Valentine’s Day Pet Dangers

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, but sometimes those festivities can turn dangerous for our pets. Here are some Valentine’s day treats that can harm our beloved pets:

  • Flowers: lilies, roses,
  • Treats: chocolate (besides the cocoa, ingredients like Xylitol, nuts, raisins, coffee, alcohol, marijuana, can cause further harm to your pets)
  • Alcohol
  • Medication: headache/hangover medications, erectile dysfunction meds, hormonal birth control

If you suspect your pet may have gotten into something they shouldn’t have, please call us asap – we’re open 24/7: 925 937 5000

Why is My Pet Eating Grass and Plants?

     The answer for why many dogs and cats eat grass and other plants is not clear – cut. Some of the more popular theories are that they have a deficiency in diet, need for more fiber, or that it is a natural instinct inherited from ancestors to rid the body of intestinal parasites. Recent research suggests that most pets eat grass when they are not showing signs of illness. In a recent study conducted at UC Davis by Karen Sueda and her colleagues, it was reported that only 9% of dogs appear ill prior to consuming plant material and only 22% were seen vomiting afterward. It also suggested that younger animals tend to eat plants more often and less frequently appeared ill before plant – eating. Younger animals also have an increased likelihood of consuming other non- grass plants.

     If your pet is consuming plant material, it may be normal behavior. If your pet has other signs of illness, please consult your veterinarian. Your pet should have a complete physical exam to rule out any underlying illnesses.

     The following is a short list of some common toxic plants. If you suspect that your pet has consumed these or other toxic plants, please consult a veterinarian immediately:
Oleander
Castor beans
Lillies
Pothos
Cyclamen
Marijuana
Cycad palms (Sago palm)
Azalea/rhododendron
Schefflera
English Ivy
Peace lily
Chrysanthemum
Autumn crocus
Tulip/narcissus bulbs
Amaryllis
Yew

Lacey LaVigna, DVM

Summer Pet Tips 101

    With summer approaching, we’re more likely to spend time outdoors with our pets. Whether it’s taking our dog with us camping in Tahoe or on a long walk at Newhall Park in Concord or even taking our indoor cats outside on the lawn for a roll in the grass, it’s important we be aware of what may harm our pets.

SUNBLOCK:
Dr. Jill Christofferson of Encina Veterinary Hospital recommends that pet owners apply sunblock on the ears, noses, etc of light colored pets (such as white cats/dogs) or pets with less than full fur (certain breeds of cats and dogs have little to no hair). Also, on the belly of dogs if they sunbathe belly-up. Should your pet suffer a sunburn, aloe vera or vitamin E may help to soothe it but a veterinarian will also be able to prescribe a mild pain-reliever to help with your pets’ discomfort.

HEATSTROKE:
Heatstroke in pets is all too common sadly. Leaving your pet in the car (even with the windows cracked), being left outside on a hot sunny day while you are away for hours with no water or shade or even just exercising on hot humid days (especially for brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, Boston Terrier or Pekingese) can all lead to heat stoke in your pet and even death. Here are some symptoms to keep an eye out for:
                           • Excessive drooling or panting
                           • 104-110 degree body temperature
                           • Twitching muscles
                           • Vomiting and/or bloody diarrhea
                           • Pale dry gums that are gray in color and tacky to the touch
                           • Staggering/stumbling when walking or inability to stand
                           • Wide-eyed look of distress or panic
                           • Difficulty breathing and increased heart rate
    Should your pet experience any of these symptoms, your first and best move is to seek emergency veterinary care. If you are unable to do so, here are some things you can do to help your pet cool off before getting them to the veterinary emergency hospital:
                    • Immerse your pet in cool water for about 2 minutes or hose/pour cool water on your pet.
                    • Wrap your pet in a damp, cool towel while traveling with him/her to the veterinary hospital.
                    • Get your pet to shade or an airconditioned area.
                    • NEVER use ice or freezing temperature water; this may lead to shock and cause further complications.
    Preventing heatstroke is quite easy. NEVER leave your pet locked in the car on a hot or even warm day; your car can and will become a death trap reaching temperatures well above 119 degrees. NEVER leave pets unattended outdoors with no access to shade or water; heatstroke can set in very easy and fast if your pet is already partially dehydrated. When walking your dog or exercising them, do it early in the morning before temperatures reach high levels or in the evening.

