How Can I Protect My Pet From an Accidental Poisoning?

Next week, March 17th – 23rd, is National Poison Prevention Week.  We want to remind everyone to keep phone numbers for your regular veterinarian, your closest emergency veterinary clinic or hospital and the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) on your refrigerator, kitchen bulletin board or wherever you keep emergency numbers handy for your family.  When you are in the midst of something urgent, you will not want to or may not have time to search for the information.

While Missy naps, Abbey keeps her  company

While Missy naps, Abbey keeps her company

It’s an excellent idea to program those numbers into every family member’s cell phone, with easy to remember speed-dial numbers attached.  Use the same speed-dial numbers on all phones in the household.

That way, if you are not at home and your son or daughter, husband or wife, sister or brother has a pet emergency and they call you in a panic, you can remind them the phone numbers are in their cell phone under “Vet”, “Emergency Vet” and “Pet Poison Control”.  Or quickly tell them what speed-dial number to call.

Dr. Frank also recommends reading the information written by Dr. Marty Becker on poison prevention for pets.  In this article Dr. Becker talks about common household substances that pet owners often do not realize are harmful to their pets.

Dr. Becker wrote, “…While some pet poisonings are a result of something an animal gets into that is a known poison, like a rodenticide, a surprising number of cases come from something intentionally given to an animal by an owner who’s trying to help.

The classic example of the latter is when an elderly cat is given an extra-strength acetaminophen for arthritis. The owner is trying to help, but unfortunately even one capsule of this common human medicine can kill a cat. As for dogs, they can figure out their way into trouble that their owners never envisioned. A few months ago, our neighbors dog answered the question “can dogs eat almonds” with a resounding no of puking all over the carpet. Not to mention, dog ownership difficulties also include opening cabinets to get cleaning products and counter-surfing to reach food items and pill vials.

Take preventive measures. You need to realize that pets are basically like toddlers who can open any childproof container that is not locked up or hidden away, and you should take similar precautions to keep your pets safe and healthy.

  • Keep products such as medications, harmful foods and cleaning products in a secure cabinet above countertop height.
  • Use a kitchen garbage can with a lid.
  • Always read labels, especially on flea and tick products, and on lawn and garden products. Store out of reach in a high cupboard, not under the sink.
  • Be familiar with the plants in and around your home, and have only nontoxic plants.
  • Never give any medication or supplement to your pet unless recommended or approved by your veterinarian. According to the Pharr Road Animal Hospital, many toxic substances aren’t well-known to dog owners. For example, don’t let your dog have significant amounts of raisins or grapes, macadamia nuts, moldy cheese, chocolate, onions, garlic or xylitol-sweetened gum and other candies or baked items.

Recognize the symptoms. Even with preventive measures in place, it is important to know the signs of poisoning. Many (but not all) substances first cause stomach upset, including vomiting and diarrhea. It’s not fun, but vomit must be examined for evidence of chewed packaging, plants, food, pills or other important clues. Many poisonings progress to weakness and depression or nervous stimulation, including tremors and seizures. Pets may stop eating and drinking, or may drink excessive amounts, which could suggest liver or kidney involvement. Rapid or slow breathing, with changes in tongue and gum color — from pink to white, blue or brown — is important.

Get help, fast. If you suspect poisoning, stay calm. Panicking will not help your pet and may waste precious time. If your pet is not showing any serious signs of illness described above, contact your regular veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) to determine if your pet needs to be seen by a vet or if treatment can be given at home.”

If your pet is having difficulty breathing, having seizures, or is bleeding or unconscious, go to your regular veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately. Take any evidence, including chewed containers and labels, and even vomit. This information is key to helping your veterinarian save your pet. Be sure you always have the numbers of your pet’s regular veterinarian, your local veterinary emergency clinic and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in an easily accessible location. It could save your pet’s life.”

The above quoted information is from a January, 2012 article by Dr. Becker posted on the VetStreet website. 

Additional Resources:
Dr. Frank talks about specific foods and other items to pay attention to in previous posts
Pets and the Holidays
Thanksgiving Tip for your Cats and Dogs
Reminder +

Links to more articles on poisons and poison prevention are on the VetStreet Home page

Budgets – Wet vs Dry Food, Cats vs Dogs


Really? Dry food?

