Ready or not, fall is approaching. The white pants are put away, the trips to the beach come to a halt, the kids are back in school, and cinnamon spice candles and fall decorations cover the house! Personally, we just love this time of year and the start of the holiday season. With all the allure and beauty of the season, unfortunately, there are some common pet emergencies that I see at my animal hospital. We wanted to take a moment to prepare everyone for common fall pet dangers.
Parties and food
Dogs and cats are used to eating the same food every day. Their gastrointestinal tracts develop natural flora (or bacteria) that specifically digest their regular food. When dogs eat something that they are unaccustomed to, such as nachos and chicken wings, they can develop severe inflammation, vomiting and diarrhea. It can also lead to more serious conditions such as pancreatitis.
In addition to foreign foods, some foods in large quantities are toxic to our pets, such as grapes, onions, garlic and raisins. Some foods can present a risk for choking, such as:
We have surgically removed all of these items, which can be very costly and stressful. Make sure to talk to your guests, especially kids, before parties and remind them not to feed your dogs any food. You want to enjoy the party too, not spend it looking after a pet with an upset stomach.
There are certain types of mushrooms that can be toxic for our dogs, causing:
Amanita phalloides is a mushroom found throughout the United States which can be difficult to identify. We tell our pet parents to avoid all mushrooms and consider them toxic until proven otherwise. Make sure to check your yard for any wild mushrooms, and keep a look out when you take your pets for a walk.
Mothballs contain either paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene, which can cause:
If you use mothballs, please make sure they are well out of the reach of your pets.
Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste and our pets love to lick it. Antifreeze is extremely dangerous if ingested and is one of the most common forms of poisoning in pets. As little as one teaspoon in a cat or a tablespoon or two for dogs, depending on the size of animal, can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy.
There are several different types of chemicals in mouse and rat poisons, all with different active ingredients. Many of these mouse and rat baits are toxic and can be deadly if ingested. If your dog ingests any rodenticides, bring him to your veterinarian immediately. Try and take the label or box that the rodenticide came with so your veterinarian can assess the active ingredient and whether it is toxic. When placing rodenticides, it is imperative to keep them away from your pets!
Compost bins or piles
Piles of decomposing and decaying organic matter and molding food products in your backyard compost pile have the potential to contain "tremorgenic mycotoxins," meaning molds which cause tremors. Even small amounts ingested can result in tremors or seizures within 30 minutes to several hours.
We hope this helps all my pet parents out there be more aware of all the possible fall pet hazards. So get out there with your pets and enjoy the beautiful weather with safety and caution.
Our goal always is to keep our pets safe and healthy. As much as we love seeing them walk in through my doors, we prefer to help avoid "sick" trips to the veterinarian.
Happy fall everyone!
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, many people began social distancing from relatives and investing additional time with pets. Animal shelters reported record numbers of pets going into foster homes, with placement rates from 50 percent to 70 percent, according to the ASPCA and the Best Friends Animal Society. Petfinder.com saw adoption inquiries nearly double from March to May compared with the previous three months. But when it eventually comes time for people to return to work, pets may be ill-equipped to handle the long days at home alone.
This transition period may create separation anxiety, which experts we spoke with say is as real for cats and dogs as it is for humans. Experts define separation anxiety as a pet’s distress caused by the absence of the owner. Signs may include chewing on doors, excessive howling or pacing, inappropriate marking or scratching and obsessive grooming. It’s estimated that mood disorders are diagnosed in 20 percent to 40 percent of dogs referred to animal behavior practices, according to a 2001 study in The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. And more than 13 percent of cats have exhibited symptoms of separation anxiety, according to a 2020 study published in the open-access journal PLOS One.
Owners of well-behaved pets may think their animals won’t have any problems adjusting, but that may not necessarily be the case. “The problem isn’t going to manifest itself when the owner is home,” said Dr. Wailani Sung, a veterinary behaviorist at the San Francisco SPCA. “They don’t realize that their dogs are adapting to them being around, and when they leave for work it’s going to be a shock to them.”
