Rattlesnake Update


With our ongoing beautiful weather, everyone is out and about with their happy K9’s and enjoying the walks, jogs, parks and hiking trails. If you’re going to be in rattlesnake territory with your furry pal, take precautions to help avert tragedy.  If your dog gets bit, consider it an emergency.



You know that the rattlesnake shakes it tail, warning its victim with a rattle before striking with its venomous bite.  Dogs are 20 times more likely to be bitten by rattlesnakes than people are, according to the Animal Medical Center of Southern California. A snake bite is also 25 times more likely to prove fatal to a dog, on average. The smaller the dog, the more likely it is that the bite will kill him. The typical canine’s risk level for rattlesnake bite is approximately 500 times higher than for contracting rabies.


A dog bitten by a rattlesnake will be in extreme pain from the venom’s effects, and the site of the bite will swell dramatically. Dogs are most likely to be bitten on the face or legs. If bitten on the face or head, a dog can suffocate because his throat could close from swelling. He could become paralyzed, experience low blood pressure or have uncontrolled bleeding. You might see two small holes about an inch apart where the snake struck. Again, get your pet to the vet immediately!





Swelling starts almost immediately!  Yikes!













1) Walk your dog on 6-foot leash.

If you hear a rattle or see a snake on the ground ahead of you, if your dog is on a 6 foot leash, you can avoid it.  Majority of rattlesnake bites occur when a dog is off-leash or on a flexi-lead.

2) Avoid rocky or dense brush or grassy areas.

In your walks with Rocket, stay on the trail, and choose wide trails or roads over narrow brush-bordered trails if possible. That way you are more likely to see a snake sunning itself across your path and be able to stop and avoid it in time. Also, keep your yard grass cut short and eliminate brush, piles of rocks where snakes like to sun themselves as well as hide.

3) Snake-proof your yard.

Your yard may be fenced to keep Rocket safely in, but it won’t keep most snakes out unless you snake proof it. Snakes can get under fencing that does not have a solid cement base (like a block wall). On wood fences or solid iron fences, use hardware cloth all along the base of your fence, including across any gated areas.

4) Know a dog’s rattlesnake-bite symptoms.

If you don’t recognize the symptoms of a rattlesnake bite in your pet, you might delay rushing them to the vet immediately – and that delay could be fatal.

Immediate symptoms almost always include:

  • Puncture wounds (can be bleeding)
  • severe pain
  • swelling
  • restlessness, panting, or drooling

Depending on how much venom the bite injected into your pet, and the size of your pooch, any of these more severe symptoms may appear quickly or within a few hours:

  • lethargy, weakness, sometimes collapse
  • muscle tremors
  • diarrhea
  • seizures
  • neurological signs including depressed respiration

5) If you and your pet encounter a rattlesnake…

Calmly and slowly back away from the snake until you are no longer within striking distance (about the snake’s length) and until the snake stops rattling at you. Then carefully leave the area – if there is one snake, there are likely to be more in that same area.


6) If your pet is bitten by a rattlesnake…

If you can, carry your dog to your car. If you can’t carry your dog without them struggling, walk them to your car. If you see people around, yell for help.  Limiting the dog’s activity will limit the venom moving around in their body, which is better. DRIVE YOUR PET TO A VET IMMEDIATELY! The faster your dog can get the anti-venom and other emergency treatment from the vet, the greater their chance of survival.


The rattlesnake vaccine has not been shown to be effective in any scientific studies so far and carries a risk of anaphylactic reaction and abscess at the injection site. As soon as studies can show it is effective and the benefit outweighs the risk of reactions to the vaccine, we will recommend vaccinating.

The better option currently is to enroll your dog in a Rattlesnake Avoidance Class which are very effective in preventing bites.  Rattlesnake Avoidance Training classes will be held at Kindred Spirits Dog Training in Vista on May 14th and 15th, 2016.  You can register online at www.kindredspiritsk9.com. The class takes approximately an hour.  If you have any questions, concerns or feel that your pet has been bitten by a snake, bring your pet in to see us right away!  We are open 7 days a week, Monday – Friday from 8 am to 8 pm, and on the weekends from 8 am to 5 pm.

