Dog Safety Tips for the Backyard

In Jack London’s famous novel, Call of the Wild, a mild-mannered and cuddly Saint Bernard named Buck finds himself fighting for survival and leading a team of sled dogs through the dangerous and frigid Yukon. Throughout the book, cute little Buck develops his inner primal instincts to fight off wild animals, brave the arctic cold, and command packs of half-wolves.

Meanwhile, some dogs shelter in fear upon hearing a vacuum cleaner start up. It’s obvious that not every canine is born with wild outdoor instincts. We can only blame ourselves and generations of pet domestication for this. But, that’s perfectly fine. We all love our adorable pups and maybe it’s for the better that they don’t act like wild wolves.

Since we’ve domesticated our pets to behave like civil creatures (for the most part), it’s also our responsibility to keep them safe—including in the backyard. We can’t expect Fido to suddenly develop survival instincts every time there’s danger lurking behind the garden hose.

Check out these yard safety tips to keep your pets safe in the yard and away from the emergency vet!

Plants and Grasses

The first danger to your pets comes from plants and grasses. Just like humans, some plants and fertilizers are poisonous to dogs. Fido can suffer from plant allergies, too. And we all know how much dogs love to sniff.

When your dog is playing outside, keep an eye out for excessive sneezing or itching as these may be signs that they are allergic to something nearby. If they start showing more serious signs like vomiting, they may have eaten something poisonous.

While pollen, dust, and mold spores are the most common allergy culprits, check with your nearest vet to see what local plants you should keep an eye out for and check the label on your fertilizers to ensure they are pet safe.

Additionally, keeping your lawn well trimmed and clean will help reduce the allergy potential for your pet. Short grass will also help prevent the next bad thing we’ll discuss.


Let’s face it, ticks are the worst. They are small, hard to find, and can cause some serious health issues both for you and your dog.

Make sure to stay up to date on your pet’s flea and tick medication. When they play in the grass, give them a thorough search for any ticks that may have latched on. If your pet has long hair, run a comb through while you check to make it easier.

If you find a tick, don’t squish it! That could cause an infection. Instead, try to pull it out with tweezers or soak your pet in a bath to drown and dislodge it.

Other Animals

Depending on where you live, there could be snakes, skunks or predatory birds. Remember, your pet isn’t Buck from Call of the Wild. If you think there may be other animals near your house, use caution whenever you let your dog out and keep an eye on them.


Lastly, an adequate height fence will not only keep other animals out, it will keep Fido in. This is probably the most effective way of keeping your pet safe in the backyard and preventing them from wandering off or getting hurt.

If you live in an area where a fence isn’t possible (like an apartment complex), make sure to always supervise them and keep them on a leash. And don’t forget to pick up after them. Dog waste can carry bacteria and disease that’s harmful for other people and their pets. Plus, it’s smelly.

We all love playing outside with our furry best friends, but remember, they aren’t the fierce, alpha predators of their ancestors. That’s why they rely on us to keep them safe and happy.

For more tips or how to keep your dog healthy, book an appointment with the veterinarian at Pacific Palisades Veterinary Center today!

Breed Profiles: Xolo and Sphynx

Breed Profiles: Xolo and Sphynx

The Xoloitzcuintli (Xolo), also known as the Mexican hairless dog, and the Sphynx cat are some of the most unique-looking pets around. Don’t let their looks fool you; though they may look a little strange or scary to some people, they’re actually very sweet and loving pets!

Personality: Xolos are calm and super intelligent, and they are known to get along well with humans. They still have some hunting instincts, so make sure you keep them in places where they can’t escape easily. Sphynx cats are extremely affectionate and friendly, and they will do anything for attention from their humans or other animals. Because they’re so social, they thrive in homes with lots of people and other pets, and they love to snuggle and keep you warm.

Exercise: As puppies, Xolos will need more frequent walks and opportunities to use up all their energy, but as they grow, daily walks should be sufficient. Sphynx cats are very energetic, so they need enriching environments and plenty of toys to play with.

Nutrition: It’s best to feed Xolos twice a day instead of giving them all their food in one serving. Sphynx cats are big eaters, so it’s also best to feed them small portions at regular intervals so they don’t overeat.

Lifespan: Xolos live long lives! They tend to live between 14 and 20 years. Sphynx cats live between 8 and 14 years on average.

Health concerns: Xolos have very few health concerns. It’s most important to protect their skin from sun and chemicals. Sphynx cats also need skin care, like lotion to keep the skin from getting too dry and weekly baths to keep it from getting too greasy.

Watch for Signs of Excess Water Consumption

Thirsty dog

Excess water consumption is much more likely to occur in the summer months when our water-loving pups are warm and want to splash around. But taking in too much water can create dire health situations for your pets. Accidentally ingesting too much water can cause brain swelling, which can lead to death very quickly. When you’re out with your dog at the beach, or even just playing around in the kiddie pool or sprinkler in your backyard, keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • vomiting
  • lethargy and/or confusion
  • weakness
  • swelling
  • seizures
  • excessive salivation

To avoid water intoxication, make your dog take plenty of breaks during water play.

