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7 Dangerous Holiday Foods For Pets

Aside from the twinkling lights, gift-giving, and time with family, one other thing we like to look forward to during this season is feasting. But keep in mind that our pets cannot eat everything that we can. When you bring guests over, your friendly dog or cat may be waiting for scraps around the table. But warn your family and guests of the dangers that come from sneaking them a bite, as there are a number of dangerous holiday foods for pets to watch out for.

Chocolate

Although we may be stating the obvious, chocolate is one of the most toxic foods for pets. While cats seem to be less tempted by chocolate, dogs are notoriously attracted to this delicious sweet. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are toxic to both dogs and cats. Ingestion of small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, while large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.

Different forms of chocolate vary in their toxicity, with dry cocoa powder at the top of the list, followed by unsweetened baker’s chocolate. As a general rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is for your pet. Any type of dessert that contains chocolate, such as brownies or chocolate chip cookies, should not be fed to pets.

Sugar-Free Items With Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a sugar substitute in chewing gum, candy, peanut butter, store-bought baked goods, and other foods. A 2010 academic paper collected data on xylitol toxicosis in dogs in the U.S., finding that 2500 cases were reported in 2008. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and can cause low blood sugar and liver toxicity. Ingestion will cause a rapid and massive insulin release in dogs, leading to weakness, seizures, and vomiting. Pet owners should examine labels closely, especially on sugar-free products. Instead of being listed as “Xylitol,” it is sometimes listed as “Sugar Alcohol,” so be wary of both terms.

Raisins and Grapes

Salads, baked goods, or even savory dishes can have raisins or grapes in them. However, raisins or grapes can cause sudden kidney failure in dogs and ingesting even small amounts can be fatal for both cats and dogs.  Initial signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactive behavior. After 24 hours, the pet may become lethargic and depressed. While raisins are more toxic to dogs than grapes, it is extremely important to keep any food items containing either away from your pet.

Coffee

Any type of caffeine is toxic for pets. It can cause seizures, heart arrhythmias, and even death. Therefore, caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and tea, can be dangerous. If you serve coffee or tea to any of your guests, advise them to keep their mugs away from your dog or cat.

Alcohol

At safe and reasonable amounts, alcohol is fun and bubbly, but be extra careful to keep it away from pets. Even for humans, alcohol poisoning is a serious issue. For our fluffy companions, who are much smaller in body mass and lack tolerance, alcohol is significantly more toxic. Alcohol can lead to staggering, decreased reflexes, slowing respiratory rate, cardiac arrest, and even death.

Onions and Garlic

Fragrant and delicious, onions and garlic are found in many holiday dishes to provide some flavor, kick, and seasoning. However, they both contain thiosulphate, which causes red blood cells to burst in cats and dogs. This can possibly lead to something called hemolytic anemia, where red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be made. Side effects of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and lethargy.

The good news is that a small bite of food flavored with onion or garlic will not cause problems in most pets. Ingestion of large quantities, however, such as an entire clove of garlic, can be serious. Garlic has much less thiosulphate than onions, but it is recommended that both are kept away from dogs and cats. In particular, cats are more sensitive to garlic.

Ham and Bacon

Ham, bacon, and other pork products are high in fat content and difficult for pets to digest. They can cause pancreatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. Even small portions of ham or bacon can contribute a disproportionately large amount of calories and fat to a dog or cat’s diet.

We hope that your holidays will not be interrupted by concerning signs of distress in your pet. Be sure to review this list of dangerous holiday foods for pets before a gathering or party and inform your guests of the involved risks. If you begin to suspect that your pet has ingested something potentially toxic, call a professional veterinary clinic, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, immediately.

Should You Worry About Poisonous Christmas Plants For Your Pet?

When the holiday season rolls around, we all love a festive plant to spruce up the atmosphere of our living spaces. If you have a dog or cat, chances are that he or she will be curious about the new addition to the home. They might even sniff, chew, or rub their bodies against the plant. But this is where things can get dicey. As a pet owner, it’s important to know the truth about poisonous Christmas plants for your furry friends.

Poinsettia

Poinsettias are notorious for being the most deadly plant for pets. However, this is not quite the case. It is true that their brightly colored leaves contain a sap that irritates the tissues of the mouth and esophagus. Ironically, this very sap naturally deters ingestion. This means that even if your dog or cat eats the leaves, they will most likely ingest a very small amount due to the unpleasant sensation that results. In the case that these leaves are ingested, mild nausea, vomiting, and drooling will ensue. The good news is that it is unlikely for more serious problems to develop.

