ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening

Garden tools and dog

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) experts field tens of thousands of calls each year involving animal companions who’ve had potentially hazardous contact with insecticides, weed killers and pet-toxic plants.
“Keeping animals safe from accidental poisonings should not end once you’ve stepped outside,” says Dana Farbman, APCC pet poison prevention expert. “Protecting your pet from potential hazards in your yard is just as critical.”
While gardens and yards are lovely for relaxing, they can also prove dangerous for our animal companions.

Our experts recommend you watch out for the following:

Poisonous Plants
When designing and planting your green space, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants—including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea—are toxic to cats and dogs. Sago palm and other members of the Cycad family as well as mushrooms can cause liver failure, while rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, oleander, rosebay, foxglove and kalanchoe all affect the heart. Please visit our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your garden.

Fertilizer
Just like you, plants need food. But pet parents, take care—the fertilizer that keeps our plants healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends. Ingesting large amounts of fertilizer can give your pet a good case of stomach upset and may result in life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Be sure to follow instructions carefully and observe the appropriate waiting period before letting your pet run wild outside.

Cocoa Mulch
Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch also attracts dogs with its sweet smell, and like chocolate, it can pose problems for our canine companions. Depending on the amount involved, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs, from vomiting, diarrhea and muscle tremors to elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures. Consider using a less-toxic alternative, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark, but always supervise curious canines in yards where mulch is spread.

Insecticides
Like fertilizer, herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren’t meant for four-legged consumption. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poisons. Always store pesticides in inaccessible areas—and read the manufacturer’s label carefully for proper usage and storage.

Compost
You’re doing the right thing for your garden and Mother Earth—you’re composting! Food and garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil, but depending on what you’re tossing in the compost bin, they can also pose problems for our pets. Coffee, moldy food and certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats, so read up on people foods to avoid feeding your pet.

Fleas and Ticks
Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall brush and grasses, it’s important to keep those lawns mowed and trim. Fleas can cause excessive scratching, hair loss, scabs, hot spots and tapeworms as well as anemia from blood loss in both cats and dogs. Ticks can cause similar effects and lead to a variety of complications from tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Babesia.

Garden Tools
Unattended garden tools may seem like no big deal, but rakes, tillers, hoes and trowels can be hazardous to pets and cause trauma to paws, noses or other parts of a curious pet’s body. Rusty, sharp tools caked in dirt may also pose a risk for tetanus if they puncture skin. While cats don’t appear to be as susceptible as dogs to tetanus, care should be taken by storing all unused tools in a safe area, not haphazardly strewn on the ground.

Allergy-Causing Flora
Ah-choo! Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets have allergies to foods, dust and even plants. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can even cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock if the reaction is severe. If you do suspect your pet has an allergy, please don’t give him any medication that isn’t prescribed by a veterinarian. It’s also smart to keep your pet out of other people’s yards, especially if you’re unsure of what kinds of plants or flowers lurk there. Keeping your pet off the lawn of others will make for healthy pets and happy neighbors.
Originally published by the ASPCA.

The Importance of the Canine Influenza Vaccine

Bichon maltais blanc assis & coquin sur fond blanc

At River Oaks Animal Hospital, East Lake Animal Clinic, and Pet Care Center of Apopka, we have been vaccinating for canine influenza for three years, ever since this virus became a cause for concern. All around the country the news is reporting canine influenza epidemics, especially in the Midwest, and we hope that just by watching the news you will start to understand why it’s so important to have your pet protected from this!

With all the media coverage of canine influenza right now, we want to set the record straight about a few things. All over the news and the internet, we keep seeing high prices quoted for this vaccine and we want to make sure that our clients aren’t skipping this critical preventive care due to those quoted costs! We’ve seen national news sites quoting costs of $100+ for vaccines, but at our animal hospitals, we offer the vaccine for:

  • $40 for the first time the vaccine is given – comes in a package of 2 for first administration and then a booster 3 weeks later, for no additional cost.
  • $28.55 for an annual booster every year following.

Our veterinary team believes firmly that every dog should be vaccinated against the canine influenza virus, without exception. This is not a situation where you can determine the need of the vaccine based on where your dog goes or what they do. No matter what, an unvaccinated dog is at risk because they have no immunity to this potentially fatal virus.

