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Pet of the Week - July 28, 2014

  • Written by Homeward Pet Adoption Center

This snuggly girl with the charmingly large ears is Scrappy! She is a two-year-old Chihuahua with a velvety soft, dark brown coat.

Scrappy weighs in at 11 pounds and loves to be held and sit in laps. She enjoys delicate handling and is looking for a quiet household with mature teens and adults. Scrappy has lived with dogs before and done well but has no history with cats.

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Pet of the Week - June 30, 2014

  • Written by Homeward Pet Adoption Center

This wonderful and darling girl is Coco, and she is a miniature poodle/terrier mix. Coco is five years old and would make a nice-sized companion, weighing in at 27 pounds.

Coco is a sweet and gentle soul who enjoys the finer things in life. She is looking for an easygoing home where she will go on leisurely walks and have daily cuddle time. She does best around women and would love to be the only pet in the household.

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Pet Dangers

  • Written by Provided by Kristyn Brown, DVM; Lisette Druliner, DVM; Carolyn Houser, DVM, Hollywood Hill Animal Hospital

As the weather gets colder, we seek out ways to keep ourselves warm – like wearing more clothing and turning up our heat.  But what do our pets do?  Dogs and cats, both indoor and outdoor, will also look for ways to stay warm and cozy.  Sometimes, they will inadvertently get themselves into a dangerous situation in an attempt to warm up.

• Pets with indoor access may choose to sit on a heat vent, curl up next to a fireplace, or snuggle under the blankets.  Occasionally, a cat or small dog may try another heat source – a clothes dryer.  Pets are quick to pick up on the source of warm laundry and can feel the warmth radiating from the machine itself.  Every year, many pets are seriously injured or even die after accidentally getting locked in a dryer that then begins to heat and spin.  The heat and tumbling action of a dryer is much too strong and fast for a pet to overcome, and left inside, it will result in a fatality.

• Cats are particularly prone to dryer-related accidents because of their attraction to small spaces to hide, elevated perches and their natural curiosity. To keep your pet safe this fall and winter, we suggest the following:

1. Educate the members of your household that may use the dryer. Awareness is often enough to catch a hiding pet in a dryer before it gets started.

2. Keep access to the dryer limited to when clothes are being transferred in and out of the dryer.  Otherwise, keep the door latched closed.

3. Before each cycle, feel around inside the dryer to make sure Fluffy didn’t sneak inside when you weren’t looking.

4. Provide accessible alternatives for your cat or dog to warm up, such as extra blankets.

5. Never encourage a pet to get in a dryer, even if you are supervising.  Your pet will think it is a suitable place to go and may become extremely interested in exploring it during other times as well.

If your pet does accidentally spend ANY amount of time inside a dryer, call your veterinarian and take him or her to be evaluated immediately. Injuries can include head trauma/concussions, hyperthermia, organ trauma, burns, and fractures. Even if your pet seems fine, a veterinarian will be able to detect subtle signs of injury and provide the care your pet needs.  As is true with most injuries and illnesses, early intervention often means cheaper and more effective treatment.

Household Hazards – Holiday Safety Tips for Cat Owners

  • Written by Submitted by SnoWood Animal Hospital

During times of celebration, friends and family often gather in our homes. At these times, it is easy to overlook potential hazards to your cat’s health and safety. In order to prevent mishaps for your cuddly companions, it is important that you recognize these hidden dangers.

My cat enjoys playing with ribbons, tinsel, and other decorations. Is this okay?

Most cats enjoy playing with ribbons, string and tinsel, especially if they are shiny or moving. Kittens and young cats tend to be more curious and playful and appear to see these items as toys that need to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing are healthy physical activities for cats, chewing and swallowing ribbons can be harmful.

“If you want to let your kitten play with string or ribbon, only allow it to play with the item while under your direct supervision.”

When swallowed, these “linear foreign bodies” can become entangled in the intestinal tract, leading to bunching of the intestines as the body tries unsuccessfully to pass the string or ribbon. With each intestinal contraction, the rough or abrasive material rubs against the walls of the intestines, causing inflammation. Eventually, the material can even cut through the intestinal wall. This is a life-threatening emergency requiring surgical intervention. If you want to let your kitten play with string or ribbon, only allow it to play with the item while under your direct supervision. Better yet, don’t even encourage this sort of play!

My cat likes to chew on cords. Can this be harmful?

Dangling cords of various types are tempting to cats that like to play with string, or kittens that are teething and are interested in chewing. Cats have extremely sharp teeth that can easily penetrate the insulation around electric light cords or extension cords. If this happens, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue or an electrical shock that could damage the lungs or heart. This is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.

I’ve heard that chocolate is poisonous to animals. Is this true?

Many people do not realize that chocolate can be a poison when eaten in large amounts, even to people! Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which has caffeine-like activities. Theobromine is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator and a smooth muscle relaxant. Unsweetened or baking chocolate contains a much higher amount of the potentially toxic theobromine than milk chocolate (approximately 10 times the amount on average). For the average cat, weighing 11 pounds or 5 kg, the toxic amount of milk chocolate is approximately 11 ounces, but 1-2 squares of baking chocolate or high quality dark chocolate has the potential to be fatal. An 8-week old kitten usually weighs 1-2 pounds (less than 1 kg), and can be poisoned by only 1 ounce of milk chocolate! Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe overdoses, the only symptom may be sudden death.

