Beautiful but Deadly…

Beautiful but Deadly…

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Lilies

A beautiful flower steeped in history, lilies are most often seen in the spring and celebrated as a symbol of joy, hope and life. But did you know that they are actually extremely dangerous to cats? With Easter just around the corner, we wanted to warn you about this lovely (yet extremely deadly) plant!

Toxicity in Cats

You may have heard that lilies are toxic to cats, but do you really know how toxic?

As little as ingesting 1-2 leaves, drinking the water from a vase or even licking the pollen off their coat can put a cat into acute kidney failure in as little as 24-72 hours with little chance of recovery without prompt, and I mean prompt, medical attention. Signs of poisoning usually occur within 6-12 hours after exposure.

Types of Lilies and Their Affects

The most dangerous lilies are specifically of the genus Lilium (Lilium sp.) or Hemerocallis (Hemerocallis sp.). This includes the tiger lily, Asiatic lily, Japanese lily, stargazer lily, wood lily, Easter lily, daylily, rubrum lily, and Western lily, to name the most common.

Other species of lilies have certain toxicities as well, although not causing acute kidney failure.

Calla, peruvian and peace lilies are  irritating to a cat’s mouth and digestive tract. They can cause drooling, pawing at the mouth, foaming and vomiting.

Lily of the valley can affect the heart, causing low blood pressure and irregular heartbeats. These affects can progress to seizures, coma and even death in both dogs and cats.

If your cat is seen or you suspect they have ingested any part of a lily plant, please bring them and the plant to your nearest veterinarian immediately. There is no time to spare. Aggressive IV fluid therapy and supportive care must be initialized as quickly as possible for the best chance of your cat recovering.

With Easter and Mother’s day around the corner we also encourage you to tell your friends and family about these dangers and to dispose of any lilies you may receive in a bouquet or be sure to keep them well out of reach of your cat.

Wishing Everyone a Safe and Happy Easter!

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Taking the “Finicky” Out of Your Feline

Taking the “Finicky” Out of Your Feline

A well-balanced and properly formulated diet can make a world of difference when it comes to your pet’s health.

I discovered this first-hand a few years ago when my cat, Adelaide, was urinating around the house. It was behaviour that was so out of character for her that I knew she was trying to tell me something. It took a few urine samples and some x-rays, but she was soon diagnosed with bladder stones. She was quickly booked in for a cystotomy (surgery to remove the stones) and recovered very well.

She settled back in at home and was happily using her litterbox again. However, her treatment was not quite finished yet. The doctor’s wanted to make sure that she did not suffer a repeat of her experience. The stones collected from her bladder were sent out for proper identification, and a new food that was specifically designed for cats with urinary issues was recommended. I was, of course, eager to oblige. Anything for my little kitty! Addie, on the other hand, was not so excited for her new food…

Introducing a cat to a new food can certainly be a challenge.

As I immediately discovered, cats can be very picky when it comes to their diet. And, I have to admit, I hear from owner’s all the time at the clinic that their cat’s are very fussy eaters – I just never thought it would be a challenge that I would have to face myself! Luckily, I had the support of my fellow staff members at Snelgrove Vet, as well as a team of veterinarians. Through the experience of having to switch a (then) 10-year old cat to a brand new food, I learned a lot of tips and tricks, which I can now share with our readers and clients alike!

Offering your cat a variety of foods while they’re still young can make your life a lot easier in the long-run.

If I had been doing this since she was a kitten, I don’t think Addie would have had a difficult time transitioning from her old food to her new urinary food. Cats often become conditioned to eating only one type of food and, because they like to stick with the familiar, it can be difficult to change foods later on if necessary. This is especially true of lower quality dry and canned foods (some are the equivalent of having a cheeseburger with fries everyday. Tastes great but not great for you!) It is a good idea to introduce your cat to all different kinds of  textures while they are still young enough to be willing to try them. Of course, I was not forward thinking enough to do this when she was younger.

Preparing for the transition from old food to new food took some consideration.

Before I could transition Addie to her new and amazing urinary food, there were a few things I needed to put into practice first. I had to get her off of free-feeding and establish a feeding schedule. She was so used to grazing from her bowl whenever she wanted that I was afraid she would turn her nose up at her new food and hold out for her old food. I had to start feeding her at specific times so that she would be hungry by the time I was filling her bowl again. I also had to eliminate any hint of her old food from the house. Some very clever kitties think that they can hold out for their old food and eventually get it, especially if they can see or smell the bag or can. So, I took her old bag of food out to the garage so that she would not be able to sniff it out. I did keep it on hand, just in case I needed it though.*

Waiting (not so) patiently for dinner

Transitioning to new food took a little bit of time and a lot of patience.

