Tag Archives: pets and holidays

What’s the big deal about eating chocolate? ( by Dr. Moreira)


It is hard to believe, but summer is already over, and the holidays are right around the corner.  Of course, with Halloween and other holidays soon to follow, baking and gift giving season has begun. As one of the most beloved desserts and snack foods in the world, chocolate is sure to abound in every household.  But this treat, delicious as it may be, can be extremely harmful to our adored pets.  Even though it is a well -known fact for some of us, we may still sneak an Oreo or two to our dogs and cats and maybe even some Hershey’s chocolate.  How can they be denied the satisfaction of such tasty treat? While there are not always toxic effects associated with the ingestion of very small amounts of chocolate, a tasty treat could turn into a real Halloween nightmare!

What part of chocolate makes it harmful for some animals?

Many dogs have indiscriminate eating behaviors. (I’m sure many of you have a dog that has eaten a sock or two in the past!) Because of this common trait, chocolate toxicity generally occurs more frequently in dogs than in cats. The chemical that causes all of the problems in dogs is called methylxanthine. Some types and brands of chocolate contain more of this chemical than others. For example, baker’s chocolate has extremely high amounts and is very dangerous compared to most inexpensive candy bars. In animals, this chemical causes extreme stimulation of the nervous system, increased urination and dangerous effects on the heart. It can cause arrhythmias, or disturbances to the normal rate and rhythm of the heart that may be life threatening. The increased stimulation of the nervous system puts dogs at risk for seizures.

 

What are the signs of chocolate toxicity in dogs?

If you suspect that your dog has ingested any chocolate, it is recommended that you contact a veterinarian for further advice. Signs of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, hyperactivity, restlessness, high heart rate, and high respiratory rate. Some dogs may even develop pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas, several days after ingestion of chocolate, even if they have undergone treatment. Clinical signs of pancreatitis include abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Depending on the severity of the reaction, dogs with pancreatitis may require hospitalization because it too can be life threatening.

 

How is chocolate ingestion and toxicity treated?

It depends on what signs your dog is showing and how much chocolate your dog consumed. Methylxanthine is specifically found in cocoa so generally speaking, the higher percent cocoa in the chocolate, the higher concentration of methylxanthine it contains. If your dog is brought to see a veterinarian within a short period of time of the ingestion, the doctor may elect to induce vomiting in your pet.  Depending on the circumstances, treatment can range from monitoring your pet at home to having your pet hospitalized in the ICU and on IV fluids and medications. While hospitalized, your pet’s heart rhythm can be monitored for life threatening arrhythmias and for seizure activity. If there is any question that your pet consumed chocolate, please contact your veterinarian right away.

 

How do I prevent chocolate toxicity?

Of course, the first preventative step is to lock away the chocolate-containing candy! Due to their great sense of smell, dogs can sniff out tasty treats, making them susceptible to ingestion and toxicity so be sure it is well out of reach or in a cabinet that can’t be opened easily.

Other household products do contain methylxanthine and may cause the same serious reactions in your pets. These include: diet pills, fatigue reduction pills, tea leaves, coffee products, and colas. If in doubt call your veterinarian!

In addition, please keep in mind that some “sugar free” chocolates and candies do have another chemical compound called xylitol, which is EXTREMELY toxic to pets. Xylitol is most commonly found in sugar-free products and leads to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  Xylitol is quickly absorbed once ingested and can cause signs within an hour or sooner.   Pets that have ingested the chemical typically require hospitalization.

We at OCVH, FVH, and NPVH are always available to help you with any concerns you may have with regard to your pet’s health. Never hesitate to contact us with your questions!

 

Jessica Moreira DVM

Road trip! Traveling safely with your pet. ( Dr. Zach Weiner)

The weather is getting hotter and hotter by the day, folks.  Summer is the time for barbeques, beach days and for some of us lucky ones, a vacation trip.  What about Fido or Fluffy though?  Do you have plans for your pets while you travel?  Of course, we would love to see them at our lovely boarding facility where they will be kept safe and happy while you enjoy your vacation.  Our friendly animal care staff will see to your little buddy’s every desire during his or her stay and can even notify a compassionate veterinarian if a medical need arises.  That way you can enjoy yourself with the peace of mind that your companion is safe and sound at Ocean County Veterinary Hospital.

