Vedder Mountain Veterinary Clinic



                                                                            Suffocation Danger Alert!


                      It is very important to be aware of the suffocation danger to pets from  plastic food packages and to take care to protect them from common household food packaged items such as Ziploc                        bags, potato chip bags, plastic cereal box bags and hard plastic food containers with narrow openings. 


                      The latest Bulletin from the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia flagged the importance of our profession increasing the level of awareness of the public to this surprisingly common                        cause of suffocation of hungry or curious pets. 

                       Pets suffocate often in a few minutes once their heads and face are fully encased in these items since they generally do not have enough dexterity to remove them in time.

                       For pet owners interested in learning more about this danger and on food package hazard prevention, a website link has been provided at: http//


                       Wild birds too are often exposed to the hazards of discarded plastic items.  In particular, plastic rings that encircle items bought in bulk such as beer cans or large juice containers. These                      plastic rings can encircle shore birds necks or legs causing them to die from starvation or be attacked and killed by predators.  It is a very simple and potentially life-saving act to cut these                          items up before disposing of them in your garbage container.  









                                                                               “ The dose makes the poison” 


      Tea Tree oil is an essential oil that is commonly found in many home cabinets.  It is valued for its use in humans and animals as a home remedy for a variety skin and respiratory conditions.

        It can be purchased from many Big Box stores, pharmacies and pet stores in a wide range of concentrations as an over-the- counter medication in a variety of formulations including shampoos, sprays , soaps and bottled oils.


     Not uncommonly, well-meaning pet owners sometimes reach for this plant-based, pungent essential oil as a home remedy to treat their pet’s ear or skin problems that appear to be of a minor nature.   In animals, Tea Tree Oil has been marketed as an animal flea and lice shampoo, antiseptic, fungicidal agent  and anti- allergy product.


 Unfortunately, most pet owners are often unaware of the significant potential for toxic effects of Tea Tree Oil on pets.  These toxic effects are dependent on the quality, quantity and concentration of the product. 


         Cats, especially young thin ones, are particularly sensitive to the negative effects of Tea Tree Oil; however, it can be toxic to any species of animal depending on the dose absorbed.


     Commercially, Tea Tree Oil is present at concentrations as little as < 1%, but up to 100% products are available. 100% Tea Tree Oil in dogs or cats can commonly cause serious signs of gastro-intestinal upset and nervous system depression, uncoordination, hind limb paralysis and tremors within hours after exposure and lasting up to 3 days.   Liver failure has also been correlated with its use and even death.


       Pets with damaged skin will absorb the oil faster and pets that self-groom (a common habit for most cats), are at higher risk of toxic reactions. 

       Mankind has used tea tree oil for centuries.  It certainly can exert beneficial effects on a variety of skin are respiratory conditions.  However, before a well-meaning pet owner reaches for this remedy it is very wise for them to consult with their chosen veterinarian first to ensure that it will be safe to give to their beloved companion rather than causing them harm.  

       “The dose makes the poison” is a very wisely stated adage credited to Paracelsus, a Renaissance age physician, who founded the discipline of toxicology.

          It is very prudent to keep this adage in mind when considering any kind of home remedy. “Natural products” are not necessarily unable to cause harm just because they are from ingredients of natural origin. 






         Most of us that have ever lived with a cat can agree that cats seem to have a concept of time that is often out of sync with that of our own. Take for example their preferred sleep-wake cycle. Cats want to sleep through most of the day rousing themselves mostly just to change their body position, eat or visit their facilities. Then they start to liven up in the early evening and want to play and solicit from us our undivided attention, which is most often the time when we humans are wanting to read, spend some time on our computer devices or simply put up our feet and relax.    If gently rebuffed, many cats will then resort to pawing delicately at our books or newspaper pages or standing on the zzzzzzzzzzzzzz of our keyboard, all the while plaintively meowing and staring directly at our faces until we give up and give them the attention they want.


          Fortunately, there are numerous quite simple and inexpensive solutions that can solve the problems associated with the demand for entertainment from a bored cat.   Of course, ultimately, direct owner interaction is what most cats want.  Thus, the majority of young cats and many athletic adult cats enjoy fetching cat toys for their owners and chasing after objects that are swung about. Very inexpensive, homemade chase objects are often appreciated even more than commercial ones.   For example, paper towel or toilet paper roll ends cut into small sections and scissor-fringed then tied to long laces can make great interactive chase toys.


       For evenings  when direct interaction is not possible,  cat-feeding toys, puzzle toys and cat treat mazes are available commercially to help keep them entertained.  Much less expensively, ice cube trays containing frozen food or plastic soda bottles with cutout holes to periodically release food can serve as an entertainment centre for cats prone to boredom.


