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Six Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving with Your Furry Family

Thanksgiving festivities mean friends, family and food, food, food. But the ingredients for a happy human holiday can be distressing, and even dangerous, for pets. ASPCA experts shared raw or undercooked turkey-it could contain salmonella bacteria.

Not-So-Sweet Treats
You're probably aware that chocolate is toxic to dogs, and you might know that raisins and grapes should be kept far from canine companions. But not everyone knows about
the dangers of xylitol, a sweetener and baking ingredient found in many types of gum, mints, candy and pastries. Consuming a little bit of xylitol can give a dog seizures, low blood sugar and liver failure and can be fatal, says Dr. Murray. If any of the sweets you serve this Thanksgiving contain xylitol-or chocolate or raisins-keep them clear of Fido

 

Off-Limits Snacks
Sweets aren't the only danger the holidays pose for furry tummies. At this cooking-heavy time of year, it can't hurt to consult this
list of foods you should not share. Alcohol, onions, yeast dough and macadamia nuts can all lead to stomach upset, diarrhea or pancreatitis. And sage, part of many stuffing recipes, can cause pets to suffer stomach upset and possible depression of the central nervous system.

Flowers to Weed Out
Be careful with holiday floral arrangements. Lilies are commonly used this time of year, and all varieties, including Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca, can cause kidney failure in cats. If your dog or cat accidentally ingests flowers or any potentially harmful products, please consult your veterinarian or the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or www.aspca.org/apcc.

Stranger Danger
Let's face it: your pets are adorable, and guests may want to lavish them with attention. But guests can also cause pets stress and increase the risk that they'll escape out the door. If you're expecting a lot of company, make sure guests refrain from feeding your pets and
inside a Kong toy. They'll be happily occupied trying to get their meal out, and way too busy to come begging for table scraps.

Check out our extended list of Thanksgiving pet tips at ASPCA.org, and have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Massachusetts enacts law against removing animal's vocal chords for nonmedical reasons

BOSTON — Massachusetts on Wednesday will become the first state to ban the surgery that devocalizes dogs and cats, which many animal rights advocates see as a cruel and unnecessary procedure.

Under the new law, anyone in the state who cuts or removes an animal's vocal chords for nonmedical reasons may be punished by fines and up to five years in prison.

The law, signed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick in April, is dubbed Logan's Law after a dog that underwent the controversial surgery but was later abandoned.

"To take the voice of an animal would be the equivalent of taking a person's voice or a person's ability to communicate," Brian Adams, spokesman for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), told Reuters.

Supporters of the new measure say it is more important for pet owners to understand the needs and motivations behind their pets' making noise.

The silencing surgery may suit the needs of the owner, but not the health and welfare of the animal.

Devocalization, known as "debarking" when performed on dogs, is largely done by commercial breeders for their own convenience, according to the Animal Law Coalition, an advocacy group based in New York.

Some of those opposing the bill argued that more animals would be surrendered to shelters or abandoned if the surgery is banned, but Adams said they are not expecting a influx of new animals.

In 2009, the MSPCA, a non-profit animal welfare organization, did not have a single dog or cat surrendered because it was too noisy, Adams said.

Inspired by the Massachusetts law, a U.S. Congressman introduced a bill in May to support states that pass similar legislation to ban devocalization.

H.R. 5422, sponsored by C. A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, D-MD, would authorize grants of up to $1 million for the prevention of cruelty to animals. It was referred to a House Agriculture subcommittee in June.

California is considering a law that would make it illegal for landlords to require devocalization of dogs and declawing of cats as a condition of tenancy.

Springtime Safety Tips

Spring is here—and with it, the season for Easter celebrations, spring cleaning and much-needed lawn and home-improvement projects. Yet, the warmer weather can prove not so sunny for curious pets—so it’s the perfect time for pet parents to take inventory of potential hazards. To help you out, our ASPCA experts offer these essential springtime tips.

