Category Archives: pet safety

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Spring Pet Poisons

Gardening season is here! Plant bulbs are just as excited to break through the ground to add some color to our yards as we are to see some greenery! That said, we need to be aware of the potential dangers spring plants can be for our pets. Here is a list of some of the most common spring plants and their toxicities… so you know how to pet-proof your garden and keep your pet safe!

Tulips and Hyacinth

Tulips contain allergenic lactones while hyacinths contain similar alkaloids. The toxic principle of these plants is very concentrated in the bulbs (versus the leaf or flower), so make sure your dog isn’t digging up the bulbs in the garden. When the plant parts or bulbs are chewed or ingested, it can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and esophagus. Typical signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, or even diarrhea, depending on the amount consumed. There’s no specific antidote, but with supportive care from the veterinarian (including rinsing the mouth, anti-vomiting medication, and possibly subcutaneous fluids), animals do quite well. With large ingestions of the bulb, more severe symptoms such as an increase in heart rate and changes in respiration can be seen, and should be treated by a veterinarian. These more severe signs are seen in cattle or our overzealous, chowhound Labradors.

Daffodils

These flowers contain lycorine, an alkaloid with strong emetic properties (something that triggers vomiting). Ingestion of the bulb, plant or flower can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even possible cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression. Crystals are found in the outer layer of the bulbs, similar to hyacinths, which cause severe tissue irritation and secondary drooling. Daffodil ingestions can result in more severe symptoms so if an exposure is witnessed or symptoms are seen, we recommend seeking veterinary care.

Lilies

There are dangerous and benign lilies out there, and it’s important to know the difference. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies contain oxalate crystals that cause minor signs, such as tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus – this results in minor drooling. The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies, and these include Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions (such as 2-3 petals or leaves) can result in severe kidney failure. If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently we can treat the poisoning. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving binders like activated charcoal) are imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can greatly improve the prognosis.

Crocus

There are two Crocus plants: one that blooms in the spring (Crocus species) and the other in the autumn (Colchicum autumnale). The spring plants are more common and are part of the Iridaceae family. These ingestions can cause general gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhea. These should not be mistaken for Autumn Crocus, part of the Liliaceae family, which contain colchicine. The Autumn Crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure. If you’re not sure what plant it is, bring your pet to their veterinarian immediately for care. Signs may be seen immediately but can be delayed for days.

Lily of the Valley

The Convallaria majalis plant contains cardiac glycosides which will cause symptoms similar to digitalis (foxglove) ingestion. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias, and possibly seizures. Pets with any known exposure to this plant should be examined and evaluated by a veterinarian and treated symptomatically.

In addition…Fertilizers

As we gardeners work on our rose garden, be aware of those fertilizers. While most are not very toxic (resulting in minor gastrointestinal irritation when consumed), some fertilizers can be fatal without treatment. Here are a few ingredients to be aware of so you know what toxins and symptoms to watch out for.

  • Blood meal – This is dried, ground, and flash-frozen blood and contains 12% nitrogen. While it’s a great organic fertilizer, if ingested, it can cause vomiting (of some other poor animal’s blood) and diarrhea. More importantly, it can result in severe pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. Some types of blood meal are also fortified with iron, resulting in iron toxicity, so make sure to know what’s in your bag of blood!
  • Bone Meal – This is made up of defatted, dried, and flash-frozen animal bones that are ground to a powder. This “bone” is also what makes it so palatable to your dog, so make sure to keep your pet from digging in it and ingesting the soil. While this also makes a great organic fertilizer, it can become a problem when consumed as the bone meal forms a large cement-like bone ball in the stomach – which can cause an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract – resulting in possible surgery to remove it!
  • Rose and plant fertilizers – Some of these fertilizers contain disulfoton or other types of organophosphates (OP). As little as 1 teaspoon of 1% disulfoton can kill a 55 lb dog, so be careful! Organophosphates, while less commonly used, can result in severe symptoms [including SLUD signs (which abbreviate for salivation, lacrimation, urination, and defecation), seizures, difficulty breathing, hyperthermia, etc. In some cases, it can be fatal!
  • Pesticides/Insecticides – Most pesticides or insecticides (typically those that come in a spray can) are basic irritants to the pet and are usually not a huge concern unless a pet’s symptoms become persistent. Some may contain an organophosphate which can be life threatening when consumed in large quantities. It is always best to speak to a trained medical professional if there are any questions.
  • Iron – This is commonly added to fertilizers, and can result in iron toxicity (from ingestion of elemental iron). This is different from “total” iron ingestion, and can be confusing to differentiate. When in doubt, have a medical professional at Pet Poison Helpline assist you with finding out if the amount ingested was toxic or not. Large ingestions can result in vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and potential cardiac and liver effects.

