Holiday Plant Primer

 

Around the holidays our homes are filled with all sorts of objects that aren’t there the rest of the year.  Many times this includes festive plants of all kinds.  These plants often end up in the mouths of curious pets, especially puppies and kittens.  Some may not cause any problems at all, but many cause side effects ranging from mild to severe.  Here is the low-down on a few of the more common holiday house guests:

Poinsettia

While the poinsettia plant is perhaps the most infamous holiday plant, its reputation is not entirely deserved.  Its extreme toxicity is largely an urban legend.  The plant is mildly toxic and irritating to the mucous membranes.  While it is unlikely to cause severe illness, it is probably best to keep this plant out of reach.

Mistletoe

The level of toxicity of mistletoe largely depends on the variety, but the berries of both the American and European variety cause stomach irritation at small doses. At larger doses, it can trigger much more serious problems (including low blood pressure, seizures, and disorientation).

Holly

Eating holly can result in severe stomach upset in dogs and cats.  Signs that your pet has eaten holly include smacking of lips, drooling, head shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Lilies

Lilies are very popular around the holidays, but they are deadly for cats.  Ingestion causes severe stomach upset, heart arrhythmias, kidney failure, and death.

Christmas tree

Don’t discount the tree!  The oils and sap can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, which can lead to drooling and vomiting.

Grooming at Elmhurst Animal Care Center – Bow Wow Wow!!!

How to know who to trust with your pet’s grooming

Choosing somewhere to have your pet groomed can be difficult.  A plethora of grooming salons have popped up in recent years, and sometimes it can be almost impossible to tell which ones are good and not-so-good until you find out first hand.  Of course, we will tell you that our groomers are the best in the area, but we would rather you come to that conclusion on your own!  Here are some factors to consider when choosing a groomer for your pet:

  • Does the groomer personalize services?

For instance, certain pets may require special shampoos for itchy skin, have trouble with their ears, or need their coat trimmed a certain way.  Our groomers are willing to groom to your pet’s needs, not a one-size-fits-all template.

  • Does the groomer require proof of vaccination?

Requiring vaccinations protects your pet.  Be wary of any establishment that does not ask for this information.  We require all vaccines to be documented and current at the time of your appointment.

  • Does the groomer know you and your pet?

Many groomers turn and burn through many pets a day and don’t have time to get to know each client.  After a grooming session or two, your pet should be greeted by name!

  • Does your pet get treated like the prince/princess s/he is?

Likewise, when a groomer has many pets to groom in a day s/he is unable to take the time to pamper your pet.  Our groomers take pride in treating each individual pet to a spa day, taking time to allow even nervous pets to relax and enjoy themselves!

  • What kinds of hours do they keep?

Do you have to work around the groomer’s schedule or do they work with yours?  We are happy to work around your day care or boarding schedules.

  • Can they accommodate special requests?  Do they have a working knowledge of your needs?

If you have a show or performance pet, it may need to be groomed in a certain manner.  Does your groomer have an in-depth knowledge of your needs?  Thinking of changing up Fluffy’s look and going with a pink coat?  Can your groomer accomplish that?  Be sure to ask!

  • What happens if the pet needs medical attention?

Injuries and accidents can happen, particularly if you choose a groomer where care and experience are lacking.  In the unlikely event of a problem, Elmhurst Animal Care Center has veterinarians on staff that can immediately attend to your pet.  It is also convenient to have a veterinarian around so that any minor medical issues can be addressed during your pet’s grooming appointment.

Elmhurst Animal Care Center is proud to have an experienced, caring grooming staff to attend to your pets.  We hope that you trust us with your grooming needs.  Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are just a few to help you see what a great job we do!

Elmhurst ACC - Before Grooming

Lucy Before Grooming

 

Elmhurst ACC - After Grooming

Lucy After Grooming – Bow Wow Wow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elmhurst ACC - Before Grooming

Elmhurst ACC - After Grooming

Ernie & Daisy After Grooming – Woof!!

