Category Archives: Safety

5 Signs Your Cat Is Hurting And Needs To See The Vet

Meta: We’ve created a list of common signs your cat isn’t feeling too great. Here are the top five sponsored by AZPAWS.org

In a perfect world, your cat would be able to tell you when they’re in pain. But because they can’t tell you, it’s up to you to play detective and read their behavior.

Cats are fairly good at hiding their pain. They don’t want to let potential predators know they’re easy targets. This can make reading your cat’s behavior tricky.

To help you out, we’ve created a list of common signs your cat isn’t feeling too great. Here are the top five:

Getting around is hard for your cat.
Cats are a little like people when it comes to pain. They may not want to move when they’re hurting. Your cat might be in pain if they have problems jumping or if they’re not moving around like they usually do.

Your cat isn’t eating as much.
Your cat might not want to eat if they’re in pain or if they have an upset stomach. Not eating could also be a sign of digestion issues.

Your cat isn’t grooming, or they’re grooming one spot.
Your cat might not be grooming themselves because moving hurts them. They could also be focused on grooming one spot on their bodies because they’re trying to ease the pain in that area, like when you rub your arm.

Changes in litter-box habits.
Your cat may have a urinary tract infection, obstruction, or inflamed bladder if they’re straining to urinate.

Your cat is scooting.
Your cat may have a bowel obstruction if they poop in their litter box but then scoot around on your floor when they’ve finished.

Has your cat been receiving preventative care?
Pet healthcare is just as important as human healthcare. Your cat needs to visit a vet clinic at least once a year until they’ve reached the age of 10. After that, it’s suggested they go to the veterinarian office twice a year.

By the age of three, up to 70% of cats have periodontal disease. That’s why dental care, vaccinations, and neutering/spaying your cat are important parts when it comes to pet safety and care.

If your cat needs vaccinations, spaying, or neutering, AZPaws is the pet neuter clinic for you and your pet. To learn more about our pet neuter clinic or for more information on what to do if you suspect your cat is in pain, contact AZPaws today.

Pet Health: What You Need To Know About Spay Clinics

Meta: Should I have my pet spayed or neutered? Here are some questions to ask about this process before making a decision.

No matter how much we love our pets, there comes a time to face a very important question: should I have my pet spayed or neutered? While there are many benefits of spaying or neutering your pet, it is still not an easy decision. Here are some questions to ask about this process before making a decision.

Why Spay or Neuter My Pet?
There are several reasons to consider having a spay clinic spay or neuter your pet. One of them is the problem of population control. It is a fact that cats and dogs can reproduce rather quickly. For instance, in seven years, a cat can produce nearly 5,000 kittens if she has not been spayed (4.948 kittens, to be exact). This is an astronomical amount of kittens! And, sadly, it is unrealistic to think that they all will find safe and loving homes. The alternative is that, in reality, many of the kittens will end up in shelters. Caring for your pet may mean that a spay clinic is warrantented.

Behavioral Difficulties
Howling and humping, as well as other forms of behavior, are associated with those times when our pets are in heat. A pet spay and neuter clinic can take care of these behavioral problems. Also, when in heat our pets tend to try and escape. This can cause them to be injured, stolen, involved in a fight with another animal or hurt in an accident.

Better Overall Health
Another great reason that shows the importance of spaying or neutering your pet at a spay clinic is the care and attention to their health which they receive there. In particular, the dental health of your pet will be examined and evaluated by the modern spay and neuter clinic vet. Pet health care is a top priority, especially dog dental care. In addition, infections and other problems are treatable in a spay clinic environment.

To sum up, taking care of your pet is a joy and a responsibility. The decision about spaying or neutering your pet is very important. A spay clinic provides a great alternative to traditional veterinary services, sometimes taking less time to get an appointment to be seen. For all the love and affection they give us, it is a good option to give your pet the benefit of a spay clinic. With this choice they will have the opportunity to really enjoy a healthy, happy life.

Ways To Keep Your Cat Cozy This Winter

Cats love to be cozy! Read these tips on how to keep your kitty safe and warm this season.

Ways To Keep Your Cat Cozy and Safe This Winter
Arizona is known for its mild winter days. However, nights out in the desert can sometimes drop to below freezing. For household cats who love to seek warmth, staying comfortable during the winter season can be a challenge.

