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What is it? How does my dog —or cat get it? How do you treat it?

You can go to your local dog park or well-intentioned neighbor and get loads of advice: coconut oil! Garlic! Tea tree oil!! In a word: NO! those either don’t work; or worse yet are very toxic to your pet… so please don’t!!! Although many folks try changing diets to see if that works; oftentimes that either isn’t the underlying cause (that is a whole other topic) or it can cause some gastric upset if the change is too sudden.

Please go see your vet or let us come to you and see what can be done to treat your pet’s itchy skin—and give you both some relief!!!

First step: Rule out fleas! Yes, fleas. We have a lovely climate here and fleas think so as well. And it doesn’t matter if it is winter time or if you cat doesn’t go outside. They can live very happily in our homes that even in the cooler months we usually keep nice and cozy. If I had a dollar for every time I have a pet owner swear their lovely pet did not in any way shape or form didn’t have fleas—only to then find evidence of them right there, I could retire! They are out there! And if your pet is not protected; you are taking a chance and they are simply at risk. There are no safe zones in this county, I wish there was, but, I’m afraid these lil guys can live wherever they want.

I have to tell you 99% of the time Santa Barbara itch is caused by these six legged foes. If its not and they have been ruled out—without a doubt, then we can proceed. But we would be negligent if we missed this step and started down complicated food trials and skin biopsies if we weren’t diligent about step one.

How do we treat it? We are so very fortunate to be spoiled for choice in our options for flea prevention these days, we can certainly customize your pet’s flea control. Typically, the products you purchase from your vet are the safest options; not only are they under strict scrutiny (no counterfeits here!), but you can get FDA-approved medications which are often the most effective (and fastest acting) against fleas. And in the meantime, we can certainly take care of the itch that may be keeping you and your pet from a good night’s sleep or just being an annoyance for Fido. Secondary infections can and often crop up because of scratching or licking at that certain spot. That certainly needs medical attention as well.

You can follow the link on our web site to our online pharmacy to see what products we have available for you! http://coastalmobilevet.vetsfirstchoice.com/

As our pets age, they often loose muscle tone. Sometimes its due to some musculoskeletal pain…has your vet recommended throw rugs for your pet to get around on the slippery floor? Here is another option that helps our pets get around more and in the end, increase their quality of life.  Lets keep our Santa Barbara pet’s paws on the ground. We recommend Dr. Buzby’s canine toe grips! CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THEM. At Coastal Mobile Veterinary I recommend these almost daily.

Toe grips are a simple and elegant solution to a common dog problem. And as vets, we love solving pet problems!

• Each package contains 20 nonslip nail grips & application instructions
• Designed for senior, arthritic & special needs dogs
• Made in the USA
• On average, each package lasts 1-3 months
• Patent Pending
• 60-Day Unconditional Money Back Guarantee

Please feel free to watch this instructional video  to find out more as to how to measure toe grips for your dog.


Please use the following as a ROUGH guide to assess your dog’s likely size requirements for Toe Grips:

