Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT & Renee Schmid, DVM
During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to let your guard down when it comes to preventing toxic exposures to your pet. While the holidays bring more challenges to the already difficult winter months, we cannot forget about outdoor toxin concerns frequently seen this time of year. Below is a list of holiday-related decorations, plants and food items that the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline recommend keeping away from pets.
Holiday Ornaments and decorations:
When decorating for the season, consider your pets. Holiday decorations such as old-fashioned bubble lights may contain poisonous chemicals. If a pet chews on them, the liquid inside could be dangerous to their health. Methylene chloride, the chemical in older bubble lights, can result in depression, aspiration pneumonia, and irritation to the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Glass ornaments that shine and shimmer are often an enticing toy for your pet. However, if they were to bite in to, or break one during play, the small glass pieces can lead to lacerations to the skin and mouth, as well as damage to the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. Homemade dough ornaments pose a risk for causing elevated sodium levels that may lead to severe neurologic abnormalities. If any of these types of tree decorations are being used for your tree, it is recommended to keep them towards the upper portion of the tree, where they are less likely to be accessed by your pet. Many animals develop electrical burns in their mouth from chewing on strands of lights, particularly cats and puppies. It is ideal to minimize dangling light strands to make them less appealing to pets.
Another holiday ornament to avoid is tinsel. If you own a cat, toss the tinsel! What looks like a shiny toy to your cat can prove deadly if ingested. While tinsel itself is not “poisonous,” it can result in a linear foreign body when eaten. A linear foreign body occurs when your pet swallows something “stringy” (like ribbon, yarn, tinsel, etc.), which wraps around the base of the tongue or anchors itself in the stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. As the intestines contract and move, this string or linear foreign body can slowly saw through the tissue, resulting in severe, potentially life threatening damage to your pet’s intestinal tract. Ultimately, pets run the risk of severe injury to, or rupture of, their intestines and treatment requires costly abdominal surgery. Save your holiday bonus for yourself instead of your pet’s surgery, and keep tinsel, ribbon, yarn, thread, fabric, etc. out of reach!
Filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or pine for the holidays may seem inviting—but if you’re partial to heating your scented oils in a simmer pot, know that they can cause serious harm to your cat; even a few licks can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors. Dogs aren’t as sensitive, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry—so scent your home with a non-toxic candle kept safely out of kitty’s reach. Dry potpourri may also cause chemical burns in the mouth, and also potential foreign bodies and gastrointestinal upset depending on the size of animal and amount ingested. While candles are often scented with oils, the largest concern with ingestion is a foreign body and potential obstruction. In addition to an upset stomach, surgical removal of the candle may be necessary in severe cases.
Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants are only mildly toxic. Far more worrisome are holiday bouquets containing lilies (Lilium spp), holly, or mistletoe. Even bouquets brought into the house by holiday guests should be thoroughly inspected, as lilies are one of the most commonly used. Just one or two bites from a lily can result in kidney failure in cats – even the pollen and water that the plant is in are thought to be poisonous! When in doubt, don’t let these bouquets in a cat-loving household!
Other yuletide plants such as holly berries and mistletoe can also be toxic to pets. When Christmas or English holly is ingested, it can result in severe gastrointestinal upset thanks to the spiny leaves and the potentially toxic substances (including saponins, methylxanthines, and cyanogens). If ingested, most pets smack their lips, drool, and head shake excessively due to the mechanical injury from the spiny leaves. As for mistletoe, most of us hang it high enough so it’s out of reach of our pets – nevertheless, it can also be toxic if ingested. Thankfully, American mistletoe is less toxic than the European varieties. Mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation are seen, although if ingested in large amounts, collapse, hypotension (low blood pressure), ataxia (difficulty walking), seizures and death have also been reported.
Recently, florists have started to use Japanese Yew (Taxus spp.) to make wreaths – all parts of this evergreen except for the flesh of the red aril are very poisonous, as they contain taxines, a cardiotoxin. If ingested, this plant can result in dizziness, an abnormal heart rate (initially elevated, then slowed), hypotension, dilated pupils, coma, and death. As horses are very susceptible to yew poisoning, make sure not to have this around the barn or pasture!
Most people know not to give alcoholic drinks to their pets; however, alcohol poisoning in pets is more common than you think. This is because alcohol can be found in surprising places! Rum-soaked fruitcake, or unbaked dough that contains yeast, result in alcohol poisoning and other problems. Rising dough will expand in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloat, which can then progress to a GDV or gastric-dilitation with volvulus (twisted stomach). Signs of this include vomiting, non-productive retching, distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, and weakness or collapse. Secondly, alcohol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
With the holiday season comes a delightful variety of baked goods, chocolate confections and other rich, fattening foods. However, it is not wise, and in some cases, quite dangerous, to share these treats with your pets. Keep your pet on his or her regular diet over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak in treats. Foods that can present problems include:
Ice melts are commonly used around entryways and sidewalks and the containers that are filled with these products are often left within a pet’s reach. There are numerous formulations available, many of which contain salt (sodium chloride), and small exposures typically lead to stomach upset, and dermal and paw pad irritation. Larger ingestion's may quickly cause salt poisoning which can result in a rapid onset of vomiting, excessive thirst and seizures. If your pet has consumed any amount of ice melt, it is important to call for help.
