Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats

Lilies
Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Marijuana
Ingestion of Cannabis sativa by companion animals can result in depression of the central nervous system and incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma.

Sago Palm
All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

Azalea/Rhododendron
Members of the Rhododenron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

Oleander 
All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

Castor Bean
The poisonous principle in Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.

Cyclamen
Cyclamen species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.

Kalanchoe
This plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.

Yew
Taxus spp. contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes central nervous system effects such as trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.

Amaryllis 
Common garden plants popular around Easter, Amaryllis species contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.

Autumn Crocus
Ingestion of Colchicum autumnale by pets can result in oral irritation, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage and bone marrow suppression.

Chrysanthemum
These popular blooms are part of the Compositae family, which contain pyrethrins that may produce gastrointestinal upset, including drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, if eaten. In certain cases depression and loss of coordination may also develop if enough of any part of the plant is consumed.

English Ivy
Also called branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy, Hedera helix contains triterpenoid saponins that, should pets ingest, can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea.

Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily)
Spathiphyllum contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

Pothos
Pothos (both Scindapsus and Epipremnum) belongs to the Araceae family. If chewed or ingested, this popular household plant can cause significant mechanical irritation and swelling of the oral tissues and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

Schefflera
Schefflera and Brassaia actinophylla contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

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Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

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10 Most Common Illnesses for Cats

Cats may have nine lives, but you want to make sure kitty hangs on to all of them for as long as she can. No matter how much love and care you give your furry companion, things happen. But by knowing how to recognize the most common conditions affecting cats, you may just be able to save your pet’s life.

10. Hyperthyroidism. The most likely cause of hyperthyroidism is a benign tumor on the thyroid gland, which will cause the gland to secrete too much of the hormone. Take your cat to the vet if it starts drinking and peeing a lot, shows aggressive and jittery behavior, suddenly seems hyperactive, vomits and/or loses weight while eating more than usual.

Treatment depends on other medical conditions but can range from using drugs to regulate the overactive gland, surgical removal of the gland, and even radioactive treatment to destroy the tumor and diseased thyroid tissue.

 

9. Upper Respiratory Virus. If your kitty is sneezing, sniffling, coughing, has runny eyes or nose, seems congested and has mouth and nose ulcers, chances are it has an upper respiratory virus. The two main forms of the virus are the feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Once at the vet’s office, the cat may receive nose drops, eye ointments and antibacterial medication, especially if it has a secondary infection.

 

8. Ear Infection. Ear infections in cats have many causes. These might include mites, bacteria, fungi, diabetes, allergies and reactions to medication; some breeds are also more susceptible to ear infections than others. So it’s definitely a good idea to have your kitty checked if it’s showing symptoms such as ear discharge, head shaking, swollen ear flaps, stinky ears and ultra sensitivity to ears being touched. Treatment, of course, depends on the cause, but will include eardrops, ear cleaning, ear and oral medications and in severe cases, surgery.

 

7. Colitis/Constipation. Colitis is a fancy word for inflammation of the large intestine. While the most obvious sign of colitis is diarrhea, sometimes it will hurt the cat to poop. Thus, in trying to hold it in, the cat may develop constipation.

There are many causes of colitis, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, allergies and parasites, among other diseases. Signs include straining to poop, lack of appetite, dehydration and vomiting. Your vet will test for the underlying cause and treat it accordingly. This may include a more fiber-rich diet, de-worming, antibiotics, laxatives and/or fluids.

 

6. Diabetes. Like humans, cats suffer from diabetes, too, though this is usually seen in older, overweight cats. Symptoms include increased thirst and peeing, peeing outside the litter box, lethargy and depression.

While causes of feline diabetes are not really known, there is a link with diabetes and being overweight. Treatment, therefore, includes daily health monitoring, diet changes, exercise, and depending on the cat’s needs, either daily oral medications or injections.

 

5. Skin Allergies. Kitties, like you, are known to suffer from allergies, although their allergies show on the skin. If your cat scratches, or chews on its skin a lot, has a rash or loses hair in patches, a trip to the vet is a good idea.

Causes of skin allergies vary from reactions to food, fleas, pollens, mites, and even mold and mildew. Treatments may include allergy shots, diet changes, medication and antihistamines.

 

4. Intestinal Inflammation/Diarrhea. Diarrhea is a sure sign of an intestinal inflammation. It affects either the cat’s small or large intestine and may due to a variety of factors, including diet changes, eating contraband foodstuffs, allergies, bacteria overgrowth, worms and even kidney disease.

Symptoms include diarrhea, lack of appetite and vomiting. A visit to your vet will sort out the cause, and treatment may include hydration therapy, a bland diet, dietary changes and anti-diarrhea medications.