Breed (A–H) Suggested Size Breed (H–Y) Suggested Size
Afghan Hound L Husky L
Airedale L Irish Setter L
Akita L – XL* Irish Wolfhound XXXL
Alaskan Malamute L Italian Greyhound S
American Staffordshire Terrier L Jack Russell Terrier S – M*
Australian Cattle Dog M – L* Japanese Chin S
Australian Shepherd M – L* Labrador Retriever L
Basset Hound L – XL* Lhasa Apso S
Beagle S – M* Maltese XS – S*
Bernese Mountain Dog L – XXL* Mastiff XXL – XXXL*
Bichon Frise S – M* Miniature Pinscher S – M*
Blue Heeler M – L* Newfoundland XL – XXXL*
Border Collie M – L* Old English Sheepdog L – XL*
Boston Terrier S – M* Papillon XS
Boxer L Pekingese S
Brittany Spaniel M – L* Pembroke Welsh Corgi M
Bulldog L Pit Bull L
Bull Terrier M – L* Pointer L
Cairn Terrier S – M* Pomeranian XS – S*
Cane Corso XL – XXXL* Poodle (Teacup) XS
Cardigan Welsh Corgi M – L* Poodle (Mini) S
Cavalier King Charles M Poodle (Standard) M – XL*
Chesapeake Bay Retriever L – XL* Pug S – M*
Chihuahua (Teacup) XS Rat Terrier S
Chihuahua S Rhodesian Ridgeback XL – XXL*
Chow L – XL* Rottweiler L – XL*
Cocker Spaniel M – L* Saluki L
Collie L Samoyed L
Corgi M – L* Schipperke S – M*
Dachshund (Mini) S Schnauzer (Mini) S – M*
Dachshund M Schnauzer (Standard) M
Dalmation L Schnauzer (Giant) XL – XXL*
Doberman Pinscher XL Scottish Terrier M
English Bulldog XL Sheltie S – M*
Flat Coated Retriever L – XL* Shiba Inu S
French Bulldog S – M* Shih Tzu S
German Shepherd L – XL* Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier M
German Shorthaired Pointer L Springer Spaniel L
Golden Retriever L – XL* Staffordshire Bull Terrier M – XL*
Gordon Setter L St. Bernard XL – XXL*
Great Dane XXL – XXXL* Vizsla L
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog XL – XXL* Weimaraner L
Great Pyrenees XL – XXL* West Highland White Terrier S – M*
Greyhound L – XL* Wheaten Terrier M
Havanese S Whippet S – M*
Husky L Yorkie XS – S*
*This breed typically wears one of these sizes, or sometimes a combination of two sizes. Please measure your dog for accurate fit.


Watch a demonstration on how to brush your dog or cat’s teeth with Dr. Coffman at Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists.

One of my mentors and a brilliant human being gives an eloquent TED talk about acupuncture for pets…

Pet Dental Care: Frequently Asked Questions


Question: Why must my pet undergo anesthesia for a dental cleaning? Can’t the groomer just scrape the tartar off of his teeth?

Tartar is made of bacteria and when it is removed from the surface of the teeth we worry that small  pieces could be inhaled by the patient causing a lung infection. For this reason, “Non-anesthetic” cleaning is NEVER recommended. Anesthesia allows us to place an endotracheal tube in the windpipe to prevent infection of the lungs. Secondly, the most important part of the cleaning is the removal of plaque and tartar under the gumline. This is just not possible in an awake pet. And lastly, the teeth are not polished, which will leave the cleaned surface rough and actually increase the adherence of plaque to the teeth

Question: I am worried about my 13 year old dog undergoing anesthesia for a dental procedure. Is it possible for a dog to be “too old” to benefit from professional dental care?

Some people tell us about pets that have had problems or died under anesthesia. Fifteen or twenty years ago many of these concerns would be valid reasons for not proceeding with an elective procedure in an older pet. Fortunately, things have changed for pets having anesthesia today. Contemporary anesthesia is much safer in several ways, and nothing someone who is looking for a veterinary clinic should worry about.

First, pre-anesthetic testing helps us to recognize those pets that are having internal problems that aren’t yet recognizable by their owners at home. If a problem is found, we can try to resolve it before allowing the pet to undergo anesthesia.

Second, modern inhalant gas is a much safer arrangement than using only injectable agents to achieve an appropriate level of anesthesia. As mentioned above, the endotracheal tube protects against contamination of the lungs by oral or stomach matter.

Third, monitoring has changed from merely watching to see if the dog is breathing to tracking pulse rate and quality, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature, and electrical rhythm of the heart. When pets are being monitored appropriately it allows veterinarians and technicians to detect abnormalities and initiate therapy to avoid anesthetic problems.

Fourth, all pets undergoing dental care now receive fluid therapy by intravenous catheter during anesthesia to maintain vascular volume and blood pressure. This protects sensitive brain and kidney cells. We also use thermal support to prevent hypothermia during anesthesia which can change the rate at which drugs are processed.

I know our clients get tired of us saying it but I really believe that age is not a disease, and mature pets that are otherwise healthy are able to tolerate anesthesia well. A pet that is older is more likely to have more severe periodontal disease and thus more pain. These animals still need care in order to maintain the quality of their lives. Taking care of their gums and teeth is also one of the best ways to extend their lifespan.

Question: Why is cleaning my pet’s teeth more expensive than cleaning my teeth? Why is it more expensive than the last time his teeth were cleaned a few years ago?

