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

National Pet Week

Did you know this week, May 6-12, is National Pet Week?  No?  Neither did we until recently. 

Search and Rescue Category

Buster, a “Bogie” hero

National Pet Week is celebrated throughout the United States and in many parts of the world.
How cool is that?

For you dog lovers — Check out and vote in the 2012 American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards.  Nominations were submitted earlier this year and  voting is now through June 30th

The winners and their charity partners will be honored in Hollywood in October. Dogs were entered in eight categories:

  • Law Enforcement and Arson Service
  • Therapy
  • Military
  • Guide
  • Search and Rescue
  • Hearing
  • Emerging Hero. Emerging Hero Dogs are ordinary dogs that do extraordinary things. Put simply, nominees say why their dog is important to them. Why is their dog not just another wet nose in the crowd?

There are many, many wonderful nominees and you can vote every day through June 30th.

Military Category

CWD Dunny

You can read about and vote for Dunny who is nominated in the Military category.  An 8 year old Weimaraner, Dunny served for 1½ years saving lives in Afghanistan as an Explosive Detection Dog (EDD).  As a result of his military service, it is believed that Dunny has PTSD, but has moved into civilian life with grace. 

Or vote for Icey, a little white cutie who helps his hearing-impaired person every day…  Or Buster, the “Bogie” (Beagle body, Boxer head) who is FEMA certified to do search and rescue in large-scale disasters.

Therapy Category

Colonel

In the Therapy category, you can read about Colonel, a dog who helps our military in another way.  The Colonel is a therapy dog who provides comfort, inspiration, motivation, laughter and unconditional love for wounded warriors.

Perhaps the category closest to our hearts in many ways is the Emerging Hero Dogs, where you can read about “ordinary” dogs who are heroes in their families lives, and where you can vote for dogs like Lucas.  Lucas helped a little girl re-gain her self-confidence just by being there for her to rescue and love.

To celebrate the dogs and cats who touch our lives in special ways, Harmony invites you to tell us about a cat or dog hero you know on Harmony’s Facebook page.

Future Feline Heroes

Whether your dog did something considered heroic by the general public, or a beloved tabby cat went out of her way to comfort you during a period of grief or sickness in your life, we invite you to tell us a little about a pet hero close to you.

And a gentle reminder from all of us at Harmony Animal Wellness Center – one of the best ways to honor your pet is to make sure they are healthy with a wellness checkup with your vet. 

Dr. Frank and Tsunami

If your cat or dog hasn’t had his wellness appointment yet this year, National Pet Week is an excellent time to get that taken care of for a healthy, happy summer for you and your pet.

How is Your Pet’s Dental Health?

Do you think “Ew, ick!” when your tabby exhales as he comes close to your face to look in your eyes?  Does your schnauzer-mix have “dog breath”?  Both are good indicators that a dental check-up and cleaning for your pet is a wise idea.

Tasha

February is National Pet Dental Health Month.  We’ve talked about ways you can keep your dog’s teeth as clean as possible at home in our post on Dry Food and Dog Teeth.  Today, Dr. Frank and one of our veterinary technicians answer questions about having a professional dental cleaning for your cat or dog done at your veterinarian’s clinic or hospital – the benefits, how it is done and other questions about dentals.

We love to go to the dentist ourselves, don’t we?  Yep, one of our favorite things to do.  But, admit it – Doesn’t your mouth feel SO much better after the hygienist cleans your teeth?  Exceedingly better than after you brush your teeth, no matter how fancy a toothbrush you have.

Consider giving your pet the gift of fresh breath and super-clean teeth by taking him to your vet for a dental cleaning in February.

Q: What are the benefits of a dental cleaning?

Dr. Frank:  I’d say the top three benefits of a clinic dental cleaning are:

  • Fresher breath!
  • Healthier body by preventing serious disease or illness that can start in the mouth
  • The opportunity for your vet to thoroughly check all of your pet’s teeth, which can save teeth.  This is difficult to do when the pet is awake and can be particularly hard to do with wide-awake cats.

    Melo

Q: What are the risks of not getting a dental cleaning?

Dr. Frank:  Infections in the gums such as gingivitis and periodontal disease (disease affecting the tooth or jaw) can lead to a variety of seemingly unrelated health issues such as liver disease, diabetes, kidney disease or other life-threatening conditions.  And let’s not forget the obvious – undetected problems with the teeth or gums can lead to tooth loss.

Q: What does a dental cleaning entail?

Dr. Frank:  In our clinic, as in most veterinary practices, our veterinary technicians perform dental cleaning procedures.  So we decided to ask Kelsey Pritchett*, one of our technicians, to answer this question.  Any problems the technician finds during the cleaning is brought to my attention.

Kelsey:  Ideally dental cleanings on dogs and cats are preventative maintenance just as with people.  The mouth is the doorway to our internal organs and if it is unhealthy it sets the stage for the rest of the body to follow suit.  A thorough dental cleaning is one way to prevent oral disease that could contribute to other diseases down the road.