The best thing any pet owner can do is to be educated on the household toxins (both inside the house and out in the garden!) – that way you make sure how to pet proof your house appropriately. Make sure to keep all these products in labeled, tightly-sealed containers out of your pet’s reach. When in doubt, please feel free to call Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns if you’re worried that your pet could have inadvertently gotten into anything!

Courtesy of: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/seasons/spring/

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: National Poison Prevention Week

By: Simba, Dr. B’s dog

March 19-25th is National Poison Prevention Month.  As someone who has witnessed firsthand the stress and trauma which can occur when pets eat things they shouldn’t, I am here to tell you things you should keep away from your pets.

As the honorary office assistant at the Aston Veterinary Hospital, I get to have a unique perspective on the place.  It is a view from about 12 inches off the ground, but you would be amazed at what I see!  For example, did you know that there are lots of things humans like to eat which could make a dog like me very sick?

So,  I hear all of the women in the office saying they NEED chocolate.  Well, for the record, no matter how much your dog begs, DO NOT GIVE THEM CHOCOLATE!  Chocolate is very toxic to us dogs.  Not fair, but that’s the breaks.  Same with avocados, macadamia nuts, grapes, and raisins.  All yummy for humans, all dangerous for dogs.  And be super careful with your chewing gum!  Most gums these days contain a sugar substitute call Xylitol which is very toxic for dogs!

For your feline friends, best to stay away from everything mentioned for dogs, as well as onions and garlic.  Sorry cats, no delicious Italian food for you!  And make sure your cats and dogs aren’t chewing on your Easter lilies.  There are many household plants which can make pets sick, such as lilies, cyclamen, Kalanchoe species, Dieffenbachia species, and daffodils.

And just like you keep household cleaners and medicines locked up and away from little kids, please do the same for your furry kids too.  As much as we love visitors here at Aston Veterinary Hospital, we want to keep your pets happy, healthy, and safe!

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Halloween Safety Tips

If you decide to dress your pet up for Halloween, your safest choice is a loose fitting bandana. Pets can get tangled in parts of a costume and may chew fabric, which can lead to foreign body.

Dogs and cats can become skittish with scary costumes and doorbell ringing. It is best to keep all pets in another quiet part of the house during Halloween.

Be cautious where you leave Halloween goodies. Candy and chocolate can be very toxic to pets. Artificial sweetners, such as Xyitol, can pose a serious threat.

Pick up all wrappers and lollipop sticks as they can become a potential danger to pets if ingested.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Winter Safety

As winter approaches, it is important to remember some of the dangers that colder weather presents to our pets. Pets are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite when they are not adequately sheltered from the cold and should be kept indoors in colder temperatures.

Outdoor cats often seek shelter under the hood of cars and can be severely injured by fan belts and other engine parts, so please bang on the hood to scare them out before starting your car. Antifreeze can have a sweet taste, leading to potentially deadly ingestion by pets. Please keep all antifreeze out of the reach of your pets and dilute and cover any spills right away. Salt used to melt ice can be irritating to the paws and harmful if ingested, so wipe your pet’s paws clean after any exposure to salt, antifreeze or other chemicals.

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Heat Stress Prevention

By Dr. Cafaro and Dr. Hiller

Summer’s peak heat and humidity is upon us, so it is important to remember a few safety tips to keep your dogs and cats comfortable and reduce the risk of heat stress or stroke. First, NEVER keep your pet in the car unattended. The temperature in the car can rise to over 120 degrees within minutes. It is also important to limit exercise in high temperatures and allow access to shade—especially in overweight dogs or dogs with respiratory illnesses.

For a complete list of tips to keep your pets safe, please read this article on Heatstroke Risks.

