Poison Prevention Week

Happy National Poison Prevention Week! I know, I know, this is not the most exciting or happy week to celebrate but it might be one of the most important. As reading, understanding, comprehending humans we know what is good and bad for our bodies. We know what is toxic, what will cause damage and make us sick. Our pets, however, rely on our judgement as pet parents to look after what they eat. From food to water to toys, our pets need us to help keep them safe from their inquisitive nature and desire to put everything in their mouths. You know, that pile of junk in the garage that’s oozing some unknown substance (don’t deny it, we all have one) or that tangle of cords behind the TV that is still in reach of the kitty.

Some of these things are common sense like giving chocolate or grapes to your pet but what about the pile in the garage? How often do you think about your pet getting into things around the house? How about the things we willingly give our pets that we might assume are good for them, like peanut butter? In honor of National Poison Prevention Week here is short list of common household items or foods that are severely poisonous to our pets.

  1. Lilies, Tulips and Daffodils

Lilies, especially Easter, Day, Tiger, Asiatic, Japanese and Show Lilies are all extremely toxic to pets. Consuming even two or three petals can result in kidney failure. Ingestion of any kind can be fatal to your feline. Even walking through fallen pollen and licking paws later is fatally dangerous.

Tulips are major cause for concern for those of you who have pooches who love to dig. Tulip bulbs have a high concentration of toxicity to dogs and can cause tissue irritation, vomiting, excessive drooling or diarrhea.

Daffodils contain toxins in nearly all parts of the plant. The bulb, flower or plant can cause extreme abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, cardiac arrhythmia and even respiratory depression. Ingestion of the crystals on the outer layer of the bulb can trigger further reactions in your pet.

If you even suspect your pet has ingested part of these plants, head immediately to the vet or call the Pet Poison Helpline. Check out a complete list of toxic plants here.

2.  Xylitol

This natural sugar sweetener is found in nearly every type of gum, candy, mint, yogurt, ice cream and even some peanut butter. Xylitol has been known to cause hypoglycemia and severe liver damage in dogs. What exactly does that mean? VCA Animal Hospital helped Sweets-Candy-wonderfulus out with an easy explanation, “Xylitol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. This rapid release of insulin results in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that occurs within ten -60 minutes of eating the xylitol. Untreated, this hypoglycemia can be life threatening.” As little as five grams (.17 ounces!) can be life threatening. Check out this complete list of foods containing xylitol and be sure to read ingredient labels or consult this list before giving your pet people food!

  1. Over the Counter Medications

Advil, Aleve, Motrin and Tylenol are four of the most common medications pets can get their paws on. As little as one or two pills can cause intestinal and stomach ulcers and kidney failure. Tylenol is the most toxic according to the Pet Poison Helpline. tylenol “One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen (Tylenol) may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in larger doses, red blood cell damage.” Toxicity affects from these medications often lasts five to six times longer in cats than dogs because cats do not have the proper proteins in their stomach to breakdown aspirin. Symptoms of poisoning may appear within ten – 30 minutes or be as delayed at 12-24 hours. Symptoms include: vomiting (potentially vomiting blood), diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain and pale gums.

If you suspect your pet may have gotten into your medicine cabinet, call the vet or Pet Poison Helpline immediately even if they do not show symptoms right away.

  1. Pesticides and Herbicides

It is spring time and that means getting those winter lawns looking green again. Killing off unwanted weeds, spraying off bees, mosquitoes and other unwanted pests is common this time of year.  However, your beautiful, bug free lawn might come at a pesticidesprice for your pets. Whether you or a lawn service are caring for your yard, read labels to find out what is and is not appropriate for pets. Dogs and outdoor cats have a tendency to eat grass and dig dirt. When grass has been chemically treated your pet is ingesting those same chemicals. Dog toys that get left in the yard during treatment get coated in toxins too. Dogs and cats often groom themselves and after a romp in the yard, chemicals and toxins stick to their paws and fur, which when grooming, get ingested and can cause damage. If you insist on getting your yard sprayed check out Pesticide Action Network’s Pesticide Database for toxicity and regulatory information.

Short, simple list right? It is hard to remember how each small thing can impact your pet’s well-being. Sending flowers for a birthday, anniversary or holiday never seemed so complicated before, but it is crucial to look up each plant before sending or receiving flowers into your home to make sure they are not toxic to your pet.

What happens if your dog hops onto the kitchen counter to swipe down that jar of Go Nuts peanut butter because it’s just ‘oh so tempting’?

Signs of poisoning can occur immediately or one day later depending on the amount consumed and which type of poison it is. Good indications that your pet has been poisoned are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive salvation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Stumbling as if drunk
  • Pale gums

If you notice any of these symptoms or even suspect your pet is poisoned call your vet IMMEDIATELY! They may instruct you to induce vomiting before bringing your pet in. If possible gather vomit or stool sample for your vet, this may help them determine the cause of poison. For this reason, it is critical to keep an unopened, up-to-date bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the house, as this is often used to induce vomiting in poison emergencies. Only administer hydrogen peroxide at the instruction of your vet!

If you cannot reach your vet call the Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661 for instructions. There is a $49 fee per phone call but this is nothing compared to saving your pet’s life.