When it comes to the holidays, the best thing a pet owner can do is to become educated on common indoor and outdoor household toxins and pet-proof your environment accordingly. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680, with any questions or concerns.
When someone we love – such as a beloved pet – dies, the loss often causes grief and intense sorrow. By physically showing your grief, you actively mourn the death of your beloved pet. This active mourning will move you on a journey toward reconciling with the loss of your pet.
What Should I Do?
Your journey of grief will not take on a prescribed pattern or look like stages. During the period when you are actively mourning your loss, it may help to consider the following:
Acknowledge the reality of the death
Acknowledging the full reality of your loss may take weeks or months, but will be done in a time that is right for you. Be kind to yourself as you prepare for the “new normal” of a life without your beloved pet. Just as it took time to build the relationship with your pet, it will take time to get used to him or her not being there.
Move toward the pain of the loss
Experiencing these emotional thoughts and feelings about the death of a pet is a difficult, but important, need. A healthier grief journey may come from taking your time to work through your feelings rather than trying to push them away or ignore it.
Continue your relationship through memories
Your memories allow your pets to live on in you. Embracing these memories, both happy and sad, can be a very slow and, at times, painful process that occurs in small steps. For example, take some time to look at past photos, write a tribute to your pet, or write your pet a letter recalling your time together.
Adjust your self-identity
Part of your self-identity might come from being a pet owner. Others may also think of you in relation to your pet. You may be “the guy who always walked the big black dog around the neighborhood” or “the friend whose cat always jumped on laps.” Adjusting to this change is a central need of mourning.
Search for meaning
When a pet dies, it’s natural to question the meaning and purpose of pets in your life. Coming to terms with these questions is another need you must meet during your grief journey. Know that it is the asking, not the finding of concrete answers, that is important.
Receive support from others
You need the love and support of others because you never "get over" grief. Talking or being with other pet owners who have experienced the death of a pet can be one important way to meet this need.
Things to Remember
The experience of loss is different for everyone and can present unique challenges.
The deafening silence - the silence in your home after the death of a pet may seem excruciatingly loud. While your animal companion occupies physical space in your life and your home, many times their presence is felt more with your senses. When that pet is no longer there, the lack of their presence – the silence - becomes piercing. It becomes the reality of the “presence of the absence.” Merely being aware of this stark reality will assist in preparing you for the flood of emotions.
The special bond with your pet - the relationship shared with your pet is a special and unique bond, a tie that some might find difficult to understand. There will be well-meaning friends and family members who will think that you should not mourn for your pet or who will tell you that you should not be grieving as hard as you are because “it’s just a cat” or “just a dog.” Your grief is normal and the relationship you shared with your special friend needs to be mourned.
Grief can’t be ranked - sometimes our heads get in the way of our heart’s desire to mourn by trying to justify the depth of our emotion. Some people will then want to “rank” their grief, pitting their grief emotions with others who may be “worse.” While this is normal, your grief is your grief and deserves the care and attention of anyone who is experiencing a loss.
Questions of spirituality - during this time in your grief journey, you may find yourself questioning your beliefs regarding pets and the after-life. Many people around you will also have their own opinions. It will be important during this time for you to find the answers right for you and your individual and personal beliefs.
Obesity is defined as the accumulation of excessive amounts of adipose (fat) tissue in the body. It is one of the most common conditions that we see in pets. There are a number of things that can predispose a pet to being overweight or obese. These include genetics, being spayed or neutered, being on a diet that is too high in fat or calories and also living a non-active lifestyle.
So how can you determine if your pet is overweight? The first thing to do is look at the ribs. If you cannot feel the ribs when you slightly press over the side of your pet's chest, then your pet is most likely overweight. Pets that are overweight also can have extra fat accumulate around the tail and typically do not have a waist.
When examining your pet, Veterinarians can use one of two scales to determine the Body Condition Score of pets. The first scoring system is a scale of 1-5 with 3 being ideal weight and 5 being obese. The other scoring system is a scale of 1-9; when 4.5 is ideal weight and 9 is obese.
Why is it so bad for our pets to be overweight? They are predisposed to a variety of health conditions such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease and they can overall have a decreased life expectancy.
What can pet owners do if they feel that their pet is overweight?
