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Why Do Dogs and Cats Eat Grass?

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It’s springtime! Temperatures are warming, rain is plentiful, flowers are blooming, and the grass is lush and green. The pleasant weather drives many people and their pets outdoors for recreation after a long, cold winter. You might notice your dog or cat occasionally grazing on tender new blades of grass when they are outside. Some may vomit the grass, while others seem unaffected. Why do they eat grass? Although this is a common behavior for our pets, especially dogs, we actually don’t know why they eat grass. However, there are several theories.

They eat grass when they have an upset stomach to cause vomiting.

This is probably the most common belief among pet owners as to why their pets eat grass. Dogs and cats cannot digest grass, so it has no nutritional value for them. Eating grass supposedly causes irritation to the stomach, which leads to vomiting. The question is, are these pets already nauseous before eating the grass, or does the grass make them nauseous? There is not much research in veterinary literature that addresses this issue, but the few studies and surveys that have been done suggest that most pets do not vomit after eating grass. Many normal dogs and cats eat grass every day and rarely vomit. However, pets that do have some gastrointestinal disease or inflammation may be more likely to vomit after eating grass than normal pets. Have these animals “learned” that grass is an effective way to relieve stomach upset? It’s possible, but we simply don’t know.

If your dog or cat seems to eat grass and plant material excessively, it may be time for a checkup with your veterinarian, especially if this is a new, sudden behavior. If vomiting is frequent, or if there are other signs of gastrointestinal disease such as weight loss or diarrhea, then a physical exam and diagnostic testing by your vet are in order.

They eat grass because they have a dietary deficiency.

Some people wonder if their pets eat grass due to some nutrient deficiency, but there is no evidence to support this. Dogs and cats are fed a variety of types of diets, and no correlation has been found between ingestion of grass and type of diet fed. However, a pet that is excessively hungry due to a metabolic disorder may try to eat grass, dirt, or other items. If your pet’s appetite seems abnormally high, it needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian. Also, if you do happen to feed your pets a diet that is not commercially prepared (such as home cooked or raw), consult with your veterinarian regarding the proper balance of nutrients in such a diet.

They eat grass because they are stressed or anxious.

When dogs and cats experience environmental stress, they will sometimes do what is called a displacement behavior. Some external stressor, for example a scary noise or a conflict with a housemate, leads them to do an unrelated activity, such as grooming or tail chasing. This out-of-context behavior can help them cope with the stressful situation. Some animals will also develop chronic compulsive disorders due to stress, and abnormal eating behavior can fall into this category. Eating grass is not a common displacement behavior, but it is a possibility. Consider the context in which your dog or cat eats grass, and consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned that your pet has anxiety.

They eat grass because they like it!

In normal dogs and cats, the most likely explanation for eating grass is that they enjoy it. Grass may be appealing to pets as they explore and scavenge in their environment. Occasional ingestion of grass is not harmful and isn’t cause for concern. However, do not let your pet eat grass that was recently chemically treated or fertilized, as the chemicals can cause stomach upset. Also, while untreated grass is safe, many other plants are not and can be toxic to dogs and cats. It is best to prevent them from ingesting other plants in general.

Further research is needed to determine why our pets eat grass. Whether it serves some evolutionary purpose, or if they simply enjoy it, we don’t know for sure. Just remember that if you suspect a health problem, consult your veterinarian for the most trusted advice.

For more reading:

http://www.vetstreet.com/care/my-pet-wont-stop-eating-grass-whats-going-on

Winter Care for Our Outdoor Feline Friends

Free ranging felines usually take care of themselves by scavenging and hunting for their meals while also depending on the kindnesses of cat lovers, but things can get a lot chancier when the weather turns frigid.

Help Give Community Cats Shelter

Cats don’t need a lot of space, just a space that is large enough for them to stand, and move about, and stay safe from the harshest outdoor elements. When the weather is at its coldest, the cats will be relying on each other for warmth, and will create their own tight spaces within their shelter. With that in mind, you can use whatever space and materials available to you to create a small haven. Use of mylar in your shelter will help to reflect body heat and keep them warm. When creating the entry opening into the shelter, keep in mind that the opening should only be large enough to allow a cat to enter, so that as much of the wind and snow stay outside of the shelter as possible and the interior of the shelter remains dry. If space allows, you can create an awning or plastic “curtain” to shield the entry. Plastic sheeting or heavy garbage bags are quick and inexpensive options for this. If it is not possible to cover the opening, you can try placing the shelter close to a wall, with the entry facing the wall.

