Spring Time is Prevention Time!

With record snow fall in the Sierras this winter, mosquitoes will be flourishing more now than drier years in the past. Spring is the perfect time to start preventatives for heartworm disease!


If you are not familiar with heartworm disease – it’s a parasite transmitted by infected mosquitoes.  Adult worms develop in the heart, cause heart failure and eventually death.  Crazy thing…it can be prevented. 

This disease isn’t as prevalent in Northern Nevada, but it does exist in the Reno-Tahoe area.  It actually affects both, dogs and cats, in every state. 2013-Heartworm-Incidence-Map

With record snow fall in the Sierras this winter, mosquitoes will be flourishing more now than drier years in the past.  Spring is the perfect time to start preventatives for heartworm disease!

Heartworm larvae live in infected mosquitoes and are transmitted when they bite your dog or cat.  The larvae develop into adults that gather in the heart.  Once adult worms are present, without treatment prognosis is death.

Boomer HW

Boomer’s Heart Infected with Adult Heartworms – Villa Lobos Rescue Center

The best way to prevent heartworm disease is keeping your pet on a preventative year round. Infected mosquitoes in the Lake Tahoe Area, have even been found at the Lake level as late as November. Yes November! So, skipping winter months is no longer a viable option to fight this often fatal disease.

Performing a simple blood test at your veterinarian’s hospital can test for the disease in as little as 10 minutes.  Negative results mean you can start the preventative.  It’s as easy as giving a tasty beef chew once a month.  Positive results are another story of their own.  Treatment is necessary to save your pet and risks involved can be fatal as well.

As an active outdoor enthusiast, camping and hiking with my dogs is a must. My dogs are protected by Heartgard all year, since mosquitoes are unavoidable. Although there are products like k9 Advantix II that repel mosquitoes, there’s no guarantee.  And…mosquitoes not biting your dog are biting you.  Cases of heartworm have been reported in humans as well. West Nile Virus is another nasty disease spread by mosquitoes.

Tech Tips:

  • Get your dog tested for Heartworm disease annually.
  • If, you skip or miss a dose, be sure to re-test in 6 months.
  • Keep your dog on a Heartworm preventative all year.
  • Symptoms, though not always seen, may include:
  • A mild persistent cough, lethargy, exercise intolerance, weight-loss, and loss of appetite.

The fact is, if there’s even a chance for infection and there’s a preventative…It’s in your power to ensure you pets’ well being.

Spring is here so start prevention now!

Protect your pets from winter’s harsh reality.

Winter is officially here. As the days get longer, so can the list of potential hazards. Protect your pets from winter’s harsh reality.

Protecting your pet during the cold weather is just as important as protection from the heat of summer.  Follow my tech tips to kick of your pet’s winter safely.

Keep them cozy inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during the cold months of winter.  Most pets need to do their “business” outside, but be mindful of the length of time spent out there or in unattended vehicles.  Adequate bedding inside is also necessary to keep pets comfortable on hard, cold floors.ruby-snuggled-for-blog-12-21

Bundle them up.  Shorter haired pets can wear sweaters or jackets to keep the warm during outdoor winter activities. Be sure pet clothing fits properly to avoid chaffing and discomfort.

Protect their paws.  Paws can be traumatized by the frigid ground, sharp ice and chemicals  found in commercial ice melts.  Use booties during icy conditions or when going for longer walks or hikes.  Find booties that fit your pet properly.   Even cats can benefit from booties, but may be more reluctant to wear them.  When wearing boots, check feet often and look for any sores or bleeding – we’ve all had a blister from breaking in a new pair of shoes!

Godiva in Boots

            Ruby and Godiva wear Ultra Paws Rugged Dog Boots!

Clean up spills.  Antifreeze is deadly to pets.  Toxicity happens quickly and is lethal in very small doses. Try Low Tox™ brand antifreeze which contains propylene glycol and is recommended for use in pet households. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian and the Pet Poison Animal Poison Help Line(855-764-7661)  right away!

