Essential Oils and Pets: A Match Made in Heaven?

Essential Oils and PetsAh, the sweet, calming smell of lavender. The energy burst that you can get from citrus. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries as a way for humans to relax and rejuvenate. More recently, essential oils have become popular as home remedies for common maladies. So, it begs the question, can essential oils be beneficial when it comes to our pets?

The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital went searching for answers, and we were fascinated with what we learned. Read on for more information about essential oils and pets.

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It’s Not Easy Being Green: Your Pets and Lawn Chemicals

kittenMany people take pride in maintaining a well-manicured lawn. However, many lawn enthusiasts also partake in the use of a variety of chemicals to achieve that green, lush carpet. Some of these chemicals are harmful and even fatal to our pets, though. Pets are at a high risk for being poisoned by lawn chemicals, as they often walk through treated areas and, inturn, ingest the poisons when grooming themselves.

When it comes to pets and lawn chemicals, it is probably safest to take a conservative approach. Choose a natural option if possible, and if you do need to use synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides, be sure to follow label instructions and do not allow your pet access to the area until the product has dried or as otherwise directed. Alternatively, treat the front and back lawns about a week apart. Continue…

Welcome to the Jungle: Dangers in Your Own Backyard

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It is the summer, and chances are your dog is spending a decent amount of time in your yard. We would like to think that our backyard is a safe zone, but in reality there are many dangers lurking where you least expect them. Follow these safety tips to be sure that your pet is safe in your own backyard. Continue…

Is your garden safe for your pet?

dog in a gardenIt’s that time of year again, when warmer temperatures and longer days beg us to spend more time in the fresh air and sunlight. If you happen to be a gardener, it’s probably also the time that you’re thinking about digging in the dirt and deciding what flowers and veggies you may want to plant. Although gardening can be a very relaxing and rewarding hobby, it can also be dangerous for our dogs and cats. Luckily, creating a pet-safe garden is not very difficult. As responsible pet owners, we just need to take a few precautions to ensure that our yards and gardens are safe for our animal friends.

Avoid Poisonous Plants

The most obvious way to create a pet-safe garden is to choose the right plants. Not all pet owners realize that a great many garden plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Popular varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, oleander, foxglove, lily of the valley, sago palm, tulip and daffodil all fall into this category. Pets that eat these poisonous plants can experience everything from an upset stomach and diarrhea, to seizures and liver failure. Be sure to  check the ASPCA’s comprehensive list of toxic plants before deciding which plants will make it into your garden.

While not toxic, it’s also a good idea to avoid trees, shrubs and plants that are likely to cause allergies. Many of the same plants that cause allergies in humans will affect your pet as well. Look for pollen-free plant species whenever possible. If you do select a plant with a high allergy potential, avoid planting it under windows that you’ll have open during the summer.  If you already have one of these trees or hedges in your yard, keep it heavily sheared so it will flower less.

Rethink Toxic Chemicals

Try to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or weed killers in your yard and garden. These pose a danger to dogs and cats because anything picked up on their paws could be licked off later. There are plenty of organic, earth-friendly products available as an alternative that are safe for both pets and humans. Ask your local gardening center for recommendations and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Insecticides are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren’t safe for our furry friends. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton and most forms of rat poisons. Again, a conversation at your gardening center may be able to provide you with some effective but natural alternatives.

Choose Your Mulch Carefully

Many gardeners use cocoa bean mulch—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. Its attractive odor and color make it a popular choice, but cocoa mulch can pose serious problems for your dog. Play it safe and use shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark instead. Also try to avoid mulch that has been treated with weed inhibitor or insect repellent.

Compost Piles and Worm Bins

These eco-friendly practices can be great for your garden, but be sure they’re not accessible to your pets. Dogs that view garbage and rotting food as a special treat may consider this a buffet, but it’s one that could make them sick.

Garden Tools

Just like toddler-proofing, be sure to keep all pruning shears, trimmers, tillers, rakes and other gardening tools picked up and stored safely out of reach of your pets.

Gardening is a great hobby, and with a little extra planning and effort, it’s not difficult to ensure that your hobby will be safe for your pet.

Food Allergies in Pets: What to Look For

Food Allergies in PetsFood allergies are one of the top three allergies in dogs and cats.  Pets can be allergic to any type of food, but the most common offenders include proteins or carbohydrates such as beef, chicken, fish, corn, wheat, or soy.  Minor ingredients such as preservatives or dyes are also potential allergens.  Despite common misconception, pets can develop food allergies even if they have “eaten the same food their entire life”.  If your pet exhibits any of the following signs, he/she may have a food allergy that should be discussed with your veterinarian.

  • Allergy symptoms (usually itching) that persist all year round.
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Repeated problems with the anal sacs.
  • Allergy symptoms starting later in life (after the age of 5)
  • Allergy symptoms which are only minimally responsive to steroids.

Food allergies are most often diagnosed by conducting a food trial during which the animal is fed only a hypoallergenic diet.  This diet is carried out for 10-14 weeks.  If symptoms resolve the pet is challenged with the old diet to see if symptoms return.   Most food allergies are manageable simply by avoiding the offending food.

If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, bring him in to see us and we can discuss it.