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.


The Feline Five: Scientists Outline Five Cat Personality Types

What kind of personality does your cat have?  A large-scale study of 2,800 pet cats in Australia and New Zealand investigated the different personality traits of domestic cats.  The researchers found that there are five distinct personality categories that most cats fall into.

The “Feline Five” personality types identified are:  Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.  They are closely aligned with the Five-Factor Model (aka “Big Five”) of human personality types.  The Big Five are:  Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

The researchers analyzed surveys completed by cat owners and found that the Feline Five were the factors that best depicted the personality of the cats in the survey.

How are these traits expressed in cat behavior?  Here is what the scientists found:

  • Extraversion: active, vigilant, curious, inquisitive, inventive, smart
  • Dominance: bullying, dominant, aggressive (towards other cats)
  • Impulsiveness: impulsive, erratic, reckless
  • Agreeableness: affectionate, friendly to people, gentle
  • Neuroticism: insecure, anxious, fearful of people, suspicious, shy

The researchers note that feline personality analysis can have many practical applications, such as in understanding the relationship dynamics in a multi-cat household.

A cat found to be neurotic can benefit from a quiet environment with hiding places, while extraverted cats can benefit from environmental enrichment and stimulation.  Impulsiveness in a cat can be a good indicator of stress.  Agreeable cats can provide comfort to both humans and other animals in the home.

Owners of dominant cats should be aware of bullying behaviors towards shy cats in a multi-cat home.  Look for dominance over objects (like food) and social dominance (keeping other cats away from you).

Interested in learning more about your own cat?  Read the full article HERE.


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.