Cats are usually very particular about their eating habits, and my Adelaide is no exception. In order to allow myself the greatest chance of success, I had to make sure that I didn’t make any “environmental” changes to her routine. I fed her in the same spot within our home, out of the same bowl, with the same scoop, at the same time of day – the only change was to the food itself, nothing else. Finally, we were ready to break out the new food! Sometimes all it takes is a bit of time for a cat to accept a new type of food, so I started feeding a mixture of 3/4 regular food and 1/4 new food for a few days. She seemed okay with this, so I began to mix the foods 1/2 and 1/2. When this went well for another few days, and I was able to feed a mixture of 1/4 old food and 3/4 new food, until I was finally able to eliminate her old food altogether from the bowl. The entire transition probably took about 8 or 9 days. Some cats may need more time, others may need less.

I was lucky that transitioning Adelaide to her new urinary diet went fairly smoothly. I think that approaching the food change with a well-thought out plan helped a lot. Hopefully my experiences can help other cat owners that are facing food transitions of their own! Of course, if any of our clients or readers have any questions or concerns, the staff at Snelgrove is always able to lend an ear and discuss some tips and tricks.

Thank you to everyone for reading, I would love to hear if anyone else has had any experiences with this. What helped the most with your transition, and what hindered it?

– Kait.

*Please note: At no time should a cat ever go more than 24 hours without eating. If your cat is truly considering a hunger strike and has refused to eat for 24 hours, call your veterinarian immediately as they may be in danger of developing health issues such as fatty liver disease, which can lead to renal failure.

Dogs and cats are not small humans…

…and other pet toxin facts. An informative blog from Dr. Judith da Costa.

Recently I attended a lecture on pet poisons so I decided to write a blog about it. Most of the time when pets come into contact with toxins it is accidental. Occasionally however, well-meaning owners give or apply toxins to their pets. Unfortunately things that are safe, or even considered healthy for us, can be dangerous (even fatal!) to our pets. I will cover a small, random selection of these.

Grapes, Raisins and Currants

In the past several years information has come out about the toxic properties of grapes, raisins and some currants when eaten by dogs. The side effects caused by eating the above are; vomiting, anorexia, lethargy and diarrhea. Unfortunately, eating grapes, raisin and certain types of currants can cause acute renal failure leading to the death of the dog. Why this happens is unknown. The specific toxin has yet to be identified. Not all dogs are affected. At this time we have no way of knowing which dogs will be affected. Decontamination (inducing vomiting), IV fluids and supportive care are the current treatment recommendations. Blood work is done to determine the effect the grapes, raisins or currants have had on the kidneys.

Acetaminophen (a.k.a. Tylenol)

Another pet toxin to be concerned about is acetaminophen. So there is no confusion I will be very blunt. Acetaminophen is deadly to cats! Acetaminophen is the generic name for this human medication. Trades names include Tylenol and Paracetamol. Acetaminophen is also toxic to dogs. Most pharmacist don’t know that acetaminophen is toxic to cats and dogs. Side effects include respiratory distress, brown mucus membranes, lethargy, vomiting and yellow mucus membranes. In simple terms, cats die from suffocation, because their red blood cells are not able to carry oxygen. Only a very small amount of acetaminophen will cause this to happen. In dogs, ingestion of acetaminophen can cause liver failure. If your pet has consumed acetaminophen seek veterinary treatment immediately.

Tea Tree Oil

Many people are surprised to learn that Tea Tree oil (also known as Melaleuca oil) is toxic to dogs and cats. People apply Tea Tree oil to themselves as an herbal remedy. Sides effects of applying Tea Tree oil to dogs and cats include: muscle tremors, liver damage, hypothermia, slow heart rates, weakness, and central nervous system depression that can lead to coma. Dogs and cats have died when a formulation of a 100 % Tea Tree oil has been applied to their coats. Treatment includes bathing with liquid dishwashing detergent and IV fluids and supportive medications.

Chocolate

Chocolate is a more familiar pet toxin. Usually the pet consumes the chocolate by accident. The more pure the chocolate is, the more dangerous it is for dogs and cats. Dark chocolate is said to have health benefits for humans but this is absolutely not true for dogs and cats. The two toxins in chocolate are Theobromine and caffeine. Unsweetened baking chocolate can have 10 times as much Theobromine as milk chocolate. Side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, drinking and urinating a lot, staggering, irregular heart rhythm, seizures, tremors and death. Treatment includes inducing vomiting if the chocolate was eaten in the past 6 hours, giving activated charcoal and medications to treat the symptoms. Always store chocolate in a safe location.

Get Help

If you have any questions or concerns about anything that might be toxic to your pets, please call us at Snelgrove Veterinary Services at (905) 846 – 3316. There is also the Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213 – 6680. (Note, there is $35 US fee for the Helpline). In a non-emergency situation you are more than welcome to read our Lifelearn Client Handouts on our web-site. Just click on “Pet Health” and type in any topic that you are interested in. These handouts are researched by the University of Guelph.

Dr. Judy da Costa

Cat Bites

Did you know that there are hundreds of disease-causing microbes lurking in your cat’s mouth right now?

It’s pretty gross when you sit down and think about it, but really, the same is true for human mouths as well. The difference? Most well-adjusted humans don’t go around biting each other or other animals… the same is not exactly true when it comes to cats!

