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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

Do Dogs Dream?

Unlike traditional cartoon images, real dogs don’t recline on a therapist’s couch and describe their dreams, so we can only assume that they have dreams. Though we won’t ever get a first-hand account of their nighttime reveries, scientific evidence indicates that our canine friends do, indeed, dream.

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What are Dreams?

Dreams occur during sleep, so understanding the sleep process helps define what dreams are. Sleep is a natural state of being in which consciousness and voluntary muscular activity are reduced in both people and animals. Sleep is very important for growth and allows downtime to recharge body systems. While sleeping, the brain also processes information and experiences that occurred during waking hours. Dreaming is part of this sleep cycle. When we dream, we aren’t fully conscious, so while our dreams can be quite vivid and seem very real, we don’t actually smell, taste, or feel anything.

During sleep, the brains of humans and dogs function in a similar manner and exhibit brain wave patterns that show a difference between the two basic stages of the sleep cycle. When you or your dog first fall asleep, you experience SWS, slow wave sleep, when brain waves are slow and undulating. During this stage of the sleep cycle, mental processes are quiet, but muscle tone is still active so the body is not totally relaxed.  Your dog will appear to be resting calmly but can easily be awakened during SWS.

Later, a deeper stage of sleep occurs, marked by rapid eye movements – so this stage is called REM sleep – during which brain waves are faster and irregular. Unlike SWS, muscles are more relaxed during REM, but the mind is more active and the eyes dart rapidly beneath the eyelids. During this stage of heightened mental activity, your dog may whine, breathe rapidly, and move his legs.

“Both humans and dogs experience
both stages of the sleep cycle.”

Both humans and dogs experience both stages of the sleep cycle. We know that humans dream, and since the sleeping brains of dogs and people go through similar stages of electrical activity, it is safe to assume that dogs dream, too. Scientific research conducted in 2001 at MIT demonstrated comparable brain wave patterns in humans and dogs which validated this assumption. The conclusion is that dreams are part of the normal sleep cycle, and dogs do indeed have them!

What Do We Know About Dog Dreams?

Even though dogs don’t awaken and describe their dreams, human scientists have managed to gather a lot of information about doggie dreams and sleep patterns through clinical observations. Here’s what sleep-watching scientists found out.

As a dog falls asleep, his breathing becomes deeper and more regular. After about 20 minutes of slumber while in REM sleep, dreams usually begin for the average dog. While dreaming, the dog’s breathing may become shallow and irregular, and muscles may twitch. His eyes move behind the closed lids and dart about as if the dog is looking at something. It is believed that during this REM sleep, dogs are visualizing dream images much like their owners do in this phase of sleep. In fact, if you wake a person during the REM sleep phase, they frequently report that they were dreaming.

“Like his owner, a dog may relive daytime
experiences and “sleep run” as he
chases a cat or fetches a ball.”

During REM, the sleeping brain functions much like it does when awake, so dogs and people dream about things that occurred during their waking hours. Information gathered during the day is processed at night and may be relived in dreams. Luckily, dreams include a safety feature: the pons.  The pons is part of the brain that stops us from physically acting out our dreams. Even though you may feel like you ran a marathon or jumped out of an airplane, you are safely tucked in bed. Like his owner, a dog may relive daytime experiences and “sleep run” as he chases a cat or fetches a ball.

How Often Do Dogs Dream?

Some dogs dream more than others, and the frequency and length of dreams vary according to age and size of the dog. For example, the young, innocent minds of puppies experience more dreams than adult dogs. Pups acquire huge amounts of new information daily and have much to process at night.

Likewise, smaller dogs seem to have more dreams that their bigger friends. Research by psychologist Stanley Coren illustrated that the length and frequency of dreams may be related to the animal’s size.  A toy poodle may dream every 10 minutes, while a Labrador Retriever may only dream once every 60-90 minutes. However, the poodle’s dreams may last only a minute while the Labrador’s dreams may be 5-10 minutes long. Dream length and frequency are also related to the amount of sleep required. A large dog that has an active day outside may sleep more soundly and experience longer phases of REM sleep, giving him more time dream.

Do Dogs Have Nightmares?

Some owners are awakened from their own dreams when their dogs whine or thrash about. It may be alarming to see your dog running in place while sleeping or hear him whimper, but don’t be frightened. Although it’s annoying to have your sleep interrupted, there is no need to worry about your dog’s nighttime antics – most dreams are not nightmares. Dreaming is a normal, healthy occurrence and is part of a regular 24 hour cycle of wakefulness and sleep.

“Dreaming is a normal, healthy occurrence
and is part of a regular 24 hour cycle
of wakefulness and sleep.”

