Tips for Traveling with your Pets

Pet Travel Tips

1. Make sure your pet has current ID tags and a microchip before travel. Your pet can get very stressed and will react differently in unfamiliar surroundings.

2. Bring a gallon of your pet’s normal drinking water and your pet’s normal diet. Bring more food than you think you may need, having to switch diets is very difficult on your pet’s digestive system. If you are not able to bring enough food, call ahead and make sure you can purchase your pet’s normal diet in the areas you will be staying.

3. Bringing along some familiar items may comfort your pet while traveling. A favorite blanket or toy, even their usual food bowl may help. But don’t get overzealous and bring too many items, keeping track of them may be stressful for you. Keeping everyone stress free will keep your pet at ease while traveling.

4. Does your pet get car sick? If so please feel free to contact us at (970) 635-1850 for details on a product that is great for car sickness

Iguana held in towel on Jennifer's shoulder

Reptile Care Basics

Reptile Care

Housing – Set up the cage with the animals natural behaviors in mind.For example:

  • Provide climbing trees for arboreal lizards such as iguanas
  • Provide sand for ground dwellers such as bearded dragons (they burrow at night)
  • Provide layered rocks for rock dwellers such as leopard geckos
  • Provide a hiding spot as either thick foliage or and enclosure
  • Iguanas are not a social species and should be housed individually.
Many reptiles will pace and bash their noses on the front of the enclosure.  To avoid this problem provide plenty of hiding spots, make sure the enclosure is big enough, and make the enclosure out of material that will be the least traumatic.  (The salt rings on this iguana’s nose are normal).Lighting Iguanas, Agamas, Bearded Dragons, Water Dragons and many other reptiles require UV B light to activate vitamin D3 for calcium utilization.This is provided in the form of:

  • Direct Sunlight. Glass and plexiglass will block the beneficial UV rays.
  • UV B reptile florescent lights
  • Screen in a window well for easy access to sunshine.
  • Try building an outdoor enclosure for when its warm enough outside.

*Hint: Sunshine Sunshine Sunshine

For this iguana, a window well was screened in for easy access to sunshine.  Remember UV light is filtered through glass so putting a lizard in front of a closed window won’t help.Heating a daytime basking area should be maintained around 85 to 95 F with the use of a heat or basking lamp.  At night the temperature should not drop below 75 F.*Avoid using hot rocks.
Heartworm life cycle chart


Heartworm Life Cycle

Heartworm life cycle chart

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Halloween Tips

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he or she will be returned to you

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Reasons to Spay & Neuter


  1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life.
  2. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
  3. Your spayed female won’t go into heat.
    While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!
  4. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male.
    Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.
  5. Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home.
    An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males
  6. Your neutered male will be much better behaved.
    Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
  7. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat.
    Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
  8. It is highly cost-effective.
    The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
  9. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community.
    Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
  10. Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth.
    Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
  11. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation.
    Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.
drawing of dog with flowers in mouth

Safe Plants

Garden Tips

The garden shops and catalogs are full of gorgeous garden shrubs and flowers. They tell us how to water and how much sunshine is needed, but rarely do they tell us if the plant is pet safe.Your dog or cat is probably having visions of digging through or chewing up the plants. We’ll leave the fencing and reprimanding up to you, but just to be on the safe side, how about planting only non-toxic plants? If unplanned periodic demolition of the garden by the family dog is a fact of life, it is good to know the plants he or she is chewing up are non-toxic. It may not help the garden any, but knowing your pet isn’t going to get sick because of it is one less thing to worry about. It’s good to know what is considered safe should the family pet get frisky and start chewing and digging in the flower beds.We’ll try to help out.

The following plants are considered safe:

Catnip Garden – Catnip (Nepeta cataria)


Catnip was brought to America by early colonists and was considered to be a commercial crop. Numerous medical properties have been ascribed to catnip and it has been used in teas, soaks, and poultices. Today its uses are largely confined to feline entertainment as its active ingredient, cis-trans-nepetalactone, is a mild hallucinogen. Rubbing, rolling, and other merry-making are produced, though one should be careful as aggressive behavior is often made worse by catnip indulgence.Catnip BudResponse to catnip is inherited genetically as a dominant trait which means that not all cats will be affected. Kittens under age 6-8 weeks are not able to respond.

Catnip is felt to be a safe and non-addictive recreational drug for cats but there is some thinking that overdose can produce seizures. For this reason, it is best not used in cats with a history of seizures. Chronic exposure to catnip may cause an apparent loss of mental faculty and possibly personality change. Catnip can be a fun garden plant if the climate is right but can quickly turn into a weed problem if one is not careful. Catnip should be considered an occasional treat for cats able to respond to it.

In Review

One of the problems with knowing what plants are safe for your pets is that many different plants have the same common name. There are many plants that use the name “wandering jew”; but the one we have confirmed the non-toxicity of is Zebrina pendula. There are also several diffent plants that are called African Daisies; the one pictured here as safe is of the genus Dimorphotheca. The non-toxic Resurrection Lily (also called the Varigated Peacock Ginger) is a safe plant. The name “resurrection lily” has also been applied to the Lycoris genus of lily. Many types of lily are toxic and we do not have information on the Lycoris lilies. Whether it is a shrub, a tree or just a potted plant, it’s good to know that a dog or cat can’t be harmed by chewing up a few leaves or petals.

Further Information on Pet Plant Safety

A great link for safe plant information:  http://poisonousplants.ansci.cornell.edu/

Safe Gardening
Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DABVP
Mar Vista Animal Medical Center

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Poisonous Plants

Are any of the plants in your yard poisonous to your pets?

