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Canine Influenza

Recently, we’ve been receiving questions from some of our pet owners about a new dog virus called canine influenza. They were concerned about stories they had seen or read in the news about “dog flu” outbreaks. In answering their questions, we realized that all of our dog owners may have similar questions and concerns. So, we’re writing to tell you about canine influenza, what puts dogs at risk and what can be done to protect them.
Canine influenza is a relatively new disease and can be caused by two different canine influenza virus strains, H3N8 and H3N2. Both strains of canine influenza virus cause respiratory disease in dogs. Affected dogs may develop coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. The signs of infection are similar to those of other respiratory diseases in dogs. With proper medical attention, most dogs will recover. However, in some cases, canine influenza can progress to a more severe or even life-threatening condition, such as pneumonia.
Canine influenza is highly contagious, so visiting places where dogs socialize or congregate, such as doggie day cares, dog parks, boarding facilities and urban locations, places dogs at higher risk for becoming infected. Making the situation even more difficult to control is that dogs can spread the virus before signs of illness appear.
The best way to protect your dog from canine influenza is through vaccination. Fortunately, there are vaccines now available for each canine influenza strain, H3N8 and H3N2. The initial vaccination requires two doses of each vaccine, given 2 to 4 weeks apart. Thereafter, an annual booster for each influenza strain is recommended for continued protection.
We recommend vaccinating dogs against both canine influenza H3N8 and H3N2 and have vaccines available. Please call us to discuss any questions you might have and to set up an appointment. To learn more about the canine influenza virus visit www.dogflu.com.


Dr. Marci Webb

6 Super Safety Tips for the Dog Park

Make sure everyone has a good time and stays happy
and healthy on your next visit.

1.Visit your veterinarian. Your dog should be
current on vaccinations and flea and intestinal
parasite preventives before running around
with other dogs at the dog park. Before a dog part
visit is also a great time to talk about your dog’s
temperament and whether he’s ready to engage with
other pets and people in an off-leash environment.

2.Know commands. You need to be able to
control your dog if a problematic situation
arises. Make sure your dog knows some basic
obedience commands—“come,” “sit,” “stay” and “leave
it”—in order to get him out of trouble.

3.Find the right spot. You want to find the
dog park that’s just right for you and your
dog. Ideally, it should have:
> adequate room for dogs to run
> secure fences
> a double gate for entry
> a separate area for small dogs
> a safe, sheltered area
> a source of drinking water
> posted rules of conduct.
If you visit a park and it’s too congested or you see
overly assertive or aggressive dogs or owners who
aren’t watching their dogs, keep looking.

4. Be prepared. Take these essentials with you:
> bags for cleaning up messes
> drinking water, in case the park doesn’t
have a source
> toys, unless your dog guards them
> a leash
> a cell phone, in case you need assistance
It’s also a good idea to take something to break
up an aggressive situation between dogs, such as a
veterinarian-recommended animal deterrent spray or
a compressed-air horn

5. Be watchful. When you first arrive, wait
until no other dogs are at the gate. Once it’s
clear, you can take your dog off the leash and
let him run through the gate. Watch your dog, but
also keep an eye out for overly excited or aggressive
dogs near him. If your dog starts acting fearful or
overwhelmed, use a basic command in an upbeat
voice to call him back. Also, don’t hesitate to call
animal control if a dog is acting inappropriately and
the owner isn’t being attentive.

6. Know when to intervene. Playful dogs
bounce around, wag their tails and have
relaxed postures and facial expressions. Be
watchful for signs of aggression—growling, a stiff
posture, raised hackles and tail, a closed mouth or a
stronger focus. Don’t yell if your dog and another dog
start growling at each other, because that could trigger
a fight. Instead, use a basic command to call your dog
back to you and move to another spot. If a fight does
break out, don’t grab your dog’s collar—you could get
hurt. Instead, use your deterrent spray, a horn or a
water hose to break up the dogs.

Source: Dr. Wayne Hunthausen, veterinary behavior consultant and DVM 360 magazine

12 tips to train a puppy to urinate and defecate outside

1. Every one to two hours, take the puppy outside. Puppies have high metabolisms—meaning they make a lot of urine quickly—and they have small bladders, which means they can’t store all of that urine for long. A Labrador retriever puppy’s full bladder is about the size of a lemon; a Yorkshire terrier puppy’s bladder is the size of a small apricot or large grape.
2. When the puppy is out, let it sniff a bit. Don’t just pull it away from what it’s sniffing and keep walking. Sniffing is an important part of the elimination sequence in dogs.

