Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Safety

“My pet would never eat food off the table!”

“My pet would never knock over the Christmas tree!”

“My pet would never bite someone!”

We all know our pets pretty well, but what we don’t always realize is that stress can make anybody do crazy things! When you have holiday guests or flashing Christmas lights or loud holiday music—or all of the above—at your house all at once, your pet may get stressed and frustrated, causing them to act out in unexpected ways. Most pet accidents are met with the statement, “He’s never done anything like that before!”

We recommend always making sure that your pet has a safe place to sit and relax during your holidays parties. Just like some people, pets need to get away from the action and de-stress, but most of the time they don’t know how to ask for their space. If your pet is comfortable in their crate, we recommend moving it into a quiet room and letting them spend some time resting during your holiday get-togethers. Your pet will be happier, and by extension, you and your guests will be happier! And holidays disasters will be prevented.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Toxicities

Poinsettia (Euphorbia plucherrima) is known to be highly toxic, but it is just an old wives tale. This plant is the least toxic of the four and most likely will only cause GI upset.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera truncate) is another plant that if ingested would generally only cause GI upset.

American Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotinum) most often causes depression and vomiting, but the mistletoe family has the potential to cause more serious signs, such as hypotension and cardiovascular collapse. Keep in mind that ingestion of large amounts of plant material can cause a foreign body obstruction. Yesterday I had a call regarding a 65 pound lab that ingested 2 medium sized poinsettias that contained approximately 6-8 flowers a piece. The only thing he left was the dirt. We recommended emesis just to lower the risk for GI upset and FBO. Plain canned pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie kind_ is the main bulking agent I recommend.

Are you hungry?
Chocolate (not sugar free) is the most common food agent I have received calls on around the holidays. Chocolate contains methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) which can cause GI upset, polydipsia, stimulatory signs, tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, tremors, and seizures. Toxicity is based on how dark the chocolate is (white vs. mile vs. baking chocolate). The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is.

Candy (non chocolate, not sugar free) most likely will cause GI upset and polydipsia/polyuria from all the sugar. However is a high volume of sugar candy is ingested, electrolyte disturbances are possible.

Xylitol is the sugar free substitute that is found in candy, gum, and baked goods. Depending on the amount ingested GI upset, hypoglycemia, and liver damage can develop.

Garlic and onions are part of allium species and can cause GI upset and Heinz Body Hemolytic Anemia.

Yest and bread dough when ingested produce alcohol and carbon dioxide through fermentation which can cause the animal to become drunk and bloated. Mmmm that yummy fruit cake that may contain Grapes and Raisins can cause GI upset and acute renal failure and Macadamia nuts which can cause GI upset, depression, weakness, ataxia, tremors, and hyperthermia.

So you need something to walk all this food down with right?
Coffee and coffee grounds contain caffeine. Signs are very similar to those of chocolate. Once the coffee has been brewed, most of the caffeine has been extracted, so it is not as potent. And my favorite stimulant: Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

Alcohol usually causes vomiting, depression, lethargy and ataxia. Other possible signs are vocalization, disorientation, hypothermia, tremors, tachycardia, acidosis, and dyspnea. Rarely it can cause coma and seizure. Keep in mind that the holiday feasts may contain a lot of fat, sugar, and salt.

Fat and sugar can trigger pancreatitis.

Salt can cause electrolyte disturbances. Hypernatremia leads to CNS signs such as ataxia, tremors and seizures.

After all festivities, the leftover food is discarded and your trash can is an animal's ideal dinner table.
Spoiled food can cause significant GI upset and secondary dehydration.

Molds can cause tremogenic mycotoxins and can cause significant vomiting and CNS signs including ataxia, tremors, seizures, and hyperthermia.

Decorations add to all the holiday cheer.
Electrical cords from all those pretty lights. Chewing on the cord can lead to mucosal injury in the mouth and electrocution.

Plastic and glass from ornaments and lights can cause trauma to the mouth and GI tract and can cause an obstruction..

Tinsel and ribbon can cause linear foreign body obstructions and can get caught in the mouth and throat.

Toys can be chewed on and those small parts, including batteries can be ingested.

Batteries can cause corrosive injury to the mucosa of the GI tract and lead to ulceration and possible perforation.

Christmas trees pose a few hazards. Some of the calls I receive involve the animal chewing into presents under the tree. Do not put food items, such as chocolate or nuts in a gift box under your tree.

Dead and dying needles tend to be ingested. Depending on the type of tree you have, generally the needles will cause mechanical irritation and GI upset.

Christmas tree food and preservatives added to water can turn into your pets new water bowl. Generally these are diluted an only cause GI upset.

Liquid Potpourris can cause oral, pharyngeal and esophageal ulceration.

Essential oils are known to cause CNS signs depending on the strength. Cats are more susceptible to the adverse effects of essential oils. Dermal exposures may cause skin irritation and re exposure if the animal continues to groom itself.

Artificial fire logs are generally made up of sawdust and wax. They tend to crumble when chewed so the main concern is for GI upset and FBO.

