CHOOSING YOUR PETS NAME
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Every year, tens of thousands of pet guardians call animal poison control centers or their veterinarians concerned that their dog or cat has swallowed a toxic substance.
While most conscientious pet owners are aware of poisons and other potential hazards around the home, many don’t realize that several very common over-the-counter and prescription human medications can spell disaster for a beloved pet.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Topping the list of human medications that can get into the mouths of pets are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Brand names include Advil, Motrin, and Aleve.Your pet is extremely sensitive to compounds in these medications and can become very ill from even a very small dose. Cats can suffer kidney and liver damage, and any pet that ingests NSAIDs can develop ulcers of the digestive tract.
Symptoms of poisoning include digestive upset, vomiting, bloody stool, increased thirst, increased frequency of urination, staggering, and seizures.
- Acetaminophen. Next on the list is another anti-inflammatory called acetaminophen, the most well known of which is Tylenol. Other drugs, including certain types of Excedrin and several sinus and cold preparations, also contain acetaminophen.Cats are at particular risk from acetaminophen, as just two extra-strength tablets can be fatal. If your dog ingests acetaminophen, permanent liver damage can be the result. And the higher the dose, the more likely that red blood cell damage will occur.
Symptoms of acetaminophen poisoning are lethargy, trouble breathing, dark-colored urine, diarrhea, and vomiting.
- Pseudoephedrine. Number three is pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant compound found in a wide range of cold and sinus medications. Many of these preparations contain acetaminophen as well.Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, another decongestant, are highly toxic to pets. A tablet containing just 30 milligrams of pseudoephedrine can cause a small dog to show clinical signs of toxicity, and just three tablets can be fatal.
- Antidepressants. If your dog or cat ingests an antidepressant, symptoms can include listlessness, vomiting, and in some cases, a condition known as serotonin syndrome. This condition can cause agitation, disorientation, and an elevated heart rate, along with elevated blood pressure and body temperature, tremors, and seizures.The drugs Cymbalta and Effexor topped the list of antidepressant pet poisonings in 2013. For some reason, kitties are drawn to these medications, which can cause severe neurologic and cardiac side effects. Other common brand names of antidepressants are Prozac and Lexapro.
- Drugs to treat diabetes. If you or a family member takes an oral medication for diabetes, including glipizide and glyburide, you’ll want to make sure to keep these medications out of your pet’s reach. Diabetes drugs can cause a dangerous drop in your pet’s blood sugar levels, which can result in disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures.
- ADD and ADHD drugs. Prescription attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs are amphetamines and are very dangerous for pets. Ingesting even minimal amounts of these medications can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature, and heart problems. Common brand names include Concerta, Adderall, and Ritalin.
- Vitamin D derivatives. Vitamin D derivatives like calcitriol and calcipotriene are used to treat a wide range of human conditions, including psoriasis, thyroid problems, and osteoporosis.These compounds can be rapidly fatal if ingested by your dog or cat because they cause blood calcium level spikes. Signs of toxicosis include loss of appetite, vomiting, increased urination, and excessive thirst due to kidney failure.
- Beta-blockers. Even taken in very small quantities, beta-blockers used to treat high blood pressure can cause serious problems for pets. Overdoses can trigger life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.
- Benzodiazepines and sleep aids. Benzodiazepines and sleep aids with brand names like Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, and Lunesta, are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. However, in pets, they sometimes have the opposite effect.About half the dogs who ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedated. In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination, and a slowed breathing rate. In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure.
To prevent your dog or cat from getting into your medications, always keep them safely out of reach and never administer a medication to your pet without first consulting with your veterinarian.
Remember: nearly 50 percent of all pet poisonings involve human drugs. Pets metabolize medications very differently from people. Even seemingly benign over-the-counter herbal medications, including human vitamins and mineral supplements, may cause serious poisoning in pets.
- Never leave loose pills in a plastic sandwich bag – the bags are too easy to chew into. Make sure all family members and guests do the same, keeping their medications out of reach.
- If you keep your medication in a pill box or weekly pill container, make sure to store the container in a cabinet, as your dog might think it’s a plastic chew toy.
- Never store your medications near your pet’s medications. Pet poison hotlines receive hundreds of calls every year from concerned pet owners who have inadvertently given their own medication to their pet.
- Hang up your purse or backpack. Curious pets will explore the contents of your bag and simply placing it up out of reach solves the problem.
If your pet has ingested a human over-the-counter or prescription medication, please call your veterinarian, your local emergency animal hospital, or Pet Poison Helpline’s 24-hour animal poison control center at 800-213-6680 immediately.
I started using nutraceuticals because I wanted to help a Boxer with heart disease. She was already on heart medicine, and after a year her heart was starting to fail again. Any increase in her regular medication would have been toxic. Nutritional supplements helped her live out her normal lifespan.
I started using acupuncture because some of my patients were in pain that was not well controlled with conventional medicine. Some of them were barely able to walk. Acupuncture got them walking and even running again.
Whenever I had an unusual problem that was not helped by conventional medicine, integrative medicine came to the rescue. Those unusual cases kept increasing, as people learned that I could do things other veterinarians could not do. But many of my colleagues were doubtful. Some even recommended that my clients stop using the things I recommended. That is, until they saw some of the results.
