Pet Info
 From the Potsdam Humane Society
 

Vehicular Mishaps and Your Pet

By TONY BEANE, DVM

As August winds down many of us are busy enjoying our all-too-brief summer weather. While this warm weather is pleasant for us as we enjoy outdoor activities, it may not be so ideal for our pets.

While most of us would not stake our dog out in the middle of our yard in the hot sun, it is surprising how many people will take their dog for a ride with them in the car and then leave the dog in the car while they go into a restaurant, the grocery store or the doctor’s office. They leave the windows closed or cracked open slightly, lock the car and walk away feeling that the animal will be OK while they are gone.

This is inhumane. Cars heat up rapidly with a panting dog inside. They also heat up very quickly when the sun is shining due to the sun’s energy being trapped in the car once it goes through the windows…even if the windows are wide open. The car basically turns into a greenhouse. Even when it is not very hot outside the inside of the car can heat up to very high temperatures in a very short period of time. Try sitting in a car on a sunny day with the windows closed or slightly open and the motor turned off. Within 15 minutes the car becomes very uncomfortable, and after a half hour, it may be lethal. Remember dogs cool themselves by panting, not by sweating like we do. If they are breathing in hot air, they get even hotter.

Just as it is unacceptable to leave a child unattended in a car, it is unacceptable to leave a pet in a car. Even if the car is running, there is the potential that the car could stall or run out of gas while you are in the store shopping and your animal is literally cooking to death in the car. This is not a nice thing to do to a loved one. If you have errands to run, leave your dog at home. If you do see a pet locked in a car that is not running on a hot, sunny day, stay nearby to ensure that the owner returns promptly. If they do not return in a short period of time, be ready to call the police and let them decide whether they need to unlock the car door or break a window to save the dog’s life.

In the summer we’ll sometimes see animals loose in the back of pickup trucks. They appear to be having a great time looking around. If the driver has to hit the brakes quickly to avoid a squirrel in the road or a pedestrian that steps out without looking, beloved pets can slam into the back of the truck’s cab and sustain serious injuries.

Some people allow their dogs to sit on their laps while they are driving and put their heads out the window. This is dangerous for everyone in the car. The dog may get excited when it sees another dog or cat and possibly scratch the driver or get in his field of view causing an accident. Also if you get into an accident, your animal may get trapped between you and your airbag or it may even serve as your airbag and get killed as you crush them against the steering wheel.

While I have been writing about animals getting injured while they are in vehicles, we must not forget that they can also be injured by vehicles when they are not in them. Being presented with a hit by a car (HBC) is one of the things we hate to see the most as veterinarians. Broken bones, organ damage and in some cases death often result from these avoidable collisions. We cannot in good conscience let our animals run free if there is a road nearby.

Please treat your pets like the special creatures that they are. Leave them at home if you are not just going out for a brief ride to deer watch or to get an ice cream cone. You can save yourself a lot of heartache by traveling safely with your pet and not letting vehicular mishaps interfere with the human-animal bond that you share with them.

Tony Beane, DVM, is Professor of Veterinary Science Technology at SUNY Canton and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Potsdam Humane Society. The Potsdam Humane Society strives to be a no-kill shelter where every healthy, adoptable animal taken in will be able to find a home.

 

 

 

Many plants in North Country
can make pets, livestock and children sick

By TONY BEANE, DVM

Summertime is upon us and many of our pets and livestock (and children) may have unsupervised access to plants which may make them sick.

Many ornamental plants are poisonous despite their beauty. Plants are typically poisonous to animals when they eat them. Animals may eat things out of boredom.

The most common signs of poisoning from plants are gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea. Some of the toxicities seen with plant poisonings only happen when the plant is young or when the animal is at a susceptible stage in their life such as when they are pregnant.

Other toxicities are only seen if the animal eats a significant amount of the plant over several days.

Cats and occasionally dogs, may decide to chew on or eat plants. They typically will go after house plants such as philodendron and dieffenbachia.

These plants often have toxic sap in them that may contain oxalates. Oxalates can cause the mouth to be sore and swollen and may damage the kidneys. Rhubarb leaves also have oxalates in them.

Plants such as hyacinth, daffodil, Easter lily, amaryllis and iris contain alkaloids that can cause stomach upsets. We often have pets that will go after a new house plant at holiday time and subsequently have episodes of vomiting and diarrhea until the new plant is put out of reach.

Plants such as lily of the valley can cause heart problems in any animal that decides to eat it. The oleander plant is a very common ornamental plant in the south and western parts of the US. We sometimes will grow it in containers in the North Country.

It has very potent cardiac glycosides in it that can be fatal to humans or animals that eat any part of the plant. Do not use a branch from it to roast hotdogs or marshmallows!

Farm animals may also be affected by eating toxic plants. Plants such as lupines when fed to pregnant cows in their first trimester of pregnancy may cause Crooked Calf Disease or cleft palate in the calf.

