Easter Hazards for Your Cat

Easter and the traditions surrounding it pose several dangers for your cat.  Knowing that these dangers exist will give you the opportunity to avoid them and keep your pet healthy through the holiday and beyond.

Easter lilies and other types of lilies are one of the biggest threats for your cat. The true lilies are all toxic to your cat and ingestion can prove to be fatal. Both live plants and cut flowers pose a hazard and all parts of the plant are considered to be toxic. Even something as seemingly innocent as getting plant pollen on the fur by rubbing against the plant can be a problem for your cat if he grooms the fur and swallows the pollen. When ingested, these plants damage the kidneys and cause kidney failure.Symptoms seen in cats that have been poisoned by lilies are a result of failure of the kidneys. These symptoms may include depression, lack of appetite, vomiting, increased water consumption, increased urine volume, diarrhea, coma, and death.

Another Easter hazard for a curious cat is the artificial “grass” that is often used in Easter baskets and other Easter decorations. This “grass” is often tempting for a playful cat and it can become a linear foreign body if swallowed, necessitating surgery to remove the offending object from your cat’s intestinal tract. Left untreated, this type of intestinal foreign body can prove fatal to your cat.

Chocolate is another potential threat around Easter-time. Many of our favorite treats contain chocolate, and chocolate can be toxic if ingested by your cat.

Other food items fed from the table, such as bones, can be dangerous for your cat also and should be avoided.  Avoid giving your kitty any rich, fatty, or greasy table scraps — these can upset their stomachs or even cause pancreatitis, which is potentially fatal if left untreated.

If you suspect that your cat has ingested a toxin or if your cat is acting abnormally, contact your veterinarian for advice. If your veterinarian is not available, seek guidance from your local emergency veterinary hospital or contact the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center or the Pet Poison Helpline.

Source: pawnation.com

Our Least Favorite Dog Habit

Many concerned owners let us in on a dirty little secret at their pet’s annual check up.  Their beloved pup has started eating poop!  Why do dogs do this?  How can we stop them?

The origins of poop eating

The technical term for poop-eating behavior is coprophagia, and disgusting as it is to us, it is a normal behavior for dogs. Some experts theorize that this behavior is the root of domestication . Wild canids would eat human refuse outside of settlements, and over time these animals came to resemble our domestic dogs more and more. Mother dogs eat their puppies’ excrement until the pups are about four weeks. Dogs like poop, and their digestive systems are designed in such a way that they can often gain nutrition from the waste products of other animals.

All that said, coprophagia is not a behavior most of us will tolerate in their companion dogs. There are some health risks, such as an increased risk of parasites (some of which are zoonotic, which means that people can get them, too). If your dog has allergies, the undigested remnants of allergens in the poop of animals fed certain diets can trigger an allergic reaction.

Limit opportunities to eat poop

The more your dog practices any behavior, be it eating fecal matter or sitting politely to greet guests, the better the dog gets at that behavior. This means that if your dog eats poop and you want them to stop, preventing them from “practicing” that poop-eating behavior is of vital importance. There are several ways to do this.

The first, and possibly most important step, is to thoroughly clean your yard. This will require daily upkeep.  Resolve to clean up each pile as it happens!

While there are several food additives on the market that claim to make the dog’s poop unappetizing, they do not always work. If you go this route, it’s important to treat every dog in the household, or the offending dog will learn to just keep trying in order to find an unadulterated pile to munch on. These additives are not completely effective, although they can work for some dogs.

We also recommend adding variety to your pets diet.  Often times, your dog may be bored with is bowl of dry food for each meal, every day.  Adding something small and flavorful, such as a spoonful of wet food, to your dog’s daily meal may give them the variety they are looking for in the yard.

Coprophagia is disgusting, but like all other behavior problems, it can be solved.  It’s well worth the effort to stop this behavior in its tracks.

If you need little extra help solving a tough poop-eating problem with your dog, don’t be afraid to call in an expert.  Call our office if you have further questions or need a referral!

Kennel Cough: How could my dog get it?

Spring has sprung in Tucson which means outdoor and travel season are upon us!  Your pet may stay at a boarding kennel, take many trips to the dog park, or even need more frequent trips to the groomer.  With these types of interactions, your dog does run the risk of contracting kennel cough.  This article will help you learn more about the signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention of kennel cough!

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is a broad term covering any infectious or contagious condition of dogs where coughing is one of the major clinical signs. The term tracheobronchitis describes the location of the infection in the “windpipe” or trachea and bronchial tubes. Several viruses and bacteria can cause kennel cough, often at the same time. These include adenovirus type-2 (distinct from the adenovirus type 1 that causes infectious hepatitis), parainfluenza virus, and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. Because the infection spreads when dogs are housed together, it is often seen soon after dogs have been in kennels, hence the name “kennel cough.”

What are the clinical signs of kennel cough other than coughing?

Clinical signs may be variable. It is often a mild disease, but the cough may be chronic, lasting for several weeks in some cases. Common clinical signs include a loud cough often describe as a “goose honk”, runny eyes and nose, swollen tonsils, wheezing, lack of appetite and depressed behavior. Most cases of infectious tracheobronchitis have a demonstrable or elicitable cough that occurs when the throat is rubbed or palpated.