Get Your Canine Influenza Vaccine

If your dog has not been vaccinated against canine influenza, please contact us today to schedule their vaccine appointment. This vaccine is so important to everyone’s health. Please, act now.

Reasons To Act More Like Your Pet

Pets aren’t always easy to take care of, and they often require a substantial time commitment (something you’re all too aware of at, say, 3 a.m., when Bing Clawsby is finally ready to go outside and do his business). But pets provide an amazing return on that time investment, especially when it comes to your health. Case in point: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners. But that’s not all. Pets also model many surprisingly healthy behaviors that humans would do well to emulate. Here are just a few, according to veterinarians, dog trainers, and other pet experts.

Dogo Canario puppy in yellow dandelions

  1. They focus on what matters most. You may get grumpy after a bad day at the office, but your pooch never does. “Companion animals mostly care about food, love, and shelter (not always in that order). As long as they have those things, they don’t need much else,” Mary Gardner, DVM, a veterinarian and cofounder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice tells Yahoo Health. “Pets also don’t complain much at all. People believe they hide their pain; I simply think they manage it differently.” If humans could model these behaviors, Gardner adds, we’d be healthier, happier, “and more people would want to be around us.”

 

  1. They practice portion control (even if not by choice). Snowball might not want to limit her kibble intake any more than you want to limit your tortilla-chip intake. Nonetheless, she typically eats reasonably sized helpings of nutritionally balanced food — and never gets to eat straight out of the bag. Follow her lead. “Both animals and people need structure and regulation when it comes to portion size,” says Jme Thomas, executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue based in Redmond, Washington.

 

  1. They know how to de-stress. Your pooch doesn’t pour a glass of cabernet when the going gets rough (though, yes, it would make a very popular YouTube video if she did). She may, however, start begging for a walk or to play a game. Smart dog! “Actively seeking healthy activities — that function as de-stressors when stress levels are high — helps to reset people as well as dogs, and bring us back to a productive and functional status, from which many things feel a lot more ‘do-able,’” Marisa Scully, a certified dog behavior specialist in Philadelphia, tells Yahoo Health.

relax kitten on green grass

  1. They hit the hay. People don’t get enough sleep: According to a 2014 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans said that a lack of sleep had impaired their activities at least once in the previous week. Learn from your cat or dog, who knows just how important it is to get enough shut-eye, says Jeff Werber, VVM, president and chief veterinarian of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. “Whether it’s a lazy dog day afternoon, or a quick cat nap, you won’t find them burning the candles at both ends.”

 

  1. They stretch! There’s a reason one of the most common yoga moves is named downward dog. Dogs (and cats) stretch constantly — and we should do the same, notes certified dog behavior consultant Russell Hartstein. Why? Stretching can improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.

 

  1. They’re open to new things. Animals are naturally curious. “Open a box or empty a bag and before you know it, your cat will have climbed in to investigate. Walk your dog past a gardener planting flowers and chances are she will check it out before moving on,” Werber says. “And they’re always up for some fun. A game of catch, a walk, a visit — bring it on.” Since research has found that seeking out new experiences can keep people feeling young and healthy, we’d do well to follow suit.

 

  1. They’re comfortable getting zen. Numerous studies have found a correlation between mindful meditation and reduced stress, decreased heart disease, and a stronger immune response — and that’s something your cat already knows how to do instinctively. “Each morning I sit on the sofa with my cat, Turtle, while I drink my first cup of coffee,” says Kristen Levine, a pet living expert. “We spend about 10 minutes together, her getting neck and head rubs, me enjoying her purring and having a few meditative moments at the start of the day.It sounds simple, and it can be, but depending on the activity, it can have a powerfully relaxing or invigorating effect for both human and critter.”

 

 

Source: https://www.yahoo.com/health/7-health-lessons-our-pets-teach-us-112252958927.html

 

 

Scents and Sensitivity: Dogs Know When We’re Happy or Angry

Science is proving what pet owners have long believed: Dogs understand what we’re feeling. Specifically, dogs can recognize the difference between a happy and an angry human face, a study published Thursday in Current Biology suggests.

