The Danger of Antifreeze for Your Pets


Antifreeze is very toxic for pets

The temperature is plummeting out there, and with the wintery weather comes a whole new set of dangers for pets.  One such concern is antifreeze.

The primary ingredient in most antifreeze brands is ethylene glycol which is a potent toxin.  Just ingesting a tiny amount can cause death by inducing kidney failure.  Perhaps even scarier is the fact that antifreeze has a sweet, inviting aroma and flavor, making it an attractive toxin to ingest.

Take preventive measures

In order to reduce your pet’s risk, consider preventive measures to reduce the chances of exposure.

  • Consider switching to a brand of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, a bitter and less toxic alternative. There are several brands on the market: Prestone LowTox Antifreeze, Sierra and Sta-Clean.
  • Supervise pets near driveways, the road, or garages where antifreeze could potentially be spilled or leaked. If you’re not sure if your pet has walked through antifreeze while outside, wash their paws in warm, soapy water.
  • Keep antifreeze sealed and away from pets.
  • Monitor your garage floor or driveway for leaks. Soak up antifreeze with cat litter and dispose in a sealed container where your pet can’t get to it.

Don’t wait to seek treatment–antifreeze acts fast

If you suspect that your pet may have ingested antifreeze, don’t delay in seeking treatment.  Animals who receive immediate treatment have a much higher likelihood of survival.  Early symptoms may include confusion, lethargy, vomiting, and a drunken appearance.

Clinical signs of antifreeze exposure can occur in as little as 30 minutes and as long as 12 hours. Do not wait for symptoms to appear. Instead, if you have any concerns about potential ingestion, visit a vet immediately. Immediate veterinary treatment is necessary to prevent the toxin from being absorbed into the pet’s liver.

Why You Shouldn’t Skip Your Pet’s Rabies Vaccine


Rabies?  Really?  It may seem tempting to skip this vaccination for your pet when it comes due, but there are several very good reasons you shouldn’t.  Think of the following before bailing on your pet’s next appointment:

  • Rabies is a risk to you and others.  People can become infected and die from this disease.  Symptoms can take a long time to develop (think months) and are vague at first.  By the time tell-tale symptoms begin, the person often does not survive. It is not worth putting your family at risk over a simple vaccine.
  • Rabies really happens.  Exposure to rabid dogs accounts for 90% of the human exposures and 99% of human deaths worldwide.  In 2010, the CDC reported 6,153 cases of rabies in animals in the United States.
  • Not being vaccinated has real implications for your pet.  Unvaccinated pets are subject to fines and quarantines should they become involved in any type of incident.  Depending on the state, your pet could be mandated to be quarantined away from home for up to 6 months or even be euthanized in certain situations.
  • Even indoor pets are at risk.  If your cat never ventures out, it may seem silly to vaccinate them, but you never know when a door could be left open or a bat might sneak into the house.  Also, if your unvaccinated animal happens to bite (or is accused of biting) someone visiting your home, it is subject to the same fines and quarantine guidelines as any other pet.

Ultimately, your pet’s rabies vaccination is a simple form of preventive insurance against a potentially lethal disease.


Holiday Safety Checklist


Santa’s not the only one making a list and checking it twice this holiday season!  Here is our ‘naughty’ list to avoid or be cautious of this year:

  • String-like decorations.  Ribbons, tinsel, and popcorn or cranberry garlands are fun to play with and tasty to eat but are very dangerous for pets.  They can easily cause intestinal obstructions.
  • Holiday plants such as mistletoe and lilies are highly toxic.  Those that are not, such as the poinsettia, often cause digestive upset.
  • Bones.  Whether out of the garbage or off Uncle Larry’s plate, bones can not only cause vomiting and/or diarrhea but can lead to serious obstructions or intestinal perforations.
  • Candles and fireplaces.  Open flames are intriguing for cats to look at and may become the victim of a swipe of the paw.  Also beware wagging tails!
  • The tree.  Ingestion of needles can cause digestive upset, obstruction, or even perforation.  Kitties that try to climb the tree can also become injured if the tree is not secured well.  Glass ornaments and decorations can break and injure curious pets.
  • Alcohol and candy.  These are items that are often left out during the holiday season, but can result in serious problems for your pet.
  • Beautiful lighted decorations often mean extra electrical cords.  Keep these cords out of reach to keep curious teeth and clumsy feet safe.
  • Tree water.  Live trees need water, but this reservoir can collect sap and pine needles which can cause an upset tummy.  Don’t put any additives in the water, which might cause a problem as well.

Avoid Santa’s naughty list this holiday season to be sure that your pet has a happy and healthy new year!


Holiday Baking Hazards

I shouldn’t share baked goods with my pets?

The holiday season is a time of indulgence for many Americans, and you may be tempted to pass along the good cheer to your four-legged friends.  When including them in the festivities, be careful not to overdo it, however.  Many traditional holiday baked goods are not good for, or even harmful to, our pets.  Be wary of the following:

  • Chocolate

Most people know that chocolate is not good for their pets.  The compound theobromine can cause digestive side effects (think diarrhea and vomiting) at lower doses, but at higher doses it can cause increased or irregular heart rate, seizures, and even death.  Dark chocolate and baking chocolate contain higher levels of theobromine.  The dose is also size dependant, making smaller critters at the highest risk of serious side effects.  Play it safe and find a different treat for Fido.

  • Macadamia nuts

A frequent ingredient in holiday baked goods, macadamia nuts are also on the naughty list.  Ingestion can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, and loss of coordination.

  • Pastry/bread dough

Uncooked yeast-containing treats can expand when mixed with body heat and cause bloating or obstruction.  Also, the organisms can produce enough alcohol as they ferment to lead to alcohol poisoning!  Don’t let your pets sneak a taste of your baked goods!

  • Grapes/raisins

Many treats contain this ingredient.  Grapes and raisins have the potential to cause kidney failure in dogs, and the amount needed varies greatly from pet to pet.  For some animals very few can cause devastating results.

  • Xylitol

If you use this artificial sweetener in your baking, be aware that tiny amounts can cause severe side effects in dogs resulting in liver failure, low blood sugar, and even death.

Instead of sharing people treats with your pets, find a recipe for homemade treats or visit a local dog bakery.  Doing so helps to make sure that your pet enjoys the holiday season as much as you do!

Let’s Hear it for the Mutts!


While often used as a derogatory term (think “mangy mutt”), the truth is that mutts are a much-loved pet in the United States.  In fact, according to the 2010 National Mutt Census over half the dogs in America are mixed breeds!  Mixed breed dogs make great pets, with most having every bit as much love and enthusiasm for life as their purebred counterparts.  Most of them have been “rescued”, which means adopting a mutt can also help you to do a good thing for dogs and shelters everywhere.  Don’t forget as well that because they have a more diverse genetic makeup, mutts often have a lower incidence of inheritable problems such as hip dysplasia and cancer.  Mixed breed dogs can make great family pets, guard dogs, hunting dogs, or agility dogs.  They are just as good at snuggling on the couch or going for a jog as their purebred counterparts.  There is a good reason that they are the most popular “breed” in America!  Tell us about your special mutt in the comments section below!