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Pet Poison Prevention – Keeping Your Pet Safe

Pet Poison: How to Keep Your Pet Safe

Pet poison prevention is a necessary and critical part of pet care. National Animal Poison Prevention Week was established to raise awareness of one of the biggest killers of pets – poisoning. While it might seem a remote possibility, cases of pet poisoning are far more common than you think. Each year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) issues a report on the Top Ten Pet Toxins. The most recent data from 2019 showed the APCC handled 232,000 pet poison cases, reflecting more than 18,000 additional cases than the previous year. A little knowledge and prevention can help keep everyone safer.

While the curious nature of pets is a given, there are a few specific items you should keep a close eye on. Here you will find some of the most common pet poison culprits along with some recommended actions pet owners can take to ensure pets don’t paw their way into serious trouble.

Top Pet Poison Hazards

  1. Medications: OTC & Prescription Medications – 46.2% of APCC calls

Most households have prescription medications for humans and pets as well as over-the-counter drugs on hand, so it’s no surprise that these top the charts as the most common pet toxins. Medications like ibuprofen, cold medicines, antidepressants, and ADHD medications were most commonly ingested by pets, followed by heart medications. Pets have also become casualties of the opioid crisis.

Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are particularly hazardous for dogs and cats. 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 must be administered precisely to your veterinarian’s recommendation. Even small overdoses can have drastic consequences, including ulcers, anemia, lethargy, kidney failure, liver failure, and seizures. Chewable pet medications are also a temptation for pets. Keep all medications stored safely away from pets and children. 

  1. Foods: 12.1% of APCC calls

Certain foods that sit well with humans won’t sit as well with your pet. Chocolate is just one of the widely-known foods you shouldn’t feed your pet. This is why chocolate is dangerous to pets and other foods that you should keep away from your four-legged friends:

    • Chocolate – It might be one of the most popular foods in the world, but not for pets! Chocolate remains high on the list of pet poison cases, accounting for 10.7% of calls to APCC. 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 small quantities. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian for help.
    • Grapes & Raisins – Believe it or not, chocolate isn’t the only food 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.
    • Xylitol (sweeteners) – 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, even in very small amounts can cause immediate hypoglycemia, liver necrosis and liver failure, and requires immediate treatment.
    • Milk/Dairy
    • Nuts
    • Avocados
    • Citrus 
    • Raw Meat
    • Salt

Many of these foods have severe consequences for pets, including liver damage, hyperthermia, seizures, and central nervous system depression. Even if your animal is looking at you with their big, begging eyes, it’s best to stick to pet-approved foods only. 

  1. Household Cleaners/Personal Care Products – 7.7% of APCC calls

Household items are tricky because they are often things we keep lying around—items like pest control products, cleaning products, and personal care products. 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 a pet’s fur and skin upon contact. Contact your veterinarian immediately with the details of what chemical they’ve come into contact with, assuming you know. 

  1. Antifreeze

Ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, paint solvents, and windshield de-icers, 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 for your pet to survive. Without treatment, ethylene glycol is almost 100% fatal.

  1. Rodenticide Exposure – 6.8% of APCC calls

Rodenticide is just as harmful to your pet as it is to a rat or mouse. Even when using rodenticides in an area you believe your pet can’t access, rodents can still inadvertently transfer the toxic substances to other locations. This invisible transfer means your animal is more likely to come in contact with the product without you knowing it. We recommend you avoid using this product in your home altogether. 

  1. Plants & Garden Products – 8.5 % of APCC calls

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 pets. Many garden products can be poison hazards too. Play it safe and keep hazardous houseplants and garden products away from your home.

  1. Insecticide Exposure – 5.1% of APCC calls

Watch out for carbamates and organophosphates (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 even death. While the EPA is regulating the use of these chemicals, both cats and dogs can still fall prey to the harmful side-effects these products cause. If you’re a flower gardener, pay close attention to product labels to ensure proper pet poison control.

Signs & Symptoms of Pet Poisoning

For pets, many symptoms of poisoning will look similar to other illnesses and may include signs like:

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Convulsions
  • Lethargy
  • Black/bloody stools
  • Lethargy

In Case of an Emergency

Be prepared. In case of a pet poisoning or other emergency, family members should all have the number of a preferred vet clinic or another emergency veterinary contact. Post these emergency numbers in a visible spot for everyone to reference. 

