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Is Your Home Poisonous to Pets?

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Most people are generally aware of potentially toxic products in their homes. After all, we can read labels, we can receive alerts, and we can share information with each other.

But our pets are blind when it comes to knowing what’s good and bad for them, and some items that are harmless to us are actually poisonous to them (you’ll rarely find pet-safety information on the labels of products intended for human use). So it’s critical to be both alert and aware.

Every year, during National Poison Prevention Week (March 16-22), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals releases a list of top toxins reported by pet owners to our Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). Nearly 180,000 cases were handled in 2013, and many of these items could be accessible to pets in your home right now.

Mind Your Medications

As the subject of nearly 20 percent of all calls received, prescription human medications were the number one toxin reported by pet owners. These include products such as cardiac medications, anti-depressants and pain medications. A majority of cases involved heart medications often used to control heart rate and blood pressure.

Over-the-counter medications came in at number three, making up nearly 15 percent of calls to the APCC. Many easily-accessible products such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and dietary supplements like weight loss products are NOT safe for pets. And because some of these products taste or smell good, your pets might chew right through the bottle to get to them.

Veterinary medications came in number six, reinforcing the need to keep prescriptions out of reach.

Some not-so-obvious ways to keep your pets away from your meds: Don’t take them when your pets are watching you. “Keep all medications out of reach and take your pills behind a closed door away from your pets,” says Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “If you drop your medication, your dog can scoop it up quicker than you can say ‘poison’.”

What’s Inside Insecticides

It’s obvious that mice- and rat-killing rodenticides – number eight – aren’t safe for your pets and should be kept in secure places, but also be careful about insecticides intended for use on one pet which can be toxic to another. (By the way, the ASPCA recommends only using humane traps and methods for rodent control).

Some products made specifically for dogs, like certain flea-control medications, can be very dangerous, even fatal, for your cat. In fact, more than half of the cat-related calls the APCC received in 2013 involved insecticide exposure, which is the number two top toxin. So make sure you’re always reading labels and using these products properly.

Perilous Products

Household products cover a lot of ground, and the APCC received almost 17,000 calls about these items, including cleaning supplies, glue, and paint. Jumping up to number four this year, household products often contain bleach or ingredients like phenols that should be used exactly as instructed on the label.

Some household products can be corrosive, while others might cause obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract, which could require surgery. Even some seemingly safe and very pet-accessible products – like fire logs – are included in this grouping of potentially harmful items.

Watch What You Eat…

Not all food for you is good food for your pets. The number five toxin includes a range of food from vegetables and herbs — like onions and garlic — to harmless-seeming snacks, like grapes and raisins. None of these items are safe for pets, and some can cause nausea, gastrointestinal irritation, and kidney failure.

Products that have xylitol listed as an ingredient should also be avoided. Used as a sweetener in things like baked goods, candy and even toothpaste, xylitol can cause vomiting, lethargy, seizures and sometimes liver failure.

See more dangerous foods here , including alcohol, macadamia nuts, yeast dough, milk, salt, and raw meat and eggs.

… Especially Chocolate

While all prescription human medication made up the number one toxin reported to the APCC in 2013, chocolate was actually the number one single product, generating an average of 26 calls per day. Chocolate – number seven on the toxins list — contains substances called methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. The type of chocolate and size of the animal will affect the risk: The smaller the animal and darker the chocolate, the more harm it can cause.

Poisonous Plants

Dogs might be more likely to gobble up harmful human food, but cats take the lead in poisonous-plant consumption. As the number nine toxin called into APCC, certain plants can be extremely dangerous, even fatal, for your pets. Even popular plants, like lilies, can cause kidney failure. With so many garden and household plant varieties available, it’s important to do research before exposing your pets to them.

Products used to care for and treat plants also made the list, coming in at number 10. These potentially toxic items, like fertilizer, are sometimes made with poultry manure and other products attractive to pets. Making sure to read the label of any lawn and garden product is a simple way to find out whether it’s toxic to animals.

For more information on plant toxicity, visit the ASPCA’s extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants, and here’s this year’s full APCC list of top toxins, in order of call frequency.

