All posts tagged 'companion animals'

5 Meds That Are Toxic to Pets

dog-at-vet

The past four months have been a blur of training, cleaning up and chasing around after our new puppy, Dakota. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I did forget how much trouble a curious puppy can get into! Last week I found Dakota chomping on a travel-sized bag of trail mix that included chocolate covered raisins. Chocolate covered raisins! How did that even get into the house? I still don’t know where it came from, but fortunately I was able to intervene before he opened the bag.

Most people know that chocolate and grapes can be toxic for pets, but potential threats can lurk elsewhere in your home. Prescription and over-the-counter medications are among the top reasons people call into poison control hotlines for both kids and pets, and with good reason. Here are the top five medications of concern when it comes to pets and toxicity:

1. Ibuprofen. As the active ingredient in common over-the-counter products such as Advil and Motrin, ibuprofen is unfortunately ingested by pets both accidentally and intentionally by owners unaware of its potential side effects. Cats are particularly sensitive to its effects. The most common clinical sign is vomiting or gastrointestinal ulcers, though it can also lead to kidney damage. Other NSAIDS such as Aleve can also be problematic.

2. Acetaminophen. Speaking of pain medications, acetaminophen-containing products such as Tylenol are also high on the list of pet poisons. Like ibuprofen, cats are particularly sensitive to the effects of this medication, and one pill is enough to kill a cat. Both cats and dogs can experience liver damage as a result of this medication, starting with decreased appetite and leading to yellow skin (a sign of jaundice), swollen paws or difficulty breathing. Acetaminophen is a common ingredient in combination products like cough and flu remedies, so be careful to read the label on your products!

pill-spill-dog

3. Stimulants. ADHD medications such as Adderall and Ritalin can be toxic to companion animals. Sadly, they are more likely to be ingested by pets as they are often prescribed for children who may be less vigilant about keeping the pills out of the reach of the household dogs and cats. Signs of ingestion may include dilated pupils, seizures, shaking or hyperactivity.

4. Antidepressants. Antidepressants fall into several categories depending on their mechanism of action. In the most commonly prescribed medications (such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Effexor) work by increasing the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain. When overdosed, the brain can be flooded with these chemicals and pets can experience a variety of symptoms such as depression, hyperexcitability, seizures and vomiting.

5. Vitamin D. As doctors are starting to diagnose Vitamin D deficiency more often, this is a common supplement in people’s medicine cabinets. When there is too much in the body, blood calcium levels also rise, resulting in serious damage to the kidneys. It is so effective at causing damage that it's commonly used in rat poisons such as d-Con. Vitamin D might appear on rodenticide labels as “cholecalciferol,” and should be avoided.

There’s no time like the present to ensure any of these items in your house are safely secured away from prying pet paws. If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested any of these harmful substances, call your veterinarian or a pet poison control helpline ASAP!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Infographic: 5 Common Cat Allergies

You hear a lot about people being allergic to cats, but did you know that sometimes THEY are allergic to US?

The truth is that you hear very little about what allergies cats suffer, even though a significant percentage of domesticated cats have them. In this month's infographic, we're highlighting five common feline allergies that pet parents should be aware of.

Do you already suspect your cat is suffering from a chronic allergy? Be on the look-out for the symptoms, such as:  sneezing, coughing or wheezing; itchy skin and watery eyes; ear infections; vomiting or diarrhea; noticeably louder snoring; and swollen or irritated paws. Some of these symptoms aren't what you would expect, so keep a journal (or at least a running list) of any health-related issues. That way, you'll be prepared to discuss all the relevant details should a vet visit become necessary.

In the meantime, here’s our handy infographic that reveals the most common causes of cat allergies and what pet parents can do to help their feline companions feel better. To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below.

PDF DocumentPDF Document

Do Dogs Suffer from Depression?

Sad Pug

Pet parents have asked me if dogs can experience depression. In almost every case, the question is prompted by troubling behavior and not just simple curiosity. Well, dogs can most certainly exhibit obvious signs of depression, such as loss of appetite or declining interest in previously enjoyed activities. And then there are symptoms not readily recognized as depressive: anxiety, fearfulness, aggression, various destructive behaviors and even hiding from people. Are these last signs indicative of depression, a complicated emotional disturbance, or do they point to something else altogether? 

In humans, depression ranges from temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent clinical depression, which persists for significant periods of time. Both are marked by a depressed mood and a loss of interest and lack of pleasure.

Dogs are highly intelligent, emotional creatures. We know that they can read our facial expressions, learn complex commands, express fear and joy, and can get stressed, but can they be depressed? Behavioral scientists not only say ‘yes’, but are surprised by how prevalent depression is among canines. In fact, in a 2013 British study, scientists discovered something shocking … nearly one in four dogs in the UK was suffering from some form of depression.

