Cat Grass

Cat Grass

The other week I was watering my houseplants when I noticed the ends of some of the leaves of one of my favourites were all frayed. What the heck? As the days went on, I noticed more and more of the leaves were missing their tips. I had just moved this particular plant, but I couldn’t imagine how a simple change of location could cause this. So, I did some sleuthing. Turns out, the new home I had chosen for my plant was accessible to my cat (a.k.a. The Culprit) and she had been happily nibbling away at her leisure! Needless to say, the plant changed locations again, and my little furball got a stern talking to.

Addie Additude

“Yeah I ate your plants, whatchu gonna do about it?”

It was then that I realized that since moving in August, my cat could now only enjoy her outdoor time contained on our deck and no longer had access to a grassy lawn. It was too dangerous to allow her to roam freely as our backyard went from the size of a postage stamp, to backing onto a coyote-filled ravine. So, she was missing her grass snacks apparently! This peaked my curiosity and I decided to look into cat grass as an alternative for her.

Did you know that cat grass is actually really beneficial?

Medically, cat grass has been reported to speed digestion. This is because it is a great source of insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool and helps food pass through the digestive system at a quicker pace. This means that it can be helpful for cats that suffer from digestive issues such as constipation and/or diarrhea. In addition to this, cat grass is an excellent source of folic acid. Folic acid helps the body produce and maintain new cells and is essential for red blood cell formation. All very good things!

Cat grass can also be beneficial for cats when they have a hairball or an upset stomach. When a kitty is having some tummy troubles, they will eat full blades of grass in order to induce vomiting. If they are eating for pleasure, they will chew up the grass and it will not cause regurgitation. So, you shouldn’t expect any grassy-kitty vomit unless your cat is having an issue.

Another positive aspect of cat grass is that it is super easy to grow. This means you can grow it yourself and have it available both inside and outside. This will offer your cat an alternative to munching on potentially chemically treated grass and/or toxic plants that can be found outside such as lilies, ivies and tomato plants. The best types of grass for cats are barley, wheatgrass, oat and rye.

And finally, I learned that it must be some tasty stuff because my little kitty gobbles it up! She smells it, she rubs against it, she eats it. She loves her cat grass!

Happy Addie

And really, who could ever stay mad at this cute little face?

Have you ever had an animal in your household eat your plants? What did you do? Have you tried cat grass or some other alternative? I would love to hear some stories or see some pictures!

Thank you for reading,

Kait.

Echinococcus Multilocularis: What is it and why we should worry?

Echinococcus Multilocularis: What is it and why we should worry?

What is Echinococcus Multilocularis?

Echinococcus multiocularis is an emerging tapeworm here in Ontario. Echinococcus is found across the globe and is especially prevalent in the northern latitudes of Europe, Asia, and North America. Prior to 2012, Echinococcus multilocularis had never been seen in wildlife nor in domestic animals in southern Ontario. Since that time, it has established itself here. It is also now firmly established in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Although the risk is extremely low people need to be made aware of it.

antique antique globe antique shop antique store

Why Should We Be Worried?

Echinococcus multiocularis is a small tapeworm that can cause big problems in humans. People who are infected with this tapeworm do not typically show signs for 5 to 15 years due to their incubation period. It then typically presents itself as a cyst on the lungs or liver, but cysts can develop anywhere. Once the cyst is large enough to cause compression on other parts of the body, that’s when we typically find out we have it.

people in front of macbook pro

Now that we know our wildlife here in Ontario can be infected, we have to think about the possibility of our canine and feline friends being exposed to it, as well as ourselves.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Echinococcus multiocularis is typically found in foxes, coyotes, and dogs. Larval stages can be transmitted to people through ingestion of food, water or fecal material contaminated with tapeworm eggs. Follow these easy steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from a potential infection:

  • Do not allow dogs to eat rodents or other wild animals.
  • Avoid contact with foxes, coyotes, stray dogs and other wild animals.
  • Do not encourage wild animals to come close to your home and do not keep them as pets.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling dogs or cats, and before handling food.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.
  • Deworm your dog regularly.
  • Inform your veterinarian if you notice white rice-type looking segments on your dog’s feces or anus.
Fireworks: Effects on Wildlife, Farm Animals and Pets

Fireworks: Effects on Wildlife, Farm Animals and Pets

Spring has arrived and with summer to come we welcome all the activities and events that go along with it. Unfortunately, one of the things that make our children smile with glee is the same thing that puts animals into flight mode around the world – leaving orphaned young, causing injury to others and sorrow in our hearts. Fireworks are actually of huge concern to animal welfare everywhere.

Horses bolt, ending up on public streets; cows stampede, ever watched a western where they shoot off a gun to get cows to run? Same thing; birds flying into objects, or each other; mothers leaving their young and becoming disoriented when they’ve gone to far; deer darting and becoming impaled on fences, the list goes on and on…

Here are some articles from the news to help put this devastation into perspective;

49 horses injured and 11 killed since 2010: the real cost of fireworks *warning: graphic images*

A dairy farmer in Maryland was forced to put down four of his cows in 2013 after they were injured in a stampede caused by a firework show in a nearby field.

