Autumn Awareness

posted on October 01, 2015 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Autumn has arrived, and the new season brings new risks to our pets.  There are a couple of toxicities or risks for our pets as the weather turns cooler.

Chrysanthemums or mums are toxic to our dogs and cats.  Symptoms of ingestion can include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, decreased appetite, enlarged pupils, depression, and incoordination.  Some pets are also sensitive to contact with the flower on their skin and may develop a rash, itch, or sores.  Contact your veterinarian if your pet has ingested a mum and is showing symptoms.

There are a variety of mushrooms popping up all over this time of year.  Some are completely harmless and will not cause any issues.  Others can cause some gastrointestinal tract irritation that may lead to vomiting and diarrhea.  More toxic versions can cause hallucinations or liver or kidney failure.  Because of the wide variety of mushrooms and the difficulty in identifying them, if your pet ingests a mushroom in your yard you should contact a veterinarian immediately.  Hospitalization, inducing vomiting, activated charcoal, fluids, bloodwork, and sometimes even stomach lavage is needed to treat these pets.  The sooner treatment begins the better the prognosis, but some mushroom ingestions can be fatal.  Signs your dog may have ingested a mushroom can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, incoordination or walking drunk, depression, tremors, seizures, yellowing of the skin, changes in thirst and urination, and changes in pupil size.

Walnuts, corn cobs, and acorns all seem to be abundant this time of year as well.  These can cause issues with being mildly toxic, such as walnuts which can cause tremors and seizures or acorns which can cause vomiting or diarrhea.  These items can also cause foreign body obstructions which can become life threatening.  Vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, straining or a lack of bowel movements can all be symptoms of this.

Lastly, just a reminder that Halloween candy such as sugar free candies or chocolate can be toxic to your pets.

If you think or know your pet has gotten into any of these potential hazards, please contact us.  Hopefully with a little caution, we can enjoy the beautiful autumn colors while keeping our pets safe.

How to have a Happy Howl-o-ween!

posted on October 03, 2014 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Halloween is supposed to be a fun time for family, but can present some safety concerns for our furry friends.  Follow the below tips to make sure your pets are safe this holiday season!

  • Make sure all pets have identification on.  Permanent identification such as a microchip is better than a collar, which could get lost.
  • Keep wires and cords for lights and decorations safely out of reach.
  • Carving pumpkins can be great fun, but skip the candles.  Pets can be curious or accidentally knock over the pumpkins which could cause them to get burned or cause damage.
  • On the subject of pumpkins, pumpkins and corn are not toxic, but ingesting them can lead to obstructions, so keep pets out of outdoor decorations.
  • Candy such as chocolate or sugar free candies can be toxic to pets, so keep out of their reach.
  • Outdoor cats should be kept inside for a few days before and after Halloween due to the high traffic.
  • Indoor pets and pets in yard should be kept away from doors and gates which could be opened by visitors allowing them to get out and even lost.
  • Unless you know your pet does very well with strange people, people in costumes, and other pets, it might be better for them to stay at home while you trick or treat.  This holiday can be very overwhelming for even the best socialized pets.
  • Fog machines can be irritating to pets’ lungs and eyes as they are closer to the ground where the smoke lingers.
  • Lastly, if you are putting your pet into costume, make sure there are no pieces that are easily chewed off, that it fits appropriately to prevent injury, and that they are supervised while wearing it.

Hopefully with these tips all can enjoy a Happy Halloween!



Posted in: Toxicity

Backyard Barbeque time!

posted on July 03, 2014 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Ah summer.  Season of backyard get togethers, bonfires, and barbeques.  Everyone wants to sit back, relax, and enjoy, not worry about the pets.  Use these tips to make sure everyone has a relaxing, enjoyable, and safe summer!

Sunscreens and insect repellents are not all pet safe.  Some contain ingredients that may cause stomach upset such as vomiting and diarrhea, others contain products which may cause neurologic issues (dilated pupils, drunken walking, head tilt, incoordination, etc).  Make sure you are using a pet safe product or skip it all together.  However, do note that pets with thin hair or white hair can get sunburn, so make sure shade is available!