Give outdoor cats food and water

If you can do so without compromising the privacy and security of the shelter, place food and water near the shelter so the cats won’t have to travel far. One way to protect food and water is to place two shelters—doorways facing each other—two feet apart. Then create a canopy between them by securing a wide board from one roof to the other. Then put the food and water under the canopy. What you put food and water in can make a difference. A thick plastic water container that’s deep and wide is better-insulated than a thin plastic or ceramic container. A solar-heated water bowl can prevent or delay water and canned food from freezing. If shelters are well-insulated, you can put bowls of dry or moist food inside them, far from the doorway. Even if the moist food freezes, the cats’ body heat will defrost it when they hunker down in their shelter. Don’t put water bowls inside the shelter. Water is easily spilled, and a wet shelter will feel more like a refrigerator than a warm haven.

You can also print instructions here.

Healthy Snacks for Dogs

Which Foods Are Best, and Which Are Not Safe for Dogs?

Who can resist those big brown eyes and cute doggie grin? Can a little reward from the table really hurt your dog? Well, that depends on what it is and what’s in it. A chip with guacamole can cause your dog some real problems. In fact, there’s a lot of “people food” your dog should never eat. And, it’s not just because of weight. Some foods are downright dangerous for them — and some of these common foods may surprise you. There are some plant foods that are toxic to pets, so you will want to be familiar with what foods to avoid and what foods are safe to give to your four-legged friends!  If you are unsure, check with us to make sure that your planned treats are not going to be harmful to your pet. Also, keep in mind that while dogs are omnivorous and more open to trying different kinds of foods, cats, on the other hand, are carnivorous; They are not just picky about what they eat, they are constitutionally incapable of digesting some types of foods.

Here is a list below of healthy and hazardous treats that have been proven safe and some even toxic for your pets.

BLOGSNACKS

ALSO AVOID:

Milk Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine– These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

Fat Trimmings & Bones- Table scraps often contain meat fat that a human didn’t eat as well as bones. Both are dangerous for dogs. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause pancreatitis. And, although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, he can choke on it. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog’s digestive system. It’s best to just forget about the doggie bag.

Now you are armed with the knowledge to help feed your dog some amazing foods! Thinking of trying something homemade for your barking, four-legged family member?! Then be sure to check out this fun and informational video on how to make your dogs some homemade peanut butter dog treats! YUM!

Pet Holiday Hazards

The holidays are a festive time for us and our pets. However, due to ongoing activities and constant distractions, we can easily overlook potential dangers to our four-legged family members. Take preventive measures to protect your pets this holiday season by being aware of these holiday hazards and what dangers they can cause to our furry loved ones.

1.  Food Hazards

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Festive events often mean edible treats and lots of them! Unfortunately, some of the most popular holiday goodies, such as chocolate, bones and nuts, can be extremely toxic or fatal to pets.  Chocolate, depending on the type and amount ingested can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Truly toxic amounts can induce hyperactivity, tremors, high blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, seizures, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest. Dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the riskiest, while milk and white chocolate pose a much less serious risk. Fat Trimmings whether cooked or uncooked can cause pancreatitis. Bones, cooked or uncooked, can splinter and cause choking hazards, an obstruction or lacerations of your pet’s digestive system. Nuts like almonds, non-moldy walnuts, and pistachios cause upset stomach, and can obstruct their throat and/or their intestinal tract. Macadamia nuts and moldy walnuts are toxic and cause seizures and/or neurological issues. Lethargy, vomiting, and loss of muscle control are just some of the effects of nut ingestion in pets. Make sure to closely monitor your pet this holiday season and take precautions to ensure they have a safe and healthy holiday!

2. Holiday Decorationsholiday plant blog1

Christmas Trees- Be sure to securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water, which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset, from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he drink the water. Tinsel-less Town- Tinsel is a very attractive, shiny, and dangling decoration. Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. Ornaments may be bright and colorful but they pose a real danger to your pets. Ornaments are a choking hazard so be sure to place all aluminum, paper, and glass ornaments high enough on your Christmas tree to where your pet cannot get to them. Glass ornaments pose a greater risk to your pet because if they were to chew and swallow the ornament, the broken pieces can then lacerate their mouth, throat, and intestines. Candles are dangerous because your pet can damage their paws by placing them over the candle’s flame. If your pet were to knock over one of your lit candles, the hot wax could cause severe burns to your pet’s feet- not to mention a fire hazard to your home. Keep your candles in a hard to reach area in order to deter your pets curiosity. Electrical Cords- Have a pet that likes to chew? Be sure to keep all electrical cords covered so your pets cannot get to them. Electric shock, tongue lacerations, and even death can occur if your pet bites down on an electrical cord.

