Winter is Coming (and so are the mice)…

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Rodents are present in Missouri year round, but when it starts to get cold outside we start to see more mice indoors.   Mice can be very annoying to get rid of.  Why should you try to rid the mice from your house?  Not only do they cause damage to homes and destroy food, they can spread a number of diseases.  Mouse urine can carry leptospirosis, bacteria that can infect you and your pets and causes serious liver or kidney damage!   We recommend vaccinating dogs for leptospirosis every year which can help prevent your dogs from picking up this disease.   Other diseases rodents can spread to humans include hantavirus, rat-bite fever, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis.

 

What should you do about a rodent infestation?  The Center of Disease Control has some tips on cleaning up an infestation at http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/cleaning/index.html.

 

One thing we DON’T recommend is the use of poisons especially if you have children or pets.   Rodent poisons are designed to taste good, so even picky dogs will eat poison if they can get to it!   Even if you have the poison out of reach of your pet, your pet can ingest enough poison to be harmful by eating a poisoned rodent’s remains.

Rodent Poison

This is a picture of rat poison that a dog ingested.   The little dog that ate this is a very picky eater, but that didn’t stop him from eating the ENTIRE PACKAGE (including the package).  Luckily for this pet, his owner brought him in right away and we were able to get most of the poison out of his stomach and treat him before it was too late.

 

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Holiday Hazards #2 – Special Plant Edition

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A few weeks ago we blogged about Holiday Hazards that face pets, and this week we wanted to talk a little more specifically about plants that are dangerous to pets – especially plants that are common during the holidays.  The ASPCA just posted an article with a lot of good information and photos on spring and winter holiday plants:  “How Dangerous are Winter and Spring Holiday Plants to Pets?”  (click here for article).   We’ll highlight some of the major points in this blog, but it’s a great article read for yourself!

Here are some of the winter and spring holiday plants that are hazardous to animals:

  • Poinsettias – These beautiful plants have leaves that range from red to white that are often mistaken for flowers.  Their flowers are actually tiny and yellow.  These plants produce a sap that can be very irritating to animals.   Usually ingestion of this plant causes GI upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.
  • Christmas cacti – Although this plant is considered a cactus, it is not a desert plant. This tropical plant features flattened branches with spiny notches at the margins.  The flowers at the end of the branches can be a variety of colors.   This plant is not highly toxic, but can cause mild gastrointestinal upset.
  • Mistletoe – mistletoe is in the genus Phoradendron.  Mistletoe plants in the wild grow as vines that suck water and nutrients from the trees on which they grow.   One toxic effect that Mistletoe can have is on the heart.  Mistletoe can cause the heart rate to slow leading to a low blood pressure.   The most common signs of mistletoe intoxication are depression and gastrointestinal upset.  More severe signs such as severe blood pressure drops and death have been reported.   
  • Holly – This is another beautiful plant that is commonly used to decorate for the holidays.  Ingestion of this plant can cause head shaking, lip smacking, salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea.    Sometimes rinsing the mouth can help alleviate some of these signs. 
  • Shamrocks – These are commonly purchased around St. Patrick’s day.  These plants produce a substance called oxalates.  These oxalates can accumulate in the kidneys and damage them.  Similar to the other plants mentioned, the most common signs relate to GI upset.  Animals that eat large amounts of shamrocks should be monitored for kidney damage.
  • Easter lilies – These innocent looking flowers are actually highly toxic to cats.  Easter lilies, Japanese show lilies, rubrum lilies, and an assortment of other lilies cause kidney failure in cats.   These are so toxic, one leaf might be all it takes to be lethal to a cat.  GI upset are the first signs noticed after ingestion.  Over the next 3 days, kidney values on blood work can continue to rise.  If your cat has eaten any part of a lily, please schedule an appointment ASAP.  Postponing treatment for more than 18 hours may result in death from the kidneys failure. 

If your pet eats any of these plants, feel free to call us to schedule an appointment!   Happy Holidays!

ASPCA’s Toxic Plant Article:  click here.

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Holiday Hazards

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Happy holidays from the vets and staff at My Zoo Animal Hospital!  With the holidays rapidly approaching, there are few facts pet owners should know to protect their pets from holiday hazards.  What hazards do the holidays present to animals? Here are few with tips to keep your pets safe this season.

