Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Spring Cleaning Pet Safety

It's that time of year...time to get ready for Spring Cleaning! Be sure to read the following information regarding household cleaning products that could be hazardous to your pets.



Have you ever wondered if a particular household cleaning product or human medication is poisonous to your pets? The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has provided the following guide for knowing which cleaning products, human medications and cosmetic items to keep out of your pet’s reach. Please remember that this guide is for general information only, and is not intended to help assess or manage animal exposures, or any subsequent time-sensitive medical issues. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to any poisonous substances, contact your veterinarian or call APCC’s hotline at (888) 426-4435 immediately.


Household Products

Bleach
Pet parents are often curious about the risks associated with cleaning their pets’ cages and toys with bleach. The bottom line is this: cleaning your pet’s cage or toy with a properly diluted bleach solution, followed by a thorough rinsing and airing out, is not expected to cause harm. If the odor of bleach seems overwhelming, open windows and use fans to air the room. There are many cleaning products on the market, with a variety of different ingredients for cleaners, with varying degrees of safety. Always follow label directions for usage. After cleaning, please dispose of unused or dirty solutions, and clean and put away cleaning implements like mops. If you have questions about the appropriate selection or application of a product, please contact your veterinarian or the manufacturer before cleaning.

Carpet Fresheners
Proper use of carpet deodorizing products should not cause significant harm or injury to pets. Should your pet accidentally come in contact with the freshly applied powder, we recommend washing the paws with mild soap and water to avoid minor skin irritation.
Minor ingestions of carpet freshener powder generally results in a mild stomach upset. If a small amount is inhaled, minor respiratory irritation may occur, resulting in sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose. Because of this, it is a good idea to continue to keep your dog out of the room until after you have vacuumed up the powder.

Carpet Shampoo 
Most carpet cleaning products can be used in pet households. Allow the carpet to dry before allowing pets into the area. This will help to prevent the risk of skin irritation or gastrointestinal upset.

Essential Oils
Cats are especially sensitive to essential oils, and effects such as gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression and even liver damage could occur if ingested in significant quantities. Inhalation of the oils could lead to aspiration pneumonia. There are significant variations in toxicity among specific oils. Based on this, we would not recommend using essential oils in areas where your pets have access, unless pets are supervised or the use of the oil is approved by your veterinarian.

Fabric Softener Sheets 
Fabric softeners contain cationic detergents. These detergents have the potential to cause significant signs like drooling, vomiting, oral and esophageal ulcers and fever. These clinical signs do require treatment by a veterinarian. Oral ulcers can develop if a pet chews on a new, unused dryer sheet. Used sheets have minimal amounts of detergent. If an animal ingests enough sheets, used or dry, an intestinal blockage may occur.

Febreze 
Contrary to rumors alleging that Febreze causes serious illness or death in pets, our veterinary toxicology experts at APCC regard Febreze fabric freshener products to be safe for use in households with pets. As with any product, it is important that you always follow label instructions for use. However, should your pet accidentally come into contact with Febreze when it is still wet, we would not anticipate problems beyond mild skin irritation (which can occur with any product in animals with sensitive skin) or minor stomach upset, if it is ingested.

Grout 
Grout sealers vary widely in toxicity, from non-toxic to alkaline corrosive. Alkaline products, like cationic detergents, can cause drooling, vomiting, oral and esophageal ulcers. Confirm the ingredients in the brand you are using, and call the APCC or your veterinarian if your pet ingests some of the sealer. Dried, or cured, sealer generally only causes a mild upset stomach if ingested.

Swiffer Wet Jet 
Swiffer Wet Jet products do not contain cleaning agents in large enough quantities to present serious health risks to pets. An internet rumor once alleged that these products contained anti-freeze and were responsible for the death of a dog. Our toxicology experts evaluated the product and determined it doesn't contain ethylene glycol from antifreeze, and is appropriate to use in homes with pets. Like any product, however, it's important to read and follow label instructions to avoid unnecessary exposure. As with any number of cleaning products, mild skin irritation or stomach upset may occur if pets walk through a still-wet floor or lick any spilled solution.

