News Archive

Outside the Box: Feline House Soiling

cat on toilet

Rachel Landesfeind, DVM

Perhaps the most frustrating part of pet ownership is that we cannot ask our pets questions. Well we can ask, but we are unlikely to get a useful response. For instance, I’d love to know why my dog Gracie licks the living room couch to the point of drenching it.  Or why my poodle mix lies on the end of my bed and growls at the floor. Is she angry at it? Has it wronged her somehow?  Would she have preferred a darker finish?  I’ve asked her, but she’s not talking. Dogs and cats are maddeningly tight-lipped when it comes to Q & A sessions.

We can live with most of these little mysteries, but there are some problems that can become deal-breakers if left unsolved.  If you’re a cat owner, you probably know what I’m talking about. You may have even shouted these very words: “why can’t you just use the freaking litter box???” (most versions contain more expletives, but this is a family-friendly article so I’ll let you use your imagination). Well, yelling won’t help, but if you learn how to ask the right questions, you can ... Read more

Pets and Holiday Hazards

Rachel Landesfeind, DVM

As the holidays approach, most pet owners are too busy worrying about pumpkin pie, stuffing, and how to keep Aunt Edna away from the eggnog to think much about how the festivities will affect their pets. However, the holidays are a very busy time for veterinarians because they can pose some pretty serious health risks to animals. Nobody wants to spend a holiday at the vet’s office, so here are a few common hazards to avoid.

Everyone has heard that poinsettias are highly toxic to dogs and cats. In reality, the true poinsettia plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a mild gastrointestinal irritant that rarely causes major illness. Holly and mistletoe also have a bad reputation, but although mistletoe can cause heart problems if ingested in large amounts, these plants generally just cause GI upset.

The major plant of concern is the lily. True lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis species) are extremely toxic and even a small taste of any part of the plant can cause fatal kidney failure in cats. While lilies have not been reported to cause kidney damage in dogs, they do ... Read more

Itching and Allergies

Rachel Landesfeind, DVM

It’s a beautiful morning on Mount Rushmore. You’re roller skating on Thomas Jefferson’s nose with Johnny Depp, Ringo Starr and your late uncle Bernie. Johnny is about to execute a perfect triple-axel when suddenly everything starts shaking and you sit up in bed. Is it an earthquake?! No, it’s Buttercup, scratching like a maniac and shaking the bed. AGAIN. That’s the third time this week! You can banish her from the bedroom and go back to sleep, but that won’t solve her problem.

In Southern California, the number-one reason for veterinary visits is an itchy pet. Unfortunately there are so many causes for itching that the problem is often not immediately apparent. It can be difficult to determine the source of the irritation, which gets frustrating for owners and vets alike. Not to mention poor Buttercup, who gets carsick on the way to the vet and is STILL itchy.

This article will touch on the most common reasons for itching in pets, but cannot cover them all by any means. The following is meant as a guideline and not as a diagnosis or treatment plan ... Read more