Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

Poisonous Plants for Cats

In Health Tips on April 25, 2013 at 10:58 am

Plants can cause a number of different symptoms and problems for your cat. There are hundreds of plants that are labeled ‘toxic’ or ‘poisonous’ to cats. Are you familiar with common household plants that are bad for your cat?

photo (2) copyPersonally every time I bring a new plant into my apartment I immediately go onto the ASPCA toxic plant website and do a little research. For example I was given an orchid. I assumed it was toxic and would cause problems for my cat. After looking up orchids, I found that they in fact are not toxic. After finding this out I no longer had any worries.

Since most people aren’t as crazy about cats and plants as I am, I thought creating a top 10 household plants which are toxic list. Here they are:

  1. Asparagus fern- the toxic substance is Sapogenins. This plant causes allergic dermatitis. If your cat eats the berries, this could result in vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
  2. Corn Plant- the toxic substance is Saponins. This plant causes vomiting, depression, anorexia, hypersalivation, dilated pupils, and sometimes blood in the vomit.
  3. Dieffenbachia- the toxic substances include insoluble calcium oxalates and proteolytic enzymes. The plant causes oral irritation, burning of the mouth, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
  4. Elephant ear- the toxic substance is the insoluble calcium oxalate. This plant causes oral irritation and burning of the mouth, excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.
  5. Lilies- the toxic substance is currently unknown, but eating this plant can lead to kidney failure for your cat.
  6. Cyclamen- the toxic substance is terpenoid saponins. This plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, and even death.
  7. Heartleaf philodendron- the toxic substance is the insoluble calcium oxalates. This plant can cause oral irritation with burning of the mouth
  8. Jade leaf- the toxic substance is unknown, but this plant can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  9. Aloe plant- the toxic substance is Saponins. This plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, anorexia, tremors, and change in urine color.
  10. Hydrangea- the toxic substance is Cyanogenic glycoside. This plant can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea with gastrointestinal issues.

You might be thinking this is a list of very common household plants, that’s because it is. Just be aware of the plants you have in your home and whether or not your cat likes to eat those plants.

Incase you are feeling a little sad about all of these plants which are bad for your cat, here are 10 plants that are not toxic for your cat:

  1. Blue Echeveria
  2. Bamboo
  3. Areca (Golden Palm)
  4. Burro’s Tail (Lamb’s Tail)
  5. Christmas Cactus
  6. Cliff Brake (Button Fern)
  7. Hens and Chickens
  8. Pearl Plant
  9. Pony Tail Palm
  10. Orchid

Have you looked up the plants you have in your home?

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Poisonous Plants for Dogs

In Health Tips on April 23, 2013 at 1:26 pm

558925_3759422476433_1504517167_nAs we all know, dogs love to eat things off of the ground, including plant materials. But do you know what plants are poisonous for your dog? The ASPCA is a great resource to use when searching specific plants. The website tells you which animals the plant is toxic to and the clinical signs to look for.

What I think is important for you to know are the top 10 toxic plants for dogs. These include:

  1. Black Walnut’s- the nut doesn’t do much harm by itself that is until mold starts to grow. Commonly the tree drops the nuts and they begin to grow mold. That mold can cause tremors and seizure.
  2. Lilies- ingestion can cause gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea, depression, anorexia and tremors.
  3. Grapes- small amounts of the fruit from the vine can cause vomiting and diarrhea and lead to kidney failure.
  4. Azalea’s- Ingestion of a few leaves can cause drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, paralysis, and even death.
  5. Mushrooms- this fungus can cause vomiting and diarrhea, swelling to the brain or even death depending on the species of mushroom.
  6. Marijuana- this can cause a slow heart rate, lack of coordination, disorientation and tremors, which can last for a few days.
  7. Daffodils- the bulbs are the most dangerous part of this plant. If ingested can cause vomiting, salivation, diarrhea, convulsions, tremors and heart irregularities.
  8. Sago Palm’s- even part of this plant contains cycasin, which can be fatal.
  9. Castor Bean’s- the toxic substance is ricin, which can burn your dog’s mouth. This leads to excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.
  10. Dieffenbachia- this can burn your dog’s mouth and cause the esophagus to swell, which could block the airway.

Don’t take the chance with any of these plants. If you have them in your home or around your yard be careful! Remove them if possible. As you can see these can cause some major problems.

Have you looked up the plants you have around your home yet? Check out the ASPCA’s website and search your plants!