First, talk with your veterinarian about your pet. It is important to have your pet examined to ensure that they are otherwise in good health. With your help, your veterinarian can help you develop a weight loss plan. This includes calculating the amount of calories your pet needs based on their ideal weight. It will also include a discussion about activities to do with your pet.
Sometimes a diet change may be beneficial. It is always a good idea to decrease the daily amount of treats and snack that may be 'human' food. Sometimes one treat can be the equivalent to humans eating a candy bar. Some owners may feed 4-5 treats per day (that would be 4-5 snicker bars in a day!)
Ways to increase activity include daily walks, daily trips to a dog park and playing fetch for our canine companions. For cats, we recommend moving that food dish around to different spots, using toys that encourage movement and provided cat trees or places to climb.
Veterinarians are there to help pets live as long as possible. They can help you determine the best plan for your pet. There are wonderful stories of pets losing weight and feeling like young puppies again just from the weight loss. Visit petobesityprevention.org for other ideas and resources.
Source: The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats1-3 Alexander J. German4
As your pet ages, many of his basic needs, from diet to exercise, will begin to change. Pets are very good at hiding their health problems, and as an owner, it is our responsibility to keep an eye on them to ensure that you are adjusting his routine to match changes in his body and immune system that make him less able to cope with physical and environmental stresses. Routine exams, preventative medicine and adjustments to your pet's lifestyle can help him stay healthy even as the years creep up.
Different sized dog's age at varying rates, with larger dogs reaching senior status much sooner than smaller dogs. While each dog reaches 'seniorhood' at a different age, most canines become seniors after seven years including cats. It is important to know your pet's age so you know when he becomes a senior and can ask your vet about when you're pet's needs may begin to change.
Many different diseases must be accounted for as your pet ages. Such diseases include arthritis, cancer, cognitive disorders, vision and auditory problems, liver, kidney and dental disease, diabetes, and heart disease. Just as with people, regular health checkups become increasingly important as pets grow older and should be seen at least once every six months. The purpose of these wellness exams is to promote your pet's health and longevity, recognize and control health risks and detect any illnesses in early stages, which may improve treatment options. A typical exam will include health-related questions in order to build a snapshot of your pet's medical history. During the check-up, the vet will check for body tumors, signs of pain, body appearance and condition along with examining the eyes, ear, nose, and mouth for irregularities as well as listening to the heart and lungs. Many times a number of diagnostic tests will be ran including CBC (complete blood count), chemistry screen to check the liver and kidney, urinalysis, thyroid function, and heartworm and fecal test. Baseline laboratory tests should be ran early before your pet becomes a senior as this allows your vet to monitor any developing trends in your pet's health status as it changes from year to year.
As an owner, you should consistently monitor your pet's health between vet visits. Signs to look for include incontinence, lumps, constipation or diarrhea, breathing abnormalities, coughing, weakness, changes in appetite, water intake or urination, stiffness or limping, increased vocalization and uncharacteristic aggression or behavioral changes. Fluctuations in weight can be an early sign of an underlying disease and should be checked frequently. By keeping a close eye on your pet, this will allow a better insight for your veterinarian to be able to recognize abnormalities.
Adjusting your pet's nutrition is very important as these senior foods are designed to have less fat and salt, therefore decreasing the stress on the different body systems. Frequent bathroom breaks are also warranted for a smooth transition into those elderly years to come. These may seem like simple adjustments but they are very important for a happier healthier companion.
Along with being more watchful over your senior pet's health, it's crucial that you keep up with routine preventative care such as parasite prevention, dental care, vaccinations and nutritional management. As your pet's immune system weakens with age, the importance of routine basic care only increases. Always create a comfortable environment for your ageing pet with easy access to food and water and supportive bedding along with old fashioned TLC which is beneficial to both you and your pet.
Undoubtedly, your veterinarian is key to helping in your pet's transition through these senior years, but as an owner, you are also key to your pet's life. Together, your pet is on track for a long and healthy life.
Call today and scheduled your pet's appointment and make sure they are on the healthy track to living a long and happy life.
Going away for a few days? Allow your cat to stay at its favorite vacation destination - your home!
OraVet Dental Chew:
OraVet Dental Chew is a new dental hygiene product that utilizes the active ingredient in human dental rinses called delmopinol. Each chew contains delmopinol at the center which is released into the dog's mouth as soon as it starts chewing. Not only is this product designed to help clean with the chewing action, but also to create a barrier against bacteria that leads to the formation of plaque, tartar and bad breath. This chew is designed to be given daily.
Soliquin is a behavioral health supplement which is designed to help support normal behavior and facilitate a calming effect. Using all natural products such as L-Theanine, Magnolia and Phellodendron extracts and whey protein concentrates, Solliquin is designed to block neurotransmitters in the brain that promote fear and anxiety. The product is designed for dogs and cats with uses ranging from separation anxiety, thunderstorm and firework phobias, inappropriate urination, as well as many other anxiety issues. If you think that your pet suffers from one of these anxiety ridden diseases, please let us know and we can see if Solliquin may be of benefit to your pet.