Fortunately for the humans who take care of these heat-seekers, making sure your feline friends stay cozy and comfortable during the winter is no difficult feat. Examine the following tips to keep your cat happy this winter season.

Consider neutering.
Neutering a cat is the only 100% effective form of birth control for felines and therefore helps prevent unwanted pregnancies. What’s more, understanding the importance of spaying or neutering your pet will help prevent certain diseases in your cat, which may affect your furry friend during the winter months.

Keep them indoors.
Not every cat is an indoor cat, but keeping your cat indoors is the only way to ensure they stay safe. This is especially true during the winter months when food is scarce and nights are frigid. With proper stimulation, you can keep your cat entertained all winter long.

Create cozy spaces
Create draft-free nooks around the house to help keep them warm. Pile a blanket in their favorite area and snuggle it with their favorite toy.

Be wary of plants
The winter season is one of the most popular times for flowers and plants. However, certain plants can be dangerous for cats if they ingest any part of the flower or even inhale pollen. These dangerous plants include tulips, peace lilies, and the amaryllis. To keep your kitty safe, be sure to research cat-safe plants before introducing to your home this winter.

As a responsible pet owner, it’s up to you to ensure your furry friend is comfortable throughout the winter months. By following the tips above, you can help keep your cat cozy and safe this winter season.

 

The Health Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

The benefits of spaying and neutering are even more important for your pet’s health. Read more about why on our blog.

The Health Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

While it is widely known that spaying and neutering your pets is important, there are many people who still do not understand this procedure and its benefits. The confusion is understandable, but unfortunately, it can lead to serious issues down the line.

In order to help you understand all of the positive benefits that happen when you spay and neuter your pets, we have written this little post. We will be highlighting direct benefits that you can expect for your pet after a trip to the spay and neuter clinic.

• Less apt to roam

Every pet owner knows the fear when your cat or dog gets out of the house unrestricted. After all, 2 million dogs and 5.4 million cats are thought to be killed on the road each year in the United States.

But few people know that properly spaying or neutering their pet can help to reduce their urge to roam, meaning that if your pet does try an escape act, they will likely stay within a short distance. As a result, it’s much more likely that you will discover them before anything bad can happen.

• Lower Cancer Risk

Few people realize that sterilizing their pet can greatly reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. In female pets, there is a smaller risk of mammary gland tumors and ovarian and uterine cancers, especially if you have her spayed before her first heat cycle as SoayUSA.org recommends. For male pets, you no longer have to worry about testicular cancer, and additionally, prostate cancer becomes less likely.

• Longer Life

The end result of having your animals sterilized is that they will live longer, healthier lives. In fact, it can add one to three years to the life expectancy of your dog and between three and five for your cat.

 

That means you and your loved ones have more time to bond and enjoy the company of your animal companion. And what could be more important?

There are many good reasons to spay and neuter your pets. Not only does it help maintain and improve your animal’s health, but it also helps to combat the overpopulation of cats and dogs in the United States.

12 Things Every Puppy Owner Should Know

The key to a great life with your puppy is getting off to the right start. What should you know about puppies? Here are 10 things that are good to know before you raise one of your own.

1] Don’t hit or smack your puppy.

Punishment teaches a dog nothing except how to avoid the punishment. It is far better, and far more humane, to teach a dog what to do by rewarding them rather than punishing them for doing the wrong thing. The use of punishment can be very upsetting for puppies and may encourage them to react defensively by barking, biting, or snarling. In some cases, remote devices can be used to deliver corrections via noise or unpleasant smells (e.g. a motion-detected noisemaker to discourage dogs from stealing food off a counter) but this is the only type of acceptable reinforcement of this type.

2] Learn how puppies understand their mistakes.

This is a very important part of the way your puppy’s brain works. Dogs learn when there is a connection between their action and the consequence, so punishment (or a reward) hours after the deed occurs is not a useful training tool. Let’s say your puppy knocks over the trash and has a blast digging in it while you are at work. You get home and see trash all over the kitchen. Your puppy walks in or you drag him in the kitchen and scream at him. Your puppy does not associate the punishment with the fact that he or she did the bad deed. Instead, they associate your reaction with the act of you returning home or the sight of the trash knocked over. If you don’t catch your dog “in the act” of doing something naughty, forget about trying to correct their behavior…it won’t do any good.