Biting is one of a cat’s main defenses when they feel threatened.

Because of this, we actually take cat bites very seriously within the veterinary community. Due to the narrow size and pointed shape of a cat’s canine teeth, they are able to penetrate skin very deeply, but leave only a small wound on the surface. When a cat bites, the bacteria on their fangs can be driven deep down into the tissue, but the wound can heal rather quickly. This traps the bacteria beneath the surface of the skin. If left untreated, this bacteria can easily turn into a dangerous infection within 24-48 hours.

If you or your pet are unlucky enough to experience a bite from a cat, you should immediately wash the area under running water. Avoid using any harsh disinfectant that could damage surrounding tissue and/or delay healing. Apply direct pressure to the area to stop any bleeding and see a doctor or veterinarian as soon as possible.

It is a rule within our clinic here at Snelgrove Vet, that any staff suffering from a cat bite wound go directly to a walk-in clinic in order to received appropriate treatment. This often means a round of antibiotics to fight infection. The feline patients we see here are up to date on their vaccines, so typically the doctor is not concerned about the potential for viral disease. However, if someone is bitten by a cat that is unknown to them or possibly feral, a doctor may recommend a rabies vaccine depending on the severity of the bite wound.

If you see a stray cat, it is best to call animal services if you want to help it. A stray or feral cat can be skittish and may lash out at an attempt to help them. Your intentions to aid an animal in distress may be sincere, but it is best to leave handling an unknown animal to the professionals, lest you risk a bite from those bacteria-laced mouths!

Breed Spotlight – Feel free to share

For the last while, the staff at Snelgrove Veterinary Services in Brampton has been sharing their Breed Spotlights with breeds that we have had the pleasure of sharing our lives with. Now is the time to share your opinion of different breeds of dogs. We are asking all who read this blog to pitch in and share their Breed Spotlight.

It’s easy, write a story about a dog you have shared your life with and the experiences you had with them and then email it to us at contact@snelgrovevet.com. Don’t forget to attach a picture or two or three.

Even if it’s about a breed we have already written about, we would love to hear your version.

Foods To Share With Fido!

abby eats

With Christmas just around the corner, here are 5 suggestions if you feel the need to share

We’ve all heard about the human foods we should not be sharing with our canine companions: chocolate, avocado, grapes/raisins, onions… The list goes on and on. For your dog, these and many other foods can be dangerous or even toxic! But what about foods that you actually can share with your dog? Naturally, a veterinarian recommended diet is always the best option for your pet, but if you really want to share a special treat with your dog once in a while, here are our top 5 picks:

Carrots

Carrots are a fun, crunchy choice for your furry friend. They are an easy treat to prepare (just wash them!) as well as being low in calories and high in fiber.

Cooked Chicken

Chicken is a fantastic source of protein for your dog. Just be sure that it is thoroughly cooked and free of any bones. Raw meat can play host to all kinds of bacteria (including salmonella and e. coli) and chicken bones can actually splinter when chewed, which could result in a laceration or blockage within the digestive system.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is extremely palatable for your pup! It’s a great treat because it is full of nutrients. Just be careful to give it in small doses – peanut butter is also very high in calories.

Cheese

Cheese is another popular choice among dog owners. It is a great source of calcium and protein. Just be careful – some dogs can be lactose intolerant, and cheese could also hinder the absorption of some medications if they are given simultaneously. And again, keep portions small, cheese is also one of those high calorie choices!

Rice

Rice may not be the most exciting thing to give your dog, but it certainly has its benefits. Plain boiled rice is a very easily digestible carbohydrate, so it is often recommended when your dog is having tummy troubles. It can also provide a good source of energy for older dogs.

So, there you have it – our top 5 suggestions for human foods that you can share with your canine. Remember that moderation is key when it comes to treats. We don’t want to end up with an overweight, unhealthy pet! Extra food should be in addition to a balanced diet, and shouldn’t make up any more than about 25% of your dog’s daily food allowance. You should also be mindful of where and when you give treats. Tossing your pet a morsel off of your plate while seated at the dinner table will only encourage begging, and nobody wants that! Feed treats away from the table and only if your pet is eating his regular food on a consistent basis.

Bon Appétit!

– Kait.

4 Super-Simple Tips to Keep your Pet Healthy

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  1. Yearly examinations by a veterinarian can help diagnose and even prevent certain medical conditions.
  2. Remember, the mouth is the gateway to our entire bodies. Healthy, clean teeth are imperative to healthy organs. brushing your pets teeth daily, dental diets and dental supplements can help maintain their oral health.
  3. Good food. Although everybody has a different philosophy on what makes a healthy diet, be sure you are feeding your pet an age appropriate, good quality diet. You can ask any of our staff members to make a recommendation for you.
  4. Regular exercise helps keep a healthy weight and positive mind. Walks and daily games with your pet are the best way to spend quality time with your pet and keep them fit.

These simple tips can help your pet live a long healthy life 🙂