Archives for category: Pet safety

veterinary_cat_pool_wd

April showers are gone, and the sun’s rays are on.  Now is the time to enjoy some cat cuddles and romps with your dogs.  But make sure your pets stay healthy and safe during this season marked by pests and high temperatures.  Here are seven ways to safeguard your pets:

 

1 Cover the basics. Secure an up-to-date tag on your pet’s collar,
and make sure to use a leash when you head outdoors. Consult
your veterinarian for flea and tick control options, and always keep your
pet’s vaccinations current.
2 Be wary around water. Not all dogs are natural swimmers, so
watch your pooch when you’re near the pool, beach, or lake. On
trips to the ocean, make sure your pets don’t drink the salt water—it
upsets their stomach, just like yours. And watch those currents; the best
paddling dog can struggle against a mean undertow.
3 Keep cool. Schedule walks in the early morning or evening;
dog paws hate hot pavement. You can also make dog exercise
sessions safe by stopping for drinks of fresh water and finding shady
spots for necessary panting breaks. Some pet owners also help prevent
overheating with short fur shaves for cats and dogs in the summer.
4 Watch for warning signs. Heat stroke is an issue for pets, too.
Be on the lookout for early symptoms: excessive panting and
drooling, bright red gums, weakness, and balance problems. As the
condition worsens, pets may experience labored breathing, lethargy,
and even seizures. If you see any of the above signs, get your pet to its
veterinarian immediately.
5 Safely see the sights. Taking your pets for a ride in the car or
minivan? Never leave them inside—windows up or down—on hot
days. Keep dogs’ heads in the car while driving; inner ear damage, lung
infections, and injury happen when man’s best friend sticks his head
out the window. Buckle up your dog with a harness or seat belt for
dogs, or a crate or carrier secured with a seat belt. And never let dogs
ride in the back of trucks. A crate in the truck bed keeps dogs from
bouncing out in an accident or being hit with debris on the road.
6 Party with prudence. Be wary of what your cats and dogs
can get into when you celebrate. Chocolate, raisins, and onions
can be bad for dogs and cats, and alcohol is also a no-no. If your pets
get anxious or fearful around fireworks or big crowds, keep them away
from the sparklers and concerts.
7 Protect against pests and poisons. Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes,
and more seem to be everywhere in the summer, so consult with
your veterinarian on the best pest preventives to use for your and your
pets’ lifestyle. Also, keep your animals off areas sprayed with chemicals
or insecticides, and always store fertilizers and other poisonous substances out of their reach.

Courtesy of the ASPCA.

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dog treats blog

This may be old news to some of our readers, but we wanted to emphasize the warnings that some pet jerky treats are being linked to serious illness in pets.  The problem appears to be tied to dog treats made in China, although investigators haven’t yet found a certain cause.  The FDA has received reports of illnesses in 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the United States since 2007, and 580 dogs died.

Pets can suffer from a decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting and diarrhea among other symptoms within hours of eating treats sold as jerky strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potato or dried fruit.  Researchers haven’t been able to pin down what ingredient may be causing the problem because many of the treats and their ingredients are imported and the FDA doesn’t want to conduct a recall without a definitive cause.

We would like to advise caution when considering your choice of treats for your pets.

kittens

Did you know that the average lifespan for an outdoor cat is just 3 to 5 years while indoor cats average 12 years.  This huge difference is a compelling reason for all cat parents to keep their feline friends indoors.  I think many people feel like it is natural for their cat to want to play and explore outdoors but the dangers far outweigh the benefits of letting your cat outdoors.  Here are some outdoor dangers you can avoid by keeping your cat indoors.

Cat Fight Wounds.  Cats are territorial by nature and when more than one cat has to share their territory this can lead to conflict. Besides bites and scratches, cat fights can result in abscess when a bite wound becomes infected.  Abscesses are painful and can be accompanied by a fever and many cats do not eat well.  Treatment requires a veterinarian and involves surgical drainage and antibiotics to fight the infection.

Viral infections.  Even worse, cat bites can transmit infections like feline leukemia virus (FeLV) feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Some of these diseases do not have effective vaccines and unfortunately there is no cure for any of them.

Parasites. Outdoor cats are more likely than indoor cats to become infected with internal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and heartworms.

Cars.  Automobiles are one of the deadliest hazards to outdoor cats.  Most car injuries are fatal.  Those who survive usually have severe injuries that often require surgery.  Many people believe that their cat is smart enough to avoid being hit by a car, but even the most street-savvy cat can be a victim.  Cats can become distracted; they could be chasing after prey, or running from a dog, or pursuing another cat in play.  The fact is, all free roaming cats are at risk of being hit by a car.

Poisons.  Poisons are another very common danger facing cats.  Cats can be exposed to poisonous chemicals such as insecticides, rodenticides and fertilizers.  Pesticides are the most dangerous because they are sweetened or scented to attract pests and cats are often the unintended victims.  In any neighborhood cats can commonly come in contact with fertilizer, snail bait, ant bait, rat poison and fertilizer.

Wild Animals.  Predators have always been a threat to cats, but as suburbs expand and disturb natural habitats, encounters with native wildlife have increased.  In Western states, coyotes claim the lives of many cats.

Once your cat is outdoors, there is no way to protect them from all of these dangers.  As pet parents, it is our responsibility to care for them and protect them from harm.  Keep your cat out of unnecessary danger by keeping him safely indoors.

 

valentine puppies

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  If you are sharing sweets with your sweetheart here are some things to remember.  Chocolate can sicken and even kill dogs and cats.  It is one of the most common causes of canine poisoning.