Crackle or colored fire logs contain metals to give off different colored flames. Signs may vary depending on the type of metal used.

Java fire logs contain coffee ground and give off a coffee type aroma. The caffeine in the grounds can cause signs similar to chocolate as discussed earlier.

Ice melts can cause dermal and GI irritation. Ingestion can lead to salt toxicosis. Walking the pet away from salted sidewalk and driveways is recommended. If this cannot be avoided, the owner should wipe/wash off the pets paws.

This is a brief overview of holiday hazards. If you suspect a toxicity and need assistance, please contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. That number is 888-426-4435.

You may also contact The Animal Emergency Hospital of North Texas directly at 817-410-2273.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dangers of Gum: Ice Breaker Ice Cube Gum for Pets

Here at the Animal Emergency Hospital of North Texas we would like to inform owners to beware of leaving containers of Ice Breaker Ice Cube gum in reach of or in the general vicinity of your pets.  We have seen numerous toxicity cases involving this type of gum.  The pets probably view the container as some sort of toy, proceed to play with and open the container, and then consume part or all of the contents.  
Unfortunately, the gum does not work to freshen your dog’s breath, but the xylitol sugar substitute  is extremely toxic to your dog.  Ingestion of this sugar-free product can rapidly cause a severe drop in your pet’s blood sugar.  When the blood sugar levels plummet, it can result in weakness, disorientation, tremors, and seizures.  This effect is sometime prolonged for several days, requiring extended hospitalization.  Each piece of the gum contains approximately 1 gram of xylitol, and only one or two pieces can be toxic or even fatal to your dog.  Xylitol toxicity can also affect the liver, causing bleeding tendencies and other life-threatening complications.    
If you suspect that your pet has consumed any sugarless  gum, please have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian as quickly as possible.  If your pet can be seen quickly (within 30 minutes of ingestion) then it may be possible to make your pet vomit the gum but xylitol can be absorbed within minutes.  Beyond this time frame, your pet may require an IV drip to support their blood sugar for a minimum of 24 hours and monitoring of liver values, blood clotting times, and potassium and phosphorus levels for a period of 2 to 5 days.  

So please be aware that this particular type of gum product, no matter the flavor, seems to be as appealing to your pet dog as to you but it is definitely not something that you want them to consume.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back-to-School Toxicity Dangers For Pets

Every August, the Animal Poison Control Center sees an increase in backpack-related toxicities. One of the most common complaints we hear is than an owner's dog or cat got into a child's backpack and ingested something problematic, and the yearly top toxins list always includes human medications.

Here are some tips on what to watch out for in the back-to-school season.

These often become receptacles for anything and everything including:

  • Gum (contains xylitol) 
  • ADHD medications 
  • Albuterol inhalers
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Illicit drugs and synthetic marijuana

Along with backpacks, lunch boxes attract items that are unhealthy for pets: 
  • Grapes
  • Raisins 
  • Onions
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Old/Moldy food 
Human medications are the most common exposure in our patients, and you will likely run across a medication in your practice that you've never encountered before. 

Atomoxetine is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor used to treat ADHD in humans. This article can tell you more about this medication, signs of ingestion in pets, and how to best treat them. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What You Should NEVER See on your PET FOOD LABEL

If you see the words "veterinarian approved" on your pet food label, look out. That claim is always untrue.
Veterinarians do not approve labels or products. Only state regulatory agencies can do that, according to the The Business of Pet Food, a new website launched by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
That’s just a taste of the information you’ll find on the site:
What else?
Ingredient lists, labeling requirements, analyses of commercial pet food and government regulations for making and labeling pet food.

The site is for people who sell pet food -- or want to. But there’s lots of information for pet owners, too.
"Many people are surprised by how many regulations apply to the pet food industry," says Liz Higgins, Chair of AAFCO‘s Pet Food Committee.

For example, did you know "veterinarian recommended" means that the company making the food actually surveyed veterinarians to find out if they would recommend the food?

And, like we said, "veterinarian approved" is never true.

So, if you’ve ever wondered …
What’s really in my pet’s food?
What would it take to turn my secret recipe for Tasty Treats into a mail-order business?

Go to

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Treat Recipe for Dogs

Wondering how to make your pet feel included during your family ice cream break this summer? Stuffing a Kong and freezing it is a great way to make your pet feel like part of the activity!

Monday, June 3, 2013

National Pet Preparedness Month

This month is National Pet Preparedness Month. In order to be sure your pet is prepared for a disaster, make sure your safety kit includes food, water, leash and collar, bowls, pet ID, medications, immunization records, pet carrier, first aid kit, and the phone number and address of Animal Emergency Hospital of North Texas.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Would You Do If....

...your dog ate the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips that was left out on the kitchen counter?

 ...your cat had a seizure right in front of you?

 ...your dog fell down the stairs and started limping?

 ...your cat was overheating on a hot summer day?