Running with Archer

By Guest Blogger Britany Ochalek

While the first day of spring is not technically until March 20th for many of us the weather has already warmed, the sun is hanging in there a little longer and the time to dust off our running shoes has come. Spring has the perfect outdoor weather. It is cool enough yet that the worries of overheating are not quite there and the sun’s rays aren’t relentless in the afternoons and late evenings.

But as we prepare ourselves for running, hiking, long walks and extended park visits, we must also prepare our pups too. I recently started running with my dog, Archer a husky mix, and he could not be happier, but it took me a while to work my way up to running. Running has always been a solitary activity- just me, my music and the pavement ahead. My pace, my direction, no interruptions. My biggest concern was how to keep running in my control. I was afraid Archer would try to stop and sniff or chase a squirrel in the other direction. Would he understand pace? Would he take off sprinting, dragging me behind or pulling my arm out of my socket because he thinks it’s time to play “crazy dog?”

IMG_6358-1I have never had any doubts that he could run a decent distance, he is part husky after all- it’s in his blood. But just like a human, I knew he would need a slow transition into running, an activity that is normally only acceptable at the dog park. So, we started exploring all the local walking trails throughout the city. I had two goals during our long walks: get him used to the idea that these walks were all business, we were not to dilly-dally around with sniffing and peeing on every tree trunk and get him used to prolonged, fast paced walking.

For the last several weeks the two of us spent our early weekend mornings walking, our last walk clocked in just under two hours. We were whipping our lazy winter butts into shape! I knew that our time had come, however, to attempt a run.

I picked an obscurely slow time in terms of traffic, both car and pedestrian, to limit distractions. I rigged up Archer’s leash into a makeshift runner’s belt making me hands free. This also allowed my entire body force behind Archer so, if by chance he took off sprinting, I would be able to use my body weight, not just the end of my arm, to slow him. I choose to run him in the same neighborhood loop we frequently walk so most of the smells would be familiar in hopes this would reduce his stopping.

With these precautions, I was ready to head out. I let him pee before we got started (he had already done his other business a little earlier so I knew that would not be an issue) and we started our one mile run.

At first he was beyond excited we were running and was trying to gallop around in circles at the end of the leash. This amplified when we turned out of my apartment complex. But after a stern “nicely” and a “let’s go” he stopped and kept a nice trotting pace next to me.

I was proud of my boy for running so well! I truly expected a worst case scenario but I should have given Archer a bit more credit. He only strayed a few times to sniff but I told him “let’s go” and never stopped, he caught on and was a perfect running mate.

We have since worked our way up to three miles. I still run him early in the morning before traffic and before people. I will eventually feel comfortable running him on the walking trails and at other times of the day, but we still need a little more practice.

I want to attribute most of my running success on the proper preparation. Just as I would not start running three miles out of nowhere, I knew Archer shouldn’t either. Especially for dogs not used to running or performing a lot of sustained activity, allow your dog to make the transition with you, from walking to running, from one mile to two, eventually even four or five. My long walks also helped Archer recognize the times when walking was not about sniffing and meandering, which really assisted his transition into running and understanding why we were not stopping to sniff and pee.

Guest Blogger: Britany Ochalek has been working for Nana’s Pet Sitting and Nana’s Pet First Aid & CPR for over two years. Through Nana’s she met Archer, at the time a two year old husky mix, and adopted him in April 2015.

Pet Temps & Thermometers

As a pet parent and human parent I have come to notice that caring for both types of children have a lot in common. Especially when it comes to getting sick. When a child laments about not feeling well often the first thing a parent will do is place a hand on the forehead to feel for a temperature. If the child feels warm, we take that as an indication of true sickness.

Sick Ill Dog

Picture courtesy of petcarefacts.com by Esther Johnson.

But what about your pets? Have you ever taken your dog’s temperature when you notice they are a bit sluggish or not eating like they normally do? I will take a guess here and say no. You might not even know how to take the temp of your dog (one hint: you use a thermometer- but it’s not going in their mouth).

A dog’s temperature is supposed to hover between 100°-102.5°, anything else and the dog should be headed immediately to the vet. Especially if the temp is higher than 102.5°. Once it rises, the dog will start to overheat, become dehydrated and, of course, a high temp means there is something more serious going on inside your dog.

For the cat pet parents out there, the safe temp range is also 100°-102.5° and newborn puppies and kitties temp is 96°.

But how will you know when your dog has a high or low temp? By following these simple steps:

  1. Turn on your digital thermometer. Never use a glass thermometer; it may break off inside your dog posing a serious health risk.
  2. Apply a non-petroleum based lubricant to the thermometer for easy, pain-free insertion.
  3. Hold your pet securely or get help from another person if possible. Hold up the tail and gently insert the thermometer into the anus about 1/4 inch, a very short distance in, and keep in place until it beeps, which indicates it has measured the current body temperature.
  4. Remove and record temperature.
  5. Clean thermometer and store safely, marking it for pet use only.

It is important to keep a running log of your pet’s temperature and check as often as hourly when sick. Any slight variant in temp when sick should be an immediate trip to the vet. With pets it is often hard to tell exactly when something might be wrong and since they cannot speak up, we must have protocols in place to eliminate hesitations on taking them to the vet. If you get an inkling that something is not quite right with your pet, take the temp immediately and take them to the vet. Simple and easy as that, no hesitations needed.