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What Not to Feed Your Cat

In Health Tips on April 19, 2013 at 6:52 am

Like every animal out there, there are foods that are toxic to cats. Some worse than others. Since you own a cat why not keep a list of foods not to give your cat around? This is something that could save your cat from a possible trip to the vet. Here is a list of foods I suggest avoiding:

  1. photo (1) copyOnion, Chives, and Garlic– any type of onion product breaks down red blood cells in your cat which can lead to anemia. Chives and garlic can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  2. Grapes and Raisins– these can cause kidney failure even at a small amount. Signs include vomiting and hyperactivity.
  3. Chocolate– the toxic substance in chocolate is theobromine, which is in every kind of chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Signs of toxicity include: abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death.
  4. Candy and Gum– the toxic substance in candy, gum, toothpaste (human), and diet foods is xylitol. This substance causes an increase in insulin, which then causes a drop in your cats blood sugar. Initial signs include: vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination. Seizures and liver failure can occur within a few days.
  5. Raw Eggs, Meat, and Fish– first off all of these could cause food poisoning such as salmonella. Raw eggs contain avidin in the whites which block the absorption of B vitamins. This then can cause skin issues. In raw fish there is an enzyme, which destroys thiamine. A lack of thiamine can cause neurological issues.
  6. Milk and other Dairy Products– a little milk here and there is fine, but too much can cause digestive issues such as diarrhea.
  7. Caffeine– Caffeine is a toxic substance, which is in many drinks such as coffee and tea. Caffeine can cause increased heart rate, restlessness, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and bleeding.
  8. Mushrooms– some mushrooms contain toxins, which affects multiple systems of the body. The toxins can lead to shock and even death.
  9. Alcohol– hopefully many owners know not to give their cat alcohol. Very small amount of alcohol can have detrimental effects on your cats liver and brain and could lead to a coma or death.
  10. Fat Trimmings and Bones– fat can cause gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. The bones could cause a foreign body or even cut the intestines.
  11. Dog Food– a few pieces here and there won’t hurt, but a steady diet of dog food does not have the necessary nutrients cats need. This could lead to severe malnourishment.

As you can see there are many human foods which can cause different issues for your cat. There are a few foods that are ok to give your cat. These include: cooked boneless beef or chicken and rice. Though these foods are ok for your cat to eat, make sure they are getting cat food so they are getting the nutrients they need!

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What you Shouldn’t Feed Your Dog

In Health Tips on April 15, 2013 at 7:58 am

photo copyOwning a dog is a great lifetime experience for any person. You quickly learn the do’s and don’ts. One don’t that is important to learn right off the back, and even keep a list of, are the foods you should not give your dog.

The reason I feel this is a helpful list to keep around is because how many times are you eating or cooking and your dog is sitting at your feet waiting to pick up whatever is dropped? Or, if you have a child, how many times has your kid thought the best thing in the world was dropping food for the dog to eat?

You may be aware of some toxic foods for dogs, but there are many that have other side effects you might not think of. Lets just start a list:

  1. Chocolate– the toxic substance is theobromine, which is in every kind of chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. If your dog has had chocolate, he/she could experience vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and even death.
  2. Candy and Gum– the toxic substance in candy, gum, toothpaste (human), and diet foods is xylitol. This substance causes an increase in insulin. This then causes a drop in your dog’s blood sugar, which can lead to vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination and even liver failure.
  3. Coffee and Tea– Caffeine is a toxic substance, which is in many drinks such as coffee and tea. Caffeine can cause increased heart rate, restlessness, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and bleeding.
  4. Grapes and Raisins– these can cause kidney failure. Early signs include vomiting, lethargy, and depression.
  5. Onions and Garlic– these destroy your dogs red blood cells. Early signs include weakness, vomiting, lack of interest in food, breathlessness, and eventually anemia.
  6. Avocado– the toxic substance is called persin which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  7. Macadamia Nuts– symptoms include muscle tremors, weakness, vomiting, fever, increased heart rate, and eventually fatal at a small dose.
  8. Alcohol– this should be obvious, but alcohol has the same effect on dog’s liver and brain as it does on humans. A small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nervous system issues, difficulty breathing, and even produce coma.
  9. Dairy Products– these products cause unwanted diarrhea. They upset the digestive system and create food allergies including itchiness.
  10. Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums– the pits and seeds are the problem with these fruits. They can cause inflammation on the small intestines, intestinal obstructions, and even cyanide poisoning.
  11. Fat Trimmings and Bones– the fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis and the bones could cause an obstruction.
  12. Raw Eggs, Meat, and Fish- first off, raw foods could cause food poisoning such as salmonella. Raw eggs interfere with the digestion of B vitamins causing skin issues. Some fish contain parasites, which could be fatal. Common signs include vomiting, fever, and enlarged lymph nodes.
  13. Salt– too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination, sodium poisoning, depression, fever, and even seizures.

As you can see many foods that you eat can cause problems in your dog. The only way to prevent this from happening is to feed your dog his/her standard diet. A few human foods that are ok to feed include: vegetables, fruits (other than plums, peaches, and avocados), pasta, and rice. These are the safest bet.

What have you learned over the years of owning a dog and the foods they get into?

