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Garden Dangers and Your Pets

It’s a gardener’s favorite time of year. The ground is thawing, the nurseries are coming to life and soon you’ll be digging holes for your bedding plants.

Of course, your favorite pets might like to join you in the hole digging too, or, they may simply find other means of entertainment that could be harmful.

Pesticides, cocoa mulch, even certain plants can be toxic to dogs and cats.   You already know your dog will likely eat anything— or at least to try it and see if it’s tasty…. and this can be a problem.

Beware of Toxic Plants

Plant bulbs such as Daffodils are toxic if your pet digs them up and eats them. So are Azaleas and Tiger, Day, Asiatic and Easter lilies- but with these plants, your pet only has to eat a few leaves or taste the flowers to be sick. Symptoms typically include vomiting or diarrhea and can sometimes even be fatal.

Pesticides and Your Pet

If you use pesticides on your grass or garden areas, you pet can ingest those chemicals. Even if your pet doesn’t eat the grass or plants but just noses around, dog’s noses are a mucous membrane that allows many substances to flow in.  Plus, pets lick their paws and if they’ve walked on treated grounds, that’s another way for them to ingest harmful chemicals.

Always read the label on a lawn treatment to learn what the possible dangers are to pets. If you have a lawn and garden company treat your lawn, be sure to learn what they’re using and their recommendations. They’ll usually tell you if it’s not safe for children and pets. There are organic pesticides that you can use instead.

Be cautious if you put traps in the yard or garden to attract slugs and other pests; often, dogs find them and eat them. They also may eat a dead rodent that was killed by poison.

Chocolate Mulch

It almost sounds like something straight out of Willy Wonka; “Tuck chocolate around your plants to keep them healthy.” Cocoa or chocolate mulch smells chocolaty and delicious yet it could be fatal to your pets. True to its name, chocolate mulch has theobromine in it, which is the ingredient in chocolate that is dangerous to dogs and cats.  If your pets eat it, it could cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even seizures.

Make sure your garden is pet safe and keep an eye on them if they’re spending a lot of time in the yard. If they show signs of sickness, get them to the vet to ensure their safety.

Does Your Pet Have a Microchip?

Spring is here and the warmer weather is coming! This means that your pets may get Spring Fever and want to take themselves on a stroll around the neighborhood. Sometimes dogs and cats slip out of the door or the fence and before you know it, they’re gone.

No matter how your pet gets loose, you have only one wish… to bring them home safely.

A microchip in your pet can help you to be reunited with your lost dog or cat. Without a microchip, only 17% of lost pets are reunited with their families. A study at the University of Columbus found cats with microchips were 20 times more likely to return to their families and dogs were 2 and half times more likely to be reunited.

The way it works is simple: A small microchip—no bigger than a grain of rice– is inserted between your dog or cat’s shoulder blades.  It’s quick, easy and no more painful that getting a vaccination.  The microchip acts like a bar code.

Afterwards, if your pet gets loose, veterinarians and pet shelters can scan your pet to check for ID. If one is found, they’ll check the pet microchip databases to get your pet back home to you.

Though there isn’t a single central lost pet database, however the scanners can read microchips from a variety of brands.

The cost is typically $25-$50, plus a registration fee.  In addition to a microchip, ensure your pet’s tags are up to date too.  A clear name and phone number on a tag can make it easy to return a lost pet.

Fun in the Snow with your Dog (activities you can do with your dog outside)

Fun in the snowDoes your dog love playing in the snow? Many cold weather breeds like American Eskimos, Shiba Inus and Huskies are in their element when it snows- but this doesn’t mean that other breeds can’t have fun in the snow as well.

For many dogs, there is nothing better than waking up to a fresh coating of new snow, waiting to be explored. But why let your dog have all the fun? Here are some great ideas for games and activities that you and your dog can do together in the snow:

  • Chasing snowballs— Have a snowball fight! Most dogs love fetch and will delight in chasing either you or the snowball. Form snowballs from soft snow (don’t pack them hard and make sure there are no rocks or twigs), then gently toss them at the dog. Try tossing tighter packed snowballs in the air for the dog to jump at and try to catch. It’s quick, easy and a good workout for both of you!
  • Winter hiking or snowshoeing— If you love being outside in the snow, there’s no reason why your pup can’t come with you. Dogs love new spaces and smells, so take them along the next time you go for a hike or go snowshoeing. Just make sure you bring plenty of water for both of you as you’ll probably work up a sweat.
  • Shovel the driveway— It has to be done, so why not make a game out of it? Your dog might even want to run and chase after the flying snow. Remember, if your driveway is not fenced in, make sure to put your dog on a leash so that he doesn’t get overexcited and run down the street.
  • Create a maze in the snow— When you are finished with the driveway, shovel paths in the snow to create mazes and run through them with your dog. Your dog will love running through the paths!

