COVID-19 Response- Pet Specialists Of Monterey, Inc.

To all of our referring veterinarians, clients, and to the public,

In an ever-increasing world where letters from CEO’s are distributed to discuss their response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we add ours at Pet Specialists of Monterey (PSM) to brief anyone who may be in need of 24-hour emergency and specialist care for their pets. We are fully stocked and staffed with everything required to maintain a safe environment. We have developed a multifaceted plan that will allow us to remain open to serve you and your pets as long as we will be permitted to.

We are working to exceed the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and Monterey County Public Health Department. We are monitoring staff and their household’s wellness and not allowing anyone with clinical signs of COVID-19, influenza, or the common cold to come to work. So far, no staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19. We are limiting contact between humans, so please do not be offended when we offer alcohol hand sanitizer in lieu of our usual hand shake or hug.

A number of general veterinary practices in the community will be closed for the duration.  With these closures, we may encounter longer wait times. We will be instituting a call-in system upon arrival to decrease the number of clients in our waiting room and clients may be required to wait in their vehicles. We can be reached at 831-899-PETS (7387). Please note that as always, our emergency service works on a triage basis meaning pets may not be seen in the order of arrival.  Please be patient and understanding, your pet is important to us.

Before you arrive at PSM, please call to brief us on your pets’ issue and possible arrival time.  We will begin the triage process at that time, and may recommend you delay your visit, should our ER service be overwhelmed.  Once you arrive, your pet will be assessed, and you will receive paperwork to fill out.

Here is a list of things you can do to help our staff remain healthy and able to serve our role in the community.

  1. Please do not bring your pet in if you are sick or encountered anyone infected with COVID -19.  Please call us at 831-899-PETS (7387) and we can discuss ways that alternate family members bring your pet as your representative.
  2. Please do not bring items from home including bedding, favorite chew toys, etc.  They will be discarded.  We will likely remove your pets’ collar and leash after being fitted with identification while in hospital, and return these items to you.
  3. Please do not bring additional family members with you to PSM, unless absolutely necessary. We are limiting the number of clients we have in our hospital to help reduce person to person contact.
  4. Hospital visits will be limited; however, special consideration will be given for end of life decisions
  5. Please skip all non-urgent visits.  If you are currently under the care of any of the specialists at PSM, please call their nursing staff to help determine which visits can be eliminated in the short term.  If you are not under the care of our team but have questions about which pet illness need to be seen urgently and which can be delayed, please call 831-899-PETS (7837).
  6. Please use alcohol hand sanitizer and wash your hands prior to arrival and use the provided sanitizers while in hospital.

Thank you for helping us help your pets during this crisis.  We are grateful for your consideration and look forward to serving your ongoing needs. Please help us protect our staff, our families and our community by understanding our role in mitigating the spread of this virus.  It will take a community effort. We hope you do not need us, but if you do, you’ll be glad we are here.


Gregory S. Marsolais, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS
Owner, Pet Specialists of Monterey

Lecture Series

We are so excited to have launched our lecture series as part of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District’s Let Go Outdoors Program! These lectures are open to the public and family friendly. These informational topics focus on precautions to take with your pet while outdoors, as well as common toxicities you may find in nature. Below are the notes from Dr. Bill Sullenberger’s first lecture on Toxicities and Your Pet.

Toxicities and Your Pet

Join us next time as Dr. Sullenberger presents on Pet First Aid! Thursday February 13th at 4:30pm at the Palo Corona Regional Parks Discovery Center.

Leptospirosis, Your Pet and the Great Outdoors

Leptospirosis, Your Pet and the Great Outdoors 

The beautiful weather on the Monterey Peninsula lends itself to a wide array of outdoor activities such as heading to the beach, hiking one of the many coastal trails, or even setting up camp under the redwoods. Oftentimes, we enhance the experience by bringing our canine friends along.  Just as there are hazards to yourself in the outdoors that you prepare for, there are risks posed to your dog. One such risk that you may have heard of when getting your dog’s annual vaccines is leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is a disease that results from an infection caused by Leptospira bacteria. This is a group of bacteria that can be found in soil or water that has been contaminated by urine from infected local wildlife such as rats, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and even some marine animals such as sea lions. Leptospira bacteria can also be found in livestock such as cattle or pigs. It is important to note that leptospirosis is what is known as a zoonotic disease; meaning a disease that can be spread between animals and humans. As a result, both you and your dog could become infected. Although it is more likely that you get infected from contact with an environmental source—such as drinking contaminated water—rather than from an infected canine. Dogs can become infected by drinking contaminated water, being bit by a wild animal, or eating from an infected carcass. In humans, leptospirosis can have a wide variety of symptoms such as high fever, headache, muscle aches, yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice), abdominal pain, vomiting, and even a rash. As always, if you experience any combination of these symptoms please consult with your physician.