Everyone’s brought a dish to share, so we can share with the pet, right?  Wrong.  People foods may cause a variety of issues for pets.  Some cause an upset stomach, or gastroenteritis, which may cause vomiting and diarrhea, or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas which may require hospitalization).  Others may be toxic to pets-grapes, raisins, alcohol, chocolate, onion, garlic, and avocado being some common ones.  Artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, which can be found in sugar free products like gums and candies, or in lower calorie foods as a sugar substitute, is also toxic to dogs.  Lastly, things like rib bones, chicken bones, and corn cobs can cause choking or obstruction hazards for pets and should not be given to them for chew toys or treats.

Lighter fluid and matches are both hazardous to pets if ingested.  Citronella is a respiratory irritant that can cause pneumonia, and can cause neurologic signs if ingested. Heat stroke can occur in pets, so provide plenty of clean water and shade.  Lastly, not all dogs know how to swim, so use caution around open water.

Hopefully with these safety tips everyone in the family can have a fun and enjoyable summer!

How to Keep the Holidays Happy (and pets safe)

posted on December 02, 2012 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time, and we here at Heritage Animal Hospital would like to help you keep it that way.  There are a number of items that can be found this time of year that can be harmful to your pets.  Items ranging from chocolate, alcohol, macadamia nuts, scented candles, tinsel and ribbons, antifreeze, and a number of plants can all pose threats to animals.  If you feel your pet may have gotten into any of these items, or is showing any of the signs listed below, please contact a veterinarian immediately.

Chocolate can be toxic to animals if it is eaten.  Signs of ingestion can include vomiting and diarrhea, increased urination, increased activity, and racing heartbeat.  Cookies and candies are a common source of chocolate, as are drinks such as hot cocoa.

Alcohol is toxic to animals, usually in smaller amounts than people would think.  Signs of intoxication include drowsiness, an ataxic walk (meaning un-coordinated, like a drunk person) and can progress to coma and respiratory rate depression, which can cause death.  The signs of antifreeze ingestion mimic alcohol intoxication, and are rapidly fatal, so if your pet is showing these signs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs.  Common in cookies and candies, these nuts can cause signs of weakness, muscle tremors, depression, vomiting, and ataxic walk.

In general, it is best to not give your pet any human foods during the holidays due to potential toxicities or stomach upset from foods their systems are not used to.  Raisins, grapes, garlic, onions, and other common ingredients may also be toxic to your pet.

Scented candles can pose a threat to some of our smaller animals such as birds and sugar gliders.  Strong odors from candles and other objects can cause respiratory distress, which can manifest as things such as increased respiratory rate, coughing, sneezing, and increased respiratory effort and noise.  Also, leaving candles lit where a pet could knock it over or singe whiskers can pose a serious burn risk for your pet or even your house.

Poinsettias, lilies, holly, mistletoe and other plants can be toxic if ingested, especially to cats.  Signs can include things such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and changes in urination.

Ribbons and tinsel may catch your cat’s eye as a good toy, but can be very dangerous if ingested.  String like material tends to get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract and as the intestines try to continue to move it through, they will saw against the foreign material and can cause a leak in the intestinal wall.  The foreign material can also cause a blockage in the intestinal tract.  Signs of foreign body ingestion can include lack of appetite, vomiting, straining to defecate or diarrhea, and lethargy.

Christmas trees can pose additional risks as well.  Water from the Christmas tree can have additives in it that may be harmful to your pet ranging from stomach upset from sugar water to toxicity from fertilizers.  In addition, glass ornaments can cause potential problems if played with either when ingested or by causing wounds to paws and face.  Also, electrical wires can pose dangers to pets if they chew on them.  Lastly, make sure your tree is firmly anchored, especially if you have curious cats that like to climb.

Please limit your pet’s access to these potentially harmful items, and please call a veterinarian if your pet is showing any of the above signs or if you feel your pet may have gotten into something it shouldn’t have.  Together we can help keep your pet safe during the holiday season and into the new year!

Happy Holidays from Heritage Animal Hospital!

Posted in: Toxicity