Safety

Painting showing the first Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets

Brownsburg Animal Clinic will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Friday and Saturday, November 24, 25 and 26. Normal office hours will resume Monday, November 28 .

If this painting depicting the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is to be believed, a dog was among the guests at the celebration.

But Thanksgiving as we celebrate it today can be very dangerous for pets.

Here’s a quick summary by Dr. Ron DeHaven of the American Veterinary Medical Association of guidelines for safeguarding your pet this Thanksgiving.

Chihuahua dressed as a witch for Halloween

Halloween Safety for Pets

Halloween can be fun for humans, but to your pet, it can be a scary, dangerous experience.

Noisy bands of masked strangers at your door, bowls and bags filled with tempting candy, unfamiliar decorations to explore and costumes for the entire family can put your pet at risk of being lost, stressed, ill or injured.

Here are some precautions we recommend to safeguard your pet this Halloween.

Don’t Share the Treats

Make sure your children and all the adults in your household know not to share Halloween treats with your pets. Keep the candy you are giving out and the candy your children collect securely out of your pet’s reach.

Just about any sugary or fatty candy, cakes and cookies can cause your pet to experience vomiting and diarrhea, but the theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are especially dangerous and can overstimulate a dog’s nervous system to life-threatening levels.

Treats sweetened with xylitol can quickly lower a dog’s blood sugar level and can lead to liver failure.

“Healthy” treats containing raisins, grapes or macadamia nuts can be toxic—even fatal—to pets. For example, as few as 5 to 20 raisins can cause kidney failure in a small dog.

Depending on your pet’s size and the amount your pet eats, indulging in Halloween treats can cause pancreatitis or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, triggering vomiting and diarrhea that can lead to severe dehydration. Both conditions require prompt veterinary care and possible hospitalization.

A pet who discovers a bag filled with treats may well eat wrappers and sticks along with the candy. These materials can get stuck in your pet’s stomach and block or possibly rupture the intestines. Surgery will most likely be required.

And if your pet indulges in an assortment of candy collected throughout the neighborhood, you will have no way of knowing just what potential toxins your pet may have ingested.

Keep Decorations Out of Reach

Strings of lights can cause electrical shocks and swallowed glass and plastic shards.

Candles can cause burns and, if tipped over, can start a fire.

Moldy pumpkins can cause tremors in dogs if they snack on jack-o-lanterns.

Cobweb decorations are especially tempting to cats and kittens, with potentially serious results if the fake web gets wrapped around the tongue. If pets swallow the stringy cobweb material, it may require surgery to remove the blockage.

Mind the Costumes

If you plan to dress your pet in its own Halloween costume, make sure the costume you choose is one your pet can and will tolerate comfortably.

The costume should not block your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing or movement. There should be no rubber bands, tight strings or straps to cut off circulation or breathing. Wide Velcro fasteners are preferable.

A costume can become a choking hazard if the pet chews off and swallows pieces or becomes entangled in the fabric while trying to wriggle out of it. Swallowed costume pieces can cause a blockage that requires surgery to remove.

Supervise your costumed pet at all times. If you need to leave your pet unattended—even for only a few minutes—remove the costume first.

If you and your family are wearing costumes, you may frighten your pet. Make sure you introduce yourselves in costume to your pet in a reassuring, non-threatening way.

Recognize the Dangers of Trick or Treating

For most dogs, trick-or-treating from door-to-door with your family—especially in a busy neighborhood with other trick-or-treaters filling the streets—can be a stressful experience.

Even the calmest, friendliest dog is likely to get spooked by all the strange-looking people, noise and confusion. Some dogs may even try to protect you from costumed, masked people who seem to present a threat.

As a kindness to your pet, we recommend you remove the cute costume and leave him or her at home.

If you stay home to dispense treats, your pet may be startled and stressed by all the doorbell-ringing and shouting for hours on end and may dash out the open door, risking being lost or hit by a car. If weather permits, you may minimize the disruption by greeting trick-or-treaters outdoors on the front porch.

Bring outdoor pets—especially black cats—inside on Halloween to safeguard them from being stolen and possibly abused by cruel pranksters.

