Keep Your Pets Happy and Safe This Halloween

Halloween ushers in its own brand of awesomeness in the form of pumpkiniStock_000010646352Small_jpg[1]s, candy, and costumes. Spider webs and creepy decorations set the stage for ghost stories and trick-or-treating. But holiday fun for humans can translate into hazards for companion animals. Halloween is the busiest time of year for the Pet Poison Helpline because companion animals often accidentally ingest Halloween candy or décor. Check out the following tips for West Hill Animal Hospital, in West Hills, CA,  to help keep your furry friends safe and happy this Halloween season:

  • Keep your animals inside around Halloween and away from the front door during trick-or-treating. Animals can become excited or threatened by visitors, so keep them in a separate and enclosed room where they can remain calm—this also eliminates the risk that they will escape. Don’t leave dogs in the yard because they can escape or be subjected to torment by passersby. As an added precaution, make sure that your animal companions wear identification at all times. And if you’re going trick-or-treating, don’t take your animals with you.
  • Although all cats should be indoor cats, this is even more important during the month of October—especially if you have a black cat. Black cats are often associated with dark forces and are an easy target for Halloween pranksters who commit violent acts against unsuspecting kitties.
  • Decorations pose a threat to dogs, cats, and other animals. Keep your animal companions away from jack-o-lanterns, candles, balloons, or other decorations that they could ingest, become tangled in, or be injured by.
  • One of the biggest hazards to four-legged friends during Halloween is candy. Keep candy in secure containers and in an area that your animal companions cannot gain access to. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and sugary candy can lead to pancreatitis. Raisins, certain nuts, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in some gums and candies) can also be poisonous to furry friends. Plus, animals don’t remove the wrappers from candy and may try to eat discarded wrappers—ingesting these wrappers can cause choking or life-threatening bowel obstruction.
  • If you think your animal companion has ingested something, symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, not defecating or straining to defecate, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures. Contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian or the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline immediately at 1-800-213-6680 if you suspect that your animal companion has ingested something or might be injured. Keep these numbers on hand for quicker response—the faster that you can get help, the less your animal companion will suffer and the more likely he or she will make a speedy recovery.

Pet Obesity Awareness

Humans aren’t the only ones who have been packing on the pounds in recent years. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 54Pet Weight Loss%, or 93 million of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Cats alone had the highest obesity rates at 21.4%, while dogs were fairing slightly better with 8.6%. So that means around 6.7 million dogs and 20 million cats are obese.

Being obese means the animal is 20% or more heavier than their ideal body weight, and 5-19% for those that are overweight. When asked by their vets, 90% of dog owners and 54% of cat owners responded that they regularly gave their pets treats. But when their vets tell them their pet is overweight, only about 17% of owners agree.

Why is this happening? The main problem is pet owners who believe feeding their pet large quantities of food and numerous treats is showing their pet love. In reality, doing so is killing their pet, for just like us obesity in pets causes various health problems and shortens their lifespan. A majority of pet food producers aren’t helping either, for they pack their products with byproducts, fillers, and non-digestible ingredients. They are even putting sugar into their treats! As an animal hospital we take obesity in pets very seriously.  Our pets are unable to monitor their own health. They don’t understand what calories are or notice that they ingest too many.

There are special diets that we can order to help kick start the weight loss for those patients are severely obese. Hill’s and Royal Canin have diets for both cats and dogs.  Treats at home can even be substituted with vegetables. Of course, consult with your veterinarian about dietary counseling or before changing anything in their normal diet to keep from causing gastrointestinal upsets.

Does my senior pet really need blood work?

Senior Wellness BoxerDogs and cats age more quickly than their human companions.  That being said, when a pet reaches seven years old, it is considered a senior – with the same types of health risks that humans face at advanced ages.  One thing that many veterinarians recommend is a senior blood panel.

There are many reasons a blood panel can be helpful.  If done consistently, annual blood tests can help a veterinarian track and evaluate the overall condition of a pet’s vital organs and health.  In addition, blood tests can help a veterinarian detect early signs of many serious health conditions such as: kidney disease, diabetes, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, and liver disease.

Senior profiles are more comprehensive and will provide a more thorough evaluation of your pet’s current health.  These panels can also provide a good look into the body’s response to medications and anesthesia.  There are different types of blood tests that can be done, all performing different functions.  A CBC, complete blood cell count, looks for adequate red and white blood cell numbers and checks their present condition.  The chemistry profile looks at various organ enzymes, glucose, proteins, electrolytes, and cholesterol.  Finally, senior panels also look at thyroid function, making sure it is not over or under active.  In addition, your veterinarian may need to check your pet’s urine for signs of disease.

Routine blood work is useful in many applications: to establish a baseline on a healthy pet to compare to later, to help diagnose a pet that is “just not right”, and in geriatric pets.  Speak to your veterinarian today to see if a senior blood panel is right for your best friend – it is the best gift you can give.