Remember! Make sure your dog is adequately protected from the elements and stays warm. If you have a short haired or small dog it might be a good idea to buy him a coat or sweater to help him to stay warm while playing in the snow. Also, don’t stay out for too long if the temperature is bitter cold.

Do you have pictures of your dog in the snow? Why not share them on the Wellness Facebook page?

Curious Kitties – Exploring a New Environment


Keep your kitten safe from common household items.

Spring is a popular time of year when people welcome new kittens into their home. If you’re one of those lucky folks who are expecting or recently welcomed a new addition to your family, be sure to consider the likelihood that your kitten’s curiosity will be invoked by the introduction of a new environment. It is important to anticipate your investigative friend may find his way into items that are not suitable for contact. Some items may be more obvious than others so take the time to examine your kitten’s surroundings closely and remove any potential risks. Create a list of important phone numbers that you may need to reference in case of an emergency. Numbers should include your local vet hospital, emergency clinic and animal poison control hotline. Here are some items to be sure to keep our of your kitten’s reach.

1. Human Medications – Human medications were one of the top calls received by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in recent years. Pain killers, cold medications and other prescription or over the counter medications have various toxicity levels and should be stored in a place where pets cannot get to them.

2. Chocolate – This beloved human treat can make pets ill. It can contain high levels of fat and methylxanthine. The darker the chocolate, the higher the potential for clinical problems, which can include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, increased thirst and urination, arrhythmias, and tremors/seizures.

3. Lilies and other Toxic Plants – Lilies in their entirety are toxic to cats and have been linked to cause kidney failure. While only parts of other plants can be considered toxic to cats, it is recommended to research your household plants and remove any that may be considered harmful to your pet.

4. Antifreeze – Whether from a leak or a small spill while refilling, most brands of antifreeze consist of 95 percent ethylene glycol, an extremely toxic chemical. As little as 1/4 of an ounce (1-2 teaspoons) of this sweet-tasting liquid can prove to be fatal to a cat.

5. Easter Basket Grass & Holiday Tinsel – These shiny, stringed decorations are especially attractive to kittens. They are often played with and eaten and can cause intestinal obstruction or act as a linear foreign body.

Dangerous Outdoor Concerns for Pets

Romping outdoors with your pet gives you both fresh air, exercise and some quality bonding time. However, there are some outdoor dangers that you need to be aware of to keep your pet safe.

  • Many outdoor plants can be hazardous to your pet. Steer clear of many bulbs, ferns, flowering plants, lilies and shrubs. If ingested, these plants can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, or organ failure in animals.
  • Be careful about compost piles. The bacteria that forms in compost piles can be lethal. Compost piles should be enclosed.
  • Some varieties of the common mushroom that you find growing in your yard, can be very dangerous for pets. If your pet begins to show symptoms of poisoning, or if you know they have ingested a mushroom or other poisonous plant you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Another outdoor hazard for pets is ticks. Ticks carry and transmit diseases, including Lyme Disease. You should conduct tick checks of your pet after they have been outside. Try to avoid high risk locations such as heavily wooded areas and low-growing grasslands. If you do find a tick on your pet remove it as soon as possible using tweezers. Grasp the tick by the head where they enter the skin and pull firmly and steadily outward. Keep an eye on the site of the bite for the next several days to make sure a rash does not develop, a sign of Lyme Disease.
  • Snakes are also an underlying threat to pets. Most snake bites to pets come from non-venomous snakes, but should still be avoided if possible. To prevent snake bites always keep your pet close-by, and leashed.
  • You should stay on designated trails and do not go hiking at night. Also try to keep your pet from sniffing and exploring holes, crevices, and rocks. If your pet is bit by a snake, bring them to a veterinarian immediately.

How to Help Your Food-Sensitive Pet Eat and Live Healthier

So, you think food allergies are the unique domain of humankind? Well, think again. Animals suffer from food allergy symptoms too, and there is an ever expanding list of foods and food ingredients that, given the individual in question, could be the offending agent.

In fact, next to obesity, skin and ear-related concerns are the most prevalent conditions seen by veterinarians. Allergic reactions can show up in puppies as young as five months old, or in seniors as old as 12 years of age, though the vast majority of cases occur between two and six years.