It’s the first research to show definitively that dogs are sensitive to our facial expressions, says coauthor Ludwig Huber, head of comparative cognition at Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

In the Austrian study, 20 pet dogs of various breeds and sizes were taught to play a computer game through a series of exercises. In the first, the dogs were shown two touch screens, one with a circle and one with a square. Through trial and error, they learned that a treat would appear if they chose the right geometrical figure.

Eleven of the 20 dogs were able to catch on to rules of the game and make it to the next phase, where they were shown photos of faces. Half the dogs were rewarded for picking a happy expression and half for choosing an angry expression. The interesting catch: the dogs were shown only the upper half or the lower half of a face.

It was easier to teach the dogs to choose a happy expression than an angry one, suggesting the dogs do indeed understand the meaning behind the expression, Huber says.

As a test, the dogs were then were presented with:

the same half of the faces they saw during the training, but from different people
the other half of the faces used in training
the other half of new faces
the left half of the faces used in training
In the vast majority of cases the dogs chose the right answer 70 to 100 percent of the time.

Dogs who had been trained to recognize an expression of anger or happiness on the upper part of a face could identify the same expression when shown only the lower part, and vice versa, Huber says, adding “the only possible explanation is that they recall from memory of everyday life how a whole human face looks when happy or angry.”

Dog owners know their pets not only recognize emotions but also feel empathy.

Delilah, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, always seems to know when her owner Eva Shure is having a bad day.
Delilah knows when her owner is having a bad day.
Making eye contact and cocking her head to the right, the little dog will stare at Shure’s face as if trying to assess her feelings. “It’s weird, I can see her thinking and processing,” says Shure, a 35-year-old New York City business owner. “I’ll say, yeah, it’s not a great day and she’ll come up and sit next to me.”

Beverly Levreault, 57, says her 6-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix is always tuned in to her moods. “If I’m not feeling well, like when I have the flu, Lacey is definitely lower key and will not leave my side, ” says Levreault, a graphic designer from Williamstown, New York. “If I take her for a walk, she’s not as rambunctious as she usually is.”

Lynette Whiteman says she’s not sure that her 5-year-old Yorkie-Maltese cross is using facial expressions to gauge how she feels. “But she definitely reads my emotions,” says the 58-year-old from Toms River, New Jersey. “I run a therapy dog program and the dogs are just amazing. They go into a room and immediately pick out the person who needs help.”

Behavioral experts say the new findings, while important, wouldn’t surprise anyone with an intimate knowledge of dogs.
Coco and Lynettte
“This new work continues to build the case for just how sensitive dogs are to our subtle behaviors,” says Dr. Brian Hare, chief scientific officer at Dognition and an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. “This is the strongest evidence yet that dogs are even reading our facial expressions.”

That sensitivity may be the result of generations of selective breeding for a true partner, says Dr. Carlo Siracusa, director of the behavior service at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “We have selected animals that are able to perceive our emotions and communicate with us at a level that no other animal can,” Siracusa says.

Dogs may not talk, but they are very good communicators, says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor in the department of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and director of the animal behavior clinic at Cummings.

“Just as we are masters of the spoken word, dogs are experts at reading body language,” Dodman says.

“It’s almost impossible to hide your feelings from a dog.”

Turns out, reading facial expressions isn’t the only thing dogs have in common with us.

They can be bitten by the computer gaming bug. “They can really become freaks for it,” Huber says with a chuckle. “They don’t want to stop playing. It’s incredible. They’ll play till they are exhausted and fall asleep.”

 

Source: http://www.today.com/pets/dogs-know-when-were-happy-or-angry-2D80489190

New Gadget Let’s You Play with Your Pet from Anywhere in the World

PETCUBE:

Petcube is a box with a laser pointer, speaker, and light that you can control from anywhere in the world via the Petcube smartphone app.

You control the laser by moving your finger around your iPhone or Android phone’s screen. Anywhere your finger moves, your pet will follow, as long as she likes lasers.

You can also take screenshots of the app and share them via Petcube’s social network. What’s more, you can make your Petcube open to the public, so you can let anyone play with your pet while you’re home or away.

To be honest, letting strangers get a view of your home when you’re away (or home) sounds kind of strange, so maybe you’ll just want to stick with the lasers.

