Human Medications and their Hazards to Pets
Did you know that more than half of all calls placed to pet poison hotlines are due to a dog, cat, or other household pet accidentally ingesting medication meant for a human family member? The number of calls even exceeds those at Thanksgiving and other holidays.
One of the most important things to understand about medication as a pet owner is that you should never give your pet human medication even if it’s meant to treat the same condition. It’s always a good idea to speak to one of the veterinarians at Battletown Animal Clinic before giving your pet any type of prescription or non-prescription medication intended for her species. Our veterinarian will monitor your pet for side effects while taking the medication and ensure that it treats the condition as expected.
Common Human Medications Ingested by Animals
The Pet Poison Helpline reports that it receives the most calls about companion animals getting into these types of pills:
- Tylenol: Dogs who swallow large doses of this medication, also known as acetaminophen, may experience damage to red blood cells and liver failure. It’s even more dangerous for cats due to their smaller body size. Cats with damaged red blood cells have difficulty moving oxygen throughout their bodies.
- Depression medication: Regardless of the brand name, medication used to treat clinical depression in humans can cause a host of serious neurological issues in animals. Some of these include balance problems, seizures, and tremors. Anti-depressants that include a stimulant can raise a pet’s heart rate to a dangerous level.
- NSAID: Pain relievers classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including naproxen and ibuprofen, can cause ulcers, kidney failure, and other serious health issues related to the stomach.
Of course, pills aren’t the only type of medication dangerous to pets. They could also get into creams, needles, bandages, liquid medication, and many other types.
Tips to Avoid an Accidental Overdose with Your Pet
We recommend keeping your medications in their original containers in a location that’s far out of your pet’s reach. If you choose to keep medications in a purse, be sure to zip your purse and store it away from your pet. With a sense of smell that’s 10 times that of humans, your pet might be so curious about what’s inside of your purse that they bite and claw it open. This goes for other items in your purse as well, such as gum and make-up.
If the human and animal members of your family are taking medication at the same time, be sure to keep them separate. Taking the wrong type could make a person or animal extremely ill. If you use a plastic organizer for your pills, keep it out of your pet’s reach. Your dog might see it as a new chew toy and your cat will try to bat it, which could cause the contents of the case to spill.
Although it takes a few extra minutes to safeguard your medications, keeping your pet safe is well worth the extra effort. Please contact Battletown Animal Hospital if you need additional advice.
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Human Animal Bond and Its Reciprocal Nature
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), the bond between people and animals has existed for thousands of years. It developed even more once people began taking animals into their homes as family pets. It’s a dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship influenced by the behavior of each party. Some of the factors the affect the strength of this bond include physical, emotional, and psychological interactions as well as interaction with the outer environment.
Veterinarians and technicians, including those at Battletown Animal Hospital, recognize the importance of this bond and do everything possible to nurture it. This includes offering annual or bi-annual preventive care exams, counseling pet owners about vaccinations and parasite control, and providing top-notch care when a pet is sick or injured. Strong bonds between people and their pets benefits the larger society, and we’re proud to play a role in fostering it.
The Many Physical and Emotional Health Benefits of Sharing Your Life with a Pet
People simply feel better when they’re around pets. They seem to have a calming effect that immediately reduces any stress you might be feeling. After all, what is better that stroking a dog or cat’s soft fur and having them bark or purr their appreciation? The simple act of petting an animal lowers blood pressure while releasing a relaxation hormone at the same time. Lower blood pressure also means a lower risk of heart disease. The fact that people with dogs walk them often also helps to account for the reduction in blood pressure.
Walking your dog out in the community helps connect you to other people. The dog breaks the ice between strangers and helps them to engage in conversation that might not have happened otherwise. Your neighbors may even start looking for you to walk your dog each day just so they can stop to pet her and talk with you. Dogs are truly social magnets.