  • Easter Treats and Decorations
    Keep the candy bunnies in check—chocolate goodies are toxic to cats, dogs and ferrets. And be mindful, kitties love colorful plastic grass. But a nibble can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your baskets with tissue paper or paper ribbons instead.  And while bunnies, chicks and other festive animals are adorable, resist the urge to buy—these cute babies grow up and often require specialized care!
      
  • Screen Yourself!
    Many pet parents welcome the breezy days of spring by opening their windows. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly put their pets at risk—especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Whether you live in a private home or an apartment, be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows. If you have adjustable screens, make sure they are tightly wedged into window frames.
      
  • Buckle Up!
    While every pet parent knows dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the bed of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of moving-car windows is very dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections. Furthermore, abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! When in a car, pets should be secured in a crate or wear a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.
      
  • Spring Cleaning
    Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out your pets’ way! Almost all commercially sold cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.
      
  • Home Improvement 101
    Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades, power tools and many others. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.
     
  • Let Your Garden Grow—With Care
    Pet parents, take care—fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption and can be fatal if your pet ingests them.  Always store these poisonous products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully.Check out our full list of garden care tips.  http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/pet-safe-gardening.html
      
  • Poisonous Plants
    Spring has sprung—time to let your garden grow! But beware pet parents, many popular springtime plants—including Easter lilies, rhododendron and azaleas—are highly toxic to pets and can easily prove fatal if eaten. Check out our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your home and garden. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/
      
  • Ah-Ah-Achoo!
    Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets have allergies to foods, dust and even plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause minor sniffling and sneezing as well as life-threatening anaphylactic shock if the reaction is severe. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.
      
  • Pesky Little Critters
    April showers bring May flowers—and an onslaught of bugs! Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a safe flea and tick control program. Ask your doctor to recommend a plan designed specifically for your pet.
       
  • Out and About
    Warmer weather means more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your home address, cell phone and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat (never choke!) collars, please.

If you suspect your pet may have come in contact with or ingested a potentially poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

First Case of Swine Flu in a Dog

 

December 23 2009

Veterinarians in White Plains, N.Y., have identified the first known case of pandemic H1N1 influenza in a dog - a 13-year-old mixed-breed male who is now recovering.

The dog was tested because his owner previously had swine flu.

The virus has been found before in other pets, including at least three ferrets, several cats and pigs and a cheetah named Gijima at a wildlife preserve in Santa Rosa, Calif.

A couple of the cats died, but most of the animals recovered.

In each case, the virus is thought to have been transmitted to the animal by its owner or handler; there is no evidence of the virus being passed back to a human.

These incidents "are not a reason to be concerned," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "A rare occurrence in other species is not a problem."

And for those who are wondering: The symptoms of flu in pets are the same as they are in humans: fever, lethargy, runny nose, lack of appetite, coughing and possibly sneezing.

Cat food recalled over thiamine deficiency

Diamond Pet Foods recalled select bags of dry cat food Tuesday after 21 reports of health problems in cats.

Select bags of Premium Edge Finicky Adult Cat and Premium Edge Hairball could lead to gastrointestinal or neurological problems for cats, because they do not contain enough thiamine, an essential nutrient for cats.

If cats fed these foods have no other source of nutrition, they could develop thiamine deficiency. If untreated, this disorder could result in death.

Initial symptoms of thiamine deficiency include decreased appetite, salivation, vomiting and weight loss. Later, neurological problems could develop including, bending the neck toward the floor, wobbly walking, circling, falling and seizures.

The company has confirmed 21 cases of thiamine deficiency in New York and Pennsylvania.

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The recalled bags of food were distributed in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

For a full refund, consumers can return the recalled cat food to the place it was purchased. For more information call 800-977-8797.

Swine Flu Infects Housecat—Are Your Pets Safe?

Ever since the news broke earlier this month that an American cat caught the swine flu, rumors about how pets can catch this disease have been spreading—but we're here to set the record straight!

"On November 2, test results confirmed that a pet cat in Iowa was infected by the H1N1 (swine flu) virus, which was most likely transmitted by human family members," reports Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA. "All family members, including the cat, have now recovered. In unrelated incidents in other states, a few pet ferrets also recently tested positive for H1N1, and one of them has died.” Although we already knew that infected humans could transmit H1N1 to both pigs and turkeys, these are the first reported cases of the virus affecting cats and ferrets.