3] Crates can be an important training tool.

A crate can be your puppy’s home-away-from-home or a comfortable retreat for when the rest of the family gets to be too much. Crates are also great tools for housetraining because dogs don’t like to soil their immediate environment. In addition, inside a crate is probably the safest place for a puppy to ride when traveling by car, and when pups have to fly cargo, crates provide a touch of the familiar on the plane. For more information on crate training go to Crate Training Your Puppy.

4] Puppy teething is a pain.

Similar to human babies, teething is the term used when a dog’s adult teeth push out their juvenile or “milk” teeth. This usually occurs between 12 and 20 weeks of age. The process can be painful and puppies often chew on items to soothe themselves. It is critical to have safe chew toys during this time, as unsafe toys are not digestible and, if swallowed, require an expensive surgery.

5] Learn the signs of puppy illness.

Puppies can get sick quickly, so early detection is crucial. Learning what symptoms to watch for and what questions your vet may ask can help narrow down the possible causes and determine a diagnosis as quickly as possible.

6] Calculate how long puppies can hold their urine.

Young puppies of 2, 3, and even 4 months of age have limitations when it comes how long they can go without using the bathroom. The younger a puppy is, the less control they have over the muscles that start and stop the flow of urine and the more frequent their potty breaks need to be. The usual formula for estimating the number of hours for which a puppy can hold its urine is N + 1, where N is the puppy’s age in months. For example, a 3-month-old puppy should be able to hold its urine for approximately 4 hours in a pinch (3 + 1). This means that if you have a properly toilet trained 4-month-old puppy (who theoretically can hold its urine for 5 hours) and you shut that puppy in a crate for 6 or 7 hours, you are courting disaster. Puppies that are crated for longer than they can contain themselves will be forced to soil themselves or potentially develop infections from holding their waste too long. This creates problems down the line as soiling within the crate destroys a valuable instinct to keep the “nest” clean.

7] Many human medications and foods are toxic to puppies.

Don’t give your puppy a medication or human food without first checking with your veterinarian. For example, ibuprofen, aspirin, Tylenol, grapes, raisins, and onions are all toxic to dogs and even a small amount can make a tiny puppy very ill.

8] Know how to socialize your dog.

Create a happy puppy with good socialization skills so they grow into a friendly, well-behaved adult. Encourage your puppy to have positive experiences with a variety of people and pets. For more tips, go to The Importance of Socializing Pups.  

9] Your puppy needs an interactive home.

Create a trusting relationship between your dog and all family members in your home by providing tons of positive interaction. Puppies are very impressionable and it is up to you to give them a healthy background of positive experiences. Negative experiences such as yelling, punishment, or abuse can cause psychological trauma that will impact them for their entire lives. If you care for your puppy when they need it, have reasonable expectations for their behavior, keep them safe, and gently reinforce good behaviors, all should be well. Here is great information on how to talk to and handle your new puppy, an important part of interacting with your dog.

10] You can prevent your puppy’s fears.

You would not believe how many adult dogs hate to have their nails cut or their owners can’t brush their teeth. I’ve seen dogs who needed more than 6 people to hold them down just for a simple nail trim. Puppyhood is a great time to interact with your dog and prevent this type of problem. Gently massage his paws and help him get used to having his mouth and feet examined. Start by gently looking in the mouth and touching the gums. Show him that this kind of contact is a positive and normal thing. You can also start to gently brush your puppy’s teeth. Give praise when your puppy behaves well and work up to regularly brushing the teeth and trimming his nails.

11] Separation anxiety in puppies can be prevented.

Dogs are social animals that form strong bonds with people, but sometimes those attachments can become unhealthy. When this happens, it can cause separation anxiety that manifests as destruction of the owner’s property or as other behaviors that may be harmful for the dog or annoying for people sharing the dog’s immediate environment. It is important to realize that dogs with separation anxiety are not doing these things to “get even” with the owner for leaving, out of boredom, or due to lack of obedience training. They are not being destructive out of spite or anger, but rather because they are truly distressed when their owner leaves. Thankfully, you can prevent this kind of unhealthy attachment. A great way to do so is to work on creating an independent dog that is able be away from you during the day without stress. (Remember, only reward him if he keeps calm and don’t reinforce behaviors that you don’t want to continue.)

