There are a number of foods toxic to pets. Chocolate is widely known to be toxic to dogs, and such foods as grapes, raisins, onions and walnuts are also poison to their systems. If your pet vomits or seems otherwise ill after a party or on the next day, get him or her to a vet.
Travels with Any Furry Friend
If you’re going to be away, make special arrangements for your pet and include instructions for feeding, socializing and medication (if any). Leaving pets at home with a sitter who can come in is often preferable to boarding.
Make sure pets wear proper identification, and get them microchipped.
If your travel plans include your pet, there are plenty of pet-friendly campgrounds and hotels available. You also may be lucky enough to be staying with a friend or family member who’s just as nuts as you are regarding animals. Locate a vet in the area where you’ll be staying, or have someone recommend one.
Your dog may enjoy the wind in his or her ears, but restrain him or her on long road trips to prevent driver distraction and for safety’s sake.
If traveling by airplane, check the flights to see if you can bring your pet in a carrier in the cabin and not in cargo. It’s one thing to lose your baggage, but having your pet disappear is tragic. Again, see your vet for a tranquilizer, if necessary, and any other necessary medications.
In all cases, provide plenty of food and water, and toys and treats, too!
Ultimate Safety Tip
Pets are not gifts, so don’t surprise anyone with one. Shelters and rescues are full of good intentions gone awry.
Topics: Health, Pet-Care
National Poison Prevention Week is March 20-26. What better time to educate yourself and your clients about the importance of poison safety?
According to the ASPCA, their Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) handled more than 167,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances last year, many of which included typical household items.
When it comes to pet poisonings, prevention is paramount. In addition to the obvious toxic materials, please keep in mind, and share with your clients, the top 10 pet poisons of 2010:
1. Human Medications
For several years, human medications have been number one on the ASPCA’s list of common hazards, and 2010 was no exception. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so it’s essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.
In an effort to battle home invasions by unwelcome pests, people often unwittingly put their pets at risk. One of the most common incidents involves the misuse of flea and tick products—such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, it’s always important to talk to your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.
Baits used to kill mice and rats are mostly grain based. Not only does this attract rodents, but it attracts dogs and cats. There are several different types of rodenticides that can cause seizures, internal bleeding or kidney failure. Always make sure these items are placed in areas that pets cannot access.
4. People Food
Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are commonly ingested by our pets. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, while onions and garlic can cause anemia if enough is ingested. Xylitol, a sugar alcohol used to sweeten sugar free gums and mints, can cause low blood sugar and liver failure in dogs.
5. Veterinary Medications
Many medications made for our pets are flavored for ease of giving. Unfortunately, that means that animals may ingest the entire bottle of medication if they find it tasty. Common chewable medications include arthritis and incontinence medications. Contact your veterinarian if your pet ingests more than his proper dose of medication.
Chocolate contains methylxanthines, which act as stimulants to our pets. The darker the chocolate, the more methylxanthines it contains. Methylxanthines can cause agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures and death.
7. Household Toxins
Cleaning supplies, such as bleach, acids, alkalies and other detergents, can cause corrosive injury to the mouth and stomach. Other household items such as batteries and liquid potpourri can cause similar problems. Always keep these toxins behind securely locked doors.
Both house plants and outdoor plants can be ingested by our pets. Lilies can cause life-threatening kidney failure in cats, while sago palms can cause liver failure in dogs and cats. Keep house plants and bouquets away from your pets.
Many herbicides have a salty taste, and our pets will commonly ingest them. Always follow label directions and keep pets off treated areas until they are dry.
10. Outdoor Toxins
Antifreeze, fertilizers and ice melts are all substances that animals can find outdoors. Keep these items in securely locked sheds or on high shelves where pets cannot get to them.
