Is My Pet Protected From Lyme Disease?

Ticks can be active year-round in Southern California, but the peak tick season occurs during June and July. During these times ticks tend to be out in greater numbers and most active. To be safe, however, we recommend making sure your pets are protected from ticks (and Lyme disease) throughout the year.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an illness caused by an infection with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Lyme disease can be transmitted to humans, dogs, cats, and other animals. It is one of the infections most commonly transmitted by ticks (specifically the blacklegged tick or deer tick species), and it’s highly common in the northeast, midwest, and all along the Pacific Coast of the United States.
Pets can become infected with Lyme disease when the bacteria responsible for it enters the bloodstream through the bite of an infected tick. This usually occurs after about 24 to 48 hours of attachment. Symptoms of Lyme disease typically don’t show up right away, either. You might notice lethargy, joint swelling, fever, appetite loss, and/or kidney problems later on.

How to Protect Your Pets From Lyme Disease

There is a canine vaccine for Lyme disease, but the best way to protect pets from Lyme disease is with medications designed to protect your pet from parasites. These come in a variety of easy-to-administer forms such as chewables, topicals, and collars. No matter which form you choose, parasite preventatives need to be carefully administered according to instructions to ensure your pet is adequately protected.
You can also protect your pets by avoiding areas where ticks are common. These include brushy, grassy, and heavily wooded areas. You should also check your pet for ticks after coming in from outside. Check their ears, nose, between their toes, legs, and their belly.

Parasite Protection With Our Mobile Veterinarian in Carlsbad, CA

Lyme disease isn’t the only tick-borne illness; there are plenty of others and lots of health risks for pets that are related to other parasites, too. To keep your pets safe and healthy, parasite prevention from all sorts of parasites and the health risks they prevent should be a routine part of your pet’s ongoing wellness and preventative care. Our veterinarians at Signature Veterinary Services recommend protecting pets with preventative medications that guard against ticks, fleas, heartworms, and intestinal parasites.
To get a recommendation on the safest and most effective parasite preventative medications for the pets in your family, we welcome you to schedule a housecall appointment with our mobile veterinary clinic.
No human or dog could hope to be healthy without getting the right amount of calories and the proper nutrition in their diet. While there are plenty of resources available to find super-healthy foods for humans, not many people talk about the foods (outside of high-quality kibble) that are best for your dog. The following are ten superfoods that come packed with vital nutrients to support your dog in living their best, healthiest life.

10 Superfoods for Your Dog

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are not only the perfect size to be a dog treat, dogs love their flavor, too! Plus, blueberries are full of beneficial antioxidants and fiber.

2. Kale

Kale is loaded with fiber and minerals that help to support heart and liver health in dogs.

3. Salmon

Salmon is a great source of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids to boost your dog’s immune system.

4. Pears

Pear slices are low-calorie and a healthy alternative to store-bought dog treats.

5. Eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein and also contain nearly a whole alphabet’s worth of vitamins.

6. Pumpkin

Pure pumpkin is a great source of fiber.

7. Purple Cabbage

Purple cabbage is chock-full of antioxidants.

8. Apples

Seed-free apples contain lots of fiber and nutrients and help keep your pet’s teeth clean.

9. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a good source of minerals, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids which keeps the skin and coat healthy.

10. Carrots

A fun, crunchy treat for dogs, carrots contain fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin A.

Canine Nutritional Counseling With Our Mobile Veterinary Clinic

These superfoods are packed with beneficial nutrients that can help your dog stay healthy, happy, and energetic. However, we always recommend checking with one of our veterinarians before making any major changes to your dog’s diet. All dogs have different dietary needs and these needs change throughout a dog’s life. As a result, the foods that are right for one pup might not be the best choice for another.
To learn more about your dog’s nutritional needs or to talk with a veterinarian about the best diet, treats, and snacks for your dog, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with Signature Veterinary Services today. Our veterinarians will be happy to assess your pet’s health and medical needs to help you choose the food, supplements, treats, and snacks that will help them achieve optimal health.
There are ways you can keep your pet healthy no matter the season like getting your pet regular vaccinations and providing the proper nutrition. Certain seasons, however, such as the rainy season present additional health concerns that you can use the following tips to prevent and ensure your pet stays healthy while the weather is extra wet.

