Fouth of July Safety Tips

For many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard on the Fourth of July with good friends and family—including the four-legged members of the household. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Rover with scraps from the grill and bring him along to watch fireworks, in reality some festive foods and products can be potentially hazardous to your pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips:

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.

Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.

Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.

Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.

Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

Article courtesy of

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Avoid Lawn Burns This Summer

Dog GrassUrine Burn Solutions for Your Lawn

It is that time of year again, and if you have a dog and a lawn then you’ve probably experienced the unsightly yellow spots caused from the urine killing the grass in your yard. These problems are more common in households with large female dogs with well-kept lawns. However, they can show up even in lawns where the weeds outnumber the grass and the neighbors sympathetically drop off “care packages” containing fertilizer and weed killer.
There are lots of old “theories” circulating about just what in the urine causes the killing off of your prized Bermuda grass. The most common of these misguided opinions is that the urine is acidic and ‘burns’ the grass. As a result, a host of home remedies have arisen to change the pH of the urine. These measures rarely work because the real culprit in urine burns is nitrogen.

Because dogs are carnivores and eat a high level of protein in their diet, they break the protein down and excrete it as nitrogen in the urine. The result is a killing of the grass from an overload of nitrogen. You will get the same kind of burn if you put a concentrated handful of fertilizer in one spot. These urine burns will often have a characteristic green ring around the outside edge where the urine was dilute enough to actually work as a fertilizer. This characteristic ring can also help distinguish urine burns from a grub infestation that will also create similarly looking brown spots.

There are a few things that make urine burns more prevalent:

  • Urine burns tend to be worse with female dogs because they squat and deposit their urine in one place.

  • They also are worse in large dogs because they deposit a larger quantity of urine.
  • They are worse on yards that are already fertilized regularly.
  • Grasses like bluegrass or Bermuda grass are much more sensitive to nitrogen than rye or fescue.
  • Lawns that are stressed from drought or disease, or those that are recently sodded or seeded are more susceptible to lawn burn.
  • And finally, they are always worse when your neighbor’s dog goes on your yard!

So now that we are seeing spots what do we do to get rid of them?
Home remedies that help some of the time include:

  • Diluting the urine through increasing water consumption. Adding water to the food or adding non-salted broth to the drinking water may help. Canned food has a lot more water in it but it also has its drawbacks.
  • Feeding a high quality diet may also help since the protein is more digestible and there are fewer waste products.
  • Watering the yard daily helps in some cases but it may not be enough.
  • Backing off the fertilizer on your yard may help as well.
  • Try planting some tougher species like rye or fescue.

We also sell products like GrassSaver that contain Yucca Schidigera, which binds the ammonia in the urine.

Article by Dr. Foster & Smith

Make Easter Safe & Fun For Pets

Easter is around the corner so it’s a good time to take note of a few Easter traditions that could cause harm to pets. Also, let’s look at human traditions that pets would likely enjoy as well!

easter lily
1. Easter lilies and other lilies can be toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and death.
All parts of the lily can be toxic, and eating just one leaf can
result in severe poisoning. After eating a portion of an Easter lily,
a cat will generally vomit and become depressed within 2 hours.
The vomiting may subside, but the cat will not eat and continue
to become more depressed.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you know or suspect your
cat has eaten any part of an Easter lily. Your veterinarian will start
treatment that includes causing the cat to vomit by giving an emetic,
administering activated charcoal and a cathartic (stimulates bowel
movements), and giving subcutaenous or intravenous fluids.
A cat must be treated within 18 hours of ingesting the plant,
or the damage to the kidneys will be irreversible.

2. Bunnies are most often NOT good gifts.
As cute as they are, a bunny should not be a “new toy” in
an Easter basket. Given as a surprise, a bunny could easily
get ignored when the excitement of being new is lost.
They are a life-long commitment and the whole family should
be involved in the responsibility a new pet brings.

