Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Preventive Measures Can Save Pets 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. Being aware of these top five dangers could save you a trip to the veterinary emergency room. 1. Holiday Tinsel and Ornaments Tinsel, while not toxic, is very attractive to pets, particularly cats. The shiny, dangling decoration reflects light and can move in the slightest draft — appearing to come alive to watchful critters. The problem with tinsel is that once it’s consumed, it can cause serious injury to your pet. If not caught in time, this foreign body ingestion could actually be fatal as it twists and bunches inside your pet’s intestines. Immediate veterinary care is required. In addition, bright and colorful tree ornaments can attract your pet’s curiosity. Place glass, aluminum and paper ornaments higher up on the tree. Pets can chew and swallow these fragile objects and not only can broken pieces form sharp edges that may lacerate your pet’s mouth, throat and intestines, they could also create a choking hazard. 2. Holiday Lighting and Candles Twinkling, shiny and dangling holiday lights — such as the icicle, netting, garland, curtain, rope and candle varietal — may be another source of danger to your curious pets. Got a pet that likes to chew? Electrical shock may occur when a pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution. If you have candles on display, place them in a hard-to-reach spot so that your pets can not access them. Not only can pets seriously burn themselves, but knocking over candles creates a fire hazard and may leave a trail of hot wax that will easily burn the pads of paws and more. 3. Gift Wrap Ribbon You may be tempted to fashion your pet with a decorative ribbon “collar” but beware that this could become a choking hazard. Also, it’s best to quickly discard ribbons and bows wrapped around holiday gifts so that your curious companions won’t be enticed to chew or swallow them. Ingested ribbon can cause a choking hazard and ultimately twist throughout the intestines, leading to emergency surgery and even death. 4. Food Hazards 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. Different types of chocolate contain various levels of fat, caffeine and the substances methylxanthines. In general, the darker and richer the chocolate (i.e., baker’s chocolate), the higher the risk of toxicity. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, dogs might experience vomiting, diarrhea, urination, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias, tremors and seizures. Fat trimmings and bones are dangerous for dogs. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, may cause pancreatitis. And, although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, a dog can choke on it. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog's digestive system. Abundant in many cookies and candies, certain nuts should not be given to pets. Almonds, non-moldy walnuts and pistachios can cause an upset stomach or an obstruction of your dog's throat and/or intestinal tract. Macadamia nuts and moldy walnuts can be toxic, causing seizures or neurological signs. Lethargy, vomiting and loss of muscle control are among the effects of nut ingestion. Keep your pet on her regular diet and caution visitors against giving your pet special treats or table scraps. For a full list of toxic foods, visit our toxic food guide for pets. 5. Toxic Holiday Plants They may be pretty, but some holiday plants are poisonous—even deadly. As little as a single leaf from any lily variety is lethal to cats. Others to avoid: Christmas tree pine needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness. Holly, commonly found during the Christmas season, can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression. Mistletoe, another Christmas plant, can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death when ingested. Poinsettias can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting. For more on toxic plants, visit our toxic plant guide. Taking precautions with pets during these festive times can help ensure that you and your family will enjoy a happy — and healthy — holiday season!
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Antifreeze poisoning is one of the most common forms of poisoning in small animals, and this is because it is so commonly found in households. Antifreeze poisoning typically happens when antifreeze drips from a car’s radiator, where it is licked off the ground and ingested by a pet. Your dog may also come into contact with antifreeze that has been added to a toilet bowl. This occurs in homes where the residents will use antifreeze during the cold months to "winterize" their pipes. Even if you do not take this action in your own home, it is something to be aware of when visiting other homes, or when vacationing at a winter residence. It is the toxin ethylene glycol that makes antifreeze lethal. Because of this, dogs will consume great quantities of ethylene glycol before being repulsed by its aftertaste. By then, it is too late. It does not take a significant amount of ethylene glycol to cause fatal damage to the system; less than three ounces (or 88 ml) of antifreeze is sufficient to poison a medium-sized dog. Antifreeze poisoning affects the brain, liver, and kidneys. Ethylene glycol is also found in engine coolant and hydraulic brake fluids. Symptoms Some common signs of antifreeze poisoning in dogs and cats include: •Drunken behavior •Euphoria/Delirium •Wobbly, uncoordinated movement •Nausea/Vomiting •Excessive urination •Diarrhea •Rapid heart beat •Depression •Weakness •Seizures/Convulsions/Shaking tremors •Fainting •Coma Diagnosis Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your pet, taking into account the background of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile and a urinalysis. Your veterinarian will want to test the vomit or stool, if possible, as it may assist the veterinarian in diagnosing the type of poisoning and expedite your dog's treatment. The treatment will also be based on the medical history presented by you, so you will need to be as detailed as possible. Treatment For immediate first aid, and only if you are positive that your dog has ingested antifreeze , try to induce vomiting by giving your dog a simple hydrogen peroxide solution -- one teaspoon per five pounds of body weight, with no more than three teaspoons given at once. This method should only be used if the toxin has been ingested in the previous two hours, and should only be given three times, spaced apart at 10-minute intervals. If your pet has not vomited after the third dose, stop giving it the hydrogen peroxide solution and seek immediate veterinary attention. You may want to call your veterinarian before trying to induce vomiting, since it can be dangerous with some toxins; some poisons will do more harm coming back through the esophagus than they did going down. Do not use anything stronger than hydrogen peroxide without your veterinarian's