Tylenol and other OTC drug toxicity in small pets

All to often veterinarians and technicians hear pet owners say my pet acted like it was in pain so I gave him/her a Tylenol (aspirin, ibuprofen, other over the counter human pain medicine). You might see them pull a face like this…

I found this great meme via Pinterest earlier last week. meme credit: http://spanishplans.org
I found this great meme via Pinterest earlier last week. meme credit: http://spanishplans.org

We know you love you pet and that you hate to see him/her in pain, but you may have accidentally poisoned your furry friend. Humor aside this is a serious issue. Animals, specifically canines and felines, cannot process the Acetaminophen that is a main component of many over the counter human pain medications. Toxic levels for dogs can be reached when there is 75 mg/kg of body weight. Cats can be 7-10 times more susceptible to Acetaminophen toxicity than dogs according to Vet street.

The Pet MD website states that pet owners can expect the following symptoms if their dog has ingested enough Acetaminophen to reach toxic levels:

  • Labored breathing
  • Swollen face, neck, limbs
  • Vomiting
  • Liver damage
  • Jaundice
  • Blue gums (from lack of oxygen)
  • Hypothermia
  • Coma

You should never give your pet any kind of human medication without first getting the okay from your veterinary health professional. If you have already given you pet the medication it’s time to do some damage control! Contact your veterinarian immediately. There may be internal damage to your pet’s liver and blood cells that shouldn’t go untreated.

Does my dog or cat really need heartworm prevantative?

The topic I decided to tackle this week is heartworm disease. Heartworms can be devastating for our pets and treatment is notoriously expensive.

Heartworm disease, what is it?

Heartworm disease is caused by a mosquito bite from a mosquito carrying the heartworm parasite.  The larvae enter your pets bloodstream while the mosquito feeds. Once the little heartworm larvae are in your pets blood stream it may take up to six months for them to reach the heart. When they finally make their way to your dog or cats heart they feed off of the wall of the heart. They may also grow large enough to clog up the heart and the vessels/arteries. Sounds pretty serious right? Here is a great infographic with more information about this deadly disease.

Infographic credit: The American Heartworm Society

What can I do to prevent heartworm disease?

One tablet of prescription heartworm preventative given once a month will prevent heartworms in dogs and cats. Pet owners should discuss concerns and prevention plans with their veterinarian. You should also expect that your clinician may ask to test your pet for heartworms before prescribing preventative. This is a standard operating procedure set by the American Heartworm Society, many clinics choose to follow this standard. It is also very important to note that while there is medication to prevent heartworm disease in cats, there is no approved method of treating heartworms in cats. This makes preventative care especially important for cat owners.


Feline and Canine subcutaneous injections (part four)

Today I’m going to keep this post pretty short and simple. In general it is much easier to have a veterinarian just give you pet the injections that they need. That being said there are a few medications and vaccinations that you can administer at home to your dog or cat subcutaneously. Your veterinarian will show you how to administer them, this is simply a quick refresher for reference.

  • Start by making sure that you have all the supplies necessary including the following: injectable, needles, syringes, treats and cotton balls. It also helps to have someone else available to help distract or restrain your dog/cat if needed.
  •  Tip the bottle up, insert the needle and withdraw slightly more solution than you think you will need. Then tap the syringe lightly to move all the air bubbles to the top of the syringe. You can now push the plunger up a bit to push the air bubbles out of the syringe.
  • Grab the skin on your pets neck between your thumb and forefinger to create a tent. Then place the needle into the tent at a 45 degree angle. Pull black on the plunger slightly if there is no blood go ahead and push plunger forward. If there is blood move to another site.
  • If your dog/cat bleeds a little bit or you notice that some of the injectable has leaked back out use a clean cotton ball or gauze to apply some pressure till the bleeding stops.

You should always consult a veterinarian before giving any kind of injection or if you have concerns about restraining your pet.

Where have all the good dog breeders gone?

Getting a puppy from a reputable breeder could mean the difference between a slew of health issues and a long healthy life. Many people choose full-bred dogs to avoid unknown genetic health problems. The issue is that so many people have become backyard breeders. Which leads many people into purchasing a dog that may have underlying medical problems due to careless breeding.

How do you know that you are purchasing a healthy puppy? Here is a list of things to ask when searching for a healthy puppy and a good breeder:

  • How did you find this breeder?
    • Was the ad for the puppy posted on Craigslist or Facebook? Maybe you should be leery of that person. Many responsible dog breeder’s do not have their puppies listed on social media sites or on a classified page. Often times they will have a waiting list for pups and only breed one or two dogs a year. You may have to be prepared to wait for a puppy. Asking your veterinarian or searching the American Kennel Club (AKC) website are safe ways to find a healthy puppy.
  • What do their puppies cost?
    • Don’t fall for the price trap. Most reputable breeders charge a flat rate for their pups. Also think about what the average price for a puppy of that breed is. If you are paying more than the average, ask the breeder why. Maybe they include items with the puppy. They may be going the extra mile by getting extra health checks, genetic tests and training their puppies before selling them. Gender, color or size should not affect the cost of your puppy.
  • Ask the breeder if you can visit their kennel or home. Where are the puppies are kept?
    • When you visit look around. Are the kennels clean? Do their dogs look well fed, happy and friendly? You should also observe how the breeder interacts with the dogs. Does the breeder seem like he or she genuinely cares about the pups? Is the breeder knowledgeable about each of the dogs. Are they willing to show you at least one of the parents?
  • Does this breeder conduct genetic health testing?
    • You should research common health issues within your chosen breed. Then ask the breeders if they screen their breeding stock for genetic defects though genetic testing. A reputable breeder will be very honest about some of the medical issues that may come up. Many will have certified testing from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or Canine Eye Registration Foundation.
  • Will the puppy come with a contract or health guarantee?
    • Many breeders require that you have the dog health checked within 72 hours of purchase. This is to ensure that the puppy you purchased is healthy. Most good breeders will also take dogs back or offer a replacement dog if the pup does have a genetic issue down the road. This may be especially important if you are interested in breeds with problems like heart defects, hip dysplasia and eye defects.
    • Furthermore many breeders ask you to sign a spay/neuter contract. This means you will not breed the dog and often times the puppy will have limited registration. Dogs with limited registration in the AKC are still purebred but their progeny are not eligible to be registered.

Keep in mind that this is a short list of questions. You may have more to ask or different questions all together. This list is only intended to point you in the right direction. I cannot stress enough how important it is to feel good about the choice you are making, never feel pressured to take a puppy. For more information about selecting puppies, finding breeders in good standing and information about your favorite breed visit the American Kennel Club breeds page.