Original article by Elizabeth Gigis, DVM, West Chester Veterinary Center
A common misconception among dog owners is that all fruits and veggies that are safe for humans are safe for animals. Also, Ibuprofen relieves a person’s fever, so many owners think that it is safe for their pets. Does rat poison only hurts rats? Canine physiology is very different from human physiology. Many things that are safe for us can be deadly to our pets. It is important to know the most common toxicological emergencies, and how to address them. One day, it may save your pet’s life.
Fruits and veggies are good for humans and most are good for dogs too! However, all fruits are NOT made equal. It has been found that grapes and raisins may cause kidney failure in large doses in dogs. It is not well understood exactly the way the grapes affect the kidneys, but the toxicity is well documented. It is thought that 1/3 pound of grapes could potentially be toxic to a 10 pound dog. The symptoms usually start with diarrhea and vomiting and develop within a few hours. Acute kidney failure can occur within 48 hours and has been associated with some fatalities. Onions also may be toxic in large doses, causing anemia. This means that the onion affects the red blood cells, which carry oxygen.
Ibuprofen is commonly used by people to reduce fever and help alleviate pain. It is logical to think that it may be useful for use in pets, but this is incorrect. Ibuprofen ingestion in dogs can cause symptoms that range from vomiting and diarrhea to sudden death. It is very toxic and medical attention should be sought immediately with any dog exposed to ibuprofen.
Antifreeze toxicity is a common problem because it only takes a small amount of antifreeze to cause severe kidney damage. The antifreeze converts in the body to a compound which will precipitate and cause mineralization of the kidneys. Treatment must given within a few hours to be affective. The most common signs of antifreeze ingestion are lethargy, ataxia (pet walking like they are drunk), seizures and vomiting. The treatment for antifreeze toxicity is very effective if given immediately and may save your pet’s life. Pet safe antifreeze is also available for use in vehicles. New federal guidelines have recently been enacted requiring that antifreeze have a bitter, rather than sweet, taste.
Many herbal products and vitamins may be toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion of aloe may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney inflammation. Garlic ingestion can result in anemia (low red blood cell count), allergic reactions, asthmatic attacks, and contact inflammation of the skin. This is important to note because many people give garlic and an herbal preventative for fleas. Lily of the Valley may cause cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting and diarrhea. Also, multivitamins made for humans contain the improper amount of vitamin content for pets. If a dog ingests a human multivitamin, the most common toxicities associated are iron toxicity, Vitamin A toxicity, and Vitamin D toxicity.
Rat Poison is toxic not only to small mammals, but also to our pets. Rat poison can cause severe bleeding if not treated within 48 hours after exposure. Rat poison interferes with the way that your pet clots his blood, by decreasing the levels of vitamin K in his system. This can cause severe problems within several days, but is very treatable. Oral vitamin K can be prescribed by a veterinarian to prevent bleeding problems, if given quickly enough. If bleeding problems have already manifested, then more intense therapy may be needed, including blood transfusions.
An important first aid treatment to have at home is hydrogen peroxide. If your pet eats something toxic at home, you may give 3% hydrogen peroxide at 5 mLs per 10 pounds. Some things should not be vomited up. This is because there is a risk of your dog inhaling the substance (aspiration pneumonia) or lacerating (tearing) the esophagus on the way up. If you are unsure about whether your dog ate something that is safe to make them vomit up, please contact a veterinarian.
The number for the Animal Poison Control Hotline, which is available 24/7, is (888) 426-4435. There is a consultation fee for calling. The Animal Poison Control Hotline has an extensive database of toxicological information.
Elizabeth Gigis, DVM
West Chester Veterinary Center
7330 Liberty Way, West Chester, OH 45069
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.