All pets will tolerate Halloween best if crated and kept in a quiet room with the door closed.

Just in case your frightened pet does escape through an open door, make sure he or she has proper identification—a microchip and a collar with identification tags—to help get back home.

Assorted capsules and pills for humans

Medicines for Humans Can Be Dangerous for Pets

Nearly half the calls to the Pet Poison Hotline involve pets who have ingested over-the-counter or prescription drugs for humans.

In some cases, the pet got into the pill bottle or daily dose holder on its own. In others, a well-meaning owner deliberately gave the drug to the pet to relieve pain, nausea or other symptoms. Owners who store their pets’ prescription medicines next to their human family members’ prescriptions sometimes pick up the wrong bottle and accidentally give the pet a dose of a drug prescribed for a human in the household.

And pet owners sometimes use a drug prescribed for one pet to treat another. This is especially risky when using a drug prescribed for a dog to treat a cat.

Surprisingly dangerous are common over-the-counter pain relievers, including non-sterioidal anti-inflammatories–NSAIDS–such as Aleve, Advil and Motrin, and acetaminophen–the active ingredient in Tylenol. Even one or two pills can be seriously damaging and even deadly for pets.

For a top-ten list of medicines for humans and their damaging effects on pets, visit the Pet Poison Helpline.

Although aspirin is not on the Poison Helpline’s top-ten list, treating your pet with aspirin before coming in for an office visit can delay treatment with a more effective drug because we have to wait for the aspirin to clear the pet’s system before starting the appropriate drug. In these cases, using aspirin as a “home remedy” in hopes of avoiding an office visit keeps your pet in pain longer and slows recovery.

Before using a drug intended for humans to treat your pet, call our office to confirm it is safe and effective and to determine the proper dosage.

If you discover your pet has ingested a drug meant for humans on its own, and it’s during our office hours, call us immediately. We need to know the name of the drug, the dosage and how many pills you believe your pet has swallowed. We may have you bring your pet in right away, or we may refer you to an emergency clinic. We may have you call the Pet Poison Helpline, or we may call on your behalf to consult with the toxicologists on the most effective treatment.

After hours, call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 and be prepared for a trip to the emergency clinic.

Fireworks display

Managing Your Pet’s Noise Anxiety

Over the upcoming extended Independence Day weekend, chances are at least 40 percent of our canine patients will experience anxiety during the celebratory fireworks—the most common trigger for dogs with noise aversion.

Fireworks are a source of suffering for 81% of dogs diagnosed with noise aversion. That’s why the busiest day of the year for intake of runaway dogs in animal shelters is July 5 and why we strongly recommend that you not take your pet to any holiday celebration that includes a fireworks display.

Unlike most people, noise-averse pets do not enjoy fireworks, and may become anxious enough to break free and run away. Trying to find a lost pet after dark in a large, crowded public space is a challenge we don’t want any of our clients to face!

Summer thunderstorms can trigger similar fears, causing panic and dangerous reactions, destruction of furniture and fixtures, self-inflicted injuries and frantic escapes.

Cats can be noise-averse, too, but their fear responses are usually not as pronounced. A cat may retreat to a favorite hiding place when frightened by noise, but otherwise appear unfazed. So most of our clients’ concerns about noise anxiety involve dogs.

Diagnosing Your Dog’s Noise Aversion

Illustrations Showing Noise Aversion Symptoms

This brief animated video from the manufacturer of Sileo, a drug we prescribe to treat noise aversion, shows 13 symptoms to help you determine if your dog is noise averse, The company also offers a checklist you can download and print to diagnose your dog. (Hit the back button on your browser to return to this page.)

Home Remedies for Noise Aversion

Home remedies we recommend in mild to moderate cases include playing soft music to mask the noise and carrying on as usual. It’s tempting to comfort a fearful dog, but a better approach is to signal all is well by engaging in normal behavior. A little cuddling is fine, but anything you can do lighten the mood is most helpful. If you can, just be present to your dog.