In our canine friends, leptospirosis can range from no signs at all to severe illness with fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, not wanting to eat, not wanting to move around, drinking more water and urinating more often than normal, yellowing of the skin and/or gums, diarrhea, or in some cases, uncontrollable bleeding. Since many of these signs are associated with other diseases, it is important to have your dog seen by your family veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. Once at the veterinarian’s office, the doctor will want to run various diagnostics such as blood and urine tests, x-rays (radiographs), or even an examination with an ultrasound machine may be offered. If it is confirmed that your dog has leptospirosis, early and aggressive treatment is often successful and will consist of antibiotics and supportive care that will likely include a stay in the hospital. In order to prevent transmission of leptospirosis from dog to human, it is important to avoid contact with the infected dog’s urine by using gloves, clean contaminated areas with household disinfectants, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling your dog.

The best way to protect your outdoor-loving canine friend is by helping prevent a leptospirosis infection with an annual leptospirosis vaccine administered by your family veterinarian at your pet’s annual wellness exam. If you haven’t already, consider making an appointment with your veterinarian today to discuss your dog’s risk of exposure and if getting an annual leptospirosis vaccine is right for your dog. Then you can feel safer about enjoying the great outdoors with your best friend!

Rodenticide Poisoning

Rodenticide Poisoning

There are many different types of poisons which are used to remove unwanted pests from households, farms, and other environments. Many times, these poisons are ingested accidentally by pets and wildlife. There are three common rodenticides used to control pests. They each act on the body in a different way. In order to properly treat your pet it is important to have this information available for the veterinarian.

● bring the package of the poison ingested
● brand name/chemical of the rodenticide
● the amount of bait missing, or ingested
● time of ingestion

These are the three most common types of rodenticides used and how they act on the body.

1. Anticoagulant Rodenticides (Warfarin and Congeners)
Common names: Bait blocks (peanut butter, apple flavor), Havoc, Ramik, “Older” d-CON products

Anticoagulant rodenticides work by stopping an enzyme (vitamin K epoxide reductase), which normally reactivates Vitamin K. Vitamin K is important in activating clotting factors. If the clotting factors are not activated, the body cannot protect itself from bleeding. Internal or external bleeding can occur and result in death.

Signs: uncontrolled bleeding (commonly from the mouth), bruising, difficulty breathing, vomiting blood, black tarry stool, seizures, or collapse.

2. Bromethalin
Common names: Tomcat, Top Gun, Assault, Talpirid, Real Kill, Clout, Vengeance

Bromethalin is a neurotoxin which stops the cells in the central nervous system from producing energy. The nerve cells swell, which puts pressure on the brain and spinal cord, and leads to paralysis and death.

Signs: vomiting/ diarrhea (green in color), walking drunk, incoordination, tremors, seizures, paralysis, and eventually death

3. Cholecalciferol
Common names: :New” d-CON products, Terad3 BLOX

Vitamin D helps the body maintain calcium balance by enhancing absorption of calcium from the gut and kidneys. Ingestion of toxic levels can result in severe increase in calcium and phosphate in the blood. High calcium levels can affect kidney, heart muscle, skeletal muscle, intestinal, and nerve cell function leading to anorexia, lethargy, and coma in severe cases. Prolonged elevations cause secondary kidney injury, and mineralization of the soft tissues of the body.

Signs: weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, increased thirst, frequent urination, confusion, depression, stupor or coma.