To avoid returning home to a chewed-up throw pillow or a urine-soaked bedspread, pet owners should take steps now to help ease the transition
Hiring a trainer for virtual sessions is a good start. We spoke with professionals to find out what else you can do to prepare your pet for your eventual return to work. Their tips all require consistency, patience and, of course, plenty of fun.
When a dog scratches at the door after you leave to run an errand or a cat mistakes that pile of dirty laundry for a litter box, experts say your pet is really telling you that it’s worried you’re leaving for good. Now is the time to train your pet to understand that you’ll eventually be back. Start by taking a 15-minute walk without your pet — after its bathroom break, of course — and bring the entire family so that the animal is left alone.
Connect a pet camera to observe your pet’s behavior while you’re away. If your pet responds well to your absence, increase the time away to 30 minutes the next day, and keep the trip frequency sporadic — perhaps two or three times per week. Since pets love routine, you should also adjust their feeding and walking times to reflect your schedule before you return to work.
If your pet continues to show other signs of distress, reduce the time of the walk until your pet appears relaxed, and then build your way back up more slowly. “We want to leave and come back before they get upset,” Dr. Sung said. If you can work up to the four-hour mark, she added, most pets will be fine for an entire workday.
If quarantine restrictions have been lifted in your area, consider hiring a pet professional to give your pet someone to interact with while you’re away. Even just weekly visits can break up the monotony and temporarily help mild symptoms of separation anxiety, Dr. Sung said. When you’re searching for someone who has been trained to handle animals with separation anxiety, find a professional who is reliable and patient, said Hadley Raysor, the founder of the Dandy Dogwalker in Alameda, Calif. “A good pet sitter or dog walker will pay attention to your dog’s behavior and body language, and will be available to communicate with the pet owner about escalating behavior,” Mx. Raysor said.
Investing in quality pet accessories will ensure a peaceful transition when you’re ready to spend time away from your pet. “You want things that allow them to interact with their environment in a positive way,” said Mikel Delgado, a certified applied animal behaviorist and a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. “While you’re doing your work, your pet can do their own work, too.” For dogs, stuff the rubber Kong Classic with chopped-up fruit, peanut butter or plain yogurt, freeze it, and then set it on your dog’s bed as you head out the door. “It takes their mind off of your leaving, and by the time they’re done it’s time for a nap,” Dr. Sung said. Wirecutter also likes sprinkling kibble or treats on the Paw5 Wooly Snuffle Mat, which is great for dogs with a penchant for sniffing the ground for food crumbs.
For cats, a 15-minute session with a toy that mimics a bird’s flight movements, such as Petmate’s Jackson Galaxy Air Prey Wand, can tire them out before you leave. Sprinkling Yeowww Catnip on a cat tree or a window perch entices them to exert their energy in a positive way (rather than scratching up the furniture). And a kibble-dispensing puzzle toy, like the PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser, will simultaneously keep them entertained and tire them out at mealtimes.
Over-the-counter pheromones and calming aids help companion animals remain relaxed, especially when there has been a change in routine. Wirecutter and Dr. Sung both recommend Adaptil products for dogs and Feliway products for cats. “It helps increase their confidence and decrease their anxiety,” Dr. Sung said. Chewable calming treats are a little cheaper than pheromone sprays and diffusers. Look for calming supplements that contain alpha-casozepine, L-theanine or L-tryptophan, Dr. Sung added, because they’re backed by research. If you can’t afford commercial calming aids, place a used pillowcase or a T-shirt you’ve worn recently next to your pet’s favorite napping spot; it has your scent on it and should soothe the animal.
In more severe cases, you may find yourself at a loss about how to deal with your pet’s behavior. Animals may act out by damaging baseboards, chewing on their crates, urinating inappropriately or excessively grooming themselves until they develop bald spots. “I’ve had dogs that jumped out of the window trying to follow their owner,” Dr. Sung said. “I’ve actually had one break their leg.”
