Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?!

Until recently, veterinarians could only speculate on the reason. Common theories included: The pet must be sick and needs to vomit. Or perhaps there is something wrong with his diet.

 

But according to new research, neither of these answers appears to be correct. A new study yielded some interesting results! They found that very few – about 9% – appeared to be ill before eating grass. And less than one in four vomited afterward.

Diet or lack of fiber also had no effect on the dogs’ desire to eat these leafy greens. So if most of these dogs weren’t sick, seldom vomited, and diet wasn’t a factor, why were they eating grass?   It may be a trait leftover from more than 20,000 years ago, when canines in the wild ate grass to purge their systems of intestinal parasites.  No one can say for sure!

The study also revealed that younger dogs are more likely to eat grass than their adult counterparts. So should you ever be concerned when your dog eats grass?  Don’t allow your pet on a lawn that has recently been treated for pests or weeds.

 

If you are concerned about anything your dog has eaten, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Hart says that pet owners should be alert to any changes in a pet’s behavior, such as a sudden increase in grass eating. Keep in mind that 9% of the dogs in the study showed signs of illness before eating grass. This suggests that the dog is trying to medicate himself. Grass isn’t bad when you’re living in nature. But your veterinarian has far more effective medications to treat the problem.

But What About Cats? Cats eat grass less often than dogs, but they tend to eat a wider variety of plants. This can present problems, because cats are increasingly kept indoors where the only plants available may be houseplants, several of which are poisonous. If your cat likes to eat plants, you could try putting out a homegrown or commercial grass garden. “By having grass readily available, cats will tend to avoid the other plants and will be less likely to go after something that might be toxic. Common symptoms that might indicate plant poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation and irritation of the lips.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten a poisonous plant, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435.

Source: This article appeared on healthypet.com http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetsMatter

Insect Bite Reaction

What causes a reaction to an insect bite?

Many people and pets are sensitive to the proteins contained in the saliva or venom of many biting insects. They may be born with certain sensitivities or, more often, they may develop sensitivities if they are exposed numerous times to a particular insect bite. Bee stings, and the bites of spiders, fleas and ticks are the most common causes of insect bite reactions in pets.

What are the clinical signs of an insect bite reaction?

The most common clinical signs associated with an insect bite reaction include swelling and redness at the site of the bite, “hives” or multiple red, raised swellings over the body, a swollen face or muzzle, difficulty breathing and vomiting. Some patients will progress to severe respiratory distress and anaphylactic shock. Death rarely occurs.

 

How is an insect bite reaction diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and history. In certain cases blood samples will be analyzed looking for the presence of eosinophils, the immune cell associated with many allergic reactions. In severe cases, electrolyte levels will be monitored and a urinalysis will be performed to evaluate urine output and kidney function.

Venomous spider bites such as the brown recluse often have slowly progressing, insidious clinical signs. Dark, necrotic (dying) tissue lesions that slowly spread are often the only clinical sign. Brown recluse spider bites often ultimately result in systemic shock and can lead to death. Fortunately, most spiders in North America are nonvenomous and cause only localized pain and swelling.

How is an insect bite reaction treated?

Treatment is based on the type of insect bite, the number of bites and the severity of clinical signs. Treatment typically consists of removal of the stinger or other insect parts, followed by administration of anti-histamines (diphenhydramine and/or cimetidine), epinephrine, and anti-inflammatory agents such as corticosteroids (prednisolone sodium succinate, dexamethasone sodium phosphate) as indicated. In patients that progress to systemic or anaphylactic shock, supportive measures such as intravenous fluids, corticosteroids, oxygen therapy and epinephrine are often administered.

 

What is the prognosis for insect bite reactions?

Except in rare cases of anaphylactic shock, the prognosis is excellent. Cases that involve tens to hundreds of bee stings merit a more guarded prognosis.

Future insect bites should be avoided due to the fact that many reactions worsen with repeated exposure to the offending proteins or toxins. You should always tell your veterinarian if your pet has ever experienced an insect bite reaction so that preventive measures can be taken in the future. Many pets that demonstrate insect bite hypersensitivity are also hypersensitive to flea and tick bites, pollens and molds, and many foods.

© Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. November 21, 2014

Enriching Your Cat’s Environment

 

It’s scientifically proven that feline emotional well-being, behavior and physical health are a result of how comfortable they are in their environment (The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery). Understanding how our cats interact with their environment can help us create a space for owners and cats to mutually thrive together. Not only does your feline’s wellness rely on her environmental conditions, but also on social interaction between humans.

