Heatstroke Dangers: Pet First Aid for Hot Weather Play & Travel

With unprecedented heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and around the country, PLEASE know the signs of heatstroke dangers and heat exhaustion behaviors. Refer to this post for tips on smoke inhalation and fire dangers. These first aid and prevention tips save pet lives!

Shadow loves to run and play outside, but the hot weather can lead to heatstroke dangers in dogs as well as people. With July 4th around the bend, summer outdoor play also means scary firework. Fun in the sun can quickly turn to tragedy if pet owners don’t take precautions to prevent cat and dog heatstroke dangers. Pet heatstroke is common because cats and dogs can’t effectively keep cool in hot summer weather. It becomes especially dangerous during summer travel in cars.

Shadow still acts like a puppy, and we have to really watch that he doesn’t play so hard and overdo in the hot weather. Puppies tend to be clueless anyway. As of this update, Shadow celebrated his Gotcha-Day on May 31st! Learn more about puppy development here.

Hot weather dangers go beyond heatstroke dangers, though. Read about other reasons and ways to keep hot dogs and cats cool in this post.

dog heatstroke

Dogs pant to cool off. All images courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

How Hot Dogs & Cats Cool Off

Cats and dogs can’t sweat to cool off. For hot dogs, normal panting provides a rapid exchange of cool outside air, and evaporation off the tongue keeps dog temperature normal.

Cats typically don’t pant–they lick and groom themselves and the evaporation off of their fur helps keep them cool. If you see your kitty panting in hot weather, that’s a danger sign that your cool cat is too darn hot!

Some breeds are more at risk. Dogs and cats with smooshed in faces like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Persians have a harder time cooling off even with panting. And when the outside air is the same or greater than pet’s normal body temperature of 101 to 102.5 degrees, deadly heatstroke develops.

Hot weather safety also includes keeping paw pads from burning, preventing sunburn, and even being aware of water intoxication — yes, that’s a thing! See more here. 

persian cat heatstroke

Brachycephalic breeds like Persians and Pugs have a harder time cooling off because of shortened airways that interfere with effective panting.

Cars and Heat Stroke

Cars become deathtraps in even relatively mild temperatures. On a 78-degree day, a shaded car reaches temperatures of 90 degrees but if parked in the sun, it will reach 160 degrees in minutes.

Leaving the car and air conditioning running is no guarantee of safety. Today, one of the most modern available for police dog safety is the computerized Hot-N-Pop system able to sense when the interior of the vehicle has become too hot for the K9 officer. When that happens, the system automatically rolls down the rear windows (windows have metal screens to prevent the dog from jumping out) and activates large window fans that bring in fresh air to help cool the dog. The Hot-N-Pop also activates the car’s emergency lights and horn, as well as sending a signal to a pager or phone held by the canine handler.

hot dog in car

Open windows probably won’t significantly reduce the heat for your dog–it can still be a deathtrap!

Pets & Cars, What To Do

Of course, most pet parents don’t have a Hot-N-Pop system. So what do you do if you see a pet closed up in a car? I know the first impulse is to break the glass yourself, but you may not have the ability, the legality or resources to do that. Here’s what you can do.

  • Use your phone–call animal control or dial 911. These folks have the authority not only to enter someone’s car, but also offer life-saving first aid.
  • Also, go inside the nearest business–often a post office or grocery–and get the folks there to announce over the intercom for the pet’s person to get back to the car ASAP.
  • Then stay with the care until you confirm that help has arrived.

Symptoms of Pets Heatstroke

Symptoms of mild heatstroke are body temperature of 104 to 106 degrees, bright red tongue and gums, thick sticky saliva, and rapid panting. When body temperatures go above 106 degrees, the pet’s gums become pale, he acts dizzy, bleeds from the nose or has bloody vomiting and diarrhea, and ultimately becomes comatose. These pets can develop disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) where the red blood cells blow up and can’t carry oxygen.

Getting the temperature down to 104 degrees or less is more important than rushing the pet to the emergency clinic—but severe cases DO need veterinary attention once you give first-aid. Rectal thermometers usually only register as high as 108 degrees and pets with severe heatstroke may have a body temperature that goes off the end and reaches 110 or higher.

dog fever

A dog’s normal body temperature ranges between 99-102 degrees.