To avoid the feelings of panic that may accompany these situations, we recommend the following steps to better prepare you for a pet medical emergency. The following links summarize the basics you need for giving first aid care to your pet.
Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet's life until it receives veterinary treatment.
First aid supplies
Our handy checklist tells you all the supplies you should have on hand for pet first aid. Print out a copy to use for shopping, and keep a copy on your refrigerator or next to the first aid kit for your family, for quick reference in emergencies.
How to handle an injured pet
Knowing how to comfort an injured pet can help minimize your pet's anxiety and also protect you and your family from injury.
Basic pet first aid procedures
Read our simple instructions for providing emergency first aid if your pet is suffering from poisoning, seizures, broken bones, bleeding, burns, shock, heatstroke, choking or other urgent medical problems. Print out a copy to keep with your pet emergency kit.
First aid when traveling with your pet
A few simple steps can better prepare you to help your pet in first aid situations while you are traveling. Remember: pet medical emergencies don't just happen at home.
Pets and disasters
Whether confronted by natural disasters such as hurricanes, or unexpected catastrophes such as a house fire, you need to be prepared to take care of your animals. A pre-determined disaster plan will help you remain calm and think clearly.

Additional pet first aid links

Adapted by an article posted by the AVMA.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Memorial Service for Dr. Deidra Blackmon

A memorial service will be held for Dr. Deidra Blackmon on Saturday, March 9 at 3pm. The service will be held at:

Heritage Church of Christ
4201 Heritage Trace Parkway
Fort Worth, TX 76244

Our deepest sympathy to the family of Dr. Blackmon. She was loved dearly and will be missed deeply. We will carry her in our broken hearts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February is Responsible Pet Owners Month

February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, which may mean different things to different people. A good way to observe Responsible Pet Owners Month is to create a First Aid kit for your pet’s home care, get them microchipped or update their existing microchip, or bring your pet into your regular veterinarian for a physical exam so they can give your pet their customized recommendations!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Pet? Pet-Proof Your Home

A new pet is more than an adorable bundle of fur; it's also a big responsibility. That pesky puppy or curious kitten can find lots of ways to get into trouble, and — contrary to popular opinion — pets don't always intuitively know what can be potentially harmful to eat or drink. A pet's safety always comes first, but you'll also want to take steps to safeguard your furniture, carpeting, and other belongings (including that favorite pair of shoes). Read on for tips that will help you pet-proof your home.

Pet Safety: Gates and Latches
"The most common injury in new pets that I see in my practice is puppies falling off beds, sofas, and other high furniture," says Ernest Ward, Jr., D.V.M., the founder and chief of staff at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, North Carolina, and a regular guest onThe Rachael Ray Show. To prevent such falls, keep your pet off high furniture — a rule that holds for kittens too, says Ward.
It's also important to restrict a new pet's access to your home by shutting off rooms with a closed door or child gates. "This not only prevents accidental injury but also can help curtail house-soiling problems," says Ward. Establishing boundaries for your puppy or kitten early on leads to a well-trained adult animal.

Household Cleaners, Chemicals, and Plants
While your pet is still getting accustomed to its new home, install childproof latches on cabinet doors and keep household chemicals and cleaners — such as bleach, ammonia, and antifreeze — well sealed and out of your pet's reach.

For dogs, the most dangerous common toxin is antifreeze, says Dr. Louise Murray, D.V.M., director of medicine at the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Protecting Your Pet's Health. "A dog may lick it off the floor while its owner is working on a car," she says.

For cats, the most dangerous toxin is the lily, which can cause fatal kidney failure if even a leaf is nibbled. Other common houseplants are also toxic to dogs and cats; ask your veterinarian for a list.
"People Food" and Other Common Pet Dangers

Ward recommends that animals of all ages be kept away from "people food" — onions, garlic, chocolate, and raisins, in particular, are harmful to pets.

Pet medicine is designed to taste good to dogs, which can tempt them to chew through the bottles, leading to overdose. Some owners give their pets medications meant for people, such as ibuprofen, a hazardous practice that can cause damage to pets' intestines and kidneys. Murray recommends keeping human and pet medications separate and keeping both safely stored away.
For further information on poisonous household items, visit the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control FAQ.

Electrical cords are another potential hazard, says Ward, because teething puppies enjoy chewing on squishy wires. Unplug unnecessary cords and purchase protective covers for outlets and power strips.

The Great Outdoors
Many pet owners believe that their new pets' instincts will keep them away from harm, a common assumption that can seriously endanger pets left free to roam outdoors. "Their instincts were designed for a world we don't live in today," says Murray.

Letting dogs and cats run loose outside can lead to fights with other animals, as well as injuries from cars and people. Murray recommends keeping dogs on a leash at all times outside. Cats should be kept indoors for the most part, although they can be allowed to venture into a backyard if they're kept on a leash under their owner's supervision.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bathing Safety

Did you know that letting a wet pet outside in the cold can be dangerous? You wouldn't shower and go outside with wet hair, would you? Make sure your pet is towel dried after a bath and that their fur is as dry as possible before they go outside for any extended period of time. This is especially an important concern for older pets.