Archive for the ‘emergency’ Category

We met the adventurous Arnie when he needed surgery … after he’d jumped out his 4th floor window onto Geary on a Tuesday night! Arnie is quite the trooper, and we are happy to report that he is recovering nicely after this very scary experience.

arnie before his big night

arnie before his big night

Arnie’s human companion, Tiffany, shares a little more about Arnie and his high-flying adventure:

I adopted Arnie from the SPCA here in SF in May 2014. I knew he was the kitty for me when I walked into his cage and he came up to me and bit me.

Arnie loves to run pell-mell through the apartment, knocking things over as he does so. He’s a real hell-raiser. He also really enjoys eating houseplants. He protects me from the pigeons outside by keeping a very close eye on them. I suspect he thinks he will one day catch one. He has a LOT of kitten in him still, so he’s into everything. … He’s a very good boy though, very sweet when he wants to be. I call him my little Puddin’ Pie.



He doesn’t care for people food, at all, except for tuna of course. And sometimes spinach. He’s a weirdo. He LOVES playing in the bathtub after I take a shower. Takes toys in there and rolls around and has a general grand time of it.

He styles himself as quite the gangster, and is very tough and scary 🙂

More about that fateful night and the aftermath:

While I was in the kitchen, he pushed the screen out of the window (a custom screen I made, mind you) and jumped out the 4th floor window.

I ran onto Geary in my pjs, with no shoes on, screaming his name. Luckily some bystanders had seen him hide under a parked car and directed me to him.

I immediately took him to the emergency vet … The next day they had me transfer him to VCA, as he had badly broken both bones in his front leg, in several places. They said it was a complicated case.

Luckily, he only dislocated his jaw and they had been able to re-align it overnight. Dr. Watt was able to operate on him that day, thankfully. He now has “hardware” as they call it … pins/plates in his arm. Poor little guy is a real trooper.

the bear can wear the cone

the bear can wear the cone

The first night I brought him home was pretty rough — I really didn’t get to sleep, but he quickly got better and was able to get around on his own and eat and drink on his own.

sleeping it off

sleeping it off

He’s much better now and rarin’ to go! He wants OUT of the front room where I have been keeping him so he can’t jump up on things. He also wants to keep an eagle eye on those pigeons 🙂

i see you, pigeons

i see you, pigeons

Advice for other pet parents:

Screens do not keep motivated cats in. Lesson learned. My next step is to reinforce them with chicken wire and attach them to the wall with screws and hooks so that they cannot be moved by anyone but me. Also, I now have pet insurance.

Highly recommend VCA and Dr. Watt and Naomi. They have really provided excellent care and have been available for all my anxious questions.

Many thanks to Tiffany for sharing Arnie’s story and photos with us! We wish Arnie all the best and hope he is satisfied to just enjoy the view from now on.


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We wish all our human and animal friends a very happy and safe Thanksgiving! Via the ASPCA – with a few extra notes (in italics) by Dr. Elyse Hammer, an emergency services veterinarian at VCA SFVS – here are some pet-safety tips to keep in mind around the Thanksgiving holiday:


Talkin’ Turkey
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Dr. Hammer adds: “We advise against feeding dark meat with skin, as this is higher in fat and can lead to pancreatitis. Skinless, lean white meat is the best if you really need to give your pet any turkey at all.”

Sage Advice
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

Secure your garbage (it may smell especially good and be very tempting to your animal friend), and keep turkey bones, string, foil/plastic wrap, etc. away from your pet.

A Feast Fit for a Kong
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

No Lilies! 
A final but very important reminder from Dr. Hammer: As you are decorating for a Thanksgiving gathering, be sure to keep lilies out of the centerpieces; these flowers are found in many ready-made bouquets. They are a true danger!


Related resources:

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1. Contact your primary care veterinarian’s office. They may be more closely located and available to assist you.

2. If it is after hours or VCA SFVS is more conveniently located, call us at (415) 401-9200 and provide the client service representative with:

  • Your name and your pet’s name
  • Your location and estimated time of arrival
  • Your pet’s emergency

3. Get support to safely transport your pet to VCA SFVS. If you have medical records related to your pet’s emergency, please bring those with you.


Pet Parent Resource: What is considered a veterinary emergency? (Scroll down to third question.)


24/7 Urgent Care and Emergency Services at VCA SFVS

  • Complete intensive care unit (ICU) laboratory
  • Endoscopic foreign body removal
  • Full range of blood products
  • Oxygen therapy
  • 24-hour ICU monitoring by veterinary nurses trained in critical care, surgery and internal medicine
  • Emergency surgical service
  • Around-the-clock access to SFVS specialists
  • Post-operative care for referring veterinarians’ surgical cases

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Phyllo, a 10-year-old brown tabby, arrived at VCA SFVS on March 18. His temporary caregiver had brought him in on emergency, to have Phyllo thoroughly checked out. The caregiver was close friends with Phyllo’s guardian, and she had just found Phyllo’s person deceased, as well as Phyllo’s brother, Dash.

Phyllo survived the few days on his own. He did have some dehydration and hunger, and VCA SFVS internal medicine specialist Dr. Alan Stewart found numerous bladder stones, one quite large, that would need to be surgically removed.