With that said, it’s important to note that dogs and humans need uninterrupted sleep for health of mind and body. Provide your dog a quiet, comfortable area to rest. And don’t disturb his slumber! Approximately 60% of dog bites in children occur when the child wakes a sleeping dog, so teach youngsters to let their doggies nap. Let’s keep the old adage in mind… “It’s best to let sleeping dogs lie”….and dream….

Dogs and Raw Food Diets

I have read many things on the Internet suggesting that I should feed my dog raw food. I know my dog’s wild cousins hunt their food, so they eat their food raw. Is it OK for me to feed my dog raw food?  Is that better than feeding prepared dry or canned food?

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stand united in their position (based on very robust data) that feeding raw food to dogs is potentially dangerous to both the dog and to you. The most recent study, conducted from 2011 through 2012, screened commercially available raw dog foods for bacteria that can cause illness. The raw dog food products were made from ground meat or sausage and frozen in tube-like packages. Nearly 25% of the raw food samples tested positive for harmful bacteria, includingSalmonella ssp. and Listeria monocytogenes. These bacteria can pose a health risk for the dogs who eat the raw food, as well as for the dog owners who handle the food while preparing it.

What kind of illness does Salmonella cause?

The CDC estimates that 1.2 million or more cases of food-borne salmonellosis occur in humans in the US annually. Approximately 400 people die each year from the disease. There is some uncertainty as to the total number of cases because milder cases may not be diagnosed.

Symptoms of salmonellosis in humans generally start 12 to 72 hours after exposure and include:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea (often bloody)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain

Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals (patients on chemotherapy, with HIV, etc.) are at greater risk for more severe symptoms. Dogs can actually carry Salmonella in their intestines without showing signs of illness, thus serving as a reservoir for ongoing exposure to the humans in the household. In dogs, the symptoms of salmonellosis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (often bloody)
  • Fever
  • Inappetance (not eating, or not eating enough)
  • Lethargy

What about illness from Listeria food contamination?

Listeriosis is a less well known food-borne illness than salmonellosis. Listeria monocytogenes is actually a leading cause of hospitalization and death from food contamination. While it is rarer than salmonellosis, over 90% of people with listeriosis end up in the hospital. In the US annually, the CDC estimates about 1,600 cases with about 260 deaths. In the European Union, the numbers are similar. One of the problems withListeria is that the bacterium is quite hardy, surviving in salty, acidic, and cold environments.

Listeriosis particularly targets newborns, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems. The L. monocytogenes bacterium can invade many tissues including the brain, the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord, the gastrointestinal tract, and the bloodstream. Symptoms depend on which tissues are affected. The time between exposure and illness is about 3 weeks, making it difficult to pinpoint the precise exposure event. Pregnant women may only experience non-specific flu-like symptoms, but their babies may be born prematurely or even stillborn. Newborns fare the worst with listeriosis as up to one-third will die despite aggressive treatment.

Dogs can carry L monocytogenes without showing any signs, making them a potentially dangerous reservoir.

Is there any way to protect myself and my family should I occasionally choose to offer raw food to my dog?

The best protection against salmonellosis and listeriosis is to avoid the bugs altogether by not feeding raw food to your dog. Be aware that by feeding raw dog food you can infect yourself and the other people in the household. That said, here are some ways in which you can protect yourself if you handle raw dog food:

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw dog food.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come into contact with the raw food. For details about disinfection please see cdc.gov/flu/school/cleaning.htm.
  • Keep raw food frozen until you are ready to use it, and then thaw it in the refrigerator or microwave (not in the sink or on the counter).
  • Keep raw food separate from other food.
  • Cover and refrigerate what your dog does not eat, or discard the leftovers safely.
  • Do not kiss your dog on the face or allow him to lick your face, particularly right after he has eaten raw food.
  • Wash your hands after petting or being licked by your dog.

Feeding a raw diet to your dog is a questionably sound idea from a nutritional perspective as well due to the difficulty in balancing the ration among macro- and micro-nutrients. Adding to that the fact that nearly a quarter of the commercially available raw dog food diets that were tested by the US FDA were contaminated by Salmonella or Listeria (or both), it is reasonable to conclude that a commercially prepared, conventional, complete and life-stage balanced dog food is a better choice. We can help you to choose the nutrient profile that best fits your dog.

 

Signs Your Dog is Stressed and How to Relieve It

signs_your_dog_is_stressedStress is a commonly used word that describes feelings of strain or pressure. The causes of stress are exceedingly varied. Perhaps you are stressed out by your job, you become nervous when meeting new people, or you get anxious when your daily routine is disrupted.