Toilet Cleaning Tablets 
Most toilet bowl cleaning tablets would not be expected to cause problems beyond minor stomach upset, should a dog take a drink of the diluted water in the toilet bowl. Bacterial-related gastrointestinal problems could occur from drinking stagnant toilet water, however, so it is still a good idea to discourage your dog from imbibing from the commode.

Vinegar and Water 
A solution of vinegar and water is used as an inexpensive alternative to commercial cleaning agents. Vinegar is typically acidic, and vinegar (depending on the solution concentration) acts as an irritant. Ingesting concentrated, or undiluted, vinegar can cause vomiting, diarrhea, oral irritation and pain. Most cleaning agents can be used safely in homes, as long as label recommendations are followed.


While the following items aren't a part of Spring cleaning, it's important to make sure they're out of your pet's reach:

Human Medications and Cosmetics

Adderall 
Adderall, as well as many ADD drugs, contains amphetamines, which stimulate the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Amphetamines can be very harmful or even deadly to pets if enough are ingested, potentially causing hyperactivity, tremors and seizures, fever, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, coma and even death. Please consult your veterinarian immediately if your pet has ingested one of these medications.

Petroleum Jelly 
Petroleum Jelly is a laxative. If a sufficient dose is ingested, diarrhea is likely, and in some cases, vomiting may occur. There is a small risk of aspiration pneumonia if the pet inhales some of the product.

Aspirin, Baby Aspirin
We frequently hear from pet parents who are curious to know if low doses of these medications are safe to use on their pets as a joint and general pain reliever. There are medical conditions where aspirin is a recommended treatment. However, overdosing can result in medical conditions ranging from gastrointestinal upset to liver failure. We strongly advise owners to never give their pets any medication without first consulting with their regular veterinarian. Many drugs, including aspirin, can cause serious or potentially life-threatening problems, depending on the dose involved. If you feel that your dog needs pain relief for any reason, we highly recommend that you get in touch with your veterinarian—if you have not already—so that your dog can be evaluated. You vet can direct you regarding the best dose to use or, if necessary, can prescribe a different pain reliever. With advances in veterinary medicine, arthritis and other joint conditions are typically treated with more than one medication and treatment (like lasers).

Avon Skin So Soft 
We’ve received a number of inquiries about whether household items like Skin So Soft are safe alternatives to flea prevention regimens prescribed by a veterinarian. We recommend you consult your veterinarian before trying any household products for flea prevention purposes. A vet-recommended flea prevention product will likely be more effective and safe.

Bar Soap and Face Wash
Most bar soaps and face cleansers contain detergents, which, if ingested, can cause gastrointestinal irritation (including vomiting and diarrhea). If the soap also contains essential oils (such as lavender, for example), it is possible that minor central nervous system depression could occur, depending on the concentration of oils and other circumstances of exposure. Certain soaps are made with glycerin or other emollients, which can have a cathartic effect—causing loose stools or diarrhea. If gastrointestinal signs become persistent, they could lead to dehydration. If a large portion or entire bar of soap were to be ingested, it could potentially lead to obstruction in the animal’s gastrointestinal tract. Because of these concerns, we advise keeping your soaps and cleansers in an area that is not accessible to your dog.

Breath Fresheners 
Human breath mints and breath fresheners are not safe to use on your dog. Certain breath strips contain menthol, which can be irritating to the tissues of the mouth and the gastrointestinal tract. Some breath-freshening products could also contain the sweetener xylitol, which has the potential to cause a sharp drop in a dog's blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures; in some cases, this could even result in liver damage. If you wish to control your dog’s breath problem, we recommend talking with your veterinarian to discuss a safe and appropriate oral hygiene program.

Cigarettes and Nicotine Patches
Cigarettes and other tobacco products contain nicotine, which has the potential to produce severe vomiting, depression, an elevated heart rate, decrease in blood pressure, seizures, respiratory failure and, in severe cases, even death. E-cigarette liquid (known as e-liquid or e-juice) is used to recharge the cartridge for an e-cigarette. The amount of nicotine in these bottles could easily kill a dog if the contents were ingested. Often the liquid is flavored, making the product more appealing. As such, we urge pet parents to keep all tobacco products out of their pets’ reach. If accidental ingestion occurs, seek veterinary help immediately.

