Dr. Bob's Animal Health and Information  Site



Dr. Bobs Pet Health and Information Site




Dr. Bob's All Creatures Site 

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Dr. Bob's All Creatures Site    509 Benicia Road, Vallejo, California, USA 707-642-4405


Fall 1997 Newsletter



All Creatures Veterinary Hospital


     Our practice sends out reminders when it has been one year since your pets last vaccination of physical examination.  Owners often fail to realize the physical examination is as important, of more important than the vaccinations.  Since species other than dogs and cats are not given yearly vaccinations, some owners disregard these notices without fully realizing the role the yearly examination plays in avoiding both serious illness in their pet and unnecessary expense.  For the smaller pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, and similar species; their lifespan is very short and aging  is quite rapid.  They usually are not exposed to members of their own species that are outside and consequently don't have the problem with contagious disease.  However, they may experience any of the other aging maladies of our dog and cat pets.  These include kidney disease, intestinal disease, cardio-respiratory disease and others.  A thorough examination can detect these problems early and allow us to work with you to maximize both their quality and quantity of life.  birds and reptiles live much longer, however they usually do not outwardly exhibit symptoms of disease until condition is quite advanced and they are extremely ill.  We routinely recommend blood work to evaluate their internal organs and blood cells in order to identify problems before the pet becomes seriously ill.  Whether your pet is a dog or cat or one of the other less traditional pets, when you get your reminder please help us prevent serious illness by bringing your pet in for their yearly examination.


Your aging pet should undergo an annual geriatric screening and now is the ideal time to have this performed before winter begins.  This screening is a valuable tool that allows for the early diagnosis of ailments and is key to your pet living a long life


A general rule for cats is to begin screenings at approximately 10 years of age.  Dogs are a little more difficult since the factors that influence the aging process (listed below) are also different.  To assist you, we've provided the following chart that is based on weight.  Please remember that pets (like people) don't always fall into neat categories.  Your pet may have specific needs based on its medical history that must be taken into account.

Weight Age to begin screening

Up to 15 lbs.        9 to 11 years

15 to 50 lbs.         7 to 9 years

50 to 80 lbs.         6 to 8 years

"Giants"                 4 to 6 years


  • Genetic Background: Some pets are afflicted with the same problems that tormented their parents.   Some problems are strongly related to the pet's breed.
  • Nutrition - Has the pet's diet been well-balanced or did it consist mainly of leftovers?


  • Prior Health - Has the pet been healthy, sickly or overweight?
  • Diseases - Does the animal suffer from cancer, arthritis, kidney disease, etc.?
  • External Forces - Has the animal sustained an injury? Is the pet infested with parasites?


A geriatric screening is an important diagnostic tool.  Not only does it give the doctor an opportunity to discover immediate problems but it gives us a "baseline" upon which we can evaluate future tests.  This is especially critical in times of an emergency.  As part of the screening, we will do the following:

  1. Perform a thorough physical examination.
  2. Perform appropriate blood tests.
  3. Possibly give an electrocardiogram.
  4. Conduct specialized tests based on your pet's health history.
  5. We'll have a preventive health discussion with you about your pet's nutrition, weight control and how you can monitor your pet for changes in behavior or appetite as well as bowel and urinary habits.
  6. Identify systems that need close monitoring.

Together, we can ensure that your pet grows old gracefully by remaining an active and vital member of your household.  This can only be accomplished if your pet is healthy!  Call the office today to set up an appointment for your beloved "senior citizen" before winter begins.

Quotable Quotes

" Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in!"

 Mark Twain

"Generally, or at least very often, people with a deep interest in animals are the best people around!"

Roger Caras, A Dog is Listening

" I could've sworn I heard the can opener."

"Top Ten Dog Thoughts," Number 10, Late Night with David Letterman

"Dogs remember faces; cats, places."

English Proverb

Signs of Potentially Serious Illness

Contact our office immediately if your pet exhibits any of these symptoms.  Some of these may signal a serious of life-threatening condition:

  • Discharge or odor from the eyes, nose or ears.
  • Loss of teeth or bad breath.
  • Pale or bleeding gums.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhea
  • Sudden change in bowel or litter habits.
  • Sudden weight loss or gain.
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive scratching, licking or loss of hair.
  • Lumps or growths on or under skin.
  • Limping, lameness, reluctance to move.
  • Sign of pain or discomfort.
  • Change in behavior.