6 Ways to Keep Your Pet Healthy During the Rainy Season

1. Stay Dry

To prevent skin and coat problems such as dryness and infections, towel dry your pet after any time spent outside in rainy, wet weather. Prevent their coat from getting thoroughly soaked outdoors with high-quality rain gear. Just be sure not to leave your pet unattended while wearing a raincoat, as clothing items can be dangerous for pets.

2. Exercise Inside

The rainy season often prevents pet parents from taking the same long walks with their pets outside as they normally would. Make sure your pet continues to stay active and get exercise indoors if it’s too rainy to venture out.

3. Prevent Parasites

Disease-carrying parasites like fleas and ticks proliferate during the rainy season, so keeping your pet protected with a safe and effective parasite preventative is more important than ever.

4. Keep Paws Clean

Your pet’s paws are susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections – even more so during the rainy season when it’s easy for them to pick up these things in the mud. Be sure to wash your pet’s paws with warm water and pat them dry after every trip outside. You can also protect your pet’s paws with specially designed rain booties for dogs.

5. Check Ears

Wet weather often leaves pets’ ears more moist than normal. This puts them at risk for bacterial and fungal infections. Be sure to keep your pet’s ears clean and dry – especially, if your dog has floppy or folded ears.

6. Stay Calm During Storms

The rainy season brings lightning and thunder which can cause many pets anxiety. Create a safe space with white noise for your pet and be sure your pet is microchipped if you dare to go outside during a thunderstorm.

More Pet Health Advice With Our Mobile Veterinary Clinic

Signature Veterinary Services is here to help you keep your pets healthy throughout every season of the year. Whether your pet’s due for a checkup and vaccine boosters or you’d like to discuss pet microchips or a parasite preventative that’s safe for your whole family, we welcome you to schedule an appointment for your pet with our mobile veterinary clinic today.
Winter might not bring feet of snow to sunny San Diego, but it does bring precipitation and generally drier air inside and outside. As a result, your pet’s skin can become dry, itchy, flaky, inflamed, and downright uncomfortable. Plus, excessive scratching can lead to cuts, skin infections, and other problems.
To keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy throughout the winter, consider the following tips.

6 Tips to Protect Your Pet's Skin During Winter

1. Stay Dry

When your pet’s skin is dry, you might think more moisture is better. Water, however, strips your pet’s coat and skin of the natural oils that keep it conditioned and protected from the elements. After playing in the rain or splashing at the beach, be sure to dry your dog off right away.

2. Brush Frequently

Brushing cleans your pet’s coat of dirt, debris, and parasites, while also helping to remove dry or dead skin cells as the brushing distributes natural oils throughout the pet’s coat. As a result, your pet won’t be quite as itchy, won’t scratch as much, and will enjoy healthier skin.

3. Limit Baths

Once again, less water is better during the winter. Most pets’ coats are actually somewhat self-cleaning, so unless your pet takes a roll in the mud, we recommend skipping the baths in the winter and focusing on regular brushing, instead.

4. Use Conditioning Shampoos

If you do give your pet a bath during the winter, always use a shampoo that is also conditioning and moisturizing. Pick a pet-safe formulation that includes a natural moisturizing ingredient like lanolin that will soothe your pet’s skin and protect it from the weather.

5. Run a Humidifier

If your home’s particularly dry from running a heater, then a humidifier will help your dog’s skin and coat.

6. Provide the Right Nutrients

Make sure your pet is eating enough Omega 3 fatty acids with well-balanced pet food or by giving them pet-safe nutritional supplements.

Schedule a Nutritional Counseling Appointment With Our Mobile Veterinarian in Carlsbad

To find out if your pet could benefit from a dietary supplement during the winter or year-round, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with a housecall veterinarian. With Signature Veterinary Services, we bring all the care your pets need right to your doorstep, so you can avoid the stress and difficulties associated with transporting your pet to a veterinary clinic for care.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, we welcome you to contact us today.

Pet Safety Tips for a Halloween That's 100% Treats

The spookiest season has arrived. With it comes loads of fall fun and festivities. However, not everything that comes with celebrating Halloween is fun – or safe – for our pets. So, consider the following tips to make sure this Halloween is 100% treats for your whole family, furry friends included.