      Another example of common discord between a person’s natural circadian rhythms and a cat’s is that the majority of cats are early risers.  It doesn’t matter a hoot to them, of course that you may have been tossing and turning most of the night suffering from insomnia and have finally managed to drift off in the early morning hours,  or perhaps are trying to catch up on some sleep from a late evening out.  In  the early hours of the morning they want food and attention; period the end.   A cat can become very irritating or even frantic until his or her needs are met.  Most cat owners can relate to the experience of having their cat jumping onto their stomach or pawing at their face to attract their attention in the early hours of the morning.  If they are kept in a separate room, cats can demonstrate mild to extreme behavior ranging from plaintive non-stop meowing to howling, scratching at doors, jumping up at door handles and even banging into walls until their needs are met. 


      Again, fortunately, there are effective methods available, should the need arise, to help calm the early riser and to help him or her sleep a little longer. Sometimes all that is required is additional play and vigorous exercise sessions just prior to their bedtime.   For the more laid-back cats that prefer to sleep through the majority of the day, waking them up or keeping them more active throughout the day will benefit their overall health as well as help to keep them asleep a little longer in the mornings. It also may help to modify a cat’s feeding schedule to include bedtime feeding or to use a timed automatic feeder that will deliver a pre-measured amount of food at a programmed early hour.


     For the more frantic early risers, there are alternative relaxation agents such as pheromone sprays and diffusers and medications such as tranquilizers, antihistamines and hormones such as melatonin that can help. Of course, it is important to consult with your veterinarian before considering giving any of these or  any other medications to your furry friend.


     “ So hush little baby, (“Kitty”) don’t you cry,

       Daddy loves you and so do I”.   






                                 Our Case of the Month:  “ Jacko, the “paper snatcher”

       Earlier this month Jacko, a very attractive three-month-old male Aussiedoodle arrived at our clinic.   An Aussiedoodle, as you probably already have guessed, is a mix of genes of two breeds, the Australian shepherd and a Standard Poodle.  We learned from his proud owners that he was born in Stonefort, Illinois at a professional breeder’s facility and had received his first set of vaccines and preventive deworming on schedule prior to his day of adoption.   

     It was easy to determine during his physical exam that Jacko was an even-tempered and clever dog in good overall condition.  He was a little shy and introverted at first then his playfulness took over and he made us all laugh when he snatched from my hand a page of my physical report and waited for my response! 


      A snatched paper is not one to cause any harm but certainly illustrates a common and endearing trait of pups that learn about their world and test their capabilities primarily using their mouths for the gathering of information.  Most pups consider any object that flutters, rolls, flits, buzzes makes noises or has an unusual smell to be fair game for oral exploration.    This can include fingers and pant legs, flying insects, soap bubbles, whatever falls of the dinner table, and rotting dead thing! As with kids this can, at times, be a behavior that leads to disastrous consequences since it takes time for pups to learn of any taste or object that is best for them to avoid to protect themselves from harm.  


     Mouthing of human fingers is a common behavior in pups Along with being unhygienic and gooey, it is a behavior that must be addressed promptly to avoid persistence of this behavior into the dog’s adult years. In fact, this applies to a pup’s behavior overall since the proverbial idiom “ as the twig is bent so is the tree inclined” certainly applies to dogs as much as it does to humans.



      Owners often inquire during routine exam visits if I have some suggestions to offer to help them deal with the exuberant mouthing behavior exhibited by their pup. Occasionally, I have felt motivated to bring up the subject myself after observing punctures on the owner’s arms that look suspiciously like sharp little teeth marks!   For these folks, I often need to encourage them to not excuse their pup’s behavior as “ just playing a little rough” or “ just by accident’.  For these folks I like to point out to them that sharp little baby teeth are eventually shed and powerful and strong adult teeth will soon take their place!   


      Often, exuberant mouthing behavior can be controlled verbally if the mouthing is immediately followed by the exclamation of a high-pitched “OWW” followed by withdrawal back of the hand and play interruption.   This is actually close to how a pup in a litter communicates their distress to another pup so, after a few lessons pups interpret the response correctly and alter their behavior. Essentially they have to learn that their sharp little teeth can do harm, especially to a human’s unprotected skin.  Most pups consider the stopped play session enough punishment to deter them from further finger play.  


   Another quite effective approach is to provide to the pup a more acceptable object such as a favorite toy or chew object for them to focus on and redirect their mouthing behavior away from the finger play.    If these two methods seem to be ineffective, then another approach is to have one’s fingers coated with a distasteful substance such as bitter apple or citronella.   If, after a number of training sessions this mouthing behavior continues unabated then a squirt of lemon juice from a plastic lemon container often will do the trick but it is best to try less punishing methods first to avoid weakening your pup’s trust bond to you.


        To finish this brief discussion, I would like to refer back to my previous mention of the use of chew objects to help divert a pup’s attention from playing with human fingers.   For a large majority of dogs, chew objects can provide an emotional release from the tensions of their day or, more simply, help them occupy their time if they are bored.



          When mentioning acceptable chew objects to clients I always like to emphasize that any object can be harmful to a dog’s teeth and it is always best to oversee the condition of the chew object to ensure that it is not developing sharp points or becoming fragmented and presenting a choking risk.  A rule of thumb endorsed by veterinary dental specialists is if you wouldn’t feel comfortable hitting your kneecap with an item then it is not safe for your dog to chew on it.


