Pet Health

Just So You Know the Risks

posted February 9th, 2011 by
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Waking up from a profound sleep

As much as you and Fido may enjoy sharing a bed together, new research says

he could make you very sick.

In an article in this month’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, author

Bruno B. Chomel said although stories of pets making their humans sick are

rare, it does happen.

In the United States, more than 60 percent of households have a pet.

And people are increasingly turning to a pet instead of having children.

Pets can bring positive health benefits in the way of psychological support,

friendship, and good health practices like exercising or reducing stress,

but he cautions against the harmful effects as well.

“Sharing our resting hours with our pets may be a source of psychological

comfort, but because pets can bring a wide range of zoonotic pathogens into

our environment, sharing is also associated with risks,” he wrote in the

paper.

The zooneses include the spreading of the plague, rabies and parasitic

diseases.

He said kissing or licking a pet could cause even more zoonotic infections,

especially for children who are more vulnerable to infection.

He discouraged people, especially young children or those with compromised

immune systems to share a bed or kiss or lick a pet.

“Any area licked by a pet, especially for children or immunocompromised

persons or an open wound, should be immediately washed with soap and water,”

he said.

– Kristi Eaton

Your Pills & Your Pets: A Deadly Mix

posted January 31st, 2011 by
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Story by Kristi Eaton

The most toxic substance for a pet is the same thing that humans use every day to feel better.

For the third straight year, medications for humans have topped the list of pet toxins, according to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In 2010, ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center received more than 167,000 phone calls about pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances. Of those calls, the ASPCA helped diagnose and treat about 25 percent of the cases where the pet accidentally ingested the human medications. Over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, along with antidepressants and medications for attention deficit disorder are the most commonly ingested medications. Pets often ingest pills that fall on the floor, as well.

Behind medications for humans, insecticides are the next most toxic substance for pets, according to the ASPCA.

“About 20 percent of the calls are about insecticides, which are commonly used on pets for flea control or around the house to control crawling and flying bugs,” the organization wrote in a press release. “The most serious poisonings occurred when products not labeled for use in cats were applied to them, so the ASPCA recommends pet owners always follow label directions.”

Rodenticides, baits used to kill mice and rats, were found to be the third most harmful substance for pets during the past year, followed by people food like grapes and raisins — which can cause kidney failure in pets — and onion and garlic — which can cause anemia — and veterinarian medications consumed in large amounts.

Rounding out the top 10 harmful toxics to pets are chocolate, household toxins like cleaning supplies, plants, herbicides and outdoors toxins such as antifreeze and fertilizer.

– Kristi Eaton

Choose the Right Foods

posted January 20th, 2011 by
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Story by Kristi Eaton

Most American pet owners do not consider the age of their dog or cat when buying pet food, a new survey reveals.

The survey, released Tuesday by pet food manufacturer Iams, says only

11 percent of dog and cat owners in the U.S. say their pet’s age is the most important factor when buying food.

Oftentimes pet owners do not know what stage of life their pet is in, which means their beloved four-legged friend may not get the necessary nutrients for proper health and growth.

“When choosing a food for your cat or dog it is important to select a diet that has the right ingredients for that stage of your pet’s life,” said Dr. Katy Nelson, DVM, emergency veterinarian, in Alexandria, Va., and a member of the Iams Pet Wellness Council. “Diet requirements – including protein levels, calories and vitamins and minerals – vary over the life of a pet and, in turn, an animal’s needs change as he grows from a puppy or kitten, to an adult into a senior.”

The survey also showed that only one out of three respondents say the food’s ingredients is the most important criteria they look at when deciding what food to buy and feed their animal.  Instead, some pet owners buy food based on recommendations. Nearly four out of ten people who took the survey (about 36 percent) say recommendations from a trusted source like a veterinarian is the primary reason why they buy a certain food, while almost 25 percent say price is the main reason they will feed Fido or Tigger one brand of food over another.

– Kristi Eaton

Your Cat May Not Be Sick

posted January 10th, 2011 by
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Story by Kristi Eaton

If your cat is exhibiting classic symptoms of an illness – vomiting and refusing food, for example – you may want to look at your home and daily routine before you take Tigger to the vet.

A new study shows that stress from disruption in their normal routine can make otherwise healthy cats experience problems normally associated with a sickness.