According to Dr. Murray, there are no known instances of a dog catching H1N1 (but remember, it is flu season, and your dogs are still susceptible to catching other flu bugs). In addition, there is currently no evidence that H1N1 can be passed from pet to human—it seems to be going only the other way, with people transmitting the illness to their pets.

A little common sense will go a long way in decreasing the likelihood of passing the illness on to your pets. If members of your household are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, the ASPCA recommends protecting your pets by:

  • washing hands thoroughly,
  • covering coughs and sneezes and
  • avoiding close contact with pets during the course of the illness.

In fact, if you’re sick, it’s a good idea to give your pets a place other than your bedroom to sleep at night until you get better.

If any pet displays symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, sneezing or difficulty breathing—especially if a human family member has recently suffered from influenza—please contact your veterinarian.

Autumn Safety Tips

 

 

Ah, fall—there’s nothing like crisp, cool air, the first months of school and luscious foliage to get you excited for the changing seasons. Your pet, too, is probably welcoming the break from hot, sticky weather. But pet parents, beware—fall is also a time of lurking dangers for our furry friends. From household poisons to cold weather hazards, the season is a minefield! Here are some tips to keep your pet snug and healthy during the autumn months.

  • The use of rodenticides increases in the fall as rodents seek shelter from the cooler temperatures by attempting to move indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets—if ingested, the results could be fatal. If you must use these products, do so with extreme caution and put them in places inaccessible to your pets.

  • It’s back-to-school time, and those of you with young children know that means stocking up on fun items like glue sticks, pencils and magic markers. These items are considered “low toxicity” to pets, which means they’re unlikely to cause serious problems unless large amounts are ingested. However, since gastrointestinal upset and blockages certainly are possible, be sure your children keep their school supplies out of paw’s reach.

  • Training tip: If you and your pooch haven’t been active outdoors in a while because of the summer heat, do some remedial recall training. Dogs, like people, get rusty on their skills if they aren't using them.

  • Fall and spring and are mushroom seasons. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic (PDF) can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Unfortunately, most of the highly toxic mushrooms are difficult to distinguish from the nontoxic ones, so the best way to keep pets from ingesting poisonous mushrooms is to keep them away from areas where any mushrooms are growing. Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately if you witness your pet eating a wild mushroom.

  • In order to generate body heat, pets who exercise heavily outdoors, or who live outdoors, should be given more food during colder seasons. Make sure horses and other outdoor animals have access to clean, fresh water that is not frozen.

  • Autumn is the season when snakes who are preparing for hibernation may be particularly “grumpy,” increasing the possibility of severe bites to those unlucky pups who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pet owners should know what kinds of venomous snakes may be in their environment—and where these snakes are most likely to be found—so they can keep pets out of those areas.

  • Many people choose fall as the time to change their car’s engine coolant. Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic, so spills should be cleaned up immediately. Consider switching to propylene glycol-based coolants—though they aren’t completely nontoxic, they are much less toxic than other engine coolants.

 Safety Tips for Hiking with Your Dog

 

What better way to spend a fall day than hiking with your best friend—your best canine friend, that is! Sure, the fall season is a great time for hikers to get outside and enjoy the beauty of changing colors, but it’s also the perfect way to spend quality time with your pet. Dogs love to explore our country’s vast natural beauty as much their two-legged counterparts—not to mention, hiking is great exercise for all. But remember, a hiking trail isn’t your average walk around the block. There are some real dangers associated with this seasonal pastime, including heat exhaustion, potential falls and the possibility of getting lost.

 

The ASPCA offers some helpful tips for keeping you and your pet safe and sound on your outdoor adventures.  

  • Extending leashes are great for wide open spaces, but if your romp is taking you through wooded areas, it's best to leave the flexi-leads at home. Otherwise, you'll probably spend more time untangling your dog's leash from trees and brush than you will enjoying your walk!

