As much as our pets love to participate in fall's fun festivities, there are certain things owners should keep in mind in order to protect their pooches and kittens this Halloween. Dr. Patrick Mahaney clears the air about the creepy, crawly season and tells us what we should do to make sure our pets celebrate the holiday with us in a happy and healthy way.
Although temperatures in most parts of the United States are much cooler in the fall and winter, most dogs are able to readily adjust for climate changes and don’t necessarily need to wear a sweater or booties.
As dogs greatly vary in body condition, hair coat, age, and overall health, certain dogs may require additional production from the elements. Dogs having very lean body condition (Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, Dobermans, etc.), juvenile and geriatric pooches, and those suffering from illnesses that diminish their ability to regulate body temperature or move normally are more prone to cold-related health issues.
If your dog goes outside in an environment where the temperature is around or below freezing, then the paws and skin are more commonly affected by cold. Additionally, rock salt, antifreeze, other deicing substances can cause skin irritation or internal organ toxicity if consumed.
As a general guideline, don’t walk your pooch in areas where deicing material has been dispersed or where antifreeze-containing cars are parked. Upon returning home, wipe off your dog’s paws with a warm, moist cloth to remove potentially toxic substances picked up during your walk.
Pumpkin is not toxic to cats provided that it's consumed in a format free from contaminants or microorganisms that could create a toxic effects. Actually, pumpkin is a nutrient-rich resource of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial ingredients. For the most part, owners could feed their cats pumpkin from a can or jar of baby food jar. Alternatively, fresh pumpkin can be cooked, pureed and served.
Pumpkin can help cats suffering from constipation and vomiting associated with hairballs. It even promotes weight loss and management through reduced consumption of highly processed dry cat foods.
The pumpkin that sits on your porch during and after Halloween will start to decompose and grow bacteria and mold within 24-48 hours, depending on environmental conditions. If your cat investigates this toxic bloom and takes a taste, then life-threatening illness can potentially occur. Digestive tract upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite and salivation, are the main clinical signs expected from tasting or eating a pumpkin harboring microorganisms or toxins.
All in all, it’s best to keep your feline friend away from your Halloween pumpkin.
Although Halloween is a fun holiday for people, it can be very stressful for our canine and feline companions.
There are many Halloween-associated stressors that can adversely affect your pet’s behavior, including repeatedly ringing doorbells, opening and closing doors, loud exclamations of "trick or treat!" and the presence of scarily clad strangers entering your home or wandering your neighborhood.
All the excess stimulation may cause changes in your dog’s normal behaviors, such as vocalizing, aggression, pacing, cowering, destroying a confining space, or having inappropriate urination or defecation. For your pet’s safest Halloween experience, minimize all stressful triggers. Keep your pet at home instead of accompanying your family during trick-or-treating outings. Vigorously exercising your pooch a few hours before being left at home can promote a more restful state while your are out and about. Additionally, veterinarian-recommended natural products or prescription medications can be used as needed to relieve anxiety or induce a sedated state.
If you live in an area where the leaves fall on a seasonal basis, collecting the leaves into piles creates a chance for healthful activities involving both people and pets. After all, working up a sweat raking leaves, and then reaping the reward of jumping to leaf pile with your pooch sounds like a wonderful way to spend a fall day.
For the most part, there is little significant concern about letting dogs participate in observed sessions of play in piles of freshly fallen leaves. Concern arises when moisture accumulates in the leaf pile and permits the growth of bacteria or molds. Dogs can be exposed to these microorganisms through direct consumption or ingestion after contact with their paws or fur. Toxic exposure to the digestive tract, kidneys, liver, neurological system or other body parts can ensue.
Dried leaves and other environmental debris (pollen, dust, etc.) can create environmental allergens that have potential to irritate a dog’s eyes, respiratory tract, or skin. A vigorous romp through a pile of leaves would increase exposure to these allergens and likely cause eye discharge, sneezing, coughing, or licking, scratching or chewing the skin.
Dogs that are unobserved in outdoor environments are more likely to ingest inappropriate substances or suffer trauma. Regardless of season, make sure to closely monitor your canine companion at all times while outside.
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Unlike chocolate, sugar is not directly toxic to dogs. Yet, your dog’s accidental or intentional ingestion of sugar can cause sickness.
Consumption of large amounts of sugar creates an osmotic effect where fluid is pulled into the digestive tract. This leads to undesirable clinical signs, including vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite or even pancreatitis (an uncomfortable inflammation of the pancreas). Sugar-free candies can contain sweetening alcohols such as xylitol, mannitol, or sorbitol instead of sugar. Xylitol is found in many commercially available types of sugar-free gum, mints and candy, and is well documented to create potentially life-threatening toxicity in dogs.
Additionally, some candies are made with fats, including vegetable or other oils and nuts, that can cause digestive signs similar to those associated with sugar. Most candies also have artificial colors and flavors or preservatives that are not necessarily immediately toxic, but still should not be consumed by our pets.
Some forms of licorice are made with salts such as ammonium chloride, which actually is used in veterinary medicine as an acidifier to dissolve certain types of urinary crystals and bladder stones. Consumption of excessive quantities of ammonium chloride can cause health problems.
Despite the tendency for sugar and other ingredients contained in candy to not be toxic in comparison to chocolate, I suggest that you keep your pooch out of the Halloween treat basket.
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