 

3. Renal Failure. This is a serious condition, which is common in older cats. While the underlying causes are not yet understood, recent research suggests a link with distemper vaccinations and long-term dry food diets. Make sure you request blood tests on your regular wellness checkups, since symptoms often don’t show up until 75 percent of the kidney tissue is damaged.

The main symptom is excessive thirst and peeing, but the cat may also show signs of drooling, jaw-clicking, and ammonia-scented breath. While it’s not curable, renal failure (when not severe) can be managed through diet, drugs and hydration therapy. Kidney transplants and dialysis can also be used.

 

2. Stomach Upsets (Gastritis). An inflammation of the cat’s stomach lining is simply referred to as gastritis. This condition may be mild or severe, but regardless of its type, make sure you bring your cat to visit the vet if it doesn’t show improvement in a day or two, or if the symptoms are severe.

Gastritis has many causes, from eating spoiled food to eating too fast to allergies or bacterial infections. If your cat is vomiting, belching, has a lack of appetite or bloodstained poop or diarrhea, a visit to the vet will help straighten things out. Treatments depend on the cause, but generally include medication, fluid therapy and even antibiotics.

 

1. Lower Urinary Tract Disease. Coming in at No. 1, lower urinary tract disease can turn very quickly into a life-threatening illness for your cat, especially if there’s a blockage caused by crystals, stones or plugs. When total blockage occurs, death can occur within 72 hours if left untreated.

Therefore, whisk your cat off to the vet or emergency center ASAP if you see any of the following signs: peeing outside of the litter box, straining, blood in urine, crying out while attempting to pee, not being able to pee, excessive licking of genitals, not eating or drinking, yowling while moving and lethargy. These signs will generally occur regardless if the urinary tract disease is due to stones, infection or urethral plugs. Treatment includes catheterizing to drain the bladder, medication to dissolve stones or blockages, and in recurring cases, surgery.

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Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

Tips for How to Stop Dogs and Puppies from Chewing

We’ve all been there — you go into your closet, pull out your favorite pair of shoes and suddenly you notice that they’ve been torn to pieces. Who’s to blame? The dog, of course.

Here are some guidelines on how to get a puppy or dog to stop chewing things he shouldn’t:

 

1. Be attentive. Much like you would with a human baby, always keep an eye on your puppy to protect him from his own curiosity and lack of experience.

2. Contain the situation. If you have to leave your dog alone, whether for a long portion of the day or for only a little while (like a trip to the grocery store), make sure that he is confined in a secure place, such as in a dog crate or in an area of your house that has been set aside just for him – with child or pet proof gates to secure the area. Puppies usually begin chewing on things when they are alone and bored, often getting into trouble or suffering injury when allowed free rein to roam around an unsupervised house. The area where you confine your puppy must be free of objects that he can chew on, except for those chew toys that have been specifically chosen for their age appropriateness.

3. Leave your scent behind. If you are leaving your dog for a longer duration, rolling your dog’s favorite toy or nylon bone between your hands will give him something to remember you by. Avoid making an emotional farewell so that your puppy does not respond with anxiety (i.e., separation anxiety), which can lead to whining, barking and other destructive behaviors. Many puppy owners have also found that leaving the radio on (with calm, soothing music playing in the background) will help to calm an anxious puppy.

4. Prevention is key. You must put away all of the things your dog can get into his mouth. Even things that appear to be out of reach may be reached by a diligent dog. This includes shoes, children’s toys (especially small toys that your puppy can choke on), articles of clothing (particularly socks and undergarments) plastic bags, containers of medicine, wallets and purses; just about everything. Do not ever allow a dog to go into the bathroom unsupervised, since there are a lot of objects there that you do not want to have chewed and scattered through the house. This includes items commonly found in the wastebasket, but also rolls of toilet paper. You must also take care to store valuable objects such as jewelry in a safe place that a dog cannot reach; a closed closet, dresser drawer or cabinet is best.

5. Choose toys wisely. Many plush animals have pieces that can fall off or be chewed off, becoming a choking hazard. Only buy plush toys that have been designed with a dog’s safety in mind.

6. Discipline when appropriate. Puppies need to be taught early on that they can only chew on those things that have been given to them, but before they are mentally and emotionally mature enough to understand and remember these lessons, you will need to keep everything else out of his reach.

7. Correct then divert. When you do find your dog chewing on an inappropriate object, correct him with a stern “no” and then divert his attention to the object that you have chosen as appropriate for him to chew. This object can be a nylon bone that is meat-scented, or a heavy-duty rubber toy that cannot be shredded. Nylon bones are superior in that they are durable, safe and non-damaging to the teeth. Squeaky toys, rubber toys and raw-hide bones are also favorites for dogs, but they are not as durable, and the squeaker can be chewed out and swallowed, or the rubber shredded and swallowed, both of which can be choking or intestinal hazards. If he obeys and chews on the appropriate object, praise him.