If you’ve discussed getting a bunny (or duckling, another
traditional Easter animal), and feel your family is ready and
willing to take on the commitment, consider tucking some
pet supplies in your child’s Easter basket in preparation for
a new pet. They will have to figure out that the supplies mean
they will be getting a new pet, and the anticipation of then
getting a new pet will just add to the excitement of the
new family member.

easter dog
3. Pets like gifts, too! Consider giving your pet an Easter basket!
When I give my dogs a new treat or toy, it’s a real joy
to watch as their tail wags in excitement over their new
treasure! Dogs love treats and toys, and so do cats!
No matter what type of pet you have, I’m willing to bet
they’d appreciate a small token of “love” on Easter morning!

Article by Ellen B.

Dental Care at Home

Dog Dental CareThe single best thing you can do to help prevent periodontal disease in your pet is to provide regular in-home care. Pets who receive regular in-home oral care rarely developed periodontal disease.

Even if you have only minutes each day, you have many options to help you establish an oral-care routine with your pet. This limited investment of your time and money is much less expensive than the cost of treating dental problems that result from neglect. And, assisting in your pet’s dental care is a great way for you to spend one-on-one time with your dog.

Today’s prevention options
We recommend a two-prong approach to your pet’s dental care. First, we suggest you brush your pet’s teeth daily to decrease plaque-forming bacteria. Second, we recommend that you offer your pet a dental treat or toy on a regular basis. Dental treats and toys help scrape off existing plaque, massage gums, and satisfies his urge to chew. In addition, there are plenty of ways to help freshen your pet’s breath, whether he has an occasional bout with bad breath, or his problem is chronic.

Brushing/Mouth Care
Veterinarians recommend pets receive daily tooth-brushing as a necessary, proactive approach to their dental care. Most dogs will grow to enjoy the extra attention, but the key to a successful dental care program is to start slowly and learn the correct way to perform good oral care.

Special tools offer many choices to make the job easier and more convenient for you. Special dog toothbrushes, such as the Petrodex Dual-Ended Toothbrush, ensure you have access to even the hard-to-reach back teeth. Dog-formulated toothpastes aid in removal of plaque and bacteria, while freshening breath. Oral solutions, such as Dental Cleanser Solution, are easy to apply with a soft sponge, and they require no rinsing. When you’re short on time, a simple once-over with a ready-to-use, convenient Dental Clens Pad reduces plaque buildup and freshens breath. For stubborn plaque above the gumline, you can even use a veterinary-quality tooth scaler to scrape off plaque and bacteria-harboring calculus. However, we still recommend professional cleanings by a veterinarian, who can better do the job of cleaning below the gumline.

Chewing comes naturally for dogs, which gives you a unique opportunity to provide that second step in your pet’s dental care. Dental toys and treats can effortlessly assist in his dental care, and your dog does all the work. Plus, he thinks he’s getting a treat every time you give him one, making them a delicious way to scrape away plaque and tartar, and freshen breath, all while satisfying his chewing needs. Dental toys are reusable, and depending upon on their fabrication, provide various benefits. Harder, textured toys, such as the Pro Action Dental Chew, helps fight plaque buildup and massages your dog’s gums. It is made to withstand virtually any impact without cracking and splintering, so every time your dog chews it, he receives the same dental benefits. Flossy Chews Rope Dog Boness are intended to help clean in-between your dog’s teeth, much like floss. A delicious treat biscuit satisfies your pet’s treat cravings while helping scrape plaque and help with bad breath.

Giving your dog a treat after a brushing session will make your pet look forward to your next session.

Breath Fresheners
Sometimes, you simply need a quick solution for the common problem of “doggy breath.” In addition to your pet’s daily brushings, you may find it necessary to use a breath-freshener, as well. Any of our chlorhexidine solutions will help eliminate odor-causing bacteria, the culprit in most cases of bad breath. There are minty water additives available, as well as several treats and bones available that are infused with mint to make them excellent short-term breath fresheners.

Article by Dr. Fosters & Smith

Holiday Pet Poisoning Myths Debunked

Article by

Veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline Clear the Confusion
Holiday festivities, decorations and rich foods can wreak havoc on undiscerning pets who love to taste test everything that appears new and interesting. While pet owners need to be made aware of the very real and dangerous threats to pets this time of year, the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline would also like to debunk several common myths that cause unnecessary stress each holiday season.

Holiday Myths Debunked!
According to the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline, these are the most common myths concerning pet safety during the holiday season.