3. Holiday Plantsholiday plant blog

They may be pretty, but some holiday plants are poisonous and even deadly. As little as a single leaf from any lily variety is lethal to cats. Pine needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Holly which is commonly found during the holiday season can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Mistletoe can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, hallucinations, erratic behavior, and even death when ingested. Poinsettias can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometime cause vomiting. For more on toxic plants, visit this toxic plant guide.

Here’s a fun informational video, provided by the ASPCA, with additional tips on how to keep your furry loved ones safe, healthy, and happy this holiday season!

Cold Weather Tips

Brrrr! In our area winter is often a season of harsh cold and numbing wetness! No matter what the temperature is, wind chill can threaten a pet’s life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and petsandcoldweatherhypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage. Here are some extra precautions to help keep your four-legged, furry, loved ones warm and safe during this year’s bitter winter:

Keep your cats inside! Letting your cats outside in the cold weather isn’t recommended because they can roam too far and become lost or stolen, or even freeze to death. Cats often can become injured in the outdoors by the severe elements, and by fighting with other cats and/or wildlife. Stray and feral cats often find shelter and warmth under the tire wells and hoods of our vehicles, so be sure to bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting it; not doing so can cause injury and/or death by the motor’s fan belt. Outdoor cats need help too so if there are outdoor cats (ferals, who are scared of people, and strays, who are lost or abandoned pets) in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. Give them a helping hand.

Never let your dog off the leash! Always keep your dog leashed in the outdoors, especially during snowstorms because they can become lost easily. Making sure your dog is wearing his/her I.D. tags is also very important precaution. Puppies cannot tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, therefore, it may be difficult to house train him. You may want to consider paper training him if he isn’t tolerant to the bitter cold. Also if you have a dog with a breed precaution, old age, or illness you may want to consider only letting him outside to relieve himself.

Always be sure to thoroughly wipe your dogs feet, legs, and stomach after a trip outside! If you don’t wipe them off your dog will tend to lick himself clean and therefore he can ingest dangerous chemicals like antifreeze. Salt is also a big issue during the cold winter months because it can cause the pads on your dogs feet to become encrusted and eventually bleed.

Never shave your dog down during the winter! A longer coat can provide more warmth against the elements! After bathing your dog be sure to completely dry him off before letting him venture outside. If you own a hairless or short haired breed you may want to consider purchasing a coat or sweater for your four-legged friend.

Do not leave your pet in the car! Your car works as a refrigerator trapping all the cold air inside the vehicle, so prolonged exposure can cause your pet to freeze to death.

All in all the best tip we can give you is to keep your pets with you and inside if at all possible! Make sure they have a warm place to sleep off of the floor and away from any drafts. If your pet is outside use tarp or shelter (ex- dog house) to keep them out of the elements. You can use straw and pillowcases loosely stuffed with packing peanuts and shredded newspaper to create a comfy and cozy area inside the shelter they can relax in. A comfy dog or cat bed with an added blanket is the perfect way to keep them happy, cozy, and safe! If you apply these tips this winter your furry loved ones will be happy and cozy, coasting all the way to the warm spring days ahead!

Adoption VS Shopping

When it comes to selecting a new pet to become a member of your family you have many options to choose from. Unfortunately, many people opt to shop for new puppies at pet stores, from breeders, and even puppy mills, leaving those surrendered to shelters little hope of finding a forever home. More people give up their pets and too few people look to adopt pets from shelters and rescues. Many animals are surrendered not because they did something wrong, but because of divorce, lack of time, a move, or even a new baby. Pet over-population and the amount of animals surrendered cause staff members at shelters to have to make very difficult decisions when there is such limited space available. There are over 2.7 million dogs and cats euthanized every year because there is just too many animals given up, and very few people looking to adopt them.

Many animal rescues and shelters provide you with happy and healthy pets just waiting to be adopted. They are vaccinated, screened for illnesses, and sometimes even spayed or neutered. More often animals are even having their temperaments screened to help ensure that you get the right pet that fits with you and your family’s lifestyle.

Adoption also helps in the stop of puppy mills, a “factory-style” breeding that usually keeps animals in poor conditions with little to no medical care, while the parents of those puppies are forced to be bred over and over again never finding companionship or love of a human being. Adoption will also save you money because pets from rescues and shelters are usually vaccinnated and spayed or neutered, which makes adoption quite a bargain versus a pet store, puppy mills or breeder’s classified ads.  Next time you’re looking to add a new four-legged member to your family stop by your local rescues and shelters first to help an animal find their forever home.

Here are just a few links to help you get started!

How to Adopt from the ASPCA

Adoptable Cats from the ASPCA

Adoptable Dogs from the ASPCA

Should You Train Your Cat to Use the Toilet?

