Monthly Archives: March 2012

Chocolate Poisoning

Dogs are known for eating things when they are not supposed to. This is especially true of puppies. Also, dogs have an excellent sense of smell, making it fairly easy to find any secret hiding spots for the chocolate. This can be a dangerous combination when there is chocolate around the house.

         

Chocolate is derived from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao, which contains certain properties that can be toxic to animals: caffeine and theobromine. If ingested, these two ingredients can also lead to various medical complications and may even prove fatal for your dog.

Symptoms and Types

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased reflex responses
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Advanced signs (cardiac failure, weakness, and coma)

The amount and type of chocolate ingested is also important, as they are the determining factors for the severity of the toxicity. The three types of chocolate that you must be aware of are:

  1. Milk Chocolate – Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight is ingested; severe toxicity occurs when two ounces per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as one pound of milk chocolate for a 20-pound dog).
  1. Semi-Sweet Chocolate – Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.3 ounce per pound of body weight is ingested; severe toxicity occurs when one ounce per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as six ounces of semi-sweet chocolate for a 20-pound dog).
  2. Baking Chocolate – This type of chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine. Therefore, as little as two small one-ounce squares of baking chocolate can be toxic to a 20-pound dog (or 0.3 ounce per pound of body weight).

Causes

In the right quantities chocolate can become toxic for any dog. So be wary of feeding your pet anything that might contain chocolate and always keep it out of reach.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam, including a chemical blood profile, electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. These tests will help determine if there is a chocolate/caffeine overdose. Blood can also be taken to test for theobromine concentrations, while an ECG is performed to help determine if the heart is showing any abnormalities in rhythm or conduction of heart beats.

Travelling with your Pet!

The sun is coming out and the weather is changing, therefore it is that time of year we all want to get away and travel with our families.  Now our pets are a part of the family too, so we don’t want to leave them out.  However, traveling with a pet should not be taken lightly.  Here are some quick tips on how to safely travel with your pet.

                 

Identification Tags

No matter how you choose travel, it is vital to outfit your pets with proper identification prior to setting out. After all, if you should become separated from your pet, their identification is the surest way they’ll find their way back to you.

 Permanent Identification for your Pet

In addition to fitting your pets with I.D. tags, your veterinarian may recommend fitting them with a microchip. You can also have your pet tattooed with the National Dog Registry. But, if you decide to use this method to I.D. your pet, register the number or you will not be able to find your pet.

 Train Them Young

Train your puppy to remain calm and focused on your commands with practice sessions in the car, and a reward system. If you have more than one dog, train them separately.

 Secure Your Pet for Their Safety

Now that you’ve trained your pet to behave in a car, you may think it’s okay to let them roam freely in the vehicle. Not so. Just like people, pets can become injured if the car makes a sudden movement, say to avoid an accident. For safety, it is always recommended to crate your pet.

Best Travel Crate for your Pet

Fabric carriers are a good way to transport your dog or cat, but a hard plastic carrier is more versatile. If you want to travel with your pet, invest in a plastic carrier, they’re safer for different modes of travel, such as transporting your pet via air.

 Pets and Cars

Dogs and cats are quick and agile, and they will put all those talents (and more) to use if they feel their safety is threatened. If you leave your pet loose in a moving vehicle and they become startled, they’ll panic, and go into attack mode seeking out the safest spot.

Consider Sedating your Pet

Initially, the idea of calming your frightened pet with medication prior to transporting them may seem like a bit much. But if your pet experiences extreme anxiety in an unfamiliar setting (such as an older pet) giving them a sedative could save them from trauma, not to mention a fear-induced potty accident.

 First Aid Pet Kit

When you prepare a pet travel kit that includes a copy of their current medical records, consider your pet may need first aid during travel. The Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society can provide information on the nearest animal hospital. Also make sure to pack a simple first aid kit, including gauze, bandages, and hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if necessary. Always take steps to contact an animal healthcare professional first, before personally treating a pet for possible toxin exposure.

 Pet Food and Water

Unexpected turns and delays are a part of traveling, so when your plans include your pets, take along extra food for them. A travel delay (or getting lost en route to your destination) could result in your pet waiting an undetermined amount of time for food or clean water. Be prepared ahead of time.

Be Extra Vigilant

No matter how well you think you may know your pet, you never know how they’ll react if they’re startled by a loud noise or unfamiliar stimuli. A cat left loose in a car, for example, may seek safety under your legs… while you’re driving. An irresistible urge to chase down a tantalizing smell could inspire your uncrated dog to jump out of a half-open window. Keep your pet safe and secure at all times.

Do You Have a Cat Allergy?

Having a cat allergy can be really hard for your life, especially if you love kittens or have many friends who own a feline.  Here are some tips on how to handle your allergies.

Be prepared

If you know you are going somewhere a cat is present prepare yourself by taking your allergy medication prior to leaving.  As well call ahead to ask if they home owners own a cat, if they are okay with it ask them to do an extra vacuum job before you head over!