In Crooked Calf Disease the calf is born with joints that are permanently fused and stiff so they do not bend during delivery. The calf may not be able to be born without assistance which may mean having a caesarian section. With a cleft palate, the roof of the calf’s mouth is not formed properly so that they cannot successfully nurse their mothers or suckle from a bottle.

Plants such as buttercup may cause cows to have diarrhea if they eat it when the plant is green and rapidly growing. When it is cut and dried and made into hay it is harmless.

A plant called false hellebore (Veratrum californicum) if eaten by a sheep that is 13 days pregnant can cause the resulting lambs to have cyclopia (having only one eyeball in the center of their forehead). Japanese yew bushes are very toxic to cows.

When people trim these evergreen bushes they should never throw the trimmings into a pasture. Cows that eat these branches will often be found dead with the branches still in their mouths. While very toxic to cows, they are eaten by white tail deer with no apparent problems (seems par for the course, deer love everything in our yards!). Wilted red maple leaves can be toxic to horses. T

hey can cause damage to their red blood cells which may lead to kidney damage and death. Interestingly, red maples do not have red leaves in the summer as many people think. They only have red leaves in the fall. Trees that have red leaves in the summer are Crimson King Norway maples, and their leaves are not normally toxic to horses.

I have only presented you with the names of a few plants that may cause problems to our animal friends. For a more information you may want to visit the website of my alma mater which is: www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/ or the ASPCA’s website which is: www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/.

Tony Beane, DVM, is Professor of Veterinary Science Technology at SUNY Canton and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Potsdam Humane Society. The Potsdam Humane Society strives to be a no-kill shelter where every healthy, adoptable animal taken in will be able to find a home.

North Country pet owners should takes steps to protect against diseases spread by fleas, ticks, mosquitoes

By TONY BEANE, DVM

With flea, tick and mosquito season upon us we should be actively protecting ourselves and our pets from the diseases that can be spread by these hungry, biting insects.

Fleas can trigger your dog or cat to have a case of flea allergy dermatitis. Your pet may lick and chew itself raw overnight and you may face a pet with open, bloody sores in the morning.

Some animals are more sensitive to the flea bites and may show the signs I described, while other animals in the household may have the same number of fleas, but may not be particularly bothered by them….at the moment. Fleas can also carry tapeworms.

If your pet eats the flea he can get infected with this parasite. Fleas drink blood as their sole food source, so they can also cause anemia. This anemia is usually seen in very young animals or in animals that are already run down from something else.

Fleas can also spread the bacteria Yersinia pestis. This is the organism that causes the plague or the Black Death that was seen during the Middle Ages. This disease can still be seen in the southwest US where it is found sporadically in the local prairie dog population.

Fleas can go back and forth between, cats, dogs, rabbits, prairie dogs and humans as well as other species to spread blood borne illnesses.

Ticks can carry many diseases to our pets and to us. Lyme disease is one of the first diseases that come to mind living in the Northeast US.

There are many other diseases that they can carry including; Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, Anaplasma and Erlichia as well as other diseases of domestic animals and humans. We recently discussed Lyme disease in this forum, so I will not go into detail about that disease today.

Mosquitos can also spread serious diseases to our pets and to us. Heartworm disease is one of the major concerns for our dogs and cats. It is a parasite that lives in the heart of domestic and wild dogs (wolves, coyotes, coydogs) and sometimes cats.

This worm can grow to be more than a foot long and can lead to severe heart failure and possibly death if untreated. This disease used to be rarely seen in northern New York. That is not the case any longer. We see dogs in northern New York with cases of Heartworm disease each year.

There are several preventatives on the market which must be used whenever there are active mosquitos. West Nile virus has been one of the most advertised mosquito borne diseases over the past few years, but we also see cases of EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) in central and upstate New York. In other parts of the world mosquitos spread malaria as well as other types of encephalitis (infection of the brain).

There are very effective vaccines available for some of these diseases that I mentioned, but they need to be given before the animal is bitten by the infected mosquito. Some of the diseases require that monthly preventatives be given (Heartworm) or even daily (Malaria). Others require avoidance of the mosquito altogether (EEE).

In conclusion, I encourage people to undertake controls for fleas, ticks and mosquitos as well as the diseases that they may be carrying.

These controls may entail eliminating free standing water where mosquitos breed; to applying a topical monthly product to kill or repel these insects; to vaccinating your pet against Lyme disease; to giving a monthly preventative to kill Heartworm larvae that may have been injected into your pet by mosquitos; to avoiding the times of day and the places where these parasites are living and active.

Please visit or contact your veterinarian for more specifics in regard to your pets.

Tony Beane is Professor of Veterinary Science Technology at SUNY Canton and Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the Potsdam Humane Society, which strives to be a no-kill shelter where every healthy, adoptable animal taken in will be able to find a home.

 

Ticks pose Lyme disease threat for pets in North Country; products, vaccines available to prevent infection

By JESSICA SCILLIERI SMITH, DVM

Lyme disease is all too familiar to pet owners here in the North Country. Many families, whether they live in a town or in the country, have had the unpleasant task of pulling a tick off of either themselves or their pet.