If you have any reason to suspect your pet, or a client's pet, has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hot line at (888) 426-4435
Ensuring that pets get the right nutrients in the correct quantity and an appropriate amount of water contributes to their overall health, well being and longevity. Dietary requirements vary based on the animal’s size, activity, stress level, medical condition, environment, age and physical shape. An indoor-only pet, for example, may require less of one type of nutrient than one that goes outside or lives exclusively out-of-doors. A working dog will need more fuel than one leading a more sedentary life. And a cat will need more of certain amino acids and vitamins than a dog. There are other important nutritional differences between dogs and cats, and food should not be used interchangeably for one or the other.
Nutrients and What They Do
Nutrients are the parts of food used by the body to perform vital functions. As noted, the nutritional needs of dogs and cats differ and
minimum daily requirements for both species have been established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Foods that
meet AAFCO standards will say so on the label. Food that is not nutritionally sound can result in health problems for the dog or cat, depending on which nutrient is lacking or fed in too greata quantity.
Proteins. Proteins are the major component of a pet’s hair, muscles and cell membranes. Protein provides a pet with the amino acids to build cells and tissue. Protein is an energy source, and proteins are important in the makeup of antibodies, hormones and blood. Complex proteins called enzymes cause chemical reactions to occur in the body. Unlike dogs, which obtain most of their energy from carbohydrates and fats, cats meet most of their energy needs by consuming protein and cannot subsist on a vegetarian diet.
The building blocks of proteins consist of 23 amino acids. Dogs and cats can synthesize some amino acids if there is adequate nitrogen in the blood stream. These are called non-essential amino acids. Other amino acids must be obtained directly from an animal’s diet; these are called essential amino acids. What constitutes essential vs. nonessential amino acids varies between dogs and cats.
Vitamins. Vitamins are nitrogen-based chemicals that are essential for life. Both cats and dogs need vitamins to sustain good health. Vitamins help control physiological functions and regulate chemical reactions in the body. Vitamins that are stored by the body in fatty tissue and the liver are called fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Vitamins that are used up by the body daily, with any excess excreted, are the water-soluble vitamins (B and C). Water-soluble vitamins can be destroyed by heat, light, oxidation, moisture or rancidity and should be replenished daily by feeding fresh portions in a balanced diet. Dogs and cats have minimum daily requirements of vitamins
although the needs of each are different. Processed food or food which has been stored toolong will lose its vitamin effectiveness.
Minerals. Minerals are found in commercial and natural diets, and they help maintain a pet’s electrolyte and fluid balance, tissue structure, formation of teeth and cells and growth of bones. Mineral requirements are interrelated so that an excessive amount of one may adversely affect the other. Calcium, for example, works with phosphorous, so that too much of one may result in too little of the other.
Fats. Dietary fat is a good source of energy for dogs and cats and helps them absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat also makes pet food taste better and provides essential fatty acids. Inadequate fat in a pet’s diet can result in poor growth, poor performance, scaly skin and greasy or flaky hair coat, weight loss, increased susceptibility to infection and impaired healing of wounds. Pets unable to metabolize fats properly may develop fatty liver disease.
Like proteins, the fatty acids present in fat are either essential or non-essential. An animal’s body is able to manufacture nonessential fatty acids and therefore is not required in the animal’s diet. On the other hand, pet food must supply essential fatty acids. Pet food that is complete and balanced has the required amount of fats and fatty acids, although new studies hint that more essential fatty acids might be beneficial and aid certain medical conditions. A veterinarian may recommend adding fatty acid supplements to a pet’s diet to improve skin condition.
