The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that 2017 will be the worst flea and tick season in years, due to a number of environmental factors. It’s important for dog and cat owners to keep an eye on their pets, since these tiny creatures could potentially harm our furry friends.
Due to a fairly mild winter, the Northeast will experience a particularly bad tick season. Warmer temperatures mean not only will more ticks survive and reproduce, but the animals that ticks rely on for food sources like mice, deer, and other animals will be more available. Another reason 2017 will see a tick population increase is that there was a mice population surge in 2016. Felicia Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College, and Rick Ostfeld, an ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, have developed a way of predicting cases of Lyme disease in a given year by looking at the mice population of the previous year. The population of mice directly correlates to the number of Lyme cases because mice carry the disease, and ticks feed on the mice and spread it.
The most well-known disease carried by ticks may be Lyme, which can infect both dogs and humans. Most of the time a rash forms around the tick bite, but not always. Eventually, fever, headache, and lethargy appear followed by more serious symptoms like inability to move parts of the face, joint pains, heart palpitations, and memory problems. Lyme is spread by blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, as well as western blacklegged ticks. Another well-known disease that is spread through ticks is Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Symptoms include headaches, lethargy, abdominal pain, and vomiting. It can be severe and fatal if it isn’t treated within a few days. The disease is spread by the American dog tick, the brown dog tick, and the Rocky Mountain wood tick.
Those who live near wooded areas, especially those in the northeast and Great Lakes areas, as well as marshy areas near oceans and other bodies of water should be careful. Instances of Lyme disease have gone up in the past several years, and this year will likely be even worse. When your dog goes out or if you go for a walk, always check for ticks when they come back inside.
Even though the Northeast is at a higher risk than the rest of the country, everyone across the United States should check themselves and their pets for ticks after spending time outdoors. For extra protection, arm your pets with a flea and tick treatment.
Contact Bark & Purr to learn about our line of flea & tick products or to schedule a flea & tick treatment.
Our pets love summer just as much as we do! For many, it’s the best time of year to be out, about, and enjoying all that the season has to offer. While dog parents are encouraged to take their pets out for picnics, hikes, swimming, or running, keep in mind that warm weather potentially be dangerous.
As the weather warms up, keep these six summer safety tips for dogs to keep them cool this summer:
The problem is that some of your favorite foods are simply no good for your canine companion.
Your dog likes snacks, and you like snacks, and you like to share your snacks with your dog. Who can resist those puppy-dog eyes? Unfortunately, just as your dog can eat certain things that aren’t good for you, many of the things you eat are not good for your dog. To avoid a sick tummy, an emergency visit to the veterinary clinic or worse, take a look at this list of foods that are bad for your pooch.
You already know that chocolate is bad for dogs, right?
Theobromine is a chemical that is related to caffeine, and it is found in tea and chocolate. It is poisonous to many types of animals, including dogs and cats. Most pet parents are aware that chocolate isn’t good for their dogs, even if they’ve never heard of the toxin itself.
Some people will tell you that the risk of theobromine poisoning is overstated, and that chocolate isn’t really all that dangerous, especially to larger dogs. Your candy bar probably has about an eighth of the theobromine compared to a similar quantity of baking chocolate. White chocolate has less still.
The danger is calculated by body weight. If your Wolfhound has snuck a bit of chocolate cake or the half-dozen chocolate chips that fell on the floor while you were baking, he’s probably going to be okay. If your Yorkie gorged herself on chocolate bonbons, get her to the vet. If she ate enough of it, it could kill her. (Baltazar, undated)
SWEETS AND CHEWING GUM:
Xylitol is a sweetener used in some kinds of candies, chewing gums, and specialty dental products. It’s found naturally in many food plants, although commercial xylitol is usually made from corn husks and Dupont Chemical makes theirs from hardwood. This sweetener is generally considered safe for human consumption. However, it is very poisonous to dogs. This stuff can kill Fido, so if he’s gotten into some, take him to the veterinary hospital or emergency clinic immediately. (Xylitol.org, 2010; and Daniluk, 2011)
Over the long term or in very high doses, onions cause damage to the red blood cells in dogs and cats. This is true of the entire onion family, including leeks, chives, shallots, and so on. Lilies, daffodils, tulips and the like are also best kept out of your dog’s reach. Simple version? If the plant grows from a bulb, Fifi and Fido shouldn’t eat it. (ASPCA)
Theobromine in caffeine causes serious problems, in dogs. In fact, when your body processes caffeine, one of the products is theobromine. Keep your dog away from coffee, mocha, cappuccino, coffee-flavoured anything, chocolate-covered coffee beans, energy drinks, and colas. (Gu et al, 1992)
GRAPES AND RAISINS:
Grapes are poisonous to dogs. Unfortunately, we don’t know what exactly the toxin is, or why they cause problems, and therefore it is impossible to predict how many grapes it would take to kill the pet. To be safe, if Rover has eaten any grapes, rush him to the vet. If the vet can treat him before his kidneys are damaged, the dog can often be saved. (McKnight, 2005)
Raisins are nothing more or less than dried grapes, with all the grapey goodness condensed into a tiny packet. It shouldn’t be any surprise that while grapes are bad, raisins are worse.