DSC00219We all strive to care for and prevent any injuries to our pets.  They give us so much love unconditionally as well as having fun and being part of the family! If you have any questions on any matter, please call us anytime!


Nuisance of Foxtails



Foxtails are arrow shaped grass-like weeds that can be very dangerous to our pets.  Their shape promotes deep penetration into, as well as movement (migration) within a pet’s skin.  Foxtails have the potential to cause infection and irritation in any area of the body in which they occur. They commonly embed into the skin, ears, eyes, and nose of our pets. They can also lodge in the throat, particularly behind the tonsils.These weeds can migrate throughout the body, causing irritation and infection in the lungs, heart, and other internal organs.

The symptoms of an embedded foxtail depend on its location.The skin and the area under the skin are the most common sites for foxtails in pets. The most frequently affected areas are the paws (especially the webbed areas between the toes) and the anterior portions of the chest and shoulders.  Foxtails embedded in or under the skin cause swelling, pain, redness, and drainage of clear or bloody fluid from the site.  Pets often lick the affected area of skin, and hair loss may occur.  Limping is common if a foxtail is embedded in the paw.

A foxtail head already penetrating into the foot. Caught on time!

A foxtail head already penetrating into the foot. Caught on time!









Foxtails can also occur in the penis, vulva and anus areas on our pets.  It’s important that after you exercise/play with your playful pup to check him over thoroughly. If you have wheat or honey colored pets, foxtails may blend in with their coat.

Foxtails located in the eye cause severe swelling, pain and discharge in the affected eye.  The eye usually will be held tightly closed.

If located in the nose, foxtails usually cause violent sneezing (cats, dogs).  Mucus or blood may drain from one nostril.

Foxtails located in the ear may cause head shaking, scratching or pawing at the ear.   An ear infection may develop in the affected ear, or the eye on the affected side may begin to appear abnormal.

Foxtails that lodge behind the tonsils may cause a dry, honking cough (cats, dogs) or frequent, hard swallowing.

Foxtails that migrate through the body can lodge in the lungs, heart, or other internal organs and may cause severe lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss, coughing, or difficulty breathing.


Risk Factors

Foxtails occur in grassy, outdoor areas. Check your back yard, dog parks, etc. for these pesky weeds! Maintaining your yard where your pets stay during the day is critical.

Due to feline grooming habits foxtails are less likely to remain embedded in the skin of cats than that of dogs.  However, foxtails can occur in either species.

Animals with long, thick hair are more likely to attract and collect foxtails.

Dr. Travis examining Casper and pulling out foxtails!

Dr. Travis examining Casper and pulling out foxtails!



Foxtails cause pain and irritation.  They very frequently cause infection in the surrounding area.  Foxtails in the skin may cause chronic draining sores.   In the eye, foxtails can cause ulcers and infection.  Foxtails in the ear can cause ear infections, and can penetrate the ear drum to cause hearing damage.  Until they are removed, foxtails often cause chronic infection and irritation to that particular area.  The long-term nature of these issues can be extremely frustrating. Foxtails have a tendency to migrate through the body, and can move to areas such as the lungs, heart, liver, or other internal organs.  This simple weed is a serious matter to our pets!


How to detect if your pet has a foxtail:

  • Your pet constantly licks and bites their paws
  • Your pet tilts their head from side to side or shakes compulsively
  • If your pet shows signs of swelling, redness, discharge, squinting or pawing at their eyes there may be a foxtail lodged in that area
  • If there is discharge coming from their nose or if they are sneezing frequently and intensely, they may have a foxtail lodged in a nasal passage.



If a foxtail can be located, physical removal is the most effective treatment.  Depending on the location, sedation or anesthesia may be required to search for and remove a foxtail.Antibiotics often are used to treat infections that foxtails have triggered.  If a foxtail is suspected but cannot be located and removed, long-term antibiotics often are coupled with aggressive flushing and cleaning of the affected area. A confirmed diagnosis occurs when a foxtail is located. In many instances, foxtails are difficult to locate. This can lead to significant frustration.