That being said, some owners are able to take their pets when traveling.  If your buddy is a good copilot, a vacation can be a great bonding experience.  Just like everything in life though, there are measures that should be taken to make the adventure as safe as possible.

Anything can happen on a trip.  Your dog could decide that he really needs to explore something really curious at a rest stop, your cat may find a way to break out of her carrier at just the wrong moment in a parking lot, or a loud trucker’s horn can scare your ferret out of your daughter’s hands during a picnic lunch.  These are just a few examples of how your pet can be lost far away from home.  Like it or not accidents happen, and the easiest way to ruin a vacation is to lose your pet in a strange place.  New sounds, smells, people, and events can all cause even the most stalwart companion to act uncharacteristically.  As good custodians of their welfare, we need to protect them from themselves as much as anything else.

Pets should be properly restrained during car travel in an approved carrier or seatbelt. It is a state law in New Jersey that all pets must be properly secured during travel, not just for their safety but for yours as well.  So be sure when you buckle up that they do too.  In addition, be sure that your pets have at least two forms of identification.  No, good readers, I am not joking and I do not expect that you will be taking them to any adult drinking establishments.  However, if they get lost you will be happy your pet has a microchip and identification tag so that he or she will not need to make an Incredible Journey to get back to you. Having your pet micro chipped by one of our doctors is the easy, affordable and permanent way to identify it as belonging to you. It is also a good idea to have a few pictures, possibly on your smart phone, of your buddy with you just in case.   You will be glad you have all of these tools if your pet gets lost or just to brag about how awesome your little one is to others.

 

Before you hit the open road or airways please make sure that your pet is up to date on all vaccinations, you have proper travel documentation and that you have copies of all of his or her medical records.  No one expects a midnight visit to the emergency room on vacation, but if it should be necessary, the vet will have a lot easier time if they have your records handy.  In addition, some states or countries require health certificates and proof of vaccinations for travel.

International and flight travel require very specific documentation with stringent requirements and time frames.  Some airlines require health certificates to be issued within a week of the trip and have specific vaccine requirements.  International travel is even more stringent and the approval process can sometimes take up to six months depending on which country you wish to travel too.  All in all it can be a lot to remember, but is very important to assure that your vacation goes smoothly.  You do not want to be shocked and disappointed when your pet is denied access to your flight. Luckily, we are here to help and assist you in navigating travel regulations.  Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you need records, a health certificate, or must booster any vaccines before traveling.  As with everything, you do not want to wait until the last minute. Plan ahead to assure that you have everything you need to legally and safely travel with your little one.

 

I always recommend bringing your own supply of food for your pet.  This is important for two reasons: 1) it gives them a source of comfort and a feeling of home and 2) they are less likely to get an upset stomach if you cannot find their regular food and need to switch brands.  Don’t forget any medications that he or she is regularly taking, including heartworm and flea/tick preventatives! A familiar toy or treats are also recommended.  My dogs used to love to travel within their beds.  They curled up and were happy as could be during even the most epic drives.  However, if your little one is nervous or nauseous, we can help with that.  While we do not routinely prescribe sedatives for travel, in certain cases they are indicated.  If you think your little one will need one, please call well in advance of your trip, so that an appropriate medication plan can be discussed with your doctor.  We also have a safe and effective once a day car sickness medication called Cerenia, which can be very helpful if your buddy is queasy during long or short car rides.

 

Lastly friends, be sure that you are mindful of your furry friend’s needs during your adventure.  Especially with good travel companions, it can be easy to forget that they need time to stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, and get some food and drink in the middle of long car trips just like the rest of us.  Many travel stops have designated pet walking areas to safely do this.  Even if they do not, I have found as long as you clean up after your little one there is most always a small patch of green for a little break at most rest stops.  Never leave your little one in a hot car while you stop to eat lunch.  Studies show that cracking the windows is useless on hot or sunny days and opening the windows too far is asking for trouble as we previously discussed.  Even a few minutes can be gravely dangerous, especially during these hot summer months.  It’s best to skip the long lunch or shopping detour until your pet is safely set up at your destination.

 

Alright, that’s it for now folks.  Have safe and fun travels this summer!