Macadamia nuts are another odd one. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, dogs are the only animals for which macadamia nuts are poisonous and it isn’t known what makes the nuts dangerous. Usually, macadamias only make the dog sick, but in combination with some chocolate, they can kill him. (Merck)
It shouldn’t be any surprise that alcohol isn’t good for your dog. It’s actually poisonous to us, too, if enough is consumed, and most dogs are smaller than the average adult human.
Certainly, there are some mushrooms that won’t hurt your dog, but mushrooms are tricky. Some species are safe if grown in one are but not safe if they are grown somewhere else, and some are only safe if they are not combined with certain other ingredients. Also, the signs of mushroom poisoning can take a day or more to show up.
Play it safe. Fido’d prefer a piece of that steak to the mushroom sauce on it, anyway.
Avocado poses two risks to dogs. The first one is simply that the pit is large and round. This means that it poses a choking hazard, and, if it is swallowed, it could cause an impaction (“plug”) further along the digestive line.
The second risk is actual poisoning. The plant produces a toxin called “persin” and this is poisonous to many animals. It causes heart damage and all sorts of problems with nursing, a bit of a strange combination. The Merck Veterinary Manual only reports two dogs running into heart problems as a result of persin poisoning, but the risk is there, and not all pet poisonings make it into Merck’s records. Merck is mainly concerned with livestock. Play it safe and keep the guacamole away from Fifi.
STICK TO SAFE FOODS:
Your pooch is a scavenger and he loves to eat anything he even suspects of being food, but keep him safe by sticking to safe foods.
If you want to share bites from your dinner, choose the parts that are good for him: plain rice, cooked meats (without the onion-mushroom sauce, please!), and even honey-glazed carrots are all fine. Even better, give him a yummy dog snack such as a “bacon” treat or a canine cookie.
Keep him healthy, and keep him safe.
Chocolate Toxicity: What To Do If The Dog Finds Your StashAmericans Love Chocolate.........Unfortunately, it can be very dangerous for pets. How much is too much and what should you do if your dog eats chocolate?
HOW MUCH IS SAFE?One of the common questions we receive after a suspected chocolate raid is how much is safe? So long as you know how much was eaten and what sort of chocolate it is, it is relatively easy to work out if your pet is in danger.
The general rule is the darker it is, the more dangerous it is. Dark, bitter baking chocolate can be up to 8 times as toxic as milk chocolate. Milk chocolate is not as toxic as dark chocolate, and white chocolate contains very little of the chemical of concern, which is theobromine.
For a great chocolate calculator visit here. Of course, we need to add in a disclaimer: the calculator is a simplified tool and does not account for any individual variation in sensitivity. In particular an older pet with a heart condition, pancreatitis or kidney problems could be more sensitive to smaller amounts.
When such calculators work out the toxic dose, it is based on the LD50, or the fatal dose that causes 50% of canine patients to suffer a fatal outcome. So if your pet is even close to the dangerous level, err on the side of caution and get them to the vet as soon as possible.
Other factors that may impact your pet include whether there were any other ingredients such as caffeine, sultanas, macadamias and xylitol (also toxic to pets and used as an artificial sweetener). Many pets are very sensitive to rich and fatty foods and will get a nasty bout of pancreatitis or gastroenteritis from overindulging. Also, pets that gobble the whole lot so quickly that they eat wrappers, foil and plastic are more susceptible to a foreign body problem as well.