Because we cannot simply ask our dogs if they’re depressed, how can we know for sure what’s going on? Well, the experts say, look to sudden changes in behavior which cannot be attributed to a medical problem. In such cases, depression offers the most logical rationale. But, on an emotional level, we also have our own sense of empathy as a guide. As pet parents, we often just intuitively know something’s up.

MORE ON SYMPTOMS

Canines often express signs of depression after loss of a family member, whether it’s a human or another animal. When someone close to a dog is no longer around, they can be listless, lose their appetite, be cranky, pace frantically, regress in house-training, sleep for even longer periods, and even develop destructive behaviors such as digging or chewing. Some dogs can develop anxiety-ridden behaviors, such as prolonged trembling, while others experience a significant change in personality (outgoing, becoming withdrawn and distrustful).

MORE ON CAUSES

Some dogs can exhibit depressive behaviors if they don’t get enough exercise or attention. Even changes in routine, ranging from serious (loss of a caretaker) to the seemingly harmless (changing a pet’s bed) can result in the symptoms listed above.

Unfortunately, changes in behavior can signal an underlying medical problem. Painful conditions such as arthritis, pinched nerves, bladder infections, or gastrointestinal inflammation can elicit behavioral changes, and hormonal conditions such as hypothyroidism can mimic the signs of depression in dogs. If you notice any sudden changes in your dog’s behavior, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. With a physical exam, and any necessary tests administered as warranted (such as blood work, urine testing and x-rays), your vet will be better equipped to determine potential causes and likely treatments.

Sad Shaggy Dog

HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR DOG’S DEPRESSION

If your dog seems inordinately sad or becomes listless, you do have some options for home therapy.

Be intentional about the time you spend with your dog. Be prepared to dote on your pup, (yes, even more than usual!), and shower them with attention, like you would with a newly adopted dog.

Renew your commitment to exercise with daily walks … sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for both you and your dog. Plus, you’ll be adding a little adventure to your dog’s day. By taking long but unhurried walks, you allow your dog the time and space to roam a bit and smell all the scents. Remember, they can detect a whole host of odors, building timelines and creating mental maps of previous activity in any given spot … think of it like canine storytelling.

While at home, make sure your pup has plenty of good chew toys, and engage in some training sessions to stimulate positive mental activity.

In spite of all this, if your dog is still experiencing chronic depression, your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate medication to help manage, possibly even resolve, the illness. Your vet may recommend a consult with a board-certified veterinarian behaviorist. Certified by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, these experts are especially good at understanding such situations and knowing which pharmaceuticals will be most effective.

Have you ever known a canine who suffered from depression? How did you know? And what, if anything, were you able to do to help alleviate the condition? We’d really like to know about your experience, so please submit your comments below. You never know … something you share might mean the world to a pet parent searching for a solution, even if it’s simply the solace of knowing others have dealt with similar issues.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

Dr Jane Bicks  Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

REFERENCES:
In Defence of Dogs: Why Dogs Need Our Understanding, by John Bradshaw, 2011, ISBN: 9780141046495.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10251465/One-in-four-dogs-suffering-depression.html

Better Boarding Tips

Traveling with pets is much more common these days than in years past. But, for all those times you can’t vacation with your companion animal, boarding offers a sure-fire way to make sure that their needs are provided for. To that end, this month’s episode of Pet Talk offers five practical tips for better boarding!

Dr. Sarah knows plenty about this area of pet kid care, and she’s eager to share her ideas with you. From commonsense practicalities to “gosh why didn’t I think of that” gems, you’re certain to learn something to help make your dog or cat’s next stay pleasant, safe and healthful. Best of all … you’ll be able to rest easy, knowing that your pet kids are too.

Do you have any additional insightful boarding tips for other pet parents? Or, have you ever had a bad boarding experience and wished that you had known to do something differently beforehand? Share your stories with us in the comments section below.

A Petacular Xmas

More and more, from Millenials to senior citizens, Americans are spending their holiday time and money on their four-legged family members. A generation ago, giving presents to companion animals was fairly rare. These days, buying gifts for dogs and cats is more popular than ever before! And who can blame us? Not only are they cute, loyal and happy, they’re ready for celebration at a moment’s notice. When it comes to presents for pet kids, there’s no waiting in long lines for the latest tech gizmo or sulky indignation over off-brand purchases. Plus, they don’t have expensive tastes that could put the serious hurt on your credit card balance.

This yuletide episode of Pet Talk reveals simple, enjoyable ways pet parents can show their companion animals appreciation during the season of giving. Our staff veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, has loads of imaginative ideas about spending quality time with your fur kids. Who knows, you just might discover a brand new family tradition!

If you enjoy Dr. Sarah’s prescriptions for fostering festive fun, be sure to share this link with other pet people, too. As a bonus, check out our previous holiday episodes to keep your companion animals safe and happy, now and into the New Year.

Holiday Safety Tips
Bringing Home New Puppy
Useful Tips for Winter Puppy Care

How do you observe the season of giving with your companion animal? Leave us a comment and share your stories! From all of us here at Life's Abundance, best wishes for a delightful holiday season!