Choose ice melt that is pet safe. Safe Paw Ice Melter is a safe salt free alternative. Make your own, but be cautious of the pros and cons.

Be prepared for emergencies. Whether you’re at home or on the road, always consider your pet’s needs too.  Power outages during frigid temperatures and storms could leave you and your pet in need for days. The AVMA suggests keeping a supply of food and/or medications to last at least 5 days.  Keep an emergency kit, additional blankets and clothes in your vehicle.

Monitor dietary wellness. Be sure your pet is staying hydrated and well fed during the cold months of winter.  Proper nutrition is important for thermoregulation all year long -just because its cold doesn’t mean they need to fatten up.  Provide fresh water daily. Dehydration can happen in the winter too! Snow consumption is fine for fun, but too much could cause intestinal upset.

Keep them healthy.  Talk to your veterinarian about keeping your pet safe and comfortable this winter. Discuss changes in behavior and/or activity levels.  Changes in weather can often show us signs of illness we hadn’t seen previously, such lameness, hypothermia or frostbite.ruby-and-godiva-in-coats-for-blog-12-21

What will you do to protect your pet this winter?  

Ruby and Godiva want you to submit picture or story of you and your pet preventing winter’s woes!

Respect the Rules

Respect…Give it….Get it…

IMG_0065Ruby and I headed to Spooner Summit today for a nice short hike. Godiva couldn’t come since she’s recovering from dental surgery yesterday, and has a torn cranial cruciate ligament. Don’t worry she’s getting a TPLO August 9th at Sierra Veterinary Specialists, but that’s a whole other story!

I knew we needed to get out to beat the heat and the traffic.  Owning an aggressive dog has its many downfalls, but the unconditional love she shows is worth all the work.  

We went to Spooner Lake Trail knowing dogs had to be leashed; I hoped everyone with dogs respected that. They did. Although Ruby is aggressive, I still believe she deserves to live life to the fullest.  I never hike busy trails with Ruby unless she’s wearing her muzzle and leash.  Trust me, we learned the hard way. We respect the right of all others on the trail, and ALWAYS yield the trail as well.

It was refreshing to find every dog owner strolling along had their dog on a leash!  We had a great walk.  It was calm and peaceful.  We stopped several time for Ruby to soak in Spooner Lake and cool down.

It was one of the best walks I’ve had with Ruby on a busy trail in a LONG TIME!  I was relaxed; she was relaxed.  You know why?  Respect.  Every dog owner had their dog on a leash.  It’s the rules.  It’s posted a million times on the trail and every time the trail splits.

As we yielded the trail, today a group of Boy Scouts asked why Ruby was wearing “that thing on her face.”  I said it’s to protect her because sometimes she not a very nice dog. No judgement was passed, and they kept on strolling.  It felt so good. 

My blog is always finished up with my Tech Tips, and this will be no different.  I stated some of this in my Pet Summer Hiking Series – Part One, but why not reiterate.

Tech Tips

  • Respect trail signage.
    • If it says, Keep Dogs On A Leash, DO IT! There’s a reason, and usually its to protect wildlife and delicate botanical species.
  • Try a Flexi Leash.
    • Ruby LOVES her Flexi leash. It allows her the freedom to explore more, and allows me to reign her in before encountering dogs or people. IMG_0067
  • Add a Yellow Ribbon.
    • If you dog isn’t good with other dogs, people, or just needs a little space, tie a yellow ribbon on his or her leash to warn others.
  • Always yield the trail.
    • Step far enough off the trail so others can pass you safely.
  • Give respect, get respect.
    • Treat your dog and others the way you would want to be treated to avoid unwanted altercations.

Thank you to all the people out today that respected the trail and respected the rules. We started our weekend out in a very positive way.

Do you have an aggressive dog?  What do you do to respect others on the trail?



Porcupines And Your Pets

Godiva got quilled!