8. Do not give your dog an old shoe or old socks to chew on. You are unintentionally teaching him that it is acceptable to chew on shoes and socks, and there will come a day when one of your very favorite or very expensive shoes ends up as dog fodder. Your dog, for that matter — cannot be expected to distinguish which shoes are the good ones and which ones are for him.

9. Create “real life” scenarios. As your puppy matures, tempt him by scattering a few different objects on the floor, including his nylon bone. The purpose of this is to teach him to ignore the objects that are forbidden to him. While we still advise not leaving objects lying around, it is bound to happen eventually, and training your puppy — as he reaches the mature age to remember and obey his lessons — will ensure his safety (and the safety of your possessions). Let your puppy lie down and pretend that you are busy doing something when all the while you are keeping an eye on him. When you see him begin to take a forbidden object into his mouth, reprimand him with a firm (not loud) “No!” and give him the nylon bone. Repeating this type of exercise will teach him not to chew on other objects except the bone when you are with him. As it becomes clear that he is learning the lesson, you can try leaving the room for a short while (less than 30 seconds). Immediately return so that you can catch him if he takes a forbidden object into his mouth and immediately reprimand him, again giving him his nylon bone to replace the object. Repeating this exercise will teach him to chew only on his nylon bone even when you are not around. Again, the best prevention is to not leave anything to chance. Pick everything up except what your dog is allowed to chew.

10. Exercise daily. Age and breed appropriate exercise every day makes it so your dog does not get bored. It also helps to keep his energy levels balanced and his metabolism at normal levels. Boredom and high energy levels are some of the most common reasons for destructive behavior.

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Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

How to Add Years to Your Pet’s Life

By Lorie Huston, DVM

Anyone who has ever had a dog or cat wishes just one thing — that he or she has a healthy and long life. Here are five tips that can help your pet do just that.

 

1. FEED A HIGH QUALITY DIET.

Pets fed a high quality diet have a shiny hair coat, healthy skin, and bright eyes. A good diet can help strengthen your pet’s immune system, help maintain his or her intestinal health, help increase his or her mental acuity, help keep joints and muscles healthy, and much more.

2. KEEP YOUR PET LEAN.

Pets that are overweight are at risk for a myriad of health issues. Obesity is the number one nutritional disease seen in pets currently and studies have shown that being overweight or obese can shorten a dog or cat’s life span by as much as two years. Why? Being overweight or obese puts your pet at risk for joint disease, heart disease and diabetes, among other things.

3. TAKE YOUR PET TO THE VETERINARIAN REGULARLY.

All pets, including both dogs and cats, require regular veterinary care. However, veterinary care goes far beyond routine vaccinations, even though those are important. A routine examination by your veterinarian can uncover health issues of which you are unaware. In many cases, an early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment. Early diagnosis is also likely to be less costly for you than waiting until your pet’s illness has become advanced and serious before attempting treatment.

4. KEEP YOUR PET’S MOUTH CLEAN.

A common problem among dogs and cats, dental disease and oral health issues can cause your pet pain, making it difficult for him or her to eat. If left untreated, oral health issues may even lead to heart and kidney disease. In addition to regular dental checkups, the most effective means of caring for your pet’s mouth at home is to brush his or her teeth at home. If your pet isn’t a big fan of toothbrushes there are other alternatives as well, including dental diets, treats, and toys. Ask your veterinarian for some recommendations.

5. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR PET TO ROAM UNSUPERVISED.

Allowing your dog or cat to roam free may seem like you’re doing your pet a favor. However, pets that roam are susceptible to a number of dangers, including automobile accidents, predation, exposure to contagious diseases, exposure to poisons, and more. Additionally, allowing your pet to roam unsupervised may alienate your neighbors should your pet ever “relieve” him- or herself in their lawn or dig up their garden.

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Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

How to Travel with a Cat

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The very first rule of traveling with your cat is to have an ID tag or other means of identification securely affixed to the kitty. Thousands of dogs and cats end up in shelters simply because the owners never dreamed the pet would get loose or become lost while on a trip. There are few disasters in a person’s life that are worse than having to drive off without a pet because all means of locating and recovery have failed.  This kind of tragedy will haunt you for the rest of your life; don’t let it happen. Get an ID tag, or at the very least microchip your cat!

Before you leave make sure you consider the option of leaving your cat in a hometown boarding facility  Many are just for cats and do not board dogs. Others have the cats well away from any sight, sound or smell of a canine. In fact, go and visit your local boarding facility and see what goes on there. Continue reading

10 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Kitten

happy-healthy-kitten

Getting a new kitten is one of the best things in the world. They’re cute, soft as down, and as cuddly as, well, kittens. Nearly irresistible, kittens melt even the toughest of hearts.

It’s good to get things started off on the right paw, and the food and care you choose can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your growing kitten. Here are 10 starter tips for you and your “mew” companion. Continue reading