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Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital Blog

The Latest Buzz about Mosquitoes

We interrupt this earthquake prep series for a quick reminder that it's that time of year to consider heartworm treatment for your dog or cat. No, it wasn't the fact that water storage as a topic is on our minds, but since you brought it up, getting rid of standing water will help mitigate an increase in the mosquito population.

You see mosquitoes are what spread heartworm to our favorite canines and felines. What got our attention was the spike of cases to 153 in San Mateo County.

While 153 isn't exactly an epidemic, the spike is a solid reminder that this disease is most active in the month of May. The need for heartworm protection applies not just if your animal goes outside, since infected mosquitoes are thought to prefer to be indoors. The protection from the oral or topical medication extends to a heartworm infection that occurred several weeks ago (up to two months).
The heartworm treatment is given once per month to protect your animal year round, but if you are going to do it, May is the perfect time to start. Call the hospital if you need to consult with your doctor about which is the right medication for your pet.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled 'pet ready' earthquake preparation series.

First Things First -- Food & Water

We know that our pets rely on us for everything - from food and water to affection and attention, medical and otherwise. So, our emergency preparedness means covering their needs too.

For those among us who tend to improvise, this bears repeating... in a disaster, our pets count on us - and the usual tools of improvisation may not be available. So, here is your heads up to stock up.
The CA state government preparedness guidelines suggest at least three days of food and water per person. The keywords being "at least," we recommend if you're just starting to build a kit, include at least three (3) days worth, which covers a basic seismic event in the mid-to-high M6s or low M7s, a bigger M7 event needs seven (7) days, and the "max" M8 event needs 2-3 weeks of non-perishable food and water, for you and your pet.
"That's nuts," you say?  Not if you like being fully prepared for a nasty hit, when bridges and other arteries will be out of commission. Water mains rupture, but with broken roads it could be a while before they get fixed. Considering our region's proximity to the San Andreas fault line AND the Hayward fault line, which some scientists say is due, preparation is important. This is not Virginia, folks - and even they get lucky sometimes.
Since pets are members of the family, it's easy to count each just as you would a person. Water guidelines suggest one gallon per person per day. For ease, start with that same idea per pet and use good judgment. If your household has two or three cats - that one gallon per day should be sufficient. Remember: stress will impact them, and they may want to drink more than usual. And, you may want to share with a favorite neighbor or their pet.
Food is easier. Identify a non-perishable food option for each pet. Emergency preparedness kits can be stored out of the kitchen, so usually canned food is preferable to dry, because canned food attracts fewer mice or pests, and because canned food contains water. Dry food without sufficient water could make things worse. Keep a hand-crank can opener handy or use pop tops. Bland food choices are usually better when pets are under stress. The technical term for bland food is an "Enteric diet" which we stock in three brands: Hill's Prescription Diet® i/d®, Purina Veterinary Diets® EN and Iams® Veterinary Formula™ Intestinal Low-Residue™. But if you ask for an Enteric Diet, you'll get bland, and after stress bland is grand.
Rotate pet food annually, perhaps when one cleans out the pantry for the holiday food drive. Again, 3-days worth is expected to cover a basic event in the mid-to-high M6s or low M7s, 7-days worth for the middle M7s, and 2-3 weeks worth (what you might need for a M8) is the biggest prep you ever need to worry about.
You don't have to do it all at once. Start out with basics first. In this case, start with 3-days (basic), and, when you can, go to 7-days (bigger), etc. The point is to get started!  Add the food and water task to this weekend's grocery list and you'll have it done! Tune in next week, when we'll tell you little more about water storage.

Taking the Fear out of Earthquakes

Often people get scared just thinking about earthquakes and being prepared, and that's not fun, so they don't. Can't blame them. We've wondered how to take fear out of the picture, while empowering the anxious and non-anxious alike. 

