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Enjoy Spring but keep Fido safe!

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flowers dangerous to dogs

Guest Post: Pet Poison Hotline

Gardening season is here! Plant bulbs are just as excited to break through the ground to add some color to our yards as we are to see some greenery! That said, we need to be aware of the potential dangers spring plants can be for our pets. Here is a list of some of the most common spring plants and their toxicities… so you know how to pet-proof your garden and keep your pet safe!

Tulips and Hyacinth

Tulips contain allergenic lactones while hyacinths contain similar alkaloids. The toxic principle of these plants is very concentrated in the bulbs (versus the leaf or flower), so make sure your dog isn’t digging up the bulbs in the garden. When the plant parts or bulbs are chewed or ingested, it can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and esophagus. Typical signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, or even diarrhea, depending on the amount consumed. There’s no specific antidote, but with supportive care from the veterinarian (including rinsing the mouth, anti-vomiting medication, and possibly subcutaneous fluids), animals do quite well. With large ingestions of the bulb, more severe symptoms such as an increase in heart rate and changes in respiration can be seen, and should be treated by a veterinarian. These more severe signs are seen in cattle or our overzealous, chowhound Labradors.

Daffodils

These flowers contain lycorine, an alkaloid with strong emetic properties (something that triggers vomiting). Ingestion of the bulb, plant or flower can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even possible cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression. Crystals are found in the outer layer of the bulbs, similar to hyacinths, which cause severe tissue irritation and secondary drooling. Daffodil ingestions can result in more severe symptoms so if an exposure is witnessed or symptoms are seen, we recommend seeking veterinary care.

Lilies

There are dangerous and benign lilies out there, and it’s important to know the difference. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies contain oxalate crystals that cause minor signs, such as tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus – this results in minor drooling. The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies, and these include Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions (such as 2-3 petals or leaves) can result in severe kidney failure. If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently we can treat the poisoning. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving binders like activated charcoal) are imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can greatly improve the prognosis.

Crocus

There are two Crocus plants: one that blooms in the spring (Crocus species) and the other in the autumn (Colchicum autumnale). The spring plants are more common and are part of the Iridaceae family. These ingestions can cause general gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhea. These should not be mistaken for Autumn Crocus, part of the Liliaceae family, which contain colchicine. The Autumn Crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure. If you’re not sure what plant it is, bring your pet to their veterinarian immediately for care. Signs may be seen immediately but can be delayed for days.

Lily of the Valley

The Convallaria majalis plant contains cardiac glycosides which will cause symptoms similar to digitalis (foxglove) ingestion. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias, and possibly seizures. Pets with any known exposure to this plant should be examined and evaluated by a veterinarian and treated symptomatically.

In addition…Fertilizers

As we gardeners work on our rose garden, be aware of those fertilizers. While most are not very toxic (resulting in minor gastrointestinal irritation when consumed), some fertilizers can be fatal without treatment. Here are a few ingredients to be aware of so you know what toxins and symptoms to watch out for.

  • Blood meal – This is dried, ground, and flash-frozen blood and contains 12% nitrogen. While it’s a great organic fertilizer, if ingested, it can cause vomiting (of some other poor animal’s blood) and diarrhea. More importantly, it can result in severe pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. Some types of blood meal are also fortified with iron, resulting in iron toxicity, so make sure to know what’s in your bag of blood!
    Bone Meal – This is made up of defatted, dried, and flash-frozen animal bones that are ground to a powder. This “bone” is also what makes it so palatable to your dog, so make sure to keep your pet from digging in it and ingesting the soil. While this also makes a great organic fertilizer, it can become a problem when consumed as the bone meal forms a large cement-like bone ball in the stomach – which can cause an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract – resulting in possible surgery to remove it!
  • Rose and plant fertilizers – Some of these fertilizers contain disulfoton or other types of organophosphates (OP). As little as 1 teaspoon of 1% disulfoton can kill a 55 lb dog, so be careful! Organophosphates, while less commonly used, can result in severe symptoms [including SLUD signs (which abbreviate for salivation, lacrimation, urination, and defecation), seizures, difficulty breathing, hyperthermia, etc. In some cases, it can be fatal!
  • Pesticides/Insecticides – Most pesticides or insecticides (typically those that come in a spray can) are basic irritants to the pet and are usually not a huge concern unless a pet’s symptoms become persistent. Some may contain an organophosphate which can be life threatening when consumed in large quantities. It is always best to speak to a trained medical professional if there are any questions.
  • Iron – This is commonly added to fertilizers, and can result in iron toxicity (from ingestion of elemental iron). This is different from “total” iron ingestion, and can be confusing to differentiate. When in doubt, have a medical professional at Pet Poison Helpline assist you with finding out if the amount ingested was toxic or not. Large ingestions can result in vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and potential cardiac and liver effects.