WARM WEATHER TOXINS: With everyone working hard to perfect their lawn and landscapes, a bottle of pesticides, fertilizer and other garden chemicals may be lurking. Be sure you properly close/seal all of these toxins and keep them away from your pets.

SWIMMING: As with children, never leave a pet unattended in the water; accidents and drownings happen in pets too and they need you to help keep them safe.

PARASITE, FLEA AND TICK PREVENTION: Talk to us about a year around parasite prevention program to help keep your pets, home and you, flea free. Trifexis is also offering up to a $20 rebate through August 31st, 2012 to help you get started.

TRAVEL: Secure your pet using a harness or crate when driving with your pet; though it is not a law in California, it’s better safe than sorry should you get into an accident. But it is against the law to have your pet loose in the bed of your truck; they MUST be restrained!

GROOMING: If your pet is elderly or has a long coat, consider taking him or her in to get shaved down for the summer; this will help them keep cooler as well as reduce the chance of debris (like fox tails) getting stuck in their fur (and eventually burrowing their way into your pet’s skin) since they may be spending more time outdoors.

FOXTAILS: We can never say this enough, fox tails are such a hazard! They’re everywhere and can be anywhere on your pet. Paws, ears, nose, belly and chest are common areas that fox tails get into. Abscesses, surgery, lung collapsing and punctured organs are just a few of the complications we see each year from fox tails penetrating a pet. Once a fox tail gets stuck in your pets fur, it burrows it’s way to the skin and eventually through the skin leading to an abscess which leads to further issues. One way to help protect against this is keep your pet groomed and make it a habit to brush/comb him or her each time they come inside from being outdoors. Another way is by investing in the Out Fox Field Guard (Did you know one of our very own clients designed and this?! We’re so proud!!) to help protect against fox tails in the ears, nose, eyes and face. And be sure to keep your yard trimmed and free of fox tails!

In the end, summer is a great time to enjoy the Bay Area of California outdoors with your family and pets. Keeping an eye out for these hazards will help ensure your family’s summer is full of fun and empty of harm.

Should your pet experience an emergency, don’t hesitate to call us because we are open 24 hours, 7 days a week – holidays and weekends included! (925) 937-5000

Top 10 Household Pet Toxins According to the ASPCA

We generally think our home is much safer for our pets compared to the outdoors where they face loud noises, speeding cars and not so friendly people. But what if danger crept inside to your home? In 2011, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center answered nearly 170,000 phone calls from pet owners concerned with what their pet just got into. According to ASPCA, here are the top 10 household toxins pet owners called in about and why they pose a danger to your pets:

1. Prescription Human Medications Nearly 14% of all calls last year to the ASPCA’s poison hotline were concerning prescription human medications. While most of the culprits were dogs, cats are known to knock a bottle or two over to play with. The most common medications reported were cardiac or ADHD medications which can both lead to an increased and dangerous heart beat in pets. To be safe, keep your medications up high in a cabinet where pets wont be able to get to them.

2. Insecticides With over 17,000 calls to the ASPCA in 2011, insecticides were quite the consumable item. While you may purchase products that are designed to kill the bugs in your garden or keep that pesky ant problem controlled, you didn’t think your furry friend would try to eat it! It’s important to remember that these are poisons that are typically designed to kill one thing or another. IF you’re concerned with your pet getting into these, store them away from where your pet can get to them or look for a pet-friendly and natural insecticide to use instead.

3. Over-The-Counter Human Medications Medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen can literally kill your pet. These medications were not designed with your pet’s metabolism in mind and it’s important that we keep them away from our pets. You can read more about common household medications in our blog from last month, Self Medicating Pets At Home: A Big “No-No!”.

4. People Food The ASPCA received over 7,600 calls on chocolate alone in 2011. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate and even seizures when ingested by pets. The second most common food reported was xylitol (a sugar substitute often found in sugarless gum and Tic Tacs); Xylitol is extremely toxic for dogs and can send them into acute (sudden) liver failure.

5. Random Household Products Pets get into things and places we never imagined they would! Some of the calls the ASPCA took in 2011 included reports of fire logs and paint. If your pet is overly curious or enjoys tearing up just about anything, consider confining him or her to a safe room or space while you are unable to keep an eye on him or her to help reduce the chance of them injuring themselves (and destroying your stuff!).

