Docusate (Colace®) for Dogs and Cats

Overview of Docusate Sodium (Colace®) for Canines and Felines

  • Docusate sodium is commonly known as Colace® and is used as a laxative to treat constipation for dogs and cats. Docusate sodium is commonly shorted and simply called “Docusate”.
  • Docusate sodium belongs to the class of drugs known as stimulant laxatives.  Docusate salts work by reducing surface tension which allows water and fat to interact with food in the stomach and feces which results in softening the stool.
  • Docusate sodium is available without a prescription but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian. Some pets will appear to strain which can look like constipation but is actually can be a life-threatening urinary obstruction or colitis.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.

Brand Names and Other Names of Docusate Sodium

  • Human formulations: There are several different trade name products for docusate. Two common ones are Colace® (sodium salt) and Surfak® (calcium salt).
  • Veterinary formulations include:

o   Docusate Sodium Enema Dioctynate®

o   Docusate Sodium Enema: Pet-Enema®, Enema SA®, Docu-Soft® Enema

o   Docusate sodium oral liquid under various names.

Uses of Docusate Sodium for Dogs and Cats

  •  Docusate Sodium is used to stimulate bowel movements in animals with constipation or when there is a need to empty the large intestine for surgery or for diagnostic procedures such as colonoscopy.

Precautions and Side Effects

  •   While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, docusate sodium can cause side effects in some animals.
  •   Docusate sodium should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  •   Docusate sodium should not be used in animals with gastrointestinal obstructions, rectal bleeding or a tear in the intestinal wall (perforation).
  •   Docusate sodium may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with Docusate sodium. Such drugs include certain antacids. Diarrhea, cramping and nausea may be seen after the drug is given.

How Docusate Sodium Is Supplied

  • Docusate sodium is available in 100 oral mg tablets, 50 mg, 100 mg, and 250 mg Oral Capsules & Soft-gel Capsules, 50 mg/5 mL Oral Syrup/Liquid, and 240 mg capsules.
  • Docusate Sodium is available in various enema type solutions including 250 mg in 12 mL syringes and 5% water miscible solution in 1-gallon containers.

Dosing Information of Docusate Sodium for Dogs and Cats

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • Docusate sodium should be given on an empty stomach or at least one hour before eating or two hours after eating.
  • In dogs, the dose most commonly used varies depending on the size of the dog.
    • Small dogs – 25 to 50 mg/dog every 12 to 24 hours (once to twice daily)
    • Medium sized dogs – 50 to 100 mg/dog every 12 to 24 hours (once to twice daily)
    • Large dogs – 100 to 200 mg dog every 12 to 24 hours (once to twice daily)
    • Doses up to 250 mg once daily has been documented for us in giant breed large dogs.
  • In cats, the dose most commonly used is 50 mg per cat once daily.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.

References:

  • Plumb’s Veterinary Handbook by Donald C. Plumb, 8th Edition
  • Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Ettinger & Felman
  • Current Veterinary Therapy XV, Bonagura and Twedt
  • ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline
  • Pet Poison Helpline
  • Blikslager, A. & S. Jones. Obstructive disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Equine Internal Medicine 2nd Ed. S. Reed, W. Bayly and D. Sellon. Philadelphia, Saunders. 2004.

 

German Shepherds – Choosing a German Shepherd

Choosing A German Shepherd

Since his rise to movie fame in the early 1920s, the German shepherd has become a favorite breed for families, law enforcement, and the disabled. Also known as the Alsatian, the German shepherd has consistently been one of the top 10 companion dogs in the United States and is a member of the “herding” class. Despite the similarity in appearance to the wolf, the German shepherd is a loyal, faithful and devoted human companion and, with proper training, can perform nearly any task. The German Shepherd is commonly abbreviated as GSD by veterinary staff. German Shepherds currently rank as the second most popular dog breed!

