February 12, 2013

Pet Health: Smoking and Your Furry Friend

Filed under: cats,dogs,pet health,pets,puppy health,Smoking,Uncategorized,Your Pet — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:00 pm

At one point or another, we have all been told that smoking is bad for our health. We have been shown the impact of tar on human organs, we have been told about the many cancers that can result from smoking, and time after time we are informed of the dangers of secondhand smoke. Full of this knowledge on the health risks related to smoking, have you ever consider the impact that smoking may have on your pet?

Just as smoking may affect the people around you, studies have shown that it may also impact your pets. When someone smokes, toxins are released into the very same air that your pet breathes in. When breathing in air, the toxins move through your pet’s mouth, into their lungs, and throughout their circulation system. This process is repeated every time your furry friend takes a breath. Moreover, toxins that are released into the air come in contact with your pet’s fur and skin. When grooming themselves, pets lick their fur, fur on which toxins like nicotine and tar may collect. The nicotine and tar enters your pet’s mouth and digestive system each time they lick themselves.

Smoking effects and pet health

Studies have shown that a few effects that second-hand smoke can have on your pet are:

  • Cancers: lymphoma, lung, and nasal
  • Respiratory problems
  • Allergies
  • Skin diseases
  • Eye infections
  • Vomiting
  • Salivation

It is common for us to hear the effects that smoking has upon humans, that we may forget to think about how our pets are impacted. Next time you think of lighting up near your pet, think about the effects that smoking might have on their health.


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August 20, 2012

How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer

Filed under: pet health,tips about summer for dogs — Dr. Amber Reed @ 12:45 pm

Summer is here and that means long days in the blistering hot sun. You know what to do when you get too hot and dehydrated, but do you know how to care for your beloved dog? Dogs don’t have the same cooling mechanism as you do. As a responsible owner, that means it falls to you to keep your dog comfortable and cool all summer.

Stay Hydrated

Bring fresh water with you everywhere. Get your dog a personal water bottle and fill it up just like your own. Stash a bowl in your car and pack a bottle of ice water on car rides and when out for a walk.

Minimize Sun Exposure

Dogs are most likely to suffer heat stroke between noon and 2pm. When possible, keep your dog inside during these hours. If you are out at the lake or the park, let her sit in a shady area to cool down and give her plenty of water. Let her hang out in the air conditioned car with you to lower her body temperature.

If your dog insists on frolicking in the water, bring her in every hour or so and feed her water under a shady tree. For shorter-haired dogs it’s a good idea to pick up some pet-safe sunscreen. There are products specifically formulated for dogs. Never use a human sunscreen as it may have chemicals that aren’t safe for dogs. Apply sunscreen to areas with less fur.

Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car

Even if you are just popping into the store for a minute, a hot car can be very dangerous to a dog. Vets see it time and time again – dogs being rushed into their offices with critical signs of heat stroke due to being left in a car.

Hot car plus dog equals 1) needless suffering and 2) walking a thin line to dog heat stroke. Consider carrying two sets of keys with you to leave the air conditioning running with the door locked if you have to leave her in the car.

Or leave her at home if you know that you have errands to run!

How to Recognize Dog Heat Stroke

Being outside for too long, being left in a car, or not getting enough water can put any animal at risk for heat stroke. Here are the signs to watch for:

  1. Heavy panting or difficulty breathing
  2. Vomiting
  3. Unsteady gait
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Seizures or a coma

In the early panting stages, take action by getting your dog into a shaded area, preferably an air conditioned room. Give your dog water. If your dog shows no signs of relief, take him or her to a vet right away.

As a Last Resort…

If it’s blistering hot both outside and inside, and your air conditioner is on the fritz, try these last resort tricks to prevent dog heat stroke:

  • Feed your dog some ice cubes.
  • Spray your dog with cold water.
  • Place a wrapped ice pack around your dog’s neck.
  • If you have a long-haired dog, keep his or her hair short all summer long with regular trips to the groomer.
  • Limit her exercise to the coolest parts of day – early morning or late evening.

Keeping your dog cool and comfortable is key to an enjoyable summer. Pay close attention to the signs of over-heating and protect your dog from getting too much sun.