You may create a “safe spot” for your pet in a windowless interior room, like a closet or bathroom, complete with bed and blankets, where he or she can feel secure while riding out the storm or fireworks display.

Making favorite treats and toys available can help—especially toys that might distract, like a peanut-butter-filled Kong toy. In administering treats, just be careful not to reward fearful behavior.

Thundershirts, which work by applying gentle, constant pressure to the pet’s body, similar to swaddling a baby, are also popular and have helped many dogs and cats.

Helpful Medical Treatment

If noise makes your dog anxious, and home remedies aren’t working as well as you’d like,  we can help.

For more severe cases, there are drugs we can prescribe to reduce anxiety and keep your dog relaxed and safe during fireworks, storms and other noisy conditions.

The drugs we most often prescribe to alleviate anxiety symptoms are Xanax and Sileo, and for the best effect, we recommend administering them 30 minutes prior to the anticipated noise.

If home remedies are not effective and you would like to see if drug therapy is indicated, the first step is an office visit to assess the severity of the anxiety and discuss treatment options with you.

While we can’t promise a quieter summer, we may well be able to provide a calmer, more relaxed summer for your noise-averse dog. If you’d like our help, call to schedule an appointment today.

Fireworks display

Are You Ready for July 4?

With Independence Day fast approaching, are you prepared to protect your pet from the anxiety and injuries that can come with exposure to fireworks?

Fireworks are Noisy!

While most humans enjoy the lights and sounds of a fireworks display, many pets experience the noise as unnerving or even terrorizing.

If you think your pet may be afraid of fireworks, see our recently updated post about how to diagnose and treat your pet’s noise anxiety.

Order Anti-Anxiety Refills Now

If your pet takes a prescription drug to manage anxiety, we encourage you to call in your refill request today to make sure we have the drug you need in stock and are able to dispense it well before the fireworks begin.

Fireworks Can Burn!

Lighted fireworks can cause severe burns and trauma to the face and paws of a curious pet. Keep your pet safely away from the area where fireworks are being ignited.

Fireworks Can Be Swallowed!

Unlit fireworks can be swallowed, obstructing your pet’s digestive tract and introducing potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals. Make sure any fireworks you’ve purchased for your celebration are stored safely out of reach of pets (and children).

Are You Ready?

We encourage you to protect your pet from fireworks this Independence Day! If you have questions or need our help in evaluating your pet for noise anxiety issues, learning about home remedies or discussing medical treatment, call now.

Canine Athlete

Caring for Your Canine Athlete

The field of sports medicine for people has grown a lot in the past few years, and within veterinary medicine, sports medicine for dogs isn’t far behind. Of course, it makes sense. As people adopt more active lifestyles, they enjoy involving their dogs in activities, too.

Most dogs are more than willing to run and play until they drop. A lot of times, their owners don’t realize inactive or out-of-shape dogs can over-train or hurt themselves just as human “weekend athletes” do.

Major differences in canine and human physiology make dogs more vulnerable to overheating than humans. Dogs don’t tolerate heat as well as people. Instead of sweating, they pant. When the air outside is hot, the panting doesn’t help them cool down as much, so they may be at risk for a heat stroke in situations that wouldn’t normally cause a person to overheat. Most people think if they’re OK in the heat, the dog is OK, too. But that’s not always the case.

Of course, we want our clients to have fun with their dogs. Walking or running and playing together are great for the dog and the owner. We just want people to ask themselves a few key questions before they get into any heavy exercise program with their dog—particularly in hot weather.

Is your dog in condition? Like people, dogs need conditioning to build muscles and cardiovascular fitness before walking or running long distances. If you want your dog to go with you on long-distance walks or runs, start with short distances and increase distance gradually.

Is your dog old enough for running? It takes 12 to 24 months, depending on the breed, for a young dog’s skeletal system to mature. Your veterinarian can advise you about your breed. Until then, limit running, jumping and other strenuous exercise.

Does your dog have hip dysplasia? Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic problem in dogs, especially in the larger breeds. If you have a breed that’s prone to hip dysplasia, or if your dog seems to have trouble getting up and moving around, you need to avoid strenuous exercise until your veterinarian X-rays your dog’s hips.

