Winterizing Precautions

Once again cold weather is on the way and, as always, there are potential hazards for our pets.  First of all, this time of year many people are adding antifreeze to their vehicles.  This is highly poisonous to pets (and people too) in that it destroys the kidneys.  Most antifreeze has a sweet smell/taste so animals and children will readily drink it.  Anther potential source for antifreeze is in the garage where you store your car.  When the engine is turned off, occasionally a small amount of antifreeze/radiator coolant can drain from the overflow from the car and leave a small puddle under the car where you may not notice it.  Your cat or small dog can find this and consume it.  Small amounts consumed over time will results in kidney damage as well so it is important to not let your pets roam the garage unattended. 

Secondly, even though colder weather is approaching, fleas are still a threat.  They can harbor in leaves, etc and it takes a really hard freeze to kill them.  It has to get cold and STAY cold.  Even then there are sources of fleas for our pets such as stray cats, opossums, raccoons, coyote, etc.  It is best to protect your pets year round in order to keep your house flea free.  Remember, all pets in the house have to be on prevention.  Mixed pet households (dogs and cats) often think to only treat the dog since it is the one usually going outside.  Fleas are not instantly killed and if they jump off the dog and onto the cat that does not have flea protection, this is a source of food and the fleas will establish themselves inside the home.  Once established, it can take MONTHS to rid the house of the fleas.  There is no medication that will kill the pupa stage of the flea cycle.  These can remain dormant for several months and then hatch when temperature and moisture conditions improve.  Therefore, it is best to keep all your pets on year round prevention so that you don’t end up with a flea infested home. 

Another cold weather related problem can occur when the weeds mature and produce their seeds.  Many of these seeds have thorns or stickers that adhere to clothing and pet fur.  This is a favorite time of year to take our dogs for romps in the woods and fields.  Always check their paws, pads and toes for any weed seeds and remove them.  Another area to watch is the eyes.  Tiny seeds and plant awns can be trapped under the upper and lower eyelids as well as the third eye lid (the fleshy membrane at the inner part of the eye).  Always check the eyelids and if you see weed seeds, gently flush them out with a sterile saline eye wash.  If you see persistant squinting of the eye or excessive eye discharge immediately have your pet examined.  There could be a penetrating object in the eyeball or a scratch or an ulcer to the cornea of the eye.  These should not be ignored and should be treated immediately to prevent serious damage as well as relieving the extreme pain associated with these conditions.

So, enjoy the coming season.  I hope this information has been helpful and helps keep your pets safe and healthy.

Dr Walsh

Enjoy the Holidays–safely!

Once again the holiday season is here.  Every year we see cats and dogs that have been given some of the holiday food and we think we are sharing with our pets but actually we are putting them at risk of illness, some cases that are life threatening requiring hospitalization.  Vomiting and diarrhea are 2 common results of feeding your pets holiday food.  Another serious condition is pancreatitis, which is a very severe inflammation of the pancreas that, left untreated, can kill your pet.  Also be careful of giving your pets new treats they are not used to having.  A sudden diet change (or introduction of a new treat) can trigger the same problems as table food. 

Also remember that your pet’s sense of smell is about 10,000 times stronger than humans so they will seek out candy and food during this time of year.  Chocolate is poisonous to pets and a lot of candy has a high fat content which also increases the risk for pancreatitis.  Always make sure to keep candy and holiday foods in a secure place where your dog or cat will not get into it. On the counter or table is not good enough.  Store it in the fridge or the microwave, somewhere you are certain they can’t get to it. 

Holiday plants and decorations can also pose a hazard.  Poinsettia plants are toxic and tinsel and decorations can be swallowed and cause serious damage often requiring surgical intervention.  Pet toys and chews can pose a choke hazard as well.  Always supervise your pets play with their toys and when they become damaged discard them and purchase new ones. 

So, enjoy the holidays–with your pets–but use common sense and keep them safe!

Halloween–Beware of "Spooky" Treats!!!

(submitted by Betsy Kubisz)

Just because you’re enjoying some spooky Halloween treats does not mean that it’s safe for your pets to do the same….notably candy and gum!  Candy, especially chocolate, and gum, especially sugar-free using xylatol, can be toxic (poisonous) to your pets.  You’re pets are attracted to the smell but do NOT let them eat it!  It is much better to celebrate the holiday with some pet-friendly treats.  Why not have a box of doggie biscuits handy or cat treats when answering your door?  No doggie biscuits?  Try some baby carrts – nice and orange for Halloween!  Many of your trick-or-treaters may bring along their 4 footed friends, so be ready.