Pet First Aid for Heat Stroke

For mild heatstroke, bring your puppy into an air-conditioned space and turn on a fan, so the outside temperature is lower than his body temperature and panting can work. Offer ice cubes to lick, or cold Gatorade or Pedialyte or water to drink, and wrap him in cold wet towels.

first aid book

For more life-saving info, get the pet first aid book!

For severe heatstroke, soak the pet with cold water from the hose, or in the tub or sink. Place ice packs (bags of frozen peas work well) in his “armpit” and groin region where there are major blood vessels. The cold will chill the blood, and as it circulates, will cool the whole body from the inside.

Pets with temperatures at or above 107 degrees need a cold-water enema for even quicker cooling. Use a turkey baster or a contact lens solution bottle filled with ice water if you don’t have an enema bag. Grease the tip with petroleum jelly, K-Y or vegetable oil and insert the tip into the rectum and squeeze gently to fill the cavity with fluid. Once his temperature drops to 104, wrap him up in a towel and get him to the emergency room.

For more first aid information for your dogs and cats, please refer to The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats.

Prevent Heatstroke

It’s even better to prevent heatstroke in pets by providing shade and lots of cool water, or simply keeping pets inside. NEVER leave pets unattended in cars—that’s just asking for disaster. The ASPCA urges everyone to take the PLEDGE to Save Pet Lives this summer.

Learn more about hot weather safety in this roundup post.

Have you ever seen dogs or cats left in hot cars? What did you do? How do you keep your fur-kids cool and safe during summer? Are there fav hot-weather games they enjoy? Do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pets Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

Veterinary Visits: Why Vets Take Your Pet to the Back

Does your veterinary clinic routinely take your pets to the back for treatment, out of your sight? Why do vets take your pet to the back? Years ago I worked as a vet tech and we didn’t routinely “take pets to the back” for treatment. Emergency visits, or pets not easily handled, were the exceptions. But more often than not, dogs and cats had their temperatures taken, vaccines administered, routine blood and stool samples procured, all while in the presence of the owners.

Read this post for more tips on dealing with dogs who hate the vet or with cats who hate vet visits.

why vets take dogs to the back

Perhaps your vet clinic allows you to stay with your dog during exams. That’s great, when you can help keep your dog calm.

Will Vet Visits Return to Normal?

Today, we call ourselves “pet parents” and when visiting the vet, and our fur-kid may be whisked away out of sight for treatment. My own veterinarian does this with my animals, and I have no problem with the practice. During the past year or so, vet visits due to COVID-19 meant most pets were collected by clinic staff at the car and escorted inside.

Now with many restrictions lifted, we anticipate a return to routine (or some semblance thereof). The trend to take pets to the back appears to be a uniquely American veterinary habit. Has your veterinarian has always done it that way? Maybe it’s time to ask them to explore other options. If you’d rather stay with your cat or dog, consider the reasons why your vet may prefer to treat in the back.

why vets take cats to the back

Cats often remain calm when allowed to stay in their person’s lap.

WHY VETS TAKE PETS TO THE BACK

Veterinarians say… PETS ARE CALMER 

Many veterinarians believe pets act calmer without the owner present. In some instances, this is true. Yowling cats fall silent, and struggling pups urinate submissively and go limp. Others argue, however, that certain pets seem calm only because they’ve shut down out of fear. Motionless doesn’t equal fear-free. At the same time, very protective or sensitive dogs may become more upset by their owner’s emotional state. The veterinarian must be able to evaluate each individual situation.

Like human kids, some pets act up with an audience but calm down with gentle veterinary handling. That means the treatment takes less time, which means a quicker and more efficient visit. Your cat and dog are back in your arms more quickly.

Every pet is different. If your pets feel more secure on your lap or with you offering a treat during the exam, say so. The staff should be willing to try to see if this works for your situation. Here are more tips for relieving stress in cats.

why vets take pets to the back

Your vet often can show you how best to safely restrain your pet during routine procedures.

Veterinarians say…RESTRAINT ISSUES

It’s true that not all pet parents know how to safely and effectively restrain pets in a stress-free manner. There may also be liability issues if someone is bitten. When concerned about proper restraint, pet parents can still be present perhaps by holding a lick-able treat while the staff restrains and performs the treatment. You can learn how to distract, gently restrain, and retrain your pets for less stressful visits.