It’s important to address a pet’s unwanted behavior before it spirals out of control, and experts say even the smallest signs of distress should be taken seriously. An accredited dog trainer or an animal behaviorist can help pet owners develop a training curriculum. There’s no state or federal certification needed to be a pet trainer in the United States, so Wirecutter recommends hiring credentialed professionals registered with the Animal Behavior Society, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers or the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants for their use of evidence-based approaches. The Academy for Dog Trainers in Emeryville, Calif., founded by Jean Donaldson; the Karen Pryor Academy in Waltham, Mass.; and the Victoria Stilwell Academy in Atlanta, Ga. are also reputable options, said Anna Wong, a graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy and the owner of Mutts Have Fun, a dog-training business in the San Francisco Bay Area.
You may need to consult a vet behaviorist if a trainer isn’t successful in helping your pet transition to spending time without you, as your animal may have a severe case of separation anxiety. If you meet with a professional in person, wear a mask during training sessions, and always wash your hands and wipe down your pet’s belongings after every visit. Virtual sessions are also an option. The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists lists qualified experts, like Dr. Sung, in its directory. Vet behaviorists guide pet owners by reviewing an animal’s medical history, behavior and environment to develop a training game plan, and they can determine whether medications, like those used to treat panic disorders in people, can aid the rehabilitation process.
“They’re living in our world,” Dr. Sung said, “and if you can be patient and provide clear instructions, your pet will thrive.”
Are your Jack-o-Lanterns ready for Halloween or you still have to set your spooky display around the house? Before doing so, it might be wiser to inform yourself on all potential hazards to your dog that your Halloween display might include. Instead of leaving hazardous items around, you could throw a pet Halloween party by following our tips!
Halloween is a great holiday all kids adore, but there are still plenty of adults that enjoy getting festive for this time of year and preparing scary decorations and treats for the event. If you’re one of those people, you know that there is usually more buzz around your house on Halloween than usual. Needless to say, the increased amount of visits to your home combined with spontaneous or faked screams are effective triggers for your pet’s anxiety. Depending on your dog’s temperament and personality, he might greet all the trick-or-treating visitors with joy, or he might get anxious and actually start barking or even hiding somewhere in the house. That’s only one thing that might annoy your dog, but are there some things that can actually harm your dog on Halloween? The treats, decorations, Jack-o-lanterns? Are they all safe for your dog? What about pet costumes? Do dogs really like them, or not at all? Well, just as with Christmas or other popular holidays, there are some precautions that you need to be aware of in order to keep your pet safe during the “All Hallows Eve”.
Let’s see what are the things you need to take care of in order to save your dog from having a real nightmare on your favorite Holiday.
You probably already know this, but chocolate in any form can be very dangerous to your dog/cat. In some cases, ingesting chocolate can even be fatal for canines and felines too, so if you happen to have some baked brownies or chocolate cakes, makes sure to keep them away from your dog’s reach. On the other hand, Trick-or-Treat candies contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found to be poisonous to dogs. You don’t want your dog to have seizures and suffer from a sudden drop in blood sugar, just because Halloween candies were too easy for him to reach. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your Trick-or-Treat moments, just make sure you put the candies on a safe place, away from your dog.
Although it is not yet confirmed how toxic Xylitol is to cats, there is no need to risk and leave things up to chance.
People sometimes get crazy on Halloween and get into their “creepy” roles too seriously. Pranksters might tease your dog, and there have been cases of people stealing, injuring and even killing pets on Halloween night. Yes, it seems quite scary, and a bit unlikely, but why risk? Keep your pet safely inside your home until the holiday is over!
If you have a black cat, or know someone that owns one, be aware that black cats are especially at risk from pranks on Halloween. Therefore, keep them safe inside your home.
Although indoors will definitely be a safer option than leaving your dog in the yard, it doesn’t mean that Fido will be completely calm inside either. Halloween means a lot of strangers ringing on your door dressed in quite an unusual way. Your door will be opening and closing all the time, there might be pranks and weird costumes and accessories that might scare your dog off.
