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Cameron Park Veterinary Hospital

Health Issues in El Dorado County

El Dorado County is a truly wonderful place to live. Stretching from the foothills above the Sacramento Valley through the rugged mountains to Lake Tahoe, this beautiful countryside is the source for enjoyment by those who live here or only come to visit. This same countryside also poses some health-related issues for our pets that we need to understand and against which we must take proper precautions.

» Heartworm

» Canine Distemper

» Ticks 

» Feline Leukemia

» Rabies

» Snake Bite

» Feline Distemper

» Kennel Cough

» Skunks

» Parvovirus

» Fleas

» Skin Problems



A heartworm is a small parasite that lives in your pet's heart and adjacent blood vessels. It is spread only by mosquitoes; thus, areas heavily populated by these insects tend to have a greater incidence of heartworm disease. The adult heartworms living in the heart produce offspring that circulate in the infected animal's blood. If not detected and controlled with proper treatment, heartworm can lead to congestive heart failure and death.

We can provide a blood screening test that can verify the presence of heartworms and can. provide treatment and prevention medication that prevents the larvae from developing into adult heartworms.


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Feline Leukemia 

Feline leukemia virus is a viral agent easily transmitted between cats. It damages the immune system of cats and leaves them open to other infections. 

This virus is transmitted in the saliva and blood. The most common form of transmission is cat bites. However, feline leukemia has been found in the urine, eye secretions, mothers' milk and across the placenta.

There are tests to detect the viral status of your cat. There also is a vaccination to help prevent feline leukemia that we highly recommend. The best prevention  is to spay and neuter cats and vaccinate for feline leukemia. An indoor cat is at much lower risk for contracting the virus. Once a cat contracts feline leukemia, there prognosis is poor.


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Feline Distemper

Feline distemper (panleukopenia) is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease. Symptoms include extreme listlessness and loss of appetite. Fever, vomiting, and diarrhea are frequently seen, but some cats die suddenly with few clinical signs. A high percentage of cats with panleukopenia–especially kittens–die from the infection. The feline panleukopenia virus is shed in the feces of an infected cat and can survive extremes of temperature and humidity for months to years. The virus is resistant to most available disinfectants.

Until recent years panleukopenia was the most serious infectious disease of cats, killing thousands every year. Thanks to the highly effective vaccines currently available, panleukopenia is now considered an uncommon disease. Immunity induced by panleukopenia vaccines is excellent, and most vaccinated cats are completely protected from infection and disease.


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Parvovirus is a dangerous virus that attacks dogs’ intestinal tracts. It is highly infectious so that virtually anyone or anything can become a carrier simply by coming in contact with an infected dog's feces (bowel movement). The virus can survive extreme heat and freezing temperatures for long periods of time. When puppies under 12 weeks old are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problems.

Vaccinations establish protective immunity, which can reduce the risk of the disease. Once vaccinated, your dog's immunity is maintained through annual booster shots. 

Canine parvovirus will not infect cats.


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Canine Distemper

Canine distemper affects a variety of systems within the dog, such as the immune system (by suppressing the ability to make white blood cells and fight off infection), the central nervous system (resulting in seizures and erratic behavior), the gastrointestinal system (resulting in vomiting and diarrhea), and the respiratory system (resulting in coughing). The virus may be spread by contact with mucous and watery secretion discharged from the eyes and nose of infected dogs. Infection may also occur from exposure to urine, fecal material, and through the air.  Distemper affects puppies and dogs that have not been vaccinated against it. 

In some cases, no signs are observed until seizures begin. Occasionally the virus affects the foot pads resulting in "hard pads".

Better than 50% of adult dogs that contact the disease will die. Among puppies, the death rate often reaches 80%.  Dogs that recover initially from the disease may have seizures or other central nervous system disorders later in their old age.


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Rabies is a fatal viral disease that affects the brain and nerves. Although usually transmitted through bites from rabid animals, rabies also can be spread through contact with broken skin. 

The most common signs of rabies are an unexplained change in behavior and / or seizures. A friendly pet may turn aggressive or act strangely, with no apparent cause. However, a wild animal may act tame and not be afraid when approached by people. It is important to know that once a rabid animal starts to exhibit abnormal behavior, it will continue to do so. It may take two to six months before showing signs, but once it does, it is an irreversible process, and the animal will die in a matter of days. Today, no treatment for rabies exists. 

If you think one of your animals may have rabies, be extremely careful and avoid all contact with it. Isolate the pet from other animals and humans and call us immediately. The doctor will need to know whether your pet has been vaccinated. By law, you must report this disease in order to protect the public so also notify animal control. 

The best prevention for your pet is a annual rabies vaccination. 


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Kennel Cough (Bordetellosis)  

Kennel Cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica) is a bacteria that can cause disease of the respiratory tract in dogs and cats. Pets with Kennel Cough may cough, have a runny nose or runny eyes, sneeze, and occasionally have a fever. Pets are believed to become infected by breathing the bacteria into their noses. The vaccine can be given as a nose drop.

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Fleas are tiny creatures that can be the source of uncomfortable bites and many diseases such as flea anemia, flea bite dermatitis, and tapeworm infestation. The flea is a hardy insect with a lifespan of six to 12 months. During that time, a pair of fleas could produce millions of offspring. Fleas have survived millions of years in a variety of environments. Some species can leap 15 to 36 inches high. 

We suggest you use one of the many different flea product options that are not insecticides.  You can comb the fleas off the pet with a flea comb then submerge the captured fleas in a small container of soapy water. This would also be a good alternative for those pets who love being groomed but who violently refuse baths or the application of a spray.