 Don’t forget when your little ones come home with their bags of candy to put it out of the way (that is, if its’s not already gone) so that your pet does not help itself once all humans are in bed for the night.  Putting it out of the way is not leaving it on the table or counter.  Pets’ sense of smell is many times stronger than humans so make sure it is in a locked cabinet or in the refridgerator or microwave where you are certain your pet can not get to it.  Day after Halloween is a popular day for the veterinarians – lots of sick tummies!

If for some reason your pet DOES get into the treat bag, save the wrappers (whats left of them) and call your veterinarian right away to see what should be done.  Don’t wait an hour or 2 to decide.  Some of the ingredients in these treats can cause serious harm to your pet in a very short time.  Your veterinarian will be glad to advise you on the best method of treatment. 

Be safe and have a spooktacular Halloween!!!!

Valentines Day – beware of chocolate

Valentines Day is coming and chocolates are a sweet gift to give to your sweetie, but be sure your lovable sweet dog does not eat any.

Chocolate is toxic to dogs. It contains a substance known as Theobromine found in cocoa beans. Theobromine is a stimulant compund similar to caffeine and can cause serious toxic effects such as vomitting, heart irregularities, seizures and death. Different types of chocolate have different amounts of theobromine which makes some types of chocolate more toxic than other types. Luckily milk chocolate, the most common chocolate that is given on Valentines Day, is one of the least toxic. However, if you have a small dog <10 lbs, as little as 2 ounces can be a problem.

Check out this interactive chart  from National Geographic which calculates how much chocolate is toxic to your dog depending on its weight…. Chocolate Toxicity Chart for Dogs

If your dog consumes chocolate please seek immediate veterinary assistance. If you are near Crown Point, IN gives us a call we will be glad to provide you with assistance.

Happy Valentines Day from all of us here at Oak Hill Animal Clinic!

Crown Point Vet information on Peanut Butter Recall in pet foods/treats

As a member of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association I have been made aware of 2 websites to get information that Petsmart has issued a recall on one of their products, Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits,  due to the Salmonella contaminated peanut butter.  This outbreak has been nation wide so quite possibly could affect residents and their pets in the Crown Point and Northwest Indiana region as well.  Please check the following web sites  American Veterinary Medical Association and the FDA website:   Click on “food ” and then look for “recent news”.  As I am sure you have heard there has been Salmonella poisoning associated with contaminated peanut butter throughout the country in both human and pet foods.   This has resulted in several human deaths and hundreds of people becoming ill and several companies issuing pet food recalls.  If you have any treats, food, etc with peanut butter–contact the supplier and ask for information or contact the FDA.  Also do not feed your pets human foods as well.  If in doubt, throw it away safely.

Another toxic substance that we want to make you aware of is Xylitol poisoning. We had a little 6 month old puppy come into Oak Hill Animal Clinic today that had ingested some Xylitol. I know, how in the world did the dog ingest something like that?……well it is a sweetener in sugar-free products such as chewing gum. This little pup ate only two small pieces of gum, which is an emergency situation.

Xylitol can cause a rapid decrease in blood glucose (sugar) in the dog and result in weakness, collapse and even seizures and death. These symptoms can happen in as little as 30 minutes after ingestion.   Inducing vomitting right after ingestion can help prevent this problem, but xylitol is very rapidly absorbed, so medical treatment should be given very quickly especially if the dog starts exhibiting any of the symptoms.   Even if you get your dog to regurgitate the gum/candy, still seek immediate attention to have it check for liver function and blood glucose (sugar) levels.  Xylitol is extremely rapidly absorbed so don’t take any chances.    Another consequence of ingesting xylitol is liver toxicity causing liver damage. This also can happen rapidly and needs immediate attention. The puppy we saw today had eaten 2 pieces of gum 45 minutes before the owner got him to regurgitate it.  Even at this, its liver enzymes were already above normal and starting to climb and it was exhibiting diarrhea.  The treatment was initiated by immediately placing the puppy on intravenous fluids with dextrose (sugar) added to help prevent the rapid drop in blood sugar.  After 24 hours of being on fluids to help flush out the system to support the liver and monitoring the return of normal liver function most dogs receiving promp, appropriate medical treatment, like the pup we had at our clinic, recover without any problems.

Prevention for xylitol poisoning is the most important, so keep all gum and candy containing this substance out of your dogs reach. Xylitol is very sweet and dogs love it, so it is very easy for them to ingest this substance and remember JUST A SMALL AMOUNT CAN BE FATAL TO A LARGE DOG! So just remember that gum is not for dogs and just a few pieces can be extremely harmful, even deadly,  to your dogs health.   So, please keep your pets safe.     Dr. Walsh