Essentially, watching events unfold in Japan and the process of putting together the Stand By You and 'Pet Ready' event projects really brought this home for us, and served to reiterate the importance of being prepared in earthquake country
Since the seismic event date is unknown, it's easy to procrastinate. But please don't: your animals depend on you and need you to be ready. They need you to take care of yourself in an emergency so you can take care of them. And they need a few extra considerations for you to be earthquake prepared for them too.
In return, readiness will reduce your anxiety as well. To help, we will provide action items in digestible steps, including the "why" and "wherefore." If you act on our steps, you'll be ready before you know it. So, set your RSS reader or check in as we post a series of snackable nuggets -- taking earthquake prep one step at a time.
If you're already ready, tune in anyways, since we look at everything through animal-colored glasses and may mention something you'd not thought about before. Worst case scenario, your own thinking is validated and that never hurts anyone. 
First thing to know is there are limits. We do not live in a subduction zone, like Japan or Seattle, which is where one tectonic plate is pushing under another. Our faults are strike-slip, where plates rub against each other horizontally, producing less violent events, relatively speaking. ;^) The Hayward fault is expected to top out around Magnitude 7.5(a), while the San Andreas has a max probable Magnitude of 8.3(b). So, in a lot of ways we're lucky, but the point is that it's absolutely possible, and some would argue necessary, to be equipped for a maximum event. 
You don't have to do it all at once. You can start to get ready for a basic earthquake, say mid-to-high M6s or low M7s (where M stands for magnitude). You can pretty much bank on these happening, it's just a matter of when. Consider it baseline readiness for living here. Then you can add and get ready for a bigger earthquake, say in the middle M7s, and sleep much better. Once you've got that covered, if you want, you can get ready for the biggest M8 and sleep like a baby knowing you're prepared. Call us crazy, but we want our clients to "sleep like a baby" knowing they're ready to take care of themselves and their animals, no matter what. To quote Martha, "It's a good thing."
We'll start with food and water -> tune in on Thursday!
(a) Steinbrugge et al (1987)
(b) Wesson et. al (1975)


Earthquake: are you Pet Ready?

Over the last several weeks, earthquakes have remained very much "in the news." Our neighbor, Mexico, had a quake. Then there was the day with the four large earthquakes around the "ring of fire" (an old school term, before the relationship between volcanoes and tectonic plates was understood). One of the earthquakes set a record as the most powerful strike-slip quake in recorded history, coming in at a M8.6. Then, of course the M6.8 off of Baja California in the Gulf of California. 

We're not geologists. We don't know whether the earthquakes are related, any more than we could opine on the Mayan calendar. We're animal people: veterinarians, RVTs and animal-loving support staff.
We do make a hobby of disaster preparedness, particularly as it relates to animals. Like many here in the Bay Area, we consider pets as family, and as such, we consider them in our disaster preparedness planning. We'd like to include you too! To this end, first, we at Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital are co-sponsoring an event, with Adobe, to help you get "pet ready" for a disaster, such as an earthquake. The event is free!  Sat. April 28, from 1pm to 4pm at Foothill College.
You can learn how to plan for your pet, apply first aid, bandage a broken limb and make a first aid kit. Peter Gross, a search dog handler from FEMA, who led the search-and-rescue teams after Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 will demonstrate search and rescue dogs in action.
The Foothill College student vet tech club is organizing and hosting the event. More information is available at <>. You don't have to pre-register; just come on by!
In addition, starting soon, we will post a series of Earthquake Prep articles here on the blog. If you want to be notified when a new article is posted, you can follow @midpen on twitter.

Let there be light?

You'd expect us, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, to have the latest technologies. You'd also expect we don't jump on every new idea until it's been reasonably vetted (pardon the pun) by the medical scientific community. Sometimes animal research precedes human research; sometimes it's the other way around, as is the case with laser therapy.

It's only been recently that so many anecdotal veterinary reports started circulating on top of the many laser therapy studies on people -- on everything about inflammation and from treating carpel tunnel to low back pain to arthritic knees -- that we considered it. The research that most interests us, as vets, involves arthritis pain and hip dysplasia. We're also interested in healing wounds and injuries, and treating infections. We don't get a lot of carpel tunnel here. ;^)
As we received good reports from Dr. Lowery's experiences with the laser at Scout's House, and watched anecdotal reports mounting in the veterinary world, at a certain point we wanted to see for ourselves first hand. So, we brought in a K-laser Class IV laser unit in for a 30-day trial. We observed that it appeared to reduce inflammation and to accelerate the healing of chronic wounds.
The process, called photobiomodulation (read "therapeutic laser application"), modifies the oxidation/reduction status of mitochondria in the cells of the body. Remember your high school biology? Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells. Stimulating the mitochondria appears to result in multiple types of activities which loosely translate to more energy for the cells to use intra- and inter-cellularly in repair and recovery from injury.
When used properly, laser therapy is free of side-effects and non-addictive (important for pain). It is not absolutely risk free however. Our licensed staff underwent the training needed to be confident using the K-laser safely.
So, it's official: We've recently acquired a Class IV laser therapy capability. We have the equipment; we've been properly trained on it. It's another option to offer as an adjunct to standard therapies, say after surgery, after injury, or for a wound, an infection or for inflammation. If this sounds like something you'd like to consider further, just let us know.