3. If the puppy is just rampantly plowing ahead sniffing, consider stopping and walking quickly back and forth. This movement simulates normal dog elimination precursor behavior. The dog eventually will squat. Pay attention and praise it.

4. Use a fixed-length short lead so you can quickly encourage your puppy and respond to its cues. You can give the dog a small treat as it squats on a substrate you both like (e.g., grass). A reward may help encourage the association between squatting on that substrate and good experiences. Urinating or defecating is physiologically self-rewarding; you’re rewarding the behavior exhibited in the location chosen.

5. Regardless of the frequency of your other walks, take the dog out 15 to 45 minutes after each time it eats. This is the time range for eating to stimulate intestines to move feces. Do this after all meals, as well as biscuits and rawhides, both of which will stimulate elimination.

6. Watch for behaviors (e.g., pacing, whining, circling, sudden stopping of another behavior) that tell you the dog may be ready to eliminate, and intercept the dog. If you pick up the puppy and it starts to leak, or the act of picking up the dog starts the leak, get a cloth and clamp it to the puppy’s genitals. This will help to stimulate the dog to associate inhibition of elimination with those muscle groups. Again, praise the dog as it’s squatting and immediately after it’s finished. Don’t punish leaks.

7. Take the puppy out immediately after any play and naps or if it awakens at night.

8. Prepare for the first walk of the day by having your street clothes on before you approach a crated puppy. Puppies that have waited through the night cannot wait long once you’re awake.

9. Watch the puppy in between walks—puppies often get caught short, especially if they encounter and play with a water dish, or they become super focused or distracted. Any puppy that’s moving around and suddenly stops needs to eliminate. You can make monitoring easier by putting a bell on the dog’s collar. Any time the puppy’s bell stops, take the dog outside immediately. Be sure to use a break-away/quick-release collar that comes undone if the dog hangs it on anything.

10. If you have an older dog that’s housetrained, take it with you when you take the puppy out. Dogs learn extremely well by observing, and this may speed the process.

11. Dogs are generally faster to housetrain for defecation than urination. This may be due, in part, to the fact that puppies urinate more frequently than they defecate. For some clueless dogs, it can help to either take a urine-soaked sponge or a piece of feces to the area you’d prefer the puppy use. This may help it learn to associate the scent pattern with the area but cannot be used in the absence of the other steps noted above.

12. Don’t forget to clean up feces. This allows dogs to be recognized as socially acceptable members of the community and may reduce transmission of parasites.

Overall, Karen L. “Canine housetraining, Part 3: Elimination training tips Helpful pointers to give clients to humanely housetrain their dogs” DVM360 Magazine. 01 Oct. 2011. Web 19 Jan 2016.

7 Things Everyone Should Know About TICKS

Protect yourself and your pets with these top tick tips.

All ticks come in small, medium and
large sizes.

Ticks have four main life stages: eggs (the smallest
size), larvae (equivalent to a grain of sand) nymphs (the
medium size, about the size of a poppy seed) and adults
(the largest size, about the size of an apple seed).

Ticks crawl up.
Ticks live on the ground no matter the locale. They typically
crawl up from grass blades onto a host and migrate
upward, which is why they’re often found on the scalp—
they want to feed around the head, neck, and ears of
their host, where the skin is thinner.

Cold and snowy? No big deal.
Yup, winter doesn’t bother certain tick species. In fact,
adult stage deer ticks become active every year after the
first frost. While some ticks go dormant, deer ticks will
be active any winter day that the ground is not snowcovered
or frozen. This surprises people, especially
during a January thaw or early spring day.

Ticks carry disease-causing microbes
Tick-transmitted infections are more common these
days than in past decades. With explosive increases in
deer populations, the trend is increasing abundance and
geographic spread of deer ticks and lone star ticks; and
scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of diseasecausing
microbes transmitted by these ticks. Tick bites
used to be an annoyance, but now a bite is much more
likely to make you sick.

If you (or your dog, cat or horse) are
bitten, you probably won’t know it.

This is super creepy, but tick bites are painless (ticks’ saliva
has anesthetic properties) and hosts generally don’t
feel it. What’s worse: fewer than half of people who’ve
been infected with Lyme disease show the “bull’s-eye
rash” that was once thought to be a telltale sign of the
disease. If you start showing flulike symptoms in the
middle of summer (fever, chills, aches, and pains are
common symptoms of a variety of tick-borne diseases),
go to the doctor and ask to be tested for the illnesses
associated with ticks. This is also why it’s essential to
keep a close eye on your pet and check for ticks after it
spends time outdoors.

