Sierra Veterinary Hospital

33041 Auberry Rd Ste 110
Auberry, CA 93602



The hot sweltering days of summer with those 100+ degree days, nights that don't seem to cool off much and the sound of a distant thunderstorm with lightning strikes are upon us. We here in the foothill and mountain communities are all too familiar with wildfire season and the devastation to everything that they bring. Everyone is aware that vegetation clearance around homes, out buildings, barns and pastures is critical, but are we as prepared as we should be to protect and care for our livestock and pets in case of a disaster and potential evacuation. Preparation and planning ahead can avoid heartache and loss so let's get prepared!

Plan where you will go with your pets and livestock before disaster strikes. Be sure to keep your pets contained while traveling because they will be just as anxious as you are in an emergency situation and you don't want them in your lap when you are trying to drive or tossed about, use a carrier, crate or pet seatbelt. Have an evacuation plan with multiple routes if possible and prepare a bug-out or disaster kit for all your animals. Here is a checklist of items to include:

Pet Disaster Kit

  • Proof of ownership for each pet which includes registration papers, vaccination or medical records, contact information for your veterinarian and current pictures contained in a waterproof bag.
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped.
  • Non-nylon collars, harness and leads with name tags and current contact information
  • Food and water for at least a week, preferably two weeks
  • Treats for those anxious moments
  • Non-spill bowls that are weighted on the bottom
  • Medical First Aid Kit especially for pets. (These can be found at Amazon, Chewy or any other online source). If you travel with your pets, it is good to keep a kit in your vehicle and then you always have the supplies you need in case of emergency.
  • Medications with instructions
  • Pet restraint equipment for your vehicle, pet seatbelts
  • Pet carriers for smaller pets.
  • Soft, plastic or metal crates for larger pets
  • Bedding, blankets, towels and some toys or familiar favorite items for comfort
  • Kitty Litter for your feline family with a scoop
  • Bags for waste disposal
  • Cleaning supplies, disinfectant spray and paper towels
  • Made-ahead "Lost Poster" with a current picture of your pet and contact information in case you are separated

Livestock Disaster Kit

  • Proof of ownership which includes registration papers, vaccination or medical records, contact information for your veterinarian and current pictures contained in a waterproof bag.
  • Microchip your equine family.
  • Hay, pelleted feed and water for at least three days.
  • Buckets for water and feed
  • Hoof pick
  • Leg wraps
  • Non-nylon halter and lead
  • Medications
  • Barn or Equine First Aid Kit
  • Trash can with lid
  • Shovel

If you can't take your livestock or pets with you when you evacuate, don't leave them tied up outside. Dogs and cats are best left inside the home, preferably in a bathroom with no windows. Partially fill the tub with water or in the case of a shower only bathroom leave multiple buckets or containers of water that are weighted so they won't get turned over. Be sure to leave them food. Leave livestock in a cleared pen with plenty of feed and water. Don't rely on automatic watering systems because power will likely be lost and they will not work. Occasionally fire fighters may need to cut fences and release animals when they are in danger so keep a list of all livestock with current pictures for identification and make sure neighbors have your contact information.

If you have left animals or livestock at home, when you are safely evacuated, Fresno County has an Animal in Disaster Response Request form which you can access from your phone at Fill out all the information requested and a team of volunteers will attempt to rescue as many animals as they are able. The information on the form is vital to be reunited with your animal family.

Have a safe summer and be prepared!

Distemper in Our Local Foothill and Mountain Areas


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reporting that there is an abnormally high number of canine distemper virus cases in wildlife populations throughout California and locally in our own foothill and mountain areas.    The wildlife most commonly found to have contracted the disease are skunks, raccoons and foxes.  Several local residents have reported that these wild animals have been dying everywhere.  This is especially important since the virus is easily transmitted to our local canine population.  The virus can be spread through direct contact with unvaccinated animals or wild animals and through the use of water or food bowls that are left outside.  The virus is similar to the common cold and is transmitted through inhalation or direct contact with bodily fluids and travels fast, usually within 24 hours.  Even when an infected animal is showing little to no signs or symptoms they can still spread the virus for up to 90 days.

Typical symptoms of distemper include nasal discharge, weepy eyes, lack of appetite, depression, possibly a fever which can easily go unnoticed, coughing and in time pneumonia.  As the disease develops vomiting and diarrhea may occur as well as callusing of the nose and foot pads.   Young puppies and dogs with a weak immune systems usually die during this phase of the disease.  If death does not occur at this stage then neurological symptoms will develop including seizures, tremors, limb weakness and imbalance.  If the animal does not die, then these neurological symptoms may become permanent.  Sometimes the dog may appear to have recovered only to exhibit the neurological symptoms in a week or more and then die.  Recovery may occur, but is entirely dependent on the immune system.  Currently there is no treatment to kill the virus, only medications to fight the infections, pneumonia and to prevent seizures.