Be honest if you’re unable to help safely restrain your pet in a stress-free manner. The staff may rightly have concerns about liability issues in the face of bite injuries. Holding a pet incorrectly could actually increase the cat or dog’s stress and get YOU bitten, too!

Your pets feel your anxiety and that can increase the cat or dog stress level, too. So if you hate the sight of needles, or your dog feels protective with you near, the vet may have concerns. Be open to adjusting to your pet’s needs.

why vets take dogs to the back

A big dog like this Bernese Mountain Dog won’t fit on an exam table, and has more tail-wagging room in the back. That makes it more comfy for the dog, and the staff.

Veterinarians say…SPACE CONCERNS

Exam rooms that are tiny and awkward to maneuver can make large dogs feel trapped. Open spaces of “the back” reduce this stress. There may also be insurance concerns that prevent non-clinic personnel from entering certain areas. Radiographs, for instance, require protective gear and exposure data records.

For instance, Bravo-Dawg weighed over 100 pounds. That meant he couldn’t fit on the exam room table. The exam room felt cramped with barely enough room to maneuver with a vet, assistant, and myself in the room.

Veterinarians say…EQUIPMENT ACCESS

The standard clinic design can make the back a much more convenient location for treatment. Staff has ready access to proper lighting, sinks, supplies, emergency equipment and more.

Depending on the treatment, proper supplies, good lighting, sink, and other equipment are more easily accessible in the back. In some cases, your vet may be willing for you to come to the back, too. But some procedures like X-rays or surgery probably aren’t advisable.

Veterinarians say…STAFF DISCOMFORT

Having the pet parent present may raise the practitioner’s fear, anxiety, and stress level. It may take longer to perform a blood draw, for example, when the owner accidentally interferes. Maybe the vet worries about getting the perfect needle stick and blood draw with a non-professional audience. Staff also has an affection for and connection with your pets, and your understandable concern and emotion also affects them.

As a former vet tech, I’ve assisted in many surgical procedures, but it’s different when the patient is your own dog or cat. Very few people have the ability to witness surgery on their own pets, but may still be eager to be with them up until sedation takes effect.

why vets take dogs to the back

Favorite treats offered to dogs (or cats!) during exams and/or treatments offer a great distraction. That keeps pets calm, and he may not even notice that needle stick–or rude thermometer.

WORKING WITH YOUR VET

In many cases, the practice of taking pets to the back has simply become a habit. Veterinarians today like clients who ask questions and want to know how best to care for their animals. Find out why the doctor prefers taking your pet to the back, and suggest alternatives.

Let your vet know if you believe your cat or dog does better or worse with you present. Do you hate the sight of blood, or are you an experienced RN or pet professional? If you’re familiar with Fear Free handling, let them know—and come prepared with some tasty treats or other options that help make the staff’s job easier and your pet happier. For instance, cats and dogs may be given vaccines while sitting on your lap as a treat is offered, or even in the waiting room in certain instances.

Your Options

When the doctor explains why taking the pet “to the back” means better care and less pet stress, be open to this option. You should be able to trust your veterinarian and staff, and vice versa, for the benefit of your cats and dogs.

You and your pet are not like any other client. Being flexible—on both sides—can only help reduce your own potential stress and that of your beloved cats and dogs. If you’re not happy with the arrangement and have worked hard to come to a middle ground, you can seek out another Fear Free practice that’s more open to the need of you and your animal companions.

This post appeared previously in a slightly different form on FearFreePets.com and FearFreeHappyHomes.com.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 

NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Dogs Swallowed Objects: Symptoms & First Aid for Dogs Eating Objects

Swallowed objects kill dogs and puppies every day. Eating foreign objects often causes only minor problems in dogs and cats. In the best cases, the swallowed cat toy or sock (yes, Bravo did that more than once!) gets vomited up or passes in the stool. However, it’s important to recognize swallowed objects’ symptoms, and how you can save your pet. Refer to this article on why dogs suck objects.