Grapeseed Oil 
Although we have talked about the safety risks that grapes can pose to pets, we have no data indicating risks from exposure to grapeseed extract or oil. Most nutritional supplements and other products containing grapeseed oil or extract contain relatively small amounts, and we’ve yet to note any serious problems.

Ibuprofen and Naproxen
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and naproxen. Pets metabolize and eliminate these drugs differently than humans do. Because of the difference in elimination, even small amounts can cause significant medical problems in dogs, including gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney failure. Please consult your veterinarian before giving any over-the-counter medications for pain.

Kaopectate and Pepto Bismol
These products contain salicylates, which are similar to aspirin. Depending on the circumstances of exposure, large enough doses of bismuth salicylate could cause effects similar to aspirin poisoning. These include gastric irritation or ulceration, bleeding problems, seizures and liver damage. If you suspect that your pet may have an upset stomach, or may not be feeling well, do not administer either of these (or similar) medications without consulting your veterinarian.

Mosquito Repellent 
Pet owners should never use any product on their animal that is not specifically created for them. Certain mosquito repellents that are made for human beings contain DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). The use of DEET on pets is not recommended, as dogs and cats are very sensitive to it and may develop neurological problems (such as tremors, seizures and death) if the product is used on them. If you want to keep mosquitoes away from your dog, we suggest asking your veterinarian for an appropriate product to use.

Pseudoephedrine (and other nasal decongestants) 
Depending on the circumstances of exposure, pseudoephedrine can be very harmful or even deadly to pets, and therefore we would not advise giving it to your dog. Decongestants are frequently found in products that contain antihistamines. If your veterinarian has prescribed an antihistamine, please read the label carefully to be sure that the only active ingredient is the one your veterinarian recommended.

Sorbitol 
Sorbitol is a plant-based sugar alcohol that’s used as a sweetener in many products, including sugar-free foods, laxatives and other medications. Due to its laxative capabilities, loose stools or diarrhea can occur if consumed in large doses. However, the amount of sorbitol in pet toothpaste used for brushing your pooch’s teeth is not likely to be an issue.

Topical Creams/Ointments 

As with lotions and oils, pet parents should use caution after immediate application of topical creams and ointments to their own skin. Always read the label so you know which ingredients are included. Some ingredients found in creams and ointments can cause serious, even life threatening, clinical signs. The following are ingredients that can cause serious clinical signs requiring medical intervention: baclofen, flurbiprofen, diclofenac, ketamine, lidocaine, dibucaine, 5-fluorouracil, calcipotriene as well as others. In some cases, small exposures (such as a pet licking the owner’s skin after recent application of the product) have resulted in severe clinical health and gastrointestinal issues. When applying these products, keep your skin covered and wear gloves during application or wash your hands thoroughly following use.

Source: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/poisonous-household-products

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Importance of Puppy Socialization & Obedience Training

Dogs grow up rather quickly and are only considered puppies for a short amount of time. By the time dogs reach four and a half months of age, they are no longer classified as a puppy. A failure to begin training in those formative stages could make the entire process significantly more difficult. After all, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.


The process of learning for dogs begins early as there are several stages that puppies go through during their first few months of life. Training can begin when puppies are just five weeks old as that is when their brain waves are equivalent to that of a fully mature dog. It is also a time to introduce socialization with people and start positive reinforcement training.

A big part of early training is that it eliminates the potential for future aggression. Dogs exhibit aggressive behavior mostly because of fear. However, that fear can be removed when they are puppies. The first step is to introduce common things that normally induce fear in dogs. Then, it is important to couple those things with positive reinforcement, like food and praise. This teaches puppies to release their fear, thus reducing their tendency to show aggressive behavior. It is also a way to acclimate them to much of what they will see in the outside world.

Aggressive behavior is not the only product of neglecting to train a puppy. Dogs can also develop traits of shyness when early training is ignored. This stems from failing to take advantage of such an instrumental time for learning.

Puppy training does not have to be extensive, but done in increments. Some of the training will be forgotten, although the fundamentals will remain. This is also an important time to introduce socialization with other dogs. Joining a puppy training class will teach puppies how to communicate with other dogs while also showing them necessary social cues.

Socialization is key among puppies and it is the equivalent to sending children to a pre-school so that they can develop the necessary skills to successfully transition from childhood to adulthood.