History and Origin of German Shepherd Dogs

Prior to the late 1800s, sheep herding dogs were randomly bred, and only those that worked well were selected. As the 20th century approached, a strict breeding program was undertaken in Germany to develop the current randomly bred shepherd dog into a more uniform herding dog with versatility and intelligence. The newly developed German shepherd breed progressed and gained in popularity until the early 1900s. When World War I broke out in 1914, all things German became taboo; even German language courses were dropped from school curriculums. The fate of the German shepherd dog was in doubt. In order to save the breed, the American Kennel Club, which had registered the breed in 1912, temporarily changed the name to the shepherd dog. After the war, however, the original name was reinstated. In Britain, the name was changed to the Alsatian, although the German shepherd dog name was finally reinstated in 1979.

In the 1950s and 60s, Americans became interested in the German shepherd dog, and large numbers were imported. A syndicated television show and a number of movies starring Rin Tin Tin, a descendant of the canine movie star from the 1920s helped spur the renewed interest.

Over the years, German shepherds have become useful as guide dogs for the blind, deaf and other handicapped individuals because of their intelligence, trainability, well-rounded temperament, as well as their ability to get along well with people. The military and police force employ the breed for scent-discrimination to track criminals, drugs, weapons, bombs, and to find people buried in debris caused by earthquakes or other disasters.

Appearance and Size of German Shepherds

The German shepherd dog is medium to large size with erect pointed ears, a long body, and a weather resistant coat. A thick, stiff outer coat covered by a softer inner one makes the German shepherd readily able to withstand extreme climates. The most popular colors are black and tan or a mixture with a dark saddle. White shepherds are not acceptable colors for showing but are becoming popular pets.

The German shepherd dog is typically 22 to 26 inches from the ground to the top of the shoulder. The normal adult weight is 75 to 90 pounds.

Personality of German Shepherds

The German shepherd dog is very intelligent, easy to train, powerful and elegant. Though not overly affectionate, shepherds are loyal and faithful. The breed is renowned as a police dog and is often used in search and rescue missions. The German shepherd is also a popular companion dog, family member, assistance dog and guard dog. Male and female German Shepherds tend to be dominate in nature, especially when left intact. Of course, each dog is different, so you’ll need to allow room for change. When you bring home a German Shepherd, you’ll need to be prepared to be the alpha in your household.

Males who have not been neutered tend to be more dominant and high-spirited. Once they get to their ‘teenage’ stage of six months and beyond, they will attempt to dominate other dogs, and will often try to dominate you, thus the need for your to be the alpha of your household. Females, on the other hand, tend to be a little more protective of their family. Typically, females tend to mature earlier than males making their training sometimes easier than that of their male counterparts. But once again, every dog is different.

German Shepherds can make wonderful family companions, but they need a strong leader and lots of exercise time. Unfortunately, due to mishandling, German Shepherds have become a common appearance on banned breed lists. These lists can determine which dogs you can have in your household in certain communities and living situations; they can also negatively affect your insurance rates and premiums. Reading up on banned breeds can help you better prepare for these eventualities.

Home and Family Relations

Due to their tolerant nature, German shepherds are excellent pets for children and are natural protectors. With proper training, the shepherd is an effective and imposing guard dog.

Training of German Shepherd Dogs

Training should begin early in life. Untrained shepherds have a tendency to be difficult to handle and control. Since shepherds are intelligent and eager to learn, they can be trained to do a variety of tasks. They perform well in sentry duty, police work, tracking, obedience, search and rescue as well as assistance dogs for the disabled. Originally trained as a herder, the breed is still used in this capacity in some areas.

Special Care

Daily grooming will help keep their coat clean and healthy. Also, preventative care to help ward off common breed diseases and disorders. Discuss the best route for preventative care with your vet today to find the right regimen for your German Shepherd.

Famous German Shepherds

Strongheart

This pup was one of the first dog film stars. Strongheart, whose given name was Etzel von Oringer, has multiple film credits to his name including The Silent Call, Brawn of the North, and The Return of Boston Blackie.