If your cat comes into contact with other cats, your pet may be at risk from several life threatening viruses. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is one of them.  Here are some facts you should know about FIP.
  • FIP is an "immune- mediated" disease which means that the cat's immune system, in an attempt to protect the cat from FIP, actually speeds up the spread of the virus.
  • Symptoms of FIP include swollen abdomen, discharge from the eyes and/or nose, paralysis of the hind legs, convulsions, personality changes, eye disease, general illness, fever, weight loss, anorexia and anemia.
  • Cats at the greatest risk are cats who go outdoors, cats in multi-cat households, cats suffering from malnutrition or other infections, cats that are infected with Feline Leukemia Virus (50% of cats with FeLV also have FIP).  FIP occurs most frequently in cats between the ages of 6 months to 2 years and between 11 and 15 years of age.  FIP is also higher in purebreds.
  • Cats spread FIP through contact with other cats.  The virus is spread in the cat's saliva, urine and feces and can be transmitted by licking, biting and sneezing.  FIP enters the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth and ultimately finds its way to the cats bloodstream.
  • Unfortunately there is no conclusive diagnostic test for FIP, no effective treatment, and no cure.  There is a vaccine for FIP but we suggest that you speak to the veterinarian to see if this vaccination is best for your pet.

Please call our office if you have any further questions about FIP. We care about you and your cat.

     To escape the summertime heat, many of our pets lounge for hours in the shade or the air-conditioning.  During this time, most pet owners continue to feed their pet  the same amount, never adjusting for the pet's inactivity.  As a result, in the fall we often see pets whose ribs are a little hard to feel and walk a little slower because of weight gain.  Indeed, up to 45% of all pets seen by veterinarians are overweight.

In our article "Caring for your canine of feline senior citizen", we mentioned that being overweight has a significant influence on the health of an older pet.  Some of the problems associated with overweight pets are:


  • Diabetes Mellitus - this condition is caused by excess sugar in the blood due to a malfunctioning pancreas.
  • Skeletal Stress-Being overweight can aggravate musculoskeletal problems.
  • Heart Stress - Obesity increases the work load on the heart.
  • Shortness of Breath & Easily Fatigued - This is especially true after exercise.
  • Increased risk during Anesthesia & Surgery - We sometimes encounter this during emergency surgeries. 


If your pet is older and requires a geriatric screening, we'll discuss your pet's weight with you and offer some constructive recommendations if needed.  If your pet is not a senior and you feel as if he  or she is overweight, give us a call.  Together we can make your pet healthier, happier, and slimmer!

Even the most homebound pet occasionally wonders off and cannot be easily found.  Trying to locate a pet who lacks adequate identification can be rather scary.  There are a couple of things that every pet owner should do:

  1. Identification Tag - Every pet should have an identification tag on his or her collar that gives a name and phone number.  Sadly, studies indicate that only about 25% of pets are equipped with an identification tag.  Since most straying pets usually do so in your local area, an I.D. tag on the collar is an easy and fast way for a neighbor to identify them.  What's more, I.D. tags are inexpensive and easy to obtain.  However, identification tags can be worn smooth making them unreadable or they can be lost.

  2. Microchip Identification - There are micro identification chips that can be injected under the skin of your pet.  Using a special scanner, local agencies can read these chips which facilitates the return of your pet.  The insertion procedure is painless and the chip cannot be lost or worn smooth.

Many groups are suggesting that pets be equipped with both forms of identification to ensure their return.  If you have any questions about pet I.D. tags or would like to schedule an appointment to have a microchip identification placed in your pet, please call our office.  When it happens, the prompt return  of your pet will be worth it!



Take a look at your pet - is he or she scratching, rubbing, or licking excessively?  Does its coat lack luster? Do you smell any skin or body odor?  If  "yes" to any of these questions, you should give us a call.  These symptoms may indicate the presence of allergies, bacterial or fungal infections, parasites, or a hormonal problem.

Allergies - Humans with allergies sneeze - pets scratch.  The allergy must be identified and treated.




Bacterial Infection - Bacterial infections are very common skin problems.  However, they are usually secondary to other problems like allergies, parasites, etc.  The bacterial infection should be treated while you search for the underlying cause.

Fungal Infection - Fungal Infection or ringworm is often mistaken for other skin problems. Topical anti-fungal agents are usually recommended.

External Parasites - Fleas, ticks, mange and lice can all be problems to your pet and their effects can be compounded if your pet is allergic to their bites.  The treatment will depend on the type of parasite your pet has.





Hormonal - Hormonal imbalances are often caused by malfunctions of the thyroid, adrenal, pituitary or other glands.  A blood test is usually required for correct identification.

Since many of these symptoms are so similar we strongly urge you not to attempt a self-diagnosis.  We have the training, experience, and equipment needed to make a prompt and accurate diagnosis. Please give us a call if you have any questions.