Make Your Own Jerky Treats!

With all the recent news and pet illness associated with commercially-available jerky treats, many of our clients are seeking safe, healthy alternatives to treat their dog.  We found this recipe for sweet potato jerky you can make at home!



Use fresh, raw sweet potatoes, preferably large ones.

Preheat the oven to 225 F (107 C).

Scrub the sweet potatoes, making sure there is no mold on the skins. The number of potatoes you use will depend on the amount of jerky strips you want to make.

Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise into 1/2- to 2/3-inch strips, and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake the sweet potato strips for 3 to 4 hours. For crunchier treats, bake them longer. (Don’t be afraid to test them yourself along the way.)

Allow the strips to cool before storing them in an airtight container.


  • As with all jerky, monitor your pet and adjust the size of the pieces so they are appropriate for your dog and do not present a choking hazard.
  • Make sure the skins are not moldy, as this may harm your pet.

Reciped adapted from

What is FVRCP? And why does my cat need it?

What exactly is the Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) vaccine?


Cat owners bring their cats to the veterinarian regularly for vaccinations.   We divide vaccinations into “core” and “non-core”.  Core vaccines are those that EVERY cat should receive.  Non-core vaccines are given to cats based on that cat’s particular lifestyle.
The most important of all the vaccines is the rabies vaccine.  It is required by law in almost every state, whether your cat lives inside or outside.  It is a CORE vaccine.  The other CORE vaccine is the FVRCP or commonly called “upper respiratory.”


The “FVR” in the FVRCP stands for feline viral rhinotracheitis. Rhinotracheitis means infection of the nose and trachea.  Feline herpesvirus (FHV) is a major cause of upper respiratory disease in cats. FHV is very contagious between cats.  Most cats become exposed to FHV at some time in their lives, and the majority of exposed cats become infected.  Cats typically develop a mild upper respiratory infection – sneezing, conjunctivitis (“pink eye”), runny eyes, nasal discharge – which often resolves on its own. In some cats, the virus induces severe upper respiratory disease and can even lead to a secondary bacterial infection.  The herpes virus can also cause a variety of eye disorders, and may cause skin disease as well.  Cats of all ages are susceptible, however, kittens appear to be affected more severely than adults. A presumptive diagnosis is made based on evaluation of the cat’s history and clinical signs.
After a cat recovers from the initial infection, the virus remains in the body as a latent infection.  The dormant virus can be reactivated during times of stress, crowding and concurrent  illness, resulting in a recurrence of clinical signs. During these recurrences, infected cats shed the virus profusely in their eye, nasal, and oral secretions, increasing the risk of infecting other cats.  Although there are antiviral drugs that can be administered to cats showing symptoms of herpesvirus, there are currently no drugs that eliminate FHV from the body.


The “C” in the FVRCP vaccine stands for calicivirus. The feline calici virus (FCV) is an important cause of upper respiratory and oral disease in cats. Respiratory signs caused by calicivirus (sneezing, ocular discharge, nasal discharge) tend to be milder than those caused by the herpes virus, however, calici virus may cause ulcers on the tongue of cats and kittens.  The virus is mainly transmitted by direct cat-to-cat contact, however, indirect transmission via contamination of the environment or through contaminated objects is also possible.


Finally, the “P” in the FVRCP stands for panleukopenia.  Panleukopenia is a highly contagious viral disease caused by the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV).  Cats infected with the virus often show signs of lethargy, poor appetite, fever, vomiting, and severe diarrhea.  The word panleukopenia means “a decrease in white blood cells,” and that is what is seen on the bloodwork of affected cats. In young cats, the disease is often fatal.  Mother cats, if infected during pregnancy, may give birth to kittens with a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurologic disorder that causes severe incoordination.  The virus is spread mainly through contact with feces, however, the virus is very stable in the environment and can be spread via contaminated food bowls, water bowls, litter boxes, and health care workers.  Treatment consists mainly of supportive care – hospitalization, fluid therapy, antibiotics, and nutritional support. With aggressive care, some cats survive the infection, however, most young kittens succumb to the virus.

You can see from the description above just how important the FVRCP vaccine is.  Immunity to this vaccine lasts at least three years, so it does not need to be given annually.  Kittens receive 3 boosters of this as youngsters and then receive it less often as adults.
Source:  abridged and edited from, Dr. Arnold Plotnick 2014

Uh Oh. Litterbox Accidents — Info About Feline House-Soiling

House-soiling in cats, also called feline inappropriate elimination, is the most common behavioral complaint of cat owners.  Problem behaviors can be urine and/or stool deposited outside of the litter box, or marking behaviors.  In fact, inappropriate elimination (urinating and defecating outside the litter box) is the number one reason cats are surrendered to shelters!


Could there be a medical reason that my cat is house-soiling?

Medical diseases of the urinary tract can cause inappropriate elimination. There are many such conditions, including stones and crystal formation in the bladder, bacterial infections, and a group of inflammatory diseases of the bladder and urinary tract of unknown origin that cause pain and an increased urgency to urinate. Diseases of the kidneys and liver can cause the cat to drink more and urinate more frequently. In addition, age related cognitive (brain function) decline and endocrine disorders such as hyperthyroidism and diabetes, might lead to changes in elimination habits including house-soiling.