To reduce stress levels, you may seek comfort in several ways. Maybe you find solace in the company of a trusted friend. Perhaps you calm down when occupied by routine chores like cleaning the house. Or maybe you blow off some steam with physical exercise.

“Our furry friends can become stressed, too”

Our furry friends can become stressed, too. Since we can understand how stress makesus feel, we certainly want to help alleviate our pet’s stress as well. However, our dogs don’t voice their feelings, slam down the phone or throw a tantrum, so how can we tell they are stressed? The signs of canine anxiety are often subtle. In fact, some stress-related behaviors mimic normal canine antics, so here are a few clues that may indicate that your dog’s stress level is elevated.

Top Ten Indicators of Stress in Dogs

  1. Pacing or shaking. You’ve seen your dog shake after a bath or a roll in the grass. That whole body shake can be amusing and is quite normal…unless it’s a result of a stressful situation. For example, dogs are commonly stressed out when visiting the veterinarian, much like their owners are when going to a human medical doctor. Many dogs “shake it off” when they descend from the exam table and touch down on terra firma. Dogs, like people, also pace when agitated. Some dogs walk a repeated path around the exam room while waiting for the doctor.
  2. Whining or barking. Vocalization is normal canine self-expression, but may be intensified under duress. Dogs that are afraid or tense may whine or bark to get your attention, or to self-soothe.
  3. Yawning, drooling and licking. Dogs yawn when they are tired or bored, but did you know that they also yawn when stressed? A stressful yawn is more prolonged and intense than a sleepy yawn. Dogs may also drool and lick excessively when nervous.
  4. Changes in eyes and ears. Stressed dogs, like stressed people, may have dilated pupils and blink rapidly. They may open their eyes really wide and show more sclera (white) than usual, giving them a startled appearance.  Ears that are usually relaxed or alert are pinned back against the head.
  5. Changes in body posture. Dogs normally bear even weight on all four legs. If a healthy dog with no orthopedic problems shifts his weight to his rear legs or cowers, he may be exhibiting stress. When scared, dogs may also tuck their tails or become quite rigid.
  6. Shedding. Show dogs that become nervous in the show ring often “blow their coat”. Dogs also shed a lot when in the veterinary clinic. Although less noticeable in outside settings, such as visiting a new dog park, shedding increases when a dog is anxious.
  7. Panting. Dogs pant when hot, excited or stressed. So, if your dog is panting even though she hasn’t jogged 10 miles in the heat of summer, she may be frazzled.
  8. Changes in bodily functions. Like people, nervous dogs can feel a sudden urge to go to the bathroom.  When your dog urinates shortly after meeting a new canine friend, he may be marking territory and reacting to the strain simultaneously. Refusal of food and loss of bowel function are also stress indicators.
  9. Avoidance or displacement behavior. When faced with an unwelcome situation, dogs may “escape” by focusing on something else. They may sniff the ground, lick their genitals, or simply turn away. Ignoring someone may not be polite, but it’s surely better than being aggressive. If your dog avoids interaction with other dogs or people, don’t force the issue. Respect his choice.
  10. Hiding or Escape behavior. An extension of avoidance, some tense dogs literally move behind their owners to hide. They may even nudge their owners to prompt them to move along. As a means of escape, they may engage in diversion activities such as digging or circling, or may slink behind a tree or parked car.

How to Handle Stress

In order to differentiate stress signs from normal behavior, you must be familiar with your dog’s regular demeanor. Then you can tell if he’s licking his lips because he’s anxious or because he wants a treat!

When relaxed, he will have semi-erect or forward facing ears, a soft mouth, and round eyes. He will distribute his weight evenly on all four paws. Distinguishing normal behavior from stress signs will help you quickly and effectively diffuse an uncomfortable situation.

“If your dog is stressed,
first remove him from the stressor.”

If your dog is stressed, first remove him from the stressor. Find a quiet place for him to regroup. Resist the urge to overly comfort him. This will only confirm that his fears are justified and may make him less confident in the future. If you want to pamper him with petting or treats, make him earn them first by performing a routing activity, i.e. sitting. Responding to routine commands distracts the dog and provides a sense of normalcy. It’s amazing how comforting sit, down, and heel can be to a worried dog.

“If your dog becomes consistently stressed,
see your veterinarian.”

If your dog becomes consistently stressed, see your veterinarian. After ensuring that your dog’s behavior does not have a medical basis, your dog’s doctor may refer you to a trainer or veterinary behaviorist to evaluate stress-related issues.