5 Halloween Pet Safety Tips

1. Store Treats Safely

Most Halloween candy and treats are unsafe and even toxic for our pets. Any treats containing chocolate, xylitol (artificial sweetener), raisins, and certain nuts are poisonous for pets. Keep treats safely away from your pets and contact a local emergency veterinarian or ASPCA Animal Poison Control immediately if your pet has eaten anything toxic.

2. Beware of Dangerous Decor

Fake blood and glow sticks contain toxic chemicals. Bouncing eyeballs and plastic spiders pose a choking risk. Candle flames can burn. Fake cobwebs can entangle or strangulate animals, and string lights can cause electrocution. Be mindful of your pets when you put up your decorations.

3. Choose a Costume Wisely

It’s fun to dress up our pets for Halloween; they just look so adorable! However, your pets might not find it as cute. Make sure you choose a costume that will be comfortable for your pet and remove any embellishments that could pose a choking hazard for your pet. Never leave your pet unattended when they’re in a costume.

4. Keep Your Pets Secure

There’s a higher threat on Halloween for cats who are left outside, but all animals are in increased danger on all hallow’s eve because they can easily become frightened of trick-or-treaters and run away.
Keep your pets safely secured indoors, away from all the festivities and excitement. This will reduce their stress and ensure they stay safe.

5. Make Sure Your Pet Has Reliable Identification

Frightened pets who are kept securely indoors still have a risk of running away by either escaping out the door when you open it for a trick-or-treater or by breaking out a window screen. Make sure your contact information on your pet’s collar tags and associated with their microchip number is up to date.

Schedule a Microchipping Appointment With Signature Veterinary Services

If your pet does not yet have a microchip, we strongly encourage you to get one. The procedure is quick and nearly painless for pets, similar to receiving a vaccination. To learn more or schedule a house call appointment to have your pets microchipped before Halloween, we welcome you to contact our mobile veterinary clinic today.

Animal Pain Awareness Month: Recognizing and Managing Chronic Pain in Cats & Dogs

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, and Signature Veterinary Services is using the opportunity to help families with pets be more aware of the subtle signs of pain in cats and dogs.
In the wild, sick or injured pets are more vulnerable to predators than healthy animals. As a result, our pets instinctively mask signs of pain, illness, and injury. This instinct can make it difficult to know when your pet might be in pain.

5 Signs of Pain in Dogs and Cats

Often the only indication that something is wrong with a pet is a subtle change in their appearance, personality, behaviors, routine, appetite, or energy level. If you notice any of the following signs, symptoms, or unexplained changes in your pet, we encourage you to schedule a checkup right away.

1. Excessive Vocalization

When in pain, you might notice your dog or cat whimpering, yowling, howling, growling, or hissing more than normal. Pay attention to your pet’s normal vocalization so that you’ll be able to recognize unusual sounds.

2. Excessive Grooming

Your cat might focus its grooming on one particular spot more than the rest of its body. Your dog might persistently lick, chew, or bite at a particular spot. This can indicate a spot where your pet is experiencing pain.

3. Panting or Purring More Than Normal

If your dog seems to pant – even when at rest – and your cat is purring more than normal, they could be in pain. Dogs often pant and cats purr in an attempt to soothe themselves.

4. Limping or Limb Favoring

If your pet is injured or suffering from a musculoskeletal problem like arthritis, they might limp or favor a limb. You might also notice changes to their posture. Pets might also seem reluctant to play or lose mobility.

5. Isolation and Antisocial Behavior

Not wanting to be touched or hiding away from the family can also indicate pain.

Pet Pain Management With Our Mobile Veterinarian

If your pet seems to be in pain, we invite you to schedule a checkup right away. Pets don’t experience pain for no reason; pain is a symptom of illness or injury.
Our veterinarian can examine your pet to determine the underlying cause of the pain and provide you with a variety of treatment options designed to address the cause of symptoms and manage the pain.
To learn more or to schedule a pain management appointment for your pet, please contact Signature Veterinary Services today.

Heartworm Disease: Everything You Need to Know

April is Heartworm Awareness Month. Since April also marks the beginning of mosquito season in California and is quickly approaching, this seemed like the perfect time for us to help you make sure your pets (dogs especially) are adequately protected.

What Are Heartworms?

Heartworms are a type of parasitic roundworm that most commonly infects dogs, but can also affect cats. Heartworm larvae are delivered through the bite of an infected mosquito. These larvae then travel through a pet’s bloodstream until they reach the heart and lungs where they will mature and grow.

Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Dogs are the most common host for heartworms, which means the parasites thrive inside a dog’s body, mature, and reproduce. As many as several hundred heartworms can live inside a dog’s body. Left untreated, the parasite’s numbers will only increase, damaging the dog’s heart, arteries, and lungs.
Symptoms include:
Unaddressed, heartworm disease eventually leads to heart failure and death.

Heartworm Disease in Cats

Cats are atypical hosts for heartworms, which means the parasites don’t thrive as successfully in cats as they do in dogs. However, cats can still get heartworms that can damage their bodies. Although most heartworms don’t survive while a cat matures, a few can remain that lead to the condition called heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).
Symptoms of heartworms in cats include:
Additionally, heartworms in cats can move to other parts of the body like a cat’s eyes or brain where they will cause great damage.

Why Heartworm Prevention Is So Important

Heartworm disease often proves fatal for dogs and, if not fatal, it can cause serious illness in cats. While there is a treatment for dogs with heartworms, it has a low success rate. There is no treatment available for cats who have heartworms.

Annual Testing and Heartworm Preventatives for Dogs and Cats

We always emphasize the importance of preventing cats and dogs from getting heartworms in the first place and encourage our clients to be vigilant about administering their pet’s heartworm preventative. Heartworm preventatives come in monthly pill-form and injectable-form (like a vaccination given every six months).

Prior to administering a heartworm preventative, however, it’s imperative to screen a dog for existing heartworms. Administering a heartworm preventative to a dog that is already a carrier of heartworms can be fatal.

Schedule Your Pet's Heartworm Prevention Appointment Before April

To ensure your pet is protected this mosquito season, schedule a heartworm prevention appointment with Signature Veterinary Services before April. Our mobile veterinary clinic will come to you to test your pet for heartworm disease and provide you with the best preventative available.

It's Spay/Neuter Awareness Month!

Each year in the United States, 6.5 million companion animals are turned into animal shelters, and every year, about 1.5 million stray animals are euthanized. Spay & Neuter Awareness Month was created to help prevent the overcrowding of animal shelters and needless deaths by spreading awareness about the importance of sterilizing our pets.
Our veterinarians at Signature Veterinary Services encourage our pet parents to spay or neuter their pets not only to prevent the birth of unwanted litters and overcrowded animal shelters, but also to provide their pets with a whole host of health benefits.

4 Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

1. Prevent Unwanted Behaviors

Territory marking, unwanted aggression, and howling/yowling are all behaviors associated with your pet’s natural instinct to reproduce. Having a pet spayed or neutered will drastically reduce these instincts, creating a better-behaved pet.

2. Prevent Roaming

Pets that are left intact also have a tendency to roam. They’ll work hard to break out of their fences or sneak out of the house in search of a mate. Spaying or neutering your pet will eliminate their desire to wander and subsequently become lost or injured.

3. Reduce the Risk of Contagious Disease

Pets that are spayed or neutered come into contact with fewer animals throughout their lives. As a result, they’re exposed to fewer contagious diseases and are much more likely to remain healthy.

4. Eliminate the Risk of Reproductive Cancers

Spaying removes a female pet’s ovaries and uterus, and neutering removes a male pet’s testicles. As a result, cancers associated with these organs are eliminated entirely and the risk of developing other cancers, like breast cancer, are significantly reduced.

Is Spay/Neuter Surgery Safe?

The benefits of having a pet spayed or neutered far outweigh the risks. Spay and neuter surgeries require anesthesia. Our veterinarians will perform a physical examination and, depending on your pet’s age, history, and exam findings, will recommend appropriate diagnostics prior to the procedure. These tests ensure your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.

Although there is always some amount of risk during surgeries, spaying and neutering are both common, routine procedures that our veterinarians are highly skilled and experienced at performing.

Schedule an Appointment for Your Pet Today

To schedule an appointment for your cat or dog or to learn more about sterilizing your puppy, kitten, or intact adult pet, we welcome you to contact Signature Veterinary Services. Our mobile veterinary clinic is fully equipped with a surgical suite to provide all the care your pet needs and to protect our local animal shelters from overcrowding.