The best thing any pet owner can do is to be educated on the household toxins (both inside the house and out in the garden!) – that way you make sure how to pet proof your house appropriately. Make sure to keep all these products in labeled, tightly-sealed containers out of your pet’s reach. When in doubt, please feel free to call Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns if you’re worried that your pet could have inadvertently gotten into anything!

References

1. Lieske CL: Spring-blooming bulbs: A year round problem. Veterinary Medicine 580-588;2002.
Burrows GE, Tyrl RJ: Toxic plants of North America. Iowa State Press. Ames, IA. 2001. Pp. 773-776, 778-780.
2. Poppenga R H: Toxic household, Garden and Ornamental Plants. Western Veterinary Conference; 2002.

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February 16, 2015 |

Alternatives for Treating Your Dogs Worms

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worms

Herbal Options For Your Dog’s Worms

Guest Post: Dogs Naturally

Signs of worm infestation in your dog
can include squiggly worms or “rice bodies” in his stool, a thrifty looking appearance, scooting and licking his rear, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Luckily your don’t have to fear worms because there are foods and herbs that can help keep intestinal populations in check and encourage their expulsion. Keeping your yard clean and free of rodents and fleas will also help.

There are many less invasive and more natural alternatives to conventional veterinary products that you might want to try. Here is a list of natural dewormers, from the safest to the harshest. It’s important to remember that some herbal substances can still be harsh on the body, so consult with a good holistic vet or herbalist if using the herbs that come with warnings.

Dog Friendly, Natural Dewormers

The starting point for preventing and treating worms is always a healthy immune system. A balanced intestinal environment prevents disease, including parasite infestations. Recent research has linked gut bacteria to many health conditions and the type and balance of bacteria in the gut can actually influence the lifespan of intestinal worms. Avoiding antibiotics and processed commercial foods – and adding dietary probiotics like Lactobacillus sporogenes – will help maintain the delicate ecosystem in your dog’s gut, making it less habitable for worms.

Garlic

When fed in moderation, garlic can boost the immune system and help fight worms and giardia. A recent scientific study found garlic to be just as effective as the veterinary dewormer, Ivermectin. (Ayaz et al, Recent Pat Antiinfect Drug Discov. 2008 Jun) Give a half clove to two cloves daily, depending on the size of your dog.

Fruits and Vegetables

Adding some of the following fresh foods to your dog’s diet can also help make his intestinal tract less attractive to worms: grated raw carrots, fennel, shredded coconut and papaya.

Pumpkin Seeds

Raw, organic pumpkin seed can help prevent or expel worms. You can feed them as a treat or grind them and place them in his dish. Give a teaspoon per ten pounds of your dog’s weight.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

It bears stating that you must feed a food grade DE to your dog; pool grade DE is dangerous for him. DE can reduce the number of worms in your dog although it may not be too effective for tapeworm. Feed small dogs a teaspoon per day and dogs over 55 pounds up to a tablespoon per day. Make sure it’s well mixed in his food as inhaling DE can irritate your dog’s lungs.

Chamomile

This herb and its cousin pineapple weed can work to prevent and expel both roundworms and whipworms.

Oregon Grape

This herb is not only anti-parasitic, it’s also a very effective antibiotic and liver tonic. Give Oregon grape as a tincture, using 12 drops per 20 pounds. Oregon grape also works with giardia. This herb shouldn’t be used in dogs with liver disease or in pregnant dams.

Black Walnut

This herb can expel intestinal worms and even heartworms. Although it’s safer than conventional veterinary dewormers, black walnut can be toxic to your dog if given at the wrong dose. Black walnut might be best used if the above options fail – but it’s important to note that if pumpkin seed and garlic don’t help your dog keep parasites at bay, it’s a reflection of your dog’s intestinal health. In this case, it’s best to address his immune system and to seek the expertise of a holistic vet before using black walnut. The strong tannins and alkaloid ingredients in black walnut can cause vomiting, diarrhea and gastritis.

Wormwood

This classic worming herb works on all types of worms including tapeworms. Like black walnut, wormwood’s tannins can be hard on your dog and irritating to his liver and kidneys. The FDA lists wormwood as unsafe for internal use. It should never be used in dogs who suffer from seizures, kidney problems or liver disease and should not be used in pregnant or lactating dams. Wormwood should be given only for a few days at a time and preferably with the expertise of a holistic veterinarian.

Liver Support

If you need to resort to Oregon grape, black walnut or wormwood, it’s important to understand that they can be harsh on the liver. Giving milk thistle seed at the same time can help protect the liver from their toxic effects. Milk thistle is best given in a tincture, starting at a 1/4 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight.

