Keep Your Pets Safe This Easter

Most responsible pet owners know that pets and chocolate don’t mix.  But there are a few other Easter related pet hazards that dog and cat owners should know about.  Here’s a quick rundown on the most common Easter items that could harm your pet.


Chocolate is toxic to our pets and should always be kept away from curious or hungry dogs, cats, and other animals.  Why is chocolate so dangerous?  Besides caffeine, chocolate contains another stimulant called theobromine.  These substances can cause rapid heart rate, agitation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in pets.


The popular Easter lily poses a serous health risk to cats.  Other types of lilies you may bring into your home at Easter are also toxic.  These include tiger and stargazer lilies.  While the exact toxin in lilies hasn’t been identified, a cat that ingests even a small bite of any part of a lily plant (leaf, flower, stem, pollen) can develop severe, sometimes fatal, kidney failure.

Easter Grass

Those thin strands of plastic grass used to line Easter baskets can pose a health risk to pets.  If ingested by dogs, cats, or other animals, they can become lodged in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract and cause an obstruction.  Surgery may be required to remove the blockage and repair intestinal damage.

Easter Dinner

In addition to chocolate, it’s important to keep an eye on your pets as you prepare Easter dinner and serve it at the table.  Remember that common human foods can be harmful to pets.  Here’s a partial list:

  • Alcohol
  • Bread dough
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Raw poultry and poultry bones

You can refer to the Pet Poison Helpline’s complete list of pet toxins for more information.



Meet FACE Success Story Hemi!

Check out this adorable pup and his little lion friend!

Hemi is an 11 year old Pomeranian who was presented to Dr. Tanya Cruz and the emergency team at San Diego’s Veterinary Specialty Hospital after being attacked by another dog. Hemi was then transferred to the VSH surgery specialty department (and FACE Advisory Committee member Dr. Seth Ganz) for treatment of femoral fracture and coxofemoral (hip) luxation.

A FACE grant providing financial assistance for Hemi’s critical veterinary care helped this little guy receive the surgery he so urgently needed.  His post-op care involves sweet snuggles with his favorite stuffed animal!

Join us and our partners at VSH in wishing Hemi a speedy recovery!


Website Raises Awareness About Pet Suffocation Hazards

We’ve all seen funny videos of dogs, cats, and other animals with their heads stuck in potato chip bags or other kinds of food packaging.  But did you ever stop to think about what would happen if your pet got his head stuck in a bag while you were not at home to pull it off?

The website Prevent Pet Suffocation seeks to raise awareness among pet owners about the very real dangers of a seemingly cute situation.  Because may food bags are made from mylar-type materials designed to keep food fresh, these packages can create a vacuum-like seal around your pet’s head as she tries to breathe.

If you are not around to remove the bag, your pet can run around the house in a panic and lose even more oxygen at a faster rate.  Dogs, cats, and other animals can asphyxiate and die in a matter of minutes.

What can you do to prevent this heartbreaking tragedy from happening in your home?  Prevent Pet Suffocation has created an online petition asking Frito Lay to put warning labels on their snack bags.  You can lend your voice to this effort.

Also, check out this infographic for tips on how to prevent suffocation.  It can be as simple as cutting up empty bags and storing open bags in a secure cabinet and not on the kitchen counter.

You can also follow Prevent Pet Suffocation on Facebook to keep up to date on their awareness campaign, and see some very moving posts about people’s beloved pets who have suffered this very sad (and preventable) fate.


How to Create an Animal Friendly Yard

Spring is just around the corner, and it’s never too early to start planning your garden, especially when you’re getting tired of winter!  This spring, make sure your gardening and landscaping plans take your local animals, birds, and insects into account.

How can you make your yard a humane haven for neighborhood wildlife?  The Humane Society of the United States has put together a practical list of tips.  Here’s how you can ensure that your backyard is safe for local wildlife.

  • Provide a source of fresh clean water, such as a birdbath.
  • Offer natural food sources like flowering native plants and bird feeders.
  • Avoid lawn products with harmful chemicals such as pesticides.

  • Build or purchase a bat house so bats can control insects and pollinate plants on your property.
  • Convert all or part of your lawn into a natural native plant habitat for local animals.
  • Place yard debris in a brush pile to create a shelter for small animals like chipmunks and toads.

  • Plant flowers that attract bees and put up specially-designed bee houses for them.
  • Make sure your swimming pool has an escape route like a ramp for wild animals that fall in.

  • Attract beneficial insects like butterflies and beetles with appropriate native plants.
  • Keep cats indoors for their own safety and the safety of local wildlife.

  • Watch out for nesting animals like rabbits and birds while mowing and pruning in the spring.
  • Use humane methods to trap and release wildlife that gets into your home.
  • Prevent deadly bird strikes by applying a few cling decals to your window panes.


The Many Scientific Reasons that Explain Why Cats are Finicky Eaters

A recent article in The New York Times outlined the different biological and behavioral reasons that explain why many cats are such discriminating eaters.  Turns out your cat isn’t being difficult, she’s just being a cat!

Here are some underlying reasons why your cat may be turning his nose up at dinner:

  • As solitary hunters and eaters, cats tend to eat more slowly and carefully than dogs.  Dog are pack animals and group competition for food makes them eat quickly.
  • Even though a cat’s sense of smell is weaker than a dog’s, it is still very keen, and an unappealing smell can turn your cat off to his food.
  • A cat’s teeth are more well-suited to ripping and tearing meat, not grinding, so wet food is easier to eat than dry food.  Many cats swallow pieces of dry kibble whole, which can then be vomited back up.

  • Cats are true carnivores, so their taste receptors are not geared towards a wide variety of food types, like ours.  Cats naturally prefer protein and are indifferent to sweets and carbohydrates.
  • Cats do have very sensitive taste receptors for bitter foods, however, as anyone who’s ever eaten citrus around a cat can tell you!

Interested in learning more about proper feline feeding and nutrition?  Check out this article from Cornell’s Feline Health Center.