June 13, 2011

Plants Your Pet Should Avoid

Filed under: pet health — Tags: , , , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:26 pm

Plants Dogs Should not EatWhenever a dog gets a chance, they will go exploring. Their curiosity is what makes them stop at every fire hydrant, go digging in the dirt, and lick whatever looks good. This curiosity is fun for them but it’s time to check out what they are putting their noses into. Dogs will always go up to different plants to take a sniff especially when outside. Some of these plants might look pretty on the outside but can cause serious damage to pets. Here are just a few so you can keep your dogs health in perfect condition.


Lilies can cause a lot of damage to a dog’s health in small amounts. If ingested, lilies can cause damage to the kidneys. Also, a small amount can cause a dog to vomit, suffer nausea, arrhythmia, and a slowed heart beat.


These pretty flowers aren’t so pretty on the inside. The bulb part of the flower contains toxins that can cause depression in dogs of the central nervous system. It can also cause intense gas, irritation, loss of appetite, excessive drooling and cardiac abnormalities.


Not only dogs are affected by this plant but also grazing animals such as horses. If ingested symptoms of diarrhea, excessive salivation, depression, vomiting, weakness, and coma in dogs. These symptoms can result in death from cardiovascular collapse.

Sogo Palms

T his plant doesn’t even need to be ingested by your dog to have harmful effects on them. If this plant is licked, seeds are swallowed which causes symptoms of vomiting, liver failure, seizures, and may lead to death. Keep your dog as far away from this plant as you can since the whole thing is poisonous.


Pothos are popular household plants that cause serious damage to a dog. If it is chewed by a dog or ingested, it can cause mechanical irritation and swelling of the tissue in the mouth and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.


These colorful and bright flowers bring a lot of attention to themselves when found in areas of the woods or in a nearby park. Grayantoxins are found in Azaleas which cause vomiting. Ingestion of this plant results in hyper salivation, weakness, and can end in coma or death.

May 21, 2010

Children and Cats

Filed under: cat health,Children and Pets,pet health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 6:33 pm

kitten care, children and kittensGetting a pet cat means that you are adding another member to your family.  Cats and children make great companions but you may be aware of special health concerns for children with pet cats.  A lot of times people feel cats are better pets for children than dogs but you need to take some time to ensure that the health and well being of your cat and children will not be compromised.  Always make every effort to understand the responsibilities that come with owning a cat and ensure you children understand as well.

Kids love kittens.  They’re small, fluffy, and cute but they become full grown cats very quickly.  Many irresponsible families get kittens every year and then become overburdened with the responsibilities that come with owning a cat.  Even as a kitten you need to spend lots of time grooming, playing with, and socializing your kitten so it’s not all just fun and games.  Nevertheless, when you take the commitment of cat ownership seriously, you will have a loving pet that is a central member of your family.

feline ear mitesChildren can sometimes be overly aggressive with small pets so you’ll need to teach them that cats are vulnerable.  Because cats can more easily escape from rambunctious children, they are often a better pet than dogs (for the pet’s sake, that is).  Still, you should spend some time demonstrating to your children how to handle cats and how to play with them.  Overly aggressive children may cause the cats to develop anxiety leading the cat to reciprocate the aggressive behavior.

Finally, when you get a cat you need to be aware of toxoplasmosis.  This bacterial infection can be contracted through contact with cat feces and when infants are infected they are at risk of brain damage and possibly even death.  By taking a few precautions you can protect your infants from toxoplasmosis.  Regularly clean the litter box and never allow children to play near it.  Sandboxes are a favorite place for cats to defecate so they should always be covered when they’re not in use.  As long as you maintain a clean environment and keep your children away from cat feces the risk of toxoplasmosis is very low.

May 17, 2010

Is Your Cat Constipated?

Filed under: cat constipation,pet health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 6:12 pm

constipation in catsConstipation is a common condition that affects cats just as it affects humans.  Constipated cats suffer from the accumulation of feces in the bowel that makes it difficult to defecate.  Because the bowel is designed to absorb water, feces in the colon can sometimes become dry and hard making it painful and difficult for your cat to have a bowel movement.  When your cat is constipated, she will also strain to defecate and may even pass feces with a diarrhea-like consistency.

