East Padden Animal Hospital Blog

The Heartbreaking Truth About Grain-Free Diets

While it’s great that pet owners are putting so much thought into their pet’s diets, the truth is that grain-free pet food may not be the healthiest choice for your pet.

Because of aggressive marketing, pet owners may assume that grains are just “fillers”, but the fact is that grains provide necessary vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. One of the most important is taurine, an essential amino acid for heart health. Veterinary cardiac specialists are seeing an increase in pets with life-threatening heart disease due to low levels of taurine, and there appears to be an association with grain-free foods high in peas, beans, and other legumes.

Low levels of taurine can lead to cardiomyopathy—a fatal heart condition in dogs and cats. While this condition can be reversible with a change in diet, pet owners often don’t realize there’s a problem until it is too late.

Pet owners should know that there are no scientific studies to show that grain-free diets are healthier, and actual grain allergies are very rare. If a pet has a food allergy, it’s most likely triggered by animal proteins like chicken, beef, fish or dairy.

Boutique and small-batch pet food as well as raw and home-cooked diets are most likely to be deficient in needed vitamins and nutrients because post-production nutritional testing of pet food is not required by law. However, larger pet food companies and corporations do this testing to ensure their products are nutritionally sound and balanced, so it is best to source your pet’s food from these established providers.

Don’t let fancy marketing campaigns guilt you into thinking grains are automatically bad for your pets! A good diet is based on nutrient content, and many foods with grains are great options. Your pet’s diet is important, and if you need assistance selecting one, consult your East Padden Animal Hospital veterinarian.

July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day

According to the American Fire Administration, approximately half a million pets are affected by house fires every year. As part of our families, it’s important we know how to keep our pets safe from fire dangers—and how to keep them from accidentally starting those blazes as well.

Only YOU Can Prevent Your Pet’s Fires

  • Keep pets away from lit candles. Animals are drawn to flickering flames and besides the risk of being burned, they can start a house fire if they accidentally knock the candle over. Never leave a lit candle unattended.
  • Be careful with space heaters and halogen lamps, which can be easily knocked over by a pet and cause rugs and furniture to catch fire.
  • Watch those dangling electrical cords! Cats love to bat them around and they can strangle or electrocute your pet, especially if chewed upon. Damaged cords should be replaced right away since they are a fire hazard all on their own.

Stay Prepared for Pet’s Sake

Here are some steps you can take to make sure your whole family—including your pet—is less at risk:

  1. Invest in monitored smoke detectors. Since pets are often home alone, the best way to protect them is to have the type of detectors that are connected to a monitoring center. If a fire develops, the monitoring center will automatically notify the fire department.
  2. Post stickers on your door or front window alerting firefighters that there are pets inside. These stickers could save your pet’s life if you’re not home.
  3. Do you have an evacuation plan for your family? If so, make sure it includes a plan for your pets, and that you keep leashes, pet carriers, and treats by an exit.
  4. See that your pets are microchipped and wearing identification. Pets can become frightened and run off during a fire or any emergency. Making sure your pet has a microchip that is registered with up-to-date ownership information will greatly increase the chances he or she will be returned to you.

While there’s no way to prevent or predict every emergency, being prepared will help minimize the risk and increase the chances for a safe outcome for those you love.

East Padden Animal Hospital to Participate in Alley Cat Rescue’s May Spay Challenge!

Starting May 1, East Padden Animal Hospital will partner with Cherish the Animals to perform up to four complimentary spay/neuter surgeries on local feral cats, in lieu of Alley Cat Rescue’s annual worldwide May Spay Challenge.

Since its launch in 2010, over 1,200 veterinary clinics from 45 US states, Canada, South Africa, Israel and Croatia have joined the May Spay Challenge, sterilizing more than 40,000 community cats. This annual event is a campaign created by Alley Cat Rescue, an alliance for cat protection located just outside of Washington, D.C. Alley Cat Rescue is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of all cats: domestic, stray, feral and wild.

Our challenge partner, Cherish the Animals, is a local nonprofit organization that practices TNR, or trap-neuter-return. TNR is the humane management of feral cat colonies, where cats are caught in traps, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped, and returned to their outdoor homes after recovering from surgery. TNR stabilizes populations at manageable levels and eliminates common neighborhood complaints regarding mating behaviors, like spraying and fighting. By assisting Cherish the Animals in performing TNR, East Padden Animal Hospital is proactively addressing the issue of cat overpopulation before kittens are born to face uncertain circumstances in the wild, or at overcrowded shelters.

“TNR stops the breeding cycle more effectively than catch-and-kill. In catch-and-kill, other cats will enter the vacated territory and start breeding all over again. Spay and neuter is the key to reducing outdoor cat populations, as well as shelter euthanasia,” says Louise Holton, president of Alley Cat Rescue.

Over 3.2 million cats enter US shelters each year, and sadly 3 in 10 of these animals will be euthanized. Our hospital, in partnership with Alley Cat Rescue and Cherish the Animals hope to decrease these numbers by helping to sterilize cats living outdoors.

To learn more about Alley Cat Rescue and the May Spay Challenge, visit www.saveacat.org.

April is Heartworm Awareness Month!