Rin Tin Tin

After being rescued from the battlefield during WWI, this Hollywood pup was featured in over 25 films in his lifetime and was considered one of Hollywood’s elite in the 1920s. To this day, most people still know the name Rin Tin Tin.

Abbey

In a more recent hit, I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, Abbey the German Shepherd can be seen battling zombies and taking names. Though a backup dog, Kona, was sometimes used, Abbey carried the majority of this movie on her four paws.

Celebrities with German Shepherds

It’s no surprise that many people, including the stars love German Shepherds. Here’s a list of some of the top A-listers who spend their days with a German Shepherd by their side.

  • Tom Hanks
  • Ben Affleck
  • Nikki Reed
  • Reese Witherspoon

Common Diseases and Disorders of German Shepherd Dogs

Even though the German shepherd dog is a strong muscular breed, they may be prone to a variety of ailments.

Chihuahuas – Choosing a Chihuahua

Choosing a Chihuahua

Chihuahua’s are among the smallest breed of dogs standing at a mere 6-9 inches and are thought by many to originate centuries ago in Mexico. Treated as a sacred dog and even thought to help passage into the afterlife, the Chihuahua has always been a significant part of the family. They’re the 30th most popular breed of dog according the AKC’s breed rankings.

History and Origin

The exact origin of the Chihuahua is unknown but many believe that its ancestors were an important part of the Toltecs, an ancient Mexican civilization existing as early as the 9th century. The Toltecs named the breed “Techichi.” After the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, the breed flourished for centuries. It was so revered that archeologists have found dogs in ancient graves. In 1520, Hernando Cortes conquered Mexico and little record was left of the Chihuahua. For several centuries, the breed was lost to history.

In the late 1800s, the breed was rediscovered and named ‘Chihuahua’ after the northern Mexican state where many statues of the breed were first found. Later, it was determined that a majority of the relics associated with the Chihuahua were found near Mexico City, but by then the name was established.

Appearance and Size

The Chihuahua is one of the smallest dogs. The breed is known for a rounded, apple shaped head with erect, pointed ears. The Chihuahua has either a short smooth hair coat or a long and soft coat. Almost any color is possible. In Mexico, the black and tan version as well as the black and white variety are popular. In the United States, the solid colored dogs are preferred.

The Chihuahua stands about 6 to 9 inches at the shoulder and weighs 2 to 5 pounds.

Personality

The Chihuahua is an active dog. Though not very sociable with other breeds, the Chihuahua seems to be able to recognize other Chihuahuas and enjoys their company. As a devoted family pet, the breed tends to be a little jealous when their owner spends time with other people. Sometimes this jealousy can create problems since the breed can also be jealous of larger dogs.

Home and Family Relations

Due to their small size, the Chihuahua is perfect for the apartment dweller and does well with the elderly. They tend not to do well with children or other pets, since they do not tolerate rough play.

The Chihuahua is well known as a loving, devoted and loyal family pet. Despite their size, the Chihuahua will alert to strangers but isn’t big enough to follow through.

Training

Chihuahuas need to be socialized early in life to prevent behavior problems or aggression. The breed can also be paper-trained, which means the dog never having to leave the house.

Special Concerns

The long-haired Chihuahua tends to require daily grooming to prevent mats and tangles. Due to their head shape, the Chihuahua has a soft spot in the center of the head. For this reason, the head should be protected to prevent damage to this area.

The Chihuahua should be protected from cold weather.

Famous Chihuahuas

Gidget the Taco Bell Chihuahua: Depending on your age, you might remember the Taco Bell commercials that were in heavy rotation during the late 90s. Gidget would later go on to star in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.

Bruiser Woods: In both Legally Blonde movies, Reese Witherspoon has a pet Chihuahua named Bruiser Woods.

Boo Boo: With a size of 4 inches tall and 24 ounces, Boo Boo holds the Guinness Book record for being the smallest dog.

