by Dr. Tracy Venier
Over-the-counter medications are so commonly used by people for anything from allergy and pain relief to upset stomachs, diarrhea and constipation, but are they safe for our pets? While there are some “safe” OTC medications that can be administered to our dogs and cats, there are also many that can be ineffective and more importantly dangerous.
Did your dog play a little too rough or seems sore after going on that long hike with you? You noticed that your kitty seems to be favoring one of his legs? What to do now? While it may be tempting to reach into our medicine cabinets for some Ibuprofen (an NSAID) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol) just like you would take for aches and pains, these are two of the most common pet poisons.
Aspirin, once commonly recommended by Veterinarians is now on the “do not give” list of OTC medications as it had been found to potentially cause gastrointestinal (GI) ulcerations, bleeding or even kidney failure.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) also potentially toxic to our canine companions can be lethal if ingested by cats.
Even Pepto-Bismol which can be tempting to use for stomach upset and diarrhea contains bismuth salicylate which is similar to aspirin and can also cause toxicity in dogs and cats.
While most pain medications (NSAIDs and Tylenol) and most medications that are ingested orally are the most common culprits, even some topical medications can be problematic. Allergies are a very common ailment in our dog and cat patients and rashes/hives on skin often accompany allergies. Topical creams that contain steroids should be avoided as they can potentially make certain skin conditions worse, and can be problematic if your pet is able to lick the spot where the cream was applied.
Other things best to avoid are topical ear and eye medications, as many products contain additives that may not be safe, or can be alcohol based (ear cleaners) that can burn and make ears even more sensitive.
Pain management, allergy relief and soothing an upset stomach are very important but it’s always best to check with your Veterinarian before administering any medication-even if it’s something you’ve used before or had left over from another pet in the house.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
November is National Pet Diabetes Month. Are your pets at risk? The likelihood of your cat or dog developing diabetes is anywhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 500 and experts say those numbers are increasing. Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a disease that affects glucose in your pet’s blood and is caused by a shortage of insulin or when the body can’t process insulin properly. Diabetes in dogs is usually type 1 while diabetes in cats is usually type 2 but can progress to type 1.
The food that your pet eats is broken down into small components that the body can use. One of the components, carbohydrates, is converted into sugar or glucose. If there is too little insulin or the insulin cannot be processed correctly, then the glucose is not able to enter the cells and provide energy. Because the cells cannot absorb glucose, a diabetic pet may always want to eat but still look malnourished.
If your pet exhibits the following symptoms, he or she may have diabetes:
-Excessive drinking or urination,
-increased appetite (early stages) or loss of appetite (late stages),
-lethargy or weakness, and
-vomiting or other intestinal problems.
If your pet has these symptoms then let us or your veterinarian know so we can get started on creating a plan for your and your pet. Although diabetes is not curable, it can be managed with daily insulin injections and changes in diet (and exercise for dogs). Oral medications have shown to be not particularly helpful. Successful management of your pet’s diabetes means that he or she can live a happy and healthy life. Making sure that your pet is eating a proper diet, gets regular exercise, and maintains a healthy weight can be a big help in preventing diabetes.
For more information about pet diabetes, visit http://www.petdiabetesmonth.com
September is National Food Safety Month. Just like people can’t eat everything they come across, cats can’t either. In fact, many human foods are toxic for cats. See the alphabetic list below for the foods you should avoid giving your cat.
Alcohol: Alcohol has the same effect on a cat’s brain and liver as it does to humans but it takes far less to see the effects. As little as a teaspoon can cause a coma in a cat and it can easily cause severe liver or brain damage. The higher the proof of alcohol, the worse the symptoms will be.
Chocolate: Although most cats won’t eat chocolate on their own, you should not attempt to try to feed it to your cat. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical found in all chocolate including white chocolate, which is toxic to cats. Eating chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death. Dark and semisweet chocolate are the most dangerous.
Coffee/Caffeine: Along with chocolate, coffee contains caffeine. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and can be toxic to the heart and nervous system.
Fat Trimmings and Bones: Don’t feed your cat table scraps. Fat, when cooked or uncooked, can cause intestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea, or pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Cats can choke on bones or the bones can splinter and cause an obstruction or internal lacerations. You should also never give them anything that is as hard as or harder than their teeth because it can cause dental fractures.
Fish: This includes raw, canned, and cooked fish. You can get away with small amounts of fish but if fed in high amounts your cat can develop a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency that leads to loss of appetite, seizures, and maybe death. The exception to this is if the fish is made into cat food. Most good cat food brands are supplemented with thiamine are just fine.