6. Veterinary Medications Over the years, giving your pet a medication or two has gotten easier, thanks to flavoring! With medications flavored to chicken, beef, salmon and more, it’s easy to see why our pets love to eat them. Pet medications are safe when they are given at a specific dosage, but too much of something can be fatal. Like other medications, keep these away from your pet’s reach to avoid any mishaps.

7. Rodenticides Rat bait consumption is no joke (see out blog on Peanut the Miracle Cat to read about a patient of ours who beat the odds after ingesting rat bait). Often times, ingestion of rat bait by cats or dogs, can lead to internal bleeding, kidney failure, seizures and death. Never underestimate your pet and where they can and can’t get into; we suggest you try using a rat trap instead of rat bait to help protect your pets.

8. Plants While your plants are beautiful, they can also be deadly to pets. Lilies can cause liver failure and even death in cats, while aloe plants can cause your dog to have diarrhea and vomiting which can lead to dehydration. We suggest you cross check your plant collection with the ASPCA database to see what is safe and what isn’t for your pets: ASPCA Toxic and Non Toxic Plants

9. Lawn and Garden Products That spray you purchased to help your roses stay healthy and bloom all year long, may be laced with ingredients that are not safe for pets. Some fertilizers contain dried blood, poultry manure and bone meal – all of which are very attractive to pets. Do some research when purchasing lawn and garden products to see if they are safe for your pets, before you bring home danger for your pets.

10. Automotive Products Anti-freeze and brake fluid can be life-threatening for pets if ingested. However the ASPCA is happy to report that because more and more pet owners are keeping their pets indoors, the number of animals exposed to these hazards has dropped!

If you have any reason to believe your pet may have ingested something toxic or alarming, please give us a call at (925) 937-5000; we are open 24 hours, 7 days a week (including holidays and weekends)

Self Medicating Pets At Home: A Big “No-No!”

As pet owners, we hate seeing our pets in any distress and want to come to their aid right away. Often we have clients ask us if they can give their pet some over-the-counter human medications (such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Pepto Bismol, Pepcid etc.) in the event that they cannot come to the veterinarian at that very moment; you know, something to “hold them over” as they say.

First and foremost we’d like to state that we do not suggest you give your pet any medication unless under the direct treatment of a veterinarian. Many times you may believe the ailment in your pet is one thing, but the doctor finds it to be another, and the medication you were self medicating with prior to diagnosis ended up being more harmful than helpful.

Here’s what you need to know about human OTC (over the counter) medications and pets:

Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) Acetaminophen is a big-fat NO when it comes to pets. Acetaminophen can destroy red blood cells in pets and cause them to be anemic, as well as severe irreversible liver damage, and may lead to death if untreated. Acetaminophen is also more toxic to dogs and cats than people due to extensive recirculation of the drug within the blood.

Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) Ibuprofen has been used in dogs as an analgesic or to reduce a fever, only when directly under the care of a veterinarian. Dogs often can be allergic to ibuprofen, so it’s important that you don’t give this drug at home because you risk your dog developing an allergic reaction which may constrict his or her airway and eventually lead to a fatality. In addition, ibuprofen can be more toxic to dogs and cats than people due to extensive recirculation of the drug within the blood. It can also be linked with kidney failure and gastric ulcers. When it comes to dogs, ibuprofen is not used to treat pain or arthritis. When it comes to cats, there’s a big “no-no”; cats are never ever to receive ibuprofen under any conditions.

Bismuth Subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol®, Kaopectate®) Bismuth Subsalicylate is used to treat mild diarrhea and stomach inflammation in dogs under the care of a veterinarian. It often leaves the stool a very dark color which should not be alarming. There are no serious complications caused by giving Pepto-Bismol to dogs, although there is not complete agreement that it is helpful either. It is important to know that Pepto-Bismol contains aspirin so it should not be used in dogs that are sensitive to aspirin, those with a history of GI ulcers or bleeding disorders; to do so could cause a fatal bleeding episode. When it comes to cats, it’s best to steer clear because they are more susceptible to suffering from a fatal toxicity.