Fear is never good in pets, because it is the n.1 cause of behavior issues. Your pet getting scared can result in an escape attempt or in unexpected bursts of aggression. That’s why it might be wise to confine your pet in a safe area or put him in a secure crate.
You might know that pumpkin is safe for dogs to eat, and you’re right. But Halloween pumpkin displays are not quite the same thing. If your dog ingests small pieces of uncooked pumpkin (that can potentially be molded too) can cause quite unpleasant gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, intestinal blockage or other forms of tummy upsets. Not only, but if there’s some mold too, the mycotoxins that are produced in it might result in neurologic issues in dogs. Similarly, mold won’t help your cat either. But it’s easier to control your cat’s eating habits, since felines tend to be more picky eaters than dogs.
Carved Jack-o-Lanterns are made to glow in the dark. Otherwise, carving the pumpkins doesn’t really have a point, right? However, if you can’t wait to lit up your Jack-o’s , hold on for a second. Before lighting them with candles, be very cautious about where you are going to place them.
You don’t want to place them anywhere your pet can have access or reach to, because the glowing effect will surely catch your pet’s attention, tempting him to investigate the pumpkin. When that occurs, your pet could either burn himself, set himself on fire, or even cause a fire. Although Halloween is a scary holiday, let’s not exaggerate, there’s no need to threaten lives of your entire household.
Although you probably have this covered. It might be wise to check whether your pet’s ID information is up-to-date (such as your address or phone number). Is the tag on your dog’s collar still there? Are all the information clearly visible?
Microchip is the safest way to found your dog in case he gets lost, but giving a look at in what condition your dog’s or cat’s collar and tag are, is definitely not wasted time.
Glow sticks may be fun for us people, and in the end, they even might help us keep ourselves (and our kids) safe. These sticks are visually appealing to dogs, which might make them want to chew them for a while. Although the glowing liquid inside the stick isn’t toxic, when ingested it might cause vomiting, drooling, and agitation in dogs. If you catch your dog’s muzzle glowing after he had chewed upon a couple of sticks, make sure to offer him some fresh water and to clear out the material thoroughly.
So, if lit candles and lit Jack-o-Lanterns aren’t quite safe, electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations are fine? Not really. Although they are a safer option than having a potential source of fire, electrical cords and batteries might also be a health threat to your pup.
Make sure your dog doesn’t chew on cords as this might lead to an electrical shock or burn. On the other hand, chewing on batteries might lead to chemical burns or gastrointestinal blockage. Therefore, protecting your dog by keeping electrical cords and battery-powered decorations somewhere your pup can’t reach is a good way to ensure everyone is having fun on Halloween.
Cats are usually wiser when it comes to chewing. They are not big fans of it.
Finally, we also need to address a couple of things regarding pet costumes too. Pets wearing scary, creative costumes is just so adorable and funny, that it’s no wonder every dog owner has thought about putting a crazy costume on his pup. Before finally picking that perfect costume and dressing your dog in it, there are a couple of things you should consider. First of all, you should first establish whether the costume is comfortable enough. It should be made of light, natural materials that won’t be tight around areas your dog might feel more sensitive about. The ideal costume can’t restrict any movement, hearing, eyesight, and, most importantly, it shouldn’t interfere with your dog’s breathing movements. Also, buy a costume that is designed for dogs instead of using Halloween accessories such as devil horns or so, that your dog might find to be perfect chew toys.
Felines are less likely to accept wearing any costumes as they usually don’t enjoy having things around them (unless it’s a box, of course).
Another thing that all pet owners should have in mind is that pets aren’t made to be dressed up. Although it is true that some pets simply get along with their pet owner’s wishes and are completely fine wearing cute jumpers or socks, there are others that can’t stand being dressed.