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Cats and Strings

In Health Tips on April 8, 2013 at 10:50 am

As a cat owner you are very well aware how much your feline friend LOVES to play with strings, hair ties, dental floss, yarn, basically anything that is long and moves in the wind! Many cat toys consist of a thin piece of wood or plastic with a toy attached to the end by some sort of string material. Cats love these. But, have you ever thought about what happens when your cat accidentally eats that string?

photo (3) copyWhy String is Bad:

When a cat ingests a string-like material it causes what’s called a linear foreign body. Usually what tends to happen is one end of the string is in the small intestines while the other end is still in the mouth. The string is taking over a good portion of the gastrointestinal system.

When you notice this is a problem is when you see the string in your cat’s mouth or coming out the other end. The first instinct for many cat owners is to pull it. DON’T! This is where it gets tricky. If you pull the string out, it could saw away at parts of the GI system and possibly rupture the intestines. This could lead to a very sick cat.

What to do:

Take your cat to the vet, as soon as you can. Try and determine exactly what your cat ate. Was it part of a toy? Yarn? Whatever the material is, bring what you can with to the vet so they can determine how long the material might be. Your vet may want to scope the esophagus and stomach prior to any surgery to get a good feeling of how far the string goes.

Your vet will have to surgically remove the string if it extends past the stomach into the intestines. If the string only extends through the esophagus your vet may feel comfortable scoping out the material—a non-surgical procedure.

Whichever way it goes, something needs to be done. String is a material that does not just pass because cats tend to eat more than a few inches.


If you have toys containing string-like material, remember to put those toys out of reach when you’re not around. If you keep yarn, sewing material, or anything else in the ‘string’ category make sure your cat does not have access to it. Cats are curious animals. If it looks fun and they can play with it, they might chew on it. When this happens cats sometimes ingest it.

Just keep sting away from your pet. What are things your cat enjoys to play with? Ever see them chew on it? Be careful and remember to never pull a string from your cat!

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Introducing New Pets

In Health Tips on April 5, 2013 at 9:11 am

IMG_4792So you have decided to adopt another pet. Have you considered how your current animals are going to take the new addition to the family. Not only does this mean sharing space with a soon to be brother or sister, but this also means sharing your attention. It’s exciting to bring home a new pet, you want them to feel comfortable, you want them to feel at home and welcome. But, you should also make sure your current pet(s) feel the same way.

The First Day:

Before bringing home the new addition prepare your home. Make sure there is a separate room you can leave your new animal. Many times something like a bathroom or bedroom is a good start. You want to start off small and work your way into introducing the new animal to the rest of the house.

If you get another cat, you should automatically bring in a new litter box. A house should always have one litter box per cat to prevent “accidents” from occurring  Make sure the room has that new litter box and water available to the new cat. If you are getting a new dog, make sure there is a bed and fresh water in the chosen room.

Once home, do not just put the new animal in with the current animal(s). Place the new pet immediately in the separated room. Spend some time with the animal, show it where the water and litter box is located. Comfort them. Your current animal is going to wonder what’s going on. So, after about 10-15 minutes go sit with your current animal(s). They know there is a new pet in the other room. They need to time smell the new animal before introducing them.

The Second Day:

If you are able to make it a full day separated, it’s time to introduce them. This seems ridiculous to wait a full day, but this should be a slow process. When introducing them bring your new pet into the room your current animal is in. Let them smell each other, just see how it goes. If fighting occurs be careful, but separate them.

Let this introduction last as long as you are in the house and as long as your pets are getting along.

The First Week:

Over the course of the first week keep the pets separated when no one is home. Even if your pets seem to be getting along when you are there, they might take it out on each other when you’re gone. This could mean coming home to a bloody mess.

After the week of separation goes by and there haven’t been any encounters, try to leave them home alone together. For the first time make sure you are gone for only a couple of hours, not a full work day because if there is a problem it could be 8 hours before you are even aware.

If the few hours go well, try it again for a longer period of time. Make these periods of time longer and longer until you get to a full work day. At this point you should hopefully be in the clear!

Are you looking to get a new pet? Have you thought about how you are going to introduce them?

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My Pet Vomited, Now What?

In Health Tips on April 2, 2013 at 11:43 am

So your animal began vomiting and now you aren’t sure what to do. This is a very common problem pet owners have. Cats and dogs vomit for a number of different reasons. They could have something as simple as a hairball to something more life threatening as a gastric tumor.

The question is, what do you do next?