Grapes and Raisins: Although it is not known what makes grapes and raisins toxic, they can cause kidney failure. Even a small amount can make a cat sick and cause them to repeatedly vomit and be hyperactive.
Macadamia nuts: Like grapes and raisins, it is not known what makes macadamia nuts toxic. Ingestion of macadamia nuts can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle.
Milk/Dairy Products: Surprisingly most cats are lactose-intolerant, so it’s best to be safe and avoid any dairy products.
Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in the body and cause shock or result in death.
Onions, Garlic, and Chives: Onion, in any form, can cause a cat to become anemic because it breaks down red blood cells. Even the onion powder that is in some baby foods is bad for cats. Onion, along with garlic and chives, can also cause gastrointestinal upset.
Raw eggs and meat: Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin, hair, and coat issues. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella or other parasites. Raw meat may contain Salmonella and E. coli which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Sugary foods: Sugary foods, such as candy and gum, are usually sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is known for increasing insulin production which causes blood sugar levels to drop. It can also cause vomiting, fatigue, loss of coordination, and eventually liver failure. Even if the sugary food doesn’t contain xylitol it can still lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes.
Yeast dough: Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system. This can lead to pain and a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, when the yeast causes the dough to rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.
Non-food items: Foreign objects such as toys, soft rubber objects, stringy objects (thread, yarn, tinsel), coins, and medicine are perhaps a greater risk to cats than food. Aspirin, Tylenol, and Motrin are all highly toxic and a single tablet could be lethal.
If you suspect your cat ate any of these foods, first try to determine what and how much he or she ate. You should then call us or your veterinarian to see if medical attention is needed. If a veterinarian is not available, call either Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.
Do you have a dog? Most foods that are toxic for cats are also toxic for dogs. Check back here later for a dog-specific list of toxic foods. If you’re unsure about a certain food and it’s not on this list, call your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is worth the call!
Is your dog or cat microchipped? In a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters, only 22% of dogs and less than 2% of cats that were not microchipped were reunited with their owners. The return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52% and for cats it was about 38.5%. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have joined together to create a day for reminding pet owners to have their pets microchipped and to keep the registration information up-to-date. “National Check the Chip Day” is this Friday, August 15th.
A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the size of a grain of rice. Instead of running on batteries, the microchip is designed to be activated by a scanner that is passed over the area and then it transmits radiowaves that send the identification number to the scanner screen. Microchips are also designed to work for 25 years.
Implanting the microchip is as simple as a quick injection between the shoulder blades and can be done in a routine appointment. No surgery or anesthesia is required and it is no more painful than a typical injection.
You can take advantage of the day by making an appointment with us to have your pet microchipped. Then be sure to immediately register the chip. There are many databases that allow you to register your pet’s microchip but the one that animal shelters and veterinarians search first is AAHA’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool
. Or, if your pet is already microchipped, you can check the chip’s registration information by going to the manufacturer’s database and making sure everything is up-to-date. Most of the time if an animal is microchipped and not returned to their owner, it’s because the information is incorrect or there isn’t any information provided.
A microchip does not replace identification tags or rabies tags. Identification tags are the easiest and quickest way to process an animal and contact the owner. If the pet is not wearing a collar or tags, or if either the collar or ID tag is lost, a microchip may be the only way to find a pet’s owner. Rabies tags allow to others to quickly see that your pet is vaccinated against the disease. It is more difficult to trace a lost pet’s owners with rabies tags as it can only be done when veterinary clinics or county offices are open. Microchip databases are online or can be reached through the phone 24/7/365.
You can use this useful flyer
from the AVMA to keep a record of your pet’s microchip number and manufacturer.
Since 1981, Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic has been serving the unique concerns pet owners throughout Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania. We provide full-service, comprehensive medical, surgical, and dental care for small animals. We offer a broad spectrum of diagnostic procedures through in-house laboratory testing and radiology. Our animal hospital features a well-stocked pharmacy, surgical suite, radiology suite, and a closely-supervised hospitalization area. We are members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA), and Veterinary Information Network (VIN). We proudly sponsor the Last Chance Fund, which cares for abused and neglected, unowned companion animals. We also sponsor Summit Search and Rescue, a non-profit agency that provides mantrailing bloodhounds to assist local agencies in locating missing individuals.