Those who welcome a puppy into their home in hopes of having an adult dog for a companion cannot overlook the importance of socialization in their early training. Puppies who are exposed to interaction with humans and other dogs learn how to adapt to their environment. Those things become customary early on and will not bring about fear or aggression later in their lives. It is all a matter of getting a puppy used to the world they will be living in.

It is also important to remember that, unlike humans, puppies do not have hands to grab things they can use for experimentation. Puppies use their mouths for experimenting and that means just about everything goes in their mouths. This is an opportune time to teach them what is not acceptable in terms of biting or nipping. This is also a pivotal time when it comes to a dog’s mouth behavior as good and bad habits are learned when they are puppies.

Dog obedience training is available for dogs of all ages, although it is better to begin the process when dogs are most impressionable. That means finding the time to train puppies when they are young.

Not all puppies live in the most learning-friendly environment as some are left alone for extended bouts of time and that can do irreparable damage to their development. Then, later on in a dog’s life, owners attribute behavioral problems to the dog when, in fact, it is the owners who are actually at fault. A failure to utilize the most instrumental learning time in a dog’s life can actually be considered a form of negligence on behalf of the dog’s owner. It creates a world where fear and aggression continually dictate a dog’s behavior.

Source: https://www.veterinarianedu.org/2017/03/dog-obedience-training-and-the-importance-of-puppy-training/

Monday, November 13, 2017

Winter Pet Safety

You’re probably already aware of the risks posed by warm weather and leaving pets in hot cars, but did you know that cold weather also poses serious threats to your pets’ health?



Here are some tips to keep your pets safe during cold weather:

Winter wellness: Has your pet had his/her preventive care exam (wellness exam) yet?  Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and it’s as good a time as any to get him/her checked out to make sure (s)he is ready and as healthy as possible for cold weather.

Know the limits: Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.

Provide choices: Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.

Stay inside: Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.

Make some noise: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.

Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes.

Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog’s feet; if you choose to use them, make sure they fit properly.

Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.

Collar and chip: Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. A microchip is a more permanent means of identification, but it’s critical that you keep the registration up to date.

Stay home: Hot cars are a known threat to pets, but cold cars also pose significant risk to your pet’s health. You’re already familiar with how a car can rapidly cool down in cold weather; it becomes like a refrigerator, and can rapidly chill your pet. Pets that are young, old, ill, or thin are particularly susceptible to cold environments and should never be left in cold cars. Limit car travel to only that which is necessary, and don’t leave your pet unattended in the vehicle.

Prevent poisoning: Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly. Make sure your pets don’t have access to medication bottles, household chemicals, potentially toxic foods such as onions, xylitol (a sugar substitute) and chocolate.

Protect family: Odds are your pet will be spending more time inside during the winter, so it’s a good time to make sure your house is properly pet-proofed. Use space heaters with caution around pets, because they can burn or they can be knocked over, potentially starting a fire. Check your furnace before the cold weather sets in to make sure it’s working efficiently, and install carbon monoxide detectors to keep your entire family safe from harm. If you have a pet bird, make sure its cage is away from drafts.

Avoid ice: When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly. And if this happens and you instinctively try to save your dog, both of your lives could be in jeopardy.

Provide shelter: We don’t recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you are unable to keep your dog inside during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind. Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl). The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground (to minimize heat loss into the ground) and the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of the risk of burns or fire. Heated pet mats should also be used with caution because they are still capable of causing burns.

Recognize problems: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Be prepared: Cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather, blizzards and power outages. Prepare a disaster/emergency kit, and include your pet in your plans. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.

Feed well: Keep your pet at a healthy weight throughout the winter. Some pet owners feel that a little extra weight gives their pet some extra protection from cold, but the health risks associated with that extra weight don’t make it worth doing. Watch your pet’s body condition and keep them in the healthy range. Outdoor pets will require more calories in the winter to generate enough body heat and energy to keep them warm – talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional needs during cold weather.

Source: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Cold-weather-pet-safety.aspx



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Holiday Pet Dangers

There are a million and one tasks we need to tend to near the end of the year, and it's easy to forget about our furry friends in the process. To help keep your pet-besties safe, healthy, and out of the hospital, avoid these common holiday dangers.



