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.



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.


Why Euthanasia Drugs are Being Found in Pet Food

You may have seen some stories in the news lately about small amounts of euthanasia drugs getting detected in some popular pet food brands.  How does this type of drug end up in dog and cat food?  The answer is obvious but may come as a surprise to many pet owners.

A recent article on the website Gizmodo explains why the sedative pentobarbital, which is commonly used in euthanasia, has been found in at least 27 brands of pet food.  No, pet food companies are not deliberately adding it to their food, but it is ending up in food via third-party suppliers of ingredients used in the food.

Veterinary experts explain that the pentobarbital is coming from euthanized animals, usually horses, that go from farms to animal rendering operations, and eventually, to pet food manufacturers.  The FDA has been aware of this issue since the 1990s, so pentobarbital in pet food is not new.

This recent spotlight on the issue has caused many pet owners to wonder where the meat used in their animals’ food is actually coming from.  The pet food industry says that most makers source meat from livestock slaughtered in the same facilities used for human food.

The problem occurs when some of their suppliers use cheap ingredients as a way to cut expenses, such as euthanized and rendered farm animals like horses, as evidenced by the pentobarbital.

The drug amounts in the food are very small, and although there is a new awareness of the issue, it is unlikely that it will ever completely disappear from all pet foods, given the economic realities of the pet food industry.

What can you do to ensure that your pet is eating quality food?  Talk to your vet about the best pet food options for your individual pets, educate yourself on how to read and understand pet food labels, and be sure to keep track of all pet food recalls and withdrawals via the FDA’s pet food recall webpage.


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.


If It’s February, It Must Be Pet Dental Health Month!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and the perfect time to get in the habit of brushing your pet’s teeth (if you don’t already), and scheduling a dental appointment with your veterinarian.

Just like your own dental health, your pet’s dental health is important too.  Tooth decay and gum disease can cause your dog or cat discomfort and other serious health problems if an infection in the mouth spreads.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has a webpage devoted to Pet Dental Health Month, with lots of useful resources for pet parents.

To get you started, they have posted this pet tooth brushing how-to video on YouTube.  Happy brushing!