Holiday Pet Safety Tips

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Holiday Safety Tips

The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to try to keep your pet’s eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Also, please be sure to steer pets clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.

Be Careful with Seasonal Plants and Decorations

  • Oh, Christmas Tree: Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.
  • Avoid Mistletoe & Holly: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
  • Tinsel-less Town: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
  • That Holiday Glow: Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!
  • Wired Up: Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.

Avoid Holiday Food Dangers

  • Skip the Sweets: By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.
  • Leave the Leftovers: Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.
  • Careful with Cocktails: If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
  • Selecting Special Treats: Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.

Plan a Pet-Safe Holiday Gathering

  • House Rules: If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.
  • Put the Meds Away: Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.
  • A Room of Their Own: Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.
  • New Year’s Noise: As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

 

Source: aspca.org

Foxtails – What are they and why should you be concerned?

Foxtail plants can be risky for your dog. The barbed seed heads of the foxtail plant can work their way into any part of your dog or cat, from the nose to between the toes and inside the ears, eyes and mouth. They can even simply dig themselves directly into a patch of skin.

The foxtail plant is a grass-like weed. It is mostly found in the Western half of the U.S.

The danger of foxtails goes beyond simple irritation. Because these tough seeds don’t break down inside the body, an embedded foxtail can lead to serious infection for your dog. It can even lead to death if left untreated. The seeds can be hard to find in your dog’s fur.

So how can you tell if your pooch has a foxtail that’s causing problems? If you find a foxtail should you extract it? And when is it time to call a vet?

Foxtails and Your Dog: Risks and Symptoms

Foxtails travel. Moving relentlessly forward, never back, they can migrate from inside your dog’s nose to its brain. They can dig through skin or be inhaled into — and then perforate — a lung.

Embedded foxtails can cause discharge, abscesses, swelling, pain, and death. If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, check for foxtails or talk to your vet:

  • Feet. Foxtails love your dog’s feet and can easily become embedded between tender toes. Check for foxtails if you notice swelling or limping or if your dog is constantly licking the area.
  • Ears. If your pooch is shaking his head, tilting it to the side, or scratching incessantly at an ear, this could be the sign of a foxtail — one that may be so deep inside the ear canal you can’t see it. Your veterinarian needs to take a look using a special scope.
  • Eyes. Redness, discharge, swelling, squinting, and pawing all may be signs your dog has a foxtail lodged in its eye. If you think this may be the case, seek veterinary care immediately.
  • Nose. If you see discharge from the nose, or if your dog is sneezing frequently and intensely, there may be a foxtail lodged in a nasal passage.
  • Genitals. Foxtails can find their way into these areas, too. So if you notice your dog persistently licking at its genitals, foxtails could be the cause.

Tips for Preventing Foxtail Problems

Any dog can get foxtails in the ears, nose, eyes, or mouth. But dogs with long ears and curly hair can be especially prone to foxtail problems. Prevent issues by:

  • Examining your pet’s coat during foxtail season — generally May through December — especially if you’ve gone walking in open fields. Brush your dog as necessary, looking especially closely for pointy foxtail awns in your dog’s thick or feathery fur.
  • Check your pup’s face and ears carefully for foxtails. Don’t forget to look in and around your pooch’s mouth and gums.
  • Carefully check your dog’s paw pads for foxtails — especially between the toes.
  • Use tweezers to remove any foxtails you can easily get to. But if a foxtail is deeply embedded, or if the area around it is red or swollen, call your veterinarian right away. Remember, foxtails won’t come out on their own, and they can burrow into the brain, spine, eardrums, lungs — actually, anywhere.

The easiest way to prevent foxtail problems is to keep your dog out of overgrown, grassy areas. You should also pull out any foxtail plants you find in your yard. Also consider trimming your dog’s fur during foxtail season, especially if it tends to persistently get foxtails in one spot.

WebMD Veterinary Reference Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on 2/, 015

 

Hot Weather Safety Tips

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger. To prevent your pet from overheating, take these simple precautions provided by ASPCA experts:

  • Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
  • Know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.
  • Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
  • Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle.Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states!
  • Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals.
  • Open unscreened windows pose a real danger to pets, who often fall out of them.Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed, and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.
  • Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
  • When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.
  • Commonly used rodenticides and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch products and insect coils of out pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.
  • Remember that food and drink commonly found at barbeques can be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.
  • Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma, and even unused fireworks can contain hazardous materials. Many pets are also fearful of loud noises and can become lost, scared or disoriented, so it’s best to keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area of your home.