1. Human medications
2. Insecticides
3. Over the counter medications
4. Household items
5. Human foods
6. Veterinary medications
7. Chocolate
8. Rodenticides
9. Plants
10. Lawn and garden products

photo source: Pexels
source: Pet MD

Keep Your Pets Safe From Dangers Lurking In Your Home

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You probably know by now that a lot of every-day food items, household items and personal items can be dangerous to your four-legged friends. But do you know where these items may be hiding? The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants you to have a thorough breakdown of each room in your home, so you can help keep your pets safe, happy and healthy. Below you’ll find our easy, quick-view guide and an in-depth look into everything you need to know!

Attic

While the attic is not necessarily a common place for our pets to go, it’s a place that’s often overlooked when it comes to pet dangers. Mothballs, rodenticides and insecticides may be used in attics to ward off pests, but can be problematic for your furry friends. Make sure your pet steers clear of the attic and doesn’t follow you up.

Bathroom

A surprising number of bathroom items could prove to be toxic or harmful to your pets. Many people store common household cleaners in their bathrooms, which could be extremely dangerous if ingested, inhaled or come into contact with your pet’s skin. Other dangers include soaps and oral hygiene products such as toothpaste or mouthwash, which can contain the dangerous sugar substitute, xylitol.
Items such as dental floss, cotton balls and other inedible products can also cause obstructions if consumed by your pets. You should always keep personal products and items in a medicine cabinet or up high enough so that your pet cannot reach them.

Bedrooms

Bedrooms are a great place to spend quality time snuggling with our best fur-friends. While less problematic than other rooms in the house, medications are a big concern in this room.
Due to either the low nature or easy accessibility of many tables or nightstands in bedrooms, these are not safe places to store medications. And if you have kids (the human kind), help them to remember to pick up bags in their rooms that may contain gum, food or candy that your pets can easily sniff out.

Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the main rooms in the house where pets get themselves into trouble. Like us, our furry friends associate the kitchen with pleasant scents and tastes, so they often are on the lookout for yummy things to eat. Besides food, medications, cleaning products and trash bins are other sources of danger in the kitchen.
Keeping food in the fridge and cabinets and keeping lids on trash bins, putting medications out of reach and keeping your pets out of the room when using cleaning products can help keep them safe.

Living Room

While less tempting than the kitchen, dangers in the living room are a great example of the fact that something doesn’t have to taste good for our pets ingest it. Batteries, plants and fragrance products are the primary dangers found in this room.
If your furry friend thinks everything is a chew toy, make sure to watch out for these common dangers and keep them up and out of paws’ reach.

Laundry Room

Laundry rooms are where our pets tend to exhibit their sillier sides. Knocking down detergent bottles or grabbing old dryer sheets and running away are two common scenarios seen. But it’s not all fun and games: laundry detergent pods are a quick gulp away from some nasty vomiting and possible aspiration.
Keeping laundry products in a cabinet and picking up any dropped dryer sheets or pods is always a good idea.

Garage

Unfortunately garages can be a very dangerous room for our furry friends. Many people store a variety of chemicals in their garage which can be serious concerns for pets.
Common use of rodenticides in the garage poses an added danger. Make sure to keep your pet out of your garage while using any chemicals, and when done, securely close any chemicals and put them up and out of reach.

Yard

As warmer weather approaches, APCC sees an increase in calls about dangers in the yard. Keeping an eye out for dangerous plants and mushrooms is always advised . While it’s nice to have company while working in the yard, be aware of what your pet is doing.
They may be following you around, eating that fertilizer you are placing, or find that it’s a good time to dig up an ants’ nest. When using any chemicals on your yard, it’s best to keep your four-legged friends away until it is dry or watered in. Also, remember if you do a lot of grilling, lighter fluid and charcoal briquettes are two common outdoor dangers.

photo source: ASPCA

source: ASPCA

Are Houseplants Safe for Your Pets?

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Did you know that houseplants, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, can also provide health benefits for you and your pet? Houseplants have been noted to keep carbon dioxide levels down, remove certain pollutants, improve moisture levels and keep airborne dust down in homes. But unfortunately, some of those green-leafed beauties may be troublesome for our four-legged friends, and it’s important to be mindful when bringing something potentially toxic into your home.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has put together a short list of common houseplants that could be problematic to your pets so that you can stay informed on how to keep your furry friends safe, happy and healthy.

Mildly Toxic Plants

Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrate) and Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Both the Fiddle Leaf Fig and Spider Plant are mildly toxic to dogs and cats. With small ingestions of the plant material, there is a risk for mild gastrointestinal irritation. The most common signs observed are vomiting and diarrhea. Sap from the Fiddle Leaf Fig could also cause skin irritation.

