Sierra Veterinary Hospital

33041 Auberry Rd Ste 110
Auberry, California 93602






Winter has finally come to our foothill and mountain communities.  With the approach of this time of year we routinely winterize the pipes in our homes and any outdoor irrigation systems, make sure there is antifreeze in our vehicles or toilets and there is plenty of wood or propane to keep us warm.  How well have you prepared for your pets to weather the winter weather?  Winter rain, sleet, snow, cold winds and temperatures can have a negative impact on our pets and can even be life threatening.

Here are some tips to keep your pets safe and warm this winter.  Beware of the antifreeze that you used to keep your vehicle from freezing because even a small amount can be fatal if ingested by your pets.  Antifreeze has a sweet taste and animals will be attracted to it and if ingested will exhibit drooling, vomiting, appear to be drunk and even have seizures, they can pant excessively and be very thirsty.  If your pet has ingested antifreeze or exhibits any of these symptoms, get them to your veterinarian immediately!  Safety Tip:  Keep the antifreeze put away in a cabinet or on a high shelf in a safe place.

Cold and wet snowy weather can also damage pet paws, cause hypothermia and frostbite.  When our pets are outside in the snow and ice, the fur on their feet can cause ice to build up between their pads and toes.  To avoid this from happening, keep the fur trimmed even with the pads and clean their feet especially when entering your home.   Consider buying your pet some booties to wear when you go outside to play and walk.

Hypothermia is a very serious winter weather concern that occurs when a dog or cat spends too much time in the cold and/or wet conditions, or is in poor health or has poor circulation problems.  When your pet gets too cold they will exhibit signs of lethargy, depression, stiffness and weakness.  Severe hypothermia is life-threatening, the heart and breathing rates slow and will not respond to stimuli.  Safety tip:  Keep your pets indoors or provide a warm, sheltered place for them away from the fireplace, wood stove or space heater where they can get burned.

Frostbite is also very serious and often not immediately obvious.  Frostbite occurs when the animal’s body gets cold and pulls blood away from extremities to the center of the body to stay warm.  A dog or cat’s paws, ears and tails are especially at risk and can even freeze.  As frostbitten areas begin to warm again they can be very painful, they may even turn black and fall off.  Safety tip:  Provide some warm clothing that covers the back and tummy from neck to tail and booties for the feet and avoid prolonged periods in cold snowy wet or frozen conditions.

Most of our pets are not equipped for the cold weather, even if they are a breed with a lot of fur.  Be mindful that they get cold just like we do and we need to prepare and care for them too.


Submitted by Sierra Veterinary Hospital 559-855-3770



Most people here in the foothill and mountain areas know what foxtails are and what they look like.  They are pesky barbed seed heads from the wild grasses that grow everywhere in this area.  The barbs on the seed heads are particularly dangerous for dogs and cats since they travel in only one direction.  If they are sniffed into the nose, attached to the fur and enter the ears or are swallowed they can cause serious damage to eyes, ears, skin and internal organs.

Foxtails in the eyes can be very painful, causing trouble with vision and even leading to blindness.  While the foxtail may not be visible the dog may paw at their eyes, their may be a discharge, redness, swelling or squinting.  See your veterinarian immediately because the symptoms will only get worse and can cause irreversible permanent damage.

Foxtails in the ears are very common and will cause the dog or cat to shake their head, scratch at their ears and tilt their head.  If the foxtail is not removed, the foxtail could rupture an eardrum and cause chronic ear infections.  This is very painful and requires the skill of a veterinarian to remove.

Dogs are always sniffing things as they go about and often will take in a foxtail in the nose.  This causes intense sneezing, head shaking and a bloody nasal discharge.  If the foxtail gets past the air passage it can travel into the lungs and become embedded causing infection and pneumonia, it could even travel into the brain and cause seizures.  Bring your pet to your veterinarian immediately so they can remove the foxtail that has entered your dog’s nose.

Between the toes are also vulnerable places where dogs and cats will get an embedded foxtail.  The foxtail will travel internally until it reaches bone or exits through the skin.  Most of the time it remains internally causing the dog to limp and lick the area constantly.  The foot may also swell.  Again this is very painful, but your veterinarian can remove the foxtail.

If you see a foxtail on your pet, remove it immediately to keep it from piercing the skin.  If the foxtail has pierced the skin, take your pet to your veterinarian immediately for removal under local anesthesia.  Once the foxtail is removed the symptoms should clear up within a few days, occasionally antibiotics are required.  If the symptoms persist, it could indicate there are other foxtails embedded or the foxtails have created another medical condition in your pet.

The best remedy is to keep your dog or cat away from any area where there are foxtails.  In these foothill and mountain areas that can be a big challenge.  Inspect your pet daily for any of these pesky barbed foxtails and act immediately when symptoms appear.



The holidays are coming with family and friends over for those wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.  With all likelihood included in the family and friends will be your pets looking to anyone who will give them a scrap or two from the table.  While not all scraps from the table are bad, there are some that are dangerous.  Some of the dangerous ones are toxic and often hidden as an ingredient in soups, stews, side dishes, desserts and perhaps even the main course, so let’s go over the ones that you should be aware of and avoid giving as a treat.

We often think that giving our dogs a bone to chew on is an ok thing to do, however, a cooked bone can splinter and can cause an intestinal perforation or blockage resulting in an emergency room visit which is very costly as well as painful for your pet.  Definitely not worth it!  Some of the other foods to avoid are raisins and grapes, onions and garlic or anything that includes them as an ingredient, chocolate, sugar, alcohol, macadamia nuts, raw meat, raw potatoes, peach or avocado pits and any prepackaged foods that contain artificial sweeteners (xylitol kills), like desserts, candies and condiments, green tomatoes or any part of a tomato plant as these are all toxic. 

Many of our favorite holiday foods are full of butter and cheese that makes them taste so yummy, but for a dog these rich foods can cause diarrhea, vomiting and even pancreatitis if they have enough.  The best thing to do for the dogs that are giving you those big brown eyes is to keep their treats healthy.  Stick to whole, fresh foods, like a couple of pieces of turkey meat (without skin or bones), some steamed broccoli, carrots or brussel sprouts, even some raw pumpkin, but not pumpkin pie!

Keep the holidays healthy and happy for your dog, give a few healthy treats and enjoy!

Submitted by Sierra Veterinary Hospital 559-855-3770


There has been confirmed cases of Canine Influenza (CIV) in the Oakland area recently along with many sick dogs.  In February 2018 there was a CIV outbreak in the San Jose area which quickly spread to the Central Valley.  CIV is very infectious and can be passed to other dogs and is now being reported in Oregon.  Vaccination against H3N2 will reduce the severity of the disease which can be fatal.  A dog with H3N2 can have a fever, cough, runny nose or eyes and exhibit signs of a respiratory illness.  If your dog shows any of these signs, do not take them to a shelter or be out with other dogs since it spreads quickly and can infect all the dogs they come in contact with.

Protect your dog and get them vaccinated.  There is an initial vaccination and 30 days latter a booster is required, then once a year thereafter.

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