I was not taught any of this in veterinary school. I had to take time out of a busy practice to attend special classes. Not all veterinarians are dedicated to learning a lot of extra skills that are different from anything they learned before. We have a hard enough time keeping up with all the advances that have come along since we graduated. It would have been so much easier if alternative and complementary therapies had been part of what I learned before graduation from veterinary school.
Veterinarians use research as much as possible as a guide to which treatment protocols might be worthwhile. But it is difficult to find research funds to study herbs, or vitamin therapy, or massage therapy, or many other things that are considered “holistic.” Without that research, it’s extremely difficult to convince veterinary schools to teach about holistic treatments, or veterinarians to learn about them.
One of the goals of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation is to grant funds for education and research in integrative holistic veterinary medicine. We need your help so veterinarians can learn alternative and complementary ways to help animals in trouble. Please visit AHVMF.org to donate online or to download a research application. Help give animals more options for good health!
Pets bless us with their companionship and unconditional love. That’s why Mercola Healthy Pets has partnered with the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation (AHVMF) to raise money for integrative education and research efforts. We were able to raise over $1 million in the last three years. Now through March 22, 2015, a portion of all sales at Healthy Pets will be donated to AHVMF. So, while you shop this week, know that each purchase will contribute to this very worthwhile cause.
Over 150 million people have pets. If just a small percentage of them donated there would be enough money raised for a trust fund that would generate the money we need for education and research. Veterinarians would come out of veterinary school with new treatments in their veterinary toolbox. Your dog will thank you for it and so will your cat, though it won’t be so obvious!
So please take a moment right now to be one in a million and make a donation to the AHVM Foundation. Come and check out our AHVMF.Org, read inspiring stories, see animal teachers, cute dog pictures, and make a donation today.
|MY BEST FRIEND|
“I’m sick” or “I’m in pain”
Our animal companions can’t tell us when they’re hurt or feel sick, and many types of pets, such as cats, are wired to actually hide discomfort and therefore, vulnerability.“I’m afraid”
Fortunately, there are many subtle and not-so-subtle hints our pets give us that indicate they’re not feeling well, for example, refusing to eat, drinking an excessive amount of water and urinating more frequently, getting up slowly, or limping. It’s important as your pet’s guardian to be aware of any type of physical or behavioral changes she displays, and to make an appointment with your veterinarian if the problem persists.
This is a point of confusion for many pet parents, because animals often behave aggressively in response to fear. A behavior that looks, on the surface, like anger or belligerence is often fear-based. It’s important to know the difference, because fear must be dealt with much differently than other types of aggressive behavior. In fact, you may want to consult a veterinary behaviorist to help you determine what’s causing your pet’s behavior and how best to handle it.“I’m mad at you”
Cats tend to get bent out of shape more often than dogs when things don’t go according to plan. In fact, any kind of disruption to your kitty’s routine or environment may bring out his crabby side.“I need your help to lose weight”
For example, some cats act out if the cleanliness of the litterbox isn’t up to snuff, or if breakfast isn’t served at precisely 6:00 am every morning. Also, many kitties don’t appreciate a lot of petting or cuddling, and if they’re forced to endure more than they like, the claws come out.
You’ll never find an overweight, much less obese dog or cat in the wild. It’s not your pet’s nature to be fat -- he got that way thanks to his human caretakers. It’s tremendously harmful to an animal’s health to carry around excess weight.“Please help me be more physically active”
Fat pets get the same kinds of obesity-related diseases humans do, and because dogs and cats are natural athletes designed to be very physically active, their quality of life is greatly diminished by being overweight.
Lack of exercise often goes hand-in-hand with a weight or behavior problem, but even if your pet is an ideal weight, she still needs consistent, regular, heart-thumping exercise to stay in good physical condition and mentally balanced. Many dogs develop behavior problems because they’re full of pent up energy that rarely gets released through appropriate outlets.“I need to eat like a carnivore”
Kitties also need opportunities to be physically active, which can be accomplished with interactive toys, harness walks, or a safe outdoor enclosure that allows your cat to climb, jump, and prowl.
If your pet could talk, he’d tell you that despite what pet food companies and perhaps even your vet would like you to believe, he needs a balanced diet of whole, fresh, preferably organic foods to be optimally healthy. He’d tell you that his meals should be heavy on excellent quality animal protein and fat, with few or no grains. He’d tell you to leave all the processed stuff on the store shelf, and feed him like the carnivore he is.“I need to explore and make friends”
Both dogs and cats need to be properly socialized at the right age to prevent them from developing fear-based behavior patterns. And your pet needs to continue to be socialized as an adult to insure the world doesn’t become a frightening place for him.“I don’t mean to misbehave”
If you have a pet that wasn’t socialized as a puppy or kitten, talk with your vet or a veterinary behaviorist about the best way to approach the situation with your adult dog or cat. It’s more difficult – but not impossible – to socialize a mature pet.
Training is not just for dogs with behavior problems – it’s for all dogs, and it should be ongoing throughout your pet’s life. Depending on her breed or breed mix, your dog may want nothing more than to please you, or at a minimum, stay on your good side, but most dogs need structured training to learn how to be good canine citizens.
Training, including nosework, also provides mental stimulation for your dog and strengthens the bond you share with her.