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El Gato and COVID-19 Update

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we consider the safety of our clients, your pets, and our staff as the top priority. We worked to keep clients and staff safe while still treating your pets. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these confusing and difficult times. We look to the guidance provided by Santa Clara County Health Officer, Dr. Cody, for direction on how and when to re-open and will keep you updated. If you have questions, please call or email us at [email protected]. For additional details, the Johns Hopkins University has tracked the disease from the beginning and updated information can be obtained by going to: https://systems.jhu.edu/. This is a very comprehensive and informative website.

Harmful Algae Blooms, aka HABs

As the days warm and getting outside to play with our pets is enticing, we may encounter bodies of water that contain algae blooms. Be aware that these blooms may be harmful, even fatal, to your pet. Freshwater environments such as lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers appear refreshing and enticing, but may contain cyanobacteria that create cyanotoxins, or what has become to be known as harmful algae blooms (HABs) or toxic algal mats. The water surfaces may appear to have a scum or be discolored (i.e. green, blue, yellowish, red, or brown). Many of these algae blooms produce toxins that can harm animals and people.

In addition to direct skin contact, the cyanotoxins created by these blooms can become airborne when mists form from splashing and playing. Inhalation of the mist or through touch can lead to skin, eye, nose, throat, and/or respiratory irritation. While no human deaths have been reported in the United States, companion animals, livestock, and wildlife deaths caused by the cyanotoxins have occurred.

According to the California Water Quality Board, increased inputs of nutrients like nitrogen from agriculture or human and animal waste promote the cyanobacterial growth. Then, sustained higher temperatures, low water flows, and increased intensity and duration of sunlight create ideal conditions for HABs.

How do I keep my dog safe? First, go to https://mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/ to learn if your area has been reported to have HABs. If you believe the water contains HABs, complete an online report form at this same address. Do not let your dog drink, wade, or swim in HAB-affected water and do not permit your dog to eat scum or algal material. If your dog does come into contact with an algae bloom, or to be sure your dog remains safe, wash your dog with clean water after river or lake play and always provide safe, clean drinking water for your pet. In spite of your best efforts, your pet may experience symptoms within minutes to days following exposure. If your pet shows symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, or seizures, see your veterinarian immediately.

To learn the extent of HABs in California, go to: https://mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/where/freshwater_events.html to view a map of HAB locations.

Laser Treatments For My Pet

If you have an older pet who shows stiffness when she walks or may be recovering from an injury, laser therapy may be a non-invasive answer to pain relief and recovery. Class IV laser therapy works by stimulating blood circulation and cell regeneration to affected areas.

Laser therapy can be used in conjunction with other treatments. It provides pain relief and helps reduce swelling of affected areas. Other uses for laser therapy include ear infections, injuries, arthritis, post dental procedures to reduce swelling. There are no known side effects, but laser therapy is not recommended where there is active bleeding and/or suspected cancers.

Treatments may take up to 20 minutes and your pet feels a soothing warmth or no sensation at all. Generally, pets simply relax and as painful areas subside, they may even snooze during a session. Usually several sessions are needed to see if laser will help. Talk to us about our laser therapy for your pet.


As we promised last month, Roo will now be authoring her own column called Roos’ News.

Hi Folks! I am really happy to be sharing my special and unique k-9 insights for you. I have a great nose for news and I hope you enjoy my offerings.

Welcome Aboard!

It seems only fitting that for my inaugural article, I should welcome some new faces to the El Gato family. I am sure you have seen them around the building, but with face masks, it could be difficult. First, please welcome John Yuzon! Your first contact with John may have been when you called for an appointment. He joined us several months ago and is truly a blessing, just ask Lisa! John is a graduate from UC Davis with a degree in animal science specializing in animal behavior with a focus on animal welfare. His passion is with animals and being able to improve the quality of their lives in any way he can. He has two dogs Milo, shown here, and Ari, his hiking buddies. He also has two guinea pigs, Perry and Oats who are the perfect lounging buddies.

Next, please welcome, Aimee Vasquez! Aimee worked as a vet assistant/ client service coordinator for 3 years before joining the El Gato team as a veterinary technician. She graduated from De Anza Community College and received an AA degree in Communication Studies and in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Social and Behavioral Science. She enjoys working with pets and interacting with their pet parents! She currently shares a house hold with three lizards and two beta fishes. On her off time, she hikes or stays home and watches movies. You have probably met Aimee accompanying one of the doctors into the parking lot. With the mask however, you won’t see that wonderful smile.

We love working with them and are glad they joined the team.

Fireworks and Pets – not a good mix!

As the newest K-9 contributor to the newsletter, let me remind you about the hazards and fear some pets experience when fireworks or loud noises occur near them. COVID-19 may affect the opportunity for community fireworks displays, but there will always be a neighbor who decides to detonate fireworks. Given that the Fourth of July celebration is just around the corner, here are some quick tips to help your pet survive the loud noises associated with this holiday.

  • Be sure that your pet can be safely confined in an escape proof place with no access to the fireworks, sparklers or other incendiaries
  • Check that your pet’s tags and microchip information are accurate and updated in case she accidentally gets out of your control
  • Check your yard thoroughly the next day for any remaining debris that may be harmful to your pet.

For pets who are extremely frightened by loud noises, it is never too early to start proactive exposure behavior training to help your pet handle loud noises. Such training lets your pet associate the sound of loud noises with good things. For great tips and techniques on how to prepare your pets for the sounds of fireworks, go to https://www.PreventiveVet.com/fireworks.

You will learn how to teach your dog to be comfortable and not panic at loud noises and you and your pet will be prepared for the next time loud noises occur. If you want professional help to solve these or other behavior problems, please call our office for the name of a veterinary behaviorist. I want to be sure my buddies are safe and happy.

Dates to Remember

July 4, Independence Day.

Celebrate America’s independence and freedom. In years past, this was a time for gatherings, picnics and fireworks to show our gratitude. Given the current COVID-19 concerns, please follow all of the health recommendations to stay safe, but use your creativity to still celebrate this very important date.

July is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month

Domestic rabbits make great pets. They are fun and cuddly, can be trained to use a litterbox and are quite social. Many people who are allergic to dogs and cats are not allergic to rabbits. When we return to work outside the home, remember, rabbits like their large cages or puppy pens, but want to be with you when you come home. So, consider rescuing a domestic rabbit the next time you look for a pet.

July 5 – 11, National Farriers Week

If you are a runner or hiker, you know the importance of good fitting shoes to prevent pain and injury. Horses are no different. You must keep your horses’ hooves in great health and provide them with proper foot care regularly. Without the care of an experienced farrier, your horse may develop pain, disease, and suffering. To be sure you locate the best farrier, go to the American Farriers Association, https://www.americanfarriers.org.

July 15, Pet Fire Safety Day

Home fires are devastating and losing a pet during a home fire makes it even more horrible. Here are some tips to help you get your pet out alive.

Be sure your dog does a great recall. Practice, practice, practice. In a time of crisis and confusion, your pets must count on you to protect them.
Know their hiding places. Test your smoke alarm and watch where your pets hide.
Put a Pet Alert sticker on your windows and keep it updated and accurate.
Include your pet in your family fire drills.
Update your pets’ tags and/or microchip information
Develop and maintain a kit for your pet. If you evacuate, the kit, with appropriate supplies and materials will save time and energy during the turmoil.
For more information, go to https://www.redcross.org.

Remember, have fun and stay safe!