What sort of festive plants are toxic to cats?

Poinsettia sap can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the cat that chews on the leaves or stems of this festive plant. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic, but can cause intestinal upset.

Some mistletoe species are toxic, causing liver failure or seizures, while other species are only irritating to the intestinal tract if ingested. The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning with this popular holiday trimming. It is wise to consider mistletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it out of reach of pets and children.

All parts of many plants belonging to the lily family are highly toxic to cats. Because of this risk, it is best to prevent your cat or kitten from chewing on peace lilies, Christmas lilies, or other plants belonging to this family.

Other seasonal plants that are toxic to cats include daffodils, narcissi and spring bulbs that are commonly “forced” to bloom during the winter that bring a “breath of springtime” into our homes.

I like to give my cat some of our dinner as a treat on special occasions. Is there anything I should avoid?

We all like to include our pets in holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet’s stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon medical problems that veterinarians see during any holiday time, and especially between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you wish to feed your cat a special treat, give her only a small amount of lean meat. If you feed leftovers that contain a lot of fat, the pancreas may become overworked and inflamed. This serious condition is known as pancreatitis and usually requires hospitalization and intensive medical treatment. Also make sure that any string or packaging that was used during the preparation of roasts or turkeys is safely disposed of in a sealed garbage container. Most cats can’t resist digging these well-flavored items out and eating them, potentially causing an intestinal obstruction.

It’s a good idea to keep your pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for them to get underfoot and get burned or otherwise injured. By observing a few commonsense guidelines, you can share a safe and healthy celebration with your cat and give thanks for the companionship you enjoy with your four-legged family members.

Allergy - General in Dogs

  • Written by Submited by VCA Animal Hospitals

What is an allergy?

An allergy is a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. Most allergens are proteins.

“... with allergies, the immune response can actually be harmful to the body. “

The allergen protein may be of insect, plant or animal origin. Exposure to the allergen, usually on multiple occasions, sensitizes the immune system, and a subsequent exposure to the same or related allergen causes an over-reaction. Normally the immune response protects the dog against infection and disease, but with allergies, the immune response can actually be harmful to the body.

The immune reactions involved in allergies are quite complex. Most reactions involve an antibody in the blood called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). In an allergic reaction the allergen protein molecules combine with IgE antibody molecules and attach to a type of cell called a mast cell. Mast cells are found in many tissues throughout the body. When the antigen and antibody react with mast cells, the mast cells break up and release potent chemicals such as histamines that cause local inflammation (redness, swelling and itching). This inflammation causes the various signs associated with an allergic reaction.

What are the symptoms of allergies in dogs?

In the dog, the most common symptom associated with allergies is itching of the skin, either localized (in one area) or generalized (all over the body). In some cases, the symptoms involve the respiratory system with coughing, sneezing and/or wheezing. Sometimes, there may be runny discharge from eyes or nose. In other cases, the allergic symptoms affect the digestive system resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.

How common are allergies in dogs?

Unfortunately, allergies are quite common in dogs of all breeds and backgrounds. Most allergies appear after the pet is six months of age with the majority of affected dogs over age two.

Are allergies inherited?

Some allergies are inherited. The inherited trait is known as Atopy (see What is Inhalant Allergy or Atopy below).

What are the common allergy-causing substances (allergens)?

A very large number of substances can act as allergens. Most are proteins of insect, plant or animal origin, but small chemical molecules known as haptens can also cause allergy. Examples of common allergens are pollens, mold spores, dust mites, shed skin cells (similar to “pet allergies” in humans), insect proteins such as flea saliva and some medications.

What are the different types of allergy?

There are several ways of classifying allergies. Some examples of classifications include:

• Precipitating allergen - Flea Allergy

• Route the allergen takes into the body - Inhalant Allergy, Skin Contact Allergy or Food Allergy

• Time it takes for the immune reaction - Immediate-type Hypersensitivity, also called Anaphylaxis or Shock, and Delayed-type Hypersensitivity

• Type of immune reaction - Types I through IV Hypersensitivity

• Clinical Signs - Allergic Dermatitis or Allergic Bronchitis

• Inherited forms - Atopy or Seasonal Allergies

What is Contact Allergy?

Contact allergy is the least common type of allergy in dogs. It results from direct contact to allergens, such as pyrethrins found in flea collars, pesticides used on the lawn, grasses, materials such as wool or synthetics used in carpets or bedding, etc.

“...there will be skin irritation and itching at the points of contact...”

If the dog is allergic to these substances, there will be skin irritation and itching at the points of contact, usually the feet and stomach. Removal of the allergen (once it can be identified) often solves the problem.Caution:The symptoms of allergies can be confused with other disorders or occur concurrently with them. Do not attempt to diagnose your dog without veterinary professional assistance. Be prepared for your pet to receive a full diagnostic evaluation to rule out other causes. If an allergy is diagnosed, your whole family must follow your veterinarian’s advice very closely in order to successfully relieve your pet’s discomfort.