If anyone remembers, it was all over the news,  in 2011 in Arkansas, hundreds of birds fell dead to the ground during New Year’s eve festivities with researchers thinking fireworks were to cause for them to be flying and crashing into each other and objects due to fear. 

Forbes magazine posted this  in December 2017, reaching out to everyone whether on not this should continue and countries and municipalities around the world are reaching out to politicians to put an end to these. 

Let’s also not forget all the injuries to people and possessions caused regularly by fireworks. In 2015, Brampton had a house fire that engulfed two neighbouring houses when they used fireworks in their backyard. Brampton does actually have a by-law that private homes can NOT use fireworks that travel more than 10ft from where they are ignited.

“Permitted Fireworks” are consumer fireworks that do not travel more than three (3) metres (10 feet) from the point of ignition, and may include fireworks such as fountains, wheels, ground spinners, burning school houses, flying ghosts and sparklers. But even these should be used with extreme caution. 

“Prohibited Fireworks” are consumer fireworks that would reasonably be expected to travel or pose a hazard more than three (3) metres (10 feet) from the point of ignition, such as roman candles, flying lanterns, barrages, bombshells, cakes, comets, mines, missiles and skyrockets.

Should we all be thinking twice about the impact these cause to the animals on this planet? Do we really need to showcase these to celebrate a public holiday?

Alternatives should be considered.

Beautiful but Deadly…

Beautiful but Deadly…

Easter-Lily2-300x188

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!

Essential oils and why you should be careful using them

Essential oils and why you should be careful using them

Essential oils have become the norm in many households. People use them to reap the benefits for health and well-being. Well, did you know, using these in your household can actually be toxic to your pets?

Essential oils, although having beneficial physical and psychological properties can actually be harmful to your pets and must be used carefully around them. Here are two links from the Pet Poison Helpline, one for cats and one for dogs, which can help you decide if you are using them safely in your home.

CATS

DOGS

Food Allergies on Trial (Part Two)

Food Allergies on Trial (Part Two)

In the first part of this blog posted last week, we defined what food allergies are as well how to diagnose them using a food trial. In the second and final part of this blog, we will discuss the types of specialty diets used in food trials, along with a closer look at the diets available and what to expect once a food trial has been completed.

Novel protein diet vs. hydrolyzed protein diet

The menu of restricted ingredients that are allowed to animals during a food trial is often referred to as a novel protein diet. Novel protein diets usually include ingredients such as rabbit, venison, fish, duck, and/or kangaroo – items that are rarely used in commercial pet foods, thus making it unlikely that your pet has been exposed to them in the past. It is important during a pet’s lifetime not to introduce a huge variety of proteins to their diet, as this will limit the diets with new ingredients that can be tried should they ever require a food trial.

In some cases, the doctor may need to rely on a hydrolyzed diet. These diets use proteins such as chicken or soy, however instead of providing an intact protein, the proteins are broken down into significantly smaller components. These smaller components are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction because the immune system no longer recognizes them as the proteins that it previously had an abnormal response to.

In summary, a novel protein is a food or ingredient the animal has not eaten previously, while a hydrolyzed protein has been broken down into smaller components which reduces the body’s reaction to them.

What diets do we carry for food allergies?

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Here is a selection of some of the foods we carry that are appropriate for animals with food allergies. There are many more available on our Webstore!

Luckily, there is actually an extensive list of veterinary diets available for pets that suffer from food allergies. However, it is best to work with a doctor in order to find the most appropriate choice for a dog or a cat with food allergies as each case is unique. The options listed below are exclusively available for purchase at veterinary clinics only, as opposed to retail brands that can be obtained from pet or grocery stores. Veterinary diets are ideal and highly recommended over retail brands, which can sometimes contain trace amounts of common allergens. Additionally, veterinary brands are backed by extensive clinical trials and research, while retail brands typically are not.

PURINA VETERINARY DIETS

DRM Dermatological Management Diet

HA Hydrolyzed Diet

Treats: Gentle Snackers

HILLS PRESCRIPTION DIETS

Prescription Diet d/d (duck, salmon or venison formulas available)

Prescription Diet z/d

Treats: Hypo-Treats

ROYAL CANIN DIETS

Anallergenic Diet

Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein Diet

Hypoallergenic Selected Protein Diet

Sensitivity VR Diet

Vegetarian Diet

Treats: Hydrolyzed Protein Treats

RAYNE CLINICAL NUTRITION

Crocodilia MAINT

Kangaroo DIAG & MAINT

Low-Fat Kangaroo MAINT

Rabbit MAINT

How long does a food trial last?

Generally, we recommend to continuously feed the food trial for a total of 12-16 weeks (3-4 months). Although we typically start to see positive results within the first 4-8 weeks, it can take up to 16 weeks to eliminate the remaining allergens from an animals system.