1. Small Christmas Decorations and Wrapping Essentials

Cats and dogs love to play, and when they see shiny objects like ornaments and tinsel, it's game on. While tinsel — which is particularly attractive to cats — isn't toxic in itself, it can cause other problems in your pet's system, like getting tangled up in the intestines. Ornaments, on the other hand, can be swallowed whole, or the pieces could get gobbled up when broken. In this case, glass is especially dangerous as it can cause cuts in your pet's mouth, throat, and digestive system.

"Swallowing stuff that's not meant to be eaten can cause very serious problems and be extremely hard to diagnose," says Dr. Phil Baxter, chief veterinary officer at Vet on Demand, a pet care app that allows you to FaceTime with a vet when a problem arises (a great resource when your normal vet is on his or her own vacay, by the way). "Unless you see it being eaten, it's a tough diagnosis. Monitor yours pets that have a tendency to chew."

To prevent these hazards, keep the tinsel to a minimum or forgo it altogether. As for ornaments, hanging them out of reach of pets is ideal, but that's not always practical. Instead, limit your use of glass ornaments and ornaments with toxic paints and embellishments. Wrapping essentials, like ribbons and bows, can be problematic as well. When you're done wrapping and decorating, clean the area, discard scraps, and put everything else out of the animal's reach.



2. Hazardous Holiday Plants


Similar to those fun, shiny ornaments, your pets may find your holiday plants interesting enough to investigate by chewing or eating. This is a big no-no, however, as some plants are poisonous or even deadly.

"If your pet is a plant chewer/eater, position the plants out of reach of your pet. Remember to pick up fallen leaves/needles, limbs, and berries," Dr. Baxter suggests.

Veterinary Pet Insurance also details a few specific plant hazards:

Pine needles from Christmas trees and around your property can result in oral irritation, vomiting, lethargy, trembling, and posterior weakness.

Holly plants and their sharp-edged leaves can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea, and depression if ingested.

Mistletoe can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, erratic behavior, hallucinations, or even death.

Poinsettias, as pretty as they are, can irritate your pet's mouth and stomach and sometimes lead to vomiting.

For more information on hazardous holiday plants, check out VPI's toxic plant guide.



3. All That Holiday Lighting

One of the most hilarious parts of everybody's favorite funny holiday flicks, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, is when the cat becomes a smoking, black cat-shaped spot on the carpet because it decided to make a meal out of the Christmas lights. While this gives us chuckles when we're cuddled up on movie night, it's a very real danger that could seriously injure or kill your pet. Before stringing lights, inspect the strands to ensure there are no frays or bite/chew marks, and use three-pronged extension cords for added safety.

"Electrocution and electrical burns do happen, so if you have a chewer, beware of any cords that might appear attractive to your pet," Dr. Baxter says.

Make certain you pick up any loose bulbs, too. Those extra pieces are easy to lose, and your dog or cat won't think twice about swallowing them.


4. Candles and Open Flames

Animals typically stay away from fire, but pleasant scents may draw your pets to holiday candles, and they're dangerous for a couple reasons. First of all, obviously your pets can get burned if they get too close, but they also can burn themselves if they accidently spill the hot wax and get it on their paws and skin. This is especially important to remember with cats. The biggest hazard with pets and candles, though, is that they can knock them over and start a fire. Thus, it's important to practice common fire sense like never leaving an open flame unattended, and keeping them away from small hands and feet.


5. Revolving Doors That Lead Outside

If you'll have visitors coming and going this holiday season, you run the risk of your animal getting out of the house, which exposes them to many more dangers, including weather, traffic, capture, and other hazards. To prevent this, remember to take extra caution when opening and closing your home's exterior doors.

Rover, a service that helps match pet sitters with pet parents, offers several helpful tips:

Ask someone to sit in a closed bedroom with your dog. If you can spare someone to bring a laptop into a bedroom and sit with your dog, we highly recommend it. Especially if the dog experiences anxiety, this will help keep them calm.

If your dog has a crate, let them chill in there. It'll help them feel comfortable while also keeping them safe.

Place a second barrier (like a baby gate) around doorways to the outside. Front door, back door, side door… all doors to the outside.