  • Chocolate.  Be sure to store any candy where your pet, especially dogs, can’t reach it.  Chocolate is toxic to animals.
  • Poinsettias, mistletoe, lilies, and holly.  All of these plants are toxic to animals.  All of these plants can cause gastrointestinal upset.  Mistletoe can cause damage to the heart.  Some lilies (such as Tiger, Easter, and Star Gazer) can hurt the kidneys of cats in particular.  It’s best to keep these out of your pet’s reach.
  • Holiday decorations.  Christmas lights can be dangerous if your pet chews on the cords.  Glass ornaments can cut the GI system, and tinsel can get stuck.  If your pet has a tendency to chew on ornaments, move the ornaments out of your pet’s reach.
  • Christmas Trees.  If you plan to put a Christmas tree in your house, be sure that it is properly secured so it doesn’t fall and injure your pet (or children).  If you have a live tree, be careful your pet is not tempted to drink the water.  Some live trees have preservatives or other additives that can be toxic if ingested.  The pine needles can cause an upset stomach if eaten.
  • Gifts.  Be sure not to place any food items under the tree as your pet (especially dogs) can sniff them out.  Ribbon if eaten can get caught in the GI tract and cause serious damage if not removed surgically.  As a child, Dr. Katie recalls an instance when the family beagle, Mr. Bailey, found a box of cookie mix wrapped as a gift under the tree.  He ate the cookie mix, opened all the other presents looking for more food, and had diarrhea all over the house.  Dr. Katie’s mother was less than pleased.  Luckily for Mr. Bailey, he recovered and gifts were placed in a safer location in subsequent years.
  • Batteries.   During the holidays, people tend to use more batteries for cameras and battery operated toys.   If ingested, batteries can cause severe ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract.  Be sure to dispose of used batteries properly, and store new batteries in a safe location.
  • Open doors.  With company coming to visit more in the holidays, there is an increased risk of your pet running out the door.  We recommend keeping the id tags up-to-date so people know how to get your pet back home.  Microchipping is a very good way to identify your pet.  Unlike a collar with tags, a microchip cannot be lost, and most veterinary clinics and shelters have microchip readers.  If you would like for us to implant a microchip in your pet, give us a call!  It’s a quick and easy procedure that can be performed within 15 minutes.
  • Holiday food.  With so many delicious meals and foods, you may be tempted to feed your pets more table scraps during the holidays.   It’s best to refrain from giving table scraps and stick to a species appropriate pet food as new foods can cause diarrhea and vomiting.  Do not give your pets any meat with bones that may splinter or get lodged in the GI tract.  Fatty foods can cause pancreatitis.  Nuts can also be toxic (Macadamia nuts are particularly bad).
  • Candles.  Candles can be appealing for pets to play with and possibly knock over and start a fire.  Be sure to keep these out of reach!
  • Guests.  Many pets can be stressed by having a lot of guests over.  Always monitor your pet’s behavior when guests, especially children, are visiting.  Provide a safe place, like a crate or kennel, where your pet can retreat from guests.

 

We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season this year!  Happy holidays!

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Common Household Toxins

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Hi, I’m Chico.  I live here at My Zoo Animal Hospital.  I eat a prescription cat food, R/D, to help with weight loss.  You see, I like to eat anything and everything I can find, so I gain weight really easily.  However, there are some things pets should never eat.  Dr. Debbie and Dr. Katie told me some of these things are very common in households, and I want to share what they told me so none of my feline or canine friends get into anything they shouldn’t.

  • Chocolate – Although the sweet taste of chocolate doesn’t really appeal to me, my canine friends love it.  So what’s so bad about chocolate? Well, it’s actually got 2 toxic components in it:  theobromine and caffeine.  Both of these are chemicals called methylxanthines.  An overdose causes the muscles to become over-stimulated and can lead to seizures.
  • Cigarettes – The nicotine is toxic to animals.  It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excitation, and even death.  Just how much is toxic?  Well just a handful of cigarette butts or 1 whole cigar could be lethal to a small (< 10 pound) dog.
  • Bread dough – Bread dough made with yeast can expand in the stomach and cause distention.  As the fermentation progresses, alcohol is produced which is also toxic to animals.  Signs to look for include abdominal distention, nonproductive retching (as if to vomit), and signs of drunkenness.
  • Raisins – So this one is a mystery.  Nobody knows what about grapes and raisins are toxic.  This one seems to mostly affect dogs, but there have been a few scattered cases of them hurting cats (and ferrets) too.  The minimum dose that causes illness is not known and appears to vary according to each individual.  So keep those raisins and grapes away from your pets!
  • Xylitol – Xylitol is a sweetener used in a variety of products including chewing gum.  It causes the sugar in the blood to drop dramatically – so much that it could be fatal.
  • Antifreeze – Ethylene glycol has a very sweet taste that appeals to dogs especially.  Unfortunately it damages the kidneys and can lead to death.  The early signs of antifreeze poisoning are vomiting followed by weakness, depression, rapid breathing, and difficulty walking.
  • House plants – many different types of house plants are toxic to animals.  Certain types of lilies are particularly toxic to cats.  Be sure to keep these out of reach of your pets.  Here are some examples of poisonous plants: azaleas, rhododendron, castor bean, cyclamen, foxglove, kalanchoe, lilies, marijuana, oleander, sago palm, tulip/narcissus bulbs, and yew.
  • Human medications – As animals, we have a different way of processing drugs and chemicals than humans.  Therefore, many human medications are not safe for us.  Please don’t give us any medications at home without first consulting Dr. Debbie or Dr. Katie.  If your furry friend gets into any of your medications please call us as soon as you find out.

Other toxic foods include alcohol, avocados, macadamia nuts, mold/spoiled foods, onions, garlic, and coffee.  More toxic household items include cleaning agents, baits for pests, insecticides, paint, polishes, fuels/oils, and rodenticides.

So what do you do if your pet has gotten into any of the things I listed here?  Stay calm, write down what and how much your pet ingested, and give us a call for more directions.

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