Poisonous plants can mean disaster for the family pet. Check this link to: The Cornell University Toxic Plant Index. All pet owners should bookmark this site, which has photographs of plants that are poisonous to pets.

The Following are just a few examples of poisonous plants

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Items Toxic to Birds and Household Dangers

Top Items Toxic to Birds!

  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chocolate in any form
  • Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate-covered espresso beans)
  • Tea
  • Yeast dough
  • Salt
  • Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
  • Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Cigarettes and other tobacco products
  • Moldy or spoiled foods
  • Alcoholic beverages

Dangerous Household Substances For Birds: For years birds have been used as sentries to unseen human toxins.  If the canary died down in the mine- everybody got out.  Therefore, it is not surprising that the avian species are sensitive to many household compounds – primarily heavy metals, gases and fumes, and pharmacological agents.  The following paragraphs describe various substances that you should be sure to protect your birds from coming into contact with.


Heavy Metals

Birds can be very curious – making lead poisoning the most common toxicity seen in cage and wild birds.  Unfortunately, many people are unaware of all the possible sources of lead or assume their bird would never chew on lead objects.  Overlooked lead sources include the following: antiques, stained glass lead frames, tiffany lamps, weighted items, bird toys with lead weights inside, curtain weights, scuba and fishing weights, solder and some welds on wrought iron cages or perches, some putty or plasters, bullets, air gun pellets, old paint, sheet rock, galvanized chicken wire, hardware cloth, foil from champagne or wine bottles, mirror backing, linoleum, ceramic glazes, costume jewelry, some zippers, light bulb bases, and chronic leaded gas fume exposure.

Signs of exposure to lead are non-specific.  Lethargy, depression, weakness, vomiting, excessive thirst, abnormally colored diarrhea (dark green, black or bloody), and neurological signs, (head tilt, wing droop, blindness, seizures, and paralysis) are the most common clinical signs.

Zinc toxicity can be produced by galvanized containers and mesh, zinc laden pennies, hardware cloth and zinc phosphates and phosphides.  Since zinc is soluble in soft water and organic acids, food and water contamination can occur.

Gastrointestinal signs are likely to appear at low level exposure.  Kidney, liver, and pancreas are the main organs affected in higher and longer level exposures.

Iron toxicity from chipped or poorly cast cast-iron food or water bowls presents another hazard.
Because of the insidious exposure, signs are chronic and include lethargy, anorexia, and emaciation.

Gases and Fumes

Birds are more susceptible to inhalant toxins because of their unique and complex respiratory tract.  The basic rule of thumb should be: IF IT HAS ANY ODOR OR SMOKE IT CAN BE POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS and the bird should be removed from the premises immediately until the odor is undetectable.  This includes paint or hobby fumes, cleaning and spray products (including hair spray) and burning food fumes.  Polytetraflouroethylene (PTFE) found in non-stick cookware, drip pans, waffle irons, irons, and ironing board covers is the most common toxic gas.  When these surfaces are overheated (over 210 degrees C) the depolymerization of PTFE produces toxic fumes which cause acute death or at the very least weakness, inability to breathe and fluid accumulation in the lungs.

Toxic Plants

Much controversy surrounds plant toxicities in birds.  Those known to be toxic to mammals have been considered poisonous bur may not affect birds.  The potential for poisoning depends upon the species of bird and whether the plant was just chewed or actually ingested.  Oral and upper gastrointestinal irritation are the most common symptoms in plant toxicities. Some known toxic plants include Avocado, black locust, castor bean, clematis, lily of the valley, oleander, philodendron, poinsettia, rhododendron, yew and Virginia creeper.  Cyanide poisoning has occurred from consumption of large quantities of apple seeds, cherry pits, and immature almonds.

Mycotoxins can be found in poorly stored seed, peanuts, millet spray, silage and pelleted foods.  Humidity and heat promote mold growth on a variety of foods including corn, beans, cheese, bread, fruit juices and meat.  Clinical signs are sudden death, loss of appetite, weight loss, and depression, as well as immune system alterations.

Theobromine in chocolate is also an avian toxin and is only a problem when the bird ingests a considerable  amount compared to its size.  Depression, vomiting, convulsions, and death are the clinical manifestations.


Pesticide toxicity depends upon the use or exposure and birds can be more sensitive than mammals to its effects.  Clinical signs are similar to mammals and include loss of appetite, diarrhea, bowel slow down, clumsiness, tremors, seizures and paralysis.  Other manifestations include inability to breathe normally with congestion, slow heart rate and respiratory failure.



Birds should never be sprayed with anything other than water.  The avian species cannot regulate their body temperature if any compound has matted the feathers together.  Oils and petroleum products can cause hypothermia, dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, pneumonia, and hemolytic anemia.




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Items Toxic to Cats

Top Items Toxic to Cats!

  • Topical spot-on insecticides
  • Household Cleaners
  • Antidepressants
  • Lilies
  • Insoluble Oxalate Plants (e.g., Dieffenbachia, Philodendron, etc.)
  • Human and Veterinary NSAIDs
  • Cold and Flu Medication (e.g., Tylenol)
  • Glow Sticks
  • ADD/ADHD Medications/Amphetamines
  • Mouse and Rat Poison
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Items Toxic To Dogs

Top Items Toxic to Dogs

  • Chocolate
  • Mouse and Rat Poisons (rodenticides)
  • Vitamins and Minerals (e.g., Vitamin D3, iron, etc.)
  • NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.)
  • Cardiac Medications (e.g., calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, etc.)
  • Cold and Allergy Medications (e.g., pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, etc.)
  • Antidepressants (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • Xylitol
  • Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol)
  • Caffeine Pills