Category Archives: Pet Safety

Using Essential Oils Safely around Pets

Written by: Erika Lombardo

 

As the use of essential oils gains popularity, it is important to be aware of safety precautions surrounding their use around pets. Animal lovers always want what is best for their pets and often will search the internet for answers but it is important to note that not everything seen on blogs and social media is necessarily true. When trying to evaluate which essential oils are ok for use with your pet, please consult with a certified aromatherapist with additional training in animal aromatherapy. In addition, consult with your veterinarian if your pet has any health problems, as some essential oils are not appropriate for pets with certain health conditions.

 

Avoid using essential oils around the following:

  • Cats (more on this later)
  • pregnant or nursing animals
  • fish, reptiles, or amphibians (due to pH levels and their aquatic environments)
  • Pocket pets such as rabbits, ferrets, and small rodents
  • Birds

 

Why are certain essential oils not good for our furry friends? It is not just about the fragrances! There are chemical compounds that make up each essential oil. Cats especially have problems with essential oils because they have a very sensitive metabolic system. Cats lack a detoxification enzyme called glucuronosyltransferase which mean that their liver and kidneys can’t break down certain substances. If you suspect that your pet might be having an adverse reaction to an exposure to essential oils, please call your veterinary office or contact Pet Poison Helpline at (855)764-7661.

 

Some symptoms of exposure include (but are not limited to):

  • excessive drooling
  • nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • confusion/disorientation
  • lack of coordination/stumbling/temporary paralysis
  • dermal/mucous membrane irritation or inflammation at the site of improperly used essential oils (i.e. topical application or internal use)

 

When using essential oils, take the following safety precautions:

  • always dilute essential oils when using on pets
  • some oils should absolutely not be used in pets such as tea tree oil. As little as 7 drops can cause severe poisoning and 10-20 drops could potentially result in death.
  • Diffuse oils for short periods of time (5-10 minutes)

 

Keep in mind that when using essential oils, less is best. More of a good thing is not necessarily better!
For more information, check out the following links:

https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/blog/essential-oils-cats/
https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/blog/essential-oils-dogs/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1595932084001505/

 

 


Written  by: Erika Lombardo

shutterstock_133512467 (1)

Summertime brings along with it lots of fun and places to go. Unfortunately, the things that we humans find fun can be scary or even deadly to our pets. We love our four legged family members and we want to include them in the things we do as a family. Most of the time, it would be safer to leave your pet in the comfort of their home.

The first summer hazard is an oh-so-obvious one yet the problem continues across the country. Do not leave your pet in a hot car! It is fun to have your buddy with you while running errands, but a quick run into the store could be detrimental to your pets health. Even on a 70° day, the temperature in your car could quickly get up to 90°. Your dog will be more comfortable at home than panting in a hot car with the windows cracked.

Next up is dog parks. Many dogs love to go to the dog park and play with the other pups but some dogs don’t do well in the company of others. Hopefully, you will know which category your dog falls in. If it is the latter, it’s best to stay away from the dog park. If you plan to attend a park, make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccines as well as flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Always keep an eye on your dog and be aware of the behaviors of the other dogs in the park. Sometimes a fun day at the park can turn into a vet visit if a scuffle happens between pets.

The third summer hazard is loud noises such as thunder and fireworks. While you can’t very well avoid a thunderstorm, there are ways to help your pet deal with the anxiety. Conversely, it’s important to keep your pet at home when you go out to see those 4th of July fireworks. Pets can become easily spooked and have been known to bolt. It is important to have a game plan when your pet is home and there are storms rolling in or the neighbors decided to set off some rockets. Designate a safe space for your pet to retreat. Don’t make a big deal about the storm. This reinforces the anxiety. Play some music or turn the TV up a bit to drown out the sound. If these ideas don’t help, there are a few non-pharmaceutical options that you can try. Thundershirts can be helpful as well as calming collars. These collars contain pheromones that can help ease anxiety. Finally, your vet could prescribe something if all else fails.

If you follow these tips, you can help your pet have a safe and happy summer! Please contact your veterinarian if you have any questions regarding summer safety!

