Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Winter Safety Concerns For Your Pets

Summer is over and winter is coming.  With the drop in temperature also comes winter safety concerns for your pets.  The cold temperatures will make outdoor cats seek places to get warm and one of their favorite places is under the hood of cars or in the wheel well.  When the vehicle is turned on the fan belt can cause significant harm or death.  It is a good idea to bang on the hood prior to starting your car to try to scare any unsuspecting animals out.

If your pet (dog or cat) spends a large amount of time outside, especially at night it is important to provide a warm, dry shelter.  This can be a dog crate or even just a box with blankets in it.  The Treasure Valley can see some very cold temperatures and it is recommended to bring your pets inside if at all possible if the temperature is dropping below 20 degrees. Snow can be disorienting to both cats and dogs and there is a greater risk of them becoming lost.  It is important to keep your pets close and not let them run too far off.  This can especially be a concern when taking your pet to an unfamiliar area, like on a snow shoe trip. Also making sure your pets are microchipped or wearing ID tags can help them be returned home if found.

Anti freeze use is more prevalent in the colder temperatures and it is important to take extra care to make sure your pet does not have access to it. Any spills need to be cleaned up immediately and the bottle or any fluid should be disposed or stored in an area that is not accessible to any animals. If you think your pet may have ingested antifreeze you should have them seen by a veterinarian right away. Ice melt products can also be toxic to animals if ingested. Make sure to wipe your pet's feet and abdomen thoroughly after walks to make sure any chemicals are removed that may have been placed on the ground. If you use ice melt products at home it should be in an area that the pets are not walking through.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Common Pet Toxins

There are many different foods and plants that are toxic to animals  that everyone should be aware of.  Some of the most common include:  Chocolate, grapes/raisins, lilies (cats), xylitol, OTC pain medications like Tylenol and Aleve, onions/garlic.

Chocolate ingestion is probably the most common toxin ingestion we see.  Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tachycardia (fast heart rate), and at higher doses can cause heart arrhythmias and seizures.  If you have discovered your  pet has ingested chocolate you should call your veterinarian to find out if it is a toxic dose.  The toxicity level rises with the amount of cocoa present so it does not take very much baker’s chocolate to cause serious issues.

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure.  There is not a lot known about this toxicity as some pets do not have to ingest very many before they develop symptoms and others can ingest large amounts with no issues.  In general it does not take as many raisins to cause a toxicity.  The protocol for treatment includes inducing vomiting, activated charcoal and IV fluids for 48 hours.

Lilies also cause kidney failure in cats.  Most types of lilies are toxic including:  Tiger, Easter, Day, and Stargazer. All parts of the plant are toxic, including the water in the vase of the lily.  If you own cats it is best to not have any lilies in the house.  If your cat may have ingested or chewed on any part of a lily it should be seen by a veterinarian right away.  Bloodwork monitoring will need to be done and your kitty will need to be hospitalized on IV fluids.  If this toxicity is not treated right away it is often deadly.  The most common symptoms are drinking a lot, urinating a lot, and vomiting.

Xylitol is an interesting toxicity that can cause hypoglycemia and at higher doses can cause liver failure.  Xylitol is most commonly found in sugarless chewing gum, but has become more common in baked goods lately.  Every type of gum has a different amount of xylitol present so the best plan is to call Animal Poison Control and they can determine what level of xylitol they have ingested.  Hypoglycemia can last 18-24 hours and will need to be monitored in the hospital and treated as necessary.  If they have ingested enough to cause liver damage they will need to be hospitalized for 2-3 days for IV fluids and other medications to help with liver function.

Over the counter medications like Tylenol, Aleve, and Ibuprofen are not tolerated well in animals and can cause life threatening toxicities like kidney failure, GI ulceration and perforation, and liver failure.  You should not give your pets human medications unless directed to do so by a veterinarian and if your pet ingests a medication it is best to call animal poison control or your veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital (208) 466-4614