Christmas Trees

Dogs and, in particular, cats are charmed by the appearance of a brightly lit Christmas tree in the living room. However, there are some risks to keep in mind. Fir trees produce oils that can be irritating to a pet’s mouth and stomach. These oils can cause excessive vomiting or drooling. If many needles are ingested, there is a risk of gastrointestinal tract irritation, obstruction, and puncture.

Furthermore, drinking Christmas tree water can cause mild vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea. The presence of fertilizers, bacteria, or mold in the water can quickly cause sickness in your pet.

Mistletoe and Holly

Mistletoe and holly are iconic Christmas plants. Sadly, however, the leaves and berries of these two plants are generally more dangerous to pets than poinsettias and Christmas trees. Symptoms include intestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.

The ingestion of mistletoe is particularly worrisome for dogs and cats. Mistletoe is well known for causing severe intestinal upset, a sudden drop in blood pressure, breathing problems, and even hallucinations. If a lot is ingested, seizures and even death may result.

To be safe, we recommend that holly and mistletoe be kept well out of your house altogether. For the safety of your pets, opt for the imitation version of these plants.

Amaryllis

Many enjoy the vibrant and eye-catching bulbs of the Amaryllis, which blossom into red, white, or pink flowers during the Christmas season. However, this beloved and beautiful plant is strongly toxic for dogs and cats. If the flowers and leaves are ingested, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, lethargy, or tremors may occur. Be warned, though, that the bulbs are actually the most toxic. It can cause even more severe symptoms, such as seizures and changes in blood pressure.

Christmas Cactus

Generally, the Christmas cactus is considered a non-toxic plant. If it is ingested, mild vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea may occur. Thankfully, severe symptoms are not expected.

Poisonous Christmas Plants, In Short

Please be advised, that the consumption of any plant material may cause gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats. Some plants may cause life-threatening problems for your pets, while others will not. For a look at the complete list, please refer to this ASPCA database.

Keep in mind, however, that some plants have been treated with pesticides. In these cases, all ingestion may be potentially dangerous. Due to their small body mass, puppies and kittens are at highest risk for complications.

Furthermore, cats are generally able to jump to high shelves on their own. For this reason, we recommend that, at least for poisonous Christmas plants, pet owners choose imitation versions over the real ones. If you do choose to bring any of these plants into your home, be sure to place them strategically and properly train your pet to avoid eating them. If you find your pet displaying any symptoms or evidence of ingestion, call a trusted animal healthcare provider, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, immediately.

How To Prevent Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Even the word “heartworms” may make you feel squeamish and uncomfortable. You may have heard of them before, but do you know enough to help prevent heartworm disease in your furry friend? If you want to ensure the health of your pet, read on to learn more about heartworm disease and how it can be diagnosed, treated, and prevented.

What Are Heartworms?

Heartworm disease is a serious disease caused by foot-long worms, called heartworms, that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of dogs. While it can affect other animals, dogs are a natural host, meaning that heartworms can mature and reproduce in dogs. Because they have been reported in all 50 states across America, heartworm disease is a serious issue.

What Would Heartworms Do To My Dog?

Mature heartworms clog the heart and major blood vessels leading to the heart. By clogging the vessels, blood circulation to other parts of the body is reduced. Reduced blood flow to the lungs, kidneys, and liver causes these organs to malfunction. Immature heartworms, known as microfilariae, are much smaller than their mature counterparts and can clog small blood vessels. Again, organs are deprived of nutrients and oxygen supplied by blood.

What Are The Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?

Unfortunately, by the time clinical signs are noticed, the disease is usually well-advanced. In the early stages of the disease, most dogs show no clinical symptoms. Signs of heartworms include a persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, weakness, and loss of stamina. Dogs with serious cases may have heart failure or swelling in the abdomen, caused by fluid accumulation.

How Is It Transmitted?

Heartworm disease is not transmitted from dog to dog, but by mosquitos. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, fox, or another infected animal, it picks up baby worms. These worms mature into larvae, which are able to enter a new host when the mosquito bites another animal. It takes 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. After maturation, they can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs.

Because mosquitos are found nearly everywhere, all household pets are at risk for heartworm disease. Stray dogs or other wildlife may be carriers of heartworms and increase the chances of infected mosquitoes in your areas. Mosquitoes can also be blown great distance by wind and can easily enter homes. In many parts of the United States, mosquito season lasts all year round. Furthermore, each mosquito season can lead to more worms in an infected animal.

What Should I Do?