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Bee Sting First Aid

By: Dr. Cafaro

As the warmer weather brings us and our pets outside, it is important to know that bees, wasps, spiders, and other insects can all sting or bite your pet, but not all pets will have an allergic, life-threatening reaction. Stings in most pets cause mild swelling, redness, and discomfort which is self-limiting. Cool compresses to the affected area may speed up recovery. Some pets can develop an allergic reaction to these bites or stings which results in facial swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, or vomiting. If you notice these allergic reactions please seek emergency care immediately.

Still want to know more? Take a look at this Bee Stings 101 article.

Veterinary Blog | Aston Veterinary Hospital: Thanksgiving Dinner with Pets

Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away and soon enough you will be sitting down for your big dinner and your pet will place himself next to you and just stare at you—waiting and begging for you to drop just a morsel of turkey on the floor. A poll of petMD readers showed that 56% of people share Thanksgiving food scraps with their pets. We do not encourage families to feed their pets from the table as it can be unhealthy and can cause negative behavior, but we also know that sometimes the temptation is too great. If you know that you are one of these families, please follow these tips and keep your animals safe!

The YES List:
Turkey can be a great lean protein for your pet. Remove any skin or fat from the meat and only offer your pet dry, white meat. Turkey gravy often has ingredients that can be bad for animals. Unless your pet is used to table scraps, keep the serving sizes small to avoid gastrointestinal issues.

As long as they’re plain, green beans are actually a healthy and good treat for pets. Do not feed your pet green beans if they are marinated or in a green bean casserole.

If you want to feed your pet mashed potatoes, be very careful of any additional ingredients. Cheese, butter, garlic, onions, gravy, and more should not be a part of your pet’s diet.

When served in a small portion, cranberry sauce can be enjoyable for your pet but careful with the amount of sugar in it.

As long as you know that your pet’s stomach is okay with dairy, macaroni and cheese is another okay option. If you are at all unsure, only give him or her plain macaroni.

The NO List:
Along with gravy, also make sure your pet does not eat any alliums (onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, etc). These can be toxic to your pet.

If you have grapes at your meal, do not let your pet eat them. Grapes and raisins have been shown to cause kidney failure in dogs.

Do not give your pet any food with xylitol or artificial sweeteners. While you may be trying to make your meal healthier by not using real sugar, sweeteners containing xylitol are poisonous to pets.

Chocolate is an absolute no. Be aware of what contains chocolate and keep it out of reach of pets. Especially if the food contains baking chocolate.

Keep your alcohol to yourself. Even small amounts of alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning in animals.

Make sure to throw away all packaging, wrappers, bones, and other items properly. A pet can easily get into the garbage and choke on something. Educate your guests on what they can and cannot give your pet. Also make sure that there is somewhere for your pet to escape to if they are overwhelmed or stressed.

Most importantly, enjoy your holiday! We will be closed on Thanksgiving Day but if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Foods Toxic To Dogs

September is National Food Safety Month. Like cats and humans, certain foods can be toxic to dogs. While cats and dogs share many food toxicities, here is dog-specific and alphabetic list of the foods you should avoid giving your dog.

Alcohol: Dogs are far more sensitive to alcohol than humans are. Just a little bit can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, coordination problems, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death. Hops in particular, which is found in beer, has been found to poison dogs. Dogs affected by hops can have damage and failure to multiple organ systems due to an uncontrollably high body temperature.

Avocado: Persin, the toxic element in Avocado, can cause mild upset stomach. Persin can be found in the leaves, seed, bark, and inside the fruit. Avocado is sometimes included in pet food but does not pose a threat to dogs.

Chocolate: Unlike cats, dogs will eat chocolate on their own. The rule with chocolate is usually, “the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is.” White chocolate contains very few methylxanthines, the toxic component of chocolate, while dark baker’s chocolate has very high levels of methylxanthines. Depending on the type and quantity of the chocolate consumed, the reaction your dog may have can range from vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort, and restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, high body temperature, seizures, and death.

Coffee/Caffeine: Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a dog and there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and bleeding.

Corncobs: Corncobs are not digestible and often cause obstructions in the intestines.

Fat Trimmings and Bones: Don’t feed your dog table scraps. Fat, when cooked or uncooked, can cause pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Bones should not be given to dogs either, as they can choke on it or the bone may splinter and cause an obstruction or internal lacerations.

