…skilled service…compassionate care


One of the worst days of a pet owner’s life is when their pet goes missing. In May, a man arrived at El Gato with a shih tzu he had just rescued from the middle of Highway 17! El Gato staff scanned the dog, located the owner who lived in Sunnyvale, and reunited the two. What a feel-good story. The owner had done everything right. She microchipped her dog, updated the contact information for the chip, and thanks to a brave soul who stopped traffic on Highway 17, everything aligned; there was a happy ending.

Currently, according to the American Animal Hospital Association and the Humane Society of the United States, as well as other animal care organizations, 38% of dogs and cats are microchipped. Statistics show that if a dog is microchipped, 74-83% of lost dogs are returned home compared to 13-19% of dogs lacking identification. Did you know that an estimated 10 million pets are lost in the United States annually; 14% of dog owners lose their pet within a five-year period, 56% of lost cats have no form of identification, and 46% of lost dogs get lost repeatedly?

If your pet is not yet microchipped, schedule an appointment to have a microchip implanted and increase your pet’s chances of reuniting with you if lost. If your pet is microchipped, ask the staff to “check the chip” the next time you visit the office for an appointment. Once your pet is microchipped, remember to register your pet with the microchip company so you can be contacted if your pet is found. Consider confirming that all of your contact information is current at the same time you change batteries in your smoke detector, or on your birthday as a present to you and your pet.

DOGS AND POISON OAK – Is there a problem?

The National Park Service and University of California identify pacific poison oak as a member of the sumac family and a close cousin to the western poison ivy. It is a resilient, native shrub that grows below 5000 ft in both sun and shade. In the shade it will usually appear in vine form while in full sunlight, it grows in thickets. It grows along roadsides, wood lots, rangelands, and recreation areas.

Poison oak contains urushiol oil, the oil that causes humans to break out in an itchy red rash within a few hours or days of contact. Depending on your sensitivity, it can be quite potent and can get worse with increasing exposure and can be very dangerous if you inhale the smoke of burning poison oak – think California wildfires.

You may avoid poison oak while on your walks, but your dog doesn’t care. If your dog brushes against some brush or vines, the urushiol oil on her coat and, if she touches you, the car seat, another pet, the oil can be transferred. Within a few hours, you may begin to itch and develop a rash.

Generally, dogs are not affected by contact with poison oak, but if they have ingested it and have vomiting or diarrhea, take your pet to the vet. While unlikely, your pet may develop a rash on the nose or underbelly. Apply a cool compress to the affected area and call our office.

To reduce the exposure and after effects, consider applying Technu to your skin before walking in the woods then washing with the Technu when you return. Dawn dish soap and a cold shower can wash away the oil as well. Bathe your dog with either. Be mindful that the urushiol oil is also on your clothes, the dog’s leash, and collar. For more information, visit Poison Oak Management Guidelines–UC IPM (ucanr.edu).


A recent article by Dr. Stanley Coren and published in Psychology Today, suggests that just as gum disease has been shown to be an important factor in human patients with Alzheimer’s disease, there may also be a link between effective dental care in dogs and the onset of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, (CCD).

The study was conducted by veterinarians in New York and at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University,

As a test, photographs were made of the mouths of 11 aging dogs (9 years or older) known to have CCD, and mouth photographs of 10 dogs in the same age range who were not diagnosed with CCD. Twelve veterinarians were then shown the 21 pictures and evaluated the dental disease without knowing of the CCD diagnoses. The dogs known to have CCD scored worse levels of periodontal disease than those without the CCD diagnosis. Based on this research alone, the doctors concluded that they could not definitely decide that poor dental health can be a cause of CCD, but keeping dogs mentally and physically active and adding regular dental care may slow age-related decline. Another good reason to keep your dog’s teeth healthy. Read more at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/202105/dogs-mouth-may-be-the-key-its-continuing-mental-health.


by assistant editor, Roo, aka, Super Searcher With a Nose for News.

DOGS HELP STUDENTS! (I thought everyone knew that)

In May, The American Educational Research Association published a Washington State University research paper demonstrating that students who petted therapy dogs had improved thinking and planning skills than students who participated in more traditional programs. And, the students’ improvements remained up to six weeks! To read more details about the study, go to: https://news.wsu.edu/2021/05/12/petting-therapy-dogs-enhances-thinking-skills-stressed-college-students/. Enjoy.


In 2020, the Applied Animal Behavior Science published a paper entitled, “If I Fits I Sits: A Citizen Science Investigation into Illusory Contour Susceptibility in Domestic Cats (Felis silvestris catus)”, by researcher Gabriella Smith. Her paper was based on experiments made by pet owners at home. These owners found that cats tend to sit inside two-dimensional shapes drawn on the floor that only look like four-sided objects as often as they sit inside real four-sided objects. In all cases, the cats selected the two-dimensional representations drawn on the floor or the actual objects over simply picking out a spot and curling up. Now I know that I can have the whole couch as long as I make sure the cats have a box or picture of a box to sit in. Cats are so interesting. I need to take a nap and think about this. Check out the study at: https://animals.howstuffworks.com/pets/cats-in-squares-study-news.htm.


Pet Preparedness Month – We are currently living through a pandemic, heading into an earlier fire season, the area is under a drought watch and who knows what other challenges lie ahead. As you prepare your family to respond to and maybe evacuate from an imminent threat, please remember that your furry, feathered, and hoofed friends are part of that family. Add them into your preparedness plans. For great help, go to https://www.ready.gov/pets. For even more valuable information, check out https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Ready_2021-messaging-calendar.pdf.

Adopt A Shelter Cat Month – I know I am always talking about dogs, but I live with several great felines and I adore them as well. They remind me regularly how fortunate they are to have a loving home with good food and warm beds. Joey, one of my feline housemates asked me to remind you to adopt a shelter cat. It is particularly important in June because that is the height of the kitten season when many shelters are overrun with kittens. Sadly, in the shelters lacking no-kill policies, many of these sweet kitties will be euthanized because people did not spay or neuter their pets. So, Joey and my other feline friends ask you to adopt a shelter cat if you are planning to add a feline friend to your family and spay or neuter your pets! 

Pet Appreciation Week – June 1-7I am very lucky because I am always appreciated all year round, but I am reminding you to appreciate your pet for everything they do for you. They love you, hug you, snuggle with you, keep your lap warm, remind you when to get them treats, and just make you feel better when you don’t. Enjoy your pets and thank you for caring for us. 

Father’s Day – June 21Use this day to be super grateful if you have a father or male figure in your life. Lots of hugs and snuggles will tell the special someone how much you love him.

Happy Father's Day!