Endangered Species and How You Can Help

Giant Panda

We know your love for animals doesn’t end at your own pets. There are so many endangered animals worldwide, and there are lots of organizations you can support that are working hard to save these species.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s 2012 Red List of Threatened Species, roughly 20,000 different species are considered threatened, with their threat levels ranging from vulnerable to endangered to critically endangered. Here are a few great organizations striving to conserve these threatened animals: Continue Reading

Breed Profile: Giant Breeds

Giant Breeds

Giant breed dogs are beautiful, immense and impressive: some breeds can weigh up to 200 pounds! Common giant breeds are Great Danes, mastiffs, Great Pyrenees, giant schnauzers, Newfoundlands, Bernese mountain dogs and Saint Bernards. These massive dogs require different care than their smaller counterparts, so before you adopt them, make sure you can give them the care and attention they need. Continue Reading

Dental Problems in Cats

FORLs, or feline oral resorptive lesions, are common dental problems for cats. Lesions typically begin at the gum line, but eventually they will cause teeth to dissolve. These lesions are extremely painful, and because of the way they progress, affected teeth must be pulled. Extracting these teeth can be complicated, so it’s better to catch the lesions early. Help keep your kitty’s teeth pain-free by checking her mouth between vet appointments.

Dental Disease in Small Dogs

Though all cats and dogs can develop dental disease, some dog breeds are more prone to dental issues. Toy breeds are known to have a higher frequency of gum disease. Bearded dogs like Schnauzers can get food trapped in their facial hair, which can lead to smelly bacteria. Short-faced dogs, like the Brussels griffon, English and French bulldog, Shih tzu, Lhasa apso, pug and their mixes, are more prone to dental disease because of how their mouths are arranged. And some breeds are well-known to have a higher prevalence of dental disease, the most common being the Yorkshire terrier, Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Poodle and their mixes. If your dog is one of these breeds, make sure you pay special attention to their dental hygiene by keeping up on their cleanings, brushing their teeth regularly and giving them treats that promote dental health.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s dental health, please call Pacific Palisades Veterinary Center at 424-231-6450 to schedule an appointment.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Healthy teeth make for a happy pet. Not only do regular dental cleanings make your pet feel fresher and cleaner, they are also the most effective way to combat dental disease. Periodontal disease is the most common disorder among pets nationwide, as it affects over 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats by the time they’re three years old. In its later stages, dental disease can cause heart, kidney and liver complications. Thankfully, since it progresses slowly, dental disease can be caught in its early stages, and you can prevent it with a proper dental hygiene routine.

In addition to their regular cleanings, you should periodically inspect your pet’s mouth yourself, noting any gum inflammation, discoloration or halitosis (bad breath). If you notice any of these, or if your pet is eating strangely or having trouble chewing, make sure to schedule an appointment with your Pacific Palisades Veterinary Center veterinarian as soon as you can.

Breed Profile: Siamese and Burmese Cats

Siamese and Burmese Cats

Renowned for their playful attitudes and inquisitive nature, the closely related Siamese and Burmese cats are a popular choice for pet owners worldwide. As part of our ongoing breed profile series, Pali Vet is proud to share important information for current and potential owners.

Personality: Burmese and Siamese cats are highly intelligent breeds. They are extremely affectionate and will seek out the companionship of people or other cats, developing strong social bonds. Both breeds are known for their persistent and expressive vocalization patterns, demanding a large amount of attention. Continue Reading

Breed Profile: Labrador Retrievers

Breed Profile: Labrador Retrievers

The most popular dog in the United States for good reason, Labrador Retrievers are a well-balanced mix of a family pet and working animal. As part of our ongoing breed profile series, here is important information for current and potential owners.

Personality: Labs are active, sweet and happy. They are very loyal to their family and generally interact well with other dogs and non-family members, leading to a stable home life.

Exercise: This breed is very active, requiring ample play time to release pent up energy. Large backyards or parks are great places to play fetch or let your pet run outdoors. Younger labs are also great running companions. If not given enough exercise, Labs are prone to destructive tendencies like digging.

Nutrition: Feeding requirements are standard for this large-sized breed, with bigger pets demanding more calories. Labs are known for their voracious appetites, so be careful to not overfeed them. Individual dietary needs can be determined during a veterinary exam.

Lifespan: 12-14 years.

Health Concerns:

  • Although generally a healthy breed, Labrador Retrievers are prone to variety of joint disorders including hip and elbow dysplasia. Glucosamine and fish oil are often use as a dysplasia preventative.
  • Labs are susceptible to eye disease.
  • They are known to occasionally ingest foreign objects like toys, plastic bags, and clothing, leading to potential gastrointestinal hazards and surgical intervention.
  • Labradors are prolific tail wagers, so make sure
  • Regular immunizations and veterinary exams are an effective way to prevent serious health complications.