Dogs and Chocolate Marijuana Edibles: A Toxic Combination

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A recent report in The New York Times highlights a dangerous and increasingly common health threat to our pets (especially dogs) – eating recreational or medical marijuana…and chocolate desserts that contain marijuana. Most pet owners know that they should keep chocolate, a known toxin, away from their animals. But if that chocolate brownie also happens to contain marijuana, your dog could be doubly at risk.

According to the article, consuming marijuana can cause symptoms like lethargy, unsteady gait, urinary incontinence, excessive salivation, and sensitivity to noise, light, and movements. But the ingestion of marijuana alone is rarely fatal. Your vet will induce vomiting and provide extra hydration during recovery. New York City’s Animal Medical Center reports that it treats several cases of pet marijuana poisoning every week.

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Consuming marijuana alone can be harmful enough, but if your dog consumes a chocolate marijuana edible like brownies, the effects could be life-threatening. The director of the ASPCA’s poison control center reports that any canine deaths from marijuana ingestion pretty much always involve the dog consuming chocolate as well.

The toxic component of chocolate, a compound called theobromine (combined with the chocolate’s caffeine) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, thirst, restlessness, increased heart rate, and excessive urination. In serious cases, dogs can experience tremors, seizures, and heart failure. Older dogs with underlying heart conditions can die. As with marijuana poisoning, your vet will induce vomiting and give extra fluids.

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It’s important to keep all forms of marijuana and chocolate out of your curious dog’s reach. When the two are combined into one edible, be especially careful to make sure your dog cannot access this tempting but potentially deadly food.

Rachel Bloom’s Rescue Dog Wiley Has Her Own Talk Show!

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Are you a fan of the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? Then you’ve probably seen some commercials during the show featuring Rachel Bloom and her adorable little rescue dog Wiley. Wiley just happens to talk in a voice that kind of sounds like Rachel’s…and when Rachel drops her off at doggy day care, Wiley hosts her own doggy talk show. Here’s a recent video of Wiley doing a show on pet supplies…because sometimes we just need a good laugh!  Enjoy!

 

How We Read a Dog’s Facial Expressions Says a Lot About Us

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Many animal lovers are guilty of assigning meaning, including human emotions, to a dog’s facial expressions. We’ve all done it…sometimes it looks like a dog is smiling and happy, other times they might look guilty, or those raised eyebrows make them look worried. How much meaning we assign to a dog’s facial movements—and if those meanings are accurate or just wishful thinking—is a topic that has been studied by scientists for years.

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A new study out of the University of Helsinki and Aalto University sheds some light on how your perception of a dog’s facial expressions may say more about what kind of person you are than what the dog is feeling. It turns out, people who are emotionally empathetic tend to assign more meaning to a dog’s facial expressions than others who are less empathetic.

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The researchers note that people with strong emotional empathy are actually very good at evaluating the feelings behind other humans’ facial expressions, but warn that when it comes to dogs, we over-interpret their emotions when we just look at their faces. They point out that a more reliable way to asses what’s going on inside a dog’s head is to look at their overall body language.

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As an example of the tendency of empathetic people to assign greater meaning to a dog’s face, the researchers point to a study that shows dog trainers tend to rate a dog’s “happy” expression as happier than people who don’t work with dogs.

Interested in learning more? Check out the full study HERE.

 

The 15 Most Dangerous Pet Toxins

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The experts in veterinary toxicology at the Animal Poison Control Center recently put out a very useful list of the top 15 drugs, household items, and plants that are dangerous to pets. Here’s a quick rundown. Be sure to check out their website for the complete story, lots of valuable information about pet poisons, and to learn more about the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661.

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  1. Sago Palm. An ornamental plant that is highly toxic and can cause liver failure in pets. Unsafe as an indoor or outdoor plant.

2. 5-Fluorouracil. A topical chemotherapy treatment which can be deadly to pets.

3. Baclofen. A human muscle relaxant that can cause seizures, coma, and death in pets.

4. Isoniazid. A treatment for tuberculosis, this drug can cause severe toxic reactions in pets.

5. Calcipotriene/Calcipotriol. A synthetic form of Vitamin D. Even a tiny amount can be toxic to pets.

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6. Lilies. Lilies are especially toxic to cats…even the pollen. Ingesting lilies causes acute kidney failure in cats.

7. Ethylene Glycol. This is the sweet-tasting but toxic ingredient in antifreeze that causes kidney failure and central nervous system distress in pets.

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8. Metaldehyde. An ingredient in snail and slug bait. Causes seizures, tremors, and hypothermia in pets.

9. Baking Xylitol. This type of sugar substitute is especially toxic to dogs, even more so than the xylitol in gum or candy, because it is 100% xylitol.

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10. Golden Malrin. A fly bait that can cause the same symptoms as organophosphates (see #11).

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11. Organophosphates. A type of insecticide that causes severe central nervous system, heart, and digestive reactions in pets.

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12. Rodenticides made with Vitamin D or Bromethalin. Two very dangerous types of rodent killer that are designed to be attractive to animals. Ones made with Vitamin D cause kidney failure and those with bromethalin cause brain swelling.

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13. Japanese Yew. All parts of this ornamental plant are toxic to pets. In fact, horses can die if they graze on the trimmings.

14. Caffeine Pills. This includes diet and fitness supplements that contain caffeine. Pets are extremely sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

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15. Grapes and Raisins. Can cause severe kidney failure in pets, even just a small amount.

 

What’s the Impact of “Corporatization” on Our Pets’ Veterinary Care?

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Is the solo veterinary practice becoming a thing of the past? Like health care for humans, veterinary care for pets is dramatically changing with the growth of large corporate pet hospitals like Banfield and VCA. Many Americans are choosing to bypass the corner pet store and shop for pet supplies at big box retailers…so it’s not such a surprise to see a vet practice, dog training area, and groomer when you enter these stores. But are we sacrificing quality for convenience?

A recent in-depth article on Bloomberg.com takes a long hard look at the corporatization of veterinary care. It’s a must-read for any concerned pet owner. The article profiles a veterinarian named John Robb who has worked in his own practice, as well as for Banfield and VCA, over the course of his career. He fears that a standardized, one-size-fits-all approach to pet care may be doing more harm than good. What’s the biggest bone of contention for Robb and many other critics of the corporate approach? The over-vaccination of pets because vaccines are such a significant source of income.

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The debate about whether or not we are over-vaccinating our pets, to the detriment of their health, is very complicated. But there is a growing sentiment among experts that “wellness plans” which include multiple, repeated vaccines are unnecessary and maybe even dangerous, given hazards like bad reactions to shots and even injection-site cancers. These risks have many people asking “How much is too much?”

Besides vaccines, another source of profit is diagnostic testing. Did you know that VCA owns Antech Diagnostics, a laboratory that performs testing for 50% of the nation’s veterinary hospitals? This translates to 41% of VCA’s operating profit. While bloodwork and other diagnostic testing can certainly save lives, some critics are concerned that appropriate care can take a backseat to easy profits.

According to the article, corporations now own between 15-20% of all veterinary practices in the U.S., whether they build their own or purchase existing practices from independent veterinarians. Many states actually have laws prohibiting the corporate ownership of veterinary practices, but companies can work around them using complicated management structures.

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The bottom line for pet owners? We should approach veterinary care the same way we approach our own medical care. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a veterinary practice you feel comfortable with, and it’s OK to ask questions and get second opinions about your pet’s care, the same as you would for your own. Whether you choose a small vet practice or a large one, being a well-informed advocate for your pet’s health is the best thing you can do.