Monday, October 26, 2015

Spooky Halloween

Halloween can be a fun event for families and their pets. However, if safety precautions are not taken, it can also be a hazardous time for our four-legged companions. Here are some practical yet potentially life-saving tips that can help protect your pets on Halloween.
1. Dangerous Pet Costumes
Never leave a pet unattended while wearing a costume. Small (or large) parts of a costume can become chewed and ingested and can in turn potentially lead to foreign body ingestion which can be life threatening to your pet.

2. Halloween Decorations and Fire Hazards

If you like to decorate your home in the Halloween spirit, take into consideration what you're putting on display and where the decorations will be placed. Easy-to-reach decorations — or candles — can be eaten or knocked over, potentially leading to choking, foreign body ingestion, electrical shock and even burns and a household fire.
Err on the side of caution while decorating and choose pet-safe products.

3. Noise Affects Pets

Dogs and cats can become skittish and anxiety ridden on Halloween due to the incessant ringing of the doorbell, constant squeals and chatter just outside the door, and small fireworks set off in the street.
In addition, the barrage of strangers dressed in unfamiliar and scary costumes can alarm some pets, increasing their anxiety. Take extra precaution on Halloween: gauge your pet's typical reaction while greeting visitors and decide if putting up a baby gate or leaving your dog or cat in a back room of the house would keep them calmer throughout the evening.

4. Candy and Chocolate Are Toxic

Candy and chocolate are never good for dogs or cats and on Halloween there is an increased chance that Fluffy and Fido may consume treats meant for tricksters.
·        Chocolate and xylitol, a sweetener found in many candies, can be extremely toxic to pets.
·        Lollipops and their sticks can be choking hazards and cause a painful obstruction or foreign body ingestion that may require surgery to remove.
·        Candies wrapped in plastic and other types of wrapping can also lead to chocking or cause an obstruction and upset stomach. 

5. Lost Pets

Halloween isn't an ideal time to let your dog or cat wander outside unattended. While there aren't any documented reports or statistics to indicate that pet abduction increases on Halloween, be mindful that a prankster or a mean-spirited individual could be inspired to mess with your pet.
Take caution and keep pets indoors with you, or escort them outside on a leash if you plan on including your pet in neighborhood festivities. Sudden noises and strange-looking costumes can also spook your pet, causing them to run away, therefore, it’s always a good idea to adorn your pet with a collar and identification tags in case you become separated.
If you dog is not micro-chipped, make sure they have their collar and ID tags. 

Please share what you do to keep your dog safe on Halloween!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Benefits of Canned Pumpkin for Your Pet by Nancy Kay, DVM

Jack-o-lanterns, Halloween decorations, Thanksgiving, and pumpkin pie! This is certainly the pumpkin season. But, do you know that pumpkins can be important year-round for some pets? Canned pumpkin is a commonly prescribed dietary additive for some gastrointestinal maladies. From diarrhea to constipation, pumpkin can be a dog’s (or cat’s) best friend.
What is canned pumpkin?
Canned pumpkin recommended by veterinarians is nothing more than pumpkin that has been pureed. It is a source of fiber that is low in fat and cholesterol. When purchasing canned pumpkin at the grocery store it is important to read the label carefully. Pie filling canned pumpkin has added ingredients such as sugar, fat, and various seasonings. It is the pure pumpkin product that veterinarians recommend.
How can pumpkin help?
Canned pumpkin can provide a number of health benefits based primarily on its fiber content. Be forewarned that canned pumpkin is mostly water, to the tune of approximately 90%. This means that the content of fiber (not nearly as much as is found in Metamucil).
Pumpkin isn’t a be-all and end-all remedy for cats and dogs with gastrointestinal issues, but it is a reasonably harmless thing to try. If this has you thinking, “Hmm, maybe I’ll give canned pumpkin a try,” I urge you to consult with your veterinarian before doing so. In some cases, added fiber could cause more harm than good. All this being said, canned pumpkin does seem to make a significant difference for some animals in the following ways:
  • Diarrhea: Fiber can act as a sponge that absorbs excess water within the gastrointestinal tract. Diarrhea has a myriad of causes, and added dietary fiber can benefit some of them.
  • Constipation: When there isn’t excess water in the gastrointestinal tract, fiber can help draw in water and ease stool passage. Fiber can also create bulk within the colon that helps alleviate constipation for some animals.
  • Weight loss: Pumpkin provides a relatively low calorie way to give an animal the sense of a full stomach. This can make the reduction of overall food quantity more tolerable for the dieting animal.
·         Hairballs: Canned pumpkin can benefit some cats who suffer from hairballs. The fiber content helps move things along within the gastrointestinal tract. Be reminded that, only rarely are hairballs the true cause of vomiting in kitties.
How much pumpkin should you feed?
The amount of canned pumpkin needed to provide benefit will vary from pet to pet. For example, a Chihuahua may require only a teaspoon per meal whereas a half cup may be required for a Great Dane. As with any dietary additive, it’s best to start small and then work your way up to the appropriate amount. Some animals, particularly those of the feline persuasion, don’t much care for this different tasting orange substance in their food bowl- another reason to begin with only a small amount that is more readily disguised.
If you are feeding your pet only a small amount of pumpkin daily, you may not use an entire can before it spoils. Consider placing the pumpkin in ice cube trays and freezing. Blocks can then be thawed as needed.
Questions for your veterinarian
·         Might my pet benefit from the addition of canned pumpkin?
·         How much canned pumpkin should I feed and how frequently?
·        What should I be watching for once the pumpkin is started?
Do you feed your pets canned pumpkin and have you found it beneficial?