12] Good puppy behavior should be reinforced.  

When your puppy is behaving appropriately, reinforce the behavior by providing a treat or praise right when they perform the desired behavior. This helps make sure your puppy knows what is expected of him. It can even be as simple as praising your dog for calmly lying at your feet. This technique can really help prevent problem behaviors such as dominance aggression, nipping at children, running to the door, barking, and more.

 

Written by: Dr. Debra Primovic – DVM Published: February 16, 2015 Last Modified: September 14, 2015

Why Summer is the Right Time to Spay and Neuter Your Pets

It’s not just the mercury in your thermostat that rises during the hottest months of the year. In fact, summer is prime season for dogs and cats to have new litters of puppies and kittens. That’s why veterinarians and spay and neuter professionals across the country are advising pet owners on the importance of spaying and neutering your pet this season.

Still not exactly sure why you should spay and neuter your pets this summer? Here’s a look at the top three reasons to invest in this highly-important procedure before the end of the season:

Spaying and neutering prevents unwanted litters of puppies and kittens.

As stated before, summertime is the top season for unaltered dogs and cats to reproduce. During this time of year, animal shelters become overwhelmed with litters of puppies and kittens whose owners simply couldn’t care for them; as a result, millions of these animals are euthanized. The number of stray animals spikes as well. While the idea of your pet having babies might seem cute for a time, it’s much more ethical to have him or her spayed or neutered.

Spaying and neutering makes your pet more obedient.

Another reason why you should spay and neuter your pets? This procedure makes pets more obedient and better-behaved. Pets who are spayed or neutered are less likely to wander away from home. When an astounding 85% of dogs who are hit by cars are unaltered, the procedure could actually save your pet’s life, as well.

Spaying and neutering keeps your pet living longer.

Spaying and neutering, which removes the animal’s reproductive organs, is the only 100% effective way to prevent certain cancers and infections. Spaying, for example, prevents uterine infections and breast cancer, the latter of which is fatal for 50% of female dogs and 90% of female cats. As a result, you’ll be able to ensure a happier, healthier life for your pet.

Preventing Heat Stress and Injury in Pets

Your dog can’t tell you when he’s becoming overheated, so it’s up to you to keep an outdoor romp from turning into a dangerous medical situation.

It always amazes me when, every year as the temperatures rise, there are still reports of animals being left alone inside hot vehicles, despite the fact that the dangers of doing so are well-known. Animals that exercise too vigorously in the heat or cannot seek relief from it are also at risk for illness and injury as well. Not too long ago, I had a concerning experience like this with my own dog when I took him out for a little fun in the dog park.That’s why, as the dog days of summer arrive, I thought it might be helpful to review some simple facts about how the heat can affect our pets.

Balmy Weather? Still Deadly

It’s important to realize that dogs and cats can develop heat-related injury quickly when they stay inside a parked car or other vehicle. This can happen even when the windows are partially lowered, the vehicle is in the shade, or the outside temperatures seem relatively moderate. Many people do not realize just how quickly the interior temperature of a car can increase to deadly levels, even with some airflow provided by cracked windows. For example, on a 90-degree day, the temperature inside a closed car can climb to 109 degrees within just 10 minutes. In less than 50 minutes, temperatures in that same car can rise to above 130 degrees. On even a comparatively balmy 70-degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach triple digits within 30 minutes (see table).

Heat toxicity can also occur in dogs that exercise too vigorously during periods of high heat, especially if the humidity is also elevated. Even dogs that are in good athletic shape and used to regular exercise can develop heat injury when out and about in extreme conditions. Heat toxicity, or heat injury, can run the gamut from heat exhaustion (which occurs in the early stages of a heat-related event) to heat stroke, which is a full-blown emergency that requires immediate veterinary intervention.

Temp Car

This chart was originally published in the journal Pediatrics. It also appears on the American Veterinary Medical Association site page about pet safety in cars. To better understand the factors that can cause a car’s interior temperature to skyrocket even when it is cool outside,read this article by Jan Null, CCM.

What Happens to a Heat-Stressed Pet?