Famotidine (Pepcid®) Famotidine is used in the treatment and prevention of stomach (gastric) and intestinal ulcers. Another use is management of acid reflux disease )a condition similar to “heartburn” in people) and caused by movement of stomach acid into the lower part of the esophagus. Dogs and cats with mast cell tumors may be treated with famotidine or a related drug because these tumors can produce large amounts of histamine. While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, famotidine can cause side effects in some animals, such as an allergic reaction. Medication should never be dispensed without the direct care of a treating veterinarian. This medication should not be used on patients suffering from kidney or liver disease.

Tums® In veterinary medicine, Tums can be used as a calcium supplement for dogs. A blood panel should be done on your pet before giving him or her Tums as it may not be good for them. An overdose on Tums can cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea and constipation.

Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®) Pseudoephedrine causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, and should never be given to dogs.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) Diphenhydramine is often used to treat allergic reactions in humans and pets. Diphenhydramine is a great emergency drug for allergic reactions related to insect bites and stings. Relatively safe, diphenhydramine is administered at the first sign of an allergic reaction in pets, children and adults, when bit by an insect or stung. Although it is relatively safe, diphenhydramine is not for every pet. Patients with glaucoma, prostatic disease, cardiovascular disease, and hyperthyroid, among other conditions, should generally avoid diphenhydramine.

Loperamide (Imodium®) Often used to treat diarrhea but can cause vomiting or abdominal cramping at lower doses, which can lead to dehydration. High doses can cause neurological signs like depression and ataxia in pets. Some dogs have a genetic sensitivity to the drug (same gene as Ivermectin sensitivity), and will show neurological signs even at low doses. It’s best you don’t give this one at home and contact your veterinarian when your pet has an upset stomach instead.

Give us a call at (925) 937-5000 immediately if you suspect that your pet has ate any medication, since some poisonings require antidotes or supportive treatment.

Always discuss with your veterinarian before “self-medicating” your pet for any condition.

Peanut the Miracle Cat!

Peanut's Baby Picture

It is said by many that cats have nine lives, as it would appear in the case of Peanut Matthews. Peanut, a very sweet seal point Siamese, has proven herself to be a survivor not once, but twice. Found by her human dad at St. Mary’s College (my alma mater) in August of 2010, she is the only kitten out of her litter of six to survive. Peanut came to us on the brink of death earlier this year, after her brother found her curled up against the back door of their house, crying, barely conscious. Dr. Johnson brought her back using life-saving measures that night, and Dr. Christine Fabregas recalls her story below:

Dr. Fabregas, attempting to get Peanut's blood pressure

“Peanut” Matthews, a 1 year old female-spayed Siamese cat, who was found by her owner at the age of 4 weeks. Peanut’s new family bottle feed her and nursed her to a healthy kitten. She was an indoor/outdoor kitten that loved to adventure through the neighborhood. On October 13, 2011, Peanut was presented to Encina Veterinary Hospital comatose, very low body temperature and blood pressure; neither was able to be registered. At this time the thought was that there was a traumatic event that occurred such as a hit by car. Her skin was bruised on her limbs and abdomen. She did not have any fluid in her chest or abdomen when scanned with the ultrasound. An IV catheter was placed and blood work was ran revealing a very low red blood cell count (8%) and her clotting factor time was out of range. Her limbs became rigid and she began to arrest. Emergency medicine was instituted with epinephrine and atropine injections. Her cardiac electrical conduction revealed ventricular fibrillation on ECG. The doctors defibrillated her chest and brought her back to life. She was given a blood and plasma transfusion, and Vitamin K1 injection for the possibility of a toxicity. She was intubated for oxygen therapy and protection of her airway. Blood was noticed within her airway tube and suctioned out. She began to regain more energy and her airway tube was removed. She was maintained in an oxygen cage, on IV fluid and medications for the next 24 hours. Her pupils were dilated and fixed, unsure if she has vision.

Peanut getting a blood transfusion, with Dr. Johnson & Barb's help

Peanut’s owner called later that evening stating the high likelihood of rat-bait toxicity found in their neighbor’s yard. We continued treatment for D-con poisoning. D-con is an over the counter rat poison, an anticoagulant. The mechanism of action is to cause bleeding, most commonly into the abdomen, chest, or subcutaneous. This also occurs in cats and dogs if they ingest the poison itself or if they ingest a rat that has ingested the poison. If you notice that rat bait has been ingested by your pet, it is recommended to bring them in to the veterinary hospital for assessment. This rat bait ingestion can be fatal if not treated.