What is the treatment for infectious tracheobronchitis?

There is no specific treatment for the viral infections, but many of the more severe signs are due to bacterial involvement, particularly Bordetella bronchiseptica. Antibiotics are useful against this bacterium, although some antibiotic resistance has been reported. Some cases require prolonged treatment, but most infections resolve within one to three weeks. Mild clinical signs may linger even when the bacteria have been eliminated.

How can I prevent my dog contracting Kennel Cough?

Most vaccination programs your veterinarian will recommend contain adenovirus and parainfluenza. Bordetella vaccination is also highly recommended for dogs that are boarded, groomed or interact with other dogs in areas such as dog parks.

How effective are these vaccines?

Immunity, even if the dog has experienced a natural infection, is neither solid nor long-lasting. We cannot expect vaccines to do much better.  Rita Ranch Pet Hospital recommends our Bordetella/Parainfluenza vaccine be given as drops in the nose.  This can protect your pet for up to one year.  We also offer an injectable Bordetella that only ofers about six months of protections.  Some kennel facilities require a booster vaccination shortly before boarding and many kennels require a booster vaccine every six months to ensure maximum protection against this troublesome infection.

How are the Bordetella vaccines administered?

Bordetella vaccination is given either by injection or intra-nasal route. Intra-nasal refers to the liquid vaccine administered as nose drops. This allows local immunity to develop on the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and windpipe where the infectious agents first attack.

Help! My Dog Is An Untrained Mess!

Top Ten Dog Training Mistakes

For all the wonders of owning a dog, they do come complete with quite a few nasty habits. From trying to eat the cat to urinating on the carpet, an untrained dog can be quite a handful indeed.

The good news is that just about any dog can be trained. The only problem is that it’s not something that can be done overnight. It’s something that takes time, effort, and above all, quite a bit of patience.

Should you be considering undertaking the challenge of turning a wild hound into a loving pet, an excellent place to start is learning what not to do. Here are ten mistakes that can make training a dog far more difficult than it needs to be.

Being Inconsistent

Consistency is key if you want to properly train your dog. It’s important to decide early on where your dog is and isn’t allowed to go. If you let him on the couch one day and scold him for going on the couch the next, you are just going to confuse him. Consistency is also important when it comes to when you train him. Training him one week and forgetting the next is not how you get results.

Expecting Too Much

The dogs on television might make tricks look incredibly easy but that’s because they’ve been training for years. Don’t expect too much from your dog. Expecting him to perform such tricks is akin to expecting your child to play football like a professional. Focus on realistic goals and focus on achieving them within realistic time frames.

Using Different Command Words

One of the easiest ways to confuse your four legged friend is to use different words for the same command. For example, if you want your dog to sit down, stick to saying “Sit”. If you alternate between “Sit”, “Come here” and “Come”, you are going to end up with a dog that has no idea what you are asking him to do.


Another mistake that can seriously hamper your dog training efforts is shouting. When telling your dog to do something, you should aim to speak in a clear, loud and stern voice. If you shout, your dog is going to find it much more difficult to understand the words coming out of your mouth.

Forgetting to Reward Good Behavior

Effective dog training isn’t just about saying “no!” when he’s done something wrong, it’s about rewarding him when he’s done something right. If you fail to reward good behavior, your dog isn’t going to know whether or not he’s done what you asked. When he gets something right, both a treat and ample praise are very much required.

Getting Angry

It might not always seem like it but your dog does genuinely want to please you. When he does something wrong during training, it’s completely accidental. Getting angry and punishing him is therefore both illogical and cruel. Punishments during the training phase can also damage the trust between the two of you and in doing so, severely reduce the rate at which progress is made.

Being Impatient

Many dog owners seem to believe that they can train their dog over the course of a week. This is completely untrue. Basic dog training takes months. The types of tricks that you see on TV take years. Ample patience is therefore very much required.

Training for Too Long

Dogs of all ages have very short attention spans. You should aim for training sessions that are no longer than fifteen minutes each. When you attempt to train a dog for longer than fifteen minutes at a time, they tend to get bored. And as you are probably aware, bored dogs get distracted very easily.

Starting too Late

If you have a new puppy at home, it’s important to start training him as soon as possible. The longer you wait to train your dog, the more difficult the process is going to be. Not only do puppies tend to learn things faster, the older a dog gets, the more bad habits he’s likely to have picked up.

Giving Up

Finally, arguably the biggest mistake that you can make when training a dog is giving up too soon. As I’ve stated above, dog training takes time. Just because your dog doesn’t understand something now, that doesn’t mean that he won’t understand it eventually. Provided you’re willing to put in the time, your dog will eventually figure things out. But if you give up too soon, he never will.

Source: http://www.pet-health-care-gazette.com/2013/03/07/top-ten-dog-training-mistakes/

About the Author:
Linda Martinez is a blogger and writes about animals and everything related to them.