During heat stress, the animal’s internal body temperature can increase rapidly, and fatal organ failure can follow. Since dogs and cats do not sweat (except on footpads and the nose) the way humans do, they cannot use this as a method to lower body temperature. Instead, dogs and cats try to regulate their body temperature by panting to help body heat dissipate. This response, however, is limited and easily overwhelmed under extreme conditions.

 

Signs of Heat Stress

  • Initial signs of heat toxicity include:
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation (which is often thick and ropey)
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Bright red membranes of the mouth, tongue, eyes, and sometimes skin in light-pigmented dogs
  • Vomiting and diarrhea can also occur due to damage to the gastrointestinal tract

Multiple organs can fail if the excessive heat retention is not relieved soon enough. These organs include the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver, heart, muscles, brain, and bone marrow. Heat retention causes the blood vessels to dilate, and a form of shock develops as the condition advances.

If the animal is in a state of collapse when found, it is imperative to get him to your local veterinarian or an emergency clinic immediately. Quickly cooling the animal for the trip with cool water from a garden hose may be helpful but do not immerse your dog in cold or ice water as this could lead to shock. If shock does develop, intravenous fluids and other medications may be needed for a few days upon arrival at the hospital.

 

How to Read a Dog Food Label

Reading nutrition labels is important when choosing dog food. 

The dog food nutrition label, like the nutrition facts box on packaged foods for people, is designed to help you compare products and to learn more about the food. But it can be a bit hard to decipher. We’ve put together a guide to the label to help you understand how to use it.

1. How do I read the dog food ingredient list?

Like packaged food for people, pet food must list ingredients by weight, starting with the heaviest. But if the first ingredient is a type of meat, keep in mind that meat is about 75% water, according to the FDA.

Without that water weight, the meat probably would fall lower on the ingredient list.

Meat meals, such as chicken meal or meat and bone meal, are different; most of the water and fat have been removed, which concentrates the animal protein.
2. What are byproducts, and should I avoid dog foods that contain them?

Veterinarians say that’s a matter of personal choice. Any pet food labeled as “complete and balanced” should meet your dog’s nutritional needs.

Liver, which is a byproduct, is rich in nutrients such as vitamin A. Meat byproducts also can contain blood, bone, brains, stomachs, udders, and cleaned intestines, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Byproducts don’t include hair, horns, teeth, and hooves, although an exception is allowed for amounts that occur unavoidably during processing.

Meat meal also may contain animal parts that many people consider to be byproducts. An ingredient listed as “chicken” or “beef” may include the heart, esophagus, tongue, and diaphragm. Although all these ingredients may sound unpalatable to you, your dog would probably disagree. So don’t necessarily balk if you see byproducts in the ingredients list.

Federal rules to guard against the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) ban some previously allowed cattle and buffalo parts in animal feed, including pet food. The FDA rule bans the inclusion of body parts from any animal that has tested positive for mad cow disease, as well as brains and spinal cords from older animals, as these are considered to be at higher risk of the disease.

3. What are all those chemical-sounding names lower on the ingredient list?

Preservatives, artificial colors, and stabilizers in pet food must be either approved by the FDA or be generally recognized as safe, a category that includes everything from high fructose corn syrup to benzoyl peroxide, used to bleach flours and cheese. Manufacturers must list the preservatives they add, but they do not always list preservatives in ingredients such as fish meal or chicken that are processed elsewhere.

Some pet owners don’t want to buy food that contains the synthetic preservatives BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), or ethoxyquin. These preservatives stop fats from turning rancid and can keep dry dog food fresh for about a year, but their safety has been questioned by some consumers and scientists. But the FDA says they’re safe at the level used in dog food.

“There is a debate about whether there is a need to avoid artificial ingredients like these, as conventional safety testing says they’re fine,” says Susan Wynn, DVM, AHG, a nutritionist for Georgia Veterinary Specialists in the Atlanta area and a clinical resident in small animal nutrition with the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. “I wouldn’t want them in my diet every day though, and I try to avoid them in my dog’s daily diet.”

Ethoxyquin came under scrutiny in the 1990s after complaints of skin allergies, reproductive problems, cancer, and organ failure in some dogs given food with this preservative. In 1997, the FDA asked dog food makers to halve the maximum allowed amount of ethoxyquin after tests conducted by manufacturer Monsanto Company showed possible liver damage in dogs fed high levels of the preservative.