Ren Höek: Ren, one of the two main characters in the hit 90’s show Ren and Stimpy, was a Chihuahua.

Celebrities with Chihuahuas

With their compact size and adorable little eyes, Chihuahuas make for an easy-upkeep dog that’s simply adorable. Some celebrities that have also had Chihuahuas include:

  • Paris Hilton has two Chihuahua that have both been featured in tabloids and reality televisions. There names are Tinkerbell and Bambi.
  • Sharon Osbourne has a Chihuahua named Mimi.
  • Cesar Millan, aka the Dog Whisperer, has a Chihuahua named Coco.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the Chihuahua is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

Hydrocephalus is a neurological disease in which there is excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricular system of the brain.

Hypoglycemia is a disorder associated with dangerously low blood sugar levels.

Luxating patellas, also known as loose kneecaps, can cause pain or lameness.

Basset Hounds – Choosing a Basset Hound – Dog Breeds

Made popular by the “Hush Puppy” shoe advertisements, the basset hound is one of the most recognizable dogs in the United States. A droopy faced sad looking dog, and loveable but stubborn, the basset is an excellent hunter with scenting ability second only to the bloodhound. Basset hounds have some unique characteristics that set them apart from the rest.

 

History and Origin

The basset hound is thought to have descended from the old St. Hubert hounds of France. The friars of the French Abbey in St. Hubert needed a dog that could hunt badgers and, through careful and selective breeding, developed the ancestors of the basset hound we know today. Bred to be low to the ground, the dog was called “basset” from the French word “bas” which means low.

 

The breed was not known anywhere but in France until the mid-1800s. At that point, the basset was imported to England and slowly gained popularity through the world. In 1885, the basset was accepted to the American Kennel Club.

 

Appearance and Size

The basset is a medium sized dog with long, pendulous ears that puppies tend to trip over. The muzzle is also long and the skin loose and wrinkled. The hair coat is short and comes in a variety of colors – most often a combination of black, brown and white. The legs are short and often quite crooked and angular in appearance with big feet.

 

To say basset hounds sport a distinctive look is an understatement. With stubby legs, an elongated torso, loose skin, long ears, and a deceptively sad face, bassets truly stand out among the canine masses. It’s no wonder the likeness of these unique hounds is often featured on greeting cards. Despite their short stature, bassets are extremely sturdy, as their leg bones are the heaviest of any breed. Fittingly, “basset” means “low slung” in French – this breed’s country of origin. The adult basset stands around 14 inches at the shoulder and weighs 40 to 50 pounds. But the breed is prone to obesity, meaning that a basset hound can really hack on the pounds.

 

Personality

Bassets are a gentle and loving breed but can be quite stubborn. They are known for having a strong will and, if reprimanded, may even sulk. Bassets are rarely nervous or high strung, and aggression is uncommon. Training a basset is harder than some other dogs due to their strong nose and personality. Getting a basset’s attention to train will take some serious work. But once you’ve put in the time to find the right treat or lure that can get your basset’s nose off the ground and focus on you then these dogs will soak up what you teach them. Basset hounds are highly intelligent and like to have a job to perform. Another struggle that you might contend with during training is over barking or baying. Like most other hounds, bassets have a strong and distinct bay. Without training, this habit could turn irksome.

 

Home and Family Relations

The basset’s naturally placid and calm demeanor makes him great with children. They may look like lazy dogs, but they are quite energetic and have no trouble keeping up with active children. Though their lack of aggression makes them poor guard dogs, their bark is very penetrating and can scare off potential intruders. BUt make sure that you keep small hands away from their ears. While a basset will probably lay there and let your child tug on its long, soft ears, they won’t be enjoying it.

