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                                              Lawn Grass and Leaf Salads by Dr. Leslie Ross D.V.M. B.Sc. 

 

         Lawn grass and plant leaf snacks tantalize many dog and cat palates. Research to date seems to indicate that this is the main reason why pets will frequently seize the opportunity to munch on various types of lawn and field grass, especially if it is fresh and succulent, as is spring grass.  However, some pets will eat grass or plants for reasons other than gustatory for example, because of mild stomach upsets or as a stress-relieving activity from over-excitement or conversely, boredom.  A few pets may munch on grass obsessively due to persistent gastro-intestinal disorders such as gastric hyperacidity, gastric reflux or chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

 

   Although, recreational grass and plant-leaf eating is not in and of itself harmful there are some elements of risk involved if this kind of snacking is allowed without supervision.    For example, there may be occasions where there are toxic plants in the grazing area, which could possibly be ingested along with a mouthful of grass. Another potential risk might be the ingestion of worm eggs or other parasites such as Giardia from contaminated grass or soil. or the ingestion of chemically treated grass.  A quite common risk for indoor cats is their unintentional access to toxic houseplants. 

 

 

   Simple preventive measures to deter overzealous munching when dogs are outdoors include ensuring that the dog is not overly hungry at the time of his outside access, and having him on a leash when traversing tempting greenery.   Appetizing treats can serve well as a distractive influence to keep the dog focused on these rather than on succulent patches of grass.

 

    Especially for dogs, increasing the fiber content of their daily diet with canned pumpkin or green beans may help blunt the urge to have a “taste of the wild”.    For cats, wild oat grass or oat sprouts may redirect their inclination to munch on tempting plant leaves. 

 

   For pets that are often outside it is very important to address the risk of parasite-laden grass being consumed. Since this risk is impossible to completely eliminate, regular deworming of pets is highly advised, ideally quarterly.

 

       Of course, seemingly obsessive grass eating should be a concern to any owner and is definitely a reason to consult with a veterinarian. With this kind of behavior, investigation for more obscure causes is likely to be pursued.  If this becomes an unproductive fishing expedition and all health concerns are eliminated, then supervised grass consumption can be looked at as a relatively harmless pastime for most pets.    

 

 

      

      

  POLYSPORIN ALERT: AVOID ITS USE IN CATS! 

   The product line up for polysporin (bacitracin/polymyxin) includes a wide assortment of creams, ointments, washes, eye and ear drops and sprays. These products are very affordable and are found commonly in a large variety of retail outlets and pharmacies, marketed as over-the counter products.  Polysporin products can be effective when used to treat a variety of mild skin and ear and eye infections.   Although most of these products can be used safely for a limited period of time on dogs there are restrictions including avoiding its use in dogs having chronic or deep infections.

      Used on cats, on the other hand, it can be deadly!  Numerous kinds of polysporin and similar triple antibiotic ointments can cause anaphylactic reactions that can be fatal.  There are numerous documented cases of these reactions leading to kidney failure and heart damage in cats. To be safe, it is best to avoid using any polysporin or related ointments, drops or sprays in cats.

 

     Similarly, avoid polysporin use in rabbits and ferrets because they can develop serious body organ disturbances if the product is licked off their fur and ingested.

       It is always safest to consult with your veterinarian before pursuing with any home treatments that you may be considering to use on your pet.   What is safe and effective for human use is not necessarily as safe for use on pets.

       Always remember, cats are not small dogs and dogs are not small people! 

                                                                            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//www.preventivevet.com/pet-suffocation.

 

                       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. 



 

    

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    HUSH LITTLE KITTY DON'T YOU CRY..    

 

         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”.   

 

   

 

 

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