Grapes and Raisins: Although it is not known what makes grapes and raisins toxic, they have been associated with kidney failure in dogs. Some dogs eat them without any effects while others can develop vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and kidney failure. Kidney failure means your dog’s ability to product urine decreases so they are unable to filter toxins out of their system.

Macadamia nuts: Although the chance that macadamia nuts are deathly to dogs is low, the symptoms they do feel can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms can include muscle tremors, paralysis of the back legs, vomiting, and more.

Milk/Dairy Products: Because dogs are devoid of the lactase needed to breakdown milk, milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach.

Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in the body that result in nervous system abnormalities, seizures, shock, or death.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives: All members, and close members of the onion family (including shallots, garlic, scallions, etc.), can cause damage to a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Like chocolate, the stronger it is, the more toxic it is. Garlic has been found to be more toxic to dogs than onions. Even dehydrated forms of garlic and onion are a threat to your dog’s health. Affected dogs may exhibit symptoms up to five days later and can include weakness, reluctance to move, and orange-tinted to dark red urine. Dogs that have ingested garlic or onion should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.

Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums: The seeds or pits from these fruits are the main concern. Persimmons seeds can cause inflammation of the small intestines or intestinal obstruction. Intestinal obstruction is also a concern for peach and plum pits. Peach and plum pits also contain cyanide which is poisonous to both dogs and humans. Humans just know not to eat them.

Raw eggs, meat, and fish: Raw eggs, meat, and fish can contain bacteria like salmonella that can lead to food poisoning. Raw eggs also interfere with the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin, hair, and coat issues. Certain fish can cause “fish disease” which can be fatal within the first two weeks. The first signs are vomiting, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Thoroughly cooking meat and fish will kill the parasites and protect your dog.

Salt: Giving your dog salty foods is not a good idea. Eating too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination which leads to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of excessive salt consumption can include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death.

Sugary foods: Sugary foods, such as candy and gum, are usually sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is known for increasing insulin production which causes blood sugar levels to drop. It can also cause disorientation and seizures as fast as 30 minutes after ingestion or as delayed as several hours. Xylitol can also lead to liver failure in just a few days. Even if the sugary food doesn’t contain xylitol it can still lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes.

Yeast dough: Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system. This can lead to pain and a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, when the yeast causes the dough to rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning. Dogs with extreme poisoning cases can go into a coma or have seizures.

Non-food items: Foreign objects such as toys, small items of clothing, and medicine are perhaps a greater risk to dogs than food. One case is medical marijuana. It comes in many forms that a pet can easily eat and can cause vomiting, changes in heart rate, and depress the nervous system.

If you suspect your dog ate any of these foods, first try to determine what and how much he or she ate. You should then call us or your veterinarian to see if medical attention is needed. If a veterinarian is not available, call either Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

Do you have a cat? Most foods that are toxic for dogs are also toxic for cats. Check out this blog post for a cat-specific list of toxic foods. If you’re unsure about a certain food for either your cat or your dog and it’s not on this list, call your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is worth the call!

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Foods Toxic to Cats

September is National Food Safety Month. Just like people can’t eat everything they come across, cats can’t either. In fact, many human foods are toxic for cats. See the alphabetic list below for the foods you should avoid giving your cat.

Alcohol: Alcohol has the same effect on a cat’s brain and liver as it does to humans but it takes far less to see the effects. As little as a teaspoon can cause a coma in a cat and it can easily cause severe liver or brain damage. The higher the proof of alcohol, the worse the symptoms will be.

Chocolate: Although most cats won’t eat chocolate on their own, you should not attempt to try to feed it to your cat. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical found in all chocolate including white chocolate, which is toxic to cats. Eating chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death. Dark and semisweet chocolate are the most dangerous.

Coffee/Caffeine: Along with chocolate, coffee contains caffeine. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and can be toxic to the heart and nervous system.

Fat Trimmings and Bones: Don’t feed your cat table scraps. Fat, when cooked or uncooked, can cause intestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea, or pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Cats can choke on bones or the bones can splinter and cause an obstruction or internal lacerations. You should also never give them anything that is as hard as or harder than their teeth because it can cause dental fractures.

Fish: This includes raw, canned, and cooked fish. You can get away with small amounts of fish but if fed in high amounts your cat can develop a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency that leads to loss of appetite, seizures, and maybe death. The exception to this is if the fish is made into cat food. Most good cat food brands are supplemented with thiamine are just fine.

