Felton Vet COVID Update 7/27/2020

Our Mascot & boss, Max, is on daily mask patrol!

Thank you all for your patience over the past 2 months while we had you wait in your cars as we examined your pets inside our building. Your cooperation (and appreciation) has been amazing! You have helped us find a rhythm to a difficult new routine. We realize retail businesses have started to open their doors. With the intimate nature of our business (face to face in the small exam room while we examine your pet), there is a lot to consider before we do the same. We want to do what is right for you, our clients, and for our staff. With the recent rise in Covid cases, for now, we want to continue our “new rhythm” of having our clients wait in their cars during their pet’s exam. We cannot wait for the day when our office is not just full of wags, purrs and tweets (ok, we admit, not all of our patients are THAT happy to see us) but also full of YOU, our wonderful clients from our wonderful community!

We are also in the process of adding 2 new veterinarians and some very talented support staff to our staff. We are extremely excited about these additions as they have all the makings of a perfect fit for our patients, clients and for our team. We will be sending out more information about them in the near future. Stay tuned!


COVID 19 3-20-20 UPDATE

In light of the ever changing conditions surrounding the pandemic, our protocols have also been very fluid.
In an effort to continue to protect our clients and our employees without sacrificing the care of our patients we have decided to discontinue the “traffic” into our building.
If you have a scheduled appointment, please call our office when you arrive in the parking lot. We will ask that you remain in your car while we take your pet’s history by phone. A nurse will take your pet from your car into our building for its exam by the doctor. After the exam, the doctor will call you with any questions or concerns, the nurse will return your pet to your car and we ask that you make your payment by phone before you leave.

If you need a prescription or food please follow the same instructions. If you can pay by phone before you pick your items up it will help the process go more smoothly. We will leave the items in a chair near our door when we know you have arrived.
We want to stay open for our patients. We want to stay open for our community. We hope that by taking these extra precautions we can continue to care for your pets.
Thank you for your patience and understanding while we navigate our way through these changes. As they say, “It takes a village”.
Wishing You All Good Health,
The Staff at Felton Veterinary Hospital


Covid-19 Precautions at Felton Veterinary Hospital

Update as of 3/16/2020:

Today, along with many other counties in California, Santa Cruz County has issued a “Shelter in Place” order.  Veterinary Clinics are considered an “Essential business”. Our doors will remain open! We will continue to schedule appointments, we can refill your pet’s prescriptions and supply their prescription dog food. We will, however, be cancelling our Wednesday vaccine clinics for at least the next 2 weeks as an extra safety precaution.

Our office has a bit of a barren look these days. We have removed all comfy seat cushions so we can easily disinfect our benches. We have removed brochures and counter items for the same reason. We have put into place extra disinfecting protocols to help keep our clients and staff safe. We have chairs outside of our entrance for those that prefer to wait there.

We ask that, if you are sick or have been exposed to someone who is but you have SERIOUS concerns about your pet, please arrange to have a friend or family member bring your pet in. If that is not possible call us so we can discuss options. If absolutely necessary, we will have you wait in your car and will send a (likely masked and gloved) nurse out to take your pet’s history and information. The nurse will bring your pet into our building for its exam.
We are trying to limit the number of people in our waiting room so please only bring additional family members if absolutely necessary. Do not bring any pet items from home ie: blankets, toys etc.

Take the necessary precautions to clean your hands before entering the building.

We encourage payment over the phone for any prescriptions or food purchases  prior to pick up to limit the physical exchange of credit cards and transaction terminals.

We appreciate you cooperation in helping to keep both our clients and our employees safe. We want to stay open so that we can continue to serve the pets in our small community. 

Please call us if you have any questions or concerns.

The Rain Brings out the Ticks


Ticks are found in abundance in the San Lorenzo Valley. They are most prevalent in early spring and fall, but are well adapted to live throughout the year. Ticks live in grassy areas or in brush and dark, moist areas where they wait for a host to walk by. They then crawl onto your pet and bite, attaching for up to several days while they feed.