Having a dog, cat, or other pet in your life makes it less likely that you will succumb to loneliness and depression. One reason for this is that pets give people a sense of purpose and belonging. They bond with the animal while caring for it and make human friendships through their pets as well. Interestingly, people with pets go to the doctor less often for help with minor health issues.
Living as part of a loving, caring family is beneficial for the pet as well. They obviously lead healthier and longer lives when someone is there to care for their needs and to interact with them. It’s a win-win for humans and animals alike.
Let Us Help You Keep Your Pet Well
We encourage you to bring your adult pet to Battletown Animal Hospital once a year for a preventive care exam. Puppies, kittens, and senior pets typically require more frequent check-ups. We’re also here for you any time you have a concern about your pet. Just call 540-955-1151 to schedule an appointment or ask a question.
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Heat Awareness and Safety
We’re in the hottest stretch of summer, with temperatures regularly reaching over 90 degrees. It’s all too easy for people and animals to develop heatstroke or another heat-related illness now that temperatures are at their highest peak of the summer. While you can protect yourself from the effects of extreme heat, your pets depend on you to keep them safe. Considering that 50 percent of dogs and cats who suffer heatstroke die as a result, it essential that you recognize the symptoms of this common disease as well as how to prevent it.
Tips for Heatstroke Prevention
We at Battletown Animal Hospital know how much you love your pet and want to take great care of her. Here are some tips to keep her safe from heatstroke this summer:
- Keep your dog or cat’s water dish continually full to avoid the risk of dehydration. If your pet will be outside for a while, place a water bowl out there as well and make sure he knows the location of it.
- If your pet is traveling with you, don’t leave her inside of a hot car while you go inside a store, gas station, or restaurant. Contrary to popular belief, leaving the window cracked won’t prevent an animal inside of a hot car from developing heatstroke. If the outside temperature is 80 degrees, it only takes 10 minutes for the temperature inside of the vehicle to exceed 100 degrees. If you’re gone for 30 minutes, the inside temperature can reach 120 degrees and your pet has no way to escape it. Significant and irreversible organ damage can take place at this point.
- Before you let your pet outside for an extended time, make sure she has access to several shaded areas.
- Dogs need outdoor exercise during all four seasons. During the summer, it’s best to exercise with your dog during the late afternoon or early morning hours when the rays from the sun are less powerful and the temperature is not so high. It’s also a good idea to avoid walking your dog on hot sidewalks or other paved areas on extremely warm summer days.
- Most dogs love swimming. For the days when it’s too hot to go to the beach or you just don’t feel like it, consider purchasing a kid’s plastic swimming pool and filling it with your garden hose. Your dog can jump in any time he feels too warm. Another idea is to place a cooling pack on your dog’s skin for a few minutes when he comes in from spending time outdoors.
Typical Heatstroke Symptoms in Dog and Cats
Sometimes heatstroke will still occur despite your best efforts. Other times you won’t realize how the heat has affected your pet until she starts showing signs of illness. Here are the signs to look for:
- Gums appear dry, sticky, or bright red
Severe heatstroke can cause seizures and eventual death. Be sure to get your pet out of the heat immediately if you notice any of these symptoms and then contact Battletown Animal Hospital right away. You can place a towel with cold water on your pet’s skin to keep her cool on the way to the clinic. Please let us know if you have additional questions about keeping your pet safe this summer.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
It’s the Great Outdoors Month!
Did you know that June is the Great Outdoors Month? It earned this status several years ago through a presidential proclamation. The awareness event hopes to highlight the wonderful resources we have available to us in parks, forests, hiking trails, camping areas, and other types of public land. This month can be even more exciting when you have a dog to accompany you on your outdoor adventures. However, it does require careful planning to prevent injury and illness. We recommend that you schedule a preventive care exam at Battletown Animal Clinic before engaging in strenuous physical activity with your dog.
How to Prepare for a Hike with Your Dog
Hiking with your dog is great exercise for both of you and an enjoyable time of bonding. Before you set out on a trail, make certain you understand rules regarding dogs as well as how to follow proper etiquette. This includes such things as behavior training, knowing when to give another hiker the right of way, and keeping your dog contained with a harness and leash. We also recommend making sure that your dog has adequate flea and tick prevention.