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January 19, 2015 |

O Christmas Tree, Don’t Hurt My Pet

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dog xmas 2014

Guest Post: PetMD

Keeping your furry family members safe during the holidays can be a difficult task. There are the ornaments, plants, presents, lights — oh, and who could forget the Christmas tree (if do you decide to put one up this year)? Let’s take a look at some simple steps that will allow your pets to join in the holiday fun this year, while avoiding any trips to the animal emergency room.

Christmas Tree Tips:

1. Place your Christmas tree in a corner, blocked off from your pet’s wanting eyes. If this doesn’t keep your dog or cat from attempting to jump onto the tree, you can place aluminum foil, a plastic drink bottle filled with knick knacks, or anything else that creates noise on the tree’s bottom limbs to warn you of an impending tree disaster.

2. Tinsel can add a nice sparkling touch to the tree, but make sure you hang it up out of your pet’s reach. Ingesting the tinsel can potentially block their intestines, which is generally only remedied through surgical means.

3. Do not put lights on the tree’s lower branches. Not only can your pet get tangled up in the lights, they are a burning hazard. Additionally, your dog or cat may inadvertently get shocked by biting through the wire.

4. Ornaments need to be kept out of reach, too. In addition to being a choking andintestinal blockage hazard, shards from broken ornaments may injure paws, mouths, or other parts of your pet’s body.

5. For those buying a live Christmas trees this year, keep the area free and clear of pine needles. While they may not seem dangerous, the needles can puncture your pet’s intestines if ingested.

Other Great Holiday Item Tips:

 

1. Did you know holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs or cats? If you normally use these plants to decorate your home, they should be kept in an area your pet cannot reach.

 

2. Edible tree decorations — whether they be ornaments, or cranberry or popcorn strings — are like time bombs waiting to happen. These goodies are just too enticing and your pet will surely tug at them, knocking down your wonderfully decorated spruce.

 

3. Burning candles should be placed on high shelves or mantels, out of your pet’s way — there’s no telling where a wagging tail may end up. Homes with fireplaces should use screens to avoid accidental burns.

 

4. To prevent any accidental electrocutions, any exposed indoor or outdoor wires should be taped to the wall or the sides of the house.

 

5. When gift wrapping, be sure to keep your pet away. Wrapping paper, string, plastic, or cloth could cause intestinal blockages. Scissors are another hazard, and they should be kept off floors or low tables.

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December 4, 2014 |

10 Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

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dogs halloween1

Guest Post: PetMD

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families. But for pets? Let’s face it, it can be a downright nightmare. Forgo the stress and dangers this year by following these 10 easy tips.

1. Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets.

All forms of chocolate — especially baking or dark chocolate — can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting,diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. And while xylitol toxicity in cats has yet to be established, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Don’t leave pets out in the yard on Halloween.

Surprisingly, vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable nonetheless.

3. Keep pets confined and away from the door.

Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for their candy. This, of course, is scary for our furry friends. Dogs are especially territorial and may become anxiousand growl at innocent trick-or-treaters. Putting your dog or cat in a secure room away from the front door will also prevent them from darting outside into the night … a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

4. Keep your outdoor cats inside several days before and several days after Halloween.

Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution.

5. Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach.

Although they are relatively nontoxic, such plants can induce gastrointestinal upset should your pets ingest them in large quantities. Intestinal blockage can even occur if large pieces are swallowed. And speaking of pumpkins …

6. Don’t keep lit pumpkins around pets.

Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or knocking it over and causing a fire.

7. Keep wires and electric light cords out of reach.

If chewed, your pet could cut himself or herself on shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

8. Don’t dress your pet in a costume unless you know they’ll love it.

If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, or the ability to breathe or bark and meow.

9. Try on pet costumes before the big night.

If they seem distressed, allergic, or show abnormal behavior, consider letting them go in their “birthday suit”. Festive bandanas usually work for party poopers, too.

10. IDs, please!

If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that they will be returned. Just make sure the information is up-to-date, even if your pet does have one of those fancy-schmancy embedded microchips.

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October 20, 2014 |

B.C. dog walker charged in deaths of 6 dogs

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Brookswood 6

Emma Paulsen, the dog walker alleged to have dumped the bodies of six dogs in a ditch in Abbotsford, B.C., has been charged with six animal cruelty-related counts in connection with their deaths.

On Sunday, the B.C. SPCA said that Paulsen has been charged under the Criminal Code with killing or injuring an animal, causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, failing to provide the necessities of life to an animal and falsely reporting an offence.

(more…)

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August 19, 2014 |
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