Treatment for ingestion of a Rodenticide

Contact a veterinarian as soon as you suspect your animal has ingested a toxin. Supportive care and decontamination as soon as possible is recommended. The veterinarian will induce vomiting, administer activated charcoal to absorb toxins circulating in the blood, administer intravenous fluids to flush out toxins, and administer the appropriate drugs to support the toxin ingested. It is unsafe for your pet if you were to attempt this at treatment at home. Please call your family veterinarian or Pet Specialists of Monterey immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten any of these poisons. We can be reached at 831-899-4838.

Aiello, S. E., & Moses, M. A. (2016). The Merck Veterinary Manual (11th ed.). Merck.
Rodenticides. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Salt Toxicity

Did you know homemade playdough is toxic to dogs and cats? Why, you may ask?

The answer is salt! Most homemade play dough recipes call for 1/3 to 1/2 cup of salt. The lethal dose of salt for dogs and cats is 4g of salt per 2 lbs. A 1/3 of a cup salt is equivalent to 113g. So, this means a recipe that calls for 1/3 cup of salt is the lethal dose for a 50lb dog.

What happens internally when too much salt is consumed?

Well, the salt intake leads to severe inflammation of the stomach, electrolyte imbalances, severe dehydration and sometimes even death. The severe stomach inflammation causes vomiting and diarrhea. The electrolyte imbalance can cause tremors and seizures. The severe dehydration causes brain cells to shrink and, rupture blood vessels and lead to hemorrhage.

Signs of Salt Toxicity

Some of the common signs of a salt toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, excessive water intake, producing large amounts of urine. The treatment of a salt toxicity is to administer fluids intravenous and by mouth slowly over several days and monitor sodium levels very closely. Making homemade playdough can be fun for kids but NOT for your pets.

To Pee or Not to Pee, That is the Question: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, or FLUTD, is a multifactorial disease condition that affects many domestic cats; in fact, up to 10% of all cats treated in emergency hospitals are affected with FLUTD. FLUTD describes a constellation of clinical signs rather than a specific disease, ergo any cat presenting with difficulty urinating can be said to “have FLUTD.” The list of FLUTD causes grows every year as more and more research is conducted in the field and many individual cases of FLUTD have more than a single cause. The two most common causes are FIC (feline idiopathic cystitis) and urolithiasis (stones in the urinary tract); bacterial infections, cancer, behavioral issues, neurologic deficits, and conformation abnormalities can all play a role in FLUTD. Severe cases of FLUTD can cause complete urinary tract obstruction, which is a life-threatening emergency.

FIC can often be frustrating for owners because it is an idiopathic disease process, meaning that there is no identifiable cause. Cats with FIC often experience painful inflammation of the lining of the bladder, which leads to spasms of the urethra and difficulty urinating. The signs of FIC are very similar to a bacterial urinary tract infection: straining to urinate, yowling while urinating, passing small volumes of blood-tinged urine, and having accidents outside of the litter box. FIC is often diagnosed by first ruling out other possibilities, like a bacterial bladder infection. Your veterinarian may suggest a urinalysis with a urine culture to make sure that there are no white blood cells or bacteria in the urine. The urinalysis will also provide important information about kidney function and hydration status that will guide your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan for your kitty.

Urolithiasis is another common contributor to FLUTD and one with which many cat owners (especially those with male cats) are already familiar. Stones form in the urinary bladder for a number of reasons but diet, genetics, and bacterial bladder infections are all important components. Small stones (similar in size to sand) may pass through the urethra without obstructing the passage of urine. Larger stones or conglomerates of sand and mucous can become lodged in the urethra and prevent your cat from urinating. When this occurs, it is a life-threatening emergency that can lead to severe electrolyte disorders and even bladder rupture.

If you suspect that your cat has FLUTD, it is advised to have your cat seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat and recommend a course of diagnostics and treatment. Blood work is often recommended to rule out abnormalities in electrolytes and will indicate if your cat has any systemic infection, inflammation, or organ dysfunction. A urine sample may be collected via cystocentesis, which is a process by which urine is collected directly from the bladder with a needle placed through the belly. This will allow your veterinarian to rule out bacterial infection and look at the urine sediment to check for crystals, red blood cells, and signs of kidney disease.