For every pet owner, traveling with your pet will be necessary at some point. Some pets love to travel but for others, it can be a stressful and anxiety filled experience. You may have just experienced these travel woes over the holiday season. Whether it be a trip to the vet, the groomer, or to go on a vacation, traveling with your pet requires certain precautions to ensure your pet is happy and stays safe.

shutterstock_474492280The most important part of traveling with your pet is to make sure that they are secured and safe. Driving with your pet on your lap or letting your cat roam free in your car is very dangerous for many reasons. Even if you are driving at a very slow speed, you pet could be thrown from their seat if you need to hit the brakes suddenly. In addition, during an accident, airbags can deploy and severely injure your pet if they are on your lap. If it’s possible, crating your pet is the safest way to travel. They are properly contained and many pets actually enjoy the “den-like” feel- especially if you cover the crate with a blanket or sheet. In some instances, crates are not an option. In these cases, pet seat belt harnesses would be a suitable alternative. These products can be found at any pet store or online pet retailer. Pets should also not be allowed to stick their head out the window, while this may feel good to them, it puts them at risk of eye or head injuries from road debris or obstacles that stick out in the road like branches or poles.

If your pet gets sick from anxiety or motion sickness when traveling, it is recommended that you have a seat cover or towels to cover your car so that if your pet vomits, it won’t be as much of a distraction to you worrying about the mess. Veterinarians can also prescribe or recommend certain medications that can help alleviate carsickness in your pet. shutterstock_60552433Additionally, it is recommended to have a pet safety kit ready to help deal with situations like this or if you get stuck somewhere. Your safety kit should include the following: a first aid kit (including any meds your pet may need), treats and toys, food, water, travel bowls, spare leash and collar, and a warm blanket.

To help you pet feel more comfortable traveling, try taking them on trips that don’t involve going to stressful places like the vet. If they only travel to go to these places, they associate car rides with unpleasant situations. Keep special treats on hand that are only for car rides and try to exercise your pet prior to travel to help calm them down. In addition, there are a few non-medication options for travel anxiety. For felines, you could try Feliway Spray or wipes and for Canines, Adaptil collars might be helpful. These products both contain pheromones which can be very calming for some pets. Thundershirts are also available for both dogs and cats.

Safe pets are happy pets! Please refer to the following links to read more on keeping your pet safe:
*Thundershirts
*Feliway Pheremone products
*Adaptil Canine Collars
*First aid kits
*Travel tips
*Travel safety tips

Did you know that obesity is not just an epidemic in humans but also in pets? According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), over 57% of dogs and 52% of cats are obese and these numbers are on the rise. Much like humans, obesity in pets can lead to diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, joint problems, and ultimately a shortened life expectancy.

Based on a survey created by APOP, a surprising 93% of dog owners and 88% of cat owners thought their pet was in the normal weight range. This disparity is known as the “fat gap” and is thought to be one of the primary factors in the growing rate of pet obesity. To tell if your pet is a healthy weight, use this scoring system. Your pet should rank at about a 3 if he or she is a healthy weight.

To keep your pet at a healthy weight, take care in providing him or her with a healthy diet and ensuring the proper amount of exercise. Pet foods have become more calorically dense and people are feeding their pets more. If your pet is already overweight or obese, talk to your veterinarian about the best course of action. Your vet will probably recommend a controlled diet and specific type of food.

It can be hard to know what the proper caloric intake and weight should be for your pet so APOP has provided a few useful tables to help. This information does not replace the advice of your veterinarian and should only be used as a starting point.

Pet Caloric Needs – https://www.petobesityprevention.org/pet-caloric-needs/

Ideal Weight Ranges – https://www.petobesityprevention.org/ideal-weight-ranges/

September is National Food Safety Month. Like cats and humans, certain foods can be toxic to dogs. While cats and dogs share many food toxicities, here is dog-specific and alphabetic list of the foods you should avoid giving your dog.

Alcohol: Dogs are far more sensitive to alcohol than humans are. Just a little bit can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, coordination problems, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death. Hops in particular, which is found in beer, has been found to poison dogs. Dogs affected by hops can have damage and failure to multiple organ systems due to an uncontrollably high body temperature.

Avocado: Persin, the toxic element in Avocado, can cause mild upset stomach. Persin can be found in the leaves, seed, bark, and inside the fruit. Avocado is sometimes included in pet food but does not pose a threat to dogs.