Q: We have 2 young cats and one middle-age dog.  We feed them a strictly grain-free wet food diet.  We’re looking for ways to reduce our household costs and one thought was to do dry food half of the time for all our pets.  But, I worry that this may not be safe.  Is there a safe middle ground or is it not worth it?

Dr. Frank:  In my opinion, there is a short answer and a slightly longer answer to this question.  The short answer in general is, yes (with caveats) there is a safe middle ground for your dog, and no, it is usually not worth it for your cats.

The longer answer is:
For your middle-age dog, doing a mixture of wet and dry food can be a safe cost-cutting measure as long as the dry is a very high-quality low or grain-free dry food.

On the other hand, for your two cats the benefits of keeping them on a good quality wet food diet far outweigh the higher cost.  Because cats don’t instinctively drink much water on their own, they need a wet, raw or re-hydrated diet to get the optimum amount of water for their bodies to be their best.

However, the primary reason I recommend keeping your cats on all wet food is that vets have found a high percentage of cats on dry food who develop medical issues compared to cats on strictly wet food diets.   This of course means that cats on dry food frequently have much higher medical expenses over their lifetime than cats on a wet food diet.

The cost savings you get from adding dry food to your cats’ diets may well be lost in additional medical expenses in years to come.

Reminder + Small Business Saturday

Amber Lynn – How can you resist?

Friday is not only a big shopping day, it’s also an extremely busy day for emergency vet visits.

In addition to what we talked about in our Thanksgiving Tip post last year, please be aware that some people foods can be very bad for your dogs and/or cats.  Onions (including onion powder) are extremely toxic to your pet and even small amounts of chocolate can be poisonous for your dog or cat, so save the chocolates for people only please.

Best rule of thumb – If you want to give your pets extra on Thanksgiving, treat your dog or cat with moderate amounts of their food or treats, not yours.  And ask your guests not to feed Emma, your Cavalier King Charles, from the appetizer tray, no matter how cute she begs!!
Two ideas to help:

  • Have a small bowl of pet treats handy to offer your guests to give little Emma or Amber Lynn instead of that piece of cheese, when a guest just can’t resist the cuteness.
  • Break every treat up in half or quarters.  That way, even if guests go a little overboard, you are less likely to be dealing with your pet’s stomach ache from too many treats on Friday.

One other very important thing today…

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday sits Small Business Saturday®, a day dedicated to celebrating and supporting small businesses and all they do for our communities.

Look around your town or neighborhood…

Your BFF meditates, so you’d like to buy her a meditation CD this year.  Most local yoga studios sell meditation CDs, with the added benefit of knowledgeable staff if you know nothing about meditation.

You’d like to bring a unique Thank You gift to a holiday party.  You know the hostess LOVES tea… How about visiting that herbal shop in the middle of town and asking the owner for a relaxing blend for your hostess?

And of course, pet presents…  That independent pet store on the edge of town probably has a great raincoat for your sister’s Doberman and a nice selection of catnip toys for your uncle’s new kitten.  Have you been there recently?  Check it out!

Owners, managers and staff of independent small businesses are our neighbors and friends.  They help our communities thrive through participation in community leadership and projects.  They coach soccer and softball teams.  They sing in the local choir, and donate time and money to local organizations they believe in… animal rescue and foster care organizations – homeless shelters and food banks.

November 24, 2012
Small Business Saturday®

Remember, when you purchase products and services from an independent small business, you have a direct, positive impact on local families in countless ways.

We at Harmony Animal Wellness Center are proud to take part in Small Business Saturday and we want to encourage you to Shop Small® on November 24th.  Thank you for supporting Small Business Saturday 2012!

Gracie Won!

From Valerie and Bruce….

“To all of Gracie’s fans, she won!! We want to thank ALL of you who participated with votes and Facebook postings and comments. We could not have done this without your support! You will find her cute snout gracing the cover of CityDog magazine winter 2013 issue. Again, thanks and great job everyone!


Valerie, Bruce and Gracie too.”

Posted in All.