The easiest way to remove a tick is
with pointed tweezers.

Think of a tick as a little germ-filled balloon. Squeeze it
too hard on its back end, and all the germs get pushed
to the front end. Using really pointy tweezers, it’s possible
to grab even the poppy-seed sized nymphs right
down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the
tick out like a splinter. Other tick removal methods, like
a hot match, Vaseline, dish soap and cotton, or various
little key-like devices don’t work, so don’t bother trying.
And your safest bet is going to a doctor or veterinarian
for removal.

Tick bites and tick-borne diseases
are 100% preventable.

There’s really only one way to become infected with a
tick-transmitted disease, and that’s from a tick bite. Taking
steps to protect yourself (with tick-repellent clothing
or spraying tick repellent on clothing) and your pets
(with year-round preventive medication and regular
tick checks) especially if you spend any time outdoors
will drastically reduce your risk of developing tick-borne
diseases. Remember, just one bite is all it takes to make
you or your pet sick—so prevention is your best bet.

What you need to know about fleas Know thy enemy—and make sure your pet, your family and your home are kept flea-free.

Utter the “F” word (fleas, that is) and you’ll likely inspire looks of horror. Fleas are every pet owner’s worst nightmare. Why? Because these bloodsucking bugs can wreak havoc on your beloved pet and home.
It’s all about the life cycle
One adult female flea lays up to 50 eggs a day, which hatch and reproduce exponentially in a short time. Within the next two weeks, the eggs hatch into larvae, very small caterpillar-like creatures. The immature flea can remain in this stage for several days to a few weeks.
The larvae then spin a cocoon and enter the pupae stage. Adults usually emerge from their cozy covering within 14 days but can survive in the cocoon for several months until vibration, pressure, heat, noise, or carbon dioxide jolts them from their deep sleep.
Once they emerge from the cocoon, adult fleas must find a warm-blooded host within a few days—or they’ll die. Once a flea finds your pet, it will live out its life happily feeding off your four-legged friend. In no time, these hungry parasites can become a persistent, itchy,and dangerous problem.
Fleas usually are more annoying than lethal, but they can spread tapeworms to your pet and other family members. Very small or young pets can develop anemia, a potentially life-threatening condition, because of blood loss from flea infestation. Call us immediately if you find fleas on a puppy or kitten less than 12 weeks old or if your adult pet suddenly acts lethargic.
Intermittent flea exposure increases your pet’s risk for developing an allergic reaction called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Studies show that about 80 percent of allergic dogs also develop FAD.
Risk factors and detection
All pets are at risk for a flea infestation. Pets who spend time outdoors are particularly susceptible. Why? Many adult fleas live outside and on wildlife hosts until they find a happy home on your pet. Indoor dogs also are at risk because they can pick up fleas when they go outside to exercise or relieve themselves.                                                                                                   If you suspect your pet has fleas, it’s important to act right away. Call us if your pet exhibits
any of the signs detailed below.

Signs of flea infestation include:
• flea feces, or pepper-like specks, in your pet’s coat or on his bedding
• flea eggs, or light-colored specks, in your pet’s coat or on his bedding
• itchy skin (scratching)
• biting at his fur or legs
• patchy hair loss, especially near the tail or neck
• lethargy (especially in severe cases)
• tiny, dark brown insects scurrying around on your pet.


dvm360.com staff. “What you need to know about fleas”. DVM 360. July 2015. 1 page. Handout.

Exciting News!