Myth #1 – Poinsettias are highly toxic. Although they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are only mildly dangerous to dogs and cats and their relative toxicity has been quite exaggerated. The most problematic component of the plant is its sticky white sap that may cause mild mouth or stomach irritation if ingested. Contact with the skin may also result in mild irritation. However, serious poisoning is not expected from ingestion.

Myth #2 – Mistletoe is toxic. Like poinsettias, American mistletoe, which is a popular plant used as holiday décor, also gets a bad rap. Rumors of its toxic nature are largely attributed to its cousin, European mistletoe. Though ingestion of American mistletoe leaves or berries may cause mild stomach upset, serious or life-threatening poisoning is not likely.

Myth #3 – Fruitcake is a healthy holiday treat. While fruitcake may be a fine food for people, it can actually be deadly to pets. Grapes, raisins and currants are common ingredients in fruitcakes and can result in kidney failure in dogs if ingested. Additionally, fruitcake that has been soaked in rum or other alcohol may also prove poisonous to your pet if ingested. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can affect pets quickly, causing a dangerous drop in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

Myth #4 – Tinsel is a pet-friendly decoration. An ornament that pet owners should avoid is tinsel for decorating trees. If you own a cat, toss the tinsel! What looks like a shiny toy can prove deadly if ingested. While tinsel itself is not poisonous, it can result in a severe linear foreign body, which occurs when something “stringy” wraps around the base of the tongue or anchors itself in the stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. As the intestines contract and move, the string can slowly saw through the tissue, resulting in severe damage to your pet’s intestinal tract. Treatment involves expensive abdominal surgery. It’s best to keep tinsel, as well as ribbon, yarn and thread out of your pet’s reach.
“Dogs, cats, birds and other pets often use their mouths to investigate new things,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “Much like small children, they simply cannot resist the temptation to chew on potentially harmful plants, foods and other ‘goodies.’ Thankfully, it’s easy for pet owners to educate themselves about common pet poisons. At you can view and print our list of toxic foods and post it on your refrigerator as a reminder. This is also a way to discourage your holiday guests from feeding Fido poisonous people food!”

Real Holiday Dangers
Lilies, including tiger, Asiatic, stargazer, day and Easter, make lovely centerpieces but are also extremely toxic to cats. These beauties fall into the category of real and acute danger. As little as one or two petals or leaves, and even the pollen, can cause sudden kidney failure. They should be kept well out of kitty’s reach. Thankfully, dogs are not as severely affected by lilies with only mild stomach upset expected.
While not as toxic as lilies, ingestion of Christmas cactus by dogs and cats can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Likewise, the spiny and leathery leaves of the Christmas or English holly can result in significant damage to the stomach and intestines of dogs and cats. The holly’s berries have mildly toxic properties, but are fairly tolerable in most pets. While death is not likely, it’s best to keep your pets away from these holiday plants.
Filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or pine is inviting, but if you heat scented oils in a simmer pot, be aware that it can cause serious harm to your cat. Some liquid potpourris contain chemicals called cationic detergents, which can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing and tremors. Dogs are not as sensitive to the chemicals but may still suffer burns so it’s still better to be safe than sorry. Scent your home with a non-toxic candle in a safe no-pet zone.
With the holiday season comes delightful baked goods, confections and other rich, fattening foods. However, it is not wise, and sometimes quite dangerous, to share these foods with your pets. Keep them on their regular diets over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak them these kinds of treats. Some of the most dangerous foods are chocolate and cocoa, sugarless gum and candy containing xylitol, leftover fatty meat scraps, and yeast bread dough.
Make this holiday season merrier for you and your pets by keeping dangerous items safely out of their reach. If, however, you think your pet may have ingested something harmful, take action immediately. Contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.

How To Remove A Tick

Removing a tick from your cat or dog is easy if you just follow these simple steps.
To remove an attached tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, or a Tick Twister as described below. These special devices allow one to remove the tick without squeezing the tick body. This is important as you do not want to crush the tick and force harmful bacteria to leave the tick and enter your pet’s bloodstream.