Dr. Chanel BaronBy Chanel Baron, DVM

You know that saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” If there was a disease to which this phrase most pertains, it is heartworm disease. Just like it sounds, heartworm disease is a dangerous condition in which worms set up an infestation in a dog or cat’s heart. Contrary to popular belief, the Pacific Northwest is not free of heartworm disease. In 2016, an average of 20 cases of heartworm disease was diagnosed per clinic in the Portland/Vancouver region alone. Due to changes in climate and the moving of stray animals to Washington from Texas, Mexico, Southern California and other areas of the southern United States, we are experiencing heartworm disease with an ever-increasing incidence.

Dogs and cats contract heartworm disease by being bitten by a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larva in its saliva. When the mosquito bites the animal, it injects a small amount of anti-coagulant impregnated saliva to help the pet’s blood from clotting, and with it, any heartworm larvae currently living in the mosquito. These larvae then travel through the animal’s blood into its heart, where the larvae live and develop into adults.

A dog or cat can take up to six months between being infected with heartworm disease and showing symptoms of the infection. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty exercising, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite and weight loss. If left untreated, heartworm disease can cause heart failure and death.

Luckily, there are preventatives that can be given monthly in order to protect your pet against heartworm disease. We recommend monthly administration of a heartworm preventative in addition to a quick annual blood test to ensure your dog or cat shows no signs of a developing heartworm infection. Preventing heartworm disease can be as inexpensive as $60 a year, while the treatment for heartworm disease can cost thousands of dollars, and is potentially fatal if treatment fails.

For these reasons, my dog never misses a dose of her heartworm preventative (and it comes in a tasty chew form too)! During your pet’s next annual exam, please ask about heartworm disease and the best preventative for your pet.

April is Heartworm Awareness Month Infographic

Did you know March is national adopt a rescue guinea pig month?

national adopt a rescue guinea pig month

Julie Morris, ASPCA senior vice president for community outreach, named March after these small furry friends “… to encourage future adopters to think of shelters and rescue groups first!”

Here at East Padden, we treat guinea pigs, also known as cavvies, several times each week for reasons ranging from appetite loss and lethargy, to spay and neuter surgeries. These pets are commonly adopted out of businesses such as Petco or PetSmart into families who have every intention of providing them with a safe and happy home. Sadly, these pet’s pre-adoption lives are rarely ideal, and sometimes do not satisfy their basic needs to thrive. Pocket-sized pets sold by these large corporate businesses are initially raised in breeding facilities before being transported, sometimes cross-country, to retail stores to be sold.

Tails from Elijah


I wanted to tell you about this puppy, Mocha, who visited us quite often, almost every day for four weeks, for splinting of her broken toe. I really thought Mocha just wanted to see me, since I am so incredibly irresistible, but our wonderful staff assured me her visits were in fact because of the broken toe. Every doctor at East Padden Animal Hospital had the pleasure of working with her and hearing the creative ways she would remove her cone and bandage. Not even cayenne pepper, lick guard (she licked that up like peanut butter, YUM!), or any of the many other ways her creative family tried to keep her off it worked. This puppy is one of the most special bandage chewers we have ever seen. Thankfully, her owners kept with her, and the fracture is starting to heal. Every day, I see many owners with pets that resist bandages and e-collars, but a healed puppy or kitty is always worth the healing time, even if it’s over four weeks long!

Whew! That story took it out of me. I must now go and visit Amy in her office for a kitty snack.

Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe on Halloween


Halloween is a fun, spooky time for us and our kids, but it shouldn’t be spooky for our pets, too! Many things associated with Halloween put our pets’ health at risk. Here are a few important safety tips to follow to make sure your pets are safe and happy on this eerie holiday.

  • Chocolate and xylitol—a sweetener often found in peanut butter and chewing gum—are extremely toxic to pets. Chocolate can cause upset stomachs, heart arrhythmia, kidney failure and seizures, and xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, seizures and even liver failure and death if large amounts are consumed. It is important to tuck all candy away so it stays out of your pets’ reach. Make sure your children know not to feed candy to pets, too.
  • Keep pets away from the front door, especially pets with social anxiety or pets that are territorial. Trick-or-treaters will be knocking and ringing the doorbell all night, which can make any pet anxious, so keeping pets in a secure place will lower their anxiety. Plus, you’ll be opening and closing the door frequently, so keeping them away from the door limits their ability to attempt an escape.
  • Black cats are often pestered on and around Halloween because of superstitions. If you have a black cat that spends part of his time outside, consider letting him be an indoor-only cat for the week around Halloween. It will ensure that he stays safe.

Need more assistance preparing for Halloween with your furry friends? Contact East Padden Animal Hospital!

Medipaw Products for Patient Recovery


East Padden Animal Hospital is proud to announce we have started carrying Medipaw products for cats and dogs. This line of wearable rehabilitation equipment comes in boot and suit forms, helping your pet recover more quickly from surgical incisions or dermatological conditions by comfortably preventing your cat or dog from licking, scratching or biting the affected area.

We highly recommend Medipaw products for patient recovery. In addition to speeding up recovery time, these products help reduce the probability of infection and other serious complications. Medipaw products are worn over bandages, splints and casts, adding an extra protective layer and making your pet unable to interrupt the healing process.

If your cat or dog is scheduled for an upcoming veterinary procedure, please ask your veterinarian if Medipaw can enhance their recovery.