 

 

 

Zachary Weiner DVM

Lily

Lily Toxicity in Cats (Dr. Jenna Koenigstein)

 

Lilies can be fatal in your cat

Beautiful flower, right?  But did you know this pretty and seemingly harmless plant could actually kill your feline companions with a single nibble?  It’s true!  Certain types of lilies are among the most dangerous types of flowers for felines, and far too people are aware of this until it may be too late.  With Spring slowly starting to make its reappearance and stores full of flowers waiting to make their way into your home, we need to take a moment to discuss this potentially deadly toxicity.

The types of lilies that you need to worry about include:

  • Easter
  • Tiger
  • Stargazer
  • Japanese Show
  • Rubrum
  • Any other members of the genus Lilum (“true lilies”)

The toxic compound in lilies is extremely destructive to a cat’s kidneys.  It only takes a nibble on a single leaf or stem, drinking the vase water, or ingesting a small amount of pollen from these flowers (as with grooming) to send your cat into acute (sudden and often irreversible) kidney failure and have you rushing them to the nearest emergency room.

The prognosis for acute kidney failure from lily ingestion may be good as long as it is caught early so that aggressive treatment can be started.  However, if too much time elapses between ingestion and the start of treatment, the prognosis becomes significantly worse and death from disease or euthanasia is much more likely.  Without treatment, acute kidney failure is fatal.

Treatment for lily-induced acute kidney failure involves aggressive IV fluid diuresis, injectable medications, nutritional support, and very close monitoring.  If these fail, advanced procedures could be attempted, such as different types of dialysis, however these are quite expensive and are not readily available even at most specialty veterinary hospitals.

Hopefully it is clear based on all of this information that the best thing you can do is to PREVENT their exposure to lilies.  Here are some suggestions for doing this.

  • If you have cats in your household, do not have lilies!  There is no such thing as “out of reach” for most cats, and even a fallen dead leaf or airborne pollen could be enough to cause toxicity.
  • Keep your cats indoors as many people have lilies in their garden.
  • If you are buying or sending a bouquet to friends or family members with cats, ensure there are no lilies present.
  • Share the knowledge of lily toxicity with family, friends, and florists to try to prevent feline exposure.  From personal experience, it crucial to share knowledge of toxins with those who may inadvertently bring these plants into the house without realizing the danger.  I suggest making a list of toxins for whatever types of animals you have in your home and placing it somewhere important such as on the refrigerator so everyone is aware.  You can ask your veterinarian to help with the making of such a list.

 

Hopefully this entry has helped provide some information to you regarding a dangerous toxicity we see far too often.  Happy Spring!

 

Dr. Jenna Koenigstein

 

 

 

 

Is it too late for New Year’s Resolutions? (Dr. Lorri Mitchell)

We are well into 2013 now and one may wonder, how well are the New Year’s Resolutions coming along? Some of us may be doing well while others may have let them slide. So, instead of fretting about our own personal resolutions, how about making a few to benefit your pet?

 

 

Recently I have been reading some articles about resolutions for our pets and I wonder if any of our readers have made resolutions aimed at making our companions happier and healthier?

I would like to take a moment to share a few resolutions that maybe you can work into your family.

1. Protection. We all protect our pets. Keep them in fenced yards, on leashes or prevent them from escaping outside but is there anything else we can do? Keeping identifying tags on them is another step. Make sure they have current contact information on them too. For those pets (or owners) who don’t like dangling tags there are always the embroidered collars where your info is directly sewn onto it. Microchipping is another way to get extra protection in case your pet goes missing. If your pet is picked up by animal control, brought to a veterinary hospital or a shelter they will be scanned and if chipped they will contact the owner. Already have a chip? Make sure your current contact info is registered with the manufacturer. It is so disappointing to us when we are lucky enough to find a chip in a lost animal only to call the company and find out it has never been linked to an owner. (The Res-Q chips we use have a back-up registry to our hospital.) Since their invention, microchip companies have reunited more than 100,000,000 pets and owners! Keep current copies of vaccine records, documents of any chronic diseases your pet has and medications they are taking in case of emergency.

 

2. Prevention. Resolve to keep up on preventative care. Yearly physicals (twice yearly for those with chronic conditions or senior pets). Start brushing teeth! We can help you develop a home care program for your pet. Do some early detection blood work. Keep up with monthly Heartworm prevention and flea and tick control. The maker of Heartgard has created a free app to help you remember when it is time to give the monthly tablet. Go to www.heartgard.com to download. Use the reminder to do your flea and tick medicine the same day!

