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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Poison Prevention Week

In 1961, Congress initiated National Poison Prevention Week to call into awareness the threat of household toxins. According to the ASPCA American Association of Poison Control Centers, over 180,000 pets were poisoned in 2013. With proper supervision, elimination of harmful substances, and a solid poison-proofing plan you can make sure your pet doesn’t become a statistic.
Here are the top ten things to keep away from your pet:

1. Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
According to the ASPCA, human medications are the most commonly ingested item by pets, making up almost 20% of all calls to their poison control center. Cardiac medications were most common, followed by serotonin and neurotransmitter medications, and lastly, pain medications. Dogs can easily chew through most prescription bottles and can quickly swallow an entire bottle of pills. Make sure to keep medications well out of reach of your pets, preferably in a closed, inaccessible cabinet.

It’s easy to identify the hazards of your pet ingesting prescription drugs but what about acetaminophen and ibuprofen, two drugs that are commonly found in most households? Both of these over-the-counter drugs can cause severe problems for both cats and dogs. Acetaminophen can cause red blood cell (RBC) injury, difficulty breathing, lethargy, swelling, and vomiting in cats and liver failure, dry eye, and RBC injury in dogs. While ibuprofen may be prescribed for your pet to help manage pain and inflammation, it should only be given upon your veterinarian’s recommendation. Even small overdoses can have drastic consequences including ulcers, anemia, lethargy, kidney failure, liver failure, and seizures.

2. Antifreeze
Ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, paint solvents, and windshield deicers, is extremely toxic to pets. Unfortunately, its sweet smell and taste can lure unsuspecting pets to taste it, often leading to deadly results. If you suspect ethylene glycol poisoning, it’s imperative you seek treatment immediately as the antidote needs to be administered within hours in order for your pet to survive. Without treatment, ethylene glycol is almost 100% fatal.

3. Household Cleaners
If you’re feeling the urge to start on your spring cleaning, make sure to check what kinds of cleaning products you’re using. Oven cleaners, lime-removal products, concentrated toilet cleaners, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, and dishwashing chemicals are all highly corrosive. These products can cause severe injuries and burns to their fur and skin upon contact. Contact your veterinarian immediately with the details of what chemical they met. Make sure to keep all chemicals, even less hazardous ones, locked up and out of reach at all times.

4. Chocolate
It might be one of the most popular foods in the world, but not for pets! Chocolate contains two deadly ingredients for dogs: caffeine and theobromine. These two substances, known as methylxanthines, can lead to medical complications and even death. The three main categories of chocolate to be aware of are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and baking chocolate. Baking chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine and is the most toxic, even in minute quantities. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian for help.

5. Plants
Although houseplants have many benefits, you should think twice before bringing certain kinds into your home. Lilies, azaleas, autumn crocus, tulips, hyacinths, Lily of the Valley, daffodils, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Oleander, Dieffenbachia, and Sago Palms are all highly toxic to your pets. Play it safe and keep these hazardous houseplants away from your home.

6. Insecticides
Two insecticides to be on the lookout for are carbamates and organophosphates or OP. Found most frequently in rose and flower herbicides and fertilizers, these chemicals can cause symptoms from nausea, tearing, and drooling to hypothermia, seizures and death. While the EPA is regulating the use of these chemicals, both cats and dogs still fall prey to the harmful side-effects these products cause. If you’re a flower gardener, pay close attention to your product labels to avoid potential poisoning.

7. Xylitol
This sugar-free natural sweetener is popping up in all sorts of products, from sugar-free gum and mints to toothpaste, vitamins, food, and candy. While it might make a great sugar substitute for humans, it can be devastating to your dog, with symptoms ranging from weakness and collapse to coma and even death. Xylitol can cause immediate hypoglycemia, liver necrosis, and liver failure and requires immediate treatment.

8. Flea and Tick Products
Remember the carbamates and organophosphates we talked about with insecticides? Those same ingredients can be found in various flea and tick products and are classified by the EPA as likely to be carcinogenic to humans. If you have a product with tetrachlorvinphos, carabaryl, or propoxur in the ingredient list, you are using a product that could be harmful to your pet (and your family).

How can you avoid poisoning from flea and tick products? First, purchase your flea and tick preventatives from your veterinarian or a supplier they recommend. Second, never use cat products on a dog or dog treatments for a cat. Third, follow the dosage recommendations precisely. Finally, follow all directions carefully and contact your veterinarian if you notice any signs of poisoning, including salivating, pupil dilation, tremors, vomiting, shivering, and sudden skin problems.

9. Grapes and Raisins
Believe it or not, chocolate isn’t the only food that is harmful to your dog. Grapes, raisins, and currants can be toxic to your dog, leading to potential kidney failure, anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Keep all foods in that family, including grape juice, raisin bagels, and similar foods out of your pet’s reach.

10. Rodenticides
Rat and mouse poison are extremely harmful to your pets. Even if you use rodenticides in an area you believe your pet can’t access, rodents can still inadvertently transfer the toxic substances to other locations. If you have a problem with mice or rats, contact your veterinarian for recommendations on pet-safe treatments and recommended pest control companies.