 

Training

Bassets are excellent hunters, and their hunting instincts may take over and distract them from the task at hand. They are commonly used to hunt rabbits in the United States but are also used to flush out badgers, foxes, raccoons, opossums, pheasants, and squirrels. Even though they excel in training as hunters, bassets don’t do too well with obedience. Their stubborn nature takes over. Above all else, they would rather be hunting. See our notes above in the personality section for more insight on training this unusual breed.

 

Special Concerns

Basset hounds require open spaces and plenty of exercise to prevent behavioral problems. Hunter at heart, bassets should not be allowed to roam free. If they see a squirrel or rabbit, they lose sight of everything else and consequently have the potential to get injured, especially when chasing across a busy street. If kept confined to a small area outdoors, the basset will likely dig his way out of the enclosure.

Beagles

The beagle is a compact little rabbit hunter, one of the smallest members of the hound group that relies on scent to find his quarry. Though the precise origin of the beagle is unknown, the breed seems to have been a favorite human companion and vigorous rabbit hunter for centuries. Since the 1950s, the beagle has consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most loved breeds in the United States. In modern times the beagle has become popular due to its large brown eye, playful demeanor, and boundless energy. The beagle has been one of the top breeds based on the American Kennel Club (AKC) tallies for years. And due to the popularity of films such as John Wick, Inspector Gadget, and Shiloh more and more prospective pet owners and thinking of adding a beagle to the family. Below is a full profile of the beagle breed that includes the benefits and challenges that come with this loveable hound.

History and Origin of the Beagle

Though extensively researched, the origins of the beagle can only be traced back to the mid-19th century, though a beagle-like hound was used to hunt rabbits in the 14th century. The origin of the name “beagle” is likewise obscured by history; some believe the word comes from the Old English word “begele,” or the Celtic “beag,” both of which mean small. Despite a limited recorded history, it is generally believed that the beagle is one of the oldest breeds and is one of the breeds closest in appearance to the original hounds.

The breed was developed in the British Isles. Besides being favored as a rabbit hunter, the beagle was a favorite breed of Queen Elizabeth. It belongs to a group of hunting dogs known as scent hounds, which use scent to search and find their prey.

The beagle was officially recognized by the British Kennel Club in 1873 and brought to the United States. The National Beagle Club was formed in 1888. The American Kennel Club recognizes the beagle as a member of the hound group.

Unfortunately, because of their compact size and friendly temperament, the beagle has been one of the most popular dog breeds to be used in medical research.

Appearance and Size of Beagles

Beagles are small, short-haired hounds with long ears that lie against the head. The coat colors are a combination of tan, black and white. As with most hounds, the eyes of the beagle are soft and pleading.

The adult beagle is a small breed and, in the United States, is divided into two size categories, 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder and under 13 inches at the shoulder. In England, there is only one class, with a maximum height of 16 inches. Beagles average between 18 to 30 pounds.

Personality of Beagles

Friendly and lovable, the beagle’s tail is perpetually wagging. The breed is not aggressive but, with his baying bark, will alert the homeowner of intruders. They are intelligent, good-natured, and docile companions. Read below in the Special Care section to read more about the care and attention this special breed requires.

Home and Family Relations in Beagles

Beagles are excellent choices for families with children. The breed’s easygoing nature makes them tolerant family members that love to participate in games. Beagles do not enjoy being left alone for extended periods of time. They can easily become frustrated and bored, leading to behavior problems, including destructive behavior and excessive baying.

Training your Beagle

In general, the breed does well in obedience training, but some find the beagle somewhat stubborn. Beagles can also be easily distracted by their strong sense of smell while training, making capturing their attention very difficult. Additionally, some have trouble with housebreaking. Lastly, you will need to pay special attention to vocal training to keep your beagle from barking and baying at visitors, other pets, and outside interests.

Grooming your Beagle

Due to their short hair coat, beagles do not require special grooming. They should be bathed regularly, and their nails will need to be trim consistently. Due to their long ears, beagles are prone to ear infections and ear-related issues. Make sure that you and cleaning your beagle’s ears regularly.

Special Care for Beagles

Beagles love to hunt. This results in a strong desire to dig, which can be problematic for some homeowners and gardeners. Some beagles tend to be quite vocal and, if not given appropriate home care, may excessively bark. On the plus side, they don’t drool, shed little, and they have minimal doggy odor.

Autopsy – Post Mortem Exam – Necropsy in Cats

After a pet family member passes away, pet owners are sometimes left wondering why the pet died and whether anything could have been done to save him/her. A post-mortem exam is a very informative service that may be available to you through your veterinarian. Although it is minimally traumatic and often overlooked or frequently declined, this service can provide a wealth of information for you as a pet owner and for your veterinarian.

Autopsy refers to an examination of a deceased human. When the examination is done on a deceased non-human animal, the procedure is called a “necropsy.” Your family veterinarian or a veterinary pathologist can perform a general necropsy. For in-depth microscopic tissue examination, a veterinary pathologist should be consulted.

In a necropsy a single incision along the center of the abdomen and chest similar to the type used to perform abdominal surgery. The internal organs are examined for signs of disease or injury, and biopsy specimens are removed from various organs and submitted for analysis by a veterinary pathologist. If cause of death can be determined based on examination of the internal organs, tissue samples may not be submitted. After internal examination and biopsies, the incision is sutured.

The most difficult organs to evaluate are the brain and spinal cord. More invasive procedures must be done to examine these organs. Because of this, sometimes the brain and spinal cord are not examined.
Information obtained from a necropsy can be invaluable. Finding the cause of death can help ease the mind of some owners, may prevent future deaths and may even help in the treatment and care of other pets afflicted with the same disease or injury.

Rabies Vaccine Recommendations in Dogs

Rabies is a highly fatal viral infection of the nervous system that affects all warm-blooded animal species, including humans. The virus is most often transmitted from one animal to another through bite wounds. It then travels up through nerves, the spinal cord and eventually the brain. Once in the brain, the signs of rabies occur. Once the virus reaches the brain, death usually occurs within 10 days; it can take weeks to months for the virus to reach the brain, however.

Signs include:

  • Aggression
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Abnormal mental status
  • Seizure
  • Drooling ( the muscles of the throat are paralyzed and the animal cannot swallow)
  • Once signs of rabies develop, there is no cure and the disease is fatal. For this reason, reducing the potential risk of rabies in our companion pets is very important. It is so important that vaccinating your pet for rabies is required by law.

    Each state has its own laws governing the frequency of administration of the rabies vaccine, but all agree that the first vaccine should be given around 24-26 weeks of age. A booster injection one year later is necessary. After that, laws vary and some areas require annual rabies vaccination. Other areas allow vaccine every three years.

    In order to prove the pet was vaccinated against rabies, many areas require the pet to wear a rabies tag on his collar and for the owner to maintain a rabies certificate. Rabies vaccine is to be given according to the vaccine manufacturers recommendation, either subcutaneously or in a muscle. The vaccine should be delivered by a veterinarian or under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. 

    The purpose of the rabies vaccination is to help your pet fight off a rabies infection if he should be exposed to the virus. The vaccine is not a cure for rabies and pets vaccinated against rabies can still become infected with the virus. After initial vaccination, it takes about one month before the peak levels of rabies antibodies is reached and the pet is considered immunized for rabies.

    If you adopt an adult dog without an accurate vaccination history, initial rabies vaccine should be administered with a follow up vaccine one year later. After that, local laws regarding frequency of vaccination apply.

    Is Your Dog Too Fat?

    Diet and nutritional status are crucial to your dog’s general health. Unfortunately, many pets are overweight – much like their owners. And – like their owners – pets are not as healthy when they are carrying too much weight. Chubby dogs often suffer from arthritis and heart disease. If you are concerned that your pet is overweight, here are some ways you can evaluate your pet’s body condition.