Carbohydrates. Along with protein and fat, carbohydrates are one of the three nutrients in the diet that supply calories (energy) to a pet’s body. This nutrient group is made up of sugars and starches, which are used for energy production, and cellulose (fiber) that adds important bulk to animal diets. Complex carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive tract into simple sugars, such as glucose, that are easily digested and used by the body for energy. In pet foods, the value of carbohydrates is a hotly debated topic. Some nutritionists maintain that since the natural diets of dogs and cats is mainly protein that carbohydrates are unnecessary—and even dangerous—to these pets. Despite this debate, most commercial pet foods contain significant amounts of carbohydrates. While the wild ancestors of today’s dogs and cats did exist on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets, both dogs and cats do have the physiological capability of turning dietary carbohydrates into usable energy. Because carbohydrates are a more economical and available energy source, they are commonly used in today’s commercial pet diets. Basically, these commercial pet foods supply a pet’s protein requirements with meat and the energy requirements with carbohydrates. Cereal grains, such as corn, oats, wheat, rice and barley, are primary sources of dietary carbohydrates. These grains are necessary to the production of pelleted or extruded foods, as they add form and structure to the kibble that make up these products. When added as cooked product, these grains are easily digestible by household pets. Raw cereal grains, on the other hand, cannot be digested. In addition to supplying energy, carbohydrate content can add fiber to a pet’s diet, which aids in digestion. Fiber is the portion of carbohydrate in a diet that is difficult for the pet’s digestive system to break down and use. It is found in the cell walls of plants and is included in modern pet foods to normalize the rate that food passes through the intestine. Fiber helps alleviate constipation by absorbing water and adding bulk to the intestinal contents, which stimulates passing stools. High fiber diets help in weight reduction programs by reducing caloric intake and increasing the feeling of satisfaction after eating. Excessive intake of carbohydrates can result in obesity and too much fiber may cause increased or loose stools and flatulence. Pet food that is complete and balanced will have adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fiber. Veterinarians may prescribe high fiber food for pets with health conditions such as constipation, diabetes,or obesity.
Water. Although not technically a nutrient, water is essential for life. Dogs and cats may be able to survive for days, perhaps weeks without food, but the absence of water can cause death very quickly. How much water a pet needs varies with the pet’s activity, the type of food the pet eats, the environmental temperature, and the pet’s health. Animals with certain medical conditions require more water than healthy pets. Animals outside in warm weather will consume more water than those in an air-conditioned house will. At normal environmental temperatures, cats and dogs lose water via the lungs, skin, urine, milk (through lactation) and feces. At higher temperatures, added water loss may occur through saliva. Not consuming adequate water can result in low blood pressure, heat stroke,
heart or pancreas damage, renal failure or even death. A pet’s water can come from a bowl or from the food he eats. Animals eating dry food need more water than those eating canned food do. Water should be replaced daily and the bowl rinsed to eliminate sediment or slime that may make a pet less likely to drink.
Pet Sitters Bloomfield / Angel At Home Pet Care, Inc.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources - www.michigan.gov Heart worm
Description and Distribution
Heart worm disease is caused by a parasitic roundworm (Dirofilaria immitis). Usually only dogs are affected; however, cats and other mammals are susceptible to infection. Heartworm infections are common along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and the Mississippi River Valley and its tributaries, and now have been reported in every state in America, including Alaska, and in Canada as well. In Michigan, it is most common in the Lower Peninsula but it is also common in the Upper Peninsula.
Infection may also occur in various wild mammals. In the United States, the worms have been reported from foxes, coyotes, wolves, raccoons and muskrats. In Michigan, they have only been found in a few red foxes from several southern counties (Clinton, Jackson, Gratiot, and Saginaw).
Transmission and Development
In the host, usually a dog, adult worms live in the heart and the large blood vessels entering and leaving the heart. Female worms are about 10 inches long; males are somewhat smaller. The female gives birth to microscopically small worms called microfilariae which circulate in the host's blood. The microfilariae must be ingested by a mosquito to continue their development. Inside the mosquito they develop to infective larvae. The larvae migrate to the mouthparts of the mosquito and remain there until the mosquito feeds again. They then leave the mosquito through the mouthparts and enter the new host through the skin. The young larvae begin to grow in the tissue under the skin and muscles. In about two months they enter the right side of the heart where they grow to maturity. The route they follow from the skin tissue and muscles to the heart is unknown.
Clinical Signs and Pathology
The first sign of infection is either a chronic cough which is aggravated by exercise, of tiring on exercise, or both. In advanced cases, heart failure with fainting and collapse may occur. Even light infections may cause irreversible damage to the heart, blood vessels, kidneys and liver.