How’s your dog’s cardiovascular system? Any kind of aerobic exercise works the cardiovascular system. Before you get into a strenuous exercise program with your dog-especially if it’s an older dog-you should have a veterinarian check for heart defects or disease.

Is your dog obese? It’s a great idea for overweight dogs to get exercise, but you should start slowly and build up levels of exertion gradually. To tell if your dog is overweight, you should be able to feel, but not see your dog’s ribs.

Does your dog have access to fresh water? Water is necessary for proper muscle function and flushes out waste products without damaging the kidneys. Water helps keep a dog cool, too. We suggest taking along a water bottle or canteen when exercising with your pet.

Do you know the symptoms of heat stroke? Dogs do not tolerate heat as well as humans. Hot weather can be deadly to dogs if they overheat enough to have a heat stroke. If your dog pants incessantly, feels hot to the touch and has pale or blue gums, you must cool him down immediately. Douse him with cool water and get him to a veterinarian at once. Some breeds are more vulnerable to heat stroke than others. Any dog with a pushed-in face, like a Boston terrier, a bulldog, a pug or a Pekinese, is usually more likely to have serious problems with heat than a breed with a longer muzzle.

The veterinarians at Brownsburg Animal Clinic agree the benefits of exercise for dogs far outweigh the risks, provided owners take the recommended precautions. “We don’t want to scare anybody, and we certainly don’t want to discourage people from exercising and playing with their dogs,” said clinic owner Dr. Timea Brady. “We just want to be sure dog owners are aware of possible problems before they happen.”

Timea H. Brady, DVM, and her dogs

Summer Safety Tips

June 21 marks the beginning of summer.

We found an AVMA video that gives a great overview of how to keep your pet safe during the summer months. Even if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, we encourage you to watch the first two and a half minutes for a good description of heat stress, including emergency measures you can take.

Dog looking at camera next to the word xylitol superimposed over a large red X

Protect Your Dog from Xylitol Poisoning

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Xylitol (which also may be known as birch sugar or wood sugar) is a sweetener used in many foods and products for people (things like certain gum, sugarless ice cream, candy). Though safe for humans, xylitol can be deadly to dogs and other pets.”

Here’s a brief video from the FDA, warning pet owners of the dangers of xylitol and offering tips on protecting your dog from xylitol poisoning:

For details, including a more comprehensive list of products containing xylitol and more information on the danger the sweetener poses to dogs, read the FDA’s accompanying article, “Paws Off Xylitol; It’s Dangerous for Dogs.”

COVID-19

A Message from Dr. Brady About COVID-19

For those of you who share our concerns about COVID-19, we want to assure you we’re taking measures at the clinic to minimize the risk of introducing or spreading the virus to team members and clients while continuing to care for our patients.

  • In addition to following our usual cleaning protocols, we are doing even more frequent and thorough disinfecting of surfaces everyone touches—phones, keyboards and door handles—than ever before.
  • We are refraining from handshakes and hugs.
  • We have advised our team members to stay home if they are experiencing any respiratory symptoms and to return to work only after going at least 24 hours fever-free without medication.
  • We are asking our clients to stay away from the clinic if they or anyone in their household have symptoms of the virus or believe they may have been exposed to it.  We will be happy to reschedule the appointment.

This situation is evolving rapidly, and there is much uncertainty ahead. We are committed to doing our best to keep our team and clients healthy and will remain flexible in our response to COVID-19 in the coming days. Updates will be posted on our website and Facebook page as needed.

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Timea H. Brady, DVM
Owner, Brownsburg Animal Clinic

Owner hugging dog

COVID-19 and Your Pet

Please note: This information is current as of March 13, 2020. As more is learned about COVID-19, advice may change.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said there is no evidence that companion animals, including dogs and cats, spread the COVID-19 virus, the organization does suggest that people showing symptoms or in quarantine because of the virus limit their contact with pets, just as they do with people.

Specifically, that means people showing symptoms of the virus and being cared for at home should avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.

