Category Archives: Pet Safety

Artificial Sweeteners and Pets

By now, pet owners are well aware that chocolate is bad for pets. The dangers of allowing pets to consume xylitol (a sugar substitute) is also becoming more widely known – and for good reason. Xylitol, which is commonly found in sugar-free candy, baked goods, gum, and other products, can lead to a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and kidney failure in dogs.

Sugar is in practically everything we eat, but the popularity of low-carb and keto diets has led many people to seek out sugar alternatives. Sugar alcohols, like erythritol and plant-based sweeteners such as stevia, have exploded onto the market, and they can be purchased almost anywhere.

Here at West Park Animal Hospital, we’re always on the lookout for potential new pet toxins, and considering artificial sweeteners and pets is an important part of our ongoing research.

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Pet Nutritional Supplements: Necessary or Needless?

Many Americans take a multivitamin to supplement their diet, fish oil for heart health, or a joint supplement to quell arthritis pains. This habit of utilizing supplements to support overall health and well-being has crossed over into the world of pet products as well.

As you peruse pet-related blogs, online animal care communities, and the aisles of the pet store you may start to wonder whether you need to or should jump on the bandwagon. Are pet nutritional supplements necessary? Are they safe? How do you choose? Your friends at West Park Animal Hospital have the scoop!

What’s in a Supplement?

A supplement is something that completes or enhances something else (in this case, your pet’s diet). With nearly one-third of dog owners and one-fifth of cat owners purchasing one for their pet, it is important to understand why and how you might choose one.

Some pet nutritional supplements are more common than others. A few of the more commonly administered include:

Glucosamine/chondroitin — These ingredients are typically used to support overall joint health and ameliorate the effects of arthritis.

Fish oil — The long chain fatty acids in fish oil supplements have been shown to have some anti-inflammatory effects that may be helpful in the treatment of heart, skin, kidney, and joint disease when delivered in the correct doses.

Turmeric — Touted for its anti-inflammatory effects for arthritis patients and cancer-controlling properties, this herb has begun to make an appearance in the veterinary world.

Probiotics — Helping to support a healthy digestive tract can be important to overall health and immune function. Supplementing the gut with healthy bacteria has some obvious benefits

Hairball remediesSome cats routinely regurgitate hairballs, and many feline caretakers reach for these supplements designed to help hair pass more easily through the digestive tract.

When selecting nutritional supplements, it’s important to know the potential side effects of what you’re buying.Your pet depends on you in order to receive the best care possible.

Purchasing human fish oil capsules containing toxic Xylitol, not being aware of the fact that glucosamine can alter blood sugar metabolism, or being oblivious to turmeric’s anticoagulant properties can potentially cause great harm. Populating your pet’s gut with less-than helpful human bacteria doesn’t really reap any benefits, and trying to fix your cat’s inflammatory bowel disease with petroleum based hairball products could delay a proper diagnosis.

The Bottom Line About Pet Nutritional Supplements

Safety, efficacy, and quality control are huge concerns when it comes to pet nutritional supplements. Because they are not subject to the same FDA regulations as veterinary drugs, it can be difficult to know if what you are purchasing is pure.

This also means that just about any one can write just about anything about them. It can be next to impossible to sort fact from fiction.

As veterinarians and scientists, we stand behind evidence-based medicine and make our supplement recommendations based on what research is available to us. It is important to “first do no harm”, and we must recognize that supplements can have many different effects on the body.

When administering supplements to your pet, it is important to work with our veterinary team in order to select one. Our expertise can help with:

  • Deciding what, if any, supplements may be helpful for your pet
  • Arriving at correct and efficacious dose
  • Selecting a product with good quality control practices
  • Navigating any potential interactions with other medications or conflicts with existing health problems
  • Troubleshooting potential side effects
  • Avoiding possible toxicities

For some animals pet nutritional supplements can bring benefits to overall health. It is important, however, to assess their need and choose one in concert with animal health professionals.

If you have questions about supplements for your pet, call us today so that we can discuss the matter further. Adding supplements can have positive effects on your pet’s health, but only if done correctly and safely.

What Everyone Can Do to Promote Winter Cat Care

Winter cat care is part of winter pet safety.