 

3. Diet and exercise. The category we all hate! Vow to feed well and use portion control. We can get your pet set up with a weight reduction plan if you need one. Hills has just introduced a new prescription diet, “Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution,” for obese dogs and cats that promises easier weight loss with lasting results. Do homework on the foods you feed including treats as there have been too many recalls in the last few years. Resolve to do more walks or play more laser light chasing or whatever gets your pal going.

 

4. Spend more time with our pets. If given the chance, this is the one I think our pets would choose.  Pledge 10 minutes a day to: brush them if they enjoy it, belly rubs, road trips and lots of cuddles in the lap – it’s been shown to reduce people’s heart rate and blood pressure so we can benefit too. Win Win!

 

5. Get a New Look!
In 2013, give your pet the gift of glam! A regular grooming regimen will make your pet feel proud, pampered and healthy.

 

Now that we know what we need to do in 2013 for our pets, let’s see what it would look like if our pets wrote their own New Years Resolutions…

 

It might look like…..

–          Don’t get in the trash

–          Drink from my bowl not the toilet

–          Play more ball, chase more mice/squirrels

–          I will go willingly to the vet as they tell me it is in my own best interest

–          Let them brush my teeth                                                 

–          Perfect  my begging eyes

–          Improve my manners

–          I will come when I am called

–          Try to stay off the furniture

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Pets

Some celebrity pet owners were asked what their resolutions were for their pets. Actress Hilary Swank responded that her two dogs are so great that she vows to take them everywhere she goes including interviews. Bob Barker wishes his rabbit would use his litter box every time not just when it’s convenient! Glee actress Lea Michele says her cat Sheila needs to resolve to stop going into the bathroom and taking all the cotton balls out of the jar and scattering them all over.

I hope this New Year finds all of you and your pets well and happy. Again, if you wish to speak with our staff about teeth brushing, wellness programs, weight loss or micro chipping contact us anytime. Happy Belated New Year!

What Not to Eat – Holiday Dog Edition (Dr. Jenna Koenigstein)

First things first…This is a slightly outdated photo because Dr. Gatsch is now Dr. Koenigstein. Congratulations! Onto her blog.

Now that we are all stuffed to the gills from our Thanksgiving feasts and looking forward to more gluttony next month, I’m going to take a moment to refresh you on those foods to avoid giving to your pup.  In addition to those listed below, it is also important to remember that giving table food to your canine companion can cause gastrointestinal upset and obesity, which can predispose them to other health issues.  Yummy human food can also cause them to become more finicky about eating their usual dog food.

Also beware of leaving food on the counters, especially if you have an experienced counter-surfer at home.

Alcohol – While it may seem funny to some to give Fluffy some beer and watch him act silly, don’t do it. Alcohol can cause not only intoxication, lack of coordination, and slowed breathing, but potentially even coma or death.

This is what NOT to do.

Avocado – Avocados contain persin, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Baby food – Some varieties contain onion powder, which is harmful to dogs (see below under Onion).  Otherwise not harmful for dogs, but does not provide a balanced diet.

Bones – Intact bones can cause choking or gastrointestinal obstruction.  Splintered bones can cause damage to the lining of the GI tract and even possible perforation.

Cat food – Too high in protein and fat to be a primary diet for dogs.  Occasional consumption is not harmful and is often unavoidable 🙂

Chocolate, coffee, tea – This is probably not new information for you, but be sure to avoid chocolate for your pup.  It contains caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea and, in more severe cases, is toxic to the heart and nervous system.  The darker the chocolate, the worse for your pet.

Corn on the cob – A common cause of intestinal obstructions every summer.  Make sure to dispose of garbage well so that your pup can’t go dumpster diving to find a prize.

Corn cob visible in the intestine causing obstruction.  The only treatment is surgery to remove the cob.

Fat trimmings – Can cause GI upset and occasionally pancreatitis.

Grapes and raisins – Grapes contain a toxin that can cause acute kidney failure. Some dogs seem more sensitive to the toxin than others, but best to avoid altogether.

Hops – One of the main components of beer, hop consumption by your dog can cause panting, an increased heart rate, fever, seizures, and even death.