Armed with this list of potential hazards, you can prevent your pet from becoming a statistic of pet poisoning. Prevention is the best medicine, however, if your pet accidentally eats or comes into contact with a poisonous substance, please seek immediate veterinary attention and be prepared to provide them with the most information possible about what the pet encountered, how much, and what symptoms they are exhibiting. Prompt attention can make the difference between life and death for your pet so make sure to have your veterinarian’s phone number posted with your other emergency contacts.

Dog Park Etiquette

Heading to the dog park this weekend? If so, it’s a good time for a refresher on some basic etiquette pointers to make your visit more pleasant for you (as well as other park-goers).

Follow the Rules:
Make sure that your dog’s license and vaccinations are up-to-date before venturing out to play. Maricopa County requires that all dogs be licensed and that any dog over 4 months of age is current on their shots. Contact your veterinarian to schedule your annual checkup and ensure your dog’s records are current.

Also, make sure your dog is leashed and under control at all times. According to Arizona State law, all dogs are required to be on a leash anytime they are in a public park. Their leash should stay on until both of you are fully inside the off-leash area and the doors are completely closed behind you.

Keep it Clean:
It should go without saying, but unfortunately all it takes is a visit to your area park (or neighborhood sidewalk) to realize that some people need to reminded to clean up after their dog. Always bring a waste cleanup bag with you as backup in case the park doesn’t supply bags (or they’ve run out for the day). In addition to being courteous, cleaning up decreases the spread of water contamination and infectious diseases.

Some cities have taken matters into their own hands to make owners responsible for cleaning up after their pets. Mesa, for instance, enacted a city ordinance requiring owners to pick up dog waste and subjecting violators to fines.

Stay Alert:
We’ve all seen it: owners who are so engrossed in texting, reading, or talking that they completely overlook their dog doing something wildly inappropriate at the dog park. Don’t be that person.

While a visit to the dog park is a great way to meet fellow pet owners and make new friends, it’s important not to get so caught up in conversation that you aren’t paying close attention to your dog. As an owner, you are personally liable for your pet’s conduct at all times. It only takes a minute for a playful scene to turn rough or for undesirable behavior to occur.

Behave Politely:
A visit to the dog park is like a trip to the playground. From overeager and hyperactive playmates to bullies and ball hogs, you never know what to expect. Make the most of your visit by ensuring your dog is trained to respond to their name—even in distracting situations— and teaching them to sit or stand still when meeting new people and dogs.

If you witness your dog being territorial, marking excessively, stealing toys, ganging up on or rushing other dogs, put a stop to their behavior immediately. Contact your veterinarian for recommendations on trainers and resources to work through aggressive and anti-social behaviors.

Now that you’ve reviewed the rules, let’s get out and play. Need suggestions on a dog park in your area? Check out our list of parks below:

Washington Park: Located at 6655 North 23rd Avenue in Phoenix, Washington Park boasts 2.5 acres of fully-fenced fun with separate entrances for small and large dogs. Open daily from 6:30 AM – 10:00 PM except during irrigation or after heavy rains. Irrigation schedules are posted in advance online and at the park.

Echo Mountain: With mutt mitt dog waste dispensers and cool running water, Echo Mountain off-leash park at 17447 North 20th Street in Phoenix, has double gates and separate areas for big and little dogs to play.

RJ Dog Park at Pecos Park on 48th Street and Pecos Parkway, is named after RJ, a police service dog killed in duty. Two acres of grass are divided to provide areas for small and large dogs. Fully fenced and ADA accessible, owners give this park high reviews for cleanliness, ample shaded seating, and friendliness of other patrons.

Open from 6 AM-10 PM every day, Steele Indian School Dog Park at 300 East Indian School Road in Phoenix boasts paw-shaped pathways, chilled drinking fountains, waste bag dispensers, and ADA-compliant double-gated entrances. As with other Phoenix dog parks, they may close to allow turf to dry properly after heavy rainfall.

Phoenix’s first downtown dog park opened in October 2013. Hance Park Dog Park is named after Margaret Taylor Hance, Phoenix’s first female mayor and the unofficial “Mother of Mountain Preserve,” a title bestowed upon her for her initiative to create the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Located on the top of Deck Park Tunnel at 323 West Culver Street in Phoenix, the park is open daily from 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM. With almost an acre of park to roam, dogs enjoy chilled water fountains and integrated ground-level water bowls while owners will appreciate the Plexiglas visibility panels and large Pistache and Ash trees planted throughout the area.

In Mesa, you can take your dog through several basins and canal paths, in addition to their two off-leash sites at Quail Run Park (3130 East Southern Avenue) and Countryside Park (north of McDowell Road off Greenfield). Both parks offer disposable doggie bags, separate play areas for dogs based on their size and activity interests, and water fountains (for both dogs and people!).

Scottsdale has three dog parks, including Chapparral Park (5401 North Hayden Road), Horizon Park (15444 North 100th Street), and Vista del Camino Park (7800 East Pierce Street). Mowing, maintenance, and irrigation schedules are posted online to keep visitors apprised of closures. Each park offers gated turf areas, play features, shade structures, and doggie drinking fountains.

Have you been to the dog park lately? If so, what tips can you share about area parks and park etiquette? We look forward to your comments!