    • Body fat. Stand behind him and place your thumbs on the spine midway down the back. Fan out your fingers and spread them over the ribs. With your thumbs lightly pressing on the spine and fingers on the ribs, slide your hands gently up and down.

     

    • In normal dogs there is a thin layer of fat. You can feel the ribs easily, although you won’t see them. If your dog is overweight, you will not be able to readily feel the ribs, and the tissue over the ribs may feel smooth and wavy.
    • Appearance. Normal dogs have an hourglass appearance. Fat dogs have abdomens protruding from the sides, as well as enlarged fatty areas on either side of the tail base and over the hips. A fatty area may also be present on the neck and front of the chest. When obese dogs walk, they may have a classic waddle.

     

    • If you feel that your dog is obese, contact your veterinarian. Tests may need to be performed to eliminate underlying disease as a cause of the obesity. In addition, your veterinarian can help you improve your dog’s body condition and overall health.

     

    Dangerous Foods: What is Harmful to Your Dog?

    Most Dangerous Human Foods to Dogs

    Americans spend over $10 billion dollars a year on food for our pets. Despite buying the best food available, some pets would rather eat what we eat. However, certain foods can be dangerous to your pet, causing varying degrees of illness. Some food is toxic due to ingredients and some by improper cooking, storage or poor hygiene.

    Alcoholic Beverages. Ethanol is the component in alcoholic beverages that can be toxic when an excessive amount is ingested. Pets are much smaller than us and can be highly affected by small amounts of alcohol. Exercise caution when drinks and pets are together. Toxicity can cause a wide variety of signs and symptoms and may result in death. Signs may include odor of alcohol on the animal’s breath, staggering, behavioral changes, excitement, depression, increased urination, slowed respiratory rate or cardiac arrest and death.

    Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plums. Ingestion of large amounts of stems, seeds and leaves of these fruits can be toxic. They contain a cyanide type compound and signs of toxicity include apprehension, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation and shock.

    Avocados. The leaves, fruit, bark and seeds of avocados have all been reported to be toxic. The toxic component in the avocado is “persin,” which is a fatty acid derivative. Symptoms of toxicity include difficulty breathing, abdominal enlargement, abnormal fluid accumulations in the chest, abdomen and sac around the heart. The amount that needs to be ingested to cause signs is unknown. Do not feed your pet any component of the avocado.

    Baking Powder and Baking Soda. Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents. A leavening agent is a common ingredient in baked goods that produces a gas causing batter and dough to rise. Baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder consists of baking soda and an acid, usually cream of tartar, calcium acid phosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate or a mixture of the three. Ingestion of large amounts of baking soda or baking powder can lead to electrolyte abnormalities (low potassium, low calcium and/or high sodium), congestive heart failure or muscle spasms.

    Chocolate. Chocolate, in addition to having a high-fat content, contains caffeine and theobromine. These two compounds are nervous system stimulants and can be toxic to your dog in high amounts. The levels of caffeine and theobromine vary between different types of chocolate. For example, white chocolate has the lowest concentration of stimulants and baking chocolate or cacao beans have the highest concentration.

    Depending on the type of chocolate ingested and the amount eaten, various problems can occur. The high-fat content in chocolate may result in vomiting and possibly diarrhea. Once toxic levels are eaten, the stimulant effect becomes apparent. You may notice restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination and possibly excessive panting. Heart rate and blood pressure levels may also increase. Seizure activity may occur in severe cases.

    Coffee (grounds and beans). Dogs that eat coffee grounds or beans can get “caffeine” toxicity. The symptoms are very similar to those of chocolate toxicity and can be just as or even more serious.

    Fatty Foods. Rich and fatty food are favorites of dogs. They often get them as treats, leftovers or from getting into the trash. These fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can affect any pet but miniature or toy poodles, cocker spaniels, and miniature schnauzers are particularly prone. Signs of pancreatitis generally include an acute onset of vomiting, sometimes diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is often evidenced by hunched posture or “splinting” of the abdomen when picked up. The dog may become very sick quickly and often needs intensive fluid and antibiotic therapy.

