…skilled service…compassionate care

Kodi’s Kolumn! by Kodiak (Kodi) Bibb – Head K-9 in charge! (That’s me on the right!)

COVID-19 Update

Because our employees are keeping their proper social distance, I took over the newsletter for April. As of the time I am writing this, we in the Bay Area 6 counties are ordered to “stay at home”. You already know the precautions to take to stay safe, and I know my mom has briefed you about the care and caution her team is taking to be sure you stay safe while at El Gato. Rest assured, we’ll keep you informed as circumstances change; I promise that. I know how frustrating it can be to change behaviors, but I am sure you will have patience and understanding as we take steps to continue to provide you and your pet with “pawsome” care and treatment. As always, please call us with questions.

Just so you know, my research with the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that at present, there is no evidence that companion animals / pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, the airborne droplets can land on our coats and may remain viable for up to 20 minutes so it is advisable to wash your hands well after petting us.

Heartworm Disease

Canine Heartworms

The El Gato staff talks a lot about heartworm disease prevention in dogs and cats, and that’s a great thing. Next time you visit the hospital, ask to see the heart with many worms. This will inspire you to protect your pet, and you want your super pets to be protected and live long, healthy lives with you. Heartworm disease is no joke, and as with many diseases, prevention is always better than treatment.

Heartworm disease is serious and can be fatal to your pet. The worms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels cause permanent damage to the lungs and heart failure, and even death.

Mosquitoes are the vectors that cause heartworm disease. They bite an infected mammal – rarely humans, and take a blood meal which includes the baby worms. Over 10 – 14 days, the infective stage larvae grow in the mosquito and are deposited by the next bite into a susceptible animal. The worms migrate to the heart and lungs where they mature into adults which takes about 6 months. Mature heartworms that can live 5 – 7 years in dogs and 2-3 years in cats. Thanks to our mom, all of our furry family are protected and regularly tested.

Yes, cats can get heartworm disease. Generally, cats are not an ideal host for developing heartworms. If infected, some infections resolve on their own, but can leave the cat with permanent lung damage. Heartworms in cats can migrate to the brain, eye, and spinal cord. While cats may have fewer worms than dogs, just one or two worms can make a cat very ill and diagnosis in cats is difficult. There is no approved drug therapy for treating heartworm infection in cats and the one used for dogs is not safe for cats so the best thing is prevention with a topical medication.

Your dogs and cats are very special to us and our goal is to keep them healthy and safe, first through prevention and then treatment, when necessary. For more information, please go to the American Heartworm Society, https://www.heartwormsociety.org/

Lyme Disease

April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs month. We are transitioning into Spring and Summer. The weather gets warmer, we spend more time outside with our family and ticks wake up. Not only can our dogs get Lyme disease, but humans can suffer from it. That makes Lyme disease a zoonotic disease, one that is transmitted from animals to humans by a bite from a black-legged tick. Not all black legged ticks are infected by the bacteria. To be infected by the tick, it must attach for at least 36-48 hours so removal as soon as possible is best. To remove a tick, don’t pull it with fingers, use gloves and tweezers to be sure you get the head.

Lyme disease has spread throughout the country. You and your pet may not hike or travel through tall grass yet ticks are everywhere. How do we protect our pets and our people from ticks and Lyme disease? There are several choices. First, when hiking, be sure your human wears long pants and long sleeve shirts. After the hike, have someone thoroughly check their bodies for any signs of ticks. For my fellow k-9s, the same thorough check is necessary. Of course, we don’t wear long sleeves and pants but someone should comb through our hair, check our ears, inside our legs, between our toes, under the tail, and all over to be sure we don’t have any nasty ticks.

Use a tick preventative if at risk for getting them, because other tick-borne diseases are out there. Lastly, talk with our staff to discuss your outdoor activities and learn if a Lyme vaccine is a good idea for pets. This is one nasty disease we do not want to share with our human family so prevention is key.

Porn Sniffing Dogs?

Speaking as an expert, after all, I am a qualified search and rescue search dog which means I use this super nose to search for lost people, I was surprised to learn that dogs are sniffing out pornography. I don’t know why I should be surprised. If something has an odor, dogs can be trained to tell humans when and where they smell that odor. In 2011, a chemist at the Connecticut Scientific Sciences Forensic Laboratory discovered that electronic storage devices such as USBs, have a unique chemical in their creation. That chemical, when located by a trained dog, can help law enforcement locate cleverly (or so they thought) stashed pornography.

Law enforcement began training with dogs who were de-selected from the Guide Dogs training because they were too active and taught them new skills. Now that energy is working to help rid the community of pornography. I give those dogs a four-paws salute! Great job!

Are You A Stinky Dog?

Ok, ok, I am a Labrador Retriever and we all know how much Labs love water, and I’m no exception. The problem is when I come out of the water, I have that distinctive wet dog smell and so do many of my friends, but the smells I’m talking about are more intense. My friends at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, www.tuftsyourdog.com, identified five conditions that may take us from just smelly to stinky. They are: dental decay, flatulence, ear dirt / otitis, impacted anal sacs, and atopy – allergies that show up on the skin. What to do?

  • Dental decay. Can be reduced or prevented through good dental hygiene. Regular tooth brushing can help, but can’t eliminate the debris that can develop below the gumline. To protect against painful advanced tooth decay, schedule an annual dental exam and cleaning with full anesthetic dental x-rays to deal with any bad teeth and infection.
  • Flatulence. This room clearing odor may be caused by feeding food that disagrees with your pet or it could signal an underlying gastrointestinal disorder. Talk with your veterinarian to get to the bottom – no pun intended – of this.
  • Ear dirt / otitis. Wax build-up and other debris, especially in floppy eared dogs should have their ears cleaned regularly with proper liquid ear cleaner, not cotton swabs or other objects. By keeping the ears clean you reduce the risks of developing ear infections.
  • Impacted anal sacs. The anal glands produce a fluid that when expelled with the dog’s excrement give it a smell that is informative to other dogs. In some dogs, the sacs are plugged, do not empty as they should, and the area may also produce a pungent odor. Our staff can quickly and safely express the sacs. If this problem continues, you might give your pet a higher-fiber diet or talk with our doctors to discuss the possibility that your dog has underlying allergies, less likely gastrointestinal problem. When all issues are investigated and eliminated, your dog should be smelling sweetly again.
  • Atopy. Dogs with atopy (allergies) can be very itchy and uncomfortable and can lead to bacterial and/or fungal infections. Once identified and treated, the bad smells will go away, but not the allergies.

Of course, there is no cure for the wet dog smell. Just a good bath and lots of towels.

Dates to Remember

April is canine fitness month. Keeping the social distancing in mind, get outside and walk with your dog. A good 15 – 30 minute walk twice a day with your best friend can help keep not only their bodies healthy, it helps stimulate their minds. It is also a great opportunity for you two to have fun together. I have seen so many people out on the trails, which is great! Just keep your distance.

April 11 is National Pet Day. This is a great day to celebrate the wonderful bond we share with our pets. Take some time to hug your pet and enjoy spending time together.

April is National Frog Month. Frogs are really neat creatures and make wonderful pets. They play a vital role in protecting the environment and are fun to watch. For fun things to do with children to celebrate frogs, go to: https://blog.nwf.org/2014/04/celebrate-national-frog-month-with-10-fun-activities-for-kids/.


Stay safe, practice safe distancing with other humans, and have fun with your pets. Thanks again for giving me an opportunity to be your April news reporter!