Following bouts of rain, ticks may be out and about in greater numbers. A tick can only quest up on vegetation for hosts when the humidity is high enough for them to absorb sufficient water from the air.

– Larisa Vredevoe, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences , Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Tick bites can be painful and irritating, and can even become infected. But of more serious concern are the diseases that can be transmitted by a tick bite. These include:

Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Lyme disease

These diseases can be serious, complicated, and painful and can affect your pet’s health for months or even years. Many of them also affect humans, so it’s important to test your pet regularly for tick transmitted disease to know if you may also be at risk.

Luckily, flea and tick prevention for your pet is easy, safe, and affordable. We recommend a monthly preventive and offer both topical or chewable alternatives or a high quality long acting collar. Talk to us about your pet’s lifestyle at their next preventive care exam, and together we can form a plan of attack.

Don’t make the mistake of letting your pet’s parasite preventives lapse or fall away. This is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to keep your pet healthy and happy. If you’ve let things slide, give us a call and let us help you get back on track. We’re here to help!

Chigger Season is Here -What You Need to Know

chiggers on dog belly

If you’ve ever taken a walk with your dog in the woods or through a field, only to have your best friend scratching up a storm for the next several days, she might have experienced a chigger attack.

In cats, chiggers are most commonly found around the ears and between the toes, but can be found almost anywhere on the body. Because of intense itching caused by these mites , your cat may chew or scratch itself, causing self-inflicted wounds. The resulting skin lesions vary from crusted spots to areas of hair loss to raw moist bleeding areas.

These tiny orange – red mites (also known as Harvest mites) reside in grass and underbrush during September through January in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They are so small that you might not even notice them on your dog or cat but, once they become a source of itchy discomfort, they’re difficult to ignore.

What Are Chiggers?

Chiggers are commonly found in forests and grasslands and are relatives of spiders. They are nearly microscopic measuring only 1/100 of an inch (0.4 mm) and have an orange hue. In their larval stage, they attach to various animals including humans, cats and dogs.

Contrary to popular belief, Chigger larvae do not burrow deep into the skin and live underneath the skin. Instead, the larvae live on the skin’s surface. During feeding, they pierce the skin with their small, hooked fangs and inject powerful enzymes that digest skin cells, that become liquefied and are consumed by the larvae. The enzymes are irritating to the skin and result in intense itching.

How Is A Chigger Infestation Diagnosed?

A sudden onset of intense itching during the late summer or early fall suggests that chiggers may be present. Many pets will ingest the biting larvae while grooming and owners may not see any of the characteristically orange insects.

Your veterinarian will make the diagnosis by identifying the mite. An accumulation of chiggers may be seen as intensely orange spots on the skin. If fewer mites are present, they may only be seen on microscopic examination of a superficial skin scraping.

How Do I Treat Chiggers?

Your veterinarian will prescribe safe and effective treatment. In many cases, a simple bath can remove the chiggers, which do not burrow under the skin. However, the bites will be painful and itchy, and may call for anti-inflammatory medications or in rare cases, antibiotics. If your pet is uncomfortable and you suspect chiggers, please give us a call. 

Do Chiggers Affect People?

People can be affected by Harvest mites. Chiggers are not spread to people from dogs and cats, but rather from infested outdoor vegetation. Typically, a human reaction consists of intense itching and rash. Prevention can be achieved by wearing long pants and socks, and avoiding long grasses and overgrown weeds that are known to be inhabited by chiggers. 

If you have any questions about these tiny pests or want more information, please give us a call. We look forward to keeping your pets comfortable and chigger free all year round. 

5 Factors That Put Your Dog at Risk for Summer Heatstroke

Lab swimming in a pool

Many dogs love summer as much as we do, but high temperatures  can present a problem for our canine friends.

We talked with Dr. Debbie Mandell, staff veterinarian and adjunct associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, about what factors can increase your dog’s risk of heat-related injuries and even death. Heatstroke is one of the many problems that veterinarians at Ryan see in the 13,000 emergency cases that come through their doors each year. Here are five factors that Dr. Mandell says can put your dog at risk for heat stress.