If you think your pet may have ingested or come into contact with a poison, call your veterinary clinic immediately. When known, bring the packaging, wrapper, dose, chemical name, etc. with you to the vet. It can help your veterinarian to know exactly what they have ingested.

Outside of your vet, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

 

How to Recognize Diabetes in Pets

 

diabetes sign with exclamation pointWhat To Do If Your Dog or Cat has Diabetes

Diabetes is an endocrine disorder that affects the way the body produces or processes
the hormone insulin, which helps the body turn glucose (sugar) from food into energy.
Unfortunately, Diabetes is not curable in either dogs or cats. However, early diagnosis,
along with regular treatment and care, means your furry friend can still live a very long
and happy life.

Being aware and able to recognize the signs of Diabetes in your dog or cat is critical to
ensuring they get the help they need. Left unmanaged, Diabetes can have irreversible
effects. If you suspect your beloved dog or cat has Diabetes, be sure to consult your
veterinarian.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

If your dog is experiencing the following symptoms, make a veterinary appointment as
they could be indicators that your dog has Diabetes. Please note that these symptoms
overlap with many other health conditions, so blood work is necessary to make a proper diagnosis.

● Change in appetite
● Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption
● Weight loss
● Increased urination
● Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
● Lethargy
● Dehydration
● Urinary tract infections
● Vomiting
● Cataract formation, blindness
● Chronic skin infections

While Diabetes is more common in middle-aged to older dogs, especially among
females, it’s not uncommon for younger dogs to develop Diabetes. Certain breeds are
more likely to develop Diabetes, including German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and
Cocker Spaniels.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes is the second most common endocrine disease in cats. If your cat is
experiencing the following symptoms, make a veterinary appointment as they could be
indicators that your cat has Diabetes. Please note that these symptoms overlap with many other health conditions, so blood work is necessary to make a proper diagnosis.

● Increased thirst (polydipsia) and urination (polyuria)
● Inappropriate elimination (cats also experience increased urinary tract infections)
● Change in appetite (increased or decreased appetite is an indicator of a problem)
● Weight loss
● Change in gait (walking)
● Reduced activity, weakness, depression
● Vomiting

Diabetes tends to be more common among middle-aged to older cats, as well as among
felines that are overweight. However, unlike dogs, neutered male cats are more likely to
develop Diabetes. While any cat can develop Diabetes, breeds that are more prone to
this disease include Siamese, Maine Coon, and Burmese.

What To Do if Your Dog or Cat has Diabetes

If you find out your furry friend has Diabetes, it’s totally normal to feel worried and
anxious. First, take a deep breath. With the right kind of care and treatment, your beloved cat or dog can still live a happy and productive life. Your veterinarian can discuss various lifestyle changes
you will need to make in your pet’s life to ensure they remain healthy. These can include
more exercise, diet changes, oral medication, and insulin injections.

Still not sure if your furry friend has Diabetes? Take the quiz and see if your pet could be
at risk or schedule an appointment at one of our 21 locations.

With proper veterinary care, Diabetes can be manageable. Working together, we can help your pet live a long and healthy life.

[disclaimer]
Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or
treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may
have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical
emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital
immediately.

What Does Microchipping Mean and Pet Chip Registry

Understanding the Benefits of Microchips for Arizona Pets

Despite our best efforts, some pets have a knack for escaping the house or yard and getting lost. That’s why it’s essential to have your pets microchipped! One tiny chip can mean the difference between a lost dog ending up in a shelter (and potentially being euthanized) and finding their way home. Here’s what you need to know to protect your pet if they get lost, where to get a microchip in Arizona, plus how to find pet chip registry sites.

What Does Microchip Mean?

A microchip is a tiny transponder, about the size of a grain of rice, that uses radiofrequency waves to transmit information about your pet. The microchip is implanted just under the pet’s skin, usually right between the shoulder blades.

How Do Microchips Work?

Each microchip contains a registration number and the phone number of the registry for the particular brand of chip. A handheld scanner passed over the pet can read the radio frequency of the chip and displays this information. The animal shelter or vet clinic that finds your pet can then contact the registry to get your name and phone number to notify you that your pet has been found.

How Long Do Microchips Last?

Microchips are designed to work for up to 25 years. One reminder, though – keep your contact information current!

Where in Arizona Can I Get a Pet Microchip?

