Holiday Pet Safety Tips

holidays-001

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

Those Pesky Fleas

While fleas are active year round in the Pacific Northwest, they become more noticeable in warmer weather. Fleas are problems as they not only carry tapeworm, which can be transmitted to cats and dogs, but they make our pets itchy and scratchy, sometimes to the extent of causing severe dermatitis.

itchy
Impact of Fleas

The most frequent cause of itchy skin, or pruritis, is the pesky flea. Besides being a household nuisance, multiple flea bites can cause an allergic reaction in some pets that leads to flea allergy dermatitis. Allergies form because of an over reactive inflammatory response to an antigen and usually appear as redness, irritation and inflammation of the skin and ears, although the eyes and nasal passages may also become affected. For pets that develop this allergy, the most important thing is to ensure proper flea control both on their body and in their environment.

Detecting Fleas

Just because you don’t see fleas does not mean that your pets don’t have them. Fleas only live on the animals for a few hours to feed, then jump off, live and breed in the environment. Usually evidence of heavy flea infestations is seen on the animal in the form of “flea dirt” or flea excrement. Sometimes, we see the actual fleas (they are fast little buggers!).

Types of Fleas

Fleas are species-specific. So, cat and dog fleas don’t like to eat people! So if you’re getting bit, it’s either because the dog or cat is no longer in the environment and they are hungry or there are so many of them they need more than just your pet(s) to eat.

Flea Lifecycle

Flea eggs are tiny, shiny, and oval shaped objects that are laid by an adult flea on your pet. Given their shape, the eggs tend to fall from your pet onto bedding, carpet or where ever your pet spends time. A normal adult female flea will lay around 40 – 60 eggs per day which hatch in larvae in 1 to 20 days.

FLealifecycle
Larvae go through several stages of molting as they grow and feed on the “flea dirt” that you find where your pet sleeps or rests—including bedding and carpet.  After three molts the larvae pupate within “cocoons” enabling the flea to develop. During this period, the pupae can remain dormant for up to a year but often hatch in 7 to 10 days.

Once hatched, adult fleas use vibration and movement find new hosts and will quickly jump to obtain a meal. Fleas feed every 4 to 6 hours biting your pet during each feeding. Fleas tend to live several weeks unless otherwise controlled.

Controlling Fleas

Flea control starts in the environment. If you have a bad flea problem, washing bedding (your bed and your pet’s bed), regular vacuuming and cleaning are a great start. Then your veterinarian can prescribe a monthly flea control for your pets. Most flea control products today have quick kill times and break the flea’s life cycle before they can lay eggs.

Flea Products

We recommend keeping your pet on regular, year round flea control products. Currently there are both oral (for dogs) and topical (for both dogs and cats) formulations. Oral formulations tend to have a faster kill time than the topical formulations, but also require that the pest bites the pet before being effective. Currently oral combinations (Trifexis) guard against fleas, heartworms, and GI parasites. Topical combinations are effective for fleas, heartworms and GI parasites (Revolution) and flea and tick (Frontline). Generic brands are generally not recommended due to an increase in incidence of adverse side effects and lower effectiveness.

 

Adapted from: kirkwoodanimal.com

Lilies are Toxic to Cats

nolilliesforkitties

No Lilies for Kitties!

Why are the Easter holiday and Mother’s Day two of the most dangerous holidays for cats? The answer is simple—lily poisoning. Exposure to common lilies such as Easter lilies, tiger lilies and stargazer lilies sicken and kill thousands of cats annually. What’s even more dangerous is that less than 30% of cat owners realize these common and seemingly “benign” lilies are fatal to our feline friends. That’s about to change. We want to introduce you to a new educational campaign—‘No Lilies for Kitties!’

Pet Poison Helpline, in partnership with the Small Animal Welfare Committee of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association,  have teamed up to increase awareness of lily poisoning to cat owners and remind veterinarians that we are heading into lily season. Please help us spread the word and learn why you need to “leave out the lilies”.

Lilies 101

Many different kinds of plants are found or sold with “lily” as part of their name. A few grow wild in ditches and wooded areas, some are sold as bulbs in garden shops, and many are used in floral arrangements. If you live with cats, it’s critical to know which lilies are toxic to your feline friend.

The Most Dangerous Lilies for Cats

The most dangerous and potentially fatal lilies for cats are those found in the genus Lilium and Hemerocallis. These beautiful and affordable flowers are often found in cut-flower bouquets or potted for the Easter holiday. If you have cats at home, it’s critical that you do not bring these flowers inside.

asiaticlily

 

  • Asiatic Lily – including hybrids (Lilium asiatica)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis species)
  • Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum)
  • Japanese Show lily (Lilium speciosum)
  • Rubrum lily (Lilium speciosum var. rubrum)
  • Stargazer lily (Lilium “Stargazer” – a hybrid)
  • Tiger lily (Lilium tigrinum or lancifolium)
  • Wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum or umbellatum)

These beautiful and affordable flowers are often found in cut-flower bouquets or potted for the Easter holiday. If you have cats at home, it’s critical that you do not bring these flowers inside. The toxin has not been identified, but exposure to any part of the plant, including leaves, flowers, pollen, or even the water from the vase may result in acute kidney failure in cats. These ingestions are medical emergencies requiring immediate veterinary care. Early decontamination, aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, renal function tests, and supportive care greatly improve a cat’s prognosis. A delay of treatment of more than 18 hours after ingestion generally results in irreversible renal failure. Dogs may experience minor gastrointestinal upset after ingestion of these lilies but do not appear to develop kidney damage.

