Thursday, July 30, 2015

ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) experts field tens of thousands of calls each year involving animal companions who’ve had potentially hazardous contact with insecticides, weed killers and pet-toxic plants.  

"Keeping animals safe from accidental poisonings should not end once you've stepped outside," says Dana Farbman, APCC pet poison prevention expert. "Protecting your pet from potential hazards in your yard is just as critical."

While gardens and yards are lovely for relaxing, they can also prove dangerous for our animal companions.
Our experts recommend you watch out for the following:

Poisonous Plants
When designing and planting your green space, it's a good idea to keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants—including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea—are toxic to cats and dogs. Sago palm and other members of the Cycad family as well as mushrooms can cause liver failure, while rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, oleander, rosebay, foxglove and kalanchoe all affect the heart. Please visit our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your garden. 

Just like you, plants need food. But pet parents, take care—the fertilizer that keeps our plants healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends. Ingesting large amounts of fertilizer can give your pet a good case of stomach upset and may result in life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Be sure to follow instructions carefully and observe the appropriate waiting period before letting your pet run wild outside. 

Cocoa Mulch
Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch also attracts dogs with its sweet smell, and like chocolate, it can pose problems for our canine companions. Depending on the amount involved, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs, from vomiting, diarrhea and muscle tremors to elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures. Consider using a less-toxic alternative, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark, but always supervise curious canines in yards where mulch is spread.

Like fertilizer, herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poisons. Always store pesticides in inaccessible areas—and read the manufacturer's label carefully for proper usage and storage. 

You're doing the right thing for your garden and Mother Earth—you're composting! Food and garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil, but depending on what you're tossing in the compost bin, they can also pose problems for our pets. Coffee, moldy food and certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats, so read up on people foods to avoid feeding your pet.

Fleas and Ticks
Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall brush and grasses, it's important to keep those lawns mowed and trim. Fleas can cause excessive scratching, hair loss, scabs, hot spots and tapeworms as well as anemia from blood loss in both cats and dogs. Ticks can cause similar effects and lead to a variety of complications from tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Babesia.

Garden Tools
Unattended garden tools may seem like no big deal, but rakes, tillers, hoes and trowels can be hazardous to pets and cause trauma to paws, noses or other parts of a curious pet's body. Rusty, sharp tools caked in dirt may also pose a risk for tetanus if they puncture skin. While cats don't appear to be as susceptible as dogs to tetanus, care should be taken by storing all unused tools in a safe area, not haphazardly strewn on the ground.

Allergy-Causing Flora
Ah-choo! Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets have allergies to foods, dust and even plants. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can even cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock if the reaction is severe. If you do suspect your pet has an allergy, please don't give him any medication that isn't prescribed by a veterinarian. It's also smart to keep your pet out of other people's yards, especially if you're unsure of what kinds of plants or flowers lurk there. Keeping your pet off the lawn of others will make for healthy pets and happy neighbors.

Originally published by the ASPCA.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Helping dogs with Severe Phobias during Fireworks

The fourth of July is fast approaching and a lot of our canine companions can have severe anxiety during this time.  The ideal way to treat this phobia is training with behavior modification techniques.  However, since we are so close to the holiday this is not possible we can use medications to help our pets deal with the situation.  There are some medications that are over the counter that can be used such as Benadryl one 25 mg tablet for 25 pounds and/or melatonin one 3 mg tablet for 25 pounds. Another option to use is Valerian 200 mg for a small dog and 400-600 mg for any dog over 50 lbs. Some of our furry friends will need stronger medications such as anti-anxiety medications.  Thunder shirts may be used for this situation; however they will only work in approximately 30% of dogs. Another concern this time of year is overheating with excitement, please be weary hot days with our pets and make sure there is always shade and water available.  Overheating can be a life threatening event.  Also avoid allowing your pets get near any fireworks.  Some are toxic if chewed even after being set off. 

Some other summer tips to keep our companions healthy:

·         Visit your veterinarian: with our dogs spending more time outdoors there is more possibility for infectious diseases to be transmitted.  Heartworm disease is an issue all year around however is more prevalent during the summer months.  Our pets, both dogs and cats, should be on heartworm prevention all year around.  There are other infectious disease our animals are prone to please contact your veterinarian for more information.

·         Keep Cool: Dogs and cats can become dehydrated very quickly so make sure they have plenty of water and a shady place to rest.  Do not allow for your dog to linger on hot asphalt, this may cause burns to his/her paw pads. It is very important to never leave our animals unattended in a parked vehicle.  Cars, even with windows open can lead to heatstroke or death for your animal. Symptoms of overheating in pets include: increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, weakness, seizures, and elevated body temperature.  Dogs that are more susceptible to heat stroke include: older dogs, overweight dogs, or animals with lung or heart disease.  Also brachiocephalic dog breeds (short muzzle breeds: bulldogs, pugs, etc.) are more susceptible to overheating.

·         Lawn and flea and tick products: Most flea and tick products cannot be used for both dogs and cats.  Never give a cat a dog flea or tick medications, this can lead to seizures and even death.  Some lawn products can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested so make sure they are out of reach.

·         Cookouts.  Summertime is great for get together however it is very important to remember that some foods that we eat can be very toxic to our pets.  Make sure to avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, products with sweetener xylitol, and alcoholic beverages.  Remember even one new meal can cause severe digestive issues.

·         Pool safety: Do not leave your dogs unsupervised around pools or lakes not all dogs are good swimmers.  Keep your dog from drinking pool water because it contains chlorine and other chemicals that can cause stomach upset.  Make sure they do not have access to concentrated pool chemicals because these are highly toxic to animals if ingested.

·         Fireworks: Do not ignite fireworks around pets.  Exposure to the lit fireworks can be harmful via burns or trauma.  Also many fireworks contain substances that are toxic to dogs if ingested.

·         High rise syndrome: High rise syndrome occurs when animals fall from windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured.  Keep all windows and doors in your home secured.

If any of the options above are needed for your dog, or you have any questions, please contact your regular veterinarian or Michigan City Animal Hospital at 219-879-4191 before the 4th gets here.