The American Heartworm Society recommends that you “think 12.” This means that you should get your dog tested every 12 months for heartworms, as well as have them on heartworm preventive 12 months a year.

Preventative options include pills, topicals, and injectable products. The cost of these options is fairly low, especially in comparison with the financial and emotional costs of heartworm disease treatment. If you want to protect and nurture the good health of your furry friend, bring him or her to a trustworthy clinic, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital. Speak to veterinary professionals, who can recommend the best heartworm prevention plan for your pet.

Cat Sneezing: 3 Reasons Why Your Cat’s Nose Is Acting Up

We’ve all heard it before. A cute, little sneeze out of nowhere. You turn to see who the culprit is, only to find no one. No one but your cat, that is. As cat owners, you may find these sneezes cute and endearing. However, chances are that you also worry about why your furry friend is sneezing. Some causes of cat sneezing are more benign than others, so be sure to keep reading to get a basic understanding of some possibilities.

Cat Sneezing: Just A Little Something In The Nose

When humans sneeze, it’s usually because there’s simply something irritating our nose. Sometimes, it may be as harmless as dust. A similar thing can happen to our fluffy companions. Applied Animal Behavior Science found that 200 million scent receptors are in the feline nose, which helps them to navigate the world around them. Their sense of smell allows them to distinguish owners, fellow cats, friends, and foes. With cats relying so heavily on their sense of smell, it’s no surprise that they may find particular scents or allergens irritating. Most of the time, a lone sneeze here or there is no big problem.

You may want to take note, though, if your cat only sneezes at certain locations or scenarios. You may be lucky enough to pinpoint an irritant! For example, your cat may be extra sensitive to certain cleaning sprays or perfumes. If you are able to isolate the culprit, be sure to switch to an alternative product.

Unfortunately, the sneezing situation can also become a bit dicey. If you notice a series of consecutive sneezes or heavy sneezing on consecutive days, be aware of the following possibilities.

Dental Problems

By now, you must have noticed your cat’s sharp row of little teeth. Perhaps you’ve even been bitten by them before. But did you know dental problems can actually be the cause of your cat’s sneezes? An infected tooth root can drain to the sinuses and cause sneezing.

Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections in felines are not very different from our version of colds. A wide range of viral or bacterial infections can cause sneezing in cats or otherwise compromise their immune systems and render them vulnerable to multiple simultaneous infections. Respiratory infections are most common in younger cats whose immune systems aren’t as developed as their older counterparts. Cats who have recently arrived in your home from an animal shelter may have faced more exposure to infections. High stress-levels in shelters also increase the risks of susceptibility. 

So how important is it to take your cat to see a medical professional? Very important. The underlying causes of excessive cat sneezing may be serious and can cause complex health problems down the road. Be sure to take your fluffy friend to an established and reputable medical facility, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, to get him back to his usual relaxed and playful self.

Why It’s Vital To Check Your Pet’s Vitals: Reasons To Check Pet Health

Did you know that just like people, it is important to take your pet for regular health visits? Even if your pet seems perfectly healthy, a veterinarian will thoroughly check every area of your animal’s health and functioning to make sure everything is working properly. An animal may not even show symptoms of being ill, so you would have no way of knowing something’s not right without a professional’s help.

Blood Tests

One crucial element to your pet’s physical examination is blood testing. Blood tests give us insights into your pet’s health, as well as a baseline for future testing. As your pet ages, health issues may start affecting your pet, issues that may only be detected through noticing changes within your pet’s blood work.

Vaccinations

Just like people, animals benefit from getting vaccinated against diseases. Rabies, hepatitis, and parvovirus are among the several diseases for which pets get vaccinated. The vaccines don’t only protect your pets–they protect you! A disease like rabies could be dangerous for you if your pet contracts it. Protect your animal and your whole family by getting your pet vaccinated.

Dental Check

During a checkup, we also check your pet’s dental health. Just like people, pets can get cavities and gum disease, which can affect their comfort, their oral health, and the health of their overall body. We also examine for signs of oral cancer.

Nutrition Counseling

It may not always be obvious which foods are appropriate for your pet. That’s why we check in with you about your pet’s diet and make suggestions based on your pet’s health, activity level, and size. Sometimes, a pet may need a prescription diet. We help you find the right diet for your pet so your animal can thrive and get all the nutrients it needs.

Comprehensive Visits

At each wellness visit at Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, we perform comprehensive examinations so your animal can remain as healthy as possible. When diseases are caught early, they are much more treatable, giving you more healthy, happy years with your pet. Don’t wait to schedule your next veterinary visit. Call us today so your pet can get the medical care it needs.