Pothos or Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum), Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia spp.), Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.), Philodendron, Calla Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica), and Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

These six plants contain insoluble calcium oxalates. The stem, leaf stalk and leaves contain tiny crystals that can result in irritation to the mouth and GI tract when chewed on or ingested. Symptoms typically include nausea, drooling, retching, vomiting and diarrhea. In rare cases irritation may become severe and result in swelling of the tongue and back of the throat, resulting in trouble breathing and trouble swallowing. Exposures to these plants are not considered to be life-threatening, but pets who show more severe gastrointestinal distress or have difficulty breathing may require veterinary intervention.

Moderately Toxic Plants

Corn Plant, Dragon Tree and Ribbon Plant (Dracaena spp).

Dracaena are categorized as moderately toxic plants. In dogs and cats, small exposures usually cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. However, larger exposures can lead to depression, weakness and lack of coordination. Cats may also develop large pupils, rapid breathing, an elevated heart rate, drooling and abdominal discomfort. If your pet ingests a large amount of these plants, it is best to contact your veterinarian or APCC.

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

Most exposures to Jade plants in cats and dogs cause mild gastrointestinal irritation in the form of vomiting and diarrhea. In some pets, lethargy, ataxia, muscle tremors and an elevated heart rate can occur. Although cats seem to be more sensitive to this plant than dogs, more severe symptoms are rare.

Severely Toxic Plants

Sago Palms (Cycas revoluta)

Sago Palms are one of the most dangerous ornamental plants to both cats and dogs. All parts of the plant are toxic. However, the seeds contain the highest concentration of toxins. The main concern with an exposure to this plant is liver failure. Vomiting is very common after exposures and can develop within minutes of ingestion. Other signs may include severe vomiting and diarrhea with blood, lethargy, anorexia and seizures. Liver failure can develop within three days. It is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if your pet ingested part of this plant.

Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum)

Easter Lilies are highly toxic to cats. Very small exposures to any part of the plant, including the pollen, can result in kidney injury and death. Without veterinary intervention, exposures can be life threatening. Kidney failure can develop within 48-72 hours. Vomiting is common after exposures and is typically seen within the first 24 hours. Further signs include depression, lethargy and anorexia. Cats are the only known species to develop kidney injury as a result of exposure. Dogs who ingest this plant may experience mild vomiting or diarrhea, but serious problems have not been seen.

photo source: ASPCA

source: ASPCA

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

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Dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

What is veterinary dentistry, and who should perform it?

Veterinary dentistry includes the cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of your pets’ teeth and all other aspects of oral health care. These procedures should be performed by a veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist. Subject to state or provincial regulation, veterinary technicians are allowed to perform certain dental procedures under the supervision of a veterinarian.

The process begins with an oral exam of your pet’s mouth by a veterinarian. Radiographs (x-rays) may be needed to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gumline. Because most dental disease occurs below the gumline, where you can’t see it, a thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. Dental cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings.

Oral health in dogs and cats

Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:
• bad breath
• broken or loose teeth
• extra teeth or retained baby teeth
• teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
• abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
• reduced appetite or refusal to eat
• pain in or around the mouth
• bleeding from the mouth
• swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Always be careful when evaluating your pet’s mouth, because a painful animal may bite.

Causes of pet dental problems

Although cavities are less common in pets than in people, they can have many of the same dental problems that people can develop:
• broken teeth and roots
• periodontal disease
• abscesses or infected teeth
• cysts or tumors in the mouth
• malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth and bite
• broken (fractured) jaw
• palate defects (such as cleft palate)

Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats – by the time your pet is 3 years old, he or she will very likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if effective preventive measures aren’t taken. Early detection and treatment are critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth. Other health problems found in association with periodontal disease include kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes.

It starts with plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gumline can often easily be seen and removed, but plaque and tartar below the gumline is damaging and sets the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jaw bone. Periodontal disease is graded on a scale of 0 (normal) to 4 (severe).

The treatment of periodontal disease involves a thorough dental cleaning and x-rays may be needed to determine the severity of the disease. Your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist will make recommendations based on your pet’s overall health and the health of your pet’s teeth, and provide you with options to consider.

Why does dentistry require anesthesia?

