Halloween Safety Tips

Happy Halloween! As you make the final preparations for the big day, The Veterinary Emergency Group in White Plains, NY wants to make sure your pet is safe. Halloween should be a fun holiday, but for pets, it might NOT be so fun if you’re not educated about the potential dangers. Consider the following five Halloween pet safety tips so your cat or dog can enjoy this holiday, and remember, should an emergency occur with your pet, we’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help.

 Halloween Pet Tips in White Plains, NY

  1. Keep Your Pet in Sight

Since Halloween is unfortunately the time of year when many pets go missing, it’s important to always know your pet’s whereabouts, both inside and outside. During trick-or-treat hours, keep your pet in an area where they can’t go running out through the front door as it opens for your guests. Limit your pet’s time outdoors to only a few minutes at a time at night, since there might be more people than usual walking around the neighborhood at this time of year. If you have an outdoor pet, keep them inside until a few days after Halloween for their safety.

 

  1. Don’t Give Your Pet Candy

 Although we know those big begging eyes might be hard to resist, avoid giving your pet candy this Halloween. Chocolate contains an ingredient that’s toxic to dogs and cats, and dark/Baker’s chocolate is even more toxic. Candy and gum made with xylitol is also poisonous. These sweet foods can leave your pet with pancreatitis or something worse, possibly landing them at The Veterinary Emergency Group for emergency treatment. Keep all the sweet treats out of your pet’s reach, and consider buying some new dog or cat treats instead to keep your companion occupied.

 

  1. Choose a Comfortable Pet Costume

 We know there are hundreds to choose from, but when making a decision on which costume to choose for your pet, consider the following: Avoid costumes that contain pieces that can be easily chewed off, become tangled, or caught on something. Choose a costume that’s comfortable for your pet, one that isn’t too tight or too big. Also make sure no parts can obstruct your pet’s breathing or sight. Have your pet practice wearing the costume in short time increments to get them used to it, but if your furry friend still refuses to wear it without throwing a fit, don’t force them. Carefully remove the costume and hope for better luck next year.

 

  1. Provide Sufficient Pet Identification

Whether in the form of an ID tag/collar or microchip—or both—it’s important to make sure that your pet has sufficient identification, in case they become separated from you this Halloween. Ask your local family veterinarian if they offer microchipping to provide your pet with a permanent form of identification and increase the chances of a happy reunion.

 

  1. Use Caution When Decorating

 Candles, lit jack-o-lanterns and several other Halloween decorations can cause hazards for your pet if you’re not careful. Use caution when selecting which decorations to use and where in your home to place them. Some pets—especially cats—have been known to bump lit candles and jack-o-lanterns and cause a serious fire hazard.

 

If your pet is need of emergency care this Halloween or any other time of year, remember that we’re available 24/7 to help. To learn more about these Halloween pet safety tips or to speak with a veterinary emergency doctor at The Veterinary Emergency Group, give us a call at (914) 949-8779.

 

 