Stick Danger

We had a scare not too long ago. The new pup, Shadow, loves sticks and drags around tree trimmings. He enticed his big buddy Bravo (100+ pounds) to play tug. While the little twigs Shadow tooth-pruned weren’t any problem, Bravo chomped a 1/2-inch stick, and got the piece lodged between his teeth across the roof of his mouth! Thankfully, he came to me and allowed me to open his mouth and pry it out. Ouch! and dangerous!

swallowed objects

Anything is fair game to puppies. These Dalmatian pups could chew off and swallow pieces of the shoes or (worse!) swallow the string!

Dogs explore their world by mouthing, tasting, and chewing, and as a result, swallowed objects get them into trouble. Puppies may gulp some things accidentally when a piece of a toy breaks off. Other dangerous objects prove too tempting–used tampons, and even grease-smeared foil proves irresistible to puppies who troll the wastebaskets for scraps. Foreign body obstruction in puppies can be a medical emergency that costs you money and could cost your puppy his life.

Common Swallowed Objects

Veterinary pet insurance claims adjusters ranked the top ten most common items surgically removed from pets’ gastrointestinal tracts. The most common item is socks, followed by underwear, pantyhose, rocks, balls, chew toys, corn cobs, bones, hair ties/ribbons, and sticks. Most items tend to be owner-scented objects, but the list doesn’t stop there.

Whole toys or parts of toys, jewelry, coins, pins, erasers, and paper clips are often swallowed. String, thread (with or without the needle), fishing hooks and lines, Christmas tree tinsel, and yarn are extremely dangerous. String from turkey roasts is particularly appealing so watch out for those holiday food hazards. And for puppies able to crunch up the object, pieces of wood or bone prove hazardous. Even too much of a rawhide chew can stop up his innards. Puppies may even eat rocks.

First Aid for Swallowed Objects: Within Two Hours

swallowed objects first aid

Find life-saving help in this book that I pray you’ll never need!

  • If they swallowed the item within two hours, it’s probably still in the stomach. If the object isn’t sharp, feed your pet a small meal first, and then induce vomiting. The food helps cushion the object and protect the tummy. Also, pets vomit more easily if the stomach is full. If he doesn’t vomit, you’ll need to see a veterinarian.
  • For sharp objects go to the vet immediately. It could cause as much damage coming back up if the puppy vomits.

AFTER Two Hours

  • After two hours, the object will have passed into the intestines and vomiting won’t help. Most objects small enough to move through the digestive system pass with the feces and cause no problems. Feed a bulky meal of dry food to cushion stones or other heavy objects and help them move on out. Food also turns on the digestive juices, which can help soften wads of rawhide treats, so they pass more readily. As long as it is small enough, objects pass harmlessly through the body and end up on the lawn. Monitor your puppy’s productivity. Use a disposable popsicle stick or plastic knife to chop up and search through the puppy droppings for the object.
  • The exception to allowing small objects to pass are swallowed metal objects like coins or batteries. DON’T WAIT, get your puppy seen immediately. Stomach acids interact with these metal objects and cause zinc or lead poisoning. String is another dangerous object that frequently affects cats and kittens, and when swallowed it requires you to seek professional help.
  • If you’ve seen the pet swallow something he shouldn’t but it doesn’t pass, or the puppy begins vomiting, retching without result, won’t eat, looks or behaves distressed, or repeatedly coughs, seek help immediately. Any object, even tiny ones, potentially may lodge in and block the intestinal tract.

Symptoms Of Swallowed Objects

Diagnosis can be based on seeing the pet swallow something or based on symptoms. It’s confirmed by X-rays or other diagnostics like an endoscope to determine the exact location and size of the blockage, and sometimes to identify the object itself. Specific signs depend on where the blockage is located and the type of object.

  • An object caught in the stomach or intestines causes vomiting, which may come and go for days or weeks if the blockage is not complete and food can pass around it.
  • A complete blockage is a medical emergency that results in a bloated, painful stomach with sudden, constant vomiting. The dog refuses food and immediately throws up anything she drinks.
  • Signs of zinc toxicity (from coins) include pale gums, bloody urine, jaundice—a yellow tinge to the whites of the eyes or inside the ears—along with vomitingdiarrhea, and refusal to eat.
  • Lead poisoning from batteries can also cause teeth grinding, seizures and hyperactivity, loss of appetite and vomiting.
  • Copper poisoning has similar signs plus a swollen tummy.
  • String-type articles often catch between the teeth or wrap around the base of the tongue in the mouth, with the rest swallowed.