Interceptor Plus is a heartworm parasite prevention that has been reformulated into a soft chew formula that is very palatable. This product now includes intestinal parasite dewormer to cover hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms in addition to heartworms. This product requires a negative heartworm test prior to administration, but then is used as a monthly preventative product to maintain a healthy pet. It is safe to use on pets six weeks of age and older, as well as those as small as two pounds.
Science Diet Derm Defense:
Science Diet Derm Defense is a new dog food designed to increase the barrier properties of the skin in the fight against allergies. This food has increased the levels of omega-3 and six fatty acids. It also contains vitamin E which is a proven antioxidant to help drive healthy skin from within. Effects can be seen in as little as 3-4 weeks. As with all Science Diet foods, there is a money back guarantee for dogs that will not eat the food. If you think that Derm Defense may be something that would benefit your dog, do not hesitate to give it a try. We do have a limited number of mail-in rebates available on the six pound size bags which would allow you to try the first bag for free.
For questions on these products, call us at 507.825.4211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, which comes just in the nick of time as we get into the worst part of tick season. Although spring and early summer are historically considered "tick season," we can see them earlier or later as well.
In dogs, Lyme disease may cause shifting leg joint pain, lethargy, fever, decreased appetite and most seriously, kidney disease. Some of these symptoms may be obvious, while others are not. We can screen for Lyme with a small amount of blood. We also offer a Lyme disease vaccination that we recommend for all canine patients that travel into Lyme endemic areas. The most important step in prevention of Lyme disease is using a monthly flea and tick preventative and daily removal of any ticks that do find their way onto your furry friends. This will allow for removal before the tick has a chance to spread disease.
Lyme disease not only affects dogs, but also people, horses, cattle and cats. Although there must be a tick bite to infect any animal or human with the disease, keeping your pets free of ticks helps prevent the spread of this serious disease.
Stop in with your questions about Lyme disease and we can help establish the best plan for your pets!
For more information about Lyme disease in dogs: www.lymeinfo.com
For more information about Lyme disease in humans: www.cdc.gov/lyme/
Lyme Disease Human Cases 2013: http://module.lymediseaseassociation.net/Maps/
Going away for a few days? Allow your cat to stay at it's favorite vacation destination - your home!
Contact us for details on the Purrfect Vacation for your cat!
If you have ever lost your pet, you know that terrible feeling at the pit of your stomach that you may never see them again. Microchipping is the best way to make sure your pet makes its way back home.
What is a Microchip?
A microchip is a permanent identification that is placed just under the skin of your pet. If your pet gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they will scan the microchip to read a unique ID code. Each ID code is tied to a database with their owner's name, address, and contact information so you can easily be contacted when the pet is found. The best part, it's affordable!
How is it implanted?
It may sound "high-tech," but placing a microchip is a simple procedure. A veterinarian simply injects the microchip (which is about the size of a grain of rice) beneath the surface of your pet's skin between the shoulder blades. The process only takes a few seconds and is similar to a routine shot. Bonus: No anesthetic is required!
Not sure where your pet's chip is registered?
Visit the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool at petmicrochiplookup.org. To update your pet's registration, you'll need your pet's microchip number.
If you haven't already created an account with the manufacturer, you'll need to do that as well so you can access the registration in the future to update their information. Make sure all of the information, particularly your phone number(s) and address, is correct.
Can I track where my pet goes if they are microchipped?
No, the microchip is not a tracking device. Only your veterinarian or a location with a universal scanner can scan your pet's microchip.
A microchip only works if its registration information is accurate!
Take advantage of our Microchip special April 24th- 28th
Normally $60 now ONLY $34.99 (HomeAgain Microchip registration and enrollment included.)
We are approaching some of the most popular holidays of the year, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are full of fun decorations and yummy holiday treats. Celebrate the holidays safely by avoiding this list of poisonous or hazardous materials found around your house this holiday season.
Christmas is in the air, and snow is on the ground!
We are more in the spirit than ever this holiday season with decorating, charity, and cheer!
If you have made a trip into the clinic this past month with your pet, they more than likely have had a picture snapped wearing our famous reindeer antlers or Santa hat.
After numerous diligent photo sessions from our staff and customers, and one extreme ornament making session, we are excited to say that our "Pipestone Paws" Christmas tree can be viewed at the Festival of Trees in the Historic Calumet Inn downtown Pipestone!
The Festival of Trees is on display the whole month of December at the Calumet, so take some time this holiday season to enjoy the festivities. We hope our tree captures a Pawwfect Christmas at Pipestone Veterinary Services.