assent, and do not induce vomiting unless you are absolutely sure of what your dog has ingested. Also, if your pet has already vomited, do not try to force more vomiting. A final word, do not induce vomiting if your dog is unconscious, is having trouble breathing, or is exhibiting signs of serious distress or shock. Whether your pet vomits or not, after the initial care, you must rush it to a veterinary facility immediately. Your veterinarian will be able to safely administer antidotes to the poison, such as activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of the toxin, and 4-methylpyrazole, which can treat antifreeze poisoning very effectively if given shortly after the consumption of antifreeze. Your dog may need to be held in intensive care to prevent kidney failure. Living and Management Dogs that have consumed antifreeze in very small quantity may survive, but will develop kidney failure within days of ingestion. Unfortunately, death due to kidney damage is common among animals that have been poisoned by antifreeze. Prevention Antifreeze poisoning can be easily avoided by following a few simple precautions: 1.Keep antifreeze containers tightly closed and stored out of the reach of pets. 2.Take care not to spill antifreeze, and if it is spilled, ensure that it is immediately and thoroughly cleaned up. 3.Dispose of used antifreeze containers properly. 4.Check the radiator of your car regularly, and repair leaks immediately. 5.Do not allow your dog to wander unattended where there is access to antifreeze (e.g., roads, gutters, garages, and driveways). 6.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has labeled propylene glycol safe and it is now used for antifreeze. Look for antifreeze with this ingredient instead, to keep your pet safer from accidental poisoning.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
What Is Diabetes? Diabetes in dogs is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin. After a dog eats, his digestive system breaks food into various components, including glucose—which is carried into his cells by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. When a dog does not produce insulin or cannot utilize it normally, his blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia, which, if left untreated, can cause many complicated health problems for a dog. It is important to understand, however, that diabetes is considered a manageable disorder—and many diabetic dogs can lead happy, healthy lives. What Type of Diabetes Do Most Dogs Get? Diabetes can be classified as either Type 1 (lack of insulin production) or Type II (impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone.) The most common form of the disease in dogs is Type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas is incapable of producing or secreting adequate levels of insulin. Dogs who have Type I require insulin therapy to survive. Type II diabetes is found in cats and is a lack of normal response to insulin. What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs? The following symptoms should be investigated as they could be indicators that your dog has diabetes: •Change in appetite •Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption •Weight loss •Increased urination •Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath •Lethargy •Dehydration •Urinary tract infections •Vomiting •Cataract formation, blindness •Chronic skin infections What Causes Diabetes in Dogs? The exact cause of diabetes is unknown. However, autoimmune disease, genetics, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, certain medications and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas can play a major role in the development of the disease. Which Dogs Are Prone to Diabetes? It is thought that obese dogs and female dogs may run a greater risk of developing diabetes later in life (6-9 years of age). Some breeds may also run a greater risk, including Australian terriers, standard and miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes can also be seen and is particularly prevalent in golden retrievers and keeshonds. How Is Diabetes Diagnosed? In order to properly diagnose diabetes, your veterinarian will collect information about your dog’s clinical signs, perform a physical examination and check blood work and a urinalysis. How Is Diabetes Treated? Diabetes treatment is based on how severe the symptoms and lab work are and whether there are any other health issues that could complicate therapy. Each dog will respond a little bit differently to treatment, and therapy must be tailored to the individual dog throughout his life. •Some dogs may be seriously ill when first diagnosed and will require intensive hospital care for several days to regulate their blood sugar. •Dogs who are more stable when first diagnosed may respond to oral medication or a high-fiber diet that helps to normalize glucose levels in the blood. •For most dogs, insulin injections are necessary for adequate regulation of blood glucose. Once your pet’s individual insulin treatment is established, typically based on weight, you’ll be shown how to give him insulin injections at home. •Spaying your dog is recommended, as female sex hormones can have an effect on blood sugar levels. Your vet may also show you how to perform glucose tests at home. What Should I Know About Treating My Diabetic Dog at Home? As your veterinarian will explain, it’s important to always give your dog insulin at the same time every day and feed him regular meals in conjunction with his medication. This allows increased nutrients in the blood to coincide with peak insulin levels, and will lessen the chance that his sugar levels will swing either too high or too low. You can work with your vet to create a feeding schedule around your pet’s medication time. It is also important to avoid feeding your diabetic dog treats that are high in glucose. Regular blood glucose checks are a critical part of monitoring and treating any diabetic patient, and your veterinarian will help you set up a schedule for checking your dog’s blood sugar. Please also consult your vet about a consistent, daily exercise program and proper nutrition for your dog to help keep his weight in check. How Can Diabetes Be Prevented? Although a certain form of diabetes—the type found in dogs less than a year of age—is inherited, proper diet and regular exercise can be very effective in helping to prevent onset of diabetes in older dogs. Aside from other negative health effects, obesity is known to contribute to an ability to respond normally to insulin. What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Diabetes? If your dog is showing any of the clinical signs listed above, please see your veterinarian right away. What Can Happen If Diabetes Goes Untreated? If diabetes progresses without being treated, dogs can develop secondary health problems like cataracts and severe urinary tract problems. Ultimately, untreated diabetes can cause coma and death.If you suspect diabetes in your pet call 940-855-0451 today!