1. Grab the tick by the head or mouth parts right where they enter the skin. Do not grasp the tick by the body.

2. Without jerking, pull firmly and steadily directly outward. Do not twist the tick as you are pulling.

3. Using methods such as applying petroleum jelly, a hot match, or alcohol will NOT cause the tick to ‘back out.’ In fact, these irritants may cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva in the wound.

4. After removing the tick, place it in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Ticks are NOT killed by flushing them down the toilet.

5. Clean the bite wound with a disinfectant. If you want to, apply a small amount of a triple antibiotic ointment.

6. Wash your hands thoroughly.

Do not use your fingers to remove or dispose of the tick. We do not want you in contact with a potentially disease-carrying tick. Do NOT squash the tick with your fingers. The contents of the tick can transmit disease.

Still don’t feel comfortable removing the tick? Products like Tick Twister are an easy and effective way to remove ticks without touching them.
Tick Twister

Article by Dr. Foster Smith.

Help With Separation Anxiety

Please don't leave me!
Does your dog get upset or engage in destructive behaviors when you leave him alone?
Separation anxiety is a serious problem which can cause tremendous emotional distress for both dogs and owners. Misinterpreting its signs as simply “bad dog” behavior is one of the most common reasons for pet owners to give up their dogs. A dog with separation anxiety becomes abnormally anxious when separated from his owner. The severity of the anxiety and behavior the dog exhibits varies from animal to animal. Separation anxiety can result in problematic behaviors such as: whining, pacing, salivation, barking, howling, scratching, chewing, digging, urinating or defecating, or destroying personal items or household objects.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from severe separation anxiety – especially if he is harming himself or your property – please consult with your veterinarian to find the best method of treatment. For milder cases, you may want to try one or more of the following tips to help reduce your dog’s anxiety.
What Can I Do to Help My Anxious Dog?

More exercise – Go for more walks and throw the ball more often. Tired dogs are naturally less anxious.
Soften your departures & returns – Keep your departures and returns low-keyed and unexciting.
Gradually lengthen periods of your absence – Stage several short departures/arrivals throughout the day, gradually lengthening each absence as your dog adjusts.
Comfort Zone PluginNon-prescription stress reduction formulas – A number of non-prescription calming products like Rescue Remedy use natural herbal formulas to help calm your pet for short periods of 1-2 hours.
Pheromone Plug-In - Many dog owners have seen a remarkable improvement in their dog’s anxiety with a relatively new product, the Comfort Zone Plug-In. Inserted in any wall outlet, and odorless to humans, it releases Dog Appeasing Pheromones (D.A.P) in the air throughout the entire room. Mimicking a new mother’s natural pheromones, it reduces and prevents stress-related behaviors such as barking, whining, chewing, and soiling.

Customers are saying good things about this product:
The Comfort Zone Plug-In has really helped our dog with thunderstorm anxiety. We plugged it in her “safe” room.
Nancy Gagnon, Ann Arbor, MI

Our two beagles used to dig holes in our walls while we were at work. Our veterinarian said the dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and suggested the Comfort Zone Plug-In. Since the day I began using the plug-in the beagles have been doing wonderfully. I love this product!
Stacey Sadowski, Lincoln, NE

Veterinary Options
For a severe case of separation anxiety, your veterinarian might suggest a prescription anti-anxiety medication such as clomipramine, along with behavior modification training exercises. These combined treatments are effective in treating severe separation anxiety. The medication helps your dog relax so he can concentrate on the behavior modification training exercises; the training is what actually changes the dog’s response to a stressful situation.

Article by Dr. Foster & Smith.

Food Allergies & Food Intolerance

dogFood allergies account for about 10% of all the allergies seen in dogs. It is the third most common cause after flea bite allergies and atopy (inhalant allergies) Food allergies generally account for 20% of the causes of itching and scratching in dogs. Food allergies plus atopy account for another 20%.

The entire process of a pet being sensitized to a particular agent in food and the complicated antibody response that occurs in the intestinal tract in pets with food allergies are not very well understood. Despite our lack of understanding of the actual disease process, there are many things that we do know including the symptoms, how to diagnose food allergies, and also how to treat them.

Food allergies affect both dogs and cats. Unlike atopy, there is no strong link between specific breeds and food allergies. Food allergies affect both males and females and neutered and intact animals equally. They can show up as early as five months and as late as 12 years of age, though the vast majority of cases occur between 2 and 6 years. Many animals with food allergies also have concurrent inhalant or contact allergies.