Safer Cut-Flower Alternatives

When buying flowers or ordering them for delivery, remember to “leave out the lilies”! It’s advisable to specifically instruct florists to not include and liliwes in the Lilium species such as stargazer, Asiatic, Oriental or tiger lilies. Giving florists the specific name of the flower species can help avoid confusion.

tulips

Instead, consider these safer alternatives for cut flower arrangements and bouquets:

  • Carnation*
  • Daisy (Gerbera and others)
  • Hyancith*
  • Iris*
  • Chrysanthemum a.k.a. Mums*
  • Orchid
  • Peruvian Lily (Alstroemeria species)*
  • Rose
  • Spring crocus
  • Snapdragon
  • Sunflower
  • Tulips*
  • Zinnia

*These plants may cause more gastrointestinal irritation or upset (drooling, vomiting, and/or diarrhea) than others on the list but are not expected to cause severe poisoning (i.e. kidney, liver or nervous system effects).

 

Other Highly Toxic Lilies (risk to dogs, cats, and people)

Other types of dangerous “lily” plants include the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) and gloriosa or flame lily (Gloriosa superba).   Lily of the valley contains cardenolides or digitalis like toxins which do not cause kidney failure, but may cause life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias and death when ingested by dogs, cats, or people.  Equally toxic to all animals is the gloriosa lily. The toxic agent is colchicine (toxic to rapidly dividing cells); the roots or tubers may contain enough toxins to cause serious multi-system organ failure in cats and dogs that chew on them. Early and aggressive therapy is generally needed when these plants are ingested.

Less Harmful Lilies (risk to dog and cats)

Less serious consequences occur when pets chew or swallow plant pieces from “lilies” such as the calla lily (Zantedeschia spp.) and peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp.) which contain insoluble oxalate crystals that are direct irritants to the mouth, tongue, throat, and esophagus. Drooling, foaming, or pawing at the mouth, vocalization, and vomiting are commonly reported when pets chew on these plants; respiratory distress due to swelling of the airway can occur but is more rare. The Peruvian lily (Alstromeria aurea) contains tulipin A, a toxin that may cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting or diarrhea if ingested in large amounts. None of these lilies cause acute kidney failure in cats like the Lilium or Hemerocallis (daylily) species.

What to do if your pet eats a lily?

Cats and other pets consuming any part of a “lily” plant may need immediate veterinary medical care. In order to quickly assess the severity of the situation, pet owners should call Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) or bring the animal and plant to their veterinarian as soon as possible.  Early identification of the specific lily and appropriate treatment will usually prevent most undesirable outcome

 

source: petpoisonhelpline.com

Calming Your Dog During a Thunderstorm

thunderstorm

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Calm During Thunderstorms

It is very common for dogs to feel upset by the booming thunder and flashing lightening of a thunderstorm.  In fact, because dogs are especially sensitive to barometric pressure, they can sense an oncoming storm before you can.  They may start to act anxious, chew on things or even run away in a panic.  While it may seem natural to sit down on the floor and coddle your dog in soothing tones during a thunderstorm, this will only reinforce his or her anxious behavior in the long run.  These tips can help you learn how to calm your dog during a storm by teaching him that it’s only noise and nothing to get upset about.

Calm Your Dog’s Thunderstorm Anxiety: Calmness Begins with You

First:   Dogs can pick up on their humans’ feeling, so it is important for you to stay calm if you are to be able to calm your dog.  If they sense your anxiety, that will only make them feel and act worse.

Second:  Provide a safe, enclosed, den-like area where your dog can securely sit out the storm.  A crate inside the house is the perfect place because they feel safer there with a blanket and chew toy to gnaw on.  If your dog is an outside dog, cover his kennel with a blanket and make sure he is secured inside.

Third:  If you do not use a crate to calm your dog, make sure the room where you keep him is safe and devoid of small or sharp objects that he could swallow or chew on, as they may do when they are stressed out.  Crating is recommended, but if this is not possible for you, make sure he has a soft, secure place where he feels safe.  Keep the doors and windows closed and curtained to dull outside noises and lights of the storm.  Sometimes turning on a TV or some music that the dog is used to hearing can dull sounds and help calm your dog.

Fourth:  Keep your dog away from exits and entrances into your home.  Some dogs become so stressed out that they may attack people coming in or out.  He may also make a run for it if the door is opened.

Fifth:  One great way to calm your dog’s thunderstorm fear is to condition him to accept that storms are nothing to worry about.  Using environmental recordings of storms, starting out softly and then making them gradually louder while having everyone else in the house go calmly about their business has reprogrammed many dogs to stay calm during a storm.  This may take some time, but many owners have had success with this method.

Note:  If your dog has an accident during a storm, be patient and understanding.  Don’t make a big deal about it and be prepared to clean up without a lot of fanfare.

***We urge you to have identification on your dog.  Both tags on the collar AND a microchip will help ensure the safe return of your dog in the event that he does escape***

 

Source: woodbridgeanimalhospital.com

Pet Insurance

what_is_pet_insurancePet Insurance is a frequent topic at the veterinarian’s office.  We are frequently asked by our clients if coverage for their pet is a good idea. They wonder, is it worth the cost?  How does it work? What does it cover?

If you have pet insurance, it is very comforting knowing that you are prepared to make decisions on your pet’s care that are not based on finances.  We have had many instances of clients being able to choose more costly diagnostics and treatments knowing they had insurance to help cover the costs.

Pet insurance is far less complicated than human health insurance.  While full payment to your veterinarian is due at the time of services, a simple claim form submitted to your insurance company will start your claim and reimbursement process (based on your policy coverage). Some companies even have smart phone apps to make it even easier! Most companies do very well in keeping you up to date as your claim moves forward.

There are many different pet insurance companies and each company offers policies in a range of cost and coverage. Our doctors encourage you to take some time and research the different companies and their policies to determine which is best for your budget and desired coverage.