“If possible, a household member should be designated to care for pets in the home,” according to the CDC website. “If the individual in home care and isolation must care for pet(s), they should ensure they wash their hands before and after caring for pets and wear a facemask while interacting with pets, until they are medically cleared to return to normal activities.”

We encourage all our clients and staff members to take every possible precaution to lower the risk of infection. But in the event an infection does occur, we recommend treating pets with the same degree of caution as you do other family members.

Owner hugging cat

Preparing for a Possible Quarantine

Are you prepared for a possible quarantine because of COVID-19?

The following is a list of items the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends keeping on hand in the event of an emergency evacuation, and we think most of the contents of the pet evacuation kit would be equally handy in the event of an at-home quarantine.

Because the incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to be 14 days, we suggest stocking up on at least a two-week supply of pet food, medicines and preventives, kitty litter if needed, and cleaning supplies for your pet.

Most likely, your pet would be remaining at home with you during a quarantine, so some items will probably not be needed. We suggest you collect them anyway to be better prepared for anything!

The AVMA’s Pet Evacuation Kit

Food and medicine

  • 3-7 days’ worth of dry and canned (pop-top) food*
  • Two-week supply of medicine*
  • At least 7 days’ supply of water
  • Feeding dish and water bowl
  • Liquid dish soap

*These items must be rotated and replaced to ensure they don’t expire

First aid kit

  • Anti-diarrheal liquid or tablets
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandage tape and scissors
  • Cotton bandage rolls
  • Flea and tick prevention (if needed in your area)
  • Isopropyl alcohol/alcohol prep pads
  • Latex gloves
  • Saline solution
  • Towel and washcloth
  • Tweezers

Sanitation

  • Litter, litter pan, and scoop (a shirt box with a plastic bag works well for pan)
  • Newspaper, paper towels, and trash bags
  • Household chlorine beach or disinfectant

Important documents

  • Identification papers including proof of ownership
  • Medical records and medication instructions
  • Emergency contact list, including veterinarian and pharmacy
  • Photo of your pet (preferably with you)

Travel supplies

  • Crate or pet carrier labeled with your contact information
  • Extra collar/harness with ID tags and leash
  • Flashlight, extra batteries
  • Muzzle

Comfort items

  • Favorite toys and treats
  • Extra blanket or familiar bedding
Dr. Brady's boxer Sully

Sully and the Sunscreen

Last Saturday, my son Rhys and I took a bike ride. Before we left the house, I applied sunscreen to protect his fair skin.

When we returned home about an hour later, I found a large pile of strange-looking thick, white vomit in front of the couch. As I prepared to clean it up, I discovered more vomit on the stairs and in the hall. Then I discovered a chewed-up sunscreen bottle.

Most clients in my situation would have immediately called the clinic for help and guidance. But as general practice veterinarians, we doctors at Brownsburg Animal Clinic are like family doctors for our patients. We know a lot about your pet’s overall health and many common conditions they may have, but we can’t possibly know everything on every subject. That is why we often enlist the help of veterinary specialists, ranging from surgeons to dentists to dermatologists and yes, even toxicologists.

If I had received a call last Saturday morning about a patient who ingested sunscreen, I would not have been certain of the best course of treatment to take. There are so many new drugs and chemical compounds available, it is impossible for a general practitioner to keep up with which ones cause toxicities in pets and how to treat these toxicities if a pet is exposed. That’s why, when we receive such calls, if we’re not absolutely sure of what to do, we make an immediate referral to the Pet Poison Helpline.

The Helpline serves as 24-7-365 poison control for your pet. For a per-incident fee of $59, they will help you and your veterinarian (if needed) work through exposure to medications and chemicals that may be harmful to your pet. You will be assigned a case number and you and your veterinarian can call as many times as needed to seek advice on how to proceed with care.

At the clinic, we have referred clients to the specialists at Pet Poison Helpline several times. In some cases, we found the pet’s exposure to a potential toxin did not need follow-up care because the helpline staff determined the dose was not large enough to be toxic. In other cases, our clients were instructed to bring their pets to our office so we could induce vomiting and give activated charcoal and IV fluids. We also have had clients referred to a 24-hour veterinary care facility for several days of decontamination.