In cases of obstruction, a urinary catheter is usually placed to remove the obstructing material from the urethra and relieve the pressure on the urinary bladder. The catheter is often left in place for at least 24 hours while the inflammation of the urethra decreases, which reduces your cat’s risk of re-obstructing. Cats who require a urinary catheter are kept in the hospital on intravenous fluids and medications to relieve pain and prevent urethral spasm. The type of crystal/stone or lack thereof found in the urine can direct your veterinarian as to the cause of the obstruction and indicate if dietary or lifestyle changes are needed.

If you have any concerns about your cat’s urination habits, having a discussion with your veterinarian is the best course of action. If you are worried that your cat has a urinary tract obstruction, it is recommended to have your cat seen immediately. Pet Specialists is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help with any of your pets’ needs.

Vomiting, Diarrhea, and Table Scraps for the Holidays

During the holiday season, you may find that one or more of your pets has an upset stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are common reactions to stress from traveling or new visitors in the home and dietary changes from table scraps or trash can diving after holiday meals. In many cases, the upset stomach will resolve on its own without requiring a trip to see your veterinarian, but if it does not, you may find yourself discussing pancreatitis. The following will help you as a pet owner understand this disease and what you should expect when working with your veterinarian to treat it.

Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, is a common reason for pets to present to their veterinarian or to an emergency clinic. The pancreas is an organ that lies near the stomach and intestines and produces enzymes that aid in digestion and utilization of nutrients from the diet, like lipase and insulin. Pancreatitis is the most common pancreatic disease in small animal patients. While it is much more prevalent in dogs, it can occur in cats as well. There are two types of pancreatitis: acute (arising suddenly) and chronic (persisting over a long period of time). However, both types are diagnosed and treated similarly.

There are a myriad of causes of pancreatitis, and most cases are considered idiopathic—meaning that the cause is never identified. Dietary indiscretion, or “garbage can gut,” is one of the most common identified causes. Table scraps rich in fat like cheese, gristle, turkey carcasses, and pork, can trigger a bout of pancreatitis. Blunt trauma, like falling from a high place or being hit by a car, has also been associated with pancreatitis.  Certain types of bacterial, parasitic, or viral infections are also associated with pancreatitis. A very small number of pets may react unfavorably to certain classes of drugs and develop pancreatitis secondary to administration of those drugs.

When the pancreas becomes inflamed, it leaks digestive enzymes into the surrounding tissue. These enzymes break down healthy tissues and cause more inflammation. This process can be very painful, and pets with pancreatitis often present with profound abdominal discomfort and pain. Vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy, weakness, and loss of appetite are also common presentations of pancreatitis. The severity of signs is often directly correlated with the degree of inflammation in the pancreas, ergo less severe cases will present with less severe clinical signs.

Coming to a diagnosis of pancreatitis often involves careful investigation of your pet’s history, physical examination, lab work, and imaging findings. It is important to rule out other causes of vomiting and diarrhea, like foreign body obstruction, so your veterinarian may recommend x-rays of your pet’s abdomen. A CBC (complete blood count) and blood chemistry panel will allow your veterinarian to examine the function of your pet’s organs, like the kidneys and the liver. Tests looking for pancreatic lipase (PLi- an enzyme secreted by the pancreas) in the blood can help support a diagnosis of pancreatitis, but the most definitive diagnosis can be made after examining your pet’s abdomen via ultrasound and noting inflammation in the pancreas.

When treating pancreatitis, your veterinarian will likely recommend hospitalizing your pet. This allows your pet to receive intravenous fluids, pain medications, anti-nausea medications, and other supportive care measures. There is no medication to “cure” pancreatitis. Pets usually recover with supportive in-hospital care and time to allow the inflammation to resolve. The severity of inflammation and thus severity of signs will determine how long and how aggressive the supportive care will need to be. Having pancreatitis once makes a pet predisposed to developing it again at some point in their life, so it is important to follow your veterinarian’s diet recommendations once your pet is discharged from the hospital.

Liver Disease in Pets

The liver is one of the body’s greatest multi-taskers; it commands the majority of metabolic functions in the body, manufactures proteins and glucose, metabolizes waste products in the blood, and produces the contents of the gall bladder to aid in digestion. With such a critical role in maintaining health and well-being, it is no surprise that when the liver is injured, the results can be serious and far-reaching.