Chocolate contains two substances that are toxic to dogs and cats; theobromine and caffeine.  Dogs and cats metabolize these substances much slower than people do.  Both theobromine and caffeine are stimulants to the central nervous system.  If too much chocolate is ingested then the increased stimulus to the central nervous system can cause increase in blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms and possibly even death.

Dark and baker’s chocolate are the most dangerous.  Milk chocolate and white chocolate pose a much less serious risk.  Mild symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea.  More severe symptoms include hyper-excitability, hyper-irritability, restlessness, increased heart rate and muscle tremors.

Also, Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies.  However, they can cause problems for your canine companion.  These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs.  Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 24 hours.

Alcoholic beverages can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

If you think your pet has ingested any of these common Valentine treats contact your veterinarian immediately.  They can help you determine the proper treatment for your pet.

puppy under blanket

Many times, as a pet owner, it’s hard to know whether your dog’s condition is a true medical emergency or not… or more importantly, if it warrants getting up in the middle of the night to seek medical attention from a veterinary professional you don’t know.  Listed below are some signs that warrant getting to an emergency vet ASAP.

  • Difficulty breathing, which may be manifested as blue gums, coughing, panting constantly, or stretching the head and neck while breathing.
  • Constant coughing and inability to rest through the night.
  • A distended, “bloated” abdomen.
  • Non-productive retching (which is classic for gastric-dilitation volvulus).
  • Anxiety or restlessness (often a sign of pain).
  • Pale gums (often seen with internal bleeding or anemia).
  • An elevated heart rate (> 160 beats per minute at home)
  • A respiratory rate of  > 60 breaths per minute at home while resting.
  • Crying out in pain.
  • Jaundiced (yellow gums).
  • Not being able to move or walk or dragging of the back legs.
  • Extreme lethargy.
  • An significant amounts of bleeding.
  • Any trauma.
  • Any poisoning or toxin ingestion.
  • Vomiting more than two or three times.
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.
  • Abnormal odor from your dog.
  • Fever (greater than 102 degrees F)
  • Squinting, bulging or painful eyeballs.
  • Straining to urinate, making multiple trips to urinate, squatting to urinate without producing any urine.
  • Collapse.
  • Anything that makes you worried.
  • Tremors or seizures.
  • Any abnormal behavior that you are worried about (i.e. acting aloof or particularly clingy).

While this list isn’t all-inclusive, it gives you a good general idea of possible emergency conditions.  Keep in mind that the sooner you diagnose and treat a problem, the less expensive it often is.  When in doubt, if you are concerned, bring them in, because you know your dog the best.  The time is a small sacrifice for your dog’s health and your peace of mind.

 

puppy and kitten2

Aspirin

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Human NSAID (Advil, Midol, Nuprin, Aleve)

Over the counter (OTC) medications are the 4th most common cause of poison exposure in small animals, either administered by owners who are unaware of their toxic effects in animals, or from pets eating dropped pills or chewing through medicine bottles.

Cats and dogs differ from humans in how they metabolize drugs; specifically, their livers utilize enzyme systems different from ours to process drugs.  Cats are especially sensitive to the toxic effects of the above drugs because their livers are extremely deficient in some of the enzyme pathways necessary to clear certain drugs from their bloodstream.  This buildup of drugs or their byproducts in the pet’s system may lead to destruction of blood cells, liver damage, kidney damage, and stomach and intestinal irritation and ulcers.

For example, which of the above pain killers would you think is safest in cats?  Would you reach for that dropper full of Baby Tylenol?  In fact, Acetaminophen has the narrowest margin of safety of the drugs listed above, and is deadly to cats, because it requires those exact enzymes lacking in cat livers to metabolize it.

“Well, Doc, I always heard a little baby aspirin couldn’t hurt anything.  Besides, my dog seems painful and I can’t get in to the vet until tomorrow.”

Whether regular, buffered, or enteric coated aspirin is given, it still enters the bloodstream, where it causes irreversible changes to the ability of platelets to clot the blood.  It also decreases blood flow to the stomach lining and kidneys, causing an increased risk of GI ulceration and kidney failure.  Even worse, its effectiveness as a pain killer is almost 100 times LESS than that of a prescription animal pain reliever such as Rimadyl or Deramaxx!

 “So what’s the difference between Advil and Rimadyl?  They’re both NSAIDs (NonSteroidal Anti-inflammatories), right?”

Newer classes of human NSAIDs were created to target pain receptors better, with fewer side effects than aspirin (the “original” NSAID).  The same is true in dogs and cats, but animal NSAIDs have been extensively researched and developed to be safe in animals: dog NSAIDs are made to be tolerated by dogs, at dosages that can be safely metabolized by the liver, and with metabolites that target pain receptors, sparing the GI tract and kidneys.  Cats have an even lower tolerance of these drugs, and must only be given cat-specific prescriptions.

bulldog puppy

Around this time of year, it is common to get calls from pet owners about their dogs getting into the holiday candy.  So here are a few facts about dogs and chocolate.  Chocolate can sicken and even kill dogs and is one of the most common causes of canine poisoning.

Chocolate contains two substances that are toxic to dogs; theobromine and caffeine.  Dogs metabolize these substances much slower than people do.  The buzz we get from eating chocolate may last 20 to 40 minutes, but for dogs it lasts many hours.  Both theobromine and caffeine are stimulants to the central nervous system.  If too much chocolate is ingested then the increased stimulus to the central nervous system can cause increase in blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms and possibly even death.

Dark and baker’s chocolate are the most dangerous.  Milk chocolate and white chocolate pose a much less serious risk.  Mild symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea.  More severe symptoms include hyper-excitability, hyper-irritability, restlessness, increased heart rate and muscle tremors.  If you think your pet has ingested chocolate contact your veterinarian immediately.  They can help you determine the proper treatment for your pet.