Dear Pet Parents,
I wanted to send a personal message to thank each and every one of you for letting us help care for your pets. It really has been a privilege to meet all of you and your furry companions. I can’t believe Mercy Pet Hospital has been open for three years now! The time has flown by and we have grown at a tremendous rate! I am so happy that we have been able to provide such a needed service within the community.
My primary goal has been to provide high quality care for you and your pets while keeping our prices low. I am very grateful to those of you who have taken the time to send back our client surveys or write a review online. I personally read each and every one of them. I care about what sort of experience you have had with us. As I mentioned, the quality care we strive for is not just for your pets. The vast majority of feedback we have received has been wonderful and I am very pleased you are so happy with our services! The primary area you have asked us to address is our wait times. Our wait times have been the hardest thing to control with our walk-in structure and our rapid growth. I have made strides to address this by adding a fifth exam room and growing our staff. Additionally, I started offering drop off appointments and a wait list to help reduce frustrations associated with lengthy wait times. I feel very passionately that our walk-in structure enables us to serve more pets in need on a daily basis. However, I also feel strongly about providing a positive client experience. While these efforts have helped reduce wait times, I am always looking for more ways to improve as we grow. I think I may have found two ways…
I am very excited to announce that we will be opening a second location in Fair Oaks! The new hospital will be located at the intersection of Hazel Ave. and Madison Ave. in the Raley’s shopping center. Construction should be completed in February 2015. The new location will be slightly larger with seven exam rooms. You can follow the construction process and updates on our website and Facebook page! It will be great to provide care for more pets around the Sacramento area.
In addition to our second location, I have been working on an online check-in system. Soon, you will be able to check-in your pet through our website or through an app downloaded to your phone. The system will show you what the approximate wait time is for the service you need and will allow you to choose the doctor you would like to see for an exam. This service will enable you to check-in and wait at home or go run an errand before you come in to the hospital. If there are changes to the wait time (for example, an emergency comes in and one of the doctors is no longer available to see exams), the system will automatically update the estimated wait. Clients will still be allowed to check-in at our front desk, but soon you will register on an electronic wait pad so the check-in order remains accurate. This service should be available this winter. I will send out an announcement along with helpful instructions once it is launched. I will have a 90-day trial period with this program. As with any new service, there may be a few hiccups or things we find we have to trouble shoot. Once we begin using this service, PLEASE send us your feedback! I am hopeful this system will alleviate some of the growing pains that have accompanied our rapid growth and walk-in structure, but I will continue to be open to new ideas.
Thank you again for all of your support over the past three years. The team at Mercy Pet Hospital and I look forward to seeing you and your pets soon!
Dr. Marci Webb
Owner of Mercy Pet Hospital

What is Rabies?

September 28 is World Rabies Day. Although you may have vaccinated your pet against Rabies, you may not know how this virus is transmitted, or that this virus does affect humans as well. We hope that the information below shines a light on the importance of vaccinating pets against this fatal virus.

What is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including dogs, cats and people, although some species are somewhat naturally resistant to the disease. When signs of rabies occur, it is an almost invariably fatal disease.
Rabies has been recognized and described since approximately 2300 BC.

How widespread is Rabies?
Rabies occurs in every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Most countries are affected, with the exception of a few island countries.
Here is a current list of rabies-free countries:
Antigua, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, St. Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Pierre et Miquelon Islands, St Vincent, Sweden, Taiwan, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Kingdom, Uruguay.
These rabies-free countries have relied on strict quarantine laws to keep the disease out, and particularly to stop the virus getting into the wildlife of those countries. Great Britain and some other rabies-free countries have recently changed their quarantine regulations for fully vaccinated and microchip identifiable cats and dogs that meet certain conditions

How is the virus transmitted?
Rabies virus does not survive long outside a mammal’s body. The infection is transmitted when one infected animal bites another. In Europe, foxes are the main reservoir while in North America the skunk, fox, raccoon and bat are important sources of infection. In Asia, Africa and Latin America the main reservoir is not wildlife but stray dogs. In these areas, human infection and fatalities are more common.

How long is the incubation period?
The incubation period can vary from ten days to one year or longer. In dogs, the incubation period is typically two weeks to four months.Incubation in the cat is generally less than in the dog and is typically three to eight weeks. Death usually occurs within ten days from the first onset of signs. The speed at which clinical signs develop depends upon:
1. The site of infection – the nearer the bite is to the brain and spinal cord, the quicker the virus reaches the nervous tissue
2. The severity of the bite
3. The amount of virus injected by the bite

What are the clinical signs?
Following a bite from a rabid animal, the disease progresses in stages; in the first or prodromal phase the pet undergoes a marked change in temperament. Quiet pets become agitated and active pets become nervous or shy.
Following this stage, there are two recognized forms of the clinical disease:
Furious rabies occurs when the rabid dog becomes highly excitable and displays evidence of a depraved appetite, eating and chewing stones, earth and rubbish (pica). Paralysis eventually sets in and the rabid animal may be unable to eat and drink. Hydrophobia (fear of water) is not a sign of rabies in dogs. This is a feature of human rabies. The dog finally dies in a violent seizure.
Dumb rabies is the more common form in dogs. There is progressive paralysis involving the limbs, distortion of the face and a similar difficulty in swallowing. Owners will frequently think the dog has something stuck in the mouth or throat. Care should be taken in examination since rabies may be transmitted by saliva. Ultimately the dog becomes comatose and dies.