Various prepared pet food ingredients can trigger allergic or food-sensitivity reactions in dogs and cats. These include not only the expected list of chemical additives, preservatives and flavorings that offer no nutritional value, but also many commonplace menu items that are known to be healthy dietary staples for most pets. Separating the helpful ingredients from the harmful is the key to sound pet nutrition and health. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Poisonous Garden Plants to Avoid with Dogs

Enjoy Outdoor Time Safely

Enjoy Outdoor Time Safely

Spring is a great time to give your dog more exercise and fresh air, often letting them have run of the yard. However, everyday gardens can pose a serious risk to your dog’s health. The following ten garden plants are poisonous and need to be kept away from our canine friends:

  • Bulbs – Amarylis, Daffodil, Elephant Ear, Hyacinth, Iris, Tulip. The bulb is the poisonous part, so beware particularly with those dogs that like to dig.
  • Ferns – Asparagus Fern, Emerald Feather, Lace Fern, Plumosa Fern. Many of these can be grown in a hanging pot, just make sure pieces of the plant or its berries do not fall to the floor.
  • Flowering Plants – Cyclamen, Hydrangea, Kalanchoe. While the blooms are beautiful the consequences can be deadly.
  • Garden Perennials – Charming Dieffenbachia, Christmas Rose, Flamingo Plant, Foxglove, Morning Glory, Nightshade.
  • Lillies – Glory Lily. These are not only toxic to dogs, but cats as well.
  • Shrubs – Cycads, Heavenly Bamboo, Holly, Jerusalem Cherry, Oleander, Precatory Bean, Rhododendron, Sago Palm, Yucca. Shrubs are one of the deadliest garden plants.
  • Succulents – Aloe.
  • Trees – Avocado, Buddist Pine, Chinaberry, Japanese Yew, Macadamia Nut, Madagascar Dragon, Schefflera.
  • Vines – Branching Ivy, English Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy. The foliage of vines is actually more toxic than the berries.
  • Other Plants – American Bittersweet

While it is best to not have these toxic plants in your yard, at the very least they should be fenced in to keep your dog from getting to them.


SAFETY-TIPSChildren and pets can be the best of friends. Of course there are certain safety precautions that need to be taken, particularly with pets and younger children. The following are tips for keeping children safe around pets.

  1. Do not allow your child to disturb the pet when he is eating.
  2. Teach your child to never take a toy or treat from your pet’s mouth. Unless the pet is willing to drop the toy, your child should leave the pet alone or have an adult retrieve the item.
  3. Do not sneak up on the pet. Pets caught by surprise may become jumpy and defensive, acting upon instinct. Teach your child to approach the pet with hands visible and a soothing, non-threatening voice.
  4. Teach your child to read the pet’s body language. Growling, baring teeth, and raised fur are all signs of a threatened or aggressive pet.
  5. Always supervise children under five years old when interacting with animals.
  6. Teach your child not to stare into a pet’s eyes. This may be seen as a challenge by the pet.
  7. Make sure your pet is properly socialized to be comfortable around other animals and a variety of people. This is best if done at a young age.
  8. Your pet should be well trained and respond to simple commands. Be sure to reward your pet during training with a healthy snack such as Wellness Wellbites®.
  9. Your child should not make startling or sudden movements around the pet.
  10. Practice gentle petting with your child. Make sure they understand that the pet should not be pinched, pulled or hurt in any way.

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe In The Winter

As we bundle ourselves up for these winter months it is important to remember our pets too! Some special precautions need to be taken to keep your pet safe from winter conditions. Here are 10 tips to keep your pet safe during this season:

* Watch the temperature. When the temperature outside falls below 20 degrees it is best to bring pets indoors. For short haired dogs, cats and young puppies or kittens it is best to bring them indoors when the temperature falls below 40 degrees.

* Make sure your pet’s outdoor water is not frozen. Remember, water freezes at 32 degrees and a frozen bowl of water will not do your pet much good.

* Check your car for nesting pets. The warm engines of parked cars attract pets seeking refuge from the cold. Before starting your car slap the hood to scare them away. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Blogger: Free-Feeding By Dr. Edward Moser

Dr. Edward Moser, a board certified veterinary nutritionist, weighs in on pet food nutrition.

Wondering if you should portion-feed your cat or just leave food out? Dr. Moser lends his insights

Free-choice feeding, sometimes referred to as “free-feeding,” typically refers to an owner making food available at all times to the cat, without time or portion constraints. If the cat chooses to eat only the amount of calories it needs per day and shows it by maintaining a lean body weight – this method is acceptable.

If an owner chooses to free-choice feed, but they notice their cat over-consumes, one way to avoid weight gain is to change their food from energy-dense diets, to high-fiber/low calorie formulas such as Healthy Weight or Indoor Health. The calories per cup would be less and cats would feel full, even though they haven’t consumed extra calories. (This is sometimes referred to as bulk-limiting.) Read the rest of this entry »