Food allergy or intolerance?
There is a distinction that needs to be made between food allergies and food intolerances. Food allergies are true allergies and show the characteristic symptoms of itching and skin problems associated with canine and feline allergies. Food intolerances can result in diarrhea or vomiting and do not create a typical allergic response. Food intolerances in pets would be similar to people who get diarrhea or an upset stomach from eating spicy or fried foods. Fortunately, both food intolerances and allergies can be eliminated with a diet free from offending agents.

Common food culprits
Several studies have shown that some ingredients are more likely to cause food allergies than others. In order of the most common offenders in dogs are beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. As you may have noticed, the most common offenders are the most common ingredients in dog foods. This correlation is not a coincidence. While some proteins might be slightly more antigenic than others, many proteins are similar in form and the incidence of allergic reactions are probably associated with the amount of exposure.

The symptoms of food allergies are similar to those of most allergies seen in dogs and cats. The primary symptom is itchy skin affecting primarily the face, feet, ears, forelegs, armpits and the area around the anus. Symptoms may also include chronic or recurrent ear infections, hair loss, excessive scratching, hot spots, and skin infections that respond to antibiotics but reoccur after antibiotics are discontinued. There is evidence that dogs with food allergies may sometimes have an increased incidence of bowel movements. One study showed that non-allergic dogs have around 1.5 bowel movements per day where some dogs with food allergies may have 3 or more per day.

It is difficult to distinguish an animal suffering from food allergies from an animal suffering from atopy or other allergies based on physical signs. However, there are a few signs that increase the suspicion that food allergies may be present. One of these, is a dog with recurrent ear problems, particularly yeast infections. Another, is a very young dog with moderate or severe skin problems. A third tip off, is if a dog suffers from allergies year-round or if the symptoms begin in the winter. And the final clue, is a dog that has very itchy skin but does not respond to steroid treatment.

The diagnosis for food allergies is very straightforward. But due to the fact that many other problems can cause similar symptoms and that many times animals are suffering from more problems than just food allergies, it is very important that all other problems are properly identified and treated prior to undergoing diagnosis for food allergies. Atopy, flea bite allergies, intestinal parasite hypersensitivities, sarcoptic mange, and yeast or bacterial infections can all cause similar symptoms as food allergies. Once all other causes have been ruled out or treated, then it is time to perform a food trial.

Food trials and elimination diets: A food trial consists of feeding an animal a novel food source of protein and carbohydrate for at least 12 weeks. A novel food source would be a protein and carbohydrate that the animal had never eaten before. Examples would include be rabbit and rice, or venison and potato. There are a number of such commercial diets available on the market. In addition, there are specialized diets that have the proteins and carbohydrates broken down into such small molecular sizes that they no longer would trigger an allergic response. These are termed ‘limited antigen’ or ‘hydrolyzed protein’ diets. Homemade diets are often used, as the ingredients can be carefully restricted. Regardless of the diet used, it must be the only thing the animal eats for 12 weeks. This means no treats, no flavored medications, no rawhide or pig’s ears; absolutely nothing but the special food and water. In addition, the dog should not be allowed to roam, which may result in him having access to food or garbage.

Food Trial Tips
Only the recommended diet must be fed.

Do NOT give:

* Treats
* Rawhides
* Pigs Ears
* Cow hooves
* Flavored medications (including heartworm preventives) or supplements
* Flavored toothpastes
* Flavored plastic toys
* Any type of food when giving medications

If you want to give a treat, use the recommended diet. (Hint: canned diets can be frozen in chunks or baked, and these can be used as treats.)

If possible, feed the other the same diet as the patient. If not, feed other pets in an entirely different location than the patient, and do not allow the patient access to that food.

Do not allow the dog access to the cat’s litter box.

Keep your pet out of the room at meal times. Even a few small amounts of food dropped on the floor or licked off of a plate can void an elimination trial and require you to start over. Wash the hands and faces of any children after they have eaten.

Do not allow your pet to roam. Keep dogs on leashes when outside.

Keep a journal in which you can record the date and any foods, treats, etc. your pet may have accidentally eaten.