Don’t choose the soft chair

Steer clear of upholstered furniture, which is a hotbed of dander in households with cats. Not only do felines like a comfortable seat as much as the next mammal, the soft upholstery can trap dander.

Hard wooden chairs can’t harbor as many cat allergens, so you’re better off taking a seat there.

Even if you can’t spot any cat hair on that comfy looking couch, don’t go there.

Take antihistamines

Non-drowsy antihistamines like loratidine (Claritin) can help keep you symptom-free and alert when you’re visiting a household with pets that make you sneeze.

Angel Waldron, a spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), who’s also allergic to cats, takes loratidine every day when she’s visiting feline-friendly family members.

If you’re planning a long visit to a home with cats, you may want to ask your allergist about starting medication a few weeks beforehand.

Practice hand hygiene

Two things that help fight colds or flu washing your hands and not touching your face are also a good idea if you might come into contact with cat allergens.

Tempted to give your friend’s cat a quick scratch behind the ears? Don’t. Even minimal contact can trigger an allergic reaction.

What’s more, if you touch any surface and transfer dander to your face or eyes, it can trigger symptoms. So wash your hands before touching your face.

Have air filter, will travel

If you often visit friends or family with cats, but they don’t have a HEPA air purifier in the room where you’ll be staying, you may want to consider investing in a portable version.

Small but powerful, HEPA air purifiers are available for under $200, and you can even use them to clean the air in your car.

When you get home

Even after a short visit to a household with cats, you should wash your clothes in hot water to avoid bringing allergens into your home.

Pet Profile: Dalmatian

                      

The Dalmatian has an intelligent and alert expression with a short and shiny coat. Its distinctive spots are a well-regarded feature; however, solid patches are not encouraged in the breed standard — an abstract aesthetic ideal for the animal type. The Dalmatian also has an athletic build with strong bones and a square-proportioned body which gives it endurance, and an effortless and steady trot. The ground color of a Dalmatian is pure white with dense, black spots, while liver-spotted Dalmatians have liver brown spots.

Although the origin of the Dalmatian’s coat pattern is not known, it is one of the most interestingly patterned breeds. Paintings of dogs resembling the Dalmatian have been found throughout the centuries. One such painting, a fresco from 1360, is held in the Spanish Chapel of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy.

This eager and playful companion should be exercised in a secure area, as it is known to roam around and is capable of running for miles before it gets tired. Although the Dalmatian is usually reserved towards unknown people and acts scrappy toward strange dogs, it is good around horses and other pets. Dalmatians may also be too lively and active for young children.

A short walk on a leash is not sufficient to meet the needs of the breed. Instead, runs and physically strenuous games are required to keep the dog fit; it makes for a great jogging partner. Other than frequent brushing to remove dead hair, the Dalmatian’s coat does not need much care. To keep it happy, provide soft bedding, shelter, love and companionship. The Dalmatian can live indoors or outdoors, but only in warm and temperate climates.

The Dalmatian, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, may suffer from minor health concerns like hypothyroidism, allergies, iris sphincter dysplasia, seizures, and major issues like deafness and urinary stones. Some may also be prone to canine hip dysplasia (CHD) or the formation of urinary calculi, as it cannot break down uric acid. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hearing, thyroid, eye, and hip exams.

Tips on Finding a Veterinarian

                            

Ask for Recommendations
If you are switching veterinarians because of a recent move or just looking to find a new pet healthcare provider, ask for recommendations from your previous veterinarian. Be sure to get copies of your pet’s records for the new hospital staff. Also consider consulting neighbors and friends with pets to see which veterinarian they use or prefer. The Yellow Pages and Internet are great resources for veterinarians in your area and can be a great place to start. You may also find coupons for free first time visits or routine exams this way.

Visit the Hospital
First try a virtual visit. Most veterinary practices have a website, so you should be able to check out their services, staff, facility and office hours without making too many phone calls. Visit the websites, because you can get a feel for whether or not the staff and/or office are what you’re looking for. From the Internet, you will also be able to locate reviews from clients and visit the Better Business Bureau’s website to check up on the background of the practice. Once you have narrowed your search down to a couple of veterinarians, schedule appointments with each clinic for a routine exam and initial consultation.

As you meet each new veterinarian, consider asking the following questions:

The first list is for yourself:

  • Was it easy to make an appointment to fit my schedule?
  • Was the receptionist friendly and helpful?
  • Was the waiting area orderly and clean?
  • Was everyone kind to my pet?

The second list is for the veterinarian:

  • Do you handle emergency calls or refer to an emergency clinic?
  • Do you perform x-rays, lab work or other advanced testing in house?
  • Will my pet be able to see the same veterinarian for each visit?
  • What types of payment do you accept and do you work with any pet insurance company?
  • Do you offer any discounts for multiple pets or package pricing?
  • Do you provide boarding/grooming services, and are these animals kept separate from the hospitalized animals?
  • Can I have a tour of the facility?

After your pet’s exams at each hospital, you will be able to choose the veterinarian and facility where you and your pet feel most comfortable. Choosing a second best friend for your pet can be a stressful process, but with proper research and asking the right questions you should find the perfect fit for your family.