Tired of litter clean ups, gritty floors, and those nasty odors? Well we may have just the right solution for you! Inspired by the movie, Meet the Parents, many cat owners are now opting to toilet train their cats! The first thing to know is that it takes time and dedication to train your cat to use the toilet and can sometimes take a few weeks to even a few months! Lucky for you Jo Lapidge created the Litter Kwitter to help make your cat’s transition from the litter box to the toilet easier on you and your furry loved one! Watch the demonstration video below to see if the Litter Kwitter is right for you!

Aside from the Litter Kwitter there are other ways to toilet train your cat. Here is a step by step method on how to toilet train your cat with only the basics! If your cat has somehow found another room in the house to use as a “toilet” you will need to eliminate the smell of urine or the problem will only get worse! You can purchase special formulated items to remove the smell of urine from most pet stores! Remember before you begin to toilet train your cat that it takes a lot of patience and time! Don’t get discouraged when your kitty has an accident keep your head up and stay diligent with her training and you’re sure to see a positive outcome!

The Importance of Vaccinating Your Pets

Throughout their lives, pets will likely be exposed to several infectious diseases that can cause severe illness or even death, which is why vaccines are very important in managing the health of your pet. That said, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against every disease.  It is very important to discuss with your veterinarian a vaccination protocol that’s right for your pet. Factors that should be examined include age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle. Any companion animals or livestock animals that are in frequent contact with humans should all be vaccinated. Even if your pet is mostly indoors they are still at risk because many contagions are airborne and can come through your open windows. Also, there is always the risk of your pet slipping out the door.  Keep in mind before you take your pet to boarding kennels, dog parks or grooming salons that these are all areas where your pet is likely to be exposed to contagious diseases!

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Essential Vaccinations for Your Dog

  • Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHPP)- Commonly called the “distemper shot,” this combination vaccine actually protects against the four diseases in its full name.
  • Rabies- Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies is preventable and still kills 55,000 people worldwide every year. Rabies vaccinations for dogs are required by law in most states.

Other Vaccines for Dogs

Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your dog depending on where you live and your dog’s lifestyle:

  • Leptospirosis- Often included as part of the distemper combination vaccine, this bacterial infection is widespread in moist climates where there are areas of standing or slow-moving water. This disease can also be spread from animals to humans.
  • Bordetella (commonly called “kennel cough”)-  The bordetella virus causes an extremely contagious upper respiratory infection. Your veterinarian may recommend this vaccine before your dog goes to a dog park, groomer, boarding kennel, or dog show.
  • Lyme Disease- A bacterial infection carried by ticks, this disease is extremely prevalent in certain parts of the country: in particular, the east and west coasts and the areas around the Great Lakes.
  • Canine Influenza- This viral upper respiratory disease originated at a Florida racetrack in 2004 and has quickly spread across the country. Outbreaks are prevalent in animal shelters and boarding kennels.
  • Corona Virus- This virus infects the intestinal tract and is more prevalent in the southern United States.

Essential Vaccines for Your Cat

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP)- Commonly called the “distemper” shot , this combination vaccine protects against three diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (sometimes called “feline distemper”).
  • Rabies- Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies is preventable and still kills 55,000 people worldwide every year. Rabies vaccinations for cats are required by law in most states.

Other Vaccines for Cats

Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your cat depending on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle:

  • Chlamydia- Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis, and the vaccination for it is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.
  • Feline Leukemia (Felv)- Felv is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact (saliva, scratches, or blood).
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)- FIV is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact (saliva, scratches, or blood).
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). A viral infection most common in catteries and feral colonies, FIP is almost always fatal. Most house cats do not have a significant risk of contracting this disease.

The Top Ten Terrible Toxins

To follow up with last weeks post we want to provide you with the Top Ten Toxins and Poisons for your cats and dogs.

Feline Foes

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1. Lilies

2. Canine permethrin insecticides( topical flee and tick medicine for dogs)

3. Household cleaners

4. Rodenticides (mouse and rat poison)

5. Paints and Varnishes

6. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory veterinary medications such as meloxicam, Rimadyl, and Deramaxx

7. Glow sticks/ glow jewelry

8. Amphetamines, such as ADD/ADHD drugs

9. Acetaminophen (Tylenol- name brand and generic form)

10.Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin- name brand or generic form)

Canine Cautions

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1. Chocolate

2. Insect bait stations

3. Rodentsicides (mouse and rat poisons)

4. Fertilizers

5. Xylitol- an ingredient in sugar-free gums or candy

6. Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin- name brand or generic forms)

7. Acetaminophen (Tylenol- name brand or generic form)

8. Silica gel packs

9. Amphetamines, such as ADD/ ADHD drugs

10. Household cleaners

The above information is from http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com