A food trial consists of feeding a dog a novel food source of protein and carbohydrate for 12 weeks.

Veterinarians used to recommend that a pet only needed to be placed on a special diet for 3 weeks but new studies show that in dogs, only 26% of those with food allergies responded by day 21. However, the vast majority of pets responded by 12 weeks. Therefore, it is very important to keep the pet on the diet for the entire 12 weeks. If the dog shows a marked reduction or elimination of the symptoms, then the animal is placed back on the original food. This is called ‘provocative testing’ and is essential to confirm the diagnosis. If the symptoms return after going back on the original diet, the diagnosis of a food allergy is confirmed. If there has been no change in symptoms but a food allergy is still strongly suspected, then another food trial using a different novel food source could be tried.
The only way to accurately diagnose food allergies is with a food trial.

Blood Testing: There is no evidence that blood tests are accurate for the diagnosis of food allergies. Veterinary dermatologists insist that there is no merit in these tests whatsoever in the diagnosis of food allergies. The only way to accurately diagnose food allergies is with a food trial as detailed above. While the intradermal skin testing is excellent for diagnosing atopy (inhalant allergies) it is ineffective for food allergies. While specialized blood tests can be used to help in the diagnosis of atopy, they have no benefit in diagnosing food allergies. In our review of all the current books and articles on veterinary dermatology and allergies, we could not find a single dermatologist that endorsed anything other than the food trial as an effective diagnostic aid. If you want to diagnose and treat food allergies you must do a food trial.

The treatment for food allergies is avoidance.Once the offending ingredients have been identified through a food trial, then they are eliminated from the diet. Short-term relief may be gained with fatty acids, antihistamines, and steroids, but elimination of the products from the diet is the only long-term solution.The owner of the animal has two choices. They can choose to feed the animal a special commercially prepared diet or a homemade diet.

If the owner chooses to feed the homemade diet, then they can periodically challenge the pet with new ingredients and determine which ingredients are causing the food allergy. For example, if the animal’s symptoms subsided on a diet of rabbit and potatoes, then the owner could add beef to the diet for two weeks. If the animal showed no symptoms, then they could then add chicken for two weeks. If the animal began to show symptoms, then it could be assumed that chicken was one of the things the pet was allergic to. The chicken could be withdrawn and after the symptoms cleared up, a different ingredient could be added and so on until all of the offending ingredients were identified. A diet could then be formulated that was free of the offending food sources.

If homemade diets are used, it is essential that they be balanced, with correct amount of ingredients, vitamins, and minerals. Homemade diets for such long term use should be developed by a veterinary nutritionist.

Be aware that some pets with food allergies may develop allergies to new foods if they are fed those foods long enough. If you see signs of food allergies returning, consult your veterinarian.

Article by Dr. Foster & Smith.

The Top 10 Things to Avoid Feeding Your Pet, Plus Holiday & Cold Weather Hazards

The Top 10 Things to Avoid Feeding to Your Pet
* Alcohol
* Avocado
* Chocolate (all forms of chocolate)
* Coffee (all forms of coffee)
* Fatty foods
* Yeast
* Moldy or spoiled foods
* Onions, onion powder
* Raisins and grapes
* Salt

Common Household Hazards
* Blue-green algae in ponds
* Citronella candles
* Cocoa mulch
* Compost piles
* Fertilizers

Toxic Plants
There are a large number number of toxic plants. The most common signs of a plant poison are vomiting and diarrhea ( gastrointestinal signs). These can affect other organs, resulting in liver or kidney damage, depending on the plant. The following is a good list to start with.