Source: aspca.org

 

 

Crate Training – Puppy or Older Dog

 

cratetraining2“Private room with a view. Ideal for traveling dogs or for those who just want a secure, quiet place to hang out at home.”

That’s how your dog might describe his crate. It’s his own personal den where he can find comfort and solitude while you know he’s safe and secure—and not shredding your house while you’re out running errands.

Crating Philosophy

Crate training uses a dog’s natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog’s den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog’s den, an ideal spot to snooze or take refuge during a thunderstorm.

  • The primary use for a crate is housetraining. Dogs don’t like to soil their dens.
  • The crate can limit access to the rest of the house while he learns other rules, like not to chew on furniture.
  • Crates are a safe way to transport your dog in the car.

Crating Caution

A crate isn’t a magical solution. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated.

  • Never use the crate as a punishment. Your dog will come to fear it and refuse to enter it.
  • Don’t leave your dog in the crate too long.  A dog that’s crated day and night doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious. You may have to change your schedule, hire a pet sitter, or take your dog to a doggie daycare facility to reduce the amount of time he must spend in his crate every day.
  • Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long.  The same goes for adult dogs that are being housetrained.  Physically, they can hold it, but they don’t know they’re supposed to.
  • Crate your dog only until you can trust him not to destroy the house. After that, it should be a place he goes voluntarily.

Selecting a Crate

Several types of crates are available:

  • Plastic (often called “flight kennels”)
  • Fabric on a collapsible, rigid frame
  • Collapsible, metal pens

Crates come in different sizes and can be purchased at most pet supply stores or pet supply catalogs.

Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. If your dog is still growing, choose a crate size that will accommodate his adult size. Block off the excess crate space so your dog can’t eliminate at one end and retreat to the other.

The Crate Training Process

Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s age, temperament, and past experiences. It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training:

  • The crate should always be associated with something pleasant.
  • Training should take place in a series of small steps. Don’t go too fast.

cratetraingStep 1: Introduce Your Dog to the Crate

Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at his leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away.  If yours isn’t one of them:

  • Bring him over to the crate, and talk to him in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won’t hit your dog and frighten him.
  • Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If he refuses to go all the way in at first, that’s okay; don’t force him to enter.
  • Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days.

Step 2: Feed Your Dog His Meals in the Crate

After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding him his regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate.

  • If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate.
  • If he remains reluctant to enter the crate, put the dish only as far inside as he will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed him, place the dish a little further back in the crate.
  • Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat his meal, you can close the door while he’s eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as he finishes his meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until he’s staying in the crate for ten minutes or so after eating.
  • If he begins to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving him in the crate for a shorter time period. If he does whine or cry in the crate, don’t let him out until he stops. Otherwise, he’ll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so he’ll keep doing it.

Step 3: Lengthen the Crating Periods

After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine him there for short time periods while you’re home.

  • Call him over to the crate and give him a treat.
  • Give him a command to enter, such as “kennel.” Encourage him by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand.
  • After your dog enters the crate, praise him, give him the treat, and close the door.
  • Sit quietly near the crate for five to ten minutes, and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time, and then let him out of the crate.
  • Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave him in the crate and the length of time you’re out of his sight.
  • Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving him crated when you’re gone for short time periods and/or letting him sleep there at night. This may take several days or several weeks.

cratetraining3Step 4, Part A: Crate Your Dog When You Leave

After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving him crated for short periods when you leave the house.

  • Put him in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave him with a few safe toys in the crate.
  • Vary at what point in your “getting ready to leave” routine you put your dog in the crate. Although he shouldn’t be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate him anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving.
  • Don’t make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give him a treat for entering the crate, and then leave quietly.

When you return home, don’t reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to him in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low key to avoid increasing his anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you’re home so he doesn’t associate crating with being left alone.