In many cases, the causes of constipation relate to poor nutrition and exercise.  Nevertheless, there are some causes of constipation that signify a more serious problem.  Other than hairballs, a cat may have an obstruction of the bowel perhaps due to tumors or the ingestion of foreign bodies.  Pelvic injuries due to accidents can lead to constipation as can damage to the nerves of the bowel.  While constipation is most commonly seen in middle-aged or older cats, it is not impossible for younger cats to suffer from the condition.  If you recognize that your cat is suffering from constipation, most obviously because she is straining to pass feces, you should visit your veterinarian immediately.

Your vet will assess your cat and try to determine the cause of the constipation.  The diagnostic process is designed to rule out constipation due to injury and to prevent further problems that may also be associated with a possible injury.  In very severe cases, cat constipation may need to be treated with surgery; but in most cases, cat constipation is treated with oral lubricants, regular grooming, improved diet, and exercise.  Your veterinarian will help you decide the best course of treatment and will also provide you with important information on how to prevent constipation in the future.

May 3, 2010

What is Degenerative Valve Disease in Dogs?

Filed under: Dog Diseases,pet health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 11:50 pm

While there are many types of heart disease that may affect your dog, one of the most common is degenerative valve disease.  The mitral valve, which is found between the left atrium and the left ventricle, is especially prone to degenerative valve disease while the tricuspid valve (between the right atrium and right ventricle) can also be affected.  The effect of degenerative valve disease is that the valves themselves begin to leak resulting in a heart murmur.  In a healthy heart, blood flow from the atrium to the ventricle is controlled by these valves.  However, dogs with degenerative valve disease develop this murmur which is caused when blood moves backwards into the atrium.

Picture of the Mitral ValveAs degenerative valve disease progresses, the leaky valve causes too much blood to accumulate in the atrium and ventricle causing these heart chambers to expand.  Over time, the pressure in the heart builds up and may even affect other organs.  In mitral degenerative valve disease, blood may leak out of blood vessels into the lungs leading to congestive heart failure.  In tricuspid degenerative valve disease in dogs, fluid can leak from the chest into the abdominal cavity causing a large abdominal cavity that looks like a bloated abdomen.

In most cases, degenerative valve disease in dogs mostly affects older, small breeds and the disease is more prevalent in males.  Some breeds that are predisposed to degenerative valve disease include Miniature poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, terriers, and Miniature Schnauzers.  Unfortunately, treatment of degenerative valve disease rarely cures the condition.  Instead, veterinarians aim to alleviate the symptoms of congestive heart failure and by removing any fluid that may build up in the abdominal cavity.  For dogs, degenerative valve disease is the most common cause of heart failure and there may be little you can do to prevent death.  Because heart failure due to degenerative valve disease in dogs normally affects older dogs, veterinarians will encourage taking steps to improve the comfort of your dog during his final days.

April 29, 2010

Avian Aspergillosis: Respiratory Tract Infections in Birds

Filed under: Pet Birds,pet health,Pet Symptoms,pets,respiratory infections — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:52 pm

Bird owners are probably aware that respiratory tract infections are quite common in pet birds, especially Aspergillosis.This condition is caused by a fungal infection in the bird’s airways and the subsequent illness can be quite serious.Depending on the type of infection, Aspergillosis in birds can be associated with a variety of symptoms.Generally speaking, there are two forms of Aspergillosis in birds: acute and chronic.

Avian Aspergillosis Acute bird aspergillosis is more often seen in young or recently imported birds and the symptoms tend to last only a short while despite being more severe.The main symptoms of the acute form of this respiratory tract infection include lack of appetite, breathing problems, and possibly death.In fact, left untreated, aspergillosis in birds causes air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed and the bird’s lungs may become congested with white mucus.On the other hand, chronic aspergillosis in birds is more common in older, captive birds.The infection may develop over a long period of time with several symptoms becoming apparent over the course of the illness.Listlessness, loss of appetite, weakness, depression, and breathing difficulties are the main symptoms of the chronic form of this bird respiratory tract infection; moreover, some of the symptoms may become permanent.Bone changes may occur and the upper respiratory tract may become misshapen.Chronic aspergillosis can also spread to the nervous system which causes tremors, loss of coordination, and in severe cases paralysis.

Avian aspergillosis is caused by fungal contamination of food or water sources in addition to nest boxes, incubators, and ventilated regions. This particular bird respiratory tract infection may also have a variety of environmental causes but when it’s caught early it can be treated therefore any time you notice respiratory tract issues in your bird, visit a veterinarian immediately.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.