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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.

Use Your “Spidey Sense” to Keep Pets Away From These Arachnids by Dr. Tina Wismer

Spiders are everywhere! There are over 30,000 species of spiders in the world.

The good news, though, is that in most cases, spider bites cause little more than local pain and inflammation. Most species of spider are unable to penetrate human or animal skin. Luckily in the U.S., there are only a few spider species whose bite can cause severe problems in people and pets. These are the widow spiders, the brown recluse spider and the hobo spider.


Widow Spiders


Widow (hourglass) spiders belong to the genus Latrodectus. Widow spiders get their name from the female’s practice of killing the male after breeding, although this does not always occur with every species.


There are five species of widow spiders found in the U.S.:


  • The black or southern black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans) is found throughout the entire country. This is the typical widow spider that is black with the red hourglass pattern on the female’s ventral abdomen (tummy).
  • The western black widow spider (L. hesperus) is found in the western U.S.
  • The northern widow spider (L. various) is common in the northern U.S. Its hourglass is not joined and appears more like spots on its abdomen.
  • The red or red-legged widow spider (L. bishop) is found in central and southern Florida.
  • The brown widow spider (L. geometricus) is also found in Florida. This spider is brown with an orange hourglass.


Widow spiders like dark, nondisturbed places. They can be found inside buildings or outside in leaf litter. These spiders are not aggressive and will only bite defensively. Cats tend to get multiple or severe bites due to their propensity to poke at and harass the spider. Bites are typically from female spiders, as the male’s fangs are too short to effectively penetrate skin.


Widow spider venom is absorbed into the circulatory system where it causes neurologic signs. The bites are immediately painful. On nonhaired skin, a slight redness may be noted with two small puncture wounds 1–2 mm apart. In 30 minutes to two hours, muscle cramps will begin near the bite site and then spread to other large muscle groups. Pain peaks in two to three hours. High blood pressure and high heart rate are common. As the signs progress, vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis and death can occur. Cats are more susceptible to severe problems than dogs.


A single bite can cause life-threatening signs, but fortunately, “dry bites” (no venom released) are possible. The severity of the signs depends on two sets of factors — the spider and the victim. Spider-dependent factors include the size of the spider, the amount of venom injected and the time of the year (warmer temperatures appear to increase the toxicity of venom). Victim-dependent variables include the animal species, the size of the animal (smaller animals are more susceptible), the location of the bite, underlying health problems and age (younger and older victims show more severe signs).


Any suspected widow bite should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Treatment involves pain medications and muscle relaxants. There is an antivenin, but availability for animal use is sporadic at best, although it has been used in at least one cat with good results. Most animals recover in 48 to 72 hours, although some people report weakness and fatigue lasting for weeks to months. Fatalities are uncommon, with estimates ranging from <1% to 6% in humans.


Brown Recluse and Hobo Spiders


There are a few species of spiders in the U.S. that can cause a large area of cellular damage (necrosis) with their bites. The brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa), or fiddleback spider, has a distinctive fiddle-shaped mark on its back. They are generally found in the south central U.S. (Texas through Georgia) but can be found as far north as Iowa, central Illinois and Indiana. The brown recluse is nocturnal and not aggressive. Other species of Loxosceles may produce wounds that are not as serious as the brown recluse’s bite. Hobo spiders (Tegenaria agrestis) are found in Washington, Oregon and Idaho (as well as western Canada and Alaska), and can cause similar necrotic lesions like the brown recluse. They are large, aggressive brown spiders and build their webs at ground level or in basements.


Recluse spider venom contains compounds that destroy cell membranes. The venom attracts white blood cells, which also increases the cellular damage. If absorbed into the blood stream, the venom can break down red blood cells, causing anemia. The venom also affects coagulation and can cause bleeding.

Initially, the bites are only slightly painful. Over an eight-hour period, the bite will become red, swollen and tender. In people, you may notice a “bull’s-eye” lesion, but this is rarely seen in cats and dogs due to their hair coat. Tissue around the bite begins to die, and a wound as large as 10 inches in diameter can occur. Healing is slow and may take months.


Animals are treated with pain medications and antibiotics. Multiple bandage changes may be needed over several weeks. Some wounds may even require surgical closure. Animals with anemia or clotting problems may need intravenous fluids and blood transfusions. Fortunately, most cases only show mild local signs, but if you suspect your pet has been bitten by one of these spider species, consult your veterinarian.

Keep a Friendly Distance


Spiders of all kinds are ubiquitous in the environment, and it can be hard to totally prevent your pet from coming in contact with them. They are also beneficial in helping to keep populations of other buggy pests at bay, so you don’t want to harm spiders that are simply minding their own business out-of-doors. However, you can do your best to minimize any risks to your pets by keeping them out of areas where spiders are noticeably present, such as basements, crawl spaces or outbuildings. Shake out any pet towels or blankets before using. Regularly dust and/or vacuum any webs away from living areas where your pet likes to play or rest. Finally, keep clutter to a minimum in order to cut down on any likely spider habitat in your home.