Top Ten Emergencies in Cats

Cats
often become reclusive and hide when they are not feeling well which makes
knowing when they need to be seen by your veterinarian a challenge. They have
unique signs and symptoms of emergency conditions that often go unrecognized by
their owners. Some injuries are obvious, such as a cat with an open wound,
while others have more subtle signs that can be equally deadly if left
untreated. Knowing what signs to look for is crucial in determining when to
seek emergency care for your cat. Below is a list of some of the most common
cat emergencies and their signs.
Urethral Obstruction
This
is a condition in which a cat, usually male, is unable to urinate due to a
blockage in the urethra (the tube leading from the urinary bladder to the
outside environment).
Cats
will show a sudden onset of restless behavior which includes frequent trips in
and out of the litter box. They will often attempt to urinate in unusual places
such as in a bath tub or on a plastic bag. You may notice a very small stream
of urine that contains blood. More often than not, despite a cat’s straining,
there may be no urine or even just a drop produced. In later stages of the
obstruction, cats may cry loudly, vomit, and become lethargic.
You
should consider these signs a serious emergency and seek veterinary care
immediately. There are reports of cats developing kidney failure and dying
within 12 hours after the onset of signs. Expect your cat to be hospitalized at
least 36 hours for treatment of this condition which may include a urinary
catheter, intravenous fluids, and pain management. Female cats are less likely
to become obstructed due to their wider urinary tract.
Toxicities (Poisoning)
The
combination of their curious nature and unique metabolism (the way their body
breaks down chemicals) makes cats very vulnerable to toxins. Owners are often
not aware that their home contains multiple products that are poisonous to
their feline companions. The most common cat toxins include antifreeze,
Tylenol, and rat or mouse poison.
The
signs your cat displays depends on what type of poison they have encountered.
Antifreeze will often cause wobbliness or a drunken appearance first, then
progresses to vomiting/weakness as the kidneys fail. Tylenol may cause an
unusual swelling of the head and changes the cats blood color from red to
chocolate brown. Rat or mouse poison interferes with blood clotting so you may
see weakness from internal blood loss or visible blood in urine or stool.
Breathing Problems
Many
times cats hide the signs of breathing problems by simply decreasing their
activity. By the time an owner notices changes in the cat’s breathing, it may
be very late in the progression of the cat’s lung disease. There are several
causes of breathing changes but the most common are feline asthma, heart or
lung disease.
Foreign Object Ingestion
As
you know cats love to play with strings or string-like objects (such as dental
floss, holiday tinsel, or ribbon), however, you may not know the serious danger
that strings can pose to your cat. When a string is ingested, one end may
become lodged or “fixed” in place, often under the cat’s tongue, while the
remaining string passes farther into the intestine. With each intestinal
contraction, the string see-saws back and forth actually cutting into the
intestine and damaging the blood supply.
Signs
that your cat has eaten a foreign object may include vomiting, lack of
appetite, diarrhea, and weakness. Occasionally owners will actually see part of
a string coming from the mouth or anal area. You should never pull on any part
of the string that is visible from your pet.
Most
times emergency surgery is necessary to remove the foreign object and any
damaged sections of intestine.
Bite Wounds
Cats
are notorious for both inflicting and suffering bite wounds during encounters
with other cats. Because the tips of their canine, or “fang”, teeth are so
small and pointed, bites are often not noticed until infection sets in several
days after the injury.
Cats
may develop a fever and become lethargic 48 to 72 hours after experiencing a
penetrating bite wound. They may be tender or painful at the site. If the wound
becomes infected or abscessed, swelling and foul-smelling drainage may develop.
You
should seek emergency care for bite wounds so that your veterinarian may
thoroughly clean the area and prescribe appropriate antibiotics for your pet.
Occasionally the wounds will develop large pockets called abscesses under the
skin that require surgical placement of a drain to help with healing.
Hit by car
Cats
that spend time outdoors are at a much greater risk for ending up in the
emergency room. Being hit by a car is one of the most common reasons for your
pet to suffer traumatic injuries such as broken bones, lung injuries and head
trauma. You should always seek emergency care if your cat has been hit by a
vehicle even if he or she appears normal as many injuries can develop or worsen
over the next few hours.
Increased Thirst and
Urination
Sudden
changes in your cat’s thirst and urine volume are important clues to underlying
disease. The two most common causes of these signs are kidney disease and
diabetes mellitus.
Your
veterinarian will need to check blood and urine samples to determine the cause
of your cat’s signs. Having your pet seen on an emergency basis for these signs
is important as the sooner your pet receives treatment, the better their
chances for recovery. Many times exposure to certain toxins, such as antifreeze
or lilies, will show similar signs and delaying veterinary care can be fatal.
Sudden inability to use
the hind legs
Cats
with some forms of heart disease are at risk for developing blood clots. Many
times these clots can lodge in a large blood vessel called the aorta where they
can prevent normal blood flow to the hind legs. If your cat experiences such a
blood clotting episode (often called a saddle thrombus or thromboembolic
episode), you will likely see a sudden loss of the use of their hind legs,
painful crying, and breathing changes.
On
arrival at the emergency room, your pet will receive pain management and oxygen
support. Tests will be done to evaluate the cat’s heart and determine if there
is any heart failure (fluid accumulation in the lungs). Sadly, such an episode
is often the first clue for an owner that their cat has severe heart disease.
In most cases, with time and support, the blood clot can resolve, but the cat’s
heart disease will require life-long treatment.
Upper Respiratory
Infections
Cats
and kittens can experience a variety of upper respiratory diseases caused by a
combination of bacteria or viruses. Upper respiratory infections, or URIs,
often cause sneezing, runny noses, runny eyes, lack of appetite, and fever. In
severe cases, they can cause ulcers in the mouth, tongue, and eyes. More often
than not, severe cases are seen in cats that have recently been in multiple-cat
environments such as shelters. Small or poor-doing kittens are also easily
infected and may develop more severe complications such as low blood sugar.
Sudden Blindness
A
sudden loss of vision is most likely to occur in an older cat. The most common
causes are increased blood pressure (hypertension) that may be due to changes
in thyroid function (hyperthyroidism) or kidney disease. There are some cats
that appear to have hypertension with no other underlying disease.
Sudden
blindness should be treated as an emergency and your veterinarian will measure
your cat’s blood pressure, check blood tests, and start medications to try to
lower the pressure and restore vision.
Anytime
you notice a change in your cat’s eyes, whether they lose vision or not, you
should consider this an emergency have your pet seen by a veterinarian as soon
as possible.