WHAT DOES CHOCOLATE DO TO DOGS?
Chocolate contains theobromine which is a methylxanthine that stimulates the heart and nervous system while relaxing smooth muscle. The low grade signs of poisoning often include vomiting, diarrhoea, panting, restlessness, hyperactivity and increased heart rate.
At higher doses neurological signs such as tremors, seizures, coma and death can occur. Often it takes a few hours to develop the dangerous symptoms and as theobromide has a long half-life it can take a few days for pets to improve even with treatment.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you have reason to suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, get them to the vet immediately. If there is a chance that the chocolate is still in the stomach, inducing vomiting quickly is cheap, effective and safe. Usually if the consumption was within an hour, inducing vomiting solves the problem. Insider tip: vets don’t mind making chocolate-eaters vomit – it smells so much nicer than the usual vomit!
CAN I MAKE MY DOG VOMIT AT HOME?There are many ways we have heard of to induce vomiting. Unfortunately, some are almost as dangerous as the toxin itself. Get it wrong and you could end up in an even worse situation. So while we don’t recommend inducing vomiting yourself, if there is no way to get to your vet, here are a few precautions:
Lectric Washing Soda
Just make sure you are not using any other washing products besides washing soda (and especially not caustic soda!).
Just use one small crystal for a small dog. The dose is 1cm3 per 20kg, so you don’t need to use much. In fact you don’t even need to make your dog swallow it, just pop it on your dog’s tongue and hold the mouth closed so it dissolves on the tongue.
It should work within 10 minutes, so don’t administer any more if it doesn’t work immediately. If it doesn’t work within 15 minutes, get in the car and get yourself to your vet.
What if my dog ate the chocolate more than an hour ago?
If the ingestion was a while ago, inducing vomiting is probably not going to help. In this case, if you know it is a potentially toxic dose, get your dog to the vet for treatment. If you are not sure the amount eaten, just err on the side of caution and seek treatment.
Just make sure to call your vet and let them know you are on the way so they can prepare for your arrival. They will usually recommend an overnight stay, fluids and monitoring for seizures and heart problems. Chocolate is rarely fatal when treatment is started early.
Dogs have such a wonderful sense of smell and a tendency to be very experimental with what they eat. Read our next blog for more common toxins in pets. And play it safe, keep the chocolate well out of reach.
Stomach upsets are very common in pets. Often, an upset tummy results in mild diarrhoea and perhaps a loss of appetite. But in more serious cases, it can lead to vomiting and dehydration. So when do we worry and what situations warrant an emergency trip to the vet?
Just like humans, dogs and cats occasionally have an upset stomach. Unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us when they have tummy cramps or are feeling nauseous, so it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of an upset stomach:
When to Worry
For a mild stomach upset, your pet may not need to visit the vet, particularly if it lasts less than 24 hours and your cat or dog is otherwise bright and happy. However, if you have an elderly or very young furry family member, they will tend to have more serious problems and get dehydrated and sicker quicker.
When you need to visit the vet immediately:
Dogs are scavengers by nature and love to eat anything and everything off the ground. Cats can do this too, but are generally more discerning than dogs! We have seen dogs that have eaten dead fish, illicit drugs, faeces, mouldy sandwiches and all manner of rancid items without a care in the world. For a mild stomach upset as a result of an adventurous palate, switching to a recovery diet like Hills I/D is ideal until the diarrhoea improves.
If your pet is used to eating one type of food and they get something different, whether that be a different brand of food or some leftovers or treats, it can cause a stomach upset. Some dogs seem to have a cast iron stomach and be fine with lot of variation, but many do better on a consistent diet. If you do change food, we recommend you transition gradually over 7 days. PAW Digesticare probiotic can help with this transition and can also help stop the mild diarrhoea often associated with a diet change.
Food Intolerance or Food Allergy
Pets that have frequent bouts of stomach upsets should visit the vet to rule out a more serious problem. If your vet suspects a food allergy, they may recommend a diet change, whether that be a switch to a better quality diet, one higher in fibre, more digestible, or a diet that uses a different protein source.
Other common causes of an upset stomach include: