December 2018 Blogs

Holiday Pet Tip: No Sweets For Your Sweet Pet

For many people, overindulging in holiday goodies may result in a few extra pounds; however, the consequences for our animal companions are much greater if they accidentally ingest cookies, candy or baked goods containing chocolate. In any form ranging from one-ounce baking squares to brownies, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can cause stimulation of the central nervous system, an increase in heart rate and tremors. Clinical symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst. Urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.

Veterinary poison and emergency center across the country seem to receive more calls involving chocolate toxicosis during Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. During one Thanksgiving holiday, an 18-pound cocker spaniel consumed an 18-ounce box of milk chocolate truffles. By the time the owners brought the dog to the veterinary emergency center, she had already vomited several times and was drinking large amounts of water. The emergency clinician worked in conjunction with the dog's veterinarian to provide emergency treatment, which included activated charcoal, intravenous fluids and medication for her elevated heart rate. She'd recovered by the next morning, but spent the day in doggie day care to make sure she didn't have further problems.

Although chocolate toxicosis is more common in dogs who have been known to eat candy and trays of brownies and fudge accidentally left out, it can be a potential problem with any species. Take care this holiday season and keep candy out of your pets' reach - and don't let them in the kitchen unsupervised when you're baking. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.

Winter Tips for Pets

It won't be long until the temperature drops off, the sky turns grey and the snow starts to fall. Winter can be a fun time for pets to explore, but as a pet owner, you should keep in mind a few things to make sure they stay healthy and safe during this time of year.

Don't Overestimate the Warmth of Fur

Pets with thicker coats can handle colder temperatures better than shorter-haired animals. But don't think that just because a pet's hair is long that they're completely insulated from the cold. If a pet's coat gets wet, the fur loses its insulating ability. Keep a towel handy to dry off your pet after a romp in the snow, and make sure that they have access to a dry and draft-free shelter on the cold days.



Dressing Your Pet with a Jacket Can Help…to a Degree

Dogs can be very cute dressed in their vest or jacket during the winter months. These fashionable items look great and can help keep your dog warm, but don’t consider them to be the equivalent of a parka. Keep a close eye on your dog and never assume because they have on a jacket, they're invincible to the frigid temperatures.

As for your cat: it's hard enough to get them in their travel carrier. Even if you are able to get a jacket or vest on them, it's very likely they're going to spend all their energy trying to get it off. You can probably skip this step.

Protecting your Puppy or Senior Pet Means keeping Them Indoors

As much as your new pet might want to go outside and run around on colder days, it's best to limit their time in the snow or cold. They don't have the fat, metabolism or full coat to handle frigid temperatures as adult pets do.

Your senior pet may have spent winters in the past enjoying the brisk temperatures and playing as the snow falls. But as they age, recognize that they aren't as strong as they once were. This doesn’t mean they can't be outside and play, just be conscientious of time and make sure they have plenty of warm blankets and treats when they come indoors.

Laboratory Tests Explained

Looking at the results of laboratory tests done on your pet can be very confusing, overwhelming and at times, even frightening. As your pet's caregiver, it is important for you to have a general understanding of laboratory tests and what their results mean. This information can be valuable when it comes to deciding medical treatment options that are important as well as available for your pet.

Generally, in order to conduct a test a sample of your pet's blood and/or urine is collected. Once collected, it can be stored in various kinds of tubes to help preserve the sample and provide the laboratory technicians with a clean specimen.

So what does it mean when your veterinarian says she needs to run some blood work on your pet? Blood work (pre-surgical or otherwise) is usually a combination of a complete blood count (CBC) and a blood chemical analysis. Blood work is a basic evaluation tool. It also helps your veterinarian diagnose a pet's disease or monitor the progression of a disease. The cellular elements of the blood are examined in the CBC. The CBC determines the number of erythrocytes (red blood cells), the number and type of leukocytes (white blood cells), the number of thrombocytes (platelets), the hemoglobin level and the hematocrit (packed cell volume or PCV). Erythrocytes carry oxygen throughout the body. Leukocytes fight infection and are part of the immune system. Platelets are clotting proteins and can indicate how fast your pet's blood clots; slow clotting can be a serious problem. A CBC can tell your veterinarian if your pet has an unusual number of red blood cells, white cells or platelets. The numerical values for these cells can indicate if your pet's health is improving or deteriorating.


The results of a chemistry panel can indicate how well your pet's kidney and liver are functioning and the level of electrolytes in the blood. The chemistry panel usually includes the following tests:

Alkaline phosphatase - Used extensively as a tumor marker, it is also present with liver injury, bone injury, pregnancy, or skeletal growth (elevated values). Growing animals have normally higher levels of this enzyme. Low levels are sometimes found in protein deficiency, malnutrition and a number of vitamin deficiencies.

Alanine transaminase - Increased levels are seen in liver damage, kidney infection, chemical pollutants or myocardial infarction.

Bilirubin (total) - Elevated in liver disease, hemolytic anemia, low levels of exposure to the sun and toxic effects to some drugs. Decreased levels are seen in people with an inefficient liver, excessive fat digestion and possibly a diet low in nitrogen bearing foods.

Blood urea nitrogen - Increases can be caused by excessive protein intake, kidney damage, certain drugs, low fluid intake, intestinal bleeding, exercise, or heart failure. Decreased levels may be due to a poor diet, malabsorption, liver damage or low nitrogen intake.

Creatinine - Low levels are sometimes seen in kidney damage, protein starvation, liver disease, or pregnancy. Elevated levels are sometimes seen in kidney disease due to the kidneys job of excreting creatinine, muscle degeneration and some drugs involved in impairment of kidney function.

Glucose - Elevated in diabetes, liver disease, obesity, and pancreatitis due to steroid medications, or during stress. Low levels may be indicative of liver disease, overproduction of insulin or hypothyroidism.

Total protein - Decreased levels may be due to poor nutrition, liver disease, malabsorption, diarrhea or severe burns. Increased levels are seen in lupus, liver disease, chronic infections, leukemia, etc.

Albumin - High levels are rarely seen and are primarily due to dehydration. Low levels are seen in poor diets, diarrhea, fever, infection, liver disease, inadequate iron intake, third-degree burns and edemas and hypocalcemia.