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Preventing A Pet Emergency This Summer

As seen in Mainline Today

Here are some ways to prevent the most common summertime pet emergencies we see:

HEAT STROKE – NEVER leave your pet alone in the car on a warm day, regardless of whether or not the windows are open. Even if the weather outside is not extremely hot, the inside of a car acts like an oven; temperatures can rise to dangerously high levels in a matter of minutes, even on a cooler 70˚ day. Avoid vigorous exercise with your pet on warm days. When outside, opt for shady areas.

DOG BITES – A dog at the beach or park wagging his tail is not necessarily friendly and may not wish to interact with you or your pet. An aggressive dog may make himself appear larger (ears up and forward, fur on back puffed, and tail up or wagging), and an anxious or fearful dog may make himself appear smaller (crouched, head lowered, tail between legs, and ears flattened). Both may give verbal warnings of discomfort. If you see a dog exhibiting these signs, slowly back away and steer clear.

HIT BY CAR – When the weather is nice, we want to spend as much time as possible outdoors. This can lead to more open windows and doors, off-leash time, and even nodding off in your favorite summer chair. Wherever you’re having fun, be sure your pet is safely secured. If you are walking along roadways with your pet, keep the leash tight and know where he is at all times. It takes only a moment of distraction for your pet to get in front of a moving vehicle.

PICNIC FOOD INGESTION – Common picnic staples like corn on the cob, grapes, chicken bones, avocado, brownies, and onions can all be very dangerous for pets. Grapes, avocados, chocolate, and onions are very toxic, while bones and corn cobs can cause painful intestinal obstruction or injury that may even require emergency surgery to remove.

LEPTOSPIROSIS – Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that comes from the urine of wildlife. Your furry friend can contract this disease in a few ways, but most often from drinking stagnant water or coming into contact with wild or farm animals. If your pet has contracted leptospirosis, he will exhibit common symptoms of illness including loss of appetite, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and muscle tenderness. If your pet is not acting like himself and you notice any of these signs, consider it a pet emergency and be sure to bring him to your family veterinarian or an emergency hospital like VRC as soon as possible.

BRACHYCEPHALIC BREEDS (Short snout) – Dog breeds like pugs, bulldogs, Pekingese, and Boston terriers, and cat breeds like Persians and exotic shorthairs all have shorter snouts, which means that their airways can become more easily obstructed. When it is hot, dogs and cats pant to help release heat and cool their bodies. Heavy panting can lead to complete airway obstruction in some of these shorter snout breeds, which means that they might become unable to breathe. If you have a pet with a shorter snout, be sure to keep him cool at all times during the summer to prevent a pet emergency.

If you experience a pet emergency this summer, VRC in Malvern is open around the clock to provide medical care for your pet, even on weekends and holidays.

Laundry Detergent Pods: Dangerous for Pets, Too!

Teens all over the Internet made the news recently when they participated in the “Tide Pod Challenge” and ended up very ill, and in some cases died. As more people learned that laundry detergent pods could poison humans, the VRC team decided it was time to warn people that detergent pods—and laundry detergent in general—can also poison cats and dogs.

Why Are Laundry Detergent Pods Dangerous for Pets?

Laundry detergent pods are seen as more of a threat than regular laundry detergent due to the fact that they contain a concentrated formula of the laundry detergent. Plus, their small size makes them easy for many pets to chomp down on in one bite. All laundry detergent is dangerous for our pets, but cats and dogs are more likely to ingest more chemicals with a pod than they would liquid or powder detergents due to the pod’s small size. Additionally, since these pods are meant to dissolve in water, if your pet is playing with the pod and mouths it, your pet’s saliva can cause the outer material to dissolve and release the detergent into your pet’s mouth, even if they haven’t bitten down on the pod. Plus, in the event that your pet ingests an entire pod, it could become an obstruction in their gastrointestinal tract.

Since many pet owners don’t treat and store laundry detergent like other dangerous household chemicals means that animals have easier access to laundry detergent than other cleaners. Unfortunately, this can lead to detergent pods lying around where dogs and cats can easily pick them up and eat them. It can also lead to open containers of detergent in all forms, which, again, gives animals easy access to toxic chemicals.