Is it possible to survive a bite from a rabid animal?
There are isolated and poorly documented reports of both dogs and people surviving. In some cases, there may have been very little rabies virus present in the saliva at the time the rabid animal bit its victim. In this situation, the victim may not develop rabies.
However, as Louis Pasteur was the first to show, it is possible to interrupt the progression from an infected bite to the onset of signs by the early post-bite use of anti-rabies serum. This antiserum contains specific immune antibodies to the virus. The most important method for preventing the progression of rabies is by administering a dose of rabies vaccine. The vaccine stimulates the bitten animal to develop its own neutralizing antibodies to the rabies virus. Without vaccination and rapid post-exposure treatment, the chances of survival are poor.

Is vaccination effective?
Vaccination promotes the production of antibodies but is only effective if given before the virus enters the nervous system. Modern rabies vaccines for dogs, cats, horses and ferrets are extremely safe and effective.

What is the treatment for rabies?
There is no treatment for a dog with rabies. If rabies is suspected, the dog has to be kept in isolation and prevented from escaping or injuring someone. Your veterinarian is required by law to notify the local and state or provincial animal disease regulatory authorities. These authorities will determine the steps necessary to properly protect the public.

Can I catch rabies?
Yes, the disease is zoonotic or can be transmitted from an animal to man. It is only transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal. The virus is present in the saliva of the infected animal only for a limited time.
If any animal that may be suspicious for rabies bites you, immediately wash and flush the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek immediate medical assistance.
Post exposure rabies treatment with serum or vaccine may be recommended and is very successful if begun quickly.

When should my pet be vaccinated?
There are several rabies vaccines approved for dogs, cats, horses and ferrets. All dogs and cats should be vaccinated at sixteen weeks of age. Generally in the United States and Canada, rabies vaccination is mandatory. Rabies re-vaccination boosters are also required, and the frequency of re-vaccination is dependent on state or provincial law. Your veterinarian will advise you on the appropriate re-vaccination intervals and can assist you in obtaining any necessary licenses for your pet.

This client information sheet is based on material written by: Ernest Ward, DVM
 © Copyright 2009 Lifelearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

Microchip Today!

Although the official 1st day of summer in 12 days away, there is no denying that it already feels like summer. Soon, we’ll be planning to have a festive 4th of July. Whether you are planning to stay home and celebrate with family and friends, or going out of town, there is no doubt that no Independence day celebration would be complete without enjoying a fireworks display.

Sometimes, just having a few new faces around the house can make pets nervous. Have you ever thought about what your pet may feel when they hear the whizzes, bangs, and flashes that fireworks produce?  Many pets will hide to ‘run away’ from the chaos, others will actually run away. The American Humane Society reports that July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters.

Please consider keeping your pets at home if you are going to see a fireworks display, or keeping them in a quiet room in the house if you are planning on lighting fireworks in your property. If your pets have not yet been microchipped, now is the time! We are now running a special on microchips until the end of June. Go back on our home page, under the resource tag, click coupons and promotions, print your coupon and bring it in, it’s that simple!

We hope to see you and your fuzzy friends!


Why Good Oral Health Matters to Pets

The teeth and gums are the windows to your
pet’s well-being. When your dog or cat goes
without an annual oral checkup and cleaning,
several things can happen to affect their health.
First, your pet may experience discomfort when
eating because tarter and plaque buildup on the
teeth irritates the gums and causes
inflammation. What happens when the crusty
tarter and plaque aren’t cleaned away? The
bacteria that causes plaque can invade your
pet’s vulnerable gums, leading to infection in
the gums and bone. But it doesn’t stop there.
The bacteria that causes oral disease can spread
throughout the body through the bloodstream.
Clinical signs of oral disease can be found in
the liver, kidneys and even the brain.
Essentially, oral disease leads to more serious
Fortunately, oral disease can be prevented.
With annual exams and dental cleanings, we
can help keep your pet’s oral health in good
shape. In turn, good oral health will help your
pet enjoy many more happy, healthy years with

What lurks behind your
pet’s smile? Here are
some signs to look for
that indicate oral disease.
• Redness along
the gums
• Tarter on the teeth
• Pus (in severe cases)
• Difficulty eating
• Eats on one
side of the mouth
• Pawing at the mouth
• Blood tinged saliva
• Reduced grooming
(in cats)


Holiday Closures

Our office will be closing at noon on Friday, December 24, and closed on Saturday December 25, in observance of Christmas Day.

We will resume our regular business hours on Monday, December 27, from 8:00am – 5:00pm.

Our office will also be closing at 2pm on Friday December 31, and Saturday, January 1, in observance of New Year’s Day.

We will resume our regular business hours on Monday, January 3, from 8:00am – 5:00pm.

In case of an emergency, please call Atlantic Street Vet at 916-783-4655.                                           

  Thank you.