After a foxtail is located and removed, most symptoms resolve rapidly.  If a foxtail is suspected but cannot be located and removed, a follow-up evaluation by your veterinarian may be necessary during the treatment period.  In some cases, procedures to search for and remove foxtails must be repeated several times. If you see foxtails in your yard, it’s definitely worth it to get rid of them. Call your city park and recreation and tell them about the foxtails in the area pets play. Foxtails are no joke when it comes to our fur babies health and well- being. Please call us if you have any questions!

Foxtails are everywhere!

Foxtails are everywhere!

Tick Season is Now!

walkerWhat a relief to have received the rain earlier this year and now see the growth of bushes, trees and such. More rain is to be expected again soon! Due to the abundance of vegetation, we are also seeing lots of ticks on our pets. Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects, they are actually arachnids similar to scorpions, spiders and mites.  All ticks have four pairs of legs for a total of eight legs as adults and have no antennae.  Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their host, which can be an animal or a human.

Ticks are efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding. What does the tick have that “attaches” itself to the host? It’s like a feeding tube which has barbs. These barbs help the tick stay in place and feed.  If you remove a tick from your pet and the head/feeding tube is still attached to your canine, it will eventually die. Infection in that area of the skin can set in.  It’s always best to have your veterinarian remove ticks from your pet for safety purposes.

What is the tick’s life cycle?  Ticks have four distinct life stages:

  1. Egg
  2. Six-legged larva
  3. Eight-legged nymph
  4. Adult

Females deposit from 3,000 to 6,000 eggs on the ground.  That is unreal!  Adult ticks seek host animals and after engorgement on blood, they mate. Yikes!  Male hard ticks usually die after mating with one or more females, although some may live for several months. Females die soon after laying their eggs. The life cycle requires from as little as 2 months to more than 2 years, depending on the species.



Ticks wait for host animals on the tips of grasses and shrubs.  When brushed by a moving animal or person, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. Ticks can only crawl; they cannot fly or jump. Thank goodness for that!


What you can do to prevent your pets from getting ticks:

After visiting the dog park, daycare, or trails with your dog, spot check him! Run your hands on his paws (between toes), legs, tail, chest, neck area, back, shoulders, head, mouth, and ears. Be sure and check after every walk.

Check and clean out their bed area. If your pet has ticks, you may happen to see one that has dropped.

Most importantly, talk with your veterinarian and discuss flea/tick prevention options for your pet. One of the most convenient and effective products is the monthly topical flea/tick preventive. It is simply applied topically to the skin on back of the neck where it is absorbed. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations to keep your pet parasite free.


Types of Ticks: 

American Dog Tick:  The American dog tick attacks a wide variety of hosts, including humans, dogs and occasionally cats, but rarely infests homes.These ticks are widely distributed throughout North America and are especially seen in the southern United States and in coastal and other humid areas. You encounter them near roads, paths, trails and recreational areas. Although present all year round, American dog ticks are most numerous in the spring.

Lone Star Tick:  These ticks live in wooded and brushy areas and are most numerous in the underbrush along creeks and river bottoms and near animal resting places. Lone star ticks are present throughout the year.

Deer or Blacklegged Tick:  These ticks are usually found in wooded areas along trails. The deer or blacklegged tick can transmit Lyme disease and possibly Ehrlichiosis.

Brown Dog Tick:  The brown dog tick is found through most of the United States. This tick feeds on dogs, but rarely bites people or cats. Unlike the other species of ticks, its life cycle allows it to survive and develop indoors. The brown dog tick is found primarily in kennels or homes with dogs, where it may be found hiding in cracks, behind radiators, under rugs and furniture, and on draperies and walls.


Ticks can pass infections from one host to the next, including humans. We have all heard about Lyme disease? Yep – from a tick! That’s another blog story. Make sure after being outside to check yourself too.  As for our feline friends, cats are themselves incredible groomers and it’s rare to see more than one or two ticks on a cat.  If you see numerous ticks on your kitty, this could be a sign of an illness. Cats that are ill usually don’t groom themselves. Now that we are all itchy after reading this blog, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call us!


DSC00198                                                                                                                              Always check your pets before and after play!