Chocolate: Unlike cats, dogs will eat chocolate on their own. The rule with chocolate is usually, “the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is.” White chocolate contains very few methylxanthines, the toxic component of chocolate, while dark baker’s chocolate has very high levels of methylxanthines. Depending on the type and quantity of the chocolate consumed, the reaction your dog may have can range from vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort, and restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, high body temperature, seizures, and death.

Coffee/Caffeine: Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a dog and there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and bleeding.

Corncobs: Corncobs are not digestible and often cause obstructions in the intestines.

Fat Trimmings and Bones: Don’t feed your dog table scraps. Fat, when cooked or uncooked, can cause pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Bones should not be given to dogs either, as they can choke on it or the bone may splinter and cause an obstruction or internal lacerations.

Grapes and Raisins: Although it is not known what makes grapes and raisins toxic, they have been associated with kidney failure in dogs. Some dogs eat them without any effects while others can develop vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and kidney failure. Kidney failure means your dog’s ability to product urine decreases so they are unable to filter toxins out of their system.

Macadamia nuts: Although the chance that macadamia nuts are deathly to dogs is low, the symptoms they do feel can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms can include muscle tremors, paralysis of the back legs, vomiting, and more.

Milk/Dairy Products: Because dogs are devoid of the lactase needed to breakdown milk, milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach.

Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in the body that result in nervous system abnormalities, seizures, shock, or death.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives: All members, and close members of the onion family (including shallots, garlic, scallions, etc.), can cause damage to a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Like chocolate, the stronger it is, the more toxic it is. Garlic has been found to be more toxic to dogs than onions. Even dehydrated forms of garlic and onion are a threat to your dog’s health. Affected dogs may exhibit symptoms up to five days later and can include weakness, reluctance to move, and orange-tinted to dark red urine. Dogs that have ingested garlic or onion should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.

Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums: The seeds or pits from these fruits are the main concern. Persimmons seeds can cause inflammation of the small intestines or intestinal obstruction. Intestinal obstruction is also a concern for peach and plum pits. Peach and plum pits also contain cyanide which is poisonous to both dogs and humans. Humans just know not to eat them.

Raw eggs, meat, and fish: Raw eggs, meat, and fish can contain bacteria like salmonella that can lead to food poisoning. Raw eggs also interfere with the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin, hair, and coat issues. Certain fish can cause “fish disease” which can be fatal within the first two weeks. The first signs are vomiting, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Thoroughly cooking meat and fish will kill the parasites and protect your dog.

Salt: Giving your dog salty foods is not a good idea. Eating too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination which leads to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of excessive salt consumption can include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death.

Sugary foods: Sugary foods, such as candy and gum, are usually sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is known for increasing insulin production which causes blood sugar levels to drop. It can also cause disorientation and seizures as fast as 30 minutes after ingestion or as delayed as several hours. Xylitol can also lead to liver failure in just a few days. Even if the sugary food doesn’t contain xylitol it can still lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes.

Yeast dough: Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system. This can lead to pain and a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, when the yeast causes the dough to rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning. Dogs with extreme poisoning cases can go into a coma or have seizures.

Non-food items: Foreign objects such as toys, small items of clothing, and medicine are perhaps a greater risk to dogs than food. One case is medical marijuana. It comes in many forms that a pet can easily eat and can cause vomiting, changes in heart rate, and depress the nervous system.

If you suspect your dog ate any of these foods, first try to determine what and how much he or she ate. You should then call us or your veterinarian to see if medical attention is needed. If a veterinarian is not available, call either Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

Do you have a cat? Most foods that are toxic for dogs are also toxic for cats. Check out this blog post for a cat-specific list of toxic foods. If you’re unsure about a certain food for either your cat or your dog and it’s not on this list, call your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is worth the call!

September is National Food Safety Month. Just like people can’t eat everything they come across, cats can’t either. In fact, many human foods are toxic for cats. See the alphabetic list below for the foods you should avoid giving your cat.

Alcohol: Alcohol has the same effect on a cat’s brain and liver as it does to humans but it takes far less to see the effects. As little as a teaspoon can cause a coma in a cat and it can easily cause severe liver or brain damage. The higher the proof of alcohol, the worse the symptoms will be.

Chocolate: Although most cats won’t eat chocolate on their own, you should not attempt to try to feed it to your cat. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical found in all chocolate including white chocolate, which is toxic to cats. Eating chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death. Dark and semisweet chocolate are the most dangerous. 

