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How do you get your pets to take their pills?

posted January 22nd, 2014 by
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As my pets age and begin to accumulate health problems, convincing them to take their meds has become as difficult as getting my toddler to take hers.

Yoda in particular, has become quite sneaky with his heart pills. I’m not sure how he does it, but he will spit it back out. This sometimes happens as much as an hour after I have given it to him. The pill is so tiny I would have thought it would have just dissolved in that time… I just have no idea how he manages to do that.

And since he must take said pill twice a day, and since I don’t want the wrong animal (or toddler or infant) accidentally ingesting the pills he spits out, this has become quite the conundrum in my house.

Needless to say, I’ve done a lot of experimenting with the quickest and most efficient way to get him to just swallow his pill. And American Singles seem to do the trick.

Yes, those yucky, bright orange squares of cheese are just sticky enough that he has no choice but to swallow his pill. And since he seems to love this plastic version of cheese, he doesn’t seem to mind. I think it’s kind of gross, but I don’t have to eat it.

So there you have it, my trick to getting my pets to take their pills. What tricks work for your pets? Leave a comment below.

- Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Playing Keep Away

posted September 21st, 2013 by
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by Anna Holton-Dean

When I set out to write this article, I intended to focus on the effects of “people food” when eaten by dogs. After speaking with veterinarians, I discovered their concern was far more reaching than food.

Of course, they want pet owners to know common foods harmful and even toxic to pets, but they also want them to be aware of the cases they see on a usual basis which could be avoided if pet owners performed their due diligence. In the end, it could possibly save your pet’s life or, at least, a costly vet bill.

Let’s start with the basics. You probably already know many of these foods to avoid for Fido. Thanks to the ASPCA, here’s a handy list of 10 foods found in most households which are harmful to dogs and other pets.

Avocado is toxic to dogs, horses, rabbits, fish and mice. This is due to a compound called persin, an oil-soluble toxin found in specialized cells within the avocado fruit and its skin. It can cause damage to many animals’ heart muscle cells and cause heart failure. In other species, it can cause inflammation of the mammary glands, according to

Although there have been reports of dogs developing heart failure after ingesting a large amount of avocado, most dogs who ingest it develop no serious injuries. In light of the facts, the ASPCA suggests dogs avoid avocado. The possibility of your pet swallowing the pit is reason enough to avoid the fruit, which can cause blockage in the digestive tract, requiring surgery.

Raw Bread Dough The danger in dogs ingesting raw bread dough lies within the warm, moist environment of the stomach where yeast multiply, resulting in an expanding mass of dough. The ASPCA says expansion of the stomach, if severe enough, could result in decreased blood flow to the stomach wall, causing the death of tissue. Expansion of the stomach could also press on the diaphragm, resulting in breathing difficulty.

Chocolate intoxication is most commonly seen around holidays where candy would be in abundance, such as Easter, Christmas, Halloween or Valentine’s Day, the ASPCA says. The compounds in chocolate that cause toxicosis are caffeine and theobromine, both chemicals are called methylxanthines.

A good rule of thumb to remember is, the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. According to the ASPCA, if your dog displays more than mild restlessness after eating chocolate, see your veterinarian immediately.

Ethanol (Alcohol) Ingesting even a small amount of alcohol can cause significant intoxication in dogs. The ASPCA says drinks like White Russians and egg nog (those with milk) are the most appealing to dogs. Alcohol intoxication may cause vomiting, loss of coordination or disorientation (much like humans). The most severe cases could induce comas, seizures or death.

If you believe your dog has alcohol poisoning, he or she should be monitored by a veterinarian until recovered. It is important to note that hops, used in brewing beer, are also life-threatening for dogs if ingested.

Grapes and Raisins Recently, grapes and raisins have been associated with kidney failure in dogs. The exact cause of the kidney failure isn’t clear, nor is it clear why some dogs can eat the fruit without harm while others experience life-threatening problems after eating even a small amount of raisins or grapes. Further unexplainable is the fact that some dogs can eat the fruit with no ill effects, then later on eat them and become sick.

With the cause of illness still a mystery, the safest bet is to keep grapes and raisins away from your dog completely. Dogs that ingest the fruit and develop toxicosis usually develop vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea within 12 hours of ingestion, according to the ASPCA. With progression of the sickness, dogs may become more lethargic and dehydrated with increased urination, followed by possible decreased or absent urination.

Death could occur in three to four days, or long-term kidney disease may develop. Veterinary treatment should be prompt.

Macadamia Nuts The good news here is that macadamia nut ingestion is unlikely to be fatal in dogs. However, it may cause uncomfortable symptoms for up to 48 hours, the ASPCA says. Symptoms may include weakness in the rear legs, the appearance of pain, possible tremors, and a low grade fever. While symptoms will subside over the 48 hours, dogs may benefit from veterinary care, including intravenous fluid therapy and pain medication.

