Healthy Pet Topics
Our team at La Crosse Veterinary Clinic wants to help keep your pet friends healthy throughout their entire lives. We know you have questions about health-related topics, such as diet, disease and parasite prevention, and household concerns, so we have created this page to address some of those concerns. If you have additional questions, feel free to Contact Us before your pet’s next visit. Click on the topics below to learn more about each topic.
The changes in weather can be fun, but they can also create potential risks and challenges to pets. Below are some seasonal tips to help keep your pet safe and happy throughout the year.
Lawn Fertilizer: Did you know lawn fertilizer can be toxic to your pet? It’s true. Some fertilizers contain pesticides and other toxins. If your pet were to eat recently fertilized grass or just lick their paws after walking through the lawn, they may be at risk for poisoning. To protect your pet, always read the instructions on your fertilizer product and carefully follow the restrictions for pets and children before allowing them back on the grass. You may also want to use a fertilizer product that is pet friendly and free of dangerous chemicals.
Plant Toxicity: With spring comes the return of flowers and other beautiful plants. If you have a garden or indoor plants, make sure you know which ones are toxic and which ones aren’t. Many pets like to chew on plants, but they don’t always know which plants are safe to put in their mouth. Some of the most popular toxic flowers are lilies, tulips, azaleas, and chrysanthemums (mums). For more information, visit the ASPCA’s website for a list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
Heatstroke: Whether you take your dogs for a hike through the woods or just leave them in the yard to play for a few hours in the summer, it’s important to provide plenty of cool, fresh water and shelter from the hot sun. Pets can’t cool themselves like people can, so once you see them panting, they are telling you that they are hot and need to cool down. Pets are always at high risk for heatstroke in an enclosed vehicle, even if the windows are cracked open for ventilation. We recommend that you never leave them alone in the car on a hot summer day, even for a few minutes.
Sunburn: Pets with light colored fur, exposed skin, and light colored skin can get sunburned, just like people can, so protect them on those sunny days of summer. It’s best to avoid having your pet outdoors in direct sunlight during the late morning and early afternoon hours, when the sun is usually the most intense, but if you have to go out in the sun one of our veterinarians will recommend a pet-safe sun lotion.
Antifreeze: In the cold months of the year, the use of antifreeze typically increases, which means pets are at an increased risk of accidental poisoning. Antifreeze is a dangerous substance because it contains ethylene glycol, which tastes sweet and emits an inviting aroma to pets. If ingested, antifreeze can lead to kidney failure if treatment is not sought immediately. To protect your pets from accidental antifreeze poisoning, make sure all your antifreeze containers are tightly sealed and stored away, or consider using a pet-friendly product that contains propylene glycol, instead of ethylene.
Sidewalk Salt: Before salting your sidewalks and driveways in preparation for snowfall or freezing rain, read the label carefully regarding pet safety if you have a pet that goes outdoors. Many road salt and ice melt products contain chlorine and other toxic chemicals that can irritate your pet’s paws. If your pet ingests the salt by licking their feet or the ground, it can be harmful to their mouth and digestive system. Consider using pet-safe ice melt and salt products or give your pet a pair of booties when they go outdoors on a salted surface.
Both internal and external parasites can cause a number of health problems for pets, but the good news is that we can help you protect your pet. In addition to intestinal worms, heartworms and ticks are two of the most common parasites seen in pets, see below to learn more.
Heartworm: Heartworm disease is a worldwide concern for both indoor and outdoor pets and is spread by mosquitoes that are infected with one of the life stages of the heartworm. When an infected mosquito bites an animal, the heartworm larvae enter through the bite wound. Over time, these larvae mature into adult worms (internal parasites) in the heart, causing potentially-fatal blockages. La Crosse Veterinary Clinic recommends preventatives like Sentinel, Heartgard Plus, and Advantage Multi for Cats to protect your pet from heartworms, as well as yearly blood testing to make sure that your pet is free of disease.
Ticks: In our area ticks thrive almost everywhere. However, they are most common in high grass and wooded areas. Ticks are external parasites that usually latch on to the head, neck, ear, or feet areas. If not removed within 24-48 hours, ticks can cause Lyme disease, which can result in depression, fever, lameness, and even kidney failure. In the spring, summer, and fall months, always check your pet for ticks when they come in from outside. If you ever find a tick imbedded on your pet, gently grasp it with a pair of tweezers (near the mouthparts where it is attached to your pet, not by the fat part of the tick body) and twist it out, making sure to remove its head and mouth.
While some "people foods" are both harmless and even healthy for pets, there are others that can be toxic. The section below highlights a few foods that are safe/healthy for dogs and cats and some that aren’t.
Toxic Table Foods
Chocolate: The rich, sweet smell and taste of chocolate can be very tempting, even for pets, but unfortunately, chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats. Chocolate contains an alkaloid called theobromine, which is what causes the poisoning, and the darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity level. Chocolate toxicity can result in vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death, if consumed in large amounts.
Garlic: When ingested in a concentrated form in large amounts, garlic can be toxic to pets, affecting their red blood cells and causing gastroenteritis. Signs of garlic toxicosis include weakness, vomiting, and drooling. Some effects of poisoning may also be delayed for several days.
Grapes and Raisins: Both grapes and raisins have been found to cause sickness in both dogs and cats, although the exact toxin is still unknown. In large amounts, grape/raisin poisoning can even lead to kidney failure. Symptoms to look include repeated vomiting, lethargy, and depression.
Avocados: Avocados are mildly toxic to dogs and cats, due to the presence of the toxin called persin. Signs of avocado toxicity in dogs and cats include vomiting, and diarrhea. Keep in mind that the seed of an avocado can cause obstruction if ingested, due to its large size.
Safe Table Foods
Some Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables have many health benefits for humans, so it’s unsurprising that they are also beneficial to pets. Some of the safe fruits and vegetables for pets include apples, green beans, bananas, cucumbers, and carrots. Just be sure to cut them in small pieces before feeding them to your pet.