The best treatment is prevention.  An effective distemper vaccination has been available since the 1950’s.  Puppies should be vaccinated beginning at age 6 – 8 weeks and then every three weeks until the age of 16 weeks.  The next vaccine is then given in one year and then every three years thereafter.  Be vigilant and keep your dog(s) away from wildlife and don’t leave water and food bowls outside that will attract wildlife into your dog’s environment.  In the event that your dog does become infected, isolate the dog away from other family pets and seek the help of your veterinarian immediately.  Currently, there is no treatment that can kill the virus inside your dog.  There are only medications that can fight the infections and help to prevent seizures.

In the event that you encounter a sick wild animal, keep your distance.  Often sick animals can be very aggressive.  California Department of Fish and Wildlife instructs  to “Please report the sick animal’s behavior and location to the nearest permitted rehabilitation as soon as possible.  In Fresno County call Fresno Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation at (559) 298-3276. They are an all volunteer organization and may not provide pickup services.  If you have an emergency with a wild animal call 911.  If you find a dead wild animal, do not touch it with your bare hands, wear gloves, avoid direct contact with any bodily fluids and bury the animal deep if possible or bag it and throw it away. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife website has a list of Protocols for Safe Handling and Disposal of Carcasses.  It has been reported by a local CDFW officer that there is no current study being done on dead wild animals.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommend that “if you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, please wash the wound vigorously with soap and water and consult a physician and/or contact your County Public Health Department.  Neurologic signs of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) may not be distinguishable from rabies virus infection, which is a public health risk.”  Fresno County Public Health Department can be contacted at (559) 600-3200.

If you have questions concerning distemper in local wildlife or sick animals you can contact CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory at (916) 358-2790.

Help us to keep your precious canine family members safe, get them vaccinated. Call Sierra Veterinary Hospital at 559-855-3770 for an appointment.  We are open during this COVID-19 pandemic and have protocols in place to protect our clients and staff.  When you call for your appointment, the staff will explain the protocols to you.  We are here to serve you!





For the protection of our clients and staff Sierra Veterinary Hospital is taking the following precautionary measures that allow only hospital personnel inside the hospital building.

When you arrive for your appointment or arriving in an emergency, call 559-855-3770 from the parking lot.

Please remain in your vehicle with your animal.

A care professional will discuss your needs by phone when you arrive.

At the end of the phone conversation, a care professional will come to the parking lot to bring your pet (animal) into the building for evaluation.

After the medical team has evaluated your animal, you will receive a phone call to discuss recommendations and a plan moving forward. Verbal consent for treatment and details surrounding financial estimates will be authorized via this phone call and noted in your pet’s medical records.

Shortly thereafter you will receive a phone call from a customer service representative to obtain a deposit via Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express.

Updates will be given regularly via phone by your medical team.Once the care of your animal is complete, the discharge process will be discussed.


Payment in full is required when services are rendered.


This is posted on our website :

And our facebook page @sierravet855377

COVID-19 FAQ for Pet Owners

Mark Rishniw, BVSc, PhD, DACVIM (SA-IM), DACVIM (CA)

Date Published: 03/09/2020
Date Reviewed/Revised: 03/24/2020

A novel coronavirus, named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Illustration courtesy of CDC: Alissa Eckert, MS and Dan Higgins, MAM

This FAQ is mostly a resource from external sites that provide up-to-date information about COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus as it pertains to veterinarians and pets.

A novel coronavirus, named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Where can I find more information about COVID-19 that I can understand?

We advise people who are concerned about exposure risk, precautions and latest news to consult the CDC information and the Worms and Germs blog, as they are expected to contain the most up-to-date information.

Can SARS-CoV-2 infect dogs, cats and other animals?

We don’t really know.  Preliminary evidence suggests that one dog in Hong Kong that lived with a person infected with the virus tested positive multiple times over multiple days.  This suggests that the dog was in fact infected, rather than just contaminated with the virus.  In mid-March, 2020, the World Health Organization stated that there is no evidence at present that dogs and cats can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, develop the disease, or spread the disease.  It is important to note that SARS-CoV-2 was not isolated from the dog in Hong Kong - only RNA was identified via RT-PCR.