Holiday Plants
* Amaryllis spp.
* Celastrus spp. “Bittersweet”
* Chrysanthemum spp.
* Colchicum autumnale “Autumn Crocus”
* Euonymus japonicus “Japanese Euonymus”
* Euphorbia milii “Crown of Thorns”
* E. pulcherrima “Poinsettia”
* Helleborus niger “Christmas Rose”
* Ilex spp. “Holly”
* Phoradendron spp. “American Mistletoe”
* Solanum pseudocapsicum “Jerusalem Cherry”

Common House Plants
* Alocasia spp. “Caladiums”
* Azalea spp. “Weeping Fig” “Creeping Fig” “Mistletoe Fig” “Rubber Plant”
* Dieffenbachia spp. “Dumb Cane”
* Hydrangea spp.
* Hedera helix spp. (many indoor ivies)
* Ligustrum spp. “Japonicum’texanum’”
* Narcissus spp. “Paperwhites” and other winter forced bulbs
* Nicotiana spp. “Ornamental Tobacco”
* Philodendron spp.
* Rhododendron Ficus spp. “Weeping Fig” “Creeping Fig” “Mistletoe Fig” “Rubber Plant”

Cold Weather Hazards
Antifreeze: If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian right away.

Liquid potpourris: Exposure to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal and ocular damage.

Ice melting products can be irritating to skin and mouth.

I am of the firm belief that it is better to prevent than have to treat. But the only way to know how to prevent toxic emergencies is by being aware and educated about exactly what they are.


Article by Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM, a veterinarian and author of Veterinary Secrets Revealed.

How to House Train Your Puppy

Thanks to WikiHow for this great article and video. We’re happy to find and share great insights like this – please keep your feedback coming!


  1. Understand dog behavior – dogs do not know right from wrong. What they understand is safe and dangerous. When your puppy comes into your house he doesn’t understand that it is “bad” behavior to urinate on your carpet.
    • We want to teach your dog that going in the house is unacceptable. We do this by catching your dog in the act – not after the behavior has occurred but while the behavior is happening. Punishing your dog after the behavior has occurred can confuse your dog, making the house training process much more difficult.
  2. Start to develop a schedule – Putting your dog on a feeding schedule during the house training process can make your efforts much more successful. A dog or puppy that is allowed to eat whenever she wants will make house training very difficult. Also, developing a schedule to take your dog outside will make it easier on you. Always bring a dog outside within 15 to 20 minutes after meals.
  3. Acquire a kennel. It can be an airline type with a door or a simple laundry basket with a tray table lid hooked on. You can be creative, but basically he must not be able to escape. Most pups and dogs will not eliminate in their crate. When you need to go to work or have to leave the house for a while, you can put your pup in her crate. When you come home, you can immediately take her outside and not give her the opportunity to make a mistake in the house.
    • Using a crate is excellent for young dogs. At some point in your dog’s life he will probably have to go into a crate. The vet, travel, and grooming visits all require your dog to go into a crate. It is better to get him used to one while he is young. However, note that if your kennel is too big, the dog may still excrete in it. Dogs will not “go” in their immediate territory. Some dogs will go within 9 to 10 feet, and some will go within 3 to 4 feet. Make sure your kennel is properly compact.
  4. Have a designated area for your puppy to “go.”
  5. When you get your puppy home the first day, start puppy housebreaking him immediately. After he has been briefly introduced to his home and new surroundings, give him a drink of water and immediately take him outside to relieve himself. Take the puppy to the area you chose before bringing him home.
  6. As soon as your puppy finishes, praise it excitedly and immediately take him inside. From that point on, take the puppy to the same housebreaking spot each time and encourage him with a command such as “go potty,” “hurry up” or whatever you choose. Once she starts, don’t say anything else. Once your pup is finished, praise and reward her immediately. You need to let your dog know that she is doing the right behavior. During the housetraining process it is a good idea to take your dog out on leash. If you let your dog out into a fenced in area and you are not there, you will not be able to communicate to your dog that she is doing the right behavior.
  7. Be consistent using this single command only with the process of puppy housebreaking so that the puppy will learn to associate this act with the command. This will be a huge help in the future, especially when in a new environment or location when traveling, visiting relatives/friends, etc. Being completely housebroken and completely reliable is the final outcome you are looking for.
  8. Get everyone involved – if you live by yourself with your dog this step will be easy. If your dog lives in a house with more than one person, make sure that everyone is taking the steps to make the housetraining process quick and easy. The closer everyone sticks to the plan, the faster the training will progress.
  9. Take up the puppy’s water early in the evening and to not feed or water it after say, 6:00 at night, otherwise you may have to make more housebreaking potty trips than usual outside to let the puppy relieve itself.
  10. Clean up any accidents (and there will be plenty) quickly and thouroughly. Hardwood (and tile) floors should be wiped cleaned, and then sprayed with a disinfectant. Carpets need to be cleaned with a carpet cleaner. This is probably the most important step because dogs have such a great sense of smell. If they can still smell the urine they will continue to urinate in that same spot. This is also why you should have a designated area outside.
    • A lot of people get commercial cleaners at the supermarket. A lot of these products contain ammonia. Ammonia smells like urine to your dog. So if your dog urinates on the carpet and you clean with an ammonia product, your dog will come back to that spot and think that a strange dog has gone on the carpet. Your dog will eliminate again on that same spot to cover it.
    • White, distilled vinegar and water works great. Follow up with baking soda, and vacuum up the residue when dry.
  11. Let him be free in the house with supervision at first, for longer periods until you are sure he will ask to go out when he has to go. This strategy should not take more than two weeks for him to get the picture.