Mercy Pet Hospital was voted 2013 Best of Citrus Heights for Veterinary Hospitals!

Mercy Pet Hospital Receives 2013 Best of Citrus Heights Award

Citrus Heights Award Program Honors the Achievement

CITRUS HEIGHTS April 19, 2013 — Mercy Pet Hospital has been selected for the 2013 Best of Citrus Heights Award in the Veterinary Hospital category by the Citrus Heights Award Program.

Each year, the Citrus Heights Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Citrus Heights area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2013 Citrus Heights Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Citrus Heights Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Citrus Heights Award Program

The Citrus Heights Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Citrus Heights area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Citrus Heights Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Citrus Heights Award Program

Did you know cats can get Heartworm too?


5 Myths About Feline Heartworm Disease


Many people are still not aware that cats can get heartworms. In fact, less than 5 percent of cat owners use a heartworm preventive on their pets compared with 50 percent of dog owners. Do we love our dogs more than our cats? I don’t believe we do. I think cat owners just need to learn about the risk these parasites pose to their pets, and so I’d like to share my top five myths about feline heartworm disease:

Myth #1: Heartworm Is a Dog’s Disease

Cats are getting heartworm far more often than previously thought. I was a skeptic about the frequency of feline heartworm infection, so I conducted a yearlong study examining shelter cats in the Gulf Coast area. The results certainly got my attention. I found that 26 percent of the cats had been infected with heartworm larvae at some point in their lives, and I found adult heartworms in 10 percent of the cats. Compare this to the feline leukemia (FeLV) infection rate of 5 percent and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) rate of 6 percent, and you can see that feline heartworm is much more widespread.

Myth #2: Indoor Cats Are Safe From Heartworms

Indoor cats are not impervious to heartworm. A study conducted by North Carolina State University found that 27 percent of the cats diagnosed with heartworm were inside-only cats. It takes only one mosquito to infect a cat, and because mosquitoes can get indoors, both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk and should receive heartworm preventive medication.

Myth #3: Heartworms Cause Heart Disease in Cats

The name “heartworm disease” is a misnomer for cats, as the worm mostly affects the lungs and not the heart. The most common signs of feline heartworm disease are coughing, vomiting and difficulty breathing, but can also include: anorexia, blindness, collapse, convulsions, diarrhea, fainting, lethargy, rapid heart rate, weight loss and sudden death.

The signs of feline heartworm disease are often mistaken for feline asthma, allergic bronchitis or other respiratory diseases, so cats with heartworm disease may be misdiagnosed. A cat may even exhibit no signs at all and die suddenly. Because cats are unique in how their respiratory systems react to heartworms, a new name has been given to this set of symptoms: Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease, or HARD. Cats that suffer from HARD can have difficulty breathing and can die from the disease. There is no effective way to cure the disease once an infection occurs.

Myth #4: Only Adult Worms Cause Problems

With dogs, heartworm typically isn’t a problem until the worms reach the adult stage and lodge in the pulmonary arteries and heart. Cats, however, do not need an adult heartworm to show signs of the disease; in fact, larvae are a main cause of the problems. Studies show 50 percent of cats infected with heartworm larvae have significant damage to the small arteries supplying blood to the lungs.

Myth #5: It Is Easy to Discover If a Cat Has Heartworm Disease

Diagnosis is much more difficult for cats than it is for dogs, and tests are not the final word on infections. The tests most commonly used in dogs only detect adult female worms. Since most cat infections do not make it to the adult stage, and those that do may only have male worms, many infections are missed by current testing practices. If your cat is showing signs of heartworm disease, talk to your veterinarian. Treatment of heartworm is often ineffective or problematic in cats. That’s why prevention is the very best strategy for controlling the disease.

For more information, visit www.knowheartworms.orgwww.heartwormsociety.org orwww.petsandparasites.org.

February is Pet Dental Awareness Month!!!

Are you giving lip service to your pet’s dental care? If your pet is 3 years or older, the chances are good that he or she has dental disease.
Dental disease can cause serious health problems in dogs and cats — ranging from tooth loss to systemic disease and even organ damage. The good news is that preventive care and regular dental checkups can significantly improve your pet’s health and quality of life.
During your pet’s dental appointment, we will:
  • Check for signs of dental disease
  • Recommend a dental treatment plan if your pet shows any signs of disease
  • Select a preventive dental health program that works for both you and your pet
Go to the Coupons & Promotions tab to view and print valuable coupons!!!
Call us today to schedule an appointment.
We’d love to give your pet something to smile about!
Your friends at Mercy Pet Hospital
(916) 723-3456