Tag: toxicity

Don’t Give Them the Cold Shoulder… Or Paws… Or Nose… Or Tail…

Living where we do we are accustomed to protecting our pets from the intense heat that come with our Texas summers. It isn’t as common for us to see severe cold conditions that would cause us to take more precautions regarding our pets and being outside during the winter. When we think of a frigid winter, we usually think of images on the news of snowed in towns, 18 car pileups, and that sense of thankfulness that we do not live there! But, even with our mild winters, there are still hazards that can affect the health of our pets.

I’m not going outside right now. I’m busy being a warm, cozy puppy burrito!

Cold weather can worsen conditions that a good majority of our older pets have such as arthritis. Have you ever woken up on a chilly morning and needed extra time to get moving? Do you ever joke that “it’s a cold one outside – my knees are the best weathermen I know!” Well, our older pets feel the changes in their joints just as we do, they might move slower on cold days or might not want to be outside as long as they usually would have. If we were to have any freezing episodes, older pets could also have a hard time walking in slippery conditions – like they do on our slippery floors inside. If you feel like your pet is having arthritic changes (slowing down, not jumping on things like before, weakness or shaking of limbs, loss of muscle mass over their hind end, etc.) – come talk with us about how we can help relieve their discomfort!

Sorry but this super soft, warm, comfortable blanket is occupied.

Just like people, pets have their limits as to how much cold they can handle. A young husky is more likely to enjoy a crisp day, than an old chihuahua – who probably wouldn’t step foot outside on a cold day (and you’d most likely get the “you expect me to go out there” look as they run back to their place on the couch). Coat type, body fat stores, activity level, and overall health and age are all factors that can affect just how much cold a pet can tolerate. Long-haired breeds will be able to stay outside longer than short-haired breeds, but they are still at risk to cold weather. Both very young and elderly pets should be limited on their outside time during very cold times.

UntitledHealth conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) already limit a pet’s ability to regulate their body temperature and this makes them more susceptible to problems from very hot or very cold temperatures. If your daily routine involves time outside, consider buying a jacket or sweater for your pet to wear. Do not overfeed your pets during cold months. It’s commonly thought that more fat = more body heat, but the health risks associated with increased weight greatly outweigh the myth of more warmth. Keep your pet at a healthy, ideal weight all year long to limit any effects on their joints or general body functions.

Vehicles can provide hazardous concerns as well. Leaking antifreeze can lead to poisoning in our dogs and our cats. It has a sweet smell and taste so our furry friends are attracted to it – ingestion of the chemical has rapid absorption and even a small amount can lead to permanent damage to the kidneys. Larger ingestion amounts have a narrow margin of safety and could lead to death. Be sure to keep these chemicals securely put away and clean up any leaks or spills that you see.

cars-750x500Vehicles also act as a “shelter” for stray cats. They will seek out the warmth from the engine after a car has parked for the night, hiding in the fender wells or under the hood in the engine compartment. Before starting your vehicle after a cold night, honk the horn multiple times or bang on the hood or sides to wake up and scare off any animals that might be hunkered down in there.

Cold weather can also lead to dry, itchy skin. Keeping your home humidified can help relieve this. Do not shave your pets down to their skin in the winter. Pet’s fur is specially designed to help them regulate their body temperature.

Remember – if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them!

By: Kaitie Barczak

Trick or Treat! Help your Pets have a Hazard-Free Halloween!

It’s that spooky time of year again! Witches, ghosts, scary movies, creepy decorations, haunted houses, grave yard tours, & above all, candy! While this is a fun time for people of all ages, don’t forget to make sure that your pets stay safe & don’t get into any trouble.


Candy, candy, & more candy!

Just as a reminder, chocolate (in all forms) is toxic to both cats & dogs. The artificial sweetener Xylitol can cause problems for your pets as well. Ingestion of these can cause diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, & worse. So be sure to keep the candy bucket, treat bags, & your own personal stash of Halloween candy out of reach from your pets! As always, if you pet does get into something, be sure to contact either the ASPCA Poison Control Center or your local animal emergency clinic.


