Holiday Season – cats

Household Hazards – Holiday Safety Tips for Cat Owners

During times of celebration, friends and family often gather in our homes. At these times, it is easy to overlook potential hazards to your cat’s health and safety. In order to prevent mishaps for your cuddly companions, it is important that you recognize these hidden dangers.

household_hazards_-_holiday_safety_tips_for_cat_owners-1

My cat enjoys playing with ribbons, tinsel, and other decorations. Is this okay?

Most cats enjoy playing with ribbons, string, and tinsel, especially if they are shiny or moving. Kittens and young cats tend to be more curious and playful, and appear to see these items as toys that need to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing are healthy physical activities for cats, chewing and swallowing ribbons can be harmful.

“If you want to let your kitten play with string or ribbon, only allow it to play with the item while under your direct supervision.”

When swallowed, these “linear foreign bodies” can become entangled in the intestinal tract, leading to bunching of the intestines as the body tries unsuccessfully to pass the string or ribbon. With each intestinal contraction, the rough or abrasive material rubs against the walls of the intestines, causing inflammation. Eventually, the material can even cut through the intestinal wall. This is a life-threatening emergency requiring surgical intervention. If you want to let your kitten play with string or ribbon, only allow it to play with the item while under your direct supervision. Better yet, don’t even encourage this sort of play!

 

My cat likes to chew on cords. Can this be harmful?

Dangling cords of various types are tempting to cats that like to play with string, or kittens that are teething and are interested in chewing. Cats have extremely sharp teeth that can easily penetrate the insulation around electric light cords or extension cords. If this happens, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue or an electrical shock that could damage the lungs or heart. This is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.

 

household_hazards_-_holiday_safety_tips_for_cat_owners-2I’ve heard that chocolate is poisonous to animals. Is this true?

Many people do not realize that chocolate can be a poison when eaten in large amounts, even to people! Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which has caffeine-like activities. Theobromine is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant. Unsweetened or baking chocolate contains a much higher amount of the potentially toxic theobromine than milk chocolate (approximately 10 times the amount on average). For the average cat, weighing 11 pounds or 5 kg, the toxic amount of milk chocolate is approximately 11 ounces, but 1-2 squares of baking chocolate or high quality dark chocolate has the potential to be fatal. An 8-week old kitten usually weighs 1-2 pounds (less than 1 kg), and can be poisoned by only 1 ounce of milk chocolate! Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe overdoses, the only symptom may be sudden death.

 

What sort of festive plants are toxic to cats?

household_hazards_-_holiday_safety_tips_for_cat_owners-3Poinsettia sap can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the cat that chews on the leaves or stems of this festive plant. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic, but can cause intestinal upset.

Some mistletoe species are toxic, causing liver failure or seizures, while other species are only irritating to the intestinal tract if ingested. The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning with this popular holiday trimming. It is wise to consider mistletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it out of reach of pets and children.

All parts of many plants belonging to the lily family are highly toxic to cats. Because of this risk, it is best to prevent your cat or kitten from chewing on peace lilies, Christmas lilies, or other plants belonging to this family.

Other seasonal plants that are toxic to cats include daffodils, narcissi, and spring bulbs that are commonly ‘forced’ to bloom during the winter that bring a ‘breath of springtime’ into our homes.

 

I like to give my cat some of our dinner as a treat on special occasions. Is there anything I should avoid?

We all like to include our pets in holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet’s stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are not common medical problems that veterinarians see during any holiday time, and especially between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you wish to feed your cat a special treat, give her only a small amount of lean meat. If you feed leftovers that contain a lot of fat, the pancreas may become overworked and inflamed. This serious condition is known as pancreatitis and usually requires hospitalization and intensive medical treatment. Also make sure that any string or packaging that was used during the preparation of roasts or turkeys is safely disposed of in a sealed garbage container. Most cats can’t resist digging these well-flavored items out and eating them, potentially causing an intestinal obstruction.

It’s a good idea to keep your pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for them to get underfoot and get burned or otherwise injured. By observing a few commonsense guidelines, you can share a safe and healthy celebration with your cat and give thanks for the companionship you enjoy with your four-legged family members.

Ernest Ward, DVM
© Copyright 2009 Lifelearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.
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Holiday Season

Household Hazards – Holiday Safety Tips for Dog Owners

During times of celebration, friends and family often gather in our homes. At these times, it is easy to overlook potential hazards to your dog’s health and safety. In order to prevent mishaps for your cuddly companions, it is important that you recognize these hidden dangers.

 My dog really seems to enjoy opening presents and playing with decorations. Is this okay? household_hazards_-_holiday_safety_tips_for_dog_owners-1_2009

Many dogs enjoy sniffing out boxes filled with tasty treats, and even items made with leather such as clothing or sports equipment. Many of these items can cause an intestinal obstruction if eaten. Even the wrapping paper can cause an intestinal obstruction if eaten, especially if it is made of foil or other indigestible material. Paintballs, the paint filled ‘ammunition’ used in the game of paintball is extremely hazardous to dogs and can cause death if eaten.

Ribbons and strings used to wrap gifts can be hazardous, especially to young puppies who delight in playing with and eventually chewing and swallowing these items, that can become tangled up in the intestinal tract. As the intestines attempt to move this mass of foreign material (called a “linear foreign body” due to its shape) the rough or abrasive material rubs against the walls of the intestine, causing inflammation and damage with each intestinal contraction.  An intestinal obstruction is a life-threatening emergency requiring surgery for correction.

“If you want to let your puppy or dog open gifts or play with the wrappers, only do so while under your direct supervision.”

