch, vomiting, glazed eyes, drooling and staggering. Call our office immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

And remember – have fun while you stay cool!


What to look for in an animal hospital

An animal hospital is a safe haven that you can bring your pet to when they are in trouble. In an animal hospital, your pet can receive the comprehensive care they need to heal and thrive. It can be challenging to find a trusted veterinarian to bring your pet to when they are ill, so knowing how to find a reliable hospital is helpful. Understanding how to select the best animal hospital for your pet can help you make the right choices for the health of your pet.

Quality of care
When you visit an animal hospital, one of the first things to consider is the type of care your pet will be receiving. The quality of care being provided is of utmost importance ensuring that your pet gets the attention they need to thrive. An animal hospital is known for its standard of care based on the training that the vet’s assistants have, the type of equipment used, the type of facilities available, and many other elements. It is important to consider these in order to make the right choices for your pet.

In an emergency, it helps to know you can get where you need to go quickly and that means finding an animal hospital close by. When considering which animal hospital to choose, it helps to select one that won’t be difficult to get to. This is best for your pet’s health as well especially if there is a potentially life threatening emergency that requires immediate care. Having a good location close to your home allows you to take your pet to get the care they need right away.

Caring veterinarians
Another component to be aware of when selecting an animal hospital is selecting one with caring veterinarians. Your pet needs to be attended to by an animal doctor with a warm and open personality. Someone that truly enjoys caring for other animals is the one who should be chosen to provide ongoing care for your pet.

Here at All Creatures Animal Hospital, we offer a warm and welcoming environment where your pet can feel loved and cared for. Schedule an appointment for your pet and you will get the complete care your pet needs to thrive. Our veterinarians are warm, compassionate and they provide personalized attention to every pet in our practice.


10 steps to calm dogs afraid of thunder, lightning storms

With a strong El Nino this year, we will experience sporadic thunder and lightening this summer – something our pets are not very used to, in Southern California.

Even though it is not as big of a problem in our area as it doesn’t happen often, it is good to read a few tricks on how to keep your pets comfortable during a storm.

The fear of thunder storms – we call it “storm phobia.” You call it your worst nightmare. (The howling, the hiding, the destruction!)
Either way, we all want the same thing: a calmer dog that doesn’t have to suffer the psychological damage done by booming thunder, wicked lightning and plummeting barometric pressures.

And it’s not just their psyche (and ours!) at risk. We all know that dogs are capable of doing serious damage to themselves during stormy times of the year. Fractured claws, lacerations, broken teeth and bruises are but a few consequences.

So how do you handle thunderstorm phobia? Here are my suggestions:

•Handle it early on in your dog’s life.

Does your dog merely quake and quiver under the bed when it storms outside? Just because he doesn’t absolutely freak doesn’t mean he’s not suffering. Since storm phobia is considered a progressive behavioral disease, signs like this should not be ignored. Each successive thunderstorm season is likely to bring out ever-worsening signs of fear. It’s time to take action — NOW.

•Don’t heed advice to let her “sweat it out” or not to “baby” her.

I’ve heard many pet owners explain that they don’t offer any consolation to their pets because they don’t want to reinforce the “negative behavior” brought on by a thunderstorm. But a severe thunderstorm is no time to tell your dog to “buck up and get strong.” Fears like this are irrational (after all, she’s safe indoors). Your dog won’t get it when you punish her for freaking out. Indeed, it’ll likely make her anxiety worse. Providing a positive or distracting stimulus is more likely to calm her down.

•Offer treats, cuddlings and other good stuff when storms happen.

This method is best employed before the phobia sets in –– as pups. Associating loud booms with treats is never a bad thing, right?

•Let him hide — in a crate.

Hiding (as in a cave) is a natural psychological defense for dogs. Getting them used to a crate as pups has a tremendous influence on how comfortable they are when things scare them. Having a go-to place for relaxing or hiding away is an excellent approach, no matter what the fear. Another approach to try, whether he’s a pup or not:

•Get him away from the noise, and compete with it.

Creating a comfy place (for the crate or elsewhere) in a room that’s enclosed (like a closet or bathroom) may help a great deal. Adding in a loud radio or white noise machine can help, too. Or how about soothing, dog-calming music?

•Counter the effects of electromagnetism.

Though it may sound like voodoo, your dog can also become sensitized to the electromagnetic radiation caused by lightning strikes. One great way to shield your dog from these potentially fear-provoking waves is to cover her crate with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Another method involves clothing her in a commercially available “Storm Defender” cape that does the same work. If she hides under the bed, consider slipping a layer of aluminum foil between the box-spring and mattress.

•Desensitize him.

Sometimes it’s possible to allay the fears by using thunderstorm sound CDs when it’s not raging outside. Play it at a low volume while plying him with positive stimuli (like treats and pettings). Increase the volume all the while, getting to those uncomfortable booming sounds over a period of weeks. It works well for some.

•Ask us about drugs.

Sure, there’s nothing so unsavory as the need for drugs to relieve dogs of their fears, but recognize that some fears will not be amenable to any of these other ministrations without drugs. If that’s the case, talk to us about it –– please. There are plenty of new approaches to drugs that don’t result in a zonked-out dog, so please ask! Luckily, this is very rare and most dogs will not need much more than extra cuddles.

•Natural therapies can work.

For severe sufferers, there’s no doubt it’ll be hard to ask a simple flower essence to do all the heavy lifting, but for milder cases, Bach flower extracts (as in Rescue Remedy), lavender oil (in a diffuser is best) and/or “Dog Appeasing Pheromone” (marketed as D.A.P. in a diffuser, spray or collar) can help.