Therefore, it is not so rare to see dogs and cats that are just not comfortable in costumes. The costumes annoy them, make them anxious, and eventually end up being torn apart. So, a day or two before Halloween, let your pet try the costume and see if he’s acting weird. If he’s being just his normal self and is maybe show offing his new style then you can be sure that the costume won’t cause any unnecessary issues and use it for the event.
Now a piece of Halloween pet safety advice for dog owners. If you really want to have everything under control, investing in a reflective leash might be among the things you want to do. If you go trick-or-treating with your dog, it might be a good idea to get a reflective collar and leash that will signalize drivers that there is a dog on the road.
Enough about safety! But, is there something you can do to make Halloween more exciting for your pet too? Apparently, there are numerous things that you can do that will entertain your pet on Halloween.
We love the idea of throwing a pet Halloween party that will not only entertain all the furry pals, but will also give you and your friends a lot of laughter and stories to remember. That’s why we will present you 10 coolest activities that you can organize for your four-legged friends that will make everyone happier. (before throwing a party, make sure you went through our Halloween safety list!)
Note: The Party tips are mostly directed to dogs and their owners, since getting a lot of cats together in a closed space, might easily end up in a cat fight. Ouch!
Halloween is usually a holiday when everything is completely directed to kids and their costumes, trick or treating and so on. No matter how hard including your dog in the Halloween equation might seem to you, there are plenty of ways you can make this festivity a fun one for your furry pals as well. No one needs to be left out from the Halloween entertainment, and neither your dog.
You can choose to do some of these activities just for your dog alone, but, you can also throw a party for your dog and your friends’ furry companions that everyone will remember. Here are some of the things that you can do that will entertain you, your pet-owning friends and your four-legged friends at the same time!
Organize on time which dog will wear which costume. There are different kinds of costumes for big-sized, medium-sized and small-sized dogs. You should talk to your invitees and plan who’s going to wear what costume. It doesn’t have to be super expensive. Everything that you put on your pup will look cute and funny, especially when there’s a bunch of dressed-up dogs. Imagine what a photo you could do!
If you really want to have a great laugh, throw a costume competition and reward the best costume with a bowl full of tasty, homemade treats. This way your friends will be motivated to think their pet’s costume through and you will be hosting a once-in-a-lifetime party.
Halloween is not Halloween without trick-or-treat, right? Well, in case of canines, it seems like they resonate much better with the trick AND treat concept. What does that mean? Well, if you’re gathering an entire group of furry friends at your home, you can do a game everyone will love.
Each dog has to perform a trick in front of the crowd with the help of his owner. The dog that knows the best trick wins a bowl full of tasty treats (or a good, yummy bone).
Pretty much as hide-n-go-seek, but only for dogs. Hide tasty treats in some easily accessible places, and then slowly up the game by hiding them on more difficult places. However, don’t do more than a couple of rounds, as you don’t want your pup to get overweight after just one night of playing fun games.
While bobbing for apples isn’t a very dog-friendly activity (they might choke on them, or ingest seeds that are poisonous to dogs), you can make a slightly modified game for your dog. Fill large bowls with water and put in some bones or dog toys. Remember that the more pets are invited, the more bowls you’ll need. Put down the bowls, and let the dogs claim their prizes.
If you have a yard, you can also set up a Halloween-themed agility course that will both entertain your dog and keep him active. You can use plenty of items form your house to create obstacles and tunnels and finish the course with some pet-friendly Halloween decorations. Don’t forget to use a timer to see which dog was the fastest to finish the course. Make a special treat for the winner and his owner!
This game will surely be a source of some great videos that you all are going to rewatch for years!
Dogs won’t quite become werewolves for Halloween or on the full moon. But some dogs actually love to howl (Huskies in particular). If in your furry crew there are more dogs that can howl, make them howl by triggering them with yourself howling or another sound that makes them howl. This game might get a bit noisy, but it will be so hilarious to see a bunch of dogs howling together. If there’s a dog that has a really spooky howl, give him a special treat. However, don’t leave others out and share with them some treats too