Acute and chronic liver diseases are commonly encountered in veterinary medicine. Acute liver disease is usually the result of ingesting toxins (certain species of mushrooms, xylitol, Sago palm– for a full list of household and environmental toxins, drug reactions, or infectious diseases, please visit the ASPCA’s website.These conditions can present as a general illness with relatively non-specific signs like vomiting, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or neurological problems like stumbling and loss of balance. Your veterinarian can run a blood panel to check for elevation in liver enzymes and determine if your pet’s signs are a result of liver injury. As soon as liver injury has been identified supportive care will be started. In most cases, the severity of the injury will dictate the aggressiveness of the treatment. The liver has a tremendous capacity for regeneration, but time is needed for it to recover so acute liver injury often involves lengthy hospital stays, serial blood testing, intravenous fluids, medications, and special feeding procedures.

Chronic liver disease is becoming more common as the life span of the pet population increases. Signs of chronic liver disease are similar to acute liver disease but are slower in onset and may appear gradually over the period of several months; weight loss, increased thirst, and increased urination may also indicate chronic liver problems. Identifying chronic liver disease often entails a full work-up including blood and urine testing, abdominal ultrasound, and even liver biopsies and culture, in some cases. Treatment for chronic disease focuses on supporting the liver with antioxidants like milk thistle extract, vitamin E, and SAMe. Because many chronic liver diseases have a strong immune-mediated component treatment may require immunosuppressive drugs, like cyclosporine or prednisone. Your veterinarian may also recommend special prescription diets that are lower in protein and copper than commercial dog food, which lessens the metabolic burden on the liver and reduces the amount of waste products in the bloodstream.

Since organ transplants are not commonly performed in veterinary patients, early diagnosis and liver specific supportive care makes the largest impact on extending these patients lives. The veterinary community will continue to pursue new and innovative treatment options for patients with liver disease. Currently, there is research being conducted on the efficacy of stem cells in treating chronic liver disease, and we are interested to see the results. If your pet is suspected of having liver disease or has been diagnosed with liver disease our internal medicine and emergency medicine team at Pet Specialists of Monterey is here to help.

Flea Season: The California Myth

Summertime on the Central Coast– sunshine, surf, and… fleas?

Fleas are a part of pet life in California. An effective, year-round flea control plan is essential to protect your pet and your home from infestations. Unlike many parts of the country, our winters are mild enough that flea populations can survive and reproduce all year long.

For most pets, a flea bite triggers a mild temporary itch, but some pets can develop severe allergies to flea saliva. Flea allergy dermatitis can result in redness, flakiness, hair loss, and injuries from your pet scratching himself/herself. Many owners of flea-allergic pets are unaware that their animal is flea-allergic because they never see fleas on their pet. However, for flea-allergic pets, even a single bite is enough to ignite a reaction that can last for several days. Even for non-flea-allergic pets, fleas can pose a hazard to their well-being. Fleas can carry tapeworms, which are passed to pets when they ingest fleas while grooming. Some flea populations carry blood parasites that are transferred to dogs and cats during bites. In cases of large flea burdens, varying degrees of anemia can occur. Occasionally, some cats and dogs will have such a severe flea anemia that they will require one or more blood transfusions to survive.

Fortunately, there are several convenient and effective flea control products on the market today. The product currently recommended for dogs by dermatologists is Comfortis®, a monthly chewable tablet that kills fleas within minutes. The active ingredient in Comfortis is spinosad – a safe and effective insecticide that won the EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge in 1999 and is approved for use in organic farming. Oral flea control medications like Comfortis can be preferable to spot-on topical treatments because they cannot be washed or rubbed off, they maintain their efficacy more reliably between doses, and flea populations have not yet developed resistance to their active ingredients.

Agility on the Greens Trial

For the last couple of years the Pet Specialists’ staff provided veterinary support for the SMART (Salinas-Monterey Agility Racing Team) Agility on the Greens event at the York School. The competition brings together dozens of dogs and their handlers from various states across the country to strut their speed and skill at hurdles, tire jumps, see-saws, and weave poles. The high-energy sport of canine agility tests speed, accuracy, athleticism, and obedience. Agility competitions are fantastic opportunities to see canine athletes (and their handlers) in action.

To learn more about SMART and their upcoming events visit their website at Maybe we will see you there.