What Makes Some Dogs More Vulnerable

1. Congenital defects or underlying respiratory problems. One of the top risk factors, Dr. Mandell says, is upper-airway problems. You may coo at every adorable, flat-faced dog on your block, but breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Boxers can suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome. Unlike humans, who sweat when we’re hot, dogs use their respiratory system to get rid of heat — and these flat-faced breeds’ airway abnormalities put them in danger of heatstroke when they’re exposed to higher temperatures.

Another underlying respiratory condition that can land dogs in big trouble is laryngeal paralysis, which is common in medium and large breeds like setters, Labradors and Pit Bulls. Additionally, small dogs like Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians and Maltese are commonly affected by collapsing tracheas. In both of those situations, Dr. Mandell explains, the dogs will pant to release heat, and their panting causes swelling in the airway, which causes them to pant harder, which results in more swelling. “They enter this vicious cycle where they get worse and worse really quickly,” Dr. Mandell says.

2. Not being acclimated to hot weather. “On the first hot day, everyone wants to go for a run with their dog or play outside in the yard,” Dr. Mandell says. “Dogs are not going to stop, even when they can’t breathe or are about to collapse.”

It’s up to you, then, to know the signs of heat stress, so you can help your dog cool down before it becomes an emergency. Those signs include excessive panting and drooling, a fast pulse and gums that have changed in color from pink to bright red. Vomiting and bloody diarrhea are signals that the heat may have started to affect internal organs.

3. Being kept outdoors without access to shade and water. It can be dangerous for an indoor dog to overexert himself in hot weather, but pets who are primarily housed outdoors are also in danger. “As much as we try to discourage it,” Dr. Mandell says, “there are people who have outdoor dogs.” Keeping a dog outside in the summer, especially without appropriate access to shade and cool water, is a risk that’s not worth taking.

4. Being left in the car. Speaking of risks that aren’t worth taking, it is never OK to leave a pet in a hot car. “It’s been documented that the temperature inside a car can reach over 120 degrees in minutes,” Dr. Mandell says. “If you have that window cracked a tiny amount, it’s really not going to help.” Fortunately, Dr. Mandell says, thanks to lots of recent news stories about dogs (and even children) being left in cars, she’s not seeing as many of those cases.

If you see an animal locked inside a hot car, there are steps you can take to help rescue it safely. The Humane Society of the United States, and the ASPCA recommend that you write down the car’s make, model and license plate; attempt to locate the owner; and call animal control or your local police department for help.

5. Obesity. While it is not a congenital defect like brachycephalic airway syndrome, obesity can certainly put your pet in harm’s way when it comes to heat stress. It makes dogs more susceptible to many issues — like joint and back problems — and heatstroke is no exception.

Dr. Mandell explains it this way: While some heat can escape through the respiratory system through panting, “70 percent of the heat loss in dogs and cats occurs by radiation and convection through the skin.” When the core body temperature rises, blood vessels dilate, the heart pumps harder, and there is increased blood flow to the skin, where heat is lost to the environment. In obese dogs, the large layer of fat under the skin serves as insulation and can prevent some of that heat from getting to the skin to be released.

One last note: An extremely thick coat of fur can cause the same situation, so you should also watch closely for signs of heatstroke if you own a furry breed like the Newfoundland or Great Pyrenees.

And if you think your dog is experiencing any of the signs of heatstroke, contact your veterinarian or local emergency clinic immediately.

More on Vetstreet.com:

Outfox Foxtails – Protecting Your Dog against Foxtails


Does your dog hike or run with you in grassy open areas? Or do they love to go sniffing in overgrown areas in your yard or neighborhood?  Uh oh, foxtail season is HERE. Here’s how to recognize, and more importantly, prevent these nasty weeds from hurting your dog.

What is a foxtail?

A foxtail is a grass-like weed that blooms every spring and releases barbed seed heads. These barbs can work their way into any part of your dog’s body- including eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and even directly into the skin. Because of their barbed nature they tend to be very difficult to remove, and even worse, they can travel beyond sight very quickly.

Where does foxtail grass grow?