Coffee/Caffeine: Along with chocolate, coffee contains caffeine. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and can be toxic to the heart and nervous system.

Fat Trimmings and Bones: Don’t feed your cat table scraps. Fat, when cooked or uncooked, can cause intestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea, or pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Cats can choke on bones or the bones can splinter and cause an obstruction or internal lacerations. You should also never give them anything that is as hard as or harder than their teeth because it can cause dental fractures.

Fish: This includes raw, canned, and cooked fish. You can get away with small amounts of fish but if fed in high amounts your cat can develop a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency that leads to loss of appetite, seizures, and maybe death. The exception to this is if the fish is made into cat food. Most good cat food brands are supplemented with thiamine are just fine.

Grapes and Raisins: Although it is not known what makes grapes and raisins toxic, they can cause kidney failure. Even a small amount can make a cat sick and cause them to repeatedly vomit and be hyperactive.

Macadamia nuts: Like grapes and raisins, it is not known what makes macadamia nuts toxic. Ingestion of macadamia nuts can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle.

Milk/Dairy Products: Surprisingly most cats are lactose-intolerant, so it’s best to be safe and avoid any dairy products.

Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in the body and cause shock or result in death.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives: Onion, in any form, can cause a cat to become anemic because it breaks down red blood cells. Even the onion powder that is in some baby foods is bad for cats. Onion, along with garlic and chives, can also cause gastrointestinal upset.

Raw eggs and meat: Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin, hair, and coat issues. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella or other parasites. Raw meat may contain Salmonella and E. coli which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Sugary foods: Sugary foods, such as candy and gum, are usually sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is known for increasing insulin production which causes blood sugar levels to drop. It can also cause vomiting, fatigue, loss of coordination, and eventually liver failure. Even if the sugary food doesn’t contain xylitol it can still lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes.

Yeast dough: Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system. This can lead to pain and a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, when the yeast causes the dough to rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Non-food items: Foreign objects such as toys, soft rubber objects, stringy objects (thread, yarn, tinsel), coins, and medicine are perhaps a greater risk to cats than food. Aspirin, Tylenol, and Motrin are all highly toxic and a single tablet could be lethal.

 

If you suspect your cat ate any of these foods, first try to determine what and how much he or she ate. You should then call us or your veterinarian to see if medical attention is needed. If a veterinarian is not available, call either Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

Do you have a dog? Most foods that are toxic for cats are also toxic for dogs. Check back here later for a dog-specific list of toxic foods. If you’re unsure about a certain food and it’s not on this list, call your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is worth the call!

I went for a walk with my pet. Now what?

The warm summer months means spending more time outside and unfortunately, ticks. Many ticks are co-infected, meaning that they carry more than one disease, including Lyme disease. Did you know that only about 5% of dogs exposed will develop symptoms that are attributed to Lyme disease? But with all this said, you’re still going to go for walks with your dog and your outdoor cat will still want to be outdoors. You can prevent Lyme disease by making sure you thoroughly check your pet’s body after they’ve been outside and removing ticks before they attach themselves. Even if your dog or cat wears a tick and/or flea preventative collar or is given a spot-on medication, it is a good idea to do a quick body check.

Keeping your pet’s fur short is an easy first step. Breeds with shorter hair are easier to check than those with long hair. Shorter coats make the ticks easier to see by keeping them close to the surface while longer hair allows a tick to hide deep in the fur and avoid being discovered for long periods of time.

Brush or run your hands over your pet’s whole body, applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps or something the size of a pea. You may also use a brush or flea comb, stopping if you hit a bump or a snag to investigate. Most attachments occur in front of the shoulder blades, which includes the head, neck, and front legs. Make sure to also feel under the collar, under their armpits, between their toes, behind the ears, and around the tail. Ticks are attracted to dark, hidden areas and when attached can range in size from the size of a pinhead to a grape.