Moldy Foods Numerous molds grow on food. Some produce toxins called tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can be serious or lifethreatening for dogs if ingested. Without a known way to determine whether a particular mold is producing tremorgenic mycotoxins, the safest route is to avoid feeding moldy food to dogs, the ASPCA says. Remove any debris or trash that your dog could possibly eat (from fallen walnuts or fruit to road kill). The signs of tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning can begin as fine muscle tremors and progress to total body tremors, even convulsions leading to death. Most dogs will respond well to veterinary treatment.

Onions and Garlic All members of the onion family (shallots, scallions, garlic, etc.) contain compounds damaging to dogs’ red blood cells if ingested in sufficient quantities. According to the ASPCA, follow this rule of thumb: “the stronger it is, the more toxic it is.”

“Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions on an ounce for ounce basis,” the ASPCA article adds. It’s uncommon for a dog to eat enough raw onion or garlic to result in serious problems but exposure to concentrated forms, such as dehydrated onions, onion soup mix or garlic powder, may put dogs at risk for toxicosis. The damage to the red blood cells may not be apparent for three to five days.

Dogs affected may appear weak, reluctant to move or easily tired after mild exercise. Urine may be orange–tinted to dark red. Veterinary care is necessary and blood transfusions may be needed.

Xylitol This all-natural sweetener is used in sugar-free gums, baked products and is also used as a drink sweetener for those looking to avoid calories or synthetic alternatives. While it’s a good choice for people as it does not affect their blood sugar levels, in dogs it can lead to a rapid, severe drop in blood sugar levels.

Dogs may develop disorientation and seizures within 30 minutes after ingestion of xylitol, the ASPCA states. However, it could take up to several hours after ingestion. Large quantities could cause liver failure. Any dog ingesting xylitol should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Fatty Foods/Fat drippings BBQ, fat drippings or scraps of meat can be hazardous if eaten by dogs, Dr. Troy McNamara of Animal Emergency Center cautions. Vomiting, diarrhea and even pancreatitis could develop. So make every effort to clean the grill and keep Fido away from leftovers or drippings that may be in the trash.

Beyond Food… Trash As just mentioned, the trash can be a danger zone, McNamara says. Too often he treats dogs and other animals that have eaten something out of the trash can. “Most people know that dogs like to get into the kitchen trash for leftovers, but they also love bathroom trash,” he says.

While unpleasant to think about, he says pet owners must be vigilant to keep feminine hygiene products and used disposable diapers away from pets’ reach. Bathroom trash needs to be tightly secured if pets are near, or the end result may be surgery. “Feminine hygiene products are very absorbent and swell inside the dog’s stomach and intestines, causing blockages and rupturing the intestines. Baby diapers are similar and very absorbent,” McNamara says.

Medicine Medications are another area of concern. Common household pain relievers, such as Tylenol, Aleve or Ibuprofen, are toxic to pets (Tylenol being lethal in cats). McNamara says aspirin is safest, but with any medication, it is best to consult your veterinarian before administering.

Take that one step further and prescription medications may be even more dangerous. Keep all medications in an area your pet cannot reach. “Sleep medications, antidepressants, blood pressure or heart medications are all concerning, McNamara says.

It may go without saying, but veterinarians see pets that have ingested illicit drugs. Any and all drugs should be kept away from pets.

Rodenticides/Mouse Poison McNamara says it is common to see dogs that have ingested rat poison. Most often it leads to bleeding disorders where the blood will not clot, resulting in hemorrhaging and death. “This is 100 percent treatable,” he says, “in the early stages with a prescription medication. However, if left untreated it requires intensive care, transfusions and sometimes is still fatal.”

Common Plants Berries from common plants, such as nandina or burning bush, are toxic to dogs, Dr. Jana Layton of Riverbrook Animal Hospital says. These two particular ones are toxic to dogs, cats and horses. She says burning bush can cause heart arrhythmia, vomiting and diarrhea. Nandina berries may cause seizures, coma or respiratory failure.

Your best line of defense is to know the specific plants your pet encounters around your home. The ASPCA has a detailed list of 17 hazardous plants, which can be accessed at www.aspca. org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/17- poisonous-plants.

Also found in the yard, mushrooms that grow wild should be kept away from pets, Layton says. Its effect is on the liver and may take up to 72 hours to become apparent.

Foreign Bodies Layton and McNamara both find that dogs like to eat things. Period. “Not only food but weird things—coins, fish hooks, silverware, small toys,” McNamara says. Gorilla Glue, a cassette tape ribbon, a Reebok footie sock—all things which Layton has had to surgically remove or treat after ingestion. The bottom line is that pet owners must be vigilant to keep hazardous foods and household items away from pets when possible. Look for signs of distress, pain or sickness in your pet and be quick to seek veterinary care. It could save his or her life.