Put a sign on the door that says, "Escape artist inside. Please knock, and I'll come answer the door." Greet your guests at the door and make sure you close it behind you.


6. Prolonged Exposure to Winter Weather

It's important to remember not to keep your pets outdoors for long periods of time even when "monitored," in the winter weather. Canine owners, especially, are used to letting the dog out back to play and relax for a while, but in cold weather — even if it's not freezing or below — dogs can become uncomfortable, cold, and even develop hypothermia.

If you have a lot of things going on inside, it's easy to forget about your buddy outside. If you'd rather not have the pet around at that time, think about hiring a pet sitter, or put them in another room where they'll be comfortable.


7. Melting Salt During Snowstorms
The salt we throw down on ice and snow during winter-weather events is very painful to dogs' paw pads. You can buy plastic booties to cover their feet from your local pet store, but some dogs don't like them and/or have a hard time walking with them on. There are other preventative measures you can take, like de-icing products and protective waxes, according to Petfinder.


8. Stolen Food or Treats From Guests

Probably the most common holiday danger of them all to pets (and to humans) is food. There are an abundance of foods on the table this time of year that animals should not eat because they can pose digestive problems or choking hazards.

"As a practicing house call veterinarian for 20 years, I've noticed that my phone rings more often during the holiday season," says Dr. Jeffrey Levy, a holistic house call veterinarian in New York City. "I'm frequently called to see pets with digestive upsets caused by both human foods commonly eaten during the holidays, and/or stress related to changes in routine at this time of year."

The list of human foods that are truly toxic to pets is relatively short, but many more can cause digestive problems or pose choking hazards, according to Levy. Be vigilant in keeping away from your pet away from these foods:

Garlic and onions, even in small amounts;

Chocolate (the darker the chocolate, the higher the potential toxicity);

Fat trimmings;

Bones, especially those prone to splintering like chicken and pork;

Nuts, especially macadamia and moldy walnuts, which can be life-threatening;

Nutmeg, used in holiday baking, can be toxic to your pet;

Alcohol;

Raisins and grapes;

Dairy products (adult dogs are often lactose intolerant);

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in vitamins and other human ingestibles, including sugar-free baked goods and gum.


9. Wobbly Christmas Trees

Anchor your Christmas and holiday trees that aren't firmly planted in soil. Cats and dogs like to play in that area — especially when there are presents! — and you want to avoid the tree toppling over and hurting your pet.


10. Toxic Snowglobes

Like candles, you'll want to keep snow globes out of reach and off the edge of tables to prevent them from being dropped on the floor and bursting open. Some of them contain water or glycerin, which isn't too harmful, but others may contain ethylene glycol, which is very toxic to pets, and people.


11. General Neglect


Listen, we all want to enjoy the holidays — and that goes for your pets, too. As a pet parent, it's your obligation to provide the best care you can, even when you're extremely busy. If you can't spend time doting on your dog or cat all day every day, that's okay. But if you're gone for extended periods of time, like shopping all day or going away to visit family for a few days, you need to provide proper care for your pet. Make sure your fish and reptiles are fed, your cats have clean litter boxes and water (and someone to stop in from time to time), and that your dogs are with someone you trust to love them while you're away as much as you do when you're home. Otherwise, take them with you, because they'll totally love that, and so will you.

Source: http://www.wisebread.com/11-holiday-pet-dangers-to-avoid

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pet Obesity - The Causes and Solutions


Definition:
Obesity (the storage of excess fat) is usually caused by excessive food intake and insufficient exercise.

- Estimates show that 40% to 50% of dogs are overweight and 25% of dogs are obese.
- Dogs can develop many obesity-related health problems.
- By examining your dog, veterinarians determine whether he or she is overweight or obese and help you create a weight-loss program.
- The most effective weight-loss plans involve increasing activity and feeding fewer calories.



Causes:
Obesity (the storage of excess fat) is typically caused by excessive food intake and insufficient exercise. According to estimates, 40% to 50% of dogs are overweight and 25% are obese. Obesity is more common in older, less active pets. Dogs that are fed homemade meals, table scraps and snacks are more likely to be overweight than dogs eating only a high-quality commercial pet food.