The temporary caregiver had covered all veterinary costs up until then, at which point we took over (the caregiver continued to make medical decisions for Phyllo).

Phyllo with Dr. Hammer

Phyllo with Dr. Hammer, one of our emergency veterinarians

Dr. Alice Bugman performed a cystotomy, from which Phyllo has recovered quite well. (Phyllo also did very well being pestered all day long by our staff, who love him and wanted to spend as much time as possible with him.)

Phyllo with Dr. Bugman

Phyllo with Dr. Bugman

Now for the really great news: Phyllo has found a new home! Ted, Phyllo’s new person, learned about the situation from the temporary caregiver. Ted began making preparations to welcome the kitty into his home, and he introduced Phyllo to his new digs last week.

Phyllo with Ted!

Phyllo with Ted!

Phyllo in his new home

Phyllo enjoying his new home

Ted reports that, after a few hours of hiding, Phyllo settled right in and now runs the joint!

Phyllo is an amazing cat, and we feel so lucky to have been part of helping him begin a new life. His temporary caregiver and her family provided wonderful support and advocacy for Phyllo during this time, and we applaud their dedication to him, as well as to the memory of his guardian and cat brother. Without them, Phyllo could have slipped through the cracks … but together, Phyllo is beginning a great new adventure.

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With springtime and Easter on the way, now is a good time to refresh our memories on which plants and flowers are toxic to our animal companions.

Are tulips dangerous for my pet? What about lilies? Roses? Gerber daisies? What should I do if I think my pet ate something toxic?

Find out which plants you should keep out of pets’ reach and which ones are safer options by downloading “The Pet Parent’s Guide to Flowers and Plants” (PDF).

Many thanks to Dr. Allegra Roth for putting this helpful resource together!

As always, VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists is available 24/7 for medical advice and emergencies: (415) 401-9200, 600 Alabama Street (at 18th Street), San Francisco.

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Gracie, a beautiful Boston Terrier, visited VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists on New Year’s Eve (!) because she had broken out in hives and was feeling pretty miserable. After being treated by Dr. Alice Bugman, Gracie was soon doing much better and feeling like her old self.

Here, Gracie’s guardian, Ann, shares some fabulous photos with us. We’re so happy Gracie was able to celebrate 2014 without worrying about those hives. 

VCA SFVS is here for you and your animal companions 24/7, including holidays. 

From Ann: Gracie’s hobbies are:







Taking an inventory of her toys


Sharing confidences with her pals


Celebrating diversity


Sharing a joke


Boston racing, an annual event at her birthday party, every April


Playing like her life depends on it


And then sleeping some more


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Recently, we had the honor of meeting Bella the Cat via our 24/7 emergency service. Bella’s human companions noticed that Bella was using the litter box more frequently than usual, and then they saw blood in Bella’s urine. After doing some research, they found out those are possible signs of a UTI (urinary tract infection) and wanted to get their kitty seen as soon as possible by a veterinarian. After being treated by one of our emergency veterinarians, Dr. Elyse Hammer, Bella is again well and happy! Read more about Bella’s story here, as told by Isabella, one of her guardians:

Bella and her sister Bubo were adopted on Valentine’s Day 2009 at the SPCA in San Francisco. My husband and I at the time were really just looking to adopt one cat. We first spotted Bella, and were drawn by her cute face and pretty little white paws. Soon we noticed another cat in her room, a spotted tortoiseshell cat we later named Bubo. They both eventually crawled on my husband’s lap and stole our hearts. Since they are a bonded pair, we decided to adopt both of them.

sisters bubo and bella

sisters bubo and bella

They were about 1 year old at the time. Within a week, they became comfortable with their new home and started to show signs of their individual personalities. Bella in particular loves to eat, she loves any and every treat you give her, while her sister is a picky eater. Bubo is very affectionate to everybody, even to strangers, while Bella takes a while to warm up to people. Though once she does, she can be so trusting and demands cuddle time when she wants it.

Bella eventually learned the habit of burrowing in any clothing I’m wearing when she sits on my lap.



The girls love to play and sleep together. Sometimes Bella plays a bit more aggressively then Bubo, earning her the nickname “Land Shark” as she is very stealthy but powerful, and she is also grey on top with a white belly. Bella and Bubo both love their cat tree, all the cardboard boxes they can get, paper or plastic bags, and my slanket. Some of Bella’s favorite cat toys are the bird and those furry mice. Once in a while if she is in the right mood she will try to play fetch with me.

Both girls had genetically bad teeth, so a couple months after we adopted them and multiple vet visits, it was decided the best option was to remove their infected teeth. Bella kept all her feline teeth and most of the back teeth, though all her tiny front teeth were removed … causing her to stick her tongue out every now and then when she is really relaxed or smittened. They still obey reluctantly when it’s time to brush their teeth.

bella relaxes

bella relaxes

My husband and I really love our girls. They are our fluffy bundles of joy, and nothing lightens my day up more than seeing their cute faces.


Such sweet kitties! Thanks for sharing with us, Isabella.

VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists offers 24/7 emergency veterinary services, along with specialty care, for dogs and cats.

Learn more: When does my pet need emergency care?


Would you like your dog or cat to be featured in our Patient Stories series? Please email us for information. We look forward to hearing from you!

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