 

 

 

The Holiday Foods Naughty List

Happy holiday season to all of our friends, furry and otherwise!  We hope that this is a happy, healthy time of year for you all.  While we love to see all of you, we don’t want your pet to visit us unexpectedly during the holidays, so we are providing you with a list of the top five holiday foods that will land your pet in the hospital.

Top Five Holiday Foods That Can Land Your Pet in the Hospital

  •  Chocolate

It’s the main ingredient in many seasonal treats, and your pets may want to indulge as much as you do.  It is best, however, for our four-legged friends to avoid chocolate in all of its forms.  The offending ingredient is theobromine which is found in the highest concentrations in baking and dark chocolate.  Toxicity is dose dependent, which means that the smaller your critter, the less theobromine it will take to cause problems.  At lower doses, pets will experience jitteriness and vomiting/diarrhea. At higher doses, much more serious effects can occur including increased or irregular heart rate, seizures, or even death.

  • Raisins/grapes

Before you throw a piece of Aunt Louise’s fruitcake to Fido, think twice.  Raisins and grapes can cause irreversible kidney damage in pets.  Some animals seem to be more sensitive than others, and there is no way to know how sensitive yours is until it is too late.

  • Alcohol

Most people would never intentionally give their pet alcohol, however that glass of eggnog on the end table may prove to be too tempting for Rover to avoid.  Alcohol ingestion can lead to low heart rate, hypoglycemia, seizures, even respiratory failure.  Also beware of desserts containing alcohol and raw yeast-containing dough that can produce alcohol as it ferments.

  • Artificial sweeteners

If you have candies or sweets around that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, know that even small amounts can cause a life-threatening decrease in blood sugar and liver failure in dogs.

  • Table scraps

Ingestion of people food, particularly fatty, rich foods can lead to mild to severe digestive upset, sometimes requiring hospitalization.  Some animals may even experience pancreatitis, a sometimes serious inflammation of the pancreas.

Enjoy the holiday with your pets. Just be sure that the only holiday treats they get are pet safe!

Is your garden safe for your pet?

dog in a gardenIt’s that time of year again, when warmer temperatures and longer days beg us to spend more time in the fresh air and sunlight. If you happen to be a gardener, it’s probably also the time that you’re thinking about digging in the dirt and deciding what flowers and veggies you may want to plant. Although gardening can be a very relaxing and rewarding hobby, it can also be dangerous for our dogs and cats. Luckily, creating a pet-safe garden is not very difficult. As responsible pet owners, we just need to take a few precautions to ensure that our yards and gardens are safe for our animal friends.

Avoid Poisonous Plants

The most obvious way to create a pet-safe garden is to choose the right plants. Not all pet owners realize that a great many garden plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Popular varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, oleander, foxglove, lily of the valley, sago palm, tulip and daffodil all fall into this category. Pets that eat these poisonous plants can experience everything from an upset stomach and diarrhea, to seizures and liver failure. Be sure to  check the ASPCA’s comprehensive list of toxic plants before deciding which plants will make it into your garden.

While not toxic, it’s also a good idea to avoid trees, shrubs and plants that are likely to cause allergies. Many of the same plants that cause allergies in humans will affect your pet as well. Look for pollen-free plant species whenever possible. If you do select a plant with a high allergy potential, avoid planting it under windows that you’ll have open during the summer.  If you already have one of these trees or hedges in your yard, keep it heavily sheared so it will flower less.

Rethink Toxic Chemicals

Try to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or weed killers in your yard and garden. These pose a danger to dogs and cats because anything picked up on their paws could be licked off later. There are plenty of organic, earth-friendly products available as an alternative that are safe for both pets and humans. Ask your local gardening center for recommendations and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Insecticides are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren’t safe for our furry friends. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton and most forms of rat poisons. Again, a conversation at your gardening center may be able to provide you with some effective but natural alternatives.

Choose Your Mulch Carefully

Many gardeners use cocoa bean mulch—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. Its attractive odor and color make it a popular choice, but cocoa mulch can pose serious problems for your dog. Play it safe and use shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark instead. Also try to avoid mulch that has been treated with weed inhibitor or insect repellent.