If you’re out and about with your dog you’ve probably seen this weed growing everywhere. It can be found in grassy areas, in yards, and even in the sidewalk cracks! Because of heavy rains this winter, foxtails are on the rise this season due to the heavy rains this past winter.


Why are they dangerous?

The danger of foxtails goes beyond simple irritation. The seed heads don’t break down in the body, so an embedded foxtail can lead to a serious infection for your dog. Like an arrow, they only travel one way – deeper into your pet’s body – and don’t come out on their own. If caught early they are relatively easy for your vet to remove. But if left untreated they can cause infection, and in serious cases, can travel through the body to your pet’s internal organs and even cause death.

How do I tell if my pet has a foxtail?

Foxtails are most commonly found in the nose, ears, eye, or between the toes, but can enter the body anywhere. Here are the most common symptoms to look for.

Nose: Nasal discharge and/or sudden onset of violent sneezing can indicate a foxtail in the nose.

Ear: If your pet is shaking his head, tilting it to the side, or scratching at the ear incessantly this could be an indication of a foxtail in the ear canal. They are usually so deep that you can’t see them and your veterinarian needs to take a look with a special scope.

Eyes: Discharge, redness, squinting, and swelling all could indicate a foxtail in the eye.

Feet: Foxtails love your pet’s feet and can get lodged in between toes in particular. If you notice limping, swelling, discharge or tenderness of the feet, a foxtail could be the problem.

scope/tools to remove foxtails

Tools used to remove foxtails from your dog’s throat.

Outfox the foxtails- tips for prevention

What can you do during foxtail season to make sure these nasty weeds don’t prevent your outdoor fun? Examine your pet’s coat after outdoor time, especially if you have gone walking in open fields. Check your pet’s face and ears carefully, as well as their mouth, paws, and in between toes. Brush your pet as necessary, paying special attention to feathery, thick, or curly fur.  Use tweezers to remove any foxtails you can easily get to, but remember that foxtails won’t come out on their own, so if you see any deeply embedded or if the area is red or swollen, call your veterinarian right away.

If you have what we lovingly refer to as a “foxtail magnet,” consider trimming your pet’s fur during foxtail season, and keep your dog out of overgrown, grassy areas.

Our own adorable foxtail magnet is Bugsy!

Bugsy is a lovable  2 yr old Staffordshire Terrier mix who came in to see us not once, but TWICE within 2 weeks for the removal of foxtails from his tonsils. Ouch! His owners Chelsea and David brought him in the first time after a night of intermittent gagging.

Dog with Foxtail

Bugsy AKA  foxtail magnet

In order to see what was going on and provide Bugsy with a calm, non-threatening experience, Dr Keil sedated him with a safe anesthetic. She then used a special scope to get a good look at what was going on. She found green foxtails embedded in his tonsils, along with tons of redness, swelling, and bleeding. Poor guy! Dr Keil removed the foxtails, Bugsy recovered well from the sedative, and he was then sent home feeling much better. Needless to say, after this event, Chelsea & David removed all foxtails from their yard!

But our little Bugsy was not to be deterred!  Two weeks later, he escaped from his yard. He was found in a neighbor’s yard eating foxtails! This time Chelsea and David did not wait for symptoms and brought him right in for sedation and scoping. Once again, fearless Dr Keil sedated and scoped to get a look. Again we found foxtails in addition to spiny oak leaves . Double ouch! Once again the plants were removed and Bugsy recovered well.

No more escaping for Bugsy, and hopefully, no more foxtails in the throat.

foxtails removed from dog's throat

Foxtails removed from Bugsy’s throat.

First Aid Kits for Dogs: Supplies You Should Pack

You know you need a dog first aid kit for hikes or camping trips you take with your canine, but do you know what should be in it? In this short video, Dr. Sarah Wooten covers basic first aid supplies — like butterfly bandages, tweezers and a muzzle — and how best to store them.

Before you go out with your pet on such an adventure, read up on basic first aid procedures, including when to induce vomiting and when not to. And, of course, if your dog has special needs, consult with your veterinarian for recommendations about additional supplies.