A Cover Girl Client? Maybe, with our help…

We received this exciting email news from one of our clients this morning and hope you’ll join us in the fun of helping Gracie Rose become a Cover Girl!  Here are a few more photos and a great video/slide show of her — The Story of GracieFrom Valerie…

“Dear Friends:

A vote for Gracie is a vote that counts! She’s not a Democrat or Republican. She’s from the WOOF party and she needs your vote! City Dog Magazine is looking for a new cover model for their winter cover and Gracie is a finalist!

This magazine covers Seattle, Portland and San Francisco with places to go with your dog. Dog friendly hot spots, eateries and dog friendly hotels. If you think Gracie should grace the cover please vote here. You get one vote a day on each device (computer or phone) and it ends October 30.

Gracie’s story is in the online version of the Seattle Humane Society Chronicles (6Mb download, so it may take a while):  Thank you

As you know, Gracie was a work in progress.  We fostered her through the Seattle Humane Society for seven months.  She had severe skin and  environmental allergies.  The great vets at SHS worked wonders on her issues one at a time.  Over time, caring for her, we fell in love with her.  In the end, we couldn’t help but adopt her.  The adoption was in March of 2012.  In August of 2012 we attended Pasado’s Bark at Marymoor Park.  After she did so well being the “test model” for how to check your pet’s health snout to tail, we entered her into the cover model contest.  She won!  Now she is up against five other dogs that won their respective contests at other animal events.

If you would like to see Gracie  grace the cover of City Dog Magazine, please remember to vote once a day.

Along with the Seattle Humane Society, we want  to thank all the other people who have helped us get and keep Gracie healthy: All The Best Pets, Civilized Nature, and Dr. Frank Bousaid at Harmony Animal Wellness Center.


Bruce, Valerie, Gracie and Ellie (the dogs)”

Good Luck Gracie!!

From all your friends at Harmony Animal Wellness Center

Posted in All.

Demystifying Animal Communication

Big changes are part of life – a new baby… a move to a bigger or smaller home or apartment… a death in the family… a change in career or job that affects your stress level or your time at home.  When change happens in your life, have you wondered how it may affect your animals, and what, if anything, you can do to make the transition smoother or easier for your animal companion(s)? 

Is she here yet?

Many of our clients have consulted with Joan Ranquet at times like those.  Joan is a gifted animal communicator, author, teacher and speaker who has worked with thousands of individual pet owners, dog, cat and horse trainers, barn managers and vets.  

In addition to helping clients individually with their pets, Joan is a firm believer that animal communication is a skill that can be nurtured and honed.  She expertly demystifies animal communication for anyone who is interested by giving free classes such as the one we are hosting at the clinic next week.

JJ snuck into last year’s class.
He was sure no one would notice…

Joan will be at Harmony Animal Wellness Center on Thursday, Sept 20th, for private sessions and a fun, informative class.  
(click here for details)

Below are some questions our clients have asked Dr. Frank about Joan’s work.


Q: How long have you known Joan Ranquet?

Dr. Frank:  I have known Joan for approximately 4 years.

Q: What are your feelings regarding animal communication in general?

Dr. Frank:  I have seen Joan’s sessions help our clients in several ways.  I believe we all have the ability to communicate with animals at some level, but it means being aware and in tune with them.  Joan is excellent at “tuning in” as well as teaching us how to be more aware and listen.  This is invaluable to our relationship to our pets and deepens those relationships.

Q: Can you relate some personal or client experiences with Joan?

Dr. Frank:  Joan has done readings on my own pets and was very accurate in those readings.  In addition, I have seen the most beneficial results from clients with aging pets who have sought her advise regarding end of life issues.  Her insights in her readings were appropriate and very helpful for the clients in making those tough decisions such as end of life.  Several of our clients have repeatedly called Joan for assistance through various life changes and have found her guidance extremely helpful.   

Q: Do you consult with Joan regarding your patient’s medical issues?

Dr. Frank:  I am very comfortable with my clients who have consulted with Joan.  My expertise is in the medical field.  I do take her information into consideration as I develop my diagnostics and prepare my recommendations for the pet’s treatment plan.


To learn more about Joan and animal communication, come to her class and/or schedule a personal session on Sept 20th if you live in the Puget Sound area.  Click here for a flyer with more information.

Joan’s Guided Meditation CD

In addition, there is a wealth of information on Joan’s website including how to arrange phone consultations if you do not live in the area, and links to purchase her new ebook, Animal Communication 101, her CD and her hardcopy book.