Most people know that chocolate is toxic for dogs – this is especially true of baking chocolate and dark chocolate. Many do not know, however, that chocolate may be equally poisonous for cats. This discrepancy may be due to the fact that most cats are less likely than the average dog to sneak a bite of the sweet treat. But if your cat is one of those especially curious types, you should take extra precautions – especially as Halloween approaches.
There is a lot to be aware of at this time of year in order to keep our furry family members safe and happy.
While chocolate is a no-no for pets, don't assume that other kinds of Halloween candy are safe for animals, either.
“An artificial sweetener called xylitol is in many candies and can cause sudden drops in blood sugar, loss of coordination and seizures in animals,” says Dr. Assaf Goldberg, a veterinarian at the RAPS Animal Hospital. “It can potentially lead to liver failure in dogs.”
While research does not yet indicate toxicity levels in cats, vets recommend keeping all candy safely hidden away from pets.
Symptoms to look out for include diarrhea, vomiting, rapid breathing, increased heart rate and possibly seizures.
Glow sticks should also be kept away from pets. The liquid that gives the novelty items their effervescence is not toxic in itself but — according to those in the know — the taste is nasty and could lead animals to become upset, scratch at their mouths and vomit. Food and water can help your pet overcome the unpleasantness but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
A few other things we might not always think about include the kinds of ornamental items we use at Halloween.
“Pumpkins, dried corn and gourds may not necessarily be unsafe for animals, but could cause gastrointestinal problems if consumed in quantity,” says Dr. Goldberg. “Potentially of more concern is that we often leave our jack-o'-lanterns sitting around for quite some time. If they become moldy, those spores can lead to neurological problems in animals.”
Also, remember that pets can bump into jack-o'-lanterns and, if there is a burning candle inside, cause harm to themselves or potentially incinerate the entire house.
“As veterinarians, we are primarily concerned with the physical well-being of animals,” adds Dr. Goldberg. “But, of course, emotional well-being is critical to overall health too. Keeping your animals free from fear during Halloween is important – and keeps them from getting scared and disoriented and possibly fleeing and getting lost.”
The RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter receives more lost pets during Halloween than at any other time of year. Before Halloween: Make sure you have a dog license and that your pets have tattoos and/or microchips.
Dr. Goldberg recommends keeping pets in an enclosed room – inaccessible from the opening and closing front door as trick-or-treaters stream by. Use some music or TV as white noise to block out the sound of fireworks and other unfamiliar noises.
Halloween is meant to be a fun and scary time. For pets, though, being scared is not fun. A few easy precautions can prevent tragedy.
“We would love to see your cat or dog,” says Dr. Goldberg. “But not because of an emergency. Preventative care is always best … and with a few preventative steps, this Halloween can be safe and happy for your human and four-legged family members.”
Keep your pets safe during wildfire smoke.
The smoke in the air is irritating to everyone. For family members with smaller lung capacities, the effects of rampant wildfires throughout the province can be especially problematic.
The rule of thumb is that if you can smell or are otherwise affected by the smoke, your companion animals will be at least as affected by it.
Animals with known respiratory or cardiovascular issues are obviously most at risk. Birds are extremely vulnerable to smoke and airborne particulates.
Here are some of the signs to beware of:
Here are some precautions and things to consider:
If you are concerned about your animal’s reaction to the smoke, call the RAPS Animal Hospital at 604-242-1666.
Most people (hopefully) by now know how dangerous it is to leave a dog in a hot car for even a few minutes.
But dogs and cats can face heat-related dangers even around your home. There are some common warning signs about dehydration and preventative measures that are easy to take that can ensure your pet’s happiness and health in the summer sun.
As in humans, water is an irreplaceable component of body function, helping to lubricate joints, regulate body temperature, transport nutrients and flush waste.
Dehydration is a result of a loss of fluid levels due to either increased fluid loss or reduced intake of water. It can be a result of overheating in hot weather or through vomiting or diarrhea, particularly in puppies. Water can be lost through urinating and defecation, but also through panting, breathing and even evaporation through the paws.
Common symptoms of dehydration are sunken eyes, lethargy, loss of appetite, dry mouth, nose and gums, and depression. Dehydration may be a sign of an underlying condition, such as kidney disorders, infectious diseases or cancer. Elderly, pregnant or nursing dogs may also experience dehydration, as can dogs with diabetes.
An easy test that can indicate dehydration is gently lifting the skin on the back of a dog's neck or between the shoulder blades. The skin should return to a normal position immediately (no more than one second) if the dog is properly hydrated. If dehydration is present, the skin may not have the elasticity to return to its normal position. (The elasticity test may not be effective on overweight dogs and it may be difficult on “wrinkly” dogs, like Shar-Peis … in such cases, practice the test when you know your dog is hydrated so you can tell the difference in the event of dehydration.
Even so, many signs of dehydration are not identifiable to the untrained observer. Any suspicion of dehydration should be referred to a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
Treating dehydration requires more than providing a bowl of water. It is necessary to replace electrolytes and a veterinarian can provide fluids to balance the system and return to healthy hydration levels.
Veterinarians can quickly alleviate the problem with intravenous or subcutaneous fluids and determine if there is an underlying cause of the problem.
To prevent dehydration, you should:
There has been a great deal of education around dogs in hot cars. This summer, we should also be keeping a close eye on our pets’ in and around the house, seeing how much water they are going through and whether they show any symptoms of dehydration.
Have a great, safe summer!
It’s that time of year!
When the weather warms up and we – and our pets – spend more time outdoors, we need to think about flea, tick and deworming treatments.
Fortunately, RAPS Animal Hospital has a special on these products to make sure your pets are safe and happy in the summer weather.
We’re offering 25% off flea, tick and de-worming products (specific details below). Fleas love the warm weather and ticks can be active all year round. But when we’re out with our dogs in the summer, rolling in the lawn and walking through forests and tall grasses, this is prime territory for these pests.
They make your dog uncomfortable causing itchiness and hot spots. But they can also bring health impacts from mild allergic reactions to serious illnesses. Fleas are vectors for diseases such as mycoplasma felis in cats as well as intestinal worms including tape worms in both dogs and cats. Find out more information about fleas and ticks here.
Intestinal worms are something nobody likes to think about. But we need to be careful and watch for the signs. Be proactive and get deworming treatments now, also at 25% off.
If you’re a RAPS Animal Hospital VIP member, this offer is combinable with your examination discount. That means you are eligible for 25% off your visit, any required in-hospital treatments as well as the medications.
Book your appointment online or call 604-242-1666.
Products available in this special include:
Flea/tick treatments: Advantage II, Advantage Multi, Advantix, Bravecto, Capstar, Nexgard, Revolution, Sentinel, Simparica, Trifexis.
Deworming treatments: Drontal, Milbemax.
All products require an examination or consultation with a veterinarian. If you have had an exam recently, this may be waived. Advantage is available over the counter.
Offer cannot be combined with any other offer EXCEPT RAPS Animal Hospital VIP membership, which offers 25% off the veterinary visit. Total discount on medications in this offer is 25% (VIP membership discount applies to veterinary services and this offer applies only to the cost of medications).