Grapes and Raisins: Although it is not known what makes grapes and raisins toxic, they can cause kidney failure. Even a small amount can make a cat sick and cause them to repeatedly vomit and be hyperactive.

Macadamia nuts: Like grapes and raisins, it is not known what makes macadamia nuts toxic. Ingestion of macadamia nuts can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle.

Milk/Dairy Products: Surprisingly most cats are lactose-intolerant, so it’s best to be safe and avoid any dairy products.

Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in the body and cause shock or result in death.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives: Onion, in any form, can cause a cat to become anemic because it breaks down red blood cells. Even the onion powder that is in some baby foods is bad for cats. Onion, along with garlic and chives, can also cause gastrointestinal upset.

Raw eggs and meat: Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin, hair, and coat issues. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella or other parasites. Raw meat may contain Salmonella and E. coli which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Sugary foods: Sugary foods, such as candy and gum, are usually sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is known for increasing insulin production which causes blood sugar levels to drop. It can also cause vomiting, fatigue, loss of coordination, and eventually liver failure. Even if the sugary food doesn’t contain xylitol it can still lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes.

Yeast dough: Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system. This can lead to pain and a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, when the yeast causes the dough to rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Non-food items: Foreign objects such as toys, soft rubber objects, stringy objects (thread, yarn, tinsel), coins, and medicine are perhaps a greater risk to cats than food. Aspirin, Tylenol, and Motrin are all highly toxic and a single tablet could be lethal.

 

If you suspect your cat ate any of these foods, first try to determine what and how much he or she ate. You should then call us or your veterinarian to see if medical attention is needed. If a veterinarian is not available, call either Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

Do you have a dog? Most foods that are toxic for cats are also toxic for dogs. Check back here later for a dog-specific list of toxic foods. If you’re unsure about a certain food and it’s not on this list, call your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is worth the call!

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Check the Chip Day

Is your dog or cat microchipped? In a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters, only 22% of dogs and less than 2% of cats that were not microchipped were reunited with their owners. The return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52% and for cats it was about 38.5%. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have joined together to create a day for reminding pet owners to have their pets microchipped and to keep the registration information up-to-date. “National Check the Chip Day” is this Friday, August 15th.

A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the size of a grain of rice. Instead of running on batteries, the microchip is designed to be activated by a scanner that is passed over the area and then it transmits radiowaves that send the identification number to the scanner screen. Microchips are also designed to work for 25 years.

Implanting the microchip is as simple as a quick injection between the shoulder blades and can be done in a routine appointment. No surgery or anesthesia is required and it is no more painful than a typical injection.

You can take advantage of the day by making an appointment with us to have your pet microchipped. Then be sure to immediately register the chip. There are many databases that allow you to register your pet’s microchip but the one that animal shelters and veterinarians search first is AAHA’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool. Or, if your pet is already microchipped, you can check the chip’s registration information by going to the manufacturer’s database and making sure everything is up-to-date. Most of the time if an animal is microchipped and not returned to their owner, it’s because the information is incorrect or there isn’t any information provided.

A microchip does not replace identification tags or rabies tags. Identification tags are the easiest and quickest way to process an animal and contact the owner. If the pet is not wearing a collar or tags, or if either the collar or ID tag is lost, a microchip may be the only way to find a pet’s owner. Rabies tags allow to others to quickly see that your pet is vaccinated against the disease. It is more difficult to trace a lost pet’s owners with rabies tags as it can only be done when veterinary clinics or county offices are open. Microchip databases are online or can be reached through the phone 24/7/365.

You can use this useful flyer from the AVMA to keep a record of your pet’s microchip number and manufacturer.

 

Aston Veterinary Hospital has been caring for pets in Aston and Media — and greater Delaware County — for more than 60 years. We are a full-service, AAHA-certified, small animal facility providing professional health care for your pet. In 1983 Deborah Brzezinski bought the hospital and with the help and support of her family and dedicated staff, grew the hospital from a solo practice to over five veterinarians and a staff of more than 25 employees. Our mission is “to be there for our clients,” and that means being available to you when you need us. We are closed only four days a year: New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We are also one of few local hospitals that are open on Sundays. Stop in and see us!