If you find an unattached tick, place it in alcohol and dispose of it. Flushing a tick down the toilet will not kill it. If the tick is embedded, you must remove it carefully so you extract the whole tick. If you are uncomfortable removing the tick yourself then call your vet. While wearing gloves to protect yourself, use fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, slowly and steadily, without squeezing the body. After removing the tick, place it in alcohol and clean the bitten area with soap and warm water. Keep an eye on the bitten area to see if an infection arises or if your pet starts to act abnormally. It is very typical for a small nodule to occur at the site of the attachment and persist for up to three weeks. Signs of Lyme disease typically occur one to three weeks following a bite and may include limping, poor appetite, and fever. A very small percentage of dogs may also develop a fatal form that affects their kidneys. If the skin remains irritated or infected or you suspect something might be wrong, call us at 610-372-2121.

Besides the ocean, there are many other dangers that your dog can encounter at the beach. Being alert and attentive and following some of these rules will make your beach getaway proceed without problems!

First, make sure to adhere to the beach’s specific rules as these are actually laws and you can be given a citation or fine. Some common laws include cleaning up after your dog, requiring your dog to wear a collar and ID tags and be up-to-date on vaccinations, be on a leash, and so on. Make sure to check prior to leaving to see if your beach destination is pet friendly!

Just like people, dogs can only handle so much sun. Sunscreen that is safe for your dog is available at pet stores or online. Do not use a sunscreen unless it is specifically labeled safe for animal use. Make sure there is a shady spot for your dog to retreat to like an umbrella, picnic table, or tree and bring plenty of fresh, cool water and a dog bowl. Offer water refills often, making sure that the water does not get hot in the sun. Watch for signs of overheating, which can include: excessive panting or drooling, vomiting or diarrhea, collapse, and loss of consciousness. If you start to see any of these signs immediately move your dog to a cooler environment. While staying calm and speaking in a soothing voice, wrap the dog in cool, wet towels. A fan can be used to help blow air over the animal to speed up the cooling and applying isopropyl alcohol to the paw pads will facilitate cooling and should be repeated as the alcohol dries. It is important to never fully immerse your overheated pet in water as it may increase their anxiety.

Hot sand is also a very real concern. Foot pad burns can occur when the sand is too hot. If a person cannot walk barefoot, their dog cannot either. While on the sand, lead the way for your dog to make sure they won’t step on anything sharp. Broken glass and shells are only two of many things that can hurt your pet’s paws. If your dog’s paw gets cut, apply pressure to the wound to ease the bleeding. If it’s severe, seek veterinary attention immediately. Once in the water, jellyfish and rocks start to potentially pose problems. If your dog gets stung by a jellyfish, douse the affected area in vinegar to ease the pain and kill off the stinging barbs before trying to remove the tentacles.

If your dog does not come to you every time you call them, keep them on a leash. You can buy a long-reaching leash (20-30 feet) which will still allow you and your dog to play with a ball or Frisbee without worrying about the possibility of them running away.

Pay close attention to your dog’s swimming habits. Fitness level, experience, and even breed of dog can influence how well your dog can swim. Poor swimmers and brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Boxers should probably not spend much time on the beach. When in doubt, put a life vest on your dog and keep an eye out. If your pet does go in the water, make sure to remove them if they start to drink the water. Instead offer fresh, clean water since salt water is bad for dogs and can cause gastrointestinal problems. Salt water may also cause some irritation to their skin and paws. Rinsing your dog off with fresh water before you leave or shortly after getting home will help him or her stay comfortable and happy.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, have fun!

Summer is officially here! It’s a great time for outdoor fun and BBQing or grilling with your pets, friends, and family. While you may know what your pet can and cannot have, it is important to share this information with others. Don’t assume that your friends know what foods are toxic to pets. Several foods to avoid include fatty sausages (pancreatitis), chocolate from s’mores (chocolate toxicity), and wild mushrooms (mushroom toxicity can prove fatal to certain dog breeds). While the list can be very extensive, we encourage you to have a brief conversation with your friends. They will appreciate it and so will your pets!

Pet Storm Preparation

This week is National Hurricane Preparation Week. Below are a collection of tips published by the national Weather Service. To learn more, go to: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare

Severe Weather

Keep pets in mind when severe weather strikes. Bring pets indoors.

Flooding

Confine pets to one room of the home. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate. Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.

Winter Weather
◾Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
◾Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
◾ Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
◾Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. Keep pets indoors in possible, especially if they are sensitive to the cold weather due to age, illness or breed type.

Heat

Don’t leave pets in cars. Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Any pet left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death.

Wildfire

Confine pets to one room of the home. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate. Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.