Dr. Lou Serrano has been a small animal veterinarian for over 25 years and a graduate of Washington State University in 1983.
He is a partner at Academy Animal Hospital located in the beautiful coastal town of Solana Beach.
He lives in coastal Carlsbad with his wife Cathy and 2 very demanding cats (aren't they all!).
He divides his time outside the hospital surfing, trail running, playing golf (he assembles his own clubs), and enjoying his time with Cathy biking and hiking.
His practice specialty includes making sure your pet has the best medical care possible and answering any questions their owners have. His practice is very close to Dog Beach in Del Mar. Click for Map
Academy Animal Hospital
741 Academy Drive
Solana Beach, CA 92075
November 6th, 2012
There was recently a post on the internet about a dog passing away as a result of drinking salt water.
The article was called " The Dangers of Salt Water to Pets".
Here's a link to that story: http://www.the-signal.com/section/37/article/79863/
In researching the subject it seems that pets who are running and playing quite a bit are resorting many times to drinking the sea water as this is the only way for them to cool off adequately when there is no fresh water available.
One solution then is to have plenty of fresh water on hand to offer to pets engaging in quite a bit of activity, especially on a hot day, and even though they are able to "cool" off in the water.
Though sodium toxicity from drinking too much sea water can happen, it would appear that it is not very common when one considers how many pets go to the beach every day.
But since it COULD happen, I would certainly take the precaution of making sure plenty of fresh water is
available when at the beach.
September 1st, 2012
Surf Dogs & Stingrays
The other day, Pete Noll (and Nani) emailed me to ask what is the treatment for stingray trauma to a dog. Gathering up almost 30 years of veterinary experience, I replied with a definite...”I don’t know!”
Knowing that this was not quite the answer Peter was looking forward, I started my search for the answer. My first call was to the local veterinary emergency hospital and after being directed to the attending doctor she was also at a loss for the correct treatment as she had never seen a dog for this condition. After a search online (which always needs to be undertaken with a critical assessment as to the source), I finally did come across a pet that was treated for a stingray laceration.
In people, the accepted course of treatment is to place the affected area in hot water for 60-90 minutes.
It needs to be as hot as one can stand but will not burn the skin.
I know from first hand experience that there is a fine line here. Last summer, I was “stung” by a stingray after spending almost 60 years in the ocean surfing and swimming without incident.
My parents, both born and growing up on the beaches of Brazil, dutifully took me down to the ocean to swim before I ever got in a pool. I have never been stung by jelly fish and never had a stingray event...until last summer. Let me tell you, it really hurts! Luckily I was very near my home and I immediately put my foot (I had a small laceration on the heel) in very hot water for about 1 hour before the pain started to subside. There was some minor bleeding and the area needed to be cleaned and explored for small pieces of cartilage barbs that could become embedded. Everything healed fine after several days.
In dogs, the same course of action would also be taken but there is a problem here. Trying explaining the source of the pain to a pet and then submersing the same area in hot water! Is the water too hot, not hot
enough, and is the pain stating to subside? Again, the affected area needs to be submerged for at least 1 hour. If there is extensive bleeding, this must be controlled.
The venom from the sting can also cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive pets. Clearly, the best course of action is to take your pet to your local veterinarian right away. He or she may administer a sedative and pain medication, perhaps even a local anesthetic, to calm the pet and ease the discomfort. Hot compresses can then be wrapped around the affected skin and any bleeding stopped. If the laceration is deep, the area will need to be explored and flushed clean. X-rays may be helpful, but not all of the pieces may show up on radiographs. Antibiotics may also be administered and the area possibly bandaged for a short time.
Let’s hope that your surf loving pet never has this problem. Ocean time should be a happy time but if anyone has had the misfortune of having their pet stung by a stingray, I would appreciate any positive feedback on how it was treated.
As always, please call with any questions.
Academy Animal Hospital
December 12th, 2011
Winter Holiday Safety Tips
However your family celebrates, it is important to remember that safety comes first. Here are some things to be aware of this holiday season.
Decorating with lights is fun and beautiful but pets can get electrocuted if they chew on the cords.
If you use a real pine tree make sure that your pet doesn’t drink the water or eat the pine needles. Keep holiday plants such as mistletoe and Poinsettias out of reach of your pet.
Candles can be enticing to dogs and cats. Keep flames out of reach and never leave a candle burning without supervision.