Here are the steps I recommend taking when you realize your pet just threw up.IMG_0039 (2)

  1. After the first time they vomit take away all food. Keep water available.
  2. If your pet vomits again, even with food taken away, remove water as well for 6-8 hours. If your pet has not vomited again move to step 4.
  3. If your pet continues to vomit without consuming anything, this is a good time to see your vet. Or, if your pet begins to produce blood in their vomit.
  4. If your pet has not vomited within the 6-8 hours after taking away water, offer a small amount of water. This means 3-4 licks.
  5. If your pet keeps the water down over the next 2 hours, try a little more water. At this point if they are able to keep water down, continue to offer small amounts of water every 2-4 hours.
  6. If your pet has made it 24 hours without vomiting and not consuming any food, only water, offer about ¼ of their normal meal.
  7. After 6-8 hours pass without any vomiting offer ½ of their normal meal.
  8. At this point you are free to go back to their normal routine. Free choice water and hopefully scheduled feeding times.

Does this seem like a tedious procedure to follow, maybe, but think about all the times you have vomited. Many of those times it is a simple bug that just needs to work its way out of your system.

Here are times your should call the vet right away: 

  • When there is blood in the vomit
  • When your pet has vomited >8 times in an hour
  • When your pet began vomiting after consuming something unusual
  • If your animal has a health problem

These are just a few tips to name a few. If your pet continues to vomit talk with your vet. Some treatment options can include dietary changes, antiemetic’s (medication to control vomiting), antibiotics (medication for a bacterial ulcer), corticosteroids (to treat inflammatory bowel disease), surgery (if your animal has a tumor causing them to vomit), or other medical treatments.

As you can see there are many reasons your cat or dog continues to vomit. This is why your veterinarian is around. They can help determine the cause and figure out the best step to take in order to alleviate the issue.

What have you tried when your animal has vomited?

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What to do When your Pet gets a Cut

In Health Tips on April 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm

One type of emergency seen in a variety of ways is when an owner brings their dog or cat in for a cut. This can be a true emergency or one you feel you have wasted your time and money. The reason this emergency can be so tricky, is because unless the cut is huge and bleeding, you might not even know one is there. Most cats and dogs have enough hair to cover the cut making it hard to see it. And as an owner you try to examine the cut to see how bad it is and your animal won’t let you look. photo (2) copy

This is when it gets tricky. You see blood, but you can’t see how bad it is. This is when as an owner you choose one of three routes:

  1. Go to the vet right away
  2. Wait and go to the vet when you can get in
  3. Just wait and see how it goes

Figuring out which option to choose is crucial for your pet.

Option 1:

Going to the vet right away, whether that means paying extra or even going out of your way to see an emergency vet is truly the safest option among the three. You may not know how bad the cut truly is. If it is a puncture wound, meaning there is a tiny hole, but it could be very deep. If this is the case these cuts can become a huge factor for infection. When looking at it, it seems small, like it won’t be an issue. But when it is explored a vet can find out how deep it truly is.

The hard thing about going to the vet is if the cut is superficial and does not break the skin into the tissue and muscle then you are wasting your time. There is really no need to start antibiotics or sedate your pet to clean it out.

Option 2:

Many times waiting a night before going to your primary vet the next day does not cause a ton of problems. But if you wait too long an infection might become a huge problem. Also, animals clean themselves. So, when an animal has a cut, they lick it excessively. This can make the cut larger and also cause an infection.

If you do wait, try to place a t-shirt or shorts on the animal depending on where the cut is. Also, place an e-collar on your animal to prevent licking. Try to not wait longer then 24 hours. If the cut gets too old and needs to be sutured, the skin might start to die making it difficult to fix.

Option 3:

Not going to the vet at all can be a problem if the cut is deep. As said before, pets will excessively lick the cut causing it to get larger and creating an infection if the cut is deep. If the cut needs to by surgically repaired and you do not see a vet, this cut may not heal properly on its own. This of course is a major problem.

What to do:

If you are strapped for cash to spend at the vet here is what I recommend doing. First off, do not cut the hair around the wound with scissors. I have seen many wounds become twice as worse because owners tried to clean it up themselves. You can clean it up, just please never use scissors. If you have an electric razor you can try to use it, but many pets do not like the sound of it, and if your not careful you could give them razor burn or make things worse.

To be safe, I recommend just taking a clean washcloth, gauze, or paper towel and wetting down the area and carefully pushing the hair out-of-the-way. Then, if your animal will let you, examine the cut. If it looks like a scratch that does not break the skin, I would not go to the vet. Just apply some antibacterial ointment to the area to relieve the itching and pain. Then, place an e-collar on your pet or a t-shirt or shorts to try to prevent your animal from licking.

If the cut seems to be deep, breaking the skin, or a puncture wound get an appointment with your vet within 24 hours. The wound needs to be flushed out and cleaned up. And, starting antibiotics is a necessary step. Until you can get into the vet, rinse the area as best as you can with water or an antiseptic and apply antibiotic ointment.

If the cut is bleeding profusely and your animal is clearly in pain, head to the vet right away. If you wait, your animal is going to be very uncomfortable.

Has your pet had a cut before? What did you?

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