SOURCE: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/2-new-gadgets-let-you-play-with-your-pet-from-107338896099.html

Laser Therapy: Treatment Options for Your Pet’s Health

 

 

Laser therapy is a treatment option that was first developed more than forty years ago. It was first used for the treatment of humans, and relatively recent advances in the field have opened up this therapy option to animals as well! Laser therapy works by emitting laser light that pinpoints areas needing treatment, stimulating the cells to promote healing. A laser therapy treatment only takes a few minutes per session, and depending on the particular needs of the patient, sessions may be recommended several times per week or month until desired results are achieved.

What Conditions Can Be Treated Using Laser Therapy?

When we utilize laser therapy as a treatment option to reduce pain and inflammation, and to promote healing. At River Oaks Animal Hospital, laser therapy is an option for treating a variety of injuries, wounds, fractures, neurological conditions, dermatological conditions, issues that cause chronic pain or inflammation, and more.

Results of Laser Therapy

Some clients have reported that their pet showed signs of improvement after even the very first session. For other patients, it may take a few sessions. This depends on the severity of the pet’s condition and their particular needs. If you are concerned about your pet’s health and wonder if they are a candidate for laser therapy, we would love to talk with you about your options!

Orthopedic Surgery: Cruciate Ligament Repair

Cruciate Ligament Ruptures are among the most common injuries that dogs experience, but they are also serious and often painful as well! The veterinary teams at our Central Florida Vets animal hospitals—River Oaks Animal Hospital, Pet Care Center of Apopka, and East Lake Animal Clinic—are equipped to provide specialized orthopedic care for our patients who have experienced a cruciate ligament rupture or other serious knee injuries. The majority of our critical care cases are handled by our River Oaks Animal Hospital location as this facility is one of only a few hospitals in our area that has an oxygen chamber for post-surgical recovery.

What is a Cruciate Ligament Tear?

The cruciate ligament is the connective band of tissue, or the ligament, that connects the thigh bone with the lower leg bone and helps the knee to bend in a straight line. This can be disrupted, either stretched or torn, due to a genetic disposition toward this injury or because of an athletic activity that results in unstable footing or quick pivoting. It can also be caused by repetitive actions, and obesity is sometimes a factor in this type of injury as well.

Meet Sasha

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Just one week after surgery to repair a torn cruciate ligament, Sasha is walking well and weight bearing! Good job, Dr Greer. We so love this dog, who is so gentle. Nothing is more exciting than to see a dog come out of the cruciate ligament, or ACL, surgery, successfully and embark on a smooth recovery. Remember, each pet is an individual and their treatment and recovery from this type of condition will be different for everyone. We’ll be happy to discuss your pet’s personalized care with you. Please contact us with your questions!

Questions about Pet Obesity

At our Central Florida Vets practices, we are often asked about ongoing, at-home pet care. One of the most common concerns has to do with a healthy pet weight. Our most recent question was:

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Why is my dog so fat when I really don’t feed him very much?

 We are so glad that you’re looking to maintain your pet’s weight. Just like with humans, obesity has become a leading health issue for pets. When determining your pet’s dietary needs, it’s important to understand that:

  • Each brand of dog food will have a different caloric value per pound and you should know what yours is on the brand of food your pet eats.
  • Some foods may be higher in fat content. These will be the foods that your pet is more likely to like better. This is similar to the human desire for fast food!
  • Other factors that must be considered in dietary management are your pet’s:
    • Energy levels
    • Age
    • Living conditions

Once you understand these parts of your pet’s lifestyle, it’s important to evaluate the amount of food they eat daily and the amount of exercise they get. If your pet is not overeating and is getting adequate exercise and still looks like a football on legs, there may be another issue that is causing the weight gain. A metabolic disease can be the cause of this, but a condition of this type must be diagnosed through examination and blood tests. Weight issues can be caused by conditions such as an underactive thyroid or Cushings disease.

A River Oaks Animal Hospital Case Study

 Our veterinary team is currently working with a pet named Bonzo who is experiencing weight management issues. He is currently 67 pounds, but his healthy weight is only 15 pounds.