WARNING ABOUT SWALLOWED STRING!

Cats often become victims of swallowed string or thread after playing with it. Once they start swallowing, they can’t stop. Never pull on the visible end of the string–either out the mouth or hanging out the puppy’s rectum. String and thread are often attached to a needle or fishhook that’s embedded in tissue further down the digestive tract. Pulling the string at your end could further injure the intestines, and kill the cat or dog.

Intestines propel food using muscle contractions called peristalsis that move through the entire length of the intestine (kind of like an earthworm) to help push the contents through.

But when a foreign object like a string catches at one end, the intestine literally “gathers” itself like fabric on a thread, resulting in a kind of accordion formation. The result is sudden severe vomiting and diarrhea, and rapid dehydration. Your veterinarian should evaluate any blockage situation to determine the best course of treatment. Surgery is often necessary to remove the obstruction.

Veterinary Treatment for Swallowed Objects

The blockage results in irreparable damage if not quickly addressed. Sharp objects may slice or puncture the bowel. Obstruction may interfere with blood flow to the organs and cause bowel tissue to die. Peritonitis is the result in either case and usually kills the victim.

The doctor removes the object once located with an endoscope down the puppy’s throat or the other direction up through his rectum, or with surgery. Any internal damage is repaired. If surgery can correct the problem before peritonitis sets in, most puppies fully recover. Should tissue die, the damaged sections of the intestine may be removed, and the living portions of the bowel reattached; these puppies typically have a good prognosis.

Preventing Problems

Most puppies outgrow indiscriminate munching but dogs and cats of all ages may be affected. The best course is preventing your dog from swallowing dangerous items. Choose pet-safe toys that can’t be chewed into tiny pieces, and supervise object play. Anything a child would put in his mouth is fair game for puppies. Puppy-proof your home by thinking like your dog, so that you won’t be caught off guard when your dog eats the rubber bumpers off the door stops.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Updated in Audiobook Format: Pet First-Aid!

UPDATE: Now (finally) get the audiobook on Audible or Amazon! (as well as all other formats here.)

Several years ago, I had the honor and privilege to interview more than 70 emergency veterinarians for my book THE FIRST-AID COMPANION FOR DOGS AND CATS. I’m humbled to have heard from many pet parents that the book’s information helped, and even saved cat and dog lives. Mee-WOW!

But pet first-aid and emergency care evolves, with improvements, new conditions identified, or even better techniques perfected. While the original print (and Ebook) texts continue to offer solid help to pet parents, I wanted to update the pet first-aid information with Fear Free Handling tips, and new information that has since come to light. While I pray you never need the information, this new audiobook format makes the pet first-aid veterinary advice available on-the-go, whenever and wherever you and your cats or dogs need it.

first aid audiobook

WHAT’S IN THE BOOK

“Amy Shojai has created the definitive 911 emergency guide for pets. Long recommended by vets and pet parents alike, now she’s updated the content in an audiobook format to make helping your pet—and saving his life anytime and anywhere—easier than ever before. Every cat and dog lover should have their vet on speed-dial, and this audiobook on their phone. Highly recommended!” — Dr. Marty Becker, internationally known veterinary expert and founder of fearfreepets.com & fearfreehappyhomes.com

Is there an animal doctor in the house? Most likely, the answer is no. And when an accident or other emergency threatens your pet, every minute counts. Don’t be unprepared! Listen to The First-Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats and learn:

  • Which over-the-counter human medications can help—or harm—your dog or cat
  • What to keep in your pet’s medicine chest in a downloadable PDF (many essential items are probably in your house already)
  • Basic first-aid techniques, such as cleaning a wound, making a splint, and updated CPR advice—step-by-step!
  • Fear free handling techniques to keep you safe and reduce your pet’s stress
  • How to quickly pinpoint what’s wrong with your pet, using the First-Aid Symptom Finder (Downloadable PDF)
  • Access the A-to-Z guide to more than 150 injuries and conditions, including: Abscesses, Bites from Animals, Car Accidents, Choking, Gunshot Wounds, Heatstroke, Hot Spots, Jellyfish Stings, Poisoning, and Snakebites

DOWNLOAD FIRST-AID ADVICE ON YOUR DEVICE!