Chewed bottle of sunscreen

With that chewed-up sunscreen bottle in my hand, I thought about all the different chemicals Sully had swallowed, and while I know just what to do in cases of chocolate exposure or exposure to anti-freeze, I had no idea about these chemicals.

So I essentially referred myself to the Pet Poison Helpline, and one of their veterinarians helped me assess the situation.

I was able to provide her the name and brand and some of the ingredients still legible on the chewed-up label. We were able to determine the missing ingredients and estimate how much he was exposed to. Luckily, the level was not fatal and not enough to cause kidney damage. But it was enough to potentially cause stomach ulceration, so I started him on a stomach protectant.

The doctor also recommended doing some blood work the following day, just to make sure the exposure wasn’t higher than we suspected. I found Sully’s liver values were slightly elevated, so I checked back in with the doctor at Pet Poison Helpline, and we discussed adding a liver supplement and rechecking blood work in a few weeks.

This experience with Sully taught me a lot.

  1. Keep sunscreen out of my dogs’ (and son’s) reach.
  2. Zinc oxide is a good emetic (vomiting agent) that stains carpet white.
  3. The Pet Poison Helpline is a great, potentially life-saving resource for pet owners–including general-practice veterinarians like me–who need fast, accurate advice from a specialist in toxicology.

Wishing you all a safe summer!

Black Labrador retriever in tall grass

Dogs and Heatstroke

We’ve talked about the dangers of hot weather for dogs before. We encourage all our dog-owning clients to read this article in the New York Times. It has some good advice, including the warning signs of heat stroke: excessive panting, lethargy and a deep red tongue.

If you think your dog is having a heat stroke, get it into cool water immediately. If the symptoms persist, treat it as a medical emergency. If it’s during our office hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon, call us immediately at (317) 852-3323 so our staff can prepare for your arrival and offer you advice for administering first aid.

If it’s after-hours, on weekends or a holiday, please call the Airport Animal Emergi-Center at (317) 248-0832. The emergency center is at 5235 West Washington Street in Indianapolis. Maps, directions and more information are available on the Emergi-Center web site.

Open hand comparing the size of a microchip with a grain of rice

AVMA’s Check the Chip Day

The American Veterinary Medical Association has declared August 15 “Check the Chip” day.  As you’ll see if you visit the AVMA’s page, the goal is to remind owners of pets with microchip implants to confirm that their registration information is up to date.

For pets without microchips, our strong recommendation is to make an appointment with us to microchip your pet. It’s the best way to increase your chances of recovering your pet, should he or she get lost or be stolen.

For more information about the microchipping procedure itself, here’s a brief video from the AVMA.

At Brownsburg, we use HomeAgain brand microchips. The HomeAgain web site has even more information about the benefits of microchipping, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.

Three dogs running across a field

National Heat Awareness Day

May 23 is National Heat Awareness Day, sponsored by the National Weather Service to remind us of just how dangerous heat can be, not only to humans, but to pets.

As shown on this NWS web page about the dangers of heat to children and pets, even when the temperatures are relatively mild, the interior or a car or truck can heat up very quickly. To reveal more details, click the links on the page.

Also addressing this same issue is a brief video from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

We agree with the advice from the AVMA. If you love your pets, leave them at home!

A mixed breed dog lying on cobblestones, showing teeth

Preventing Dog Bites

Sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Dog Bite Prevention Week® takes place during the third full week of May each year. The goal is to teach people about preventing dog bites.

The AVMA’s web site has a page dedicated to dog bite prevention.  We encourage you to visit the page and learn more about how you can lower the risk that your dog will bite. There are also tips on how to avoid having a dog bite you or someone you love.

Also from the AVMA is this video about preventing dog bites. This is video has dog bite statistics as well as specific tips for avoiding being bitten. We hope you’ll watch it with your kids.

A blue-eyed dog dusted with snow

Cold Weather Tips

Just because our companion animals are furry doesn’t mean they don’t need extra care in extra-cold weather.

This short article on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has some good advice about caring for pets in cold weather.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers these suggestions.