Monthly Archives: December 2011

Pet Health and Safety During the Cold, Winter Months

The cold, snowy, winter season will bring plenty of excitement to your pet, especially if snow is a new experience…  however; cold weather comes with hazards and could be harmful to your pet if you aren’t careful.  Prepare sooner than later and sustain pet health and safety during the winter months.


Cat Tips

First of all, consider keeping your cat inside.  Some people consider their felines “outdoor cats” but if you want to keep your cat alive and healthy, it is best to leave her indoors.  If the temperature gets cold enough, cats can become injured or even freeze to death.  Other possible negative consequences of letting your cat stay outside include increased exposure to fatal diseases such as rabies.  If your cat is very experienced with living outdoors, then she most likely knows how to survive, however if you choose to let her stay outside, make sure that you bang loudly on the hood of your car before you start it.  This may sound silly, but the hood of a car is a warm place to hang out.

Dog Tips

Most dogs love the snow, it is a change in environment and the opportunity for play is endless.  However, no matter how much fun your dog is having, don’t let him off his leash during a strong snow storm or when on the ice.  Snow has a strange effect on a dog’s sense of smell, especially when there is abundance of it.  Dogs depend on their sense of smell in many situations, and without it they may become panicked, run away and ultimately become lost.  Keep your dog near you at all times, especially during a snow storm, and if your dog just needs to have a place to run around, you might want to invest in a fenced backyard!

Even though dogs have their own coats, they can still get cold, especially short-haired breeds.  To accommodate for this, you may want to consider purchasing a dog sweater.  This does not mean you are spoiling your dog —it means you are protecting him from the cold weather and thinking about pet health, just like you think about your own health!  Some dogs are especially sensitive to cold weather due to age, illness or breed type.  You will be able to determine this depending on how they act when you let them go outside.  If this applies to your dog, supervise him while outdoors and bring him right back inside after he goes to the bathroom.  Puppies also have a tendency to be sensitive to the cold and may be harder to potty-train during the winter months.  It is possible to paper train your puppy inside though, so don’t be discouraged.

Dogs need protein to keep their fur thick and healthy, so if your dog engages in a lot of physical activity, such as working dogs do, makes sure he has a healthy diet that includes the right amount of protein.

Cold weather chemicals that can be harmful:

A number of different chemicals are used specifically during the winter seasons, such as antifreeze and salt.  Antifreeze is extremely dangerous for pets, so make sure that it is out of reach at all times.  If your dog walks over salt, check him afterwards and wipe off or remove any salt that has been encrusted in the paws.  Paws may start bleeding due to the salt and this can cause great discomfort.  Remember, if your dog ingests any chemical it is important to bring it to the veterinarian right away. If pet helath is important to you, you must have something on hand for situations such as the ingesting of any toxic substance. There is a product called Nutri-Lyze that contains an extremely powerful decontaminating agent which is designed to absorb toxins in an animal’s stomach giving you time to make it to the vet. Nutri-Lyze is also safe to use for suspected cases of poisoning with no ill effects to the dog. This is something that should reside in your pet first aid kit.

About the car:

This tip might seem obvious, but never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather.  It does happen sometimes, believe it or not.  Cars hold in the cold and your pet could freeze to death.  There are plenty of ways to avoid this.

The winter months bring with them the need to consider added safety and health precautions, take the time to prepare and provide for your pet’s health when the weather turns cold.

Dog Park: Go or No Go?

Many behavior problems in dogs are caused by a lack of physical and mental activity. Dogs were born to lead active lives. They’ve worked alongside people for thousands of years, hunting game, herding and protecting livestock, and controlling vermin. Dogs’ wild relatives lead busy lives, too. Their days are full of hunting, scavenging, avoiding predators and complex social interaction. Most pet dogs, on the other hand, spend the majority of their time alone at home, napping on couches and eating food from bowls-no hunting or scavenging required. Many become bored, lonely and overweight. They have excess energy and no way to expend it, so it’s not surprising that they often come up with activities on their own, like unstuffing couches, raiding trash cans and gnawing on shoes.