As with humans, exercise can be a great stress reducer. Physical activities like walking or playing fetch help both you and your dog release tension. It’s also good to provide your dog with a safe place in the home where he can escape anxious situations. Everybody enjoys a calm place to retreat.

And, finally, remember that stress isn’t always bad. Fear is a stress-related emotion that prompts us to avoid potentially dangerous situations. So, stress may actually be a protector. Regardless, stress is part of everyday life for us and our dogs, so we should learn how best to deal with it.

A ‘Chastity Belt’ for Dogs?

The Pet Anti-Breeding System (PABS) prevents unwanted breeding for owners who might want to breed their female dogs or wait to spay them when they’re older.

It might sound like a 15th-century solution to a 21st-century problem, but amid the clamor for pet owners to get their dogs spayed or neutered and prevent unwanted litters comes a device that’s basically a chastity belt for female dogs.

Dexter Blanch, the owner of Shreveport, La.-based Highly Favored Creations, invented the Pet Anti-Breeding System, or PABS, as a fabric patch that covers a female dog’s nether region and is affixed using a series of straps.

The dog-owning public has been slow to embrace PABS, which Blanch launched in 2013 as a way to protect one of his favorite female hunting dogs, who he might want to breed one day, from randy males.

“Perhaps … the proponents of traditional early spay and neuter practices don’t trust American pet owners to be responsible,” he said.

Blanch is starting to get results after ringing the bell loudly and often through blogs, social media and word of mouth.

“Since we began our efforts to educate, we have seen an increase in attention from media outlets and increased sales from pet owners,” he noted.

The campaign has generated an uptick in sales in Australia and other countries where Blanch said pet owners “have a different way of controlling pet overpopulation and a different attitude toward a dog’s health.”

The latest PABS design was tested on dogs by Renita Marshall, DVM, MS, an animal reproductive scientist at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. She found the device 98 percent effective in preventing unwanted breeding.

The tests were conducted using multiple breeds and in various settings. Any failures were attributed mostly to incorrect fittings, Blanch said.

PABS is easy to clean and allows urine to pass through the mesh. The patch rides low enough that the dog can defecate over the top of it, he said. We recommend this to owners who intend to breed their female dogs but don’t want to deal with a strange male dog, or a male relative of the female, fathering their litter of puppies.

The most effective way to prevent unwanted litters is to have your pet spayed or neutered! Having this done will also add years to your pet’s life by decreasing their risk of developing certain cancers!

-This Article is brought to you by the April 2016 issue of Veterinary Practice News.

All About the German Shepherd Breed!

Are you looking to add a barking, four-legged pet to your family but you’re not sure what breed to get? Those are just a few of many questions you would need to ask yourself. Would you prefer a smaller dog breed versus a larger dog breed? Would you want a dog breed more suitable for an apartment or out on a farm? Would you like your new best friend to be athletic and energetic, or do you prefer a more laid back, quiet breed? Whatever the question there is no better way to find your answer than by doing some research! Today, we’re giving you a little information on my particular favorite dog breed; the German Shepherd!

The German Shepherd Dog, also abbreviated and referred to as GSD, comes in many different colors. Their coat colors consist of black/tan, black, white, blue, and black/red. Aside from coat colors there are three different types of coats to be found: the double coat, the plush coat, and the long-haired coat. German Shepherds don’t need to be bathed very often, but boy can they shed! It is best to brush their coat daily. German Shepherd’s are considered a large breed dog and can weigh anywhere from 60-100 lbs. Because of it’s size the German Shepherd is more at risk to suffer hip and/or elbow dysplasia in their senior years. The life span of a German Shepherd is on average around 9-13 years old. German Shepherds are highly active dogs and have a lot of energy. They are considered “working” dogs and do best when they have something to do! They are a very smart and curious breed, which makes them excellent guard dogs. They tend to be suspicious of strangers and can become over-protective of their family and territory. This is why it is best to socialize your German Shepherd as a puppy to the many different types of people, animals, and other things it may encounter in the world. However, they do have a great disposition with other animals and would most likely get along well with a dog or cat that you already have.

They are a well-built, intelligent and eager breed which is also hard-working, loyal and if trained properly, obedient. It is important that you receive your German Shepherd from a well-known, responsible breeder because the breed is also predisposed to cancers like Hemangiosarcomas and Osteosarcomas, and can be prone to gastric and heart disorders. While most of these ailments are minor we strongly recommend getting them health checked to ensure you are getting a healthy German Shepherd. Remember to always get your pets spayed or neutered before the age of six months! Doing this before they’re six months old can help with some  behavioral and medical problems. To learn more about the German Shepherd breed visit:  German Shepherd Dog Breed Information – American Kennel Club

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