Ribbon and string can get lodged in the intestinal tract if swallowed or cause great harm. If your pet eats ribbon or string, observe carefully for proper bowel movements. If you notice abdominal discomfort, straining, or anything unusual after a bowel movement, bring your pet to us immediately.
Some foods are harmful to pets, so we recommend not feeding any table scraps. Especially dangerous are gravies and greasy food. Raisins, grapes and chocolate are significant holiday toxins.
Some glass ornaments may appear to be crunchy treats so, if possible use non breakable decorations or hang them up higher so dogs and cats can’t reach
If your pet has a history of anxiety, ask us about using a mild sedative to avoid your pet thinking that the world is coming to an end on New Year’s
We want your holiday to be safe and fun. Please contact us if you have any questions or for an after-hours emergency, contact
the Veterinary Specialty Hospital at 858-875-7500.
Academy Animal Hospital
FLEAS…New Solutions to an Old Problem
“But Doc, I applied that old flea killer, and I’m still seeing them on my dog (or cat)!”
I have been hearing this a lot lately. The flea days of summer are here and though these little pests can survive year round in the area, this time of the year can become especially nasty for your pets. A hot and humid climate is just the vacation spot fleas love. Given a chance, the meeting of two fleas will result in a happy family of thousands with your pet as the unlucky houseguest. Even as the weather turns cooler, your nice warm house will provide an especially suitable winter home.
You need to know that by the time you see fleas on your pet and then apply the flea product, it can be assumed that there has already been a flurry of egg making activity. The eggs will literally sprinkle off your pet and embed in your carpets, sofas, pet bedding, and rugs waiting for the right time to hatch. The new hatching fleas taking the place of the dying ones can literally overwhelm the flea product you applied on your pet. It is then natural to believe the product is just not working.So what do you do?
Give your pet a good cool water bath using a gentle oatmeal based pet shampoo. This will help drown the fleas and soothe the skin. I do not like specific “flea shampoos” that contain pesticides as they can be toxic not only to the pet but to the person giving the bath! Flea shampoos also have little if any residual effect so once rinsed off, fleas in the environment will jump right back on your pet.
Consider having the environment treated by a professional exterminator who will use products safe for your pets. In this case, you can get a head start in completely cleaning the environment and don’t have to wait weeks for the whole life cycle of the existing fleas to run its course. If this is not an option, vacuum the house frequently (be sure to get under the sofa and cushions) in order to suck up the eggs and prevent them from hatching. Clean all the pet towels, pillows, and bedding.
Use an effective flea product on your pet. Gone are the days of using very toxic dips, sprays, and flea collars. Today there are many outstanding monthly topical products available. They do work but they must be used every month. There is also a great new monthly oral tablet that quickly kills adult fleas. It is called Comfortis and I have had great feedback on its use. If you are also using a monthly internal parasite preventive (and you should be!), Trifexis is a new monthly tablet that combines adult flea control with Heartworm control.
See your veterinarian if your pet has been constantly scratching and keeping everyone up at night. Using a flea product may not automatically stop the itching. Secondary skin infections and sores may need medical attention even after the fleas are gone.
The most important lesson that I can leave you with is to keep up a preventative frame of mind and treat for fleas on a monthly basis before you see them and keep up the treatment even if you don’t see them. This means it is working!
I welcome your phone calls if you have any other questions.
I want to make sure that your pet has an “itch and flea free” summer.
Lou Serrano, DVM
Academy Animal Hospital
June 1, 2011
Foxtails, Fleas, and Ticks…Oh My!
This last winter brought a significant amount of wet weather to our area and this has resulted in a lush and abundant spring bloom. As I have ventured out onto bike trails and mountain paths, I have unfortunately seen a “menace” brewing that can spell danger for your pets…Foxtails. While fleas and ticks are well known parasites that love to catch a free ride on our pets (your pet is on flea and tick control, right?), foxtails frequently do not get the critical attention it deserves.
Foxtails are actually the seed portion of the foxtail grass that is quite common in this area. During the spring and early summer, the foxtails are green but as the days warm these will dry and scatter in the wind. The foxtails can easily detach from the plant to catch a ride on whatever brushes by such as your pet!