Cats are amazing animals that are capable of living in extreme climates, but that doesn’t mean constant exposure to the elements is good for their health. Domestic cats that are allowed to roam outside or those that live exclusively outdoors (e.g., feral or stray cats) have more to contend with than just the weather. As a result, many owners choose the indoor-only lifestyle for their pet.

But what about cats that dart out at night or the ones who hang around the neighborhood that don’t seem to belong to anyone? Aside from protecting pets from potential illness and injury, winter cat care can be a real struggle. Fortunately, the team at West Park Animal Hospital is here to help!

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Halloween Fun: Best Pet Costumes for 2018

The best pet costumes are the ones your dog will wear happily.

Halloween is right around the corner, and we can’t wait for pumpkin  carving, bobbing for apples, and costumes! This year, we’ve put together a fun list of the best pet costumes, and we’re excited to share with you.

Remember that not all pets like getting dressed up, so before you partake of this tradition, spend some time getting your pet acclimated to the process. If they still don’t like to wear a costume, don’t force it – enjoy other aspects of Halloween. A Halloween movie marathon under the covers with our pets sounds pretty good, too!

But, if your pet does like to dress up, you’ve come to the right place!

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Fall Fun For Your Pet

Fall fun for your pet can include great pet exercise and outdoor pet fun!

We love the autumn season. Cooler weather, beautiful fall foliage, apples, pumpkins and Halloween. What’s not to love? This year, why not include your pet in many of the festive fall activities you yourself love to do. It’s a matter of getting creative and thinking outside the box, and at West Park Animal Hospital, we’re here to help you do just that!

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Can Clicker Training Change Your Dog’s Life? Quite Simply, Yes.

Clicker training dogs is a great dog behavior system

Dogs usually know when they’ve done something wrong, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could convey to them exactly when they’ve done something right? With clicker training, your dog has a chance to learn the right ways to do things because you tell them. With the unique sound of a handheld clicker, there’s no second-guessing. Instead, you train your dog to remember the positive actions or behaviors that please you.

Let’s get clickin’!

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National Deaf Dog Awareness Week

Deaf dogs can be a challenge but can thrive with the right dog training and accommodations.

Dogs, like people, can be born deaf or experience varying degrees of hearing loss during their lifetimes. While this means that they require (and depend on) certain special arrangements to be made on their behalf, a deaf dog does not necessarily suffer a diminished quality of life. In fact, they can not only live a normal day-to-day existence, but they have a lot of love to give, as well.

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Subtle (and Not so Subtle) Signs of Animal Abuse

If you witness extreme animal abuse, contact pet rescue.

Animal lovers everywhere are understandably outraged by stories and photographs of abused or neglected animals. For loving pet owners, it’s inconceivable to think of harming an animal, but signs of abuse and neglect can be subtle; it could be happening right under our very noses. That’s why we want to take a moment to review the subtle and less subtle signs of animal abuse in the home.

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Pot and Pets: Never a Good Idea

Despite past setbacks, advocates of marijuana legalization in Ohio are moving toward a new initiative that would allow adults 21 years and older to grow, transport, possess, use, sell, purchase, and share marijuana and its numerous derivatives. Like residents in other states with similar laws, questions about pet safety will undoubtedly become more prevalent in the years to come. Marijuana can be found in many forms these days, making the issue of pot and pets an even bigger deal than ever before.

Responsible Pet Owners

The use of marijuana is growing in popularity. In fact, it’s almost commonplace. Regardless of where you stand on the initiative, marijuana products are out there, so it’s best to be prepared with pet safety in mind. Continue reading

Splish, Splash, Safe: Dog Water Safety 101

Even if your dog is a true beach bum or poolside pup, good dog water safety is a must.Summer may be halfway over, but that doesn’t mean we’re packing up the sunscreen or covering the grill just yet. Spending the day at the lake or pool is still on the agenda for many families, and bringing a water-loving dog along adds another layer of fun.

Even if your dog is a true beach bum or poolside pup, good dog water safety is a must. Keep the following tips in mind for a fun, safe, and successful day on the water with your four-legged family member. Continue reading