  • If your pup is the trustworthy sort and you want to give him the opportunity to enjoy some untethered time on your hike, first make sure that dogs are allowed to be off-leash in the area you're exploring. Second, be sure that he responds reliably to your recall command—even the most obedient dog might bolt after some fascinating new critter.

  • Hard to believe, but not everyone is as enamored with dogs as we are! Some people get very nervous around unleashed dogs. As a courtesy, have a leash on standby to clip to your dog when encountering other hikers.

  • Whether you're using a leash or not, don't forget IDs, please! Always make sure that your current contact information, including your cell phone number, is attached to your dog's collar or body harness. If for any reason your pet gets lost, a collar and tags and a microchip will increase the likelihood that he or she will be returned to you.

  • You never know what you may encounter on a hike—so before setting out into the wilderness, check your pet's veterinary records and make sure his vaccinations are up-to-date.

  • Training tip: Teach your dog to come to you for treats whenever you pass by other hikers, especially if they have dogs, too. Your dog will learn to not interfere with passersby, and at the same time, you're ensuring he associates new people and dogs with good things, like tasty treats from you.

  • If a poop falls in the woods and no one else sees it, do you get a free pass? NO! There's no such thing as a victimless poop. Please have respect for your surroundings, native wildlife and fellow hikers by scooping up after your dog and toting the baggie back to civilization if there are no trash cans around.

  • Both of you need to stay hydrated, so bring enough water for two. Don't allow your pup to drink from puddles, ponds, lakes or streams—in other words, "nature's dog bowls"—as they may contain nasty parasites or toxins that could cause her harm.

When your hike is finished, give your pooch a thorough once-over for ticks and other creepy-crawlies. Pay special attention to her belly, ears, and any skin folds and crevices. If you do spot a tick, treat the area with rubbing alcohol and remove the parasite immediately by slowly pulling it off with tweezers. Be careful when removing a tick, as any contact with its blood can potentially transmit infection to your dog or even to you. Wash the bite area and keep an eye on it for the next few days—if irritation persists, contact your vet.

Does Lead in Toys Pose a Danger to Pets?

Whether your pet prefers squeaky rubber squirrels, stiff rawhide bones or fuzzy mice, he or she undoubtedly loves to play with toys. But is the source of your dog's or cat’s merriment safe? Many common household products—including toys for children and pets—may contain trace amounts of lead and other toxins. In most cases, however, the levels of these ingredients in toys don’t pose a significant threat to your furry friend.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) reviewed 200,000 cases from the past two years and produced no examples of lead poisoning from pet toys. According to Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, ASPCA Vice President and Medical Director of the APCC, younger dogs, just like children, are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, but most studies reveal only tiny amounts of lead in pet toys—not a grave risk for acute or chronic lead poisoning in dogs.

“Just because it's 'detectable' doesn't necessarily make it hazardous,” says Dr. Gwaltney-Brant. “Even oxygen is toxic at the right concentration.”

And what about other types of treats such as rawhide bones? Like pet toys, rawhide chews can include trace amounts of pesky chemicals. Dr. Safdar Khan, Director of Toxicology at the ASPCA, believes many dog lovers would be surprised if they learned the true contents of their pets’ treats. But he also adds that pet parents would likely be surprised if they knew the complete ingredients of what they eat and drink, too.

The reality is that a dog is much more likely to suffer obstruction from a rawhide bone than poisoning from a hidden toxin. In general, the smaller the dog, the fewer rawhide treats he should receive, and only give your pet rawhides under a watchful eye. Remember, it’s always wise to supervise!

And lest you think we’re leaving out our feline fans, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when shopping for kitty’s favorite play things:

  • The wand toy, often adorned with feathers, string or small stuffed toys, is ubiquitous. But take care with it, and watch for pieces of string or other components that might fall from the toy and get swallowed by your cat.
  • Another popular treat for the kitty set is catnip. Word to the wise—some cats become very excited when smelling or eating it, so be careful about petting your cat until you know how she will respond.
  • Please don’t let your cat play with rubber bands, paper clips or plastic bags. All can prove dangerous and a choking risk to our feline friends.

For more information about playing it safe with your pet, please visit APCC online.

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