Step 4, Part B: Crate Your Dog at Night

Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night, and you’ll want to be able to hear your puppy when he whines to be let outside.

Older dogs, too, should initially be kept nearby so they don’t associate the crate with social isolation.

Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with his crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

Potential Problems

Whining. If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether he’s whining to be let out of the crate, or whether he needs to be let outside to eliminate. If you’ve followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn’t been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from his crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, he’ll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at him or pounding on the crate will only make things worse.

If the whining continues after you’ve ignored him for several minutes, use the phrase he associates with going outside to eliminate. If he responds and becomes excited, take him outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you’re convinced that your dog doesn’t need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore him until he stops whining. Don’t give in; if you do, you’ll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what he wants. If you’ve progressed gradually through the training steps and haven’t done too much too fast, you’ll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again.

Separation Anxiety. Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won’t solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but he may injure himself in an attempt to escape from the crate. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counter-conditioning and desensitization procedures. You may want to consult a professional animal-behavior specialist for help.

 

Source: humanesociety.org

Lilies are Toxic to Cats

Lily Nephrotoxicity

There are many different species of plants called “lily”: Easter lily, day lily, Asiatic lily, tiger lily, peace lily, calla lily, and lily of the valley, among others. And though they may be beautiful to look at, a cat could die of kidney failure if he should eat any part of these toxic species and not receive treatment immediately. In fact, as little as two leaves can make your cat sick, and if left untreated, can become fatal in as little as three days.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting (pieces of plant in thevomitus)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased urination, followed by lack of urination after 1 to 2 days
  • Dehydration

PRIMARY CAUSE

When determining if a lily plant you want or have is toxic, always look at the scientific name of the plant. The scientific name is a two-part name: the “first name,” which is capitalized, is the genus; the “second name” is the species, and it is not capitalized. You may see additional names following the first and second; these are subdivisions of the species and are not important for determining toxicity. The second name is sometimes abbreviated sp. or spp. This means that the actual species has not been identified. Sometimes the first name is abbreviated, usually with just the first letter of the name. This is usually done when there is a list of several species from the same genus.

The lily plants of greatest concern are any from the genus Lilium (Lilium sp.), which includes Easter lilies, tiger lilies, and Asiatic lilies, and any from the genus Hemerocallis (Hemerocallis sp.), which includes day lilies.

IMMEDIATE CARE

  1. If your cat has recently eaten a lily and has not vomited, call your veterinarian to see if you should induce vomiting before bringing her to an animal hospital.
  2. Call the nearest animal hospital or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680.
  3. The sooner she gets treatment, the better her chances are for survival. And if you can, bring a piece of the lily plant to the hospital.

VETERINARY CARE

Diagnosis

Finding a chewed-on lily plant or pieces of plant in the vomit allows for a definitive diagnosis. Because the toxic principle in lilies attacks the kidneys, blood and urine tests will be taken to evaluate kidney function.

Treatment

If your cat has only recently ingested the plant material and has still not vomited, your veterinarian will try to induce vomiting. Activated charcoal will be given orally to absorb any toxin that might remain in the gut. The key to survival is high volumes of fluids given intravenously (IV) to try and prevent dehydration and the kidneys shutting down. The fluids will be given for 1 to 2 days, while monitoring your cat’s kidneys as well as urine output. Lack of urine production is a sign that the treatment was unsuccessful.

OTHER CAUSES

Calla or arum lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) and peace lilies (Spathiphyllum sp.) contain crystals that are extremely irritating to the mouth and digestive tract, causing drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea; however, they do not affect the kidneys.

Lily of the valley (Convalaria majalis) affects the heart, causing irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure, and can progress to seizures or coma.

LIVING AND MANAGEMENT

If treatment is successful, there are no reported long-term consequences. Monitor your cat for changes in his urination habits, especially frequency of urination.

PREVENTION

If at all possible, do not have lilies in your house, not even as cut flowers. If you do have lilies in the house, make sure your cat cannot reach them and inform everyone in your household of the dangers lilies pose to the cat.

Cats are less likely to chew on lilies in your yard, especially if there are more appealing things to chew on, like grass and catnip; however, it is best not to have any lilies in your yard.

Source: petmd.com