    Dairy Products. Human dairy products are not highly dangerous but can pose problems for two reasons. One is their high-fat content and like other foods with high-fat content, there is a risk of pancreatitis. The second reason is that pets poorly digest dairy products since they lack the enzyme required to digest lactose. This affects some pets more than others and can cause gas to diarrhea.

    Small amounts of plain yogurt or cheese are tolerated by most dogs but it is probably safest to avoid dairy products altogether. There is a lactose-free milk product available that pose no risk to dogs, such as Milk-O-Pet.

    Grapes and Raisins. So far, about 10 dogs poisoned by grapes and raisins have been officially reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. The number of grapes or raisins ingested has been between 9 ounces to 2 pounds, and dogs ingesting these large amounts have developed kidney failure. Aggressive, and sometimes prolonged, treatment may be necessary to give the affected dog a chance at survival; without treatment death is possible. Despite testing, the reason for the kidney failure and the amount necessary for toxicity remains unknown. For now, any dog that ingests large amounts of grapes or raisins should be treated aggressively, so contact your veterinarian immediately if ingestion has occurred.

    The Risks of Secondhand Smoke in Cats

    Understanding the Effect of Tobacco Smoke on Cats

    Much press has been given to the effects of secondhand smoke on people, but what, if any, is the effect on our cats? Recent studies have shown that cats are at risk as well.

    Environmental tobacco smoke or secondhand smoke is composed of the smoke exhaled from a smoker as well as the smoke released from the end of a burning cigarette, pipe or cigar. It consists of more than 4,000 chemicals including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, chromium, nickel, vinyl chloride and arsenic.

    Scientific evidence carefully collected over the last 40 years shows that people repeatedly exposed to environmental tobacco smoke are more likely to develop and die from heart problems, lung cancer and breathing problems. Unfortunately, extensive studies have not been done in pets but recent research has revealed some startling information about secondhand smoke and our feline companions. Based on a 7-year study at Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine, cats in smoking households seem to be at a much higher risk of developing lymphoma, a type of cancer, than cats that live in smoke-free environments. This study revealed that cats that live in homes with one smoker have twice the risk of developing lymphoma and cats that live in households with two or more smokers have 4 times the risk. Also, cats that are exposed to a smoking environment for over 5 years and those that live in households with over 100 cigarettes smoked per day are also at a significantly higher risk. The exact cause of this increased risk of lymphoma is not known.

    New studies suggest that cats are also at increased risk of feline oral squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) when exposed to environments with tobacco smoke. It has been suggested this may result from smoke and nicotine residue landing on the pet’s fur and the fastidious nature of cats groom off that residue thus having oral exposure to the carcinogens.

    In addition to an increased risk of developing cancer, cats that live in smoking environments are also predisposed to lung disease and eye irritation. Although secondhand smoke alone has not been shown to cause the lung disease or eye irritation, the primary culprit is thought to be chronic exposure to smoke in poorly ventilated areas. Unfortunately, many of the harmful products in smoke are in the form of gas. Therefore, environmental tobacco smoke cannot be entirely filtered out through ventilation systems or special fans. It can take many hours for the smoke of a single cigarette to clear.

    Tips for Minimizing Risk of Tobacco Smoke on Cats

    If you are a smoker and your cats are exposed to second-hand smoke, this might be a good reason to stop. Or…consider smoking outside. If neither of these are options, you might consider having smoke-free areas in the house to which your cats can escape. Regular brushing and grooming help to remove the smoke residue form their hair. This is especially important in cats that are likely to groom, lick and ingest the residue on their coats. Air purifiers may also be helpful. Some veterinarians suggest at vitamin C and other anti-oxidants to minimize the cancer generating effects. See your veterinarian to determine if these are good options for your cat.

    By the way, did you know E-Cigarette (Vaping) can also be toxic to cats? Learn more.