Macadamia nuts – These contain a toxin that can cause weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting, and hyperthermia.

Milk and dairy products – Dogs are naturally lactose intolerant, so large amount of dairy products can cause diarrhea.

Moldy food – If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t give it to your pup.

Mushrooms – Just as the wrong mushroom can be fatal to humans, the same applies to dogs. If your pup eats an unknown mushroom outside, seek veterinary care immediately.

Onions and garlic – In all their forms (raw, cooked, powder, etc), they contain disulfides and sulfoxides, both of which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia.

Persimmons, peaches, and plums – Persimmon seeds and peach and plum pits can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.

Raw eggs – The most obvious concern is salmonella, which is why mom always said not to eat the cookie dough. But raw eggs also contain the enzyme avidin, which inhibits the absorption of Biotin (a B vitamin) that your dog uses to keep a healthy coat and skin.

Salt – Excessive intake can lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Sugar – Avoid sweet snacks in your pet.  Just as with people, sugar can lead to obesity, which may predispose your pet to diabetes.

Tobacco – The nicotine in tobacco can damage your pup’s digestive and nervous systems, increase their heart rate, lead to coma, and ultimately result in death.

Xylitol – An artificial sweetener found in sugar-free gum which causes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).  Symptoms include vomiting, weakness, and collapse.

Yeast dough – Yeast can expand and produce gas in the GI system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.

These by no means are the only things to avoid in your dog, but keeping these in mind can help your pup to have a happy and healthy holiday season.  If you ever have any question as to the safety of something your pet has eaten, call us anytime.

Happy Holidays!

 

Holiday Safety for Your Pets (Dr. Laurie Pearlman)

As the holiday season approaches and you prepare for the festivities please remember to keep pet safety in mind.  Pets are part of our family and they too will be in the midst of all the celebrations.  Here are some simple safety tips to consider during this holiday season:

 

 

 

Holiday decor

Keep all ornaments, ribbons, garlands, tacks and potpourri out of reach. Avoid using tinsel.  Cats love to play with tinsel and often ingest it.  Don’t leave your pet alone in a room where they have access to decorations.  Anything ingested can potentially cause an intestinal obstruction or may be toxic.  

 

Yummy foods

Don’t change your pet’s diet.  Any change in diet can result in diarrhea.  Foods high in fat can trigger pancreatitis so avoid those fatty meat scraps.  Do not feed bones to pets, this can result in some serious gastrointestinal emergencies.  Feed only the safe foods and treats that your pets are used to eating.  Secure the garbage can.  Move foods out of reach on counter tops and tables. Make sure your pet does not have access to foods intended for people.  Many things are toxic to pets that may seem harmless such as : chocolate, any food containing xylitol (artificial sweetener), macadamia nuts, grapes or raisins, onions, alcoholic beverages.  

Plants

Plants can add beauty to our homes and are very decorative but many plants are toxic if ingested.  Keep all plants out of reach.  Check out the ASPCA toxic and non toxic plant list at www.aspca.org

 

 

 

Warmth and light

All of the things used to keep our gathering spaces warm can pose a danger to pets and people.  Block off fireplaces with appropriate safety barriers.  Avoid using candles where pets can reach them.  Keep all electric cords out of reach or secured to prevent access by curious pets.  They may try to chew on the cords resulting in electric shock or burns and if ingested may require surgical care.

 

 

Safe haven

All the noise and activity may be stressful for pets.  Consider setting up a safe, quiet area in your home away from the holiday bustle.  With visitors coming and going pets are more likely to slip out.  Guests often can not resist sharing holiday foods with cute little critters. Remind them not to share anything except safe treats that you provide.

 

 

Identification and vaccinations

Collars and identification tags should have current contact information.  Because collars can be lost if your pet escapes or more commonly not put back on a pet especially after a bath, microchips are very important.  Microchips are a permanent form of identification.  All veterinarians, animal control officers and animal shelters have microchip scanners and will scan found pets in hopes of reuniting a lost pet with an owner.  Microchips are an inexpensive ticket home for a lost pet. If you haven’t already gotten one for your pet please consider calling us to get one for your furry friend today! Guests will often bring visiting pets as well.  Make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccinations.  Never leave pets alone that are not accustomed to being together.

We wish your family and pets a safe and happy holiday season!