Winter & Holiday Pet Hazards
Here are some tips for keeping your pets out of danger during the holiday season.
AVOID These Holiday Food Items That Could Cause Problems For Your Pet
Chocolate (baker's, semi-sweet, milk chocolate)
Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans)
Moldy or spoiled foods
Onions, onion powder
Lilies that may be found in holiday flower arrangements could be deadly to your cat. Many types of lily, such as Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, and the Casa Blanca, can cause kidney failure in cats.
Poinsettias are generally over-rated in toxicity. If ingested, poinsettias can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, and may cause mild vomiting or nausea.
Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems. However, mistletoe ingestion usually only causes gastrointestinal upset.
Holly ingestion could cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy.
For a list of more plants toxic to your pets, please see our Plants page.HAZARDS AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE
Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers, which, if ingested, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can also lead to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, if ingested.
Electric cords Avoid animal exposure to electric cords. If they were chewed, they could electrocute your pet. Cover up or hide electric cords, never let your pet chew on them.
Ribbons or tinsel can get caught up in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction.
Batteries contain corrosives. If ingested they can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract.
Glass ornaments can cut the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract if ingested.
Keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs out of the reach of your pets, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer, drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are common examples of human medication that could be potentially lethal even in small dosages. One regular-strength ibuprofen tablet (200mg) can cause stomach ulcers in a 10-pound dog. Remind holiday guests to store their medications safely as well.
During the holidays, many veterinary clinics have limited office hours. In some cases, pet owners try to medicate their animals without their veterinarian's advice. Never give your animal any medications unless under the directions of veterinarian. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly when used inappropriately. Less than one regular strength acetaminophen tablet (325mg) can be dangerous to a cat weighing 7lbs.
OTHER WINTER HAZARDS
ALWAYS Be Prepared!!!!
Antifreeze has a pleasant taste. Unfortunately, very small amounts can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than four teaspoons can be dangerous to a 10-pound dog. Thoroughly clean up any spills, store antifreeze in tightly closed containers and store in secured cabinets. Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. Propylene glycol is a safer form of antifreeze. Low Tox? brand antifreeze contains propylene glycol and is recommended to use in pet households.
If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) right away
Liquid potpourris are popular household fragrances commonly used during the holiday season. Pets are often exposed to liquid potpourri by direct ingestion from simmer pots or spills, or by rubbing against leaky bottles or simmer pots containing the potpourri, or from spilling the containers upon themselves. Oral exposures result following grooming. Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal and ocular damage.
Ice melting products can be irritating to skin and mouth. Depending on the actual ingredient of the ice melt and the quantity, signs of ingestion would include excessive drooling, depression, vomiting or even electrolyte imbalances.
Rat and mouse killers are used more commonly during colder weather. When using rat and mouse bait, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your companion animals.
Your animal may become poisoned in spite of your best efforts to prevent it. You should keep telephone numbers for your veterinarian, a local emergency veterinary service, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) in a convenient location. If you suspect that your pet has ingested something poisonous, seek medical attention immediately.
This article furnished by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
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Senior Wellness Blood Screening
Have you seen this on your reminder card and wondered what it's all about? Well, Senior Wellness Blood Screening is something we recommend for all patients seven years of age or older. It entails drawing a blood sample from your pet and sending it to the lab with a urine sample if one is available. What we get back is a lab report telling us how all your pet's organs are working. This is very valuable information for many reasons.
? Senior Wellness Blood Screenings give us a healthy baseline of your pet's blood. This will give us comparison values should your pet become ill in the next year.
? In some cases, pets coming to us for treatment due to an illness have been hiding their condition for a year or more. With these profiles, we are more likely to catch diseases in their early stages and are usually able to treat more effectively - and less expensively.
? Animals age, on average, seven times faster then humans. Illnesses that sometimes take a human a year or more to develop, can take only a few months for dogs and cats.
? Early diagnosis and treatment can extend your pets life expectancy and quality of life.
? Medications, including vitamins, must pass through internal organs to be metabolized by the body. Over time, these medications can cause serious damage which is most often not readily evident from physical signs alone.