Indoor Vs. Outdoor

Should you keep your cat strictly indoors or allow it to go outside? Several national associations of veterinarians advocate that domestic cats be kept inside for their health, safety, and the safety of surrounding native wildlife. Pet cats that are allowed to roam freely outdoors are subject to many dangers including, but not limited to:

•    Cars
•    Motorcycles
•    Bicycles
•    Attacks from other animals & predators
•    Possible human cruelty
•    Poisons, traps
•    Feline-specific diseases
•    Zoonotic diseases (contagious between pets & humans)

Often cat owners that allow their cats to roam outdoors are surprised to find that their cat is continually crossing major streets and roaming far beyond their immediate neighborhood. Lastly, allowing cats to roam outdoors affects the surrounding native wildlife populations. While owned cats do not hunt animals for survival, they will kill and maim animals based on instinct. This predation can have a significant impact on rodent and bird species.

Creating an Enriched Indoor Environment

Without an investment in enriching the indoor environment, indoor cats can suffer boredom from predictability, stress, and obesity from inactivity. This is especially true if your cat was once an outdoor cat and you’ve transitioned him to an indoor-only pet. The best solution to prevent any of these issues is to give indoor cats what they need to thrive:

•    Keep a litter tray in a private area. Be sure to clean regularly, removing eliminations daily,  so cats will not be reluctant to use the box.  Avoid a potential health issue by keeping it clean.
•    While an indoor environment may be perceived as safer, be sure to carefully place potentially toxic house plants and lock cabinets with cleaning supplies. We know how curious cats can be– they’ll try to get inside anything left slightly ajar.
•    Provide a scratching post or climbing wall, balls, feathers, or other play toys. Some cats like catnip, and this can be placed inside toys. Cats love to be up high, some people build walkways, close to the ceiling, around a room.  Keep your feline busy, and you’ll be their main companion.
•    Be sure to check crawl spaces, attics, washer and dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators before and after use.
•    Consider getting them a companion. At first, felines may be reluctant to welcome another cat, but over time most thrive due to the interaction.

For those cats who refuse to be a strictly indoor cat, there are things you can do to help protect them when outside. If you have a solid backyard fence, you can build an overhang at the top of the fence with piping and netting.  The overhang should be about two feet long, and project inward at about a 45 degree angle, so the cat can not jump over the fence, and it also makes it harder for another cat to jump into your yard. If you do not have a solid back yard fence, you can build an enclosed patio space so the cats have access from the house.

Sources:  Ellis, SL; Rodan, I; Carney, HC; Rochiltz, I; Shearburn, LD; Sundahl, E; and Westropp, JL. “AAFP and ISFM Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines.” Journal of Feline Medical Surgery, March 2013.  American Humane Association, “Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats.”  American Association of Feline Practitioners. “Confinement of Owned Indoor Cats Position Statement.” 2007.  cited from animalurgentcarecenter.com

What Do I Do If My Pet’s Food is Recalled?

How to Stay Informed About Recalls

According to government regulatory agencies, there are three types of pet food recalls that can be issued. Recalls can be conducted by a company or brand, by request from the regulatory agencies, or by order from the government agency. When your pet’s food has been recalled, you’ll want to contact your veterinarian immediately. If it’s been due to a contamination issue, you’ll want to rule out any resulting health concerns. Occasionally pet foods are recalled because of an error in production so that certain nutrients are present in excess.  You’ll want to discover if your pet is suffering from any nutritional toxicities, or if there a health-related risks associated with the recall.

You might be thinking, “Wait, how will I know if my pet’s food is recalled?” You can stay on top of recalls by signing up for emails at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website or by following nationally recognized veterinary education associations. Other sources can include pet education websites, pet food manufacturer websites, regulation organizations, and your pet’s veterinarian.

How to Choose a New Food

Depending on your pet’s species, he or she has very specific nutritional requirements. Instead of substituting something around your home, be sure to call your veterinarian if you need to make a change.

Your veterinarian is familiar with the popular pet food brands on the market. If yours is recalled, he or she will be able to make a suggestion for another excellent, nutritionally complete diet. Remember, it’s normal for pet food needs to change as a pet grows and ages,  so it could be time to check in with your veterinarian on this topic.

Remember to do your homework. If you choose to change food, be sure to investigate the company’s recall history before choosing a new brand.

Tip for Making the Transition to a New Food

If you decide to transition your pet to a new food, many people will do this gradually over four to five days by gradually introducing the new food.  For example, the first day you may offer 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food. The third day would be 50 % of each, and then the next day the majority would be the new food, and so on until only the new food is offered. If you have any questions about changing your pet’s diet, always speak with your veterinarian.

Sources:  U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Animal & Veterinary Recalls and Withdrawals. January 25, 2014.  American Veterinary Medical Association. Pet Food & Product Recalls/Alerts. 2014 & animalurgentcarecenter.com

AVMA Recall Watch Twitter Account. @AVMARecallWatch.