How to Fix These Common Canine Behavior Problems

Tearing up the house when left alone, soiling your clean carpets, pulling on the leash, jumping up on visitors, digging, chewing, and other destructive behaviors are concerns for every dog owner. While we love their rambunctious energy, it takes a lot of training and reinforcement of positive behaviors to help your dog feel secure and understand the behaviors you expect from them. With the right solutions, however, you’ll be able to rein in your dog’s energy and teach some very important manners that’ll help him or her live a happy, well-adjusted life.

Top 3 Canine Behavior Problems and How to Fix Them

1. Excessive Barking

If your dog keeps you up at night or has your neighbors complaining about noise whenever you leave the house, then your dog might have a barking problem. The first step in addressing your dog’s barking is to figure out what kind of barking it is. Identifying whether it’s territorial, alarm-barking, or another reason (see the ASPCA’s complete list) will determine how you need to approach training.

2. Chewing

Like barking, dogs chew, dig, and destroy their surroundings for various reasons and the first step is to figure out if your dog is bored, stressed, has excessive energy, or might be suffering from separation anxiety. Try increasing playtime with your dog to help him or her expend more energy. Keep plenty of dog-friendly toys around your house and reward your pup when he or she chooses to play with them.

Remember that puppies chew because they’re teething. In this case, try to provide them with plenty of chew toys and encourage them to focus on those rather than on your loafers.

3. Aggression

Aggression can occur as a result of poor socialization during puppyhood, but it also may signify that your pet has an underlying health issue. Start with a checkup, especially if the aggressive behavior is uncharacteristic.

Rule Out Medical Concerns First

Before getting upset with your dog’s behavior, schedule a physical examination. Behavior changes and unwanted behaviors, such as aggression or house soiling, can indicate an underlying medical issue. It’s always best to rule out the possibility that your pet is sick before focusing your attention solely on training.

Schedule a Checkup and Behavior Consultation with Signature Veterinary Services

If your pet has been acting up recently or has a bad habit that you haven’t been able to train them out of, then we encourage you to schedule an appointment with our mobile team at Signature Veterinary Services, serving pets in San Diego, Orange, and Riverside Counties. We can help you investigate possible underlying medical problems that could be contributing to behavior issues, and also provide you with useful resources and advice for correcting your pet’s unwanted behaviors. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Keeping Pets Healthy for Life During National Immunization Month

During August, our veterinarians celebrate National Immunization Month by raising awareness about the importance of vaccines for cats and dogs. Vaccinating is one of the most important components of your pet’s wellness and preventive care; vaccines are safe, simple, and extremely effective. While some health problems are unavoidable, there’s no reason to leave your pets vulnerable to the dangers of contagious diseases that we are able to prevent. With a simple schedule of vaccines, your pet will be protected from some of the most dangerous and contagious diseases.

Which Vaccinations Does Your Pet Need?

Cats and dogs receive a schedule of core (essential) vaccines and might also receive additional, non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are those that are strongly recommended and/or legally required for all pets to receive. Core vaccines protect pets from diseases like rabies, parvovirus, distemper virus, calicivirus, and herpesvirus.
Non-core vaccines aren’t necessary for every pet but are recommended based on each pet’s lifestyle, environment, and exposure risk. These include Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Influenza, rattlesnake, and Leukemia (in adults) vaccines.

Setting Up Your Pet's Vaccine Schedule

To keep the whole family safe, a pet owner simply needs to understand that pets require a combination of core and non-core vaccines on a set schedule. Your pet’s veterinarian will help you figure out the rest.
Typically, puppies and kittens begin receiving vaccines at about 6 to 8 weeks of age. To ensure their protection from disease, they then require booster shots every 3 to 4 weeks until at or after 16 weeks of age.
Once fully vaccinated puppies and kittens become adults, they will need core vaccine boosters every 1 to 3 years and non-core vaccine boosters as frequently as every 6 months. It’s also important to check with a veterinarian before traveling or relocating with your pet because different environments put pets at risk for contracting different diseases. These types of risks can be easily avoided by administering new vaccinations prior to your departure.

Signature Veterinary Services Brings the Vaccination Celebration to You!

If you’re too busy to visit a veterinary clinic or have a pet that gets anxious in new places, you can still make sure your pets are fully protected with an up-to-date schedule of vaccinations with Signature Veterinary Services. With our mobile veterinary clinic, our veterinarians will bring the vaccinations and wellness care to your doorstep! To learn more about the at-home veterinary services we provide or to schedule a preventive care appointment for your Carlsbad pet, we welcome you to contact us today.