Peanut in the Oxygen Cage

Peanut required multiple plasma transfusions to increase the amount of clotting factors in her blood to stop the bleeding. She had a few seizures over her first night in the hospital and the following day, which were treated and subsided. Medication was given to decrease the pressure around her brain. An IV catheter was placed in her jugular vein(neck vein) for ease of blood sampling and fluid administration. Peanut did not seem to be neurologically appropriate, because she was just laying on her side, not responsive to her surroundings. She would vocalize when pet, but was not completely aware. She was not eating or drinking on her own. A feeding tube was placed to increase her nutrition and prevent any potential liver disease. She was fed a/d slurry and administered oral medications through her feeding tube. Chest X-rays were taken and showed an area of a bruised lung. She began to have episodes of agitation to stimuli outside of her cage.

Peanut following the placement of a feeding tube

With time and intensive care, Peanut continued to improve everyday. She was noticed grooming herself, walking around in the cage, vocalizing,and more alert to her surroundings. She was slowly transitioned out of the oxygen cage into a regular cage. Her vision was still questionable, but her touch and light reflexes were present. Her temperature, blood pressure, and blood work were reaching normal values. She began to eat small amounts of food on her own. Her tube feedings were reduced prior to discharge from the hospital. Her bruising on her abdomen and limbs were greatly improved. Peanut was discharged from the hospital with instructions on proper feedings and administration of medication via the tube. She was responsive to her owners.

Peanut eating on her own!

On recheck examination, Peanut was active and alert with partial visual improvement. Her feeding tube was removed since she was eating well on own. She was grooming herself in the examination room in the arms of herloving owner. We wish Peanut and her family the best of luck in the future.”

Peanut feeling much better following a few days of intensive treatment

I spoke with Peanut’s dad recently, and he said that she is up to her old trick of hiding in the hallway and grabbing the legs of unsuspecting passerby.  Her vision has returned completely, all the better to find her targets. Peanut’s  spunky personality is still very much intact, and she has even learned not to use her claws when playing with her human family. We at Encina are very happy have been able to witness Peanut’s miracle recovery, and wish the best of health for her for the rest of her life!

Peanut's Unbreakable Spirit is Evident in Her Beautiful Eyes

Also, as a fun bonus, please check out Peanut taking her medication right out of her owner’s hand! Dr. Johnson and I have never seen a cat take medication so easily!  Peanut Taking Pills

 

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Pet Owners

With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, we saw it fitting to have our own Dr. Jill Christofferson has put together some tips on what’s okay and what’s not okay for your pet this Thanksgiving.

Turkey: White turkey meat is okay for pets to eat; you want to avoid the dark meat and skin though because it is full of fat. Food full of fat is bad for your pet because it can cause pancreatis (pancreas becomes inflamed) which can be life threatening to your beloved pet.

Bones: Bones are a general no-no and cooked bones are an even bigger no-no; cooked bones can often splinter inside of your pet and puncture a vital organ. It’s very important you dispose of your turkey’s carcass securely in the trash. Should an emergency arise, please call us (we are open 365 days a year, 24 hours every day): 925 937 5000.

Green Beans: Green beans with no butter or onions are fine for your pets. The butter is very fatty and can cause damage to the pancreas and onions are toxic to pets.

Potatoes: Cooked potatoes are great for your pet! But as with green beans, be sure there is no butter or onions.

Garlic: If you’ll be seasoning your food this thanksgiving with garlic, a little bit of garlic is okay for your pet. Generally garlic is considered to be toxic but a small amount shouldn’t harm your pet.

Onions: Onions are considered to be toxic for pets and should never ever be fed.

Pumpkin: Pumpkin pie is much too high in fat for your pet and can cause pancreatis. A nice substitute for your pet would be unsweetened canned plain pumpkin (also good for helping firm up stool in pets with an upset stomach or diarrhea).

I want to prepare a safe thanksgiving dish for my pet, what can I or should I include?
White cooked turkey meat, plain cooked or raw green beans (or any green vegetable), baked potato and for desert, plain unsweetened canned pumpkin.

If you should experience any emergency, please do not hesitate to call us! The sooner, the better for your pet’s health: (925) 937-5000.

We will be open all day and night Thanksgiving, staffed with experienced emergency doctors and technicians.