A foxtail is aptly named for its tail-like appearance of a fox’s tail. What makes foxtails especially insidious is that they are like an arrowhead or fishhook and will not readily become dislodged when attached to something. A foxtail typically moves in one direction and do not back out easily and must be removed manually.
The next part may not be for the faint of heart but the following are some of the areas where our hospital have removed foxtails form our client’s pets; nasal cavity or nostrils, ear canals, eyes (under the eyelids), oral cavity (lodged in the “tonsils”), in between the paws, throat (penetrating from inside the mouth), lungs, anal glands, and just about anywhere else on the body where the fur holds the foxtail and it eventually migrates into the skin.
So here is what you need to do:
With a little care and attention to what may be lurking outdoors, you can make sure your pet stays safe.
As always, please give me a call with any questions.
Lou Serrano, DVM
Academy Animal Hospital
May 1, 2010
Please, No More Fleas!
This is what your favorite furry friend may be saying to you as he or she scratches and bites at those prolific little pests. And if not now, then probably sometime during the summer, your pet will be home to our areas most common external parasite.
This may be a banner year for fleas. Following an unusually rainy winter and spring the warm and more humid summer provides just the vacation spot fleas love! Given a chance, the union of two fleas results in a happy family of thousands with your pet as the unlucky host. Even as the weather eventually turns cooler, your nice warm house will provide an especially suitable winter home.
In sensitive pets, the chronic scratching and biting not only drives them crazy, but keeps owners up at night and left wondering if there is anything that can get rid of these little pests. So now is the time to form a preventative frame of mind.
The good news is that effective flea control has come a long way. Gone are the days of having to use sprays, flea collars, toxic dips or baths. There are a variety of very safe and effective products now available.
A topically applied flea product along the back of your pet only takes a few seconds to use and is effective for up to 1 month. In our practice, one of the monthly topical products we recommend includes Vectra. This is applied monthly and is effective against fleas, ticks, and even mosquitoes (which can carry heartworm disease, but more on that in a future article). Not only does it kill the adult fleas, but also effectively makes the flea eggs sterile providing a broader spectrum of control.
An oral medication called Comfortis is also available for owners seeking an alternate to the topical form of flea control. This is given as a treat once a month and is effective against the adult fleas.
So there is no excuse for saving your pet from that persistent little flea. No more fleas means a much happier pet. So on behalf on your run and play beach-going friend, PLEASE use flea control!
Call me with any questions on all the products available and to decide which one is right for your pet.
Lou Serrano, DVM
Academy Animal Hospital
April 1, 2001
It’s almost that special time of year that just about every dog has been looking for all winter long.
Summer at the beach! My wonderful companion of 15 years, Nacho, absolutely loved the long warm summer days running on the sand and jumping in the surf.
She could hardly wait to get out of the car and would practically set a land speed record running to the water.
But before you venture out with your favorite friend, especially if this will be the first adventure, here are a few general rules to consider.
First of all, most dogs, but not all, are friendly. Unfortunately, there may be the bully on the block that seems to want to get into a scuffle with everyone. So take care to allow everyone to greet each other safely and make sure that tempers will not begin to flare. This is especially important in young pets. You don’t want to spoil what should be a great first encounter with the ocean environment. Also, always make sure your young pet has been properly vaccinated and is old enough to be around other dogs. Be sure to ask your veterinarian!
Be courteous and make sure you pick up after your pet. Bring a baggie (several) and be on the lookout for the need to use them!
Always observe the local rules regarding the need for a leash and note the boundaries for off leash activity. It goes without saying that your pet cannot read the signs so watch if your pet starts to stray into areas where they are not allowed. Here again, most people enjoy the playful activity of dogs but not everyone!
My dog used to love to drink seawater. And it was always “seawater in, seawater out”. Drinking parts of the ocean can result in some very loose and watery stool and sometimes a general upset stomach. Needless to say, if this happens a call to your veterinarian is recommended.
When at last your tired but happy companion is ready to leave the beach, he or she will typically bring home some sand, fleas, and perhaps some unwanted smells (Nacho’s favorite was a combination of old seaweed and dead fish). I recommend you make sure you rinse the coat thoroughly and use a gentle pet shampoo if needed, especially for the longer hair breeds. I also recommend that you use a pet ear cleanser to make sure the ears are cleaned of any seawater.
I welcome your phone calls if you have any other questions. I want to make sure that your day at the beach with your dog is fun and safe.
Have a wonderful summer!