If you want to let your puppy or dog open gifts or play with the wrappers, only do so while under your direct supervision. Better yet, don’t’ encourage this sort of play!

 

My dog likes to chew on cords. Can this be harmful?

Dangling cords of various types are tempting to dogs that like to play with string as well as young puppies that are teething and are chewing anything and everything. Puppies have extremely sharp teeth that can easily pierce the insulation around electric light cords or extension cords. If a pet bites through an electrical cord that is plugged in, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue or an electrical shock that could damage the lungs or heart. This is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.

 

household_hazards_-_holiday_safety_tips_for_dog_owners-2_2009I’ve heard that chocolate is toxic to dogs. Is this true?

Many people do not realize that chocolate can be a poison when eaten in large amounts, even to people! Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, that has caffeine-like activities. Theobromine is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant. Unsweetened or baking chocolate contains a much higher amount of the potentially toxic theobromine than milk chocolate (approximately 10-20 times the amount on average), but even milk chocolate can be dangerous in large enough amounts or to a small dog. For a dog weighing 22 pounds (10 kg), as little as 2 ounces (about 50 grams) of baking or dark chocolate or 30 ounces (about 0.8 kg) of good quality milk chocolate is toxic. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, diarrhea and death. For further details about the hazards of chocolate, see our handout “Chocolate Poisoning“. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and will easily find those wrapped boxes of chocolate that are stashed under the tree!

 

What sort of festive plants are toxic to dogs?

Poinsettia sap can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the dog that chews on or eats the leaves or stems of this festive plant. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic, but can cause intestinal upset.

Some mistletoe species are toxic, causing liver failure or seizures, while other species are only irritating to the intestinal tract if ingested. The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning with this popular holiday trimming. It is wise to consider mistletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it out of reach of pets and children.

Other seasonal plants that are toxic include daffodils and narcissi, spring bulbs that are commonly ‘forced’ to bloom during the winter and bring a ‘breath of springtime’ into our homes.

household_hazards_-_holiday_safety_tips_for_dog_owners-3_2009I like to share our special meal with my dog as a treat on special occasions. Is there anything I should avoid?

We all like to include our pets in holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet’s stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are common medical problems that veterinarians see during any holiday time, and especially between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you wish to feed your dog a special treat, give only a small amount of table food on top or mixed in with its regular dinner. If you feed leftovers that contain a lot of fat, the pancreas may become overworked and inflamed. This serious and extremely painful condition is known as pancreatitis. It usually requires hospitalization and intensive medical treatment; left untreated a severe case of pancreatitis can result in death. Also, make sure that any string or packaging that was used during the preparation of roasts or turkeys is safely disposed of in a sealed garbage container that is placed out of your dog’s reach. Most dogs cannot resist the temptation of a strategically placed garbage bag, and eating string or other indigestible material can potentially cause an intestinal obstruction.

If you leave an uncooked loaf of bread to rise on the counter, your dog may be unable to resist eating it. In the warmth of the stomach, the bread can continue to rise and cause a complete obstruction that the dog will be unable to pass. Other food items that are left out during the holiday season can also present risks to your dog. Therefore, you should always make sure that nothing has been inadvertently left within your dog’s reach. It is also a good idea to keep your pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for them to get underfoot and be burned or otherwise injured.

By observing a few commonsense guidelines, you can share a safe and healthy celebration with your dog and give thanks for the companionship you enjoy with your four-legged family members.

Ernest Ward, DVM
© Copyright 2009 Lifelearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Cat Has What?

My Cat Has What?

Everley

Here at Snelgrove Vet Services, we often receive calls from cat owners concerned that their cats have “dirty” chins or “weird, black dots” on their chin. Sounds bizarre, right? Actually, this is a very common complaint in the world of feline medicine! More often than not, it is simply a case of feline chin acne. That’s right, a cat can get acne, just like a human! This condition can appear at any age, in both male and female cats, and the severity can range from small “blackheads” to inflamed crusty lesions or even painful pustules, all of which can appear on the chin, as well as the upper and lower lips. Luckily, this condition is typically easy to diagnose and treat, although some cases can be more extreme than others.

While the official cause of feline chin acne is up for debate, there are several contributing factors that are universally agreed upon within the veterinary community:

  • Poor Grooming Habits
  • Stress or Hormone Changes
  • Bacterial Overload
  • Overproduction of Sebum (natural oils produced by skin)
  • Coinciding Infection or Disease

Diagnosis of feline chin acne is based on both clinical signs, as well as the cat’s medical history. When you bring your cat in for a physical exam, the doctor will want to rule out alternative causes, such as fungal or bacterial infections, or fleas or mites. With more severe cases that present larger lesions or pustules, the doctor may feel that biopsies, cultures or skin scrapings could also be necessary.

Following diagnosis, treatment and control of feline chin acne ranges. Often, simply changing from a plastic food bowl or scoop to something that is stainless steel, glass or ceramic can resolve chin acne. Other times, a veterinary recommended cleanser or fatty acid supplement is enough. In the more severe cases, antibiotics or prescription strength topicals can do the trick. As always, never, ever use human products or prescriptions on your pet. Their skin is very different from ours and sometimes good intentions can create even more problems for your furry family member!

When it comes to feline chin acne, the key to a quick recovery is early diagnosis and treatment. If you notice that your cat has a “dirty” chin, give us a call to set up an appointment. Timely treatment reduces the risk of secondary infections, and will get your kitty feeling back-to-normal a lot quicker!

 

If you have any additional questions regarding feline chin acne, please don’t hesitate to call our office at 905-846-3316

Thank you for reading,

Kait.