SARS-CoV-2 utilizes two receptors in humans: It binds Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) and then fuses with the cell membrane with help from a type-II transmembrane serine protease (TMPRSS2) (similar to the original SARS virus in the early 2000s).  Sequence homology for ACE2 at the critical binding sites suggests that SARS-CoV-2 might be able to bind to ACE2 receptors in cats and ferrets.  Given the findings from the one dog in Hong Kong (see Worms-and-Germs Blog), we can reasonably suspect that dogs might also bind the virus.  Rats and mice appear not to be able to bind the virus, because their ACE2 receptors are different enough from those of dogs or cats.

Infection, however, requires additional steps than just virus binding and membrane fusion.  Viral replication, avoiding the host immune response etc. are also necessary components of infection and potential transmission.


Can infected dogs and cats transmit the disease to people?

Currently, no evidence exists that dogs and cats, even if infected, can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans.  Indeed, no infected cats have been identified.  To date, all transmission has been human-to-human, after the initial jump from bats (most likely) to humans.  It is worth noting that the original SARS virus could also bind to the dog and cat ACE2 receptor, but no reported cases of pet-to-human transmission of that virus were ever reported, although that outbreak was much smaller and investigation of domestic animals was limited.

Can pets serve as fomites in the spread of COVID-19?

(A fomite is an object such as a dish or a doorknob that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission. Answer from the American Veterinary Medical Association)

This question has been addressed by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Here is the direct quotation:

"COVID-19 appears to be primarily transmitted by contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions, such as saliva or mucus droplets in a cough or sneeze.COVID-19 might be able to be transmitted by touching a contaminated surface or object (i.e., a fomite) and then touching the mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this appears to be a secondary route. Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g., countertops, door-knobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (e.g., paper money, pet fur), because porous, and especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch.

Because most pet hair is porous and also fibrous, it is very unlikely that a person would contract COVID-19 by petting or playing with a pet. However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s always a good idea to wash hands before and after interacting with animals; ensure the pet is kept well-groomed; and regularly clean the pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys."

Could the SARS-CoV-2 virus cause clinical disease in dogs, cats or ferrets?

We don’t know.  The two dogs that might be infected in Hong Kong showed no clinical signs.  The closely related SARS virus did not cause disease in cats (but cats were able to transmit the virus to other cats). In contrast, disease did occur in experimentally infected ferrets. There is currently no evidence that domestic animals can develop disease from this virus or, if infected, transmit it to other animals or people. However, study of animals to date has been limited.

Should I (can I) test a pet for SARS-CoV-2?

Many animal diagnostic laboratories are not currently set up to test for this specific coronavirus.  Some are, and might be able to test animals with known exposure.  For example, if the owner is infected (confirmed), it could be possible for them to ask for testing of their pet dog or cat (or ferret).  However, given that the current data suggest that these pets are not infective to people, the rational for doing this is questionable.

The dilemma about testing pets increases, given that any owner with a known infection (has tested positive) should be quarantined, and their pet should be considered, from a health-and-safety perspective to also be contaminated or infected.  Consequently, you would be required to adopt precautions to prevent infection, by wearing PPE, a face mask, and face shield (to prevent contact from the pet’s contaminated haircoat, or, if infected, saliva or droplets getting into your conjunctival mucosa) etc.  Most clinicians are not set up to do this.

What disinfectants can I use to decontaminate surfaces?

The CDC has provided information for the public about decontaminating and disinfecting surfaces.

group of German investigators has identified several commonly available disinfectants that should inactivate SARS-CoV-2. These include:

  • Isopropyl alcohol (70%), commonly called rubbing alcohol
  • Bleach can be diluted by putting 4 teaspoons of bleach per 1 quart of water or 20 milliliters of bleach into 1 liter of water
  • 0.5% hydrogen peroxide
  • 0.1% sodium hypochlorite

Can a veterinary client-patient relationship be established via a telemedicine consultation to minimize exposure risk but still provide veterinary care?

A veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) is established primarily by state law. On the federal front, the FDA has issued guidance noting that due to the current pandemic they “may” not prosecute for extralabel drug use in animals where VCPR doesn’t exist, but this limited potential exception does not change state law. As a general rule, you cannot establish VCPR using telemedicine. On the other hand, once you have VCPR using traditional standards, you can certainly use telemedicine for ongoing care. Regardless, remember you are responsible for meeting the medical standard of care – using telemedicine does not change the standards.

Can I still go to the veterinarian if I am sick?

It's best if you self-quarantine. The CDC says that If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. Perhaps someone else can take your pet in. 

For everyone’s safety, if you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your veterinarian before having your pet seen for any health conditions. Practice social distancing. You and your veterinarian can discuss the safest approach for all concerned whether he needs immediate medical intervention or not. Prescriptions can be mailed, but make sure you call early enough so that they will arrive in the mail by the time you need them. 





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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