The cost of dental care for pets has certainly increased as the quality of anesthesia, cleaning, and services have increased. One example is that we now offer dental radiography, or xrays, which allows us to see the roots and bone surrounding each tooth. We want to provide safe anesthesia and a service that actually helps to treat pain and prevent progression of disease and to do that we need special equipment like a blood pressure monitor, a fluid pump, and an ultrasonic scaler. Most of this equipment is not necessary when humans teeth are cleaned because we are not undergoing anesthesia. Also, remember that usually our hygienist is performing a routine preventative cleaning before hardly any tartar has built up on our teeth. Pets rarely get dental care this early and thus their cleaning is not a true preventative.

Question: The doctor has recommended extraction of some of my pet’s teeth but will he still be able to eat without these teeth?

Yes. Our goal in veterinary dental care is for our patients to have mouths free of infection and pain. It is much better to have no tooth at all than to have an infected tooth with a root abscess or a painful broken tooth. We have many dog and cat patients that are able to eat a regular diet with few or even no teeth! Sometimes a veterinary dental specialist can offer root canals or more advanced therapy to save teeth. Our doctors will always offer referral if there is a possibility of saving teeth.

Question: I can’t tell that my pet is in any pain even though he has broken teeth and red inflamed gums. Wouldn’t he stop eating if he was in any pain?

Some pets will stop eating all together when their teeth, bone, and gums hurt badly enough. The vast majority, however, will find some tactic to keep eating. They may chew on the other side of their mouths or swallow their kibble whole. Pets have an extremely strong instinct to survive no matter what discomfort they feel. Sometimes the symptoms of periodontal disease are so vague that we don’t notice them. Pets may be reluctant to hold their toys in their mouths, be less playful, resent having their teeth brushed, have a hard time sleeping, or have no outward symptoms at all. Often, after we have treated broken teeth or extracted infected teeth, our patients’ parents tell us that they act more energetic and playful than they have in years!!

Question: How often should a routine dental cleaning be performed?

Every patient is different so this is a hard question to answer. Usually the smaller dogs should have their teeth cleaned earlier and more often because their teeth are more crowded in their mouths. Bigger dogs may not develop tartar as quickly but their mouths should be monitored closely for any broken teeth. Cats are all individuals and should be examine closely for any excessive gingivitis which may be an indication of some special cat diseases like resorptive lesions or stomatitis/gingivitis syndrome.

Question: How can periodontal disease hurt my pet?

The possible local (ie in the mouth) effects of periodontal disease are pain, infection of the gums, bone, and/or teeth, and loss of teeth. Chronic infection of the periodontal tissues allows bacteria to enter the circulatory system resulting in seeding of the internal organs (heart, kidneys, liver) and may lead to serious infections in these organs as well.


Dental disease can affect our dogs and cats at any stage of life, but it is most common as our pets enter middle age. Studies at the Veterinary Colleges of Ohio State and Cornell University have found that 85% of dogs and cats over 6 years old have some form of dental disease.

Dental disease can be put into three categories: gingivitis, tartar and pyorrhea. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. You can easily see this by the increase in the pinkness of your pet’s gums, especially at the gumline. Tartar is the accumulation of plaque on the teeth, usually starting at the gumline in conjunction with gingivitis. Pyorrhea is the most serious of the three conditions. It is pus in the mouth, usually between teeth and gums.

All three of these conditions require treatment. Therapy can range from antibiotics to anesthesia, and a complete dental scaling and polishing. The appropriate type of treatment is decided upon after oral examination. We treat these conditions because they are actual infections. Dental disease can lead to heart, lung, liver, kidney, skin and prostate infections.

As with our teeth – some people get cavities or excessive tartar due to genetics – some animals have more dental problems than others due to genetics. Since we cannot change our genetics, brushing your pet’s teeth is our recommendation.

So the next time you complain of dog breath or cat breath, look into your pet’s mouth and then call us for an examination. Let’s cure any problems and prevent more serious ones before they start.

Hello, Santa Barbara!

This is our first post on our new website and we thought we’d take the time to let you know how different Therapeutic Laser treatments work. Read on and learn about this amazing 21st Century technology and ensure you’re up to date on the best veterinary care for your animals!Continue Reading..


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