Reasons To Act More Like Your Pet

Pets aren’t always easy to take care of, and they often require a
substantial time commitment (something you’re all too aware of at, say, 3 a.m.,
when Bing Clawsby is finally ready to go outside and do his business). But pets
provide an amazing return on that time investment, especially when it comes to
your health. Case in point: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and
triglyceride levels than non-pet owners. But that’s not all. Pets also model
many surprisingly healthy behaviors that humans would do well to emulate. Here
are just a few, according to veterinarians, dog trainers, and other pet
experts. 
1. They focus on what matters most. You may get grumpy after a bad
day at the office, but your pooch never does. “Companion animals mostly care
about food, love, and shelter (not always in that order). As long as they have
those things, they don’t need much else,” Mary Gardner, DVM, a veterinarian and
cofounder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice tells Yahoo Health. “Pets also
don’t complain much at all. People believe they hide their pain; I simply think
they manage it differently.” If humans could model these behaviors, Gardner
adds, we’d be healthier, happier, “and more people would want to be around
us.” 
2. They practice portion control (even if not by choice). Snowball
might not want to limit her kibble intake any more than you want to limit your
tortilla-chip intake. Nonetheless, she typically eats reasonably sized helpings
of nutritionally balanced food — and never gets to eat straight out of the bag.
Follow her lead. “Both animals and people need structure and regulation when it
comes to portion size,” says Jme Thomas, executive director of Motley Zoo
Animal Rescue based in Redmond, Washington. 
3. They know how to de-stress. Your pooch doesn’t pour a glass of
cabernet when the going gets rough (though, yes, it would make a very popular
YouTube video if she did). She may, however, start begging for a walk or to
play a game. Smart dog! “Actively seeking healthy activities — that function as
de-stressors when stress levels are high — helps to reset people as well as dogs,
and bring us back to a productive and functional status, from which many things
feel a lot more ‘do-able,’” Marisa Scully, a certified dog behavior specialist
in Philadelphia, tells Yahoo Health. 
4. They hit the hay. People don’t get enough sleep: According to a
2014 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans said that
a lack of sleep had impaired their activities at least once in the previous
week. Learn from your cat or dog, who knows just how important it is to get
enough shut-eye, says Jeff Werber, VVM, president and chief veterinarian of
Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. “Whether it’s a lazy dog day
afternoon, or a quick cat nap, you won’t find them burning the candles at both
ends.” 
5. They stretch! There’s a reason one of the most common yoga moves is
named downward dog. Dogs (and cats) stretch constantly — and we should do the
same, notes certified dog behavior consultant Russell Hartstein. Why?
Stretching can improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury. 
6. They’re open to new things. Animals are naturally curious.
“Open a box or empty a bag and before you know it, your cat will have climbed
in to investigate. Walk your dog past a gardener planting flowers and chances
are she will check it out before moving on,” Werber says. “And they’re always
up for some fun. A game of catch, a walk, a visit — bring it on.” Since
research has found that seeking out new experiences can keep people feeling
young and healthy, we’d do well to follow suit.
7. They’re comfortable getting zen. Numerous studies have found a
correlation between mindful meditation and reduced stress, decreased heart
disease, and a stronger immune response — and that’s something your cat already
knows how to do instinctively. “Each morning I sit on the sofa with my cat,
Turtle, while I drink my first cup of coffee,” says Kristen Levine, a pet
living expert. “We spend about 10 minutes together, her getting neck and head
rubs, me enjoying her purring and having a few meditative moments at the start
of the day.It sounds simple, and it can be, but depending on the activity, it
can have a powerfully relaxing or invigorating effect for both human and
critter.”