When It Rains it Spores

The Santa Cruz Mountains are home to more than 1,000 mushroom species.
The recent rain storms have triggered many types of mushroom caps to emerge from their underground stems.

During the winter months, it’s important to keep your yard clear of mushrooms & to keep a close watch on your dogs when they are roaming in areas where they may be exposed to mushrooms.

While many types of fungi are safe to eat, the Santa Cruz Mountians is home to two of the world’s most toxic mushrooms — Amanita phalloides, also known as the Death Cap, and Amanita ocreata, known as the Western Destroying Angel. Both mushrooms grow near oak trees and the Death Cap also grows near other hardwood trees.

If your pet has eaten a wild mushroom — or you suspect they have —immediately call a veterinarian & collect a sample of the eaten mushroom.

poisonous mushroom

Poisonous mushroom Amanita ocreata aka “Western Destroying Angel”

Poisonous Mushroom

Poisonous Mushroom Amanita phalloides aka
“The Death Cap”

Much Ado About Canine Flu

This winter has been quite the flu season! Many of us were ill thanks to the dreaded human flu, and we’re glad to finally be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s interesting that canine flu has recently become a focus, especially in dog loving circles. And while it’s not seasonal, and it’s not new, there are a few things that the team at Felton Veterinary Hospital thought you should know about this disease that affects our best friends.

Canine Flu Basics

There are two strains of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). The most recent strain (H3N2)  was identified following an outbreak in March of 2015 and affected dogs in the Chicago area. There have now been a few thousand cases of H3N2 reported in 30 states.  There’s no evidence that H3N2 can infect people.


CIV is spread through aerosolized droplets that are spread from dog to dog through coughing, sneezing, and barking. Dogs in close living quarters are most at risk – those dogs who go to the groomer, spend time at daycare, or go to a boarding facility. CIV can also be spread indirectly through shared objects such as food and water bowls, leashes and collars, and people who have been in contact with infected dogs.  


Common signs of canine flu include:


  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge


Infected dogs usually show signs of the disease 2 – 8 days after being infected. Most dogs have a mild form of the disease, but some can exhibit more serious signs, including pneumonia, high fevers, and increased respiratory effort.


Disease symptoms are very similar to kennel cough and other canine respiratory illnesses, and risk factors are also similar. For these reasons, the only diagnosis for CIV is through an advanced blood test.


Treatment for CIV is largely supportive; nursing care and good nutrition can help your dog mount an effective immune response. Most dogs recover in 2 – 3 weeks. If your dog is geriatric, a short-faced breed, pregnant, or at risk of tracheal collapse, we will discuss other treatments that may be recommended.


Because the disease is spread so easily between dog to dog, it is recommended that infected dogs be isolated (even those in the same household) for 4 weeks.

Protect Your Dog

Prevention of canine flu takes a village! First, if your dog is exhibiting any of the signs of CIV, isolate them right away. Call us to come in – and be aware that we may ask you have your dog wait with you in the car until we can see you. We want to prevent the possibility of infecting any dogs in the waiting room.   


Dogs who are social and go to dog parks, groomers, boarding or daycare facilities are more at risk. But it doesn’t mean your pup can’t go about their daily activities. If your pet is high risk, consider these precautions:


Ask us about vaccination – there is a vaccine now that prevents both strains of canine flu. Like the human flu vaccine, it’s not 100% – it may not prevent your dog from getting CIV. But, it has been shown to minimize symptoms and shorten the duration of the disease.


Practice good hygiene – don’t allow your pet to share objects such as toys or food/ water dishes with unfamiliar dogs. Wash your hands often. And, change and wash your clothes if you’ve been in contact with new dogs as the virus can survive on objects.


Assess the risk – if your pet is immune compromised, geriatric, or very young, it might be wise to assess if social activities with unfamiliar dogs is worth the risk. Talk to us – we’re happy to help you make this decision.


If you feel your pet is sick, it’s important to have them examined right away. By taking some extra precautions, being aware, and by vaccinating, you’ll be on the right track to preventing CIV in your dog.