While just a sniff or two of detergent probably won’t cause any issues for your pet, an ingestion can make pets very ill. The most common symptom of detergent poisoning is vomiting. The biggest problem with detergent is that it becomes foamy, and when your pet vomits, they may inhale this foam into the lungs. In the worst cases, this foam coats the animal’s airways and prevents oxygen exchange in the lungs, which leads to suffocations.

Additionally, detergent ingestion can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, and inflammation of the lungs. Dogs and cats may drool, gag, or retch after ingesting detergent. Watch for diarrhea as well. Pets that ingest detergent may also become lethargic.

Interestingly, dogs are much more likely to ingest detergent pods than cats. Out of all of the cases that the ASPCA Animal Poison Control has dealt with, 92 percent of detergent pod ingestions involved dogs, while only 6.5 percent of cases involved cats. In the case of liquid detergent, dogs are involved just under 60 percent of the time. Cats are involved in 41 percent of the liquid detergent cases, which is due, in part, to the fact that they are more likely to knock over bottles of the liquid detergent and get it on themselves. Cats then ingest the detergent during grooming.

What to Do If Your Pet Ingests Detergent Pods

No matter the kind of detergent—be it pod, liquid, or powder—you should contact a veterinarian right away if you suspect that your pet has ingested laundry detergent. If your regular veterinarian’s clinic is closed, either contact a poison control hotline or an emergency veterinarian.

For minor cases—those without vomiting—you may be instructed to give your pet a little water or milk to dilute the detergent. If your pet has any detergent in its fur or on its skin, you will need to wash that off as well. For pets that are vomiting or having difficulty breathing, veterinary care should be sought right away.

VRC knows that many pet owners probably never considered their laundry detergent to be a household toxin, but now that you are aware of the potential dangers of detergent poisoning in pets, you can do your best to keep your pets safe. We recommend keeping all laundry detergent out of reach of your pets. If there happens to be a spill, clean up the detergent or pods right away.

If your pet has ingested detergent or a detergent pod, you can contact VRC. Located in Malvern, Pennsylvania, VRC’s emergency veterinarians are well-equipped to deal with detergent poisonings. Call us today at 610-647-2950 if you have any questions or if your pet needs to see an emergency veterinarian.

Introducing Jennifer West, VMD


Dr. West is the newest addition to our 24/7 emergency & critical care team. We are open to provide after-hours care to your patients 365 days a year.

MORE ABOUT DR. WEST

Jennifer West, VMD earned her veterinary medical degree at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. With an interest in wildlife and exotic pets, Dr. West completed a rotating small animal internship and pursued research in avian medicine at Louisiana State University. Through participation in flood relief work, she discovered her passion for triage and emergency medicine, and joined VRC’s 24/7 emergency care team in 2017.

OUR ICU FEATURES

  • Full laboratory service
  • Venous and arterial blood gas monitoring
  • Oxygen-enriched environments
  • Telemetric ECG monitoring
  • Blood pressure, arterial blood pressure and central venous blood pressure monitoring
  • Advanced anesthesia monitoring
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Diagnostic procedures: endoscopy, bronchoscopy and thoracoscopic lung biopsy
  • Diagnostic imaging: ultrasound, fluoroscopy, CT, MRI, and digital X-ray
  • Board-certified criticalists

Keeping Your Pet Safe and Happy During Your New Year’s Celebration

New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate and welcome the new year ahead, but this day can cause a lot of stress and dangers for our pets. So, how can you keep your pets happy and safe during this exciting night?

Remember that animals are more sensitive to loud noises than humans, which means that many pets are afraid of fireworks, loud music, and the bustle of large crowds. Certain foods, drinks, and decorations at your gatherings can also cause trouble for your cat or dog as well. It is hard to keep pets safe during holiday celebrations, but VRC is here with a few tips for pet safety during the New Year’s festivities.

1.     Leave your pets home

If you are taking your celebration outside of your home, it is best to leave your pets behind. At home, your pets feel safe and secure. Since it is likely to be loud outside, VRC recommends leaving your pets in a quiet area of your home. If your pet is especially fearful of loud noises, it may be a good idea to have some familiar noises playing to drown out the scary sounds. Comforting music or the television can help make your pet feel less anxious while you are away.

2.     Keep your pets inside

Dogs and cats may try to run or escape when they are frightened. Keeping your pets indoors as much as possible can prevent them from getting out and lost. VRC also advises you to keep windows closed and watch the door leading outside closely to make sure your pet doesn’t escape.