   On my “o.k with supervision list” are: Kongs, Greenies, rope toys, rubber balls (be sure that they larger than what your dog could swallow), knotted/rolled rawhides and edible veterinary dental chews.  Animal bones, (cooked or raw) are definitely NOT on my acceptable list, neither are sticks, rocks, corncobs or ice cubes.


     Like skydiving, allowing your dog to have a chew object unsupervised carries with it a degree of risk.  However, if the trade-off is unrelenting barking from boredom or modification of your doorframe or interior decorating if you are away from home, than the risk is probably worth taking.


     Remember Jackson?


    Followers of my Vedder Mountain Veterinary clinic page will likely remember the story of Jackson; not meaning Michael, the chart-topping pop artist, but Jackson the cat, a long-haired grey Persian who was adopted, very fortunately, by a compassionate Chilliwack couple about eight years ago.


   To refresh on the details, he had shown up in their yard one day as a badly injured stray and was warmly welcomed into their home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               At the time he was suffering from a seriously injured right eye and was tolerating other bothersome problems as well, including, a heavily matted, greasy hair condition and a very empty stomach. However, even with these problems his gentle and trusting personality had seemed evident.  He was clearly the kind of cat used to toughing it out in tough times yet one who had a gentle, sensitive side and an innate trust of humans.


  At the time, his eye was so badly damaged that it was pushed backwards into his head with pus in his eye socket obscuring a collapsed eyeball underneath.  This eye injury had probably occurred during a very intense dispute with another cat over territorial rights. One can easily imagine that as a hardened road warrior he had probably bravely stood his ground but unfortunately the head-on conflict had resulted in the sacrifice of an eye.


     Despite all medical measures and very conscientious and sustained efforts to salvage this eye it became a source of increasing discomfort to Jackson and it soon became clearly apparent that the kindest approach would be to have it removed.  We performed this procedure early in March, 2007.


   Jackson enjoyed about four years relatively problem-free before he started to show evidence that his remaining eye was not looking normal. Unusual chocolate colored cloudy strands started to appear behind his shiny cornea.  He also started to be experiencing loss of more vision.  A visit to the eye specialists in the summer of 2012 confirmed a diagnosis of a persistent inflammation inside Jackson’s one remaining eye.


     A variety of long-term eye medications were prescribed to be administered daily.                                                          Again, the risk factor was very high that in the foreseeable future Jackson would develop a cataract and eventually suffer from a totally blind, very painful eye.


      The benefits of the medication, administered by very dedicated, conscientious owners held his problem at bay for close to two years before it became apparent that another enucleation (eye removal) was necessary to improve Jackson’s enjoyment of his life.


      Routine blood tests to ensure that Jackson’s main body organs were functioning well prior to the operation revealed a good overall health status but for one complicating factor…he was determined to be carrying a virus very similar to the human H.I.V. virus!


  This virus, called FIV, is most commonly acquired by cats during exchange of infected saliva during cat fight battles.  Much less commonly, it can be passed from a mother cat to her kittens.   Like the AIDS virus in humans, this virus causes a disease that lurks in the body and which eventually erodes a cat’s immune system to such an extent that he will succumb to secondary infections.  Fortunately, an affected cat often can live many years totally unaffected by its effects. There is no evidence at all that this virus, as similar as it is to the human AIDS virus, can be transmitted to people.


   After considering the odds, and because of their love of a once stray cat with a personality that sparkled, the owners elected to proceed with Jackson’s surgery to remove his remaining left eye on Dec 16/2014.


      Since then, Jackson hasn’t looked back (no pun intended!). 


     Blind cats in general, are very perceptive and compensate extremely well to vision loss. After an initial period of adjustment they learn the lay of the land very capably by relying on their remaining tuned-up senses especially their senses of smell, hearing and “whisker-touch”. Stairs can bother them at first, possibly because of the rising air currents off the various stairs confusing them, but they soon adjust.  



Jackson proved to be a very quick learner!  Apparently, as reported by his owner, scarcely a week had passed before he went missing from her office. (She had been taking him with her after the surgery to her workplace each day so that she could keep her eyes on him and give him his medications).   When she couldn’t find him anywhere in her office she expanded her search and found him sitting at the top of the stair stoop having climbed over the kid gate that had been his room barrier and gone exploring, totally blind and still recovering from his surgery.    


     Jackson’s owners have reported that they are very pleased with the outcome of their decision.  They also have uncovered an element of humor to this event.  Very playfully, they now can ask:  “how can we know that he is sleeping?”  And also comment that now there will be no red-eye to eliminate in family photos! 


   As for Jackson, he just keeps on keeping on!  It seems that to him his latest surgical experience is just a tumble off the table.  Never one to give up and roll over but rather, he just keeps on keeping on!  A good example to us all don’t you think?


PhotoPhoto Jackson checking out his back yard a few weeks after his enucleation.


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