Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

 

Old Man Winter may be in town, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the Great Outdoors with the family pet.  If you are going to be spending time outside, however, there are some special precautions that must be taken in order to ensure everyone has a great time!  Take the following into account when spending time in the elements this winter:

  • Be sure that your pet has access to water.  Just because it is cold out doesn’t mean hydration is not necessary.  Don’t forget that many water sources freeze in the winter.
  • Pay attention to the paws!  Your pet’s paws may become sore or even cut when walking on frozen ground and ice.  You might consider investing in some protective doggy boots if trekking for long periods in these conditions.
  • Many ice-melting products are not pet-friendly!  Use a pet-approved product for your own property and be sure to clean any potential contamination from your pet’s fur and paws upon your return home.
  • Steer clear of antifreeze.  Even a tiny amount of this sweet substance can be lethal.
  • Be extra careful around frozen lakes and ponds.  If your pet should fall in accidently, it may not be able to get out.  Hypothermia is also a concern.
  • Use extra care in icy areas for both you and your pet.
  • If your pet begins to shake or shiver, it is time to end your outing.  Just because your pet is wearing a fur coat doesn’t mean it can’t get cold.  Just like you, the more active your dog is, the warmer it will stay.  Your pet may benefit from wearing doggy booties or a coat.
  • Try to target your outdoor activities for the warmest part of the day.  There is a big difference between going for an hour long walk at noon and walking in the evening after the sun has gone down!

Don’t keep your pup all cooped up until Spring!  By getting out, you will enjoy the season and keep you and your pet healthy and fit.  Just be aware of weather-related dangers so that you can head outdoors worry-free.

 

Holiday Plant Primer

 

Around the holidays, our homes are filled with all sorts of objects that aren’t there the rest of the year.  Many times this includes festive plants of all kinds.  These plants often end up in the mouths of curious pets, especially puppies and kittens.  Some may not cause any problems at all, but many cause side effects ranging from mild to severe.  Here is the low-down on a few of the more common holiday house guests:

Poinsettia

While the poinsettia plant is perhaps the most infamous holiday plant, its reputation is not entirely deserved.  Its extreme toxicity is largely an urban legend.  The plant is mildly toxic and irritating to the mucous membranes.  While it is unlikely to cause severe illness, it is probably best to keep this plant out of reach.

Mistletoe

The level of toxicity of mistletoe largely depends on the variety, but the berries of both the American and European variety cause stomach irritation at small doses. At larger doses, it can trigger much more serious problems (including low blood pressure, seizures, and disorientation).

Holly

Eating holly can result in severe stomach upset in dogs and cats.  Signs that your pet has eaten holly include smacking of lips, drooling, head shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Lilies

Lilies are very popular around the holidays, but they are deadly for cats.  Ingestion causes severe stomach upset, heart arrhythmias, kidney failure, and death.

Christmas tree

Don’t discount the tree!  The oils and sap can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, which can lead to drooling and vomiting.

The Holiday Foods Naughty List

Happy holiday season to all of our friends, furry and otherwise!  We hope that this is a happy, healthy time of year for you all.  While we love to see all of you, we don’t want your pet to visit us unexpectedly during the holidays, so we are providing you with a list of the top five holiday foods that will land your pet in the hospital.

Top Five Holiday Foods That Can Land Your Pet in the Hospital

  •  Chocolate

It’s the main ingredient in many seasonal treats, and your pets may want to indulge as much as you do.  It is best, however, for our four-legged friends to avoid chocolate in all of its forms.  The offending ingredient is theobromine which is found in the highest concentrations in baking and dark chocolate.  Toxicity is dose dependent, which means that the smaller your critter, the less theobromine it will take to cause problems.  At lower doses, pets will experience jitteriness and vomiting/diarrhea. At higher doses, much more serious effects can occur including increased or irregular heart rate, seizures, or even death.

  • Raisins/grapes

Before you throw a piece of Aunt Louise’s fruitcake to Fido, think twice.  Raisins and grapes can cause irreversible kidney damage in pets.  Some animals seem to be more sensitive than others, and there is no way to know how sensitive yours is until it is too late.

  • Alcohol

Most people would never intentionally give their pet alcohol, however that glass of eggnog on the end table may prove to be too tempting for Rover to avoid.  Alcohol ingestion can lead to low heart rate, hypoglycemia, seizures, even respiratory failure.  Also beware of desserts containing alcohol and raw yeast-containing dough that can produce alcohol as it ferments.

  • Artificial sweeteners

If you have candies or sweets around that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, know that even small amounts can cause a life-threatening decrease in blood sugar and liver failure in dogs.

  • Table scraps

Ingestion of people food, particularly fatty, rich foods can lead to mild to severe digestive upset, sometimes requiring hospitalization.  Some animals may even experience pancreatitis, a sometimes serious inflammation of the pancreas.

Enjoy the holiday with your pets. Just be sure that the only holiday treats they get are pet safe!

Turkey Talk

Dog begging on ThanksgivingIt’s that time of year again! Sure, you want your pets to take part in the holiday festivities.  Make sure that you aren’t making a post-holiday vet visit, though, by avoiding the following:

  • Turkey bones- What may seem like a tasty treat could end up lodged in your pet’s intestines!
  • Bread dough- Raw bread dough can expand in your pet’s stomach and potentially cause a life-threatening emergency.
  • Raw foods- Pets can get salmonella just like the rest of us.  Undercooked meat and cookie batter are best served cooked.
  • Over-indulgence- While Turkey Day often results in loosening a notch on our belts, pets who have a little too much of a good thing may end up with stomach upset, diarrhea, or more serious conditions.

If your pet does end up eating something that he shouldn’t have, please contact us.