Some manufacturers no longer use ethoxyquin, BHA, or BHT, instead using natural preservatives such as vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and extracts of various plants, such as rosemary. Those also keep food fresh, but for a shorter period. Be sure to check a food’s “best by” date on the label before buying or feeding it to your pet.
“If you want shelf life, it’s better to have chemical preservatives,” says Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “They’re added at amounts that won’t harm the dog, and it creates a more stable fat. Rancid fat can cause liver enzymes to go up, and diarrhea.”

4. How can I make sure the food meets my dog’s needs?

Look for a statement of nutritional adequacy on the label.

Many pet food makers follow model regulations set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that establish the minimum amount of nutrients needed to provide a complete and balanced diet. The statement may say the food is formulated to meet AAFCO standards or that it has been tested in feeding trials and found to provide complete nutrition.

The AAFCO statement also should say what life stage the food is appropriate for. For puppies, look for a food suitable for growth or all life stages. For adult dogs, look for adult maintenance or all life stages. Nutritional needs for senior dogs can vary, depending on health conditions, and there is no AAFCO standard for senior food.

5. What is the guaranteed analysis?

All dog food labels must list the minimum amount of protein and fat in the food and the maximum percentage of fiber and moisture.
Some dog food labels also list the percentage of other ingredients, such as calcium and phosphorous.

Low-fat dog foods often contain less fat and more fiber, to fill up a dog without adding calories.

At least 10% of the daily diet, by weight, should be protein, and 5.5% should be fat, according to the National Research Council, a scientific research unit of the nonprofit National Academies. Dog foods typically contain higher amounts than those, because dogs may not be able to digest all of the nutrients in a food.

6. What do “natural” and “holistic” labels mean?

Legally, not much. Food labeled as natural should contain few, if any, synthetic ingredients. Holistic, along with premium and super-premium, are marketing terms and there is no rule that controls how they’re used. Watch out for marketing terms like “human-grade ingredients” or “made in a USDA-inspected facility,” too.

“It’s difficult to confirm those claims are truly accurate,” says Teresa Crenshaw, interim chair of AAFCO’s pet food committee. Although pet food can be made in a USDA-inspected plant, it may happen when there is no inspector present, Crenshaw says. Meat once considered safe for humans may have spoiled and been diverted to pet food, she says. Neither claim means the food is safe for humans to eat.

7. What is organic pet food?

There is no official definition for it. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, which sets rules for using an “organic” label, is reviewing the issue.

By Elizabeth Lee
WebMD Pet Health Feature Reviewed by Audrey Cook, BVM&S

 

Top 10 Human Medications Poisonous to Pets

Pet owners who are serious about pet-proofing their home should start with their own medicine cabinet. Nearly 50% of all calls received by Pet Poison Helpline involve human medications – both over-the-counter and prescription. Whether Fido accidentally chewed into a pill bottle or a well-intentioned pet owner accidently switched medication (giving their pet a human medication), pet poisonings due to human medications are common and can be very serious.

Below is a list of the top 10 human medications most frequently ingested by pets, along with some tips from the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline on how to prevent pet poisoning from human medications.

NSAIDs (e.g. Advil, Aleve and Motrin)

Topping our Top 10 list are common household medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), which include common names such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil and some types of Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). While these medications are safe for people, even one or two pills can cause serious harm to a pet. Dogs, cats, birds and other small mammals (ferrets, gerbils and hamsters) may develop serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure.

Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol)

When it comes to pain medications, acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) is certainly popular. Even though this drug is very safe, even for children, this is not true for pets—especially cats. One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in large doses, red blood cell damage.

Antidepressants (e.g. Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro)

While these antidepressant drugs are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors and seizures. Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Pets, especially cats, seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill. Unfortunately, just one pill can cause serious poisoning.

ADD/ADHD medications (e.g. Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin)

Medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder contain potent stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even minimal ingestions of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems.

Benzodiazepines and sleep aids (e.g. Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta)

These medications are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. However, in pets, they may have the opposite effect. About half of the dogs who ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedate. In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination (including walking “drunk”), and slowed breathing in pets. In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure when ingested.