•Consider seeing a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

If nothing else works, your dog should not have to suffer. Seek out the advice of your veterinarian, and, if you’ve gone as far as you can with him/her, consider someone with unique training in these areas –– perhaps a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.


PLEASE READ – we will be closed this weekend!

Our “Modernization Project”
All Creatures Hospital wishes to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during our extended “modernization remodel” project.
Please note that we will be closing the hospital completely on: Friday July 10th at 5 pm, all day Saturday July 11th, and all day Sunday July 12th. We will resume all services Monday, during normal business hours.
There will be demolition and new construction of our lobby during this time and we will be unable to accommodate clients and patients entering the building. The workmen will be here on a 24 hour basis performing their work, but we will not have any veterinary staff on duty to answer questions or provide care.
In case of an emergency, please call the Veterinary Specialty Hospital, in Sorrento Valley, at 858-875-7500.
We look forward to the completion of this project as soon as possible, and are excited to provide our patients and their “pet parents” the best care in an updated facility!


Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day and remember: grill safely this Holiday Weekend! Please prevent your BBQ festivities from turning into tragedy by following these important safety tips:

Keep all pets at least 10 feet away from the grill. This will prevent sparks and fire from reaching your dog and also prevent your dog from getting burned or knocking over the grill.

Keep charcoal and lighter fluid out of reach. They are deadly substances!

Immediately collect garbage and throw it away in a secure trash bin. Bones, corn cobs and peach pits can easily get lodged in the intestinal tract of your dog, so quickly throw these items, as well as all other garbage, away!

Do not feed your dog raw meat and any part of your BBQ feast. Such food can upset your dog’s stomach and lead to diarrhea, vomiting and other digestive problems.

Have fun!


10 tips on how to keep your pet from panicking this 4th of July:

Like many Americans, you may be planning to have a festive Fourth of July. Along with barbeques and day at the beach, no July holiday celebration would be complete without enjoying the fireworks that celebrate the birth of our nation.

Perhaps you are considering staying at home and planning a get-together with friends and family. Or, you may want to go check out your local professional fireworks display. While putting the finishing touches on your planned celebration, take a moment to consider your pets.

Unlike people, pets don’t associate the noise, flashes, and burning smell of pyrotechnics with celebrations. Many pets are terrified of fireworks, and often panic at the loud whizzes and bangs they produce.

Because of this, the American Humane Association reports that July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. Why? In a 2005 press release the Indiana Proactive Animal Welfare, Inc. (PAW) stated that animal shelters the day after Fourth of July are “inundated with pets that panicked at the noise of firecrackers and fled into the night, winding up lost, injured or killed.”

Both the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and PAW have listed ways you can prevent your holiday celebration from turning into a tragedy. Here are 10 tips on how to keep your pet from panicking this Fourth of July weekend:

10. Keep your Pet Indoors at All Times! – It may seem obvious, but even if your pet is used to being outside, the resulting panic caused by fireworks or other loud noises may make them break their restraint or jump a fence in a terrified attempt to find safety.

9. Don’t Put Insect Repellant on Your Pet that isn’t Specifically for Pet Use – The same tip applies to applying “people” sunscreen on your pet. What isn’t toxic to humans can be toxic to animals. The ASPCA lists the poisonous effects of sunscreen on your pet as, “…drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.” DEET, a common insecticide, may cause neurological issues.

8. Alcoholic Drinks Poison Pets – If your pet drinks alcohol, they can become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma, or in severe cases, die from respiratory failure. Yes, even beer is toxic; fermented hops and ethanol are poisonous to dogs and cats.

7. Going to a Fireworks Display? Leave Your Pet at Home – The safest place for your pet is at home, not in a crowded, unfamiliar and noisy place. The combination of too many people and loud fireworks will make your beloved pet freak out and desperately seek shelter. Locking them in the car is also not an option; your pet may suffer brain damage and heat stroke.

6. Have Your Pet Properly Identified – If your pet manages to break loose and become lost, without proper identification it will be that much harder to get them back. Consider fitting your pet with microchip identification, ID tags with their name and your phone number, or both. It is also a good idea to have a recent picture of your pets in case you have to put up signs.

5. Keep Your Pet Away from Glow Jewelry – It might look cute, but your pet could chew up and swallow the plastic adornments. The ASPCA states that while not highly toxic, “excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestion, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.”

4. NEVER Use Fireworks Around Pets – While lit fireworks can pose a danger to curious pets and potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws, even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Some fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as arsenic, potassium nitrate, and other heavy metals.

3. Don’t Give Your Pet “Table Food” – If you are having a backyard barbeque, you may be tempted to slip some snacks to your pet. But like beer and chocolate, there are other festive foods that could harm your pet. Onions, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough are all possible hazards for dogs and cats. Of course, bones and fatty meats are very bad for your pet’s digestive system. Ingestion of holiday party food could result in a trip to the vet!

2. Lighter Fluid and Matches Are Harmful to Pets. – The ASPCA lists chlorates as a harmful chemical substance found in some matches that, if ingested, can cause your pet difficulty in breathing, damage blood cells or even cause kidney disease. If exposed to lighter fluid, your pet may sustain skin irritation on contact, respiratory problems if inhaled, and gastric problems if ingested.

1. Citronella Insect Control Products Harm Pets, Too. – Oils, candles, insect coils and other citronella-based repellants are irritating toxins to pets, according to the ASPCA. The result of inhalation can cause severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, and ingestion can harm your pet’s nervous system.


The safest and best bet for celebrating this Fourth of July with your pets is to exclude them from holiday festivities, at least this time around. Instead, find a safe, secure spot in the home for your pets while you go out and enjoy the loud bangs, bright lights and spectator fun. Your pets will appreciate the quiet a lot more than you’ll enjoy the noise.