To keep your dog happy, healthy and out of trouble, you’ll need to find ways to exercise her brain and body. If she enjoys the company of her own kind, visits to your local dog park can greatly enrich her life. Benefits of going to the dog park include:

  • Physical and mental exercise for dogs Your dog can zoom around off-leash to her heart’s content, investigate new smells, wrestle with her dog buddies and fetch toys until she happily collapses. Many dogs are so mentally and physically exhausted by a trip to the dog park that they snooze for hours afterwards.
  • Opportunities to maintain social skills Dogs are like us, highly social animals, and many enjoy spending time with their own species. At the dog park, your dog gets practice reading a variety of other dogs’ body language and using her own communication skills, and she gets used to meeting unfamiliar dogs on a frequent basis. These valuable experiences can help guard against the development of fear and aggression problems around other dogs.
  • Fun for pet parents Dogs aren’t the only ones who enjoy dog parks. People do, too. They can exercise their dogs without much effort, socialize with other dog lovers, bond and play with their dogs, practice their off-leash training skills, and enjoy the entertaining antics of frolicking dogs.

Dog Park Downsides

Despite the many benefits dog parks provide, it’s important to be aware of the risks before you decide to become a dog-park devotee:

  • Health risks Healthy, vaccinated dogs are at low risk of becoming ill as a result of visiting the dog park. There are health risks any time your dog interacts with other dogs, just as there are for us when we interact with other people. Talk to your veterinarian about the risks and whether she recommends vaccinating for Bordatella (“kennel cough”) if you become a regular park user. Fleas are everywhere-including on squirrels, rabbits and raccoons-so the key to flea control is providing adequate protection on your pet. Your dog could get injured in a fight or during overly rambunctious play. It’s highly unlikely, but small dogs could even be killed at a dog park because larger dogs sometimes perceive smaller dogs as prey.
  • Dog problems For some dogs, especially those who are naturally shy or easily overwhelmed, a visit to the dog park can be stressful. If your dog has unpleasant experiences with other dogs-if they bully or fight with her, intimidate her or just play too roughly-she might decide she doesn’t like them at all! She could start growling, barking, snarling, snapping and lunging to drive other dogs away, and even biting if they approach.
  • People problems Everyone has a different perspective, and some people have strong opinions about dog behavior. Pet parents don’t always agree about what’s normal dog behavior, what’s acceptable during play, what kind of behavior is truly aggressive, which dog behaviors are obnoxious, whether or not one dog is bullying another or who’s at fault in an altercation. People might argue about how to respond when problems between dogs arise. Since there’s rarely an authority figure to appeal to at a dog park, disagreements can get heated and result in human behavior problems!

Quick Tips to Stay Fit!

It is the holiday season so the issue of weight gain is in everyone’s minds.  Make sure your pet is taken care of too! Here are some quick tips to ensure you can help your dog avoid putting on extra weight.


Schedule a 20-30 minute walk daily. This means on a leash, around the block, to the park, and back—not just a short jaunt out to the back yard to do her “business” and then back to the den! In addition to keeping your buddy trim and healthy, a daily walk will increase the bond that the two of you share. Oh, and it’s not too bad for you either. There’s more than a little truth to the adage “If your dog is fat, you’re not getting enough exercise.”

Purchase appropriate food and stick to appropriate portions. Puppies and nursing dogs need extra calories, but once those needs have passed, dogs should be eating a maintenance diet to keep them trim. Every brand of commercial dog food has a daily recommendation for a serving size that is appropriate to the age and weight range of the pet. However, this can be tricky because the portion is suggested by manufacturers who, of course, want to sell you more of their product. The best way to determine a reasonable diet for your pooch is to work with your vet to determine his or her caloric needs—and stick to the recommendation.

Make feeding time a routine. Free-feeding or just leaving a full bowl of food out makes it difficult to keep track of our pet’s calories, which can lead to obesity and serious health issues down the line. Having a set feeding schedule once or twice a day will help you regulate calories and give your pet an idea of when they are coming. Like the added benefit of the daily walk, a regular dinnertime will increase your dog’s trust in your ability to bring home the bacon and be a strong pack leader.

Cut out the BLTs (Bites, Licks, and Tastes). It may seem like a friendly gesture to share a little nibble of your sandwich, let her lick the bowl after you’re done cooking, or sample an extra meatball from the Super Bowl party, but these kinds of calories can really add up, especially for a metabolism that’s not really designed to nosh. Dog biscuits and treats can be a valuable training tool, but once the lesson is over, switch to a more powerful motivator: your affection. You’d be surprised at how welcome a generous rub from you can be.