A meticulous dental cleaning is done in our practice under general anesthesia. That way we are able to really see all surfaces of the teeth and inspect them well for any signs of disease.

We remove the large bulks of tartar and then, with an ultrasonic scaler and a hand scaler, we clean the crown of the tooth.  We then measure the sulcus depth, where the gums meet the tooth, to check for any pockets that can house bacteria.  We make a note of the general condition of the gums and if there are any abnormal teeth.

If there are deep pockets that cannot be remedied or if a tooth is loose which means that the disease process has gone too far for us to save the tooth, we, with the owner’s permission, remove the diseased tooth.

We finish our cleaning by polishing all surfaces of all of the teeth.  This is a very important step in the process as it allows us to smooth out any grooves in the enamel of the teeth to prevent bacteria and tartar build up in those areas.

We make a detailed report of any teeth that were abnormal and what was done about them so that next time we go in to clean the pet’s mouth, we can monitor areas we were previously concerned about.

For additional details, read the full article written by Kelsey.

*Note: You can find information about Kelsey’s training and background on Our Exceptional Staff page.

Dr. Frank:  We put the pet on IV fluids during the procedure to help flush anesthetic out of their system and we give the pet a supportive vitamin cocktail.  We also suggest to our clients the use of plant botanicals after the cleaning to help decrease plaque and tartar buildup.

Q: Some holistic vet clinics advertise they do teeth cleanings with no anesthetic?  Do you do that in your clinic?  If not, why not?

Dr. Frank:  No, we do not.  In our area, this is a 3rd party service which only offers the service at one location per zip code.  It is important to realize that the cleaning is not performed by the your pet’s regular doctor or the doctor’s staff, it is performed by people who may not have seen your pet before.

Although dental cleaning without anesthetic can have some benefits compared to nothing at all, without anesthetic, meticulous checking of each tooth and the gums can be extremely difficult, as mentioned above.

In our practice we have seen a few cases of pets needing teeth extracted within months of having the dental service without anesthetic performed.  In our clinic, if the dog or cat has gingivitis that is not too severe, we can even apply a time-release antibiotic in the gumline, eliminating the need for the owner to give follow-up medication at home.

Q: How often should my pet get his teeth cleaned?

Dr. Frank:  It is important to have your pet’s teeth checked by your vet at least annually, every 6 months for older pets.  I do this (as do most vets) as part of the annual or 6 month wellness exam we encourage our clients to schedule for each pet.  At that exam your vet will recommend a dental cleaning if he or she sees a need.

Whether or not your dog or cat will need a dental annually, semi-annually or not at all depends on a number of factors including breed, diet and genetics.

———————————————————————

Click Here for an AVMA video with instructions on teaching a dog or cat to accept tooth brushing.  The vet also explains the risks of periodontal disease in pets.

Thanksgiving Tip for your Cats and Dogs

Our Pets and the Holidays post mentioned in the letter to our clients is not quite finished.  But here is a tip that particularly pertains to Thanksgiving.

Norma Rae, Jack, Punky and Tsunami

The Thanksgiving turkey or chicken will leave a lot of tantalizing bones.  Please don’t feed them to your pet, no matter how cutely they look at you.

Beware of cooked steak bones, too.  Cooked bones can splinter and small, sharp bones or bone chips can lodge in your pet’s throat, stomach or intestinal tract.

If you’d like to give your pet a Thanksgiving bone treat, please read our post on feeding raw bones.  We also have an additional post on the topic of raw bones.  It contains a few more general tips as well as information for people with multiple dog households.

The most important tip of all — Don’t forget your after meal nap!

Cassie

— Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving —

Raw Bones for Dogs question

Is Sasha, our client’s cute-as-a-button Chihuahua, waiting for her raw bone?  She looks very hopeful, doesn’t she?  From our post on dry food and dog’s teeth we received the following comment and request for suggestions from one of our blog readers: 

Sasha

“I am interested in the information re the raw bones. But, I am very cautious about having raw bones in the home. Basically – I don’t. So, how can I give these to my four dogs as I do not want to incur any aggressive behavior either. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.”

We thought Dr. Frank’s response may be of interest to many of you with multiple-dog households, so his reply became our post today. 

Dr. Frank:  Bones are great for cleaning your pet’s teeth and they can be a good outlet for dogs that need to chew.  Continue reading

First Aid Kits for Pets

It’s June at last!  We’ve had a bit of warm weather, many of the flowers are blooming late this year, but they are blooming – rhodies, honeysuckles and dandelions.  With the beautiful flowering bushes, trees and plants come the wonderful, helpful bees. 

Pixie-Belle at about 2 months old

With the bees come our dogs and cats with spring fever – puppies, kittens and adult pets jumping to catch the flitting, buzzing bees in their mouth.  Dogs chasing the squirrels or rabbits and running headlong into… blackberry and rose bushes (Ouch!), or playing a game of chase with each other and tearing through that long grass that contains a stand of – oh, oh… nettles.