Never use a product labeled "for use on dogs only" on your cats. Cats react very differently than dogs to some products. Some dog products can be deadly to cats, even in tiny amounts.

Always use caution when using shampoos, sprays, or topical products near your animal's eyes, ears and genitalia. Accidental exposure could cause mild irritation to these sensitive tissues.

When using a fogger or a home premise spray, make sure to remove all pets from the house for the time period specified on the container. Also remove all food and water bowls from the area. Allow time for the product to dry completely before returning your dogs or cats to your home. Open windows or use fans to "air out" the household before returning your pets to the treated area. Strong fumes can be irritating to your pet's eyes and upper respiratory system.


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Ticks are small insects that prey on the blood of animals. There are hundreds of kinds of ticks, including the dog tick and the deer tick. Ticks can transmit bacterial infections and blood disorders in addition to Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. 

Ticks live pretty much any where and attach themselves to any animal that brushes them. Ticks can also detect the carbon dioxide given off by warm-blooded animals. They can crawl several feet to the carbon dioxide source. The longer a tick is attached to its host, the greater the chance for disease. If you find a tick, remove it immediately with tweezers. Protect yourself with gloves and carefully grasp the exposed section of tick's body near the pet's skin. Gently pull until the parasite lets go. You can help prevent inflammation by applying antiseptic onto the bitten area.

There are several non-insecticide tick products that are good for preventing ticks.

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If you see a skunk during the day, the odds are very good that it is rabid.  Call El Dorado Animal Control at (530) 621-5795 during normal business hours and (530) 621-6600 after hours and on weekends and holidays.

If your pet comes head to head (or tail) with a skunk, the odds are its going to get sprayed. The chemicals in the spray could cause irritation and inflammation of the eyes, nose, and mouth and even inflame the lining of your pet’s throat and lungs, if inhaled. To start the job of clean up, rinse your pet's eyes, nose, and mouth with water and then call us.  We can make sure his eyes aren’t damaged and prescribe an ointment to soothe the irritation.

To remove the smell, you can give him a bath with dog or cat shampoo.  There are also commercial products that neutralize the foul-smelling chemicals in skunk spray.  


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Snake Bite

In some areas of El Dorado County, you may encounter a Rattlesnake.  The odds are, the snake will try to get out of your way because it wants a confrontation less than you do.  If, on the other hand, your pet surprises one and accidentally gets bit, we'll try to have the necessary anti-venom to help.

Unfortunately, Rattlesnake anti-venom is very expensive because the manufacture is unable to make enough to go around.  This makes it is difficult for us to estimate how much to keep on hand.  If we over-estimate, there may have been another hospital that could have used it to save a pet's life.  If we under-estimate, then if we have too many patients that require it, there won't be enough.  

We do our best, and hope that you are very careful when walking your pet in the more un-developed areas.   


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Skin Problems

» Hot Spots;

» Fungal Infections;

» Pyoderma;

» Food allergies;

» Parasites;

» Dermatitis;

Dogs and cats can suffer from many different skin problems. Some may be caused by allergies to pollen, dust, an ingredient in pet food, a household chemical, or an insect bite.  This allergy will cause the pet's immune system to pump out large amounts of white blood cells, hormones, and other material called histamines into the bloodstream. The result for animals can be a range of different effects including including itchy or swollen skin. 

There are several methods employed to diagnosis the cause of a skin problem.  

First, the Doctor will need a skin scrape. He or she will shave a small area of your pet's skin to remove hair and then use a scalpel blade to scrape up the top layers of skin.  The Doctor will then view this material under a high-powered microscope to determine what it is. 

Another method is the intradermal or "scratch" tests, which involve making small abrasions in your pet’s skin and inserting small amounts of materials that the veterinarian suspects the pet might be allergic to. If the animal is allergic to one of the materials, say dust mites or ragweed pollen, the immune system will react to it and that particular scratch will become inflamed. 

There are also a number of blood tests we can use to analyze the amount of certain chemicals that the immune system releases into the bloodstream when exposed to different allergens. These tests can be used to tell whether your pet is having an allergic reaction or whether the problem is caused by something else, and sometimes they can determine the source of the allergy. Occasionally, blood tests and surgical biopsies may also be necessary to diagnose some skin diseases. 

Hot Spots  

Hot spots are usually a result of your pet continually scratching, biting, or licking itself in the same place. Treatment usually includes thorough cleaning and anti-inflammatory salves.  


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Pyodermas include a wide range of infections which result in the formation of pus like pimples and acne.. Pyodermas vary in severity. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory salves and antibiotics.


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Parasites include mites, fleas, and ticks. Parasite bites may cause bacterial infections and allergic conditions. Treatment depends on the parasites present and include anti-parasitic drugs.


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Fungal Infections  

Ringworm is actually caused by a fungal infection of the skin.  Ringworm is contagious to humans.  Infection results from exposure to fungal spores on the skin and hair of infected pets, either by direct contact with infected animals or by exposure to fungal spores persisting in areas where infected animals reside. 


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Food allergies 

A food allergy can present in a lot of different ways, including the itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress. You can try to figure out what’s causing your pet’s allergic reaction by feeding him different diets, but the allergic effects of food can stay in the system for weeks. Treatment may require changing the pet's diet.


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Dermatitis: Some allergies are caused by your pet coming in contact with things around the house or yard. The skin at the point of contact will be irritated--it may itch, become thickened or discolored, have a strong odor, and/or lose hair due to constant biting or scratching.  You can try removing different materials that your pet touches until you find the one that irritates his skin.  


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Website Copyright 2012 © Gary Stout  CPVH Logos Copyright 2012 Cameron Park Veterinary Hospital