Researchers at Ohio State University discovered cats experiencing “unusual external events,” like a change in feeding schedule, showed symptoms of sickness, just as the chronically ill cats in the study did. The study examined healthy cats and cats with feline interstitial cystitis. Previous studies have shown that feline interstitial cystitis can cause many other health problems. The fact that healthy cats exhibited some of the same behaviors as those with feline interstitial cystitis is noteworthy, and shows that vets should consider living situations during the diagnosis, the researchers say.

“For veterinary clinicians, when you have a cat that’s not eating, is not using the litter box or has stuff coming up out of its mouth, the quality of the environment is another cause that needs to be addressed in coming up with a diagnosis,” said Tony Buffington, professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State and senior author of the study.

The researchers concluded that the best way to keep otherwise healthy cats from experiencing some of the sickness behaviors is to follow a set feeding routine every day; keep the food and litter boxes in the same place; keep cages, toys and litter boxes cleans; and allow cats time to play each day.

“I think a huge part of this is giving cats resources they can interact with and control. Litter boxes and food bowls go without saying, but I also think that equally important are predictable schedules and some semblance of control so they don’t feel trapped.

And their humans can focus on quality interaction rather than the quantity of interaction. Understanding how they live in the world can allow humans to interact with them more effectively,” said Judi Stella, a doctoral candidate in veterinary preventive medicine and a lead author of the study.

-Kristi Eaton

It’s Getting Cold Outside

posted November 18th, 2010 by
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Cute Chocolate Labrador in White Ear Muffs

Story by Kristi Eaton

After weeks of 70-plus fall temperatures, mother nature has finally decided it’s time for the colder temperatures.

For many, this means two things: layered clothing and breaking down and turning on the heater. But there’s one more thing that you should be thinking about right now: your pet.

Below are guidelines from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to keep your pet healthy and warm as we head into the cold, soon-to-be winter months.

Make your outdoor cat an indoor one for the next few months. Cold weather can be deadly for cats. Not only is freezing to death a possibility, but many outdoor cats seek warmth under the hood of a car. When the car is started, however, the cat can be seriously injured or killed from the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the hood before starting the car so any cats that might be hiding there have a chance to escape.

More dogs are lost during the winter than any other season, so it’s imperative to keep them on their leash when going for a walk, especially if it’s icing or snowing out.

If your dog has been in ice, snow or sleet, clean him off when he gets inside. Salt, antifreeze and other dangerous chemicals likely made it onto his body while playing.

Don’t shave you dog’s coat during the winter months. His coat will give him added warmth – just like our jeans, boots and hoodies keep us warm.

Don’t leave your dog or cat in the car unsupervised, as the car can act as a refrigerator, keeping in the cold air and freezing them to death.

If your dog can stand the cold weather and wants to continue to enjoy activities outdoors, increase his food supply – especially his protein intake – to keep him, as well as his fur, healthy.

– Kristi Eaton

Halloween Pet Safety

posted October 28th, 2010 by
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Story by Kristi Eaton

Ahead of the spookiest day of the year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is warning pet owners about some common and not-so-common dangers for our beloved four-legged friends. 

1. No tricks or treats for those on four legs. It may seem harmless — how much could one little piece of candy harm Fido? A lot, actually. Most people know that chocolate is very dangerous to dogs and cats, but many people don’t realize that candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If for some reason your pet has ingested something toxic, immediately call you vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Pumpkins and decorative corn can cause stomach ache in pets, so make sure your pet stays clear of them. 

3. The same thing goes for any decorative lights or candles, especially those candles lighting up pumpkins. If chewed, wires from lights can burn your pet. Cats and dogs can become intrigued with a candle in a pumpkin and knock it over, causing a fire that could harm them and the house. 

4. Take careful thought when deciding whether or not to dress your pet up. For some animals, dressing up causes a lot of undue stress and it’s better to let them go costume-less, the SPCA says. And for those who are willing and able to get dressed up, make sure their costumes do not have any loose pieces or material they could choke on. 

5. Keep most animals in a separate room during trick-or-treating. Most animals do not handle the constant stream of strangers well. But if you do allow your pet to answer the door with you, make sure they do not dart outside each time the door is opened.

– Kristi Eaton