The most common pathological process seen is inflammation of the pulmonary artery. This condition is due to chronic irritation cause by adult worms. The result is a thickening and roughening of the interior artery wall. This can become severe enough to close off circulation to the lungs. The rough inner surface of the artery also causes small blood clots to form which are swept into the lungs where they block small blood vessels. All this results in a back pressure that causes enlargement of the right side of the heart and decreased lung efficiency. The liver and other organs depend on normal blood pressure to function properly; when back pressure occurs, these organs may be affected and eventually they may be permanently damaged.
The best method for diagnosing heartworm infection in the living animal is by finding microfilariae in the blood. Evidence of infection can often be detected by X-ray as well. In dead animals, the worms can be easily found in the right side of the heart at necropsy. Occasionally, they are also found in the pulmonary artery and the vena cava.
Treatment and Control
Dog owners who are concerned for the health of their dogs should contact a veterinarian for advice on treatment and prevention. Treatment of free-living wild animals is not feasible.
Drugs used to kill the adult worms are very toxic and must be administered carefully. When the worms die they are swept into the lungs where they can cause severe blockage of blood vessels. In the lungs, they decompose and may cause edema, blood clots and hemorrhage, or contribute to secondary infection resulting in pneumonia. Therefore, it is essential that the dog have complete rest for at least two weeks following treatment.
Unfortunately, no single compound is effective against both adult worms and microfilariae. Consequently, a dog has to be treated a second time using a different drug in order to kill the microfilariae.
Considering the problems associated with treatment, it is advisable to prevent the infection. This is best done by giving the dog treatment during the mosquito season, starting before mosquitoes appear in the spring and continuing until after they disappear in the fall.
Although the parasite is not considered to be of great public health significance, there have been authentic reports of the heartworm infecting humans. The usual infection is a single worm confined to a small nodule in the lung. It is rarely found in the heart. The nodule is usually discovered during a routine chest X-ray.
The significance of heartworm infection in humans is not its threat to the individual's life, but that the lung lesion must be differentiated from lung cancer, lung cysts and other infectious diseases.
Whenever a parasite of humans or domestic animals also infects wild animals, the question of a wildlife reservoir invariably arises. In view of our current knowledge on heartworm in Michigan wildlife, it is unlikely that foxes or other wild animals constitute a significant reservoir of the parasite in this state.
What effect this parasite has on foxes and fox populations is unknown. However, if infected foxes are affected in the same manner as dogs, they are probably not efficient predators and their life span may be shortened.
June is National Disaster Preparedness Month for Animals
The first five months of 2011 have brought much destruction; including tornados, floods and fires in the United States and the devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan. Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere and can take many different forms.
In the event of a disaster, preparation can save lives—yours and the pets in your care. Creating a disaster plan is a proactive way to ensure that you, your pets and clients' pets are safe.
As a pet-care professional, you can help your clients create a disaster plan. When creating a disaster plan for yourself or your clients, keep in mind that if evacuation is the safest option for people, it's also the safest option for pets.
The following eight tips will help you, and your clients, prepare for a disaster.
1. Understand the possibilities. Recognize the different types of natural and man-made disasters that can occur in your area and know how to effectively plan for them.
2. Make decisions early. Different disasters require different courses of action. The sooner you create a disaster plan, the more time you have to prepare.
3. Update identification. Make sure your pet wears current identification at all times that includes his name, rabies tag and your cell phone number since you will not be at home.
4. Your pet's history. Create a file for each pet that contains health history, vaccination dates and a recent photo. Keep the file in a safe and secure place.
5. Research animal-friendly places. Know where you can take your pet in the event of an emergency. Evacuation shelters and pet-friendly hotels outside a 60-mile radius of your home are good places to start.
6. Stock up on emergency supplies. Keep extra leashes, bowls, newspapers, trash bags, cat litter, litter pans and at least a five-day supply of pet food and water on hand.
7. Get a carrier. Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each pet. Carriers should be large enough for the pet to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably.
8. Communicate your plan. Make sure that the other people you rely on for the pets in your care are privy to the specific pet-care plans of your clients in case you are away from home when a disaster strikes.
Angel At Home Pet Care, LLC
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