Remember, it is critical that the animal does not get anything else during this time period! Something to think about would be how many foods beyond their regular meals actually cross your pet’s mouth over the course of an average week. Such items as:

  • Treats

  • Rawhide chews

  • Toys

  • Drive-thru treats (pupaccino, anyone?)

  • Goodies from neighbours/service persons

  • Popcorn

  • Licking of cereal bowls, ice cream bowls, plates, etc.

  • Access to other pets food or stools

  • Pilling treats (pill pockets, cheese, etc.)

  • Supplements (glucosamine, omegas, etc.)

  • Chewable medication

  • Table scraps

  • Garbage

The ingestion of any of these example items while on a food trial could result in the trial failing.

Here is an example of some of the items that could be detrimental to a food trial being performed on a pet with suspected food allergies. There are many items that pet owners might not even think about, such as pill pockets, flavoured toothpastes and previously used toothbrushes that could have remnants left between the bristles, flavoured medications/supplements, and/or toys that may have previously been exposed to allergens.

What happens after a food trial?

Once a food trial has been conducted and the animal has responded favourably with a reduction in the clinical signs of food allergies previously exhibited (ie. itching, licking and/or ear/skin infections), we can slowly start to reintroduce regular foods. By adding in ingredients one at a time over a period of weeks, we can determine which ingredients the dog or cat reacts to.

In conclusion…

When managing a pet that has potential allergies, it can feel like a long process. Whether a food trial is in order, or the doctor recommends other testing, the key thing to remember is that we are doing this to help make our pet feel better. Allergies can be a frustrating and (sometimes) expensive condition to get a handle on, but at the end of the day, our pet will feel much better once they are diagnosed and eating the appropriate diet. The future should hold a lot less itching and licking – and, of course, a lot more cuddles as your dog or cat will be feeling infinitely better!

Thank you for reading and we would love to hear about any experiences you have had in managing a pet with food allergies. Please feel free to comment below, or post any pictures you may have.

Food Allergies on Trial (Part One)

Food Allergies on Trial (Part One)

Food allergies and intolerance seem to be a hot topic these days, both in the human- and pet-world. Various buzzwords like grain-free and gluten-free have become part of our daily lives. But what are food allergies, really? And how do we know if our pet has one? Should we really be spending all this money on specialty foods that don’t contain this but do contain that? Well, here is the low-down on food allergies in dogs and cats, straight from the doctors here at Snelgrove Vet Services.

What are food allergies?

Food allergies can range from mild to severe and are identified as an abnormal immune response to certain ingredients found within a food.

What are signs of food allergies?

In both dogs and cats, the most common sign of a food allergy is itching and licking at their skin continuously. An important distinguishing feature of food allergies over seasonal allergies is that food allergies are present year-round, whereas seasonal allergies tend to flare up only at certain times of the year. Another symptom typically seen in dogs with food allergies is frequent ear infections. In some cases, ear infections can be the only sign of a food allergy being present. In other cases, food allergies may present as gastrointestinal upsets (ie. vomiting and/or diarrhea).

What are the most common foods to cause allergies in our pets and how can they be diagnosed?  

Cats and dogs most commonly suffer from food allergies to proteins, but other ingredients can also cause a reaction. In dogs, we typically see allergies to beef, chicken, corn, dairy, egg, soy and wheat. Meanwhile cats commonly react to beef, dairy and fish.

Woody

This is Woody, a 6 year old Boston Terrier. He has suffered from food allergies since he was 1 year old.

While serology testing and skin patch tests are available, the most effective way to diagnose a food allergy in a pet is to conduct a food trial.

What are food trials and how are they helpful?

Essentially, a food trial is a restricted diet for a dog or cat that includes ingredients that the animal has not previously been exposed to. Food trials are a very helpful diagnostic tool for several reasons. Once all ingredients that may be causing a food allergy are eliminated, the animal should begin to feel better as the symptoms associated with the allergy resolve. Additionally, the doctor is also able to determine whether the allergy is specifically food related, or if there are perhaps environmental allergies to consider as well. And finally, once symptoms have resolved and regular foods can begin to be re-introduced, it is much easier to determine which is the offending ingredient.

 IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT IF DURING THE TRIAL, THE PET RECEIVES ANY TREAT, SNACK, RAWHIDES, PIG EARS, HUMAN FOOD, FLAVOURED SUPPLEMENTS, ACCESS TO SCRAPS OR GARBAGE, THIS WILL MEAN THAT THE TRIAL HAS FAILED

In summary…

This week we have covered food allergies and food trials. Stay tuned for next week’s discussion on types of diets used in food trials and what happens after a food trial has been completed.

Woody 2

Luckily for Woody, his family was able to find an appropriate diet to help his allergies – a low fat kangaroo food!

As always, we would love to hear from our readers and clients alike. Have you ever had a pet that suffered from food allergies? Have you ever conducted a food trial, and, if so, how did it go?