Porcupines are no joke.  They’re usually found hiding in wooded areas, but can be hard to spot here in the Sierra [read more].  When a pet comes into contact with this prickly rodent, it’s not pretty.   The barbed quills burrow into skin of the mouth, nose and eyes.  This is extremely painful. 

Often the quills can break off and cause infection and abscesses.  Attempting to remove quills yourself may only make the problem worse.  Most dogs need to be sedated or anesthetized for quill removal.


Tech Tips

If you see a porcupine, observe it from a far.

Keep dogs on their leash to avoid the encounter.

If your pet gets quilled:

  • Keep them from pawing at their face; this may cause quills to break off.
  • Get your pet to your veterinarian for treatment.
    • Quills must be removed to avoid quill migration, infection and further pain

Avoidance training

If your dog can’t keep his or her nose out of tempting holes and bushes, try avoidance training.  This is similar to rattlesnake avoidance training. Your dog wears an electronic collar and receives quick controlled electronic correction when they exhibit the undesired behavior.  The process is repeated to ensure the training is clear and the dog associates the behavior with the correction [read more].

Get Rattled will be offering skunk and porcupine aversion training; stay updated with their calendar of events here!

Have you and your pet had a porcupine encounter?  I’d love to hear your story, and how you handled it.


Foxtail? What’s A Foxtail?

Keep you pets SAFER from foxtails this summer by following my Tech Tips.


IMG_4507If you’ve been hiking in Nevada or California, you are no stranger to foxtailsThis small grassy plant with flowery spikes poses a threat to many pets both at home and on the trails.  Because of its hardy nature most individuals even find them difficult to remove from their yards.

These spiky seeds migrate through the skin and can burrow deep into tissues of the paws, ears, eyes, lungs, kidneys…or worse….the brain.  Their barb-like characteristic pushes the plant further into the body; they fester and cause abscesses.

At Lone Mountain Veterinary Hospital, we’ve seen our fair share of foxtail abscesses lately.  The seeds are drying up with the hot desert sun making it easier for them to cling to fur.

This is Bodey, an English Spaniel. His owners are new to the area; they didn’t know the dangers of foxtails.  

IMG_4497Not only are they painful, they’re costly too.  Bodey’s treatment included blood work; sedation; lancing and flushing the abscesses; and trimming the hair on his feet.  Bodey also went home with antibiotics and pain medication. The total? About $400.

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IMG_4482Here’s Wiley, a domestic short-haired cat who spends his time indoors and outdoors.  His owners brought him in to have a lump checked.  (Remember, lumps and bumps can mean cancer; address them ASAP.)  Turns out, it was an abscess….a foxtail abscess.

Keep you pets SAFER from foxtails this summer by following my Tech Tips.



Tech Tips

Pull foxtail plants from yards.

  • I pull them as soon as I see them!

After a hike or walk, inspect you pet’s body for any hitchhikers. Use a comb or fingers for a hands-on approach.

  • Ears – Lift the pinna (floppy part) and look into the ear.
  • Feet – With your fingers, trace between each toe, webbing and nail bed.
  • Eyes – Catch them on their fur before they migrated into the eye. If you suspect a foxtail in your pet’s eye, bring them to your vet ASAP. Ulcers can cause permanent, costly damage.
  • Armpits – Give your dog or cat a good belly rubbin’ and check them out!
  • Prepuce and vaginal folds – I know it’s a little personal, but it’s imperative. Foxtails migrate into these openings and often aren’t checked.  Use disposable gloves if available, and wash hands thoroughly.

Keep your pet groomed shorter in the summer.

  • Trim hair on their feet very short so they can be easily inspected.  At work we call it “poodle feet” or “foxtail feet.”

Look for signs of a foxtail abscess.

  • Feet – Limping and licking
  • Ears – Shaking head
  • Any NEW red, swollen, warm bumps
  • Depression and anorexia

Foxtails are unavoidable in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Do what you can to prevent your pet from becoming a victim of this dangerous pest.  

 Keep your pets safe with my weekly Tech Tips…Follow me, Aubrie – LVT & EMBA!