Happy Holidays from Dr. Jane

The holidays are very nearly upon us. As I sit here, writing this post, I can’t help but feel this year has flown past even faster than last year. Like many of you, I’m experiencing the flurry of activity that comes with the close of another year. Things certainly are hopping here at my farm, with all of my chickens, cats, my horse, even my new pygmy goat! As fleeting and precious as time is during the holidays, I consider your reading this holiday message right now an honor and a privilege. 

This year, we’ve enjoyed significant growth, largely thanks to your amazing customer loyalty. With exciting new products on the horizon, we feel confident that you will love us even more! In spite of our company’s relatively small size, more and more consumers consider us a leading purveyor of health and wellness products, both for companion animals and their pet parents. You can be assured that all of us here at Life’s Abundance are working very hard to ensure that our best days are ahead of us. We have every reason to believe that 2016 will be a stellar year for all of us.

Thanks to the hard work of our Field Representatives, the loyalty of everyone who regularly shops at Life’s Abundance, and all of those generous enough to make periodic contributions, our non-profit (The Dr. Jane Foundation) continues to thrive, helping animals in need by supporting small and medium-size rescue organizations across the nation. In 2015, we awarded more than a dozen rescues grants upwards of $20,000. We could not have done any of that if it weren’t for you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you.

We have expanded our pet product line to include more health promoting products, like our premium grain-free foods for dogs and cats. Rest assured, we will continue to develop our line and hone existing formulas, all to give your pet kids the best possible life.

On behalf of all the employees of Life’s Abundance, we wish every Field Representative, customer and blog visitor the happiest, healthiest and most prosperous year yet.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals,

Dr Jane Bicks  Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

Ways to Memorialize Your Pet Kid

Most Americans would agree that tradition has changed from the not-so-distant past when it was standard practice for family pets to be unceremoniously buried in the yard or a nearby natural area - marker optional. There is much discussion and even research about the why’s and how’s of the evolution of pets as part of the family, but for pet parents the heart already knows what the research shows … we love our animal family members deeply and will go to lengths to keep them healthy, treat their illnesses, and to remember them when they’re gone. 

Like the old burial traditions, pet memorial options have evolved, too. There are familiar fixtures like personalized garden stones or benches, a specially placed photo or a spot on the mantel for an urn. But, in an effort to find comfort in the face of loss, pet parents are turning to a new variety of personally meaningful remembrances, some of which cost big bucks.

1. Burial, Interment & Funeral Services $90 - $3,000+
Formerly reserved for humans, pet funeral services now are an option for grieving families. Whether an intimate service at home, or a viewing at the funeral parlor, the full scope of traditional services and accompaniments (like fully dressed caskets and floral arrangements) are available, with over 300 listings nationwide for pet cemeteries. However, cremation is still the most popular means of handling a deceased pet. Increasingly easier to come by, for around $200, columbariums provide an affordable way to permanently inter ashes. For those considering a columbarium, it will be important to check the size of the vault before ordering a specialty urn.

2. Memorial Art $200 - $3,500+
For that once-in-a-lifetime pet, a commissioned art piece may be the ultimate tribute. By sharing a few photos of your dog or cat, an artist can create a life like plush sculpture of your pet starting around $1,800. There are also foundries that will produce cremain-infused glass sculptures, urns, vases, or stained glass panels either of their design (starting around $200) or tailored to your specification. And, while it may be common knowledge that artists are available to paint a portrait of fur babies past and present, did you know that ashes can be mixed with the paint used to create said portrait?

3. Memorial Jewelry $15 - $17,000
Websites like etsy.com showcase an array of simple and affordable engraved or otherwise personalized trinkets in a variety of styles and materials. Pet parents can take the customization a step further by opting for glass beads that incorporate the pet’s ashes for about $85 per bead. For those with aching hearts and deep pockets, a memorial manufactured diamond crafted from your beloved’s cremated remains can be purchased for $750 for about 0.0275 carat, up to $17,000 for a 2 carat stone.

4. Extraordinary Services $850 - $10,000
Sadly, in most states it is against the law to bury human and animal remains together. But a few out-of-this-world companies give pet parents the chance to plan for a combined burial…of sorts. For the avid outdoors person, or retired military or police personnel, combined (or individual) cremains can be turned into live ammunition for use in a salute, hunt or other activity that may have had meaning for the deceased. If conservation is a passion, there is a service that will incorporate remains into a coral reef habitat. According to the company’s website, including pets within this tribute is the number one request they receive. For those who prefer to look skyward, consider one of the space flights that can deliver “a symbolic portion” of remains to the Earth’s orbit where it will descend as a shooting star, or send your loved one all the way to the moon in a tribute you can gaze upon forever.

Wherever your budget falls, it is surely our memories of the four-legged companions we’ve lost that carry the truest and deepest meaning. Of the multitude of options (DIY, purchased or commissioned), what have been some of your most meaningful tributes for a pet kid? Please share your personal stories in the comments section below.