Obesity-related problems:
- Heart disease
- Reduced life span
- Knee problems (ruptured ligaments)
- Labored or difficult breathing
- Fatigue
- Greater risk for heatstroke
- Diabetes
- Joint problems, including arthritis
- Immune system problems
- Pancreas problems


Diagnosis and treatment
There are many obesity-related health problems, and some medical conditions can lead to obesity. So it’s important to take your dog in for annual checkups. Remember, you can’t judge if your dog is overweight merely by putting him or her on a scale. By examining your dog, veterinarians can use weight, overall body condition, and other indicators to tell you whether he or she is overweight or obese, what the probable cause is, and what the best weight-loss regimen is.

Don’t feel bad if you are told your dog is too heavy. Everyone knows that dieting can be challenging. But losing weight can help your dog live longer, avoid disease and feel better, so it is well worth the effort.

Get veterinary advice before changing your dog’s eating and exercise habits. Veterinarians are trained to recommend an appropriate diet and exercise program for safe weight loss. When helping your dog lose weight, slower is safer. “Crash” diets or intense workouts aren’t appropriate for inactive dogs. If your dog gained the weight slowly, he or she can lose it slowly.

The most effective weight-loss plans involve increasing activity and feeding fewer calories. The more convenient you make it, the better the chance of sticking with it.

When on a weight-loss program, your dog should lose 2% or less of its initial body weight per week. For example, a 100-pound dog should lose no more than 2 pounds every week. A successful weight-loss program may take a year or longer.


Diet:
There are several dietary strategies for helping your dog lose weight. One or more of the following may be recommended by your veterinary hospital. For all of these methods, it’s important to use an actual measuring cup (not an old coffee mug or drinking cup) to keep track of how much you’re feeding your dog.

Feed your dog smaller meals more often. This helps your dog burn more calories and should help minimize begging for food. However, don’t feed more food per day. Instead, divide your dog’s daily ration into three or more feedings.

Feed your dog less of its regular food per day. This strategy is most effective with increased activity. But check first with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog will receive the right amount of nutrients.

Instead of feeding your dog less, gradually switch him or her to a lower-calorie food recommended by your veterinarian. The change should be gradual; a sudden switch could upset your dog’s stomach. Combine the new food with your dog’s usual food in larger and larger proportions over several weeks until you are only providing the new food.

Give treats only on special occasions, such as birthdays, holidays, or good visits to the veterinarian. Offer low-calorie treats and limit or eliminate fattening ones.

Low-Calorie Dog Treats
- Apple slices
- Banana slices
- Carrot slices
- Green beans
- Lean meat (cooked)
- Melon chunks
- Packaged treats (low-calorie or formulated for a smaller dog)
- Pear slices
Do not feed your dog (or cat) grapes or raisins because they have reportedly caused kidney problems in pets.


Exercise
You can help your dog become more active and lose weight by scheduling regular play times and walks. Consult your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program for your dog. Not all games/exercise are appropriate for all breeds or medical conditions. For walks, start out slowly to give your dog a chance to adapt to an exercise routine. Work up to a brisk 10- to 20-minute walk or jog once or twice a day. On hot or cold days, go easy or rest. If you don’t have time to walk your dog, hire a dog walker. Doggy day care centers can also help ensure that your dog gets plenty of exercise throughout the day.

Here are some calorie-burning activities for your dog:
- Fetch
- Keep away
- Playing with other pets
- Walking or jogging
- Running off leash in a restricted area
- Swimming (great for arthritic dogs)
- Tricks for low-calorie treats
- Tug of war

Source: https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/dog_care/diseases_conditions/obesity.aspx

Monday, August 7, 2017

Pet Insurance: The Basics



Pet insurance is different from human health insurance in several ways, and that’s a good thing, because human health insurance can be extremely confusing. Compared to our health insurance policies, pet insurance:

Allows you to take your pet to whichever veterinarian you choose, as long as they’re licensed. There are no in- or out-of-network veterinarians.

Offers relatively simply policies. One policy might cover certain conditions, another might cover accidents, and another might cover both accidents and illnesses.

Has much lower premium costs (though they will likely increase as your pet ages, since they will be more susceptible to disease and injury).

Requires payment at the time that services are rendered. Following payment, you can file a claim with your pet insurance provider by sending them a copy of your invoice, and they’ll reimburse you within a couple of weeks.