Birth control (e.g. estrogen, estradiol, progesterone)

Birth control pills often come in packages that dogs find irresistible. Thankfully, small ingestions of these medications typically do not cause trouble. However, large ingestions of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone marrow suppression, particularly in birds. Additionally, female pets that are intact (not spayed), are at an increased risk of side effects from estrogen poisoning.

ACE Inhibitors (e.g. Zestril, Altace)

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (or “ACE”) inhibitors are commonly used to treat high blood pressure in people and, occasionally, pets. Though overdoses can cause low blood pressure, dizziness and weakness, this category of medication is typically quite safe. Pets ingesting small amounts of this medication can potentially be monitored at home, unless they have kidney failure or heart disease. All heart medications should be kept out of reach of pets.

Beta-blockers (e.g. Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg)

Beta-blockers are also used to treat high blood pressure but, unlike the ACE inhibitor, small ingestions of these drugs may cause serious poisoning in pets. Overdoses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.

Thyroid hormones (e.g. Armour desiccated thyroid, Synthroid)

Pets — especially dogs — get underactive thyroids too. Interestingly, the dose of thyroid hormone needed to treat dogs is much higher than a person’s dose. Therefore, if dogs accidentally get into thyroid hormones at home, it rarely results in problems. However, large acute overdoses in cats and dogs can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, a rapid heart rate and aggression.

Cholesterol lowering agents (e.g. Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor)

These popular medications, often called “statins,” are commonly used in the United States. While pets do not typically get high cholesterol, they may still get into the pill bottle. Thankfully, most “statin” ingestions only cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. Serious side effects from these drugs come with long-term use, not one-time ingestions.

Debunking the Top Myths Surrounding Spaying and Neutering Pets

For a shocking number of pet owners, the true importance of spaying and neutering your pets isn’t often understood. As a result, 20% of dogs and 10% of cats in the U.S. today haven’t been spayed or neutered — and 98% of the country’s stray animal population is neither spayed nor neutered.

That’s because many people aren’t as educated on the benefits of spay and neuter procedures as they should be. Instead of learning about why you should spay and neuter your pets, it’s easier for many of us to go off of myths and inaccuracies we’ve heard from others — something that no responsible pet owner should do.

To help demonstrate the reasons why you should spay and neuter your pets, we’ve compiled this list of the top five most pervasive spay and neuter myths — and have provided the truth that lies behind these myths:

Myth: Having my pet spayed or neutered is too expensive.

Fact: Believe it or not, but it’s easier than ever to find an affordable spay and neuter clinic in your area. Many communities throughout the country offer reduced licensing fees and a multitude of other benefits to pet owners who have their companion animals spayed or neutered. And just remember — the cost of having your pet spayed or neutered will always be much, much less than the cost of caring for an entire litter of puppies or kittens.

Myth: Having my pet spayed or neutered will change his or her behavior.

Fact: This myth is actually true, to an extent. While spaying or neutering won’t do anything to change your pet’s actual personality, your pet will be less likely to roam away from home, decreases aggressive tendencies. A number of other undesirable behaviors will be eliminated after your pet is spayed or neutered.

Myth: Animals become less active and overweight as a result of spaying or neutering.

Fact: As any animal matures, it is necessary for owners to adjust dietary intake to compensate for more sedentary lifestyles. Animals become overweight only when they are fed too much and not exercised properly.

Myth: Behavior is adversely affected by sterilization.

Fact: The only changes in dog and cat behavior after spaying or neutering are positive changes. Male cats tend to reduce territorial spraying, depending on their age at neutering. Neutered dogs and cats fight less, resulting in fewer bite and scratch wounds and lessening the spread of contagious diseases. Male dogs and cats tend to stay home more after neutering because they no longer wander in search of a mate.

Myth: Spaying and neutering is painful to my dog or cat.

Fact: Surgical sterilization is performed under general anesthesia by a doctor of veterinary medicine. The procedure itself is not felt by the patient. There may be mild discomfort after the surgery, but most animals return to normal activity within 24 to 72 hours. The minimal discomfort experienced by dogs and cats that are spayed or neutered can be lessened with post-operative pain medications and is well worth the endless suffering that is prevented by eliminating homeless puppies and kittens.