? Recent studies have shown that as many as 23% of pets appearing clinically healthy upon a physical exam had underlying health issues. These included: hyper- and hypothyroidism, diabetes, early and advanced renal (kidney) failure, liver disease, and urinary tract infections.
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So You Think Flea and Tick Season Ends in the Fall, Do You? Think again!
It's a popular misconception that fleas and ticks are not a threat once we head into autumn and cooler weather. While we wish this were true as much as you do, unfortunately it is not.
FLEAS While fleas are indeed more prevalent during warm summer months, they can survive as adults on hosts over the winter, even feeding on humans temporarily if their preferred host is not available. To understand why these pests are so hardy, it is important to understand their lifecycle.
One female flea lays about 2,000 eggs in her lifetime - up to 50 eggs in just one day! The eggs quickly fall off your pet and into areas of your home. In 2 to 5 days, the eggs hatch.
After hatching, the larvae head toward dark places (indoors this is most often deep in carpet fibers) and feed on "flea dirt" - excrement of the partially digested blood of your pet. The larvae grow, molt twice, and then spin cocoons, where they grow to pupae. They complete this process in only 5 to 11 days.
Insecticides are not very useful during the pupal stage because of the inaccessible location of the cocoons. During this phase, which lasts about 8 or 9 days, they continue to grow to adulthood, waiting for the signal that it is time to emerge. Physical pressure, carbon dioxide and heat all stimulate hatching.
To make matters worse, fleas tend to emerge from their cocoons over a period of 2 to 4 weeks rather than all at once (a phenomenon called "the pupal window effect"), so populations tend to maximize. This is why new adults can continue to emerge for several months after an insecticide application has killed one adult population.
Upon detecting heat, vibrations and exhaled carbon dioxide from inside their cocoons, adult fleas know a host is nearby. The adults leave their cocoons, hop onto a host, find a mate and begin the life cycle all over again.
Because it only takes one flea or one flea egg to start an entire population, we strongly suggest taking preventative measures all year long. While fleas may not be as active outside during the cold months, they are quite capable of surviving the winter indoors and by other means. If your dog plays with other neighborhood dogs, goes to doggy daycare, is kenneled, or attends classes of any kind, he is may be exposed to potential hosts carrying fleas. This is also true if your cat hunts or may be encountering other cats in his travels outside.
Potential medical issues and diseases caused by fleas include tapeworms, Bubonic plague, Maurine Typhus, anemia and a myriad of skin conditions.
Female ticks lay eggs in secluded areas where vegetation is dense and several inches high. Adult females of some tick species lay about 100 eggs at a time; others lay 3,000 to 6,000 eggs per batch. Regardless of species, tick eggs hatch in about 2 weeks.
After hatching, the larvae move into grass or shrubs in search of their first blood meal. If you or your pet passes by, they attach themselves and crawl upward in pursuit of an area of the skin that they can feed from. After taking a blood meal, they drop off the host and back into the environment.
After finding their first blood meal, the larvae molt into their nymph stage and begin searching for another host. Nymphs are small in size and often go undetected, increasing the chance for disease transmission.
Once the nymph has had its blood meal, it matures into adulthood. Adult female ticks feed on a host for 8 to 12 days. In some cases, they will increase to 100 times their original weight while feeding. While still on the host, the female will mate, fall off and lay her eggs in a secluded place - beginning the life cycle again.
A tick's lifespan may be several years. They are also capable of surviving a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions and for these reasons there are very few times of year when they are not a threat. During winter thaws, it is not uncommon for us to get calls from clients who are shocked to find ticks on their pets.
Potential medical issues and diseases caused by ticks include Lyme Disease, Erlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Babesiosis in dogs. In cats, ticks can cause Feline Erlichiosis, Haemobartonellosis, Hepatozoonosis and Hytauxzoonosis. Tick tick-borne encephalitis and Tick Paralysis can also be caused in any vertabrate host.
So that now you know that these pesky critters are important to prevent, how do you do it? Well, that's where we come in! We are happy to help you select a preventative protocol tailored to your individual pet's needs and risk factors. If you already have a flea infestation, we can help you tackle it with a combination of pet and home treatment. Please give us a call!
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