But not everyone realizes that each of those ticks poses the threat of infectious disease.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterial spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and is spread by the deer tick Ixodes scapularis. In humans, those infected frequently develop a rash at the site of the tick bite and/or flu-like symptoms and have the potential to develop long term illness from the infection.

However, it can take weeks, months or even longer for your pet to develop any signs of the disease. Dogs frequently develop pain in their joints that can be seen as limping or difficulty moving and walking. Those with more severe infections can develop fevers, decreased appetite or even vomiting and diarrhea.

Infrequently, the infection can spread to the kidneys and result in renal failure. The spirochete does this by causing inflammation in the areas it is infecting.

As a pet owner, the first concern should be to prevent the infection. There are many good tick control products on the market that can be obtained through your veterinarian.

There are some that can be purchased over the counter, but those brands can sometimes contain active ingredients that can cause adverse reactions. Ticks are seen year round and not just in the “country,” so we recommend that you use these products year round, even if you live in town.

There are also Lyme disease vaccines on the market and you should speak with your veterinarian to determine if this preventative measure is appropriate for your pet.

Fortunately, in veterinary medicine, we have a very quick test that can be done to screen your pet for exposure to Lyme disease. A positive result on this test does not mean that your dog is actively infected and your veterinarian may recommend that additional blood work be done to accurately determine your dog’s status.

For those dogs that are infected, treatment is initiated and typically consists of a 30 day course of antibiotics. The majority of dogs with active infections and clinical disease will respond very well to antibiotics and feel significantly improved within 48-72 hours of starting the antibiotics.

However, while rare, dogs with kidney involvement may sustain irreversible damage. Your veterinarian may recommend further testing of the blood or urine to evaluate kidney function at the time of diagnosis in order to diagnose any kidney damage while creating a treatment plan.

Catching kidney damage early will help your veterinarian determine if there are additional medications that might be helpful in supporting the kidneys.

Lyme disease is very prevalent in the Northeast and Michigan/Wisconsin regions of the country. We should be aware of the risk to ourselves and to our pets.

Our rural location makes ticks a common problem, so prevention for yourself and your pet is paramount!

Jessica Scillieri Smith, DVM, Director of the Quality Milk Production Services for Cornell University, and is based in Canton. She wrote the article for the Potsdam Humane Society, which strives to be a no-kill shelter where every healthy, adoptable animal taken in will be able to find a home.

 

Pet owners need to be aware of poisoning potential of human medications, household items

By ANTHONY BEANE, DVM

As I sit and write this article everything is clean, white and peaceful outside. There is a fresh coating of snow and all looks well with the world….

In another part of the country the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is handling calls from (sometimes frantic) pet owners and veterinarians who have concerns about something that an animal has eaten. Some of the ingested items may have been intentionally given to the animal; possibly a human medication or a medication that was prescribed for another animal in the household. Other ingested items may be things that the animal may have found themselves and decided to eat.

One of the top items that animals have problems with are human medications. One Tylenol can be fatal to a cat. One ibuprofen can cause serious illness to a small dog. Some common antibiotics that humans take may be the incorrect strength for one of your pets. If you have an animal that is in need of pain medicine or an antibiotic for an illness, be sure to contact your veterinarian to see if he or she agrees with you, and to see what they would like you to treat your animal with.

Rat poison is something that many people use in the fall and winter when they notice that rats, mice, squirrels or chipmunks may have invaded their homes or camps. Rat poison is often found in a wafer or cracker formulation which rats eat readily…..and so do dogs!

Often you don’t realize that your animal has gotten into the rat poison until they start to act lethargic and weak and their gums get very pale as they bleed to death internally. It may be too late to get them to a veterinarian to get a blood transfusion and/or some vitamin K tablets to help them with clotting. Rat poison is tasty and is often carelessly placed in locations where dogs (and children) can get to it.

Antifreeze is used as a coolant in your cars radiator. In the winter it is easy to see where your leaky radiator may have leaked some of the fluorescent green antifreeze on the ground. This product is very toxic and will shut the kidneys down on anyone who drinks it. Even small amounts on the ground may be enough to kill a dog or a cat or even a wild animal that is curious and decides to taste it. It is very sweet tasting and animals will readily drink it if they find it. Recently, companies that make antifreeze have agreed to put a bittering agent in antifreeze. In the next year the new product will hopefully be on the market so that if it leaks on the ground animals will not drink it. It will take years to get all of the old product off the shelves and out of our cars, so the full impact will not be felt for a few years. If you have a leaky radiator please get it repaired.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to common poisonings. Remember to read instructions on medications and if in doubt call your veterinarians office before giving a product that was not specifically prescribed to that pet. I’ll talk about some other bad news items that our pets are given or get into in the coming months.

Tony Beane is Professor of Veterinary Science Technology at SUNY Canton and serves on the board of directors of the Potsdam Humane Society