Bonzo’s case addresses another problem: how to lose weight.  In this case, there is an underlying disease, so we use medication and diet control. Bonzo’s food is strictly regulated and we have now started an exercise program.  With this amount of excess weight, we are aiming to boost the metabolism by splitting his meals into four portions and making sure that he walks before eating.  In other words, no energy input without energy output. We are aiming for a weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds every ten days.

 

So far, we are on track and after a few days, Bonzo has been able to double his exercise.  The owner is committed to winning, and that is another important facet. Ignore the comments and stares you may get taking a very overweight dog to the dog park. You are doing the right thing. Overweight dogs have a higher chance of developing diabetes and joint disease.

Is Your Pet Overweight?

 If you are a pet owner with an overweight pet, talk to us. We would love to work with you to help determine the root cause, and more importantly, the treatment options available to get your pet back to their healthy weight. Remember, a healthy weight is essential for a long life!

 

 

When is it Time to Say Goodbye to Your Pet?

LUCY GOOSEYThis is probably the most often asked question of us. It’s a tough subject but I hope this will help you, as like you, we have had to part from our dear friends, including 18 year old Lucy just two weeks ago. She was old in body, and a little older in mind(aren’t we all!) but from a general health point of view doing well…bloodwork was good just a week before she passed on. But realistically, I knew her quality of life was deteriorating, rapidly. I reached that stage when you wonder if you are prolonging life for your our selfishness.  You may be facing this now, but I really became sure that my absolute last boundary was when she no longer wanted to react or interact with us. I still give that advice to people. Trust me, you will know. That will be a look that may just show you..”hey, mom, I am just too tired to try any more “. And when the dreaded day comes. Be calm. Remember dogs live for the now. There is no fear of death. Ease your special friend on to his next journey and know he will be just around the corner…waiting for you to catch up.

Did I put to sleep? No. Lucy spared me that. I told her in no uncertain words that I just couldn’t do this, she would have to handle it in just the manner she handled everything else. With courage. The next day she died at home with heart failure.

For all you people facing this now…it will be alright. Give your pet every chance, but don’t hesitate if you know it is the right thing to do.

This article is dedicated to all those clients we have seen our veterinary hospitals that have been through this, and for every pet that we were honored to help whatever the problem. God bless you all.

Is Your Cat Missing the Litter Box?

You have a problem. Your cat is thinking outside the box, and not in a good way. You may be wondering what you did to inspire so much “creative expression.” Is your cat punishing you? Is Fluffy just “bad”? No, and no. House soiling and missing the litter box is a sign that your cat needs some help.
According to the Winn Feline Foundation, house soiling is the number one complaint among cat owners. The good news is that it is very treatable.
An accredited veterinarian can help you determine if the problem is medical or related to social or environmental stressors. In addition to a complete physical exam, the doctor will ask you specific “where and when” questions.
Health factors
Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, a specialist in feline urinary disorders at The Ohio State University, and founder of the Indoor Cat Initiative says that many veterinarians recommend a urine test for every cat with a house soiling problem. The urinalysis will determine if blood, bacteria, or urinary crystals are present — signs that your cat might have feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).
FLUTD is very common and can cause painful urination. Cats that begin to associate the litter box with pain will avoid it. Other medical possibilities include hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, diabetes, and arthritis and muscle or nerve disorders that might prevent your cat from getting to the litter box in time.
Environmental factors
If there is no medical cause, the next step is to look at environmental factors. Start with the litter box. Your cat might be avoiding the litter box because it is not cleaned well enough, you’ve changed the type of litter you use, or there is only one box for multiple cats.
Another possibility is that your cat is “marking” — spraying urine, typically on vertical objects such as walls and furniture, or in “socially significant” areas near doors or windows. Both male and female cats mark. The most common offenders are cats that have not been spayed or neutered. Buffington says that stress can cause elimination problems too. For example, subtle aggression or harassment by other house cats or neighborhood cats may be an issue.

More Information About Feline House Soiling
Even unremarkable changes in your home can make your cat anxious or fearful. Look around. Did anything change right before your cat started having problems? Did you get a new pet? A new couch? Maybe you just moved the old couch to a different part of the room, or had a dinner party. Cats are sensitive creatures and changes that seem small to you can throw your cat off his game. Check with your veterinarian about finding solutions that work for both you and your cat.