10 tips for a safe Labor Day barbecue with your pets

While fun for people, barbecues can causes many problems in pets. Here is a quick list to keep your pets safe today.

10 tips for a safe Labor Day barbecue with your pets

10 tips for a safe Labor Day barbecue with your pets

1. Lighter fluid is toxic to pets.

2. Trimmings and fatty food can cause pancreatitis (inflammation or irritation of the pancreas). Pancreatitis causes vomiting and severe belly pain.

3. Bones can be dangerous! Despite what many people think, bones are potential foreign bodies. I’ve removed many bones stuck in the stomach, the intestine or worse, in the esophagus (the tube between the mouth and the stomach, usually in the part inside the chest…)

4. A corn cob fed to a dog, while it seems to amuse some humans, can get stuck in the small intestine. This is a classic and serious (and potentially deadly) condition. It has a specific pattern on X-rays, but it may be barely visible and therefore very difficult to diagnose.
In addition, it usually stays in the GI for days before a diagnosis is made, which may mean that part of the intestine will need to be removed during surgery.

5. Fruit salads. Although healthy and refreshing for humans, fruit salads can contain hidden dangers for pets. Grapes (and raisins BTW) are toxic to pets’ kidneys.

6. Secure all trash cans. Even the best-behaved pet may have a hard time resisting the sweet smell of leftovers in a trash bag or a trash can.

7. Guacamole. Many of us love a good guacamole dip. Unfortunately, it contains 3 toxic ingredients for dogs: garlic, onion and avocado!

8. Hot barbecues, oil and food can cause serious burns to curious pets.

9. Sugar-free food. You or your guests may have used a preparation with an artificial sweetener called xylitol. This is extremely toxic to pets, who can have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or even liver failure because of it.

10. Chocolate. This is another classic: chocolate is toxic to pets. The darker the chocolate, the worse it is for pets.

Bonus 11. Having guests over means that somebody at some point may forget to shut the door or the gate, which may be an opportunity for your pet to run away, get lost, and possibly get hit by a car. It may be safer to lock your pets away to avoid a disaster that may spoil the day – at best.

Keep in mind that the advice above also applies to kids and guests. They may have good intentions, but that can lead to serious trouble!

Follow this simple advice, don’t end up at the veterinary emergency room and enjoy your barbecue!

Until next time,

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ

Today is National “Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian Day”

Today is National “Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian Day”

Who knew this day even existed? Also, did you know that cats go to the vet much less commonly than dogs?

To celebrate National “Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian Day,” following are a few tips to make the trip to the vet more pleasant for everybody involved.

No question, going to the vet can be stressful. How can we make it a happier event?

Cat love - kitty love - heart

1. Help your cat like the carrier

Even as an adult, you can train your cat to tolerate the carrier. Plus, your cat may end up using it at home as a security blanket or yet another napping spot.Here is a video to help you reach that goal.

2. Look for a Cat-Friendly Veterinarian

This is tough one for me. I am certainly not trying to encourage you to leave your current family vet. But if your cat doesn’t go to the vet because it’s such a disaster every time, I suspect this won’t offend anybody.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has created a program that certifies vet clinics as “cat friendly.” You can find a list of them on their website.

For example, cat friendly vets know that cats prefer to stay in their carrier during their exam if at all possible. Their waiting rooms are segregated by species (cats vs. dogs) to avoid the risk of a cat coming nose-to-nose with a curious canine.

3. Reward your cat

Talk to your cat during the trip (don’t worry, people will think you are talking to someone on the phone). Pet your cat. Bring tasty treats with you (as long as your cat doesn’t have to be fasted for blood work or anesthesia).

Regular preventive health care is important for cats.

Here are a few facts:

  • Dental disease affects 68% of all cats over the age of 3.
  • Most cases of diabetes could be avoided if the more than 50% of cats who are overweight were on the proper diet.
  • A huge number of cats die of kidney disease. There are simple ways to detect and treat the condition, or to decrease the risk it might happen in your cat.
  • Feeding a good diet decreases the risk of bladder stones or urinary blockage.
  • A simple checkup, once or even better, twice a year, can help detect and treat preventable diseases and conditions that can cut a life short.
  • Cats need vaccines and parasite prevention to be fully protected. And rabies vaccination might be the law where you live.

4. Don’t go to the vet!!!

What? Isn’t that the opposite of everything I wrote above?

Please hear me out. If taking your cat to the vet is just too stressful, consider calling a house call vet.

There is even a chance your current family vet offers that service. Or might consider it. Call your vet clinic and ask if that is an option.

5. Start early

Clearly it’s better to start the training during kittenhood. Next time you adopt a kitten, remember to start the training early.

Go to the vet clinic just for the experience of it, even if nothing happens there.

Ask if staff members have time to interact with your kitten.

No vaccines though! It just to show your cat that the vet clinic is a friendly place! I hope these tips encourage you to go to the vet more often – for your cat’s benefit.

Until next time,

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