If possible, you may even want to keep your pets in a separate room away from all the festivities. Not only will this keep them from dashing out the door, but it can also prevent them from ingesting things that they shouldn’t and keep them calmer.

Keep your pet leashed if you need to take them out for a bathroom break—even if you have a fenced-in yard. A leash will give you more control if your pet is spooked. You may even want to use a harness instead of a collar that your pet may be able to slip out of. Keep in mind that during times of high-stress or excitement, pets can act in abnormal ways that you may not expect given their usual personality and demeanor.

3.     Check and update information on your pet’s ID tag

Just in case your pet happens to get lost during New Year’s Eve celebrations, make sure all information on your pet’s ID tag is up-to-date. If your pet is microchipped, check the information on that as well. Even if your pet is microchipped, make sure that they are wearing an ID tag. It is better to be safe, and the more ways that someone can contact you, the more likely you are to find your pet.

4.     Keep alcohol and food out of reach

Alcohol is very dangerous—even in small amounts—to cats and dogs. If you are celebrating the New Year with alcohol, keep it out of reach from your pets. Since alcohol is toxic to cats and dogs, it can cause drooling, dry heaving, vomiting, a distended abdomen, low blood pressure, weakness, and more, which could lead to coma or death.

A lot of people foods are dangerous for cats and dogs. During a party, it can be hard to watch your pet to make sure they aren’t getting into anything that could be harmful to them. Keep all food out of reach to prevent any problems. You may also want to speak to your guests and ask that they don’t feed your pet anything during the party.

Contact a veterinarian right away if you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol or a problem food. Watch out for bones, fatty foods, chocolate, grapes/raisins, and other common foods that are toxic or harmful to pets.

5.     Be mindful of decorations and party supplies

Streamers, balloons, confetti, and other party decorations can cause big trouble for our pets. They not only can cause an upset stomach, but they could cause an intestinal blockage or cause your pet to choke. If you think that your pet has ingested a foreign object, contact an emergency veterinarian.

6.     Wear your pet out earlier in the day

Before the festivities begin, exercise or play with your pet. A tired pet is less likely to have built-up energy that can make them even more anxious. A tired dog or cat may just sleep through any of the stressors caused by New Year’s Eve celebrations, which makes your life much easier.

How Can You Manage Already Anxious Pets?

If your pet is already anxious, it may be a good idea to get anti-anxiety medications for your pet before New Year’s Eve. Set up an appointment with your veterinarian to see if anti-anxiety medications are something that your dog or cat could benefit from. Always speak to your veterinarian before giving your pet any medications, and only give your pet anti-anxiety medications prescribed and given out by a veterinarian. Many human medications are not suitable for pets and can be extremely dangerous.

It is also a good idea to try to maintain your pet’s normal routine as much as possible during the festivities. A routine can help reduce stress in pets. Make any necessary adjustments to keep your pets safe, however.

For anxious pets, following the advice listed above can be very beneficial. Creating a safe space for your pet that is away from noise, commotion, and other stressors can be the best way to manage an already anxious pet during the hustle and bustle of New Year’s celebrations.

What Should You Do If Your Pet Gets Loose?

Your natural instinct will be to chase your pet, but chasing a scared pet will only make them run more. Instead, grab some of your pet’s food or treats and try to call them back to you. You can also try to follow them with food or treats.

If you can’t manage to get your pet to come back to you, you can contact your local animal control officers for help.

What Should You Do If Your Pet Ingests a Dangerous Substance or Item?

Keep the phone number of an emergency veterinarian handy. If you believe that your pet has consumed a dangerous food item or something that isn’t food at all, give the emergency veterinarian a call. They can advise you on whether or not you need to bring your pet in.

Even if they don’t believe that the problem is serious enough for a visit to the veterinary ER, they can still walk you through how to make sure your pet is fine. If you notice any worrisome symptoms later, you should contact a 24/7 emergency veterinarian or go ahead and bring your pet into the ER.

VRC offers 24/7 emergency veterinary services to the Greater Philadelphia area 365 days a year. If you believe your pet needs emergency medical care this New Year’s, call VRC at 610-647-2950 or stop in, no appointment necessary.