Jack-O-Lanterns, Cobwebs, & Wires –  Oh My!

Everyone knows that old saying about curious cats, but this time of year we need to be extra cautious with our spooky decorations. Those cobwebs look excellent, but you might need to move them if you notice your cat trying to eat them. Make sure that any open flames are out of reach from your pets & secured so that they can’t be accidentally knocked over. Keep wires secured as well as some pets may like to chew on them. We don’t want anyone getting shocked, starting a fire, or needing to have surgery to remove cobwebs from your pet’s digestive tract.

Be sure to also keep glow sticks out of reach from your pets. If your pet tries to play with these, they may puncture them & ingest some of the liquid. While most glows ticks are non-toxic, it may have a very bitter taste which may cause your pet to because nauseated.

bantha-pet-costumeSpooky Costumes!

Your pet’s comfort should always be your top priority when it comes to dressing them up. While it may look hilarious, if you know that your pet does not like to wear things, don’t force them to. You wouldn’t go to a party without having tried out your costume first, right? You should always make sure that the costume for your pet fits properly & that they are comfortable with it ahead of time. Costumes should never restrict your pet’s movement & it should never inhibit their ability to see. This can cause them to stress & possibly hurt themselves trying to get out of them. Caution should also be taken with costumes that have things hanging off of them. These could get caught on something or your pet may decide to try to eat it.

Don’t worry – Your pet can still be festive even if they’re not wearing a full costume! Halloween shirts, bandannas, collars, & harnesses are available pretty much everywhere in all shapes & sizes.

f4717c63ac9c0af1866a8cfc9d8b5ab9--halloween-costumes-for-cats-pet-costumesWhy are all of these weird-looking people coming to my house?! I’m outta here!

While Halloween is a fun holiday for everyone, your pet may be stressed or frightened with everything that’s going on. If your pet is a nervous one, be sure to take proper steps to ensure that they also have a Happy Halloween.

If they don’t like the door bell or people coming to the door, sit outside to hand out treats or leave the treat bucket out on your porch. If you have your dog outside with you, make sure that they’re on a leash & have their collar on. Make sure that you have a secured hold on the leash as well.

If your pet has a habit of running off when they’re nervous, make sure that they’re kept secure either in their kennel or in another room to prevent them from running out the door while you’re handing out candy. As we’ve talked about before, there are all sorts of options available to help calm down your nervous pets. If you’re concerned about your pet needing something to help take the edge off, talk to your veterinarian.

You should also make sure that your pets are wearing their collars & have their tags. Yes, even with their costumes! While shelters & clinics can check for microchips, a collar with tags is a quick & easy way for anyone to get a lost pet back home.

Speaking of microchips, this is the perfect time to make sure that your pet’s microchip information is up-to-date! If your pet was microchipped with us at TLC Animal Hospital, visit petlink.net to check the information that is associated with your pet’s chip. Not sure what company the chip is registered through? That’s ok! AAHA (The American Animal Hospital Association) has set up this fantastic website that allows you to search for your pet’s microchip number & it will tell you where to go to from there.iStock-612816962

With these tips in mind, you & your pets should be able to have a worry-free Halloween!

By: Ashley Elliott

Halloween Safety Tips from ASPCA
Celebrating Safely with your Pets this Halloween from ASPCA
Universal Pet Microchip Lookup


Toxic Plants & Fungi

-By Erin Fitzpatrick-Wacker

There are many toxic plants that can be found in your yard and around your house. Many factors can affect how much of the toxin is ingested, including: part of the plant, condition of the plant, stage of growth the plant is in, time of year, species of plant, age/size/species/condition of the animal ingesting the plant, and amount of plant ingested. These are just some of the most common and deadly plants we see affecting our patients.