Remember that you must clean up your dog’s waste on a hiking trail just as you would in a residential neighborhood. According to the website American Trails, dog owners must place the waste in a bag and then bury it in a hole located 200 feet or more from the main trail. The hole should be a minimum of six inches deep. You also need to train your dog not to urinate too closely to a water source.
If your dog gets a clean bill of health at his checkup, you can start training him for the rigors of hiking at home. Place a lightweight or empty pack on his back on the first day and go walking with him. You can gradually increase the weight each day until it’s close to what your dog would carry on a hiking trail. At its heaviest, the pack should not exceed one-quarter of your dog’s total body weight. American Trails also recommends not taking a dog hiking until he’s at least one year old since he would have difficulty handling the weight of the pack.
What to Bring on Your Hike
When you’re deep in the woods, you may not be able to find help if your dog experiences an illness or injury for several hours. For this reason, plan to pack a canine first-aid kit and bring it with you. The kit should contain the following items at a minimum:
- Regular medication
- Rubber gloves
- Cotton swabs
- Small and large bandages
- A lighted collar
- Tweezers for removing ticks or other insects
- Dog food as well as dishes for the food and water
- A coat for cooler weather in the evening and early morning
- A nail file and clipper along with protection for nails and paw pads
- Towels for bathing, cooling, and wiping off paws
Once you have mastered the art of hiking with your dog, you might just decide that you want to go camping together in a national park. We wish you both a fun and active summer!
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Pets and Water Safety
It's an unfortunate myth that all dogs naturally know how to swim. Although some breeds take to swimming quickly and become strong swimmers, other breeds require human instruction. Dogs that have a short muzzle or those with a larger than normal distance between their hindquarters and chest can’t survive in water for very long.
As your dog’s guardian, you need to learn his limits when it comes to water and do everything necessary to keep him safe. We recommend bringing your dog to Battletown Animal Hospital for a preventive care exam before taking him swimming for the first time. This ensures that he’s prepared for the physical demands of swimming.
Take Small Steps When Introducing Your Dog to Water
A lake or swimming pool can seem overwhelming to a dog who has never been in one. To reduce your dog’s anxiety and teach her proper water safety, be sure to expose her to water in small doses. You and your dog should enter the water together so you can gauge her reaction to it. Make sure that the water is not more than a few feet deep in case your dog does struggle to stay afloat. It’s a good indication the training is going well if your dog immediately begins paddling in water. However, don’t take your eyes off her and stay within an arm’s length away so you can grab her if necessary.
You can increase your physical distance from your dog each time you go to a lake or pool together. This will help him feel more at ease with the idea of swimming, but you should continue to supervise him at all times. Dogs can be unpredictable, which means that a loud noise or spotting another dog nearby can cause your dog to dash out of the water or further in and over his head. When acclimating your dog to water, teach him that he cannot enter a lake or pool until you give a specific command. Make it clear that you expect him to come out of the water as soon as you do or when you give a verbal command.
Boating and Beach Safety
Dogs love doing anything you’re doing, including boating. If your dog does accompany you on a boat, make sure she has a life jacket just like every other passenger. Although she may not like it, she will learn to accept that she must wear it if she wants to go for a ride. In the event your dog falls off the side of the boat, pull her back in using a floatation device rather than jumping into the water.
Summer is short, which means you naturally want to go to the beach as often as possible. If your dog joins you, be sure that he has an updated microchip. This provides your contact information if you become separated and it can’t fall off like a tag and collar.
Cats and Water
Most cats want nothing to do with water and will naturally stay away from it. However, it’s still important to supervise your cat around any outdoor pool, sprinklers, and the garden hose. If you do experience a water-related emergency with your pet, contact us at 540-955-1151. You’re also welcome to contact us for other summer safety tips, such as taking a road trip with pets.
Photo Credit: Pixabay