  • You must watch them like a hawk at all times – in the beginning of housebreaking especially. If you can not keep an eye on your puppy for some reason please put them in a safe and secure puppy proofed spot (such as a crate or some other small room with easy to clean floors, such as linoleum, closed off with a baby gate so you can peek in as needed).
  • If you are consistent in your puppy housebreaking in the very beginning, especially when it is inconvenient to you (late at night, while you are watching your favorite TV show, etc.), you will actually help the puppy housebreak itself to alert you when it “has to go.”
  • There is a direct correlation between the time you actually put into the puppy housebreaking process and the speed in which the housebreaking of the puppy successfully occurs.
  • Note that leaving a puppy’s food bowl out all day filled to the brim is a bad way to house train them (or keep them in shape). A puppy should be given 1/2 a cup of food and about 2 cups of water twice a day from weeks 1-15. as they grow, take it slowly. Don’t rush from 1/2 a cup to 3 cups extremely quickly.
  • If there is a lot of crying at first, try not to encourage it by giving him a lot of attention at these times. You can move the kennel beside the bed and dangle your hand to comfort the babe on those first few nights. Afterwards, a slap on the top of the kennel and one firmly spoken “No” should let him know you are not pleased with the behavior. Try to tire him out so that you can get some sleep on the first few nights.
  • The seventh week is critical in a puppy’s life, try not to scare the pup this week, handle with care, it will imprint on the rest of his life. Always reward good behavior with sweet talk and petting, ignore bad behavior as best you can. Placing them back in their kennel is not to be considered a punishment but is sometimes necessary, do it lovingly and with sweet talk if you can. They will soon learn that good behavior gives them more time with you and will seek that above all else.
  • Only punish a puppy for going in the house when you catch him in the act! If you find an accident, count it as your fault for not taking the puppy out enough. If you catch your puppy going in the house, grab him by the scruff of the neck (where his mother would pick him up) and say No! Picking him up by the scruff of his neck should have the effect of stopping him from whatever it is he is doing. If you pick him up and he doesn’t stop urinating, then he can’t hold it any more. Take the puppy outside immediately and let him finish. Lots of praise and a treat when they do.
  • Most dogs will learn to associate a specific door with going outside. As a puppy gets older, he will usually go to the door to be let out. Each dog will develop whatever habit gets him let out. For some this is barking, others running to the door and back to you, and others will scratch at the door (this should not be encouraged if you don’t want to replace the door).
  • Dog training really boils down to timing, consistency, and motivation. When we are housetraining a dog, we need to make sure that our timing is good – catching your dog in the act. We need to make sure that we are consistent with the training – same feeding schedule, outside schedule, and everyone in the house is on the same page. Motivation is rewarding your dog for going outside and startling your dog when they start to eliminate in the house.
  • If you need to eliminate a smell, pour about a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract on the area where the dog has eliminated. The dog will no longer be able to smell his urine and will not have the urge to urinate there again


  • A puppy should be taken out immediately (to a prearranged housebreaking area outside):
    • when it wakes up first thing in the morning (before, if you manage to get up before the puppy).
    • after each and every meal.
    • after each and every nap.
    • before he goes to bed for the night.

Remember that your puppy will get used to your schedule. So even if you have the day off, you will still need to get up to take your puppy outside around the same time as usual.

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