Top 9 Poisons for Dogs

Dog owners watch out, there are some household things on this list that you should be keeping out of reach from your pup!

Dog poison No. 1: Medications for people. Drugs that might be beneficial, or even life-saving, for people can have the opposite effect in pets. And it doesn’t always take a large dose to do major damage.

Some of the most common and harmful medications that poison dogs include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers or kidney failure.
  • Antidepressants, which may cause vomiting and, in more serious instances, serotonin syndrome – a dangerous condition that raises temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and may cause seizures.
  • Isoniazid, a tuberculosis drug, is difficult for dogs to process. Even one tablet can cause problems in a small dog. Signs of poisoning include seizures and coma.

Dog poison No. 2: Flea and tick products. You may think you’re doing your dog a favor when you apply products marketed to fight fleas and ticks, but thousands of animals are unintentionally poisoned by these products every year. Problems can occur if dogs accidentally ingest these products or if small dogs receive excessive amounts.

Dog poison No. 3: People food. Your canine companion may look so cute as he sits there begging for a bite of your chocolate cake or a chip covered in guacamole, but not giving him what he wants could save his life. Animals have different metabolisms than people. Some foods and beverages that are perfectly safe for people can be dangerous, and sometimes fatal, for dogs.

  • Chocolate. Though not harmful to people, chocolate products contain substances called methylxanthines that can cause vomiting in small doses, and death if ingested in larger quantities. Darker chocolate contains more of these dangerous substances than do white or milk chocolate. The amount of chocolate that could result in death depends on the type of chocolate and the size of the dog. For smaller breeds, just half an ounce of baking chocolate can be fatal, while a larger dog might survive eating 4 to 8 ounces. Coffee and caffeine have similarly dangerous chemicals.
  • Alcohol. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in animals are similar to those in people, and may include vomiting, breathing problems, coma and, in severe cases, death.
  • Avocado. You might think of them as healthy, but avocadoes have a substance called persin that can act as a dog poison, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Macadamia nuts. Dogs may suffer from a series of symptoms, including weakness, overheating, and vomiting, after consumption of macadamia nuts.
  • Grapes and raisins. Experts aren’t sure why, but these fruits can induce kidney failure in dogs. Even a small number may cause problems in some dogs.
  • Xylitol. This sweetener is found in many products, including sugar-free gum and candy. It causes a rapid drop in blood sugar, resulting in weakness and seizures. Liver failure also has been reported in some dogs.

Dog poison No. 4: Rat and mouse poison. Rodenticides, if ingested by dogs, can cause severe problems. The symptoms depend on the nature of the poison, and signs may not start for several days after consumption. In some instances, the dog may have eaten the poisoned rodent, and not been directly exposed to the toxin.   

Dog poison No. 5: Household plants. They may be pretty, but plants aren’t necessarily pet friendly. Some of the more toxic plants to dogs include:

  • Azaleas and rhododendrons. These pretty flowering plants contain toxins that may cause vomiting, diarrhea, coma, and potentially even death.
  • Tulips and daffodils. The bulbs of these plants may cause serious stomach problems, convulsions, and damage to the heart.
  • Sago palms. Eating just a few seeds may be enough to cause vomiting, seizures, and liver failure.

Dog poison No. 6: Chemical hazards. Not surprisingly, chemicals contained in antifreeze, paint thinner, and chemicals for pools can act as dog poison. The pet poisoning symptoms they may produce include stomach upset, depression, and chemical burns.

Dog poison No. 7: Household cleaners. Just as cleaners like bleach can poison people, they are also a leading cause of pet poisoning, resulting in stomach and respiratory tract problems.

Dog poison No. 8: Heavy metals. Lead, which may be in paint, linoleum, and batteries, can be poisonous if eaten by your dog, causing gastrointestinal and neurological problems. Zinc poisoning may occur in dogs that swallow pennies, producing symptoms of weakness from severe anemia.

Dog poison No. 9: Fertilizer. Products for your lawn and garden may be poisonous to pets that ingest them.

What should you do? 

If you think your dog has been poisoned, try to stay calm. It is important to act quickly, but rationally.

First, gather up any of the potential poison that remains — this may be helpful to your veterinarian and any outside experts who assist with the case. If your dog has vomited, collect the sample in case your veterinarian needs to see it.

Then, try to keep your pet calm and call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888) 426-4435