Veterinarians, as well as some animal rescues and shelters, can microchip pets. If your pet is not already microchipped, contact any of our AZPetVet locations to schedule an appointment.

What Happens If I Move or Change Phone Numbers? How Do I Update My Pet’s Microchip?

If you have a new phone number or address, contact the company that registers the chip to update your information; otherwise, the chip will be useless. Depending on the chip vendor, you may be charged a small fee to process the update.

What Happens If I Adopt a Pet That’s Already Microchipped?

If your pet is already microchipped, that’s great news! Lots of rescues in the area routinely microchip their pets prior to adoption. When adopting a pet from a shelter, you should be provided the chip information, the specific chip number along with any relevant health history records. It’s important to  contact the corresponding registry to update your contact information accordingly. If you are unsure if your pet is microchipped, stop by any of our AZPetVet locations , or a local Arizona veterinarian office/rescue to get your pet scanned.

Pet Chip Registries

Not sure which pet chip registry site was used to register your pet? If you have your pet’s microchip number but have forgotten where you registered your contact information, you may find the original registry here. Call the phone number listed or visit the appropriate registry website to have the information updated. If you don’t have the microchip number, ask your vet to check your pet’s record or have them scan your pet for the chip number and any other information.

Reptiles and Amphibians – Are Exotic Pets Right For Your Lifestyle?

Reptiles and amphibians range from low- to high-maintenance care

Thinking of adding an exotic pet like a reptile or amphibian to your household? While they’re not exactly cuddly and affectionate, many ‘herps’ (coined from the Greek word for creeping thing) can make great pets, but different species will need different levels of owner experience and investment. Because reptiles and amphibians may require varying degrees of specialized care, it’s important to
do some research! Before you consider adopting one of these critters, here’s some basic information on reptiles and amphibians that could help you make the right decision for you and your family!

Low maintenance reptiles and amphibians

For kids and adults who may be allergic to furry or feathered pets or just want a pet that’s out of the norm, low maintenance reptiles and amphibians can be wonderful options. Some notes of caution – many herps do not like being handled and do not do well being handled, so there can be a risk of biting or injury. Low maintenance reptiles and amphibians include corn snakes, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, tortoises, and frogs, making them a great beginner options for families with children.

Smaller carnivorous lizards and amphibians feed on a varied diet that includes insects dusted with supplements, such as calcium and other vitamins. Larger carnivorous reptiles, such as monitor lizards and snakes will eat rodents – whether live, freshly killed or thawed from frozen. Others may need to be fed live crickets, mealworms, cockroaches, or worms.

How long do reptiles live?
Another thing to consider when deciding to adopt a reptile is how long do they live? When properly cared for, many reptiles will live far longer in captivity than in the wild, so owning one may be a longer commitment than having a dog or cat.

Snakes: Many types of snakes can live for decades. Corn snakes have a lifespan of 10-20 years. Ball pythons can live for 20-30 years. Kingsnakes average between 12-15 years. Some can even grow well over 5-feet long, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before bringing a snake home.

Turtles & Tortoises: Turtles are water-lovers; tortoises live on land. Turtles and tortoises have the longest potential lifespan. With proper care, some species can live up to 40 to 60 years or even longer. Tortoises often live to a ripe old age, so they’re definitely a long-term commitment – especially since they could outlive you.

Frogs: It’s difficult to answer this as tracking the lifespan of a single frog is next to impossible unless it’s raised in captivity. Depending on the species, frogs can live anywhere between 2 to 40 years, but the average age to expect a frog or toad to live is about 4 to 15 years.

Setting Up a Healthy Habitat
Aquariums, terrariums, tanks, and other habitats will need some specialized equipment, regular cleaning, and care. Reptiles cannot regulate their own body heat, so you will need to have temperature and brightness-regulating devices like:
● A humidifier to help keep the air warm and moist.
● Daytime lights and heat sources. Reptile tanks need a “hot side” and a “cool side” to regulate body temperature.
● Nighttime lights and heat sources. The cool side of the tank needs infrared heat lamps for nighttime use. Most reptiles – like iguanas – also require ultraviolet light.
● Thermometers. Get two thermometers: one for the hot side and one for the cooler side.

Required Accessories For Reptiles and Amphibians
● Hides where they can retreat from the heat and rest.
● Food and water bowls, some will need deeper water for swimming.
● Tile, newspaper, or reptile carpet bedding.
● Rocks, logs, plants, and other accessories.