Pet Summer Hiking Series – Part Six: ER Trail Tips

Dog bites…and bee stings…and cuts…OH MY!


Emergencies are scary whether you’re at home or on the trail.  Take my tech tips along and apply them to keep your pet safe until you reach veterinary medical attention.

Avoiding emergency situations is obviously preferred, but being prepared if they happen is priceless.  Having the necessary supplies will prevent an emergency from becoming a tragedy for both you and your pet this summer.

Dog Fights

Avoiding negative dog encounters is the best way to keep your pet safe. If your pet is aggressive toward other dogs or people; yield the trail to let others pass by safely.  See Part One of my Pet Summer Hiking Series for Trail Etiquette.

Tech Tips

  • Use a large, long stick to pry apart jaws or dogs to avoid injury.
  • Once the dogs are separated, inspect for wounds and tend to any that are excessively bleeding.
  • Allow your dog to calm down before trying to make them walk back.  He or she may be in shock and extra exercise can exacerbate this.
  • Seek veterinary medical attention immediately. 
  • Untreated bite wounds can lead to infections. Most need to be treated with antibiotics, because believe me a dog’s mouth is far from clean.
  • IMG_1837
    Godiva, under sedation, having a drain place after a dog attacked her. Thanks Dr. Teresa!

Insect Bites/Stings

Nevada and California are home to bees, wasps, fire ants, poisonous spiders and scorpions.  Bites or stings from these can cause mild hives, facial swelling, vomiting, difficulty breathing and even paralyze parts of the body.  Do not apply pressure, this will spread the venom further.  Often diphenhydramine is given to stop the allergic response. Be sure to check with your veterinarian for the proper dosage BEFOREHAND. 

Tech Tip

  • Use a pair of tweezers or old credit card to remove the stinger.


Cuts can happen anywhere on your pets body.  When working at Lone Mountain Vet Hospital, feet, legs and chest seem to be most common.  Cuts caused by sharp sticks may even puncture a lung.  This is a medical emergency and your dog needs to be tended to ASAP.

Tech Tip

  • Carry a pair of dog booties to protect or prevent cuts on feet.
  • For serious lacerations, apply direct pressure and elevate affected limbs to decrease blood flow.
  • Tourniquets are not recommended unless it’s life-threatening.


Carry a First Aid Kit.  Make a small first aid kit that can be carried on short walks or long hikes.

Godiva and Ruby’s Kit includes:  

A laminated card with First Aid and CPR Care Information About:

  • Treating Cuts/Wounds
  • Rashes, Skin Irritations, Itches
  • Bee Stings/Insect Bites
  • Toenail Bleeding
  • Puncture Wounds
  • Poisoning

Bandaging Materials

  • Band-Aids (for human use)
  • Square gauze of various sizes (sterile if possible)
  • Surgical Sponges (sterile)
  • Non-stick pads
  • First aid tape
  • Bandage rolls – gauze and Elastikon
  • Sterile draping material


  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for allergic reactions
    • Obtain dose for each pet from your veterinarian
  • Pain medication: Tramadol (narcotic) and Rimadyl (NSAID)
    • Both were prescribed by my veterinarian based on my dogs’ weights
    • Ask your veterinarian if either of these is appropriate for your pet
  • FortiFlora (probiotic/anti-diarrheal)

Wound disinfectant (povidone pads/swabs and alcohol pads)

Triple antibiotic ointment for skin

Eye wash solution (saline)

Styptic powder

Solar blanket

Non-latex gloves

Emergency Drinking Water

The summer has just begun.  Follow my tech tips and stay safe on the trails of the Sierra!IMG_4274

I update my blog twice a week, and will be adding more information about pet safety and wellness.  Exciting topics like fox tails, heat stroke, and porcupines are coming up soon!  If you have any ideas you’d like me to write about, please leave a comment and add it to my agenda.  I love being an LVT and I’d be thrilled to answer any questions you have.