Pet owners generally seem to be divided on whether pet insurance is worth the monthly premiums. Choosing insurance coverage for your pet is entirely up to you, however, and in the event that something catastrophic happens, insurance could be a financial lifesaver for you. Make sure that you do your research and ask lots of questions before committing to an insurance provider.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lyme Borreliosis in Dogs

Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world but only causes symptoms in 5-10% of affected dogs. It is caused by a spirochete (bacteria) species of the Borrelia burgdorferi group. When infection leads to disease in dogs, the dominant clinical feature is recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. There may also be a lack of appetite and depression. More serious complications include damage to the kidneys, and rarely, heart or nervous system disease.



Kidney disease appears to be more prevalent in Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Shetland sheepdogs, and Bernese Mountain dogs. Experimentally, young dogs appear to be more susceptible to Lyme disease than older dogs. Transmission of the disease has been reported in dogs throughout the United States and Europe, but is most prevalent in the upper Midwestern states, the Atlantic seaboard, and the Pacific coastal states.


Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Many dogs who develop Lyme disease have recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. Sometimes the lameness lasts for only three to four days but recurs days to weeks later, either in the same leg or in other legs. This is known as “shifting-leg lameness.” One or more joints may be swollen, warm, and painful.

Some dogs may also develop kidney problems. Lyme disease sometimes leads to glomerulonephritis – inflammation and accompanying dysfunction of the kidney's glomeruli (essentially, a blood filter). Eventually, kidney failure may set in as the dog begins to exhibit such signs as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildups.

Other symptoms associated with Lyme disease in dogs include:
 - Stiff walk with an arched back
 - Sensitivity to touch
 - Difficulty breathing
 - Fever, lack of appetite, and depression
 - Superficial lymph nodes close to the site of the infecting tick bite may be swollen
 - Heart abnormalities are reported, but rare
 - Nervous system complications (rare)


Causes of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease in dogs, is transmitted by slow-feeding, hard-shelled deer ticks (Ixodes spp.). Infection typically occurs after the Borrelia-carrying tick has been attached to the dog for at 2-3 days.


Diagnosing Lyme Disease in Dogs

 You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, including a background of symptoms and possible incidents that might have precipitated them. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are being affected. Your veterinarian may run some combination of blood chemistry tests, a complete blood cell count, a urinalysis, fecal examinations, X-rays, and tests specific to diagnosing Lyme disease (e.g., serology). Fluid from the affected joints may also be drawn for analysis.

 There are many causes for arthritis, and your veterinarian will focus on differentiating arthritis initiated by Lyme disease from other inflammatory arthritic disorders, such as trauma, degenerative joint disease, or osteochondrosis dissecans (a condition found in large, fast growing breeds of puppies). Immune-mediated diseases will also be considered as a possible cause of the symptoms. An X-ray of the painful joints will allow your doctor to examine the bones for abnormalities.


Treating Dog Lyme Disease

If the diagnosis is Lyme disease, your dog will be treated as an outpatient unless their condition is unstable (e.g., severe kidney disease). Doxycycline is the most common antibiotic that is prescribed for Lyme disease, but others are also available and effective.  The recommended treatment length is usually four weeks, but longer courses may be necessary in some cases. Your veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory (pain reliever) if your dog is especially uncomfortable.
 Unfortunately, antibiotic treatment does not always completely eliminate infection with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Symptoms may resolve but then return at a later date, and the development of kidney disease in the future is always a worry.


Living and Management

Improvement in sudden (acute) inflammation of the joints caused by Borrelia should be seen within three to five days of antibiotic treatment. If there is no improvement within three to five days, your veterinarian will want to reevaluate your dog.


Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs

If possible, avoid allowing your dog to roam in tick-infested environments where Lyme disease is common. Check your dog’s coat and skin daily and remove ticks by hand. We can also recommend a variety of sprays, collars, and spot-on topical products that kill and repel ticks. Such products should be used under your veterinarian’s supervision and according to the label's directions. We also offer the Lyme vaccine, and encourage you to contact us for more information regarding this vaccine and our tick control products. You can reach us at (412) 882-3070.

Source: http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_dg_lyme_disease.