Health considerations with reptiles and amphibians

With owning a reptile or amphibian comes some health considerations for both the animal and humans. Regular cleaning of the pet’s habitats, as well as lots of handwashing, is a must to help keep your family safe. All children should be closely supervised when caring for reptiles and amphibians because they can potentially carry Salmonella bacteria.

Each year, around 70,000 people in the U.S. contract salmonellosis from direct or indirect contact with reptiles and amphibians. Children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illness or death. If you or anyone in your household have health conditions that could put you at risk, it may not be the best fit.please consider another type of pet.

While many people would not consider owning these types of pets, some reptiles are prohibited by the Arizona Department of Wildlife. Illegal reptiles (without proper permits/licenses) include exotic venomous reptiles, such as cobras, cottonmouths, copperheads, mambas, etc., and any endangered or protected species. Crocodilians (crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gharials) are also illegal to own without proper permits.

Finally, remember that reptiles and amphibians need veterinary care, too. Regular wellness exams can help keep them happy and healthy for years to come.

Click here for a list of AZPetVet hospitals that treat exotics and reptiles.

Common Signs of Pain in Animals

How to recognize the common signs of pain in animals

It’s not uncommon for pets to get injured. With all the outdoor activities and rough-and-tumble play throughout the day, accidents are certainly unavoidable. While injuries are a source of pain for many animals, health ailments are also responsible for pain and discomfort in pets. Pain commonly causes changes in an animal’s demeanor and often indicates that they are experiencing discomfort. Behaviors like whimpering, anxiety, and other changes are the ways our animals communicate to us that there is something wrong and they need our help.

Dogs and cats have different ways of showing pain, but there is some overlap in the behaviors that these animals display if they’re feeling under the weather. Some of these shared behaviors may include:

  • Decrease or loss of appetite
  • Quiet or submissive behavior
  • Hissing, howling, whimpering or growling
  • Increased and excessive grooming, licking self, biting self, etc.

While there are many similar pain-related behaviors among dogs and cats, here are some symptoms that can often be unique to each animal.

Signs of Dog Pain

Unique to dogs, these indicators can signal that a trip to the vet is in order:

    • Increased aggression. Unlike cats, dogs can display aggression if they aren’t feeling well. Don’t take this behavior personally. Aggression when sick is known as a defense mechanism used to protect against unwanted bothering.

 

  • Restlessness. A dog in pain may not be able to settle down comfortably. If your dog seems agitated and stiff, watch for a limp and lethargy – these can be important clues for recognizing hip pain or arthritis. A dog that arches their back or tends to stretch more than usual may also be indicating back pain or spinal issues.

 

  • Squinting. Dogs with eye pain may react by squinting. Smaller pupils can also be an indication of pain. Corneal ulcers and other eye diseases should be treated immediately to reduce the chances of permanent damage.

Signs of Cat Pain

Often quiet and lackadaisical, it can be hard to know when these creatures are hurting. So how exactly do you know if a cat is in pain? Keep a lookout for these behaviors:

 

  • Hiding. Hiding is one way that cats can ensure that they won’t be bothered. Typically social creatures, a cat that’s in hiding for long periods of time may be a sign of something awry.
  • Hunching posture. A change in posture can signal a cat in pain. Sitting with their paws underneath them, showing disinterest in their surroundings or sitting alone could indicate a number of different health ailments, including abdominal pain, constipation, urinary infections and in some cases an abscess, cancer, pancreatitis, feline panleukopenia, or gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Trouble using the litter box. Back or hip pain can prevent a cat from crouching in the right position to use the litter box. Feces and urine on the sides of the box may hint that your cat is having some mobility issues.

 

What to do when your dog or cat shows signs of pain

If your pet is exhibiting one or more of these behaviors, it’s best to take them in for a visit with your veterinarian. Even though animals can be masters at masking their injury or ailments, it’s important that you still take your pet to the vet for further examination. There are many options available to treat pain in animals including analgesic medications, physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, laser therapy, and therapeutic massage. Your vet can provide insight into what’s happening with your pet, and discuss treatment options. If you suspect your pet may be experiencing pain and discomfort, make an appointment with your vet right away. The team at AZPetVet is available 7 days a week to help you ensure your pet is living their best life, pain free.

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.