Did you know that although 1,000 house fires are caused by pets each year, approximately 500,000 pets per year are affected by house fires? To spread awareness and help keep pets safe, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and ADT Security Services have joined together to make July 15th National Pet Fire Safety Day. Compiled here are some easy and helpful tips to keep your pet safe from fire.
Pet proof your home –
Walk around your home to make sure there aren’t any loose wires, appliances, or any other areas where your pet could start a fire.
Extinguish open flames –
Animals are curious about light and tend to investigate cooking appliances, fireplaces, and candles. Make sure your pet is supervised around flames, keep them away from the area, and put out any flame before leaving. Using a flameless candle that contains a light bulb rather than a fire takes away the danger of a lit candle accidentally being knocked over. Cats are known for knocking things over with their tails.
Remove your stove knobs –
Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, stoves and cooktops are the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.
Don’t use a glass water bowl on a wooden deck –
When sunlight is filtered through glass and water, it can heat up and ignite the wood below it. Use a stainless steel or ceramic bowl instead.
Securing your pet –
Especially with young puppies, keeping them in a crate or behind a baby gate in a secure area will ensure they are away from potential fire-starting hazards. If your pet is older and you still use a crate or confine them to a certain area, make sure they are close to an entrance. If a fire does start, firefighters can easily find them and remove them from the house.
Use a monitored smoke detection service –
Since animals can’t escape, use a smoke detector that is connected to a monitoring center so emergency response teams will be contacted when you’re not home. Battery operated smoke alarms can be used in addition but they may scare your pet.
Affix a Pet Alert window cling –
Write down the number of pets you have inside your house and what type of animal they are and attach it to a front window. This will help rescue teams know to look for your pets. Make sure to keep the number of pets you have updated on the sticker. You can order one for free from the ASPCA by going here
I went for a walk with my pet. Now what?
The warm summer months means spending more time outside and unfortunately, ticks. Many ticks are co-infected, meaning that they carry more than one disease, including Lyme disease. Did you know that only about 5% of dogs exposed will develop symptoms that are attributed to Lyme disease? But with all this said, you’re still going to go for walks with your dog and your outdoor cat will still want to be outdoors. You can prevent Lyme disease by making sure you thoroughly check your pet’s body after they’ve been outside and removing ticks before they attach themselves. Even if your dog or cat wears a tick and/or flea preventative collar or is given a spot-on medication, it is a good idea to do a quick body check.
Keeping your pet’s fur short is an easy first step. Breeds with shorter hair are easier to check than those with long hair. Shorter coats make the ticks easier to see by keeping them close to the surface while longer hair allows a tick to hide deep in the fur and avoid being discovered for long periods of time.
Brush or run your hands over your pet’s whole body, applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps or something the size of a pea. You may also use a brush or flea comb, stopping if you hit a bump or a snag to investigate. Most attachments occur in front of the shoulder blades, which includes the head, neck, and front legs. Make sure to also feel under the collar, under their armpits, between their toes, behind the ears, and around the tail. Ticks are attracted to dark, hidden areas and when attached can range in size from the size of a pinhead to a grape.
If you find an unattached tick, place it in alcohol and dispose of it. Flushing a tick down the toilet will not kill it. If the tick is embedded, you must remove it carefully so you extract the whole tick. If you are uncomfortable removing the tick yourself then call your vet. While wearing gloves to protect yourself, use fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, slowly and steadily, without squeezing the body. After removing the tick, place it in alcohol and clean the bitten area with soap and warm water. Keep an eye on the bitten area to see if an infection arises or if your pet starts to act abnormally. It is very typical for a small nodule to occur at the site of the attachment and persist for up to three weeks. Signs of Lyme disease typically occur one to three weeks following a bite and may include limping, poor appetite, and fever. A very small percentage of dogs may also develop a fatal form that affects their kidneys. If the skin remains irritated or infected or you suspect something might be wrong, call us at 717-697-4481.
PMI Nutrition, LLC (PMI), Arden Hills, Minn., has initiated a voluntary recall of its 20 lb. bags of Red Flannel® Cat Formula cat food
for possible Salmonella
contamination. There have been no reports of illness related to this product to date. This recall is being issued out of an abundance of caution after routine testing by the FDA Detroit District Office identified possible Salmonella contamination.
For more information on the recall, customers can contact the customer service line for PMI products at 1-800-332-4738. Customer service representatives will be available Sunday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST and Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST
For updated information, go to: http://www.pminutrition.com/main.html