No Scaredy Cats This Halloween: Top 10 Safety Tips for Pet Parents
Attention, animal lovers, it's almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying "trick or treat!" all the way to November 1.
1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.
3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.
5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.
6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.
7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.
9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.
10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he or she will be returned to you
Did you know???
Diseases spread by fleas and ticks are transmitted when these insects feed on the blood of a host. Fleas and ticks are externally parasitic to dogs, cats, humans and many small mammals. Different species of fleas and ticks are vectors of specific viruses, bacteria or protozoal parasites. These infections are often host and/or carrier specific.
1. Parasitic Dermatitis
This is an allergic reaction that is caused by a pet's hypersensitivity to substances in flea saliva. Itchy, inflamed skin and papules will appear on the skin where fleas are concentrated. Eventually the irritation may cause hair loss and infection. These symptoms can exist long after flea infestation has been eliminated and may require treatments of antihistamines and antibiotics. Parasitic dermatitis is usually caused by flea bites but can sometimes be triggered by tick bites.
2. Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted by the bite of a tick. Lyme disease is considered the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. Symptoms include a sudden onset of lameness that is occasionally accompanied by fever, anorexia and lethargy. Lyme vaccinations in conjunction with flea and tick preventatives are recommended for all dogs, specifically those in endemic areas or those that are often outdoors.
Bartonella strains are bacterial parasites that are transmitted through flea or tick bites. Bartonella can infect humans, dogs, cats and rodents. Bartonella invades red blood cells and uses the cell's membrane as protection while multiplying. Bartonella can cause multiple ailments depending upon the strain existent in the host. It is responsible for Cat-scratch disease in humans. Bartonella can be diagnosed with laboratory blood work and most strains can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
Erlichiosis is a bacterial infection transmitted through tick bites. Erlichiae infect and destroy the white blood cells in the body of the host. Infection results in lethargy, weight loss, anemia and enlarged lymph nodes and spleen. Erlichiosis can be diagnosed by laboratory blood work and is usually responsive to aggressive treatment with the antibiotic doxycycline.
Rickettsiae are bacteria that can be transmitted by flea or tick bites. Multiple strains of rickettsia exist that can cause different ailments. Rickettsiae ailments include typhus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, flea-borne spotted fever and tick bite fever. Diagnosis and treatment are dependant upon the strain of rickettsia and the associated illness.
Meningoencephalitis is an inflammatory disease that can be caused by numerous tick-borne viruses. Meningoencephalitis infects the brain and spinal cord, and their surrounding membranes. The result of infection is a loss of nervous system function. Fever, pain, convulsions and paralysis are symptoms of infection. Meningoencephalitis has a rapid onset and can be fatal. Diagnosis can be made by cerebrospinal fluid analysis. Treatment with antibiotics and anticonvulsants can be effective providing that the meningoencephalitis is the result of a tick-borne virus.
Tapeworms are parasitic flatworms that can be transmitted by fleas that are ingested during grooming. Tapeworms exist in the digestive tract and shed reproductive segments of their body called proglottids. The proglottids are passed in the feces of the host and are visible to the naked eye, resembling pieces of rice. Proglottids are often the only noticeable indication of a tapeworm infestation.
Vaccines exist for few of these illnesses. The recommended preventative for all flea and tick associated illnesses is the prevention of the parasites themselves.
The holidays are a festive time for us and our pets. However, due to ongoing activities and constant distractions, we can easily overlook potential dangers to our four-legged family members.
1. Holiday Tinsel and Ornaments
Tinsel, while not toxic, is very attractive to pets, particularly cats. The shiny, dangling decoration reflects light and can move in the slightest draft — appearing to come alive to watchful critters.
The problem with tinsel is that once it’s consumed, it can cause serious injury to your pet. If not caught in time, this foreign body ingestion could actually be fatal as it twists and bunches inside your pet’s intestines. Immediate veterinary care is required.
In addition, bright and colorful tree ornaments can attract your pet’s curiosity. Place glass, aluminum and paper ornaments higher up on the tree. Pets can chew and swallow these fragile objects. Broken pieces can form sharp edges that may lacerate your pet’s mouth, throat and intestines, and can also create a choking hazard.
2. Holiday Lighting and Candles
Twinkling, shiny and dangling holiday lighting — such as the icicle, netting, garland, curtain, rope and candle varieties— may be another source of danger to your curious pets.
Have a pet that likes to chew? Electrical shock may occur when a pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution.
If you have candles on display, place them in a hard-to-reach spot so that your pets can not access them. Not only can pets seriously burn themselves, but knocking over candles creates a fire hazard and may leave a trail of hot wax that will easily burn the pads of paws and more.
3. Holiday Ribbon
You may be tempted to fashion your pet with a decorative ribbon “collar” but beware that this could become a choking hazard.
Also, it’s best to quickly discard ribbons and bows wrapped around holiday gifts so that your curious companions won’t be enticed to chew or swallow them. Ingested ribbon can cause a choking hazard and ultimately twist throughout the intestines, leading to emergency surgery and even death.
4. Food Hazards
Festive events often mean edible treats — and lots of them. Unfortunately, some of the most popular holiday goodies, such as chocolate, bones and nuts, can be extremely toxic or fatal to pets.
- Different types of chocolates contain various levels of fat, caffeine and the substance methylxanthine. In general, the darker and richer the chocolate (i.e., baker’s chocolate), the higher the risk of toxicity. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, dogs might experience vomiting, diarrhea, urination, hyperactivity, heart arrythmias, tremors and seizures.
- Fat trimmings and bones are dangerous for dogs. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, may cause pancreatitis. And, although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, a dog can choke on it. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog's digestive system.
- Abundant in many cookies and candies, certain nuts should not be given to pets. Almonds, non-moldy walnuts and pistachios can cause an upset stomach or an obstruction of your dog's throat and/or intestinal tract. Macadamia nuts and moldy walnuts can be toxic, causing seizures or neurological signs. Lethargy, vomiting and loss of muscle control are among the effects of nut ingestion.
Keep your pet on her regular diet and caution visitors against giving your pet special treats or table scraps.
5. Toxic Holiday Plants
They may be pretty, but some holiday plants are poisonous—even deadly. As little as a single leaf from any lily variety is lethal to cats. Others to avoid:
- Christmas tree pine needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness.
- Holly, commonly found during the Christmas season, can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
- Mistletoe, another Christmas plant, can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death when ingested.
- Poinsettias can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting.
Scoot on over to our Facebook page http://on.fb.me/1xeYQmH to see pictures from our 2014 Pet Trick or Treat! We appreciate everyone who brought their pets and kids along to enjoy the event, and a BIG thank you to our vendors who donated a ton of great gifts for our clients!
Earlier this year we introduced a new service: Laser Therapy. From post-operative incisions to chronic joint pain, the therapy laser has been a great aid in recovery and pain management for our patients.