Amanita / Agaric Mushrooms
Amanita / Agaric Mushrooms

Often found in Fall, mushrooms have over 100 toxic species, but the most toxic are the pretty red ones, known as Agaric mushrooms and Amanita mushrooms. Toxic ingestion symptoms include: diarrhea, vomiting, and a faster heart beat. If an animal eats these, it should be considered an emergency and your veterinarian should be contacted immediately to induce vomiting. Permanent liver and kidney damage can occur.

Cannabis Plant
Cannabis Plant

Symptoms of Cannabis/Marijuana ingestion can be: lethargy, droopy eyes, disorientation,  acute incontinence, seizures, and hyper-excitement. Recovery after treatment is usually within 24 hours; however the more potent the strain, the more potent the symptoms.


Daffodils, seen commonly in flower beds, have toxic bulbs if eaten, and can cause gastrointestinal upset.

Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) Plant
Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) Plant

Dieffenbachia/Dumb Cane is a common household plant. They can cause a severe oral irritation, causing salivation and swelling of the tongue. Pets that consume this plant often need pain medication and steroids to help them through their recovery. Philodendron/Elephant Ears, also a common household plant,  exhibit the same symptoms.


Grapes/Raisins are one of the few toxins that are not dose specific.  They have an unknown nephrotoxin that can cause anorexia, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and acute renal failure. Symptoms can last several days and often need hospitalization with induced vomiting and IV fluid therapy for a full recovery.

Japanese Yew
Japanese Yew

Japenese Yew is a beautiful shrub found in many yards. It is extremely toxic dry or fresh. If ingested, this is considered an emergency and veterinary medical attention should be sought immediately. This is a cardiac depressant, so many pets will go into cardiac arrest after ingesting it. If the pet is able to be stabilized, then medications to induce vomiting and then coat and soothe the stomach are usually given, as well as hospitalization with IV fluids.


Lantana is a flowering bush that is common in yards. It comes in many colors; however the purple is less toxic than the red or yellow. If consumed, it causes gastrointestinal upset for about 3-4 days, usually manifesting symptoms of bloody diarrhea. Veterinary care usually includes medication to soothe the gut and antibiotics.


A familiar scene around the house at Easter is the Lily. It is a nephrotoxin and especially toxic to cats, especially the flowers and leaves. A cat only needs to ingest 1-2 leaves for toxicity to occur. Early signs of ingestion include salivation. Late signs include renal failure. Hospitalization with your veterinarian is recommended for induced vomiting and IV fluids if immediately after consumption. If caught late, then long-term renal management is sometimes an option.

Oak Tree
Oak Tree

Oak Trees, including the leaves and acorns, are toxic and habit forming. The pet will need to eat 40% of their diet to exhibit symptoms usually. Symptoms usually present with constipation and then progress into diarrhea, and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. Renal disease can also occur. Maintaining hydration is very important, so supportive veterinary care is encouraged.


Oleander is a beautiful flowering bush that is not only toxic to humans, but also toxic to pets, especially dogs.  Dogs only need to ingest 1-3 leaves for toxicity to occur. It is cardiotoxic, but can also cause gastrointestinal signs including vomiting and diarrhea. If the pet is able to be stabilized, then medications to induce vomiting and then coat and soothe the stomach are usually given, as well as hospitalization with IV fluids.

Sago Palm
Sago Palm

One of the most common toxins we see at TLC is Sago Palm (Cycas species) toxicity. It is a smaller palm plant that sits lower to the ground and is often used in landscaping. All parts of the plant are toxic. Although, the leaves and seeds are the worst. Symptoms usually present within 12 hours of ingestion. It is a hepatotoxin. Vomiting and diarrhea are often present. Other signs include: neurological degeneration, weakness, and progressive rear limb paralysis. Immediate veterinary care is recommended for induced vomiting and IV fluid;  long term care is expected.

If you believe your pet has been exposed to a toxic plant, please contact your veterinarian. The earlier we can act, the greater the chances of a full recovery.