When you go to the dentist, you know that what’s being done is meant to help you and keep your mouth healthy. Your dentist uses techniques to minimize pain and discomfort and can ask you how you are feeling, so you accept the procedures and do your best to keep still. Your pet does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and he or she reacts by moving, trying to escape, or even biting.

Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. In addition, anesthesia allows for a better cleaning because your pet is not moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If radiographs (x-rays) are needed, your pet needs to be very still in order to get good images, and this is unlikely without heavy sedation or anesthesia.

Although anesthesia will always have risks, it’s safer now than ever and continues to improve so that the risks are very low and are far outweighed by the benefits. Most pets can go home the same day of the procedure, although they might seem a little groggy for the rest of the day.

What can I do at home for my pet’s oral health?

Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consists of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth that are not kept clean. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible and brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant – patience and training are important.

There are many pet products marketed with claims that they improve dental health, but not all of them are effective. Talk with your veterinarian about any dental products, treats, or dental-specific diets you’re considering for your pet, or ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.

photo source: Pixabay
source: AVMA.

Signs of Gum Disease in Dogs

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Bacteria are everywhere on human and canine bodies, but when they get under your dog’s gums in the form of plaque, they can lead to gum disease, the most common dental condition that occurs in adult dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

“Most of what many people think they know about gum disease in dogs is wrong,” says Brook Niemiec, a veterinarian in San Diego. While many pet parents believe that tartar, a brown-colored coating on the teeth, causes gum disease, it actually does not, by itself. “People will lift up [a dog’s] lip and look for tartar, [but] it is actually bacterial plaque that causes gum disease,” he says. Tartar, which is just calcified, hardened plaque, does provide more “hiding places” for bacteria to thrive, however.

Learn more about the most common signs of gum disease and how to prevent this condition in your dog, below.

Signs of Gum Disease in Dogs

These are the top five signs of gum disease in dogs:

Gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include redness and swelling of the gums, says Jenna Winer, DVM and dentistry and oral surgery resident at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Bad breath. Maybe even before you notice gingivitis, pet parents may notice that their dog has bad breath, Niemiec says. “Many people think that doggy breath is normal, but it’s not,” he says. “It’s common because so many dogs have gum disease, but it isn’t normal.” The most frequent cause of bad breath in dogs is dental disease.

Receding gums. A separation of the gums away from the teeth is a signal of gum disease. In the most advanced stage of the disease, the gum tissue will recede and expose the roots of the teeth.

Bleeding. If your dog’s gums bleed when he chews, when you’re probing his mouth or brushing his teeth, it could be a sign of advancing periodontal disease, says Niemiec.

Loose teeth. This is a sign of later stages of periodontal disease, Niemiec says.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Gum Disease in Dogs

If a dog’s gingivitis is diagnosed and treated before it advances to full-scale periodontal disease, it is reversible, says Winer. “If the bacteria are cleaned out before it advances, it can be reversed.”

If gingivitis continues to advance, however, it could mean serious health consequences for your dog. Niemiec says that most dogs, especially those under 20 pounds, develop various stages of gum disease and, depending on their genetics, this can develop in dogs as early as 18 months old.

As gingivitis advances into more serious periodontal disease, your dog will begin to lose bone and tissue surrounding the teeth and your veterinarian may be forced to extract teeth. “There is no reversal when it gets to that point,” says Niemiec.

Other consequences may include fractures of the jaw as a result of a weakened jaw bone, bone infection and development of a hole (or fistula) into the naval cavity, causing nasal discharge. Periodontitis can also have systemic effects on the heart, liver and kidneys, according to the AVMA.

How to Prevent Gum Disease in Dogs

The number one way to prevent gum disease in dogs is to brush your dog’s teeth. “I would recommend brushing be done once per day, but at the minimum, it should be done at least two times per week,” Niemiec says.

There are many other products, such as chews and water additives, that can help you maintain your dog’s gum health, but he recommends using only those with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval and using them to assist in maintaining oral health, not as a substitute for brushing.

The next step in maintaining your dog’s oral health is scheduling a professional dental cleaning with a veterinarian. This includes a cleaning under general anesthesia with scaling and polishing, Winer says.

Small dogs (under 20 pounds) should undergo a cleaning at least annually, in addition to brushing at home, while large breed dogs can generally have their teeth cleaned every two to three years, Niemiec says.

photo source: Pexels

source: Pet MD