Learn when to call the vet, which supplies or medications you’ll need, what immediate action you should take, and what you should do as follow-up care. The next time medical help is not quickly available, find lifesaving help with The First-Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats on your audiobook device. It’s a pet owner’s second-best friend.

So — have you ever needed emergency and/or first-aid pet care? What happened and what did you do? Please share!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pets Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give-aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Cats & Easter Lilies Danger, A Deadly Combo!

Easter Lilies Danger

I know that I’m preaching to the kitty choir when I write about Easter lilies’ danger each year. Lilies cause toxic reactions in pets when eaten, especially cats. The gorgeous lily makes its appearance each Easter, decorating the church, home, and garden. I love lilies and have daylilies and Asiatic lilies outside in the redesigned garden, but I can’t have them in my house. I won’t risk having an Easter lily anywhere near my Karma-Kat or Shadow-Pup. For cats especially, the fragrant blooms can mean death.

Refer to this post about other Easter dangers for pets.

easter lilies danger

What’s WRONG with this picture??? Image Courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Don’t get me wrong, I love lilies. They’re gorgeous. And I love flowers. But my Seren-kitty used to munch any plant I bring into the house and Karma will play with anything.

easter lilies

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Easter Lilies Danger: Kinds of Lilies

Many lilies are lethal to cats. Easter lilies, stargazer lilies, and Asiatic lilies are the most dangerous, and different cats react in various ways. The plants contain a chemical that can damage the kidneys, and kill your cat. Dogs often gnaw leaves, dig up the plant, or eat the whole thing.

Felines more often paw-pat and shred leaves and stems during play, and may be poisoned when they later lick and clean their paws and claws. Just biting a leaf or petal can be enough to cause serious kidney disease. Hopefully, that picture, above, used fake blooms to stage the image–YIKES!

CATS CAN BE POISONED BY DRINKING THE WATER FROM THE VASE!

SIGNS OF EASTER LILY POISONING

Cats poisoned by Easter lily toxin typically suffer kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy or loss of appetite. Some cats suffer permanent kidney damage and lose their lives, while others can recover if treated in time with dialysis that gives the organs enough time to heal.

Seren loved eating roses…which thankfully, are edible and safe (other than the thorns!).

Easter Lilies Danger & Toxic Plant Concerns

The easiest way to protect your cats is to keep toxic plants out of reach—or out of your house altogether. Besides lilies, other potential harmful plants include rhododendron, sago palm, kalanchoe, and schefflera. Azalea can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma, and death. Eating or chewing caladium, dieffenbachia or philodendron makes the tongue and throat swell up so breathing is difficult. Mother-in-law’s tongue (snake plant) causes everything from mouth irritation to collapse. Crown of thorns and English ivy will prompt thirst, vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pain, and death in one to two days. Holly also causes stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

You can keep your pet family members safe and sound by choosing only pet-friendly safe varieties for your garden and home. Calla lilies and peace lilies, which don’t belong to the Lilium genus, are harmless to cats.

calla lily

Calla lily is safe for cats.

peace lily

Peace lily is NOT toxic to cats.

Poisonous Plants

There are many other plants that prompt mild problems, such as excess salivation or mouth discomfort. Keeping these out of reach of curious paws may be sufficient to protect your animals. But pet lovers should steer clear of the worst plant offenders, both inside and out. If you see your pet with one or more of these signs, particularly if a suspect plant is within reach, get help immediately! First aid can save the cat or dog’s life. Then take the pet to see the veterinarian as quickly as possible.

FIRST AID FOR PLANT POISONING

Different poisons require very specific first aid. Usually, that will be either 1) induce vomiting, (cats do this on their own very well–but never when you want them to!) or 2) give milk or water to wash out the mouth and dilute the poison. Making the pet vomit the wrong poisonous plant, though, could make a serious situation even more deadly, so you MUST know what to do for each type of plant.

Now available as an Audiobook, for emergency advice anytime, anywhere!

Detailed advice for dealing with the most common plant poisoning is available in the book The First-Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats. The ASPCA Animal Poison-Control Center is available for telephone consultations (1-888-426-4435) in case of poisoning emergency.

What cat-safe plants do you have in your home? How do you keep the cat from destroying/eating them? Have you ever had a kitty-plant encounter of the dangerous kind?

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe to the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pets Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give-aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!