Medical problems that lead to a difficulty or discomfort in passing stools, poor control or an increased frequency of defecation could all contribute to house-soiling with stools. Colitis, constipation, and anal sac diseases, are just a few of the medical problems that need to be ruled out when diagnosing the cause of inappropriate defecation.

In summary, if elimination is associated with pain or discomfort, or if access to the litter box is difficult or uncomfortable the cat may begin to eliminate outside of the box. A complete physical examination, urinalysis and in some cases additional diagnostic tests such as blood tests, radiographs or a urine culture, will be needed to rule out medical problems that could be causing or contributing to the cat’s elimination problem.

Adjustments may need to be made to the box or its location to accommodate the needs of the cat.  For example, moving the box to an area that is more easily accessible, improving lighting or providing a larger box with lower sides, might be necessary for a cat that has arthritis, declining sensory function or cognitive decline.

Once a cat has persistently eliminated outside of the litter box for medical reasons, the cat may learn to eliminate in the wrong location.  Therefore, even if the medical problem has been resolved, behavioral therapy may be needed to re-establish regular use of the box.

What could the problem be if it is not medical? 

Diagnostic possibilities for elimination problems in cats include litter, litter box, and location aversions, and substrate and location preferences. Frustration or stress might also influence feline elimination behavior.

How do I determine which cat is eliminating when there is more than one cat?

When there are multiple cats in the home, it may be difficult to determine who is actually soiling. Confinement of one or more cats may be necessary to discover who is not using the litter box. However, if social conflicts between cats contribute to the problem, separating cats may make the problem diminish or stop.

The location of the litter pan can often be important for cats that do not use their litter box. Some cats may be unwilling to use a box that is difficult or inconvenient to access, or if the box is located in an area that the cat finds unappealing or unpleasant.

When there are multiple cats in the home, multiple pans in multiple locations may be needed. Not only is there more waste, but cats are very fastidious and very territorial.  We recommend having one litter box per cat, plus an extra so that they have plenty of options.

How can I tell what my cat would prefer?

To determine the most suitable litter for your cat, first determine what type of litter your cat seems to be avoiding and what type of surface your cat prefers to use. Then set up two or more boxes that are identical and fill the boxes with two different types of litter (litter box “buffet”). Some cats may prefer a clumping litter, cedar shavings, recycled newspaper, or plastic pearls. For cats that prefer solid or hard surfaces, an empty litter box, or one with minimal litter might do. A carpeted ledge around the box, artificial turf or some discarded or shredded carpet might help to increase the appeal for cats that prefer to eliminate on carpets, while some potting soil or a mixture of sand and soil, may be preferable for cats that eliminate in plants or soil. Making a good choice may require a little imagination and should be based on the type of surfaces in the home on which the cat is eliminating. There are also commercial litter box attractants that might be useful.

To determine the most suitable box for your cat, you might want to look at the design of the box and find different types for preference testing. Use the litter type that was most preferable to the cat and try it in a variety of boxes to determine what the cat prefers. You might consider boxes with hoods and no hoods, a very large box, such as a plastic storage container, a box with lower sides or a ramp for access, boxes with or without litter liners and perhaps even self-cleaning types of litter boxes (appealing to some cats and frightening to others).

  This client information sheet is based on material written by Debra Horwitz, DVM, Diplomate ACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM, Diplomate ACVB

© Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. February 13, 2014

Ear Hematoma (Swollen Ear Flap)


What is a hematoma?

A hematoma is a localized mass of blood that is confined within an organ or tissue. This is also referred to as a “blood blister.” The most common type of hematoma in the dog is that affecting the “pinna” or ear flap. This is called an aural or ear hematoma.


Why do aural hematomas occur?

Ear hematomas occur when a blood vessel in the ear bursts and bleeds into the space between the ear cartilage and skin. This is most commonly associated with trauma such as scratching or shaking the ears and bite wounds. Dogs with ear infections may violently shake their head or scratch their ears causing an aural hematoma. Dogs with long, floppy ears are at greater risk for developing ear hematomas. Pets with clotting or bleeding disorders may also develop hematomas, with or without a history of trauma.



What can be done?

It is important to treat the underlying cause. The majority of cases are associated with an ear infection. This often causes scratching and head shaking leading to hematoma formation. The hematoma must be treated as soon as possible or permanent disfigurement may result — if left untreated, the ear will often develop a “crunched” or “cauliflower” appearance. The preferred method of treatment involves surgical correction of the hematoma. This usually involves incising and draining the hematoma, removing blood clots and suturing or bandaging the ear to help prevent future recurrence.

If it is a blood blister, won’t it disappear with time, just like a bruise?

If left untreated, the surrounding ear tissues will die due to lack of blood supply and result in a knurled, cauliflower-shaped ear. Additionally, this condition will produce intense pain and should be corrected as soon as possible.

Can you just drain the swelling?

Drainage may result in a temporary correction, but the hematoma returns in the vast majority of cases. The longer the hematoma is left untreated the greater the likelihood of permanent damage to the ear.

Look in your pet’s often to check for any redness, swelling, flakiness, itchiness or discomfort.  If you notice any of these signs, you pet may be developing an ear infection.  It is important to bring them in and get the ears treated to prevent larger problems like an aural hematoma.

Call Rita Ranch Pet Hospital at (520) 624-6100 and speak with our knowledgeable staff if you have any concerns or worries with your pet’s health!