Compost Piles and Worm Bins

These eco-friendly practices can be great for your garden, but be sure they’re not accessible to your pets. Dogs that view garbage and rotting food as a special treat may consider this a buffet, but it’s one that could make them sick.

Garden Tools

Just like toddler-proofing, be sure to keep all pruning shears, trimmers, tillers, rakes and other gardening tools picked up and stored safely out of reach of your pets.

Gardening is a great hobby, and with a little extra planning and effort, it’s not difficult to ensure that your hobby will be safe for your pet.

Hold your hounds! Leash etiquette for your pooch.

Dog Pulling at LeashWe have all experienced it:  You are minding your own business, walking your dog quietly when a friendly, over-excited (or not-so-friendly, borderline aggressive) dog pulling an owner at the end of a leash comes barreling into your personal space.

Worst case scenario, your dog is not so thrilled at the sight of the other dog, or the other dog is not as thrilled as its owner perceives and chaos ensues.  Best case scenario, one or both dogs, although friendly, develop bad habits regarding interactions with other humans and dogs.  Keep the following cardinal rules of leash etiquette in mind when taking your dog in public:

  1. Not all dogs are friendly.  Even if your dog is, be sure to give other pets plenty of “personal” space unless you ask the owner’s permission to approach.
  2. Not all people like all dogs.  Another dog walker may be terrified of your dog.  Don’t allow your pet to jump on or rush at others.
  3. Consider ditching the flexi-lead.  While it’s convenient to let your dog roam, it is impossible to maintain control of your pet while on a flexi-lead.  They are also much less sturdy and more likely to break in times of need.
  4. If you do use a flexi-lead, keep it locked at 6 feet when other people or dogs are around.
  5. Train your pup!  Exuberant, friendly dogs and cautious, fearful dogs alike benefit from training sessions.

Contact us if you’d like some recommendations for local trainers.

 

Idle Hands: Why Mental Stimulation is Important for your Pet

Bored BeagleWe’ve all heard the saying:  Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  This not only applies to humans, but to our pets as well.  It is estimated that most dogs need at least 6 hours of mental activity a day.  Boredom can result in all sorts of behavioral problems, including destructive and obsessive behaviors.

Exercise is a great outlet, however many pets benefit from mental stimulation as well.  Mental exercise is not hard to accomplish- try hiding treats around the house, playing hide-and-go-seek, teaching a new trick, or making a play date with another pet.  For dogs, try doggie daycare to keep them occupied while you’re away. You may just see a change in your pet’s behavior for the better.  And you will have a happy dog or kitty to boot!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss some suggestions for your pet, contact us!

 

(Scoot, scoot, scoot) Scoot Your Booty

Ah, the dreaded butt-drag.  Every pet owner has experienced it.  But what does it mean? Don’t ignore it!  If your dog is carpet surfing, there is a reason.  Here are the most common causes:

  • Anal sacs Booty-ScooterAll dogs and cat have little sacs right inside the rectum that contain a stinky fluid.  Normally this fluid is expressed when your pet has a bowel movement.  Sometimes the glands can become clogged or infected, however, resulting in a very irritating pressure that can be painful. You can help avoid this by bringing your pet in for grooming, which can include anal gland expression.
  • Parasites – Intestinal parasites such as tapeworms can cause irritation around the rectum, resulting in scooting.
  • Allergies – Allergies, in particular food allergies, can cause an itchy behind.  Give us a call if you suspect this may be the case for your pet.
  • Irritation – Anything irritating such as debris stuck in the hair around the rectum or inflammation secondary to diarrhea can result in your pet dragging or licking at its bottom excessively.
  • Fleas – Fleas love to hang out around the back half of the animal, which can sometimes result in scooting.  Fleas can also carry tapeworms, another culprit!

So next time you catch your pet dragging its rear end on your white rug, don’t yell at him or her-  Make an appointment to get it checked out!  Your dog or cat is trying to tell you something!