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Lulu, the Bionic Kitty, Needs Your Love and Support


One good Samaritan and many talented partnering Veterinarians and Specialists have saved all nine of one cat’s lives—and now lucky Lulu is looking for a home and some community support!

NatickCat WEB

Late last week a woman brought a tremendously injured cat to Natick Animal Clinic desperately asking for help. The woman—just a good Samaritan with no connection to the cat—wrapped her in a blanket and put her in a laundry basket having no idea the extent of the massive damage to the entire right side of her body. The cat—now called Lulu—appeared to have been hit by a car before rolling down the hill where she was found lifeless and not moving.

Dr. Andrea Moolenbeek at Natick Animal Clinic evaluated Lulu and quickly realized that she needed a lot of help. They reached out to the area Veterinary community and Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center of New England (VESCONE) in Waltham responded. Putting the cat’s health as the highest priority—despite it being a stray—VESCONE overlooked the potential treatment costs and had her evaluated by Emergency and Specialty doctors immediately. What they found was pretty bad—a broken elbow, multiple ribs, and hip—all requiring significant reconstructive surgeries. This cat’s right side had multiple bone breaks. Additionally she had a life-threatening uterine infection that needed immediate care.

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Natick Animal Clinic and VESCONE (Dr. Mary Ann Nieves, Dr. Andrew Ayre, Dr. Claudia Bowman, Dr. Amy Goldstein, Dr. Julie Bailey) continued to work as a team through continuous medical discussion, treatments, and surgeries like metal plates and hip surgery. The good news? This little bionic cat is on the mend all because one person stopped to help when Lulu needed it most—and the veterinarians in the area knew exactly how to treat her!

VESCONE, along with Natick Animal Clinic, are now looking for a great home for this special little lady! Additionally, Lulu needs the community’s support in raising money to pay for all of her treatments which now total over $10,000! If anyone is interested in adopting her, or would like to make a much needed contribution, please call VESCONE at 781-684-8387 or donate online here. Businesses interested in contributing prizes to a raffle for contributors can email Kirsten Sims at

Give CHOCOLATE Bunnies, Not Real Ones!

BunnyGift resized 600
Not for gift giving: only chocolate bunnies (not real ones) should make in into your child's Easter Basket.

“Just what I always wanted…my own little bunny rabbit. I will name him George and I will hug him and pet him and squeeeeeze him…” We all remember the lovable but clueless Abominable Snowman from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons—and how he wanted to “love” his rabbit to death (or maybe just injury). Well, with Easter right around the corner, you probably know a wide-eyed child who wants to pet and pat her own George more than anything ever ever ever. Although adorable and fuzzy, giving a bunny as a pet not only sends the wrong message about being a responsible pet owner, it can also be dangerous and inhumane. (We see lots of bunnies at VESCONE because responsible owners know how important it is to provide good veterinary care!)

It is easy to think that rabbits are good “starter pets.” They’re small, portable, appear to be docile, and live in an enclosed space. Unfortunately, that is a terrible misconception that leads to thousands of rabbits being given up to shelters or released into the wild—an environment that a domesticated rabbit can NOT survive—every year. Rabbits, which are prey animals, are quite delicate and have a variety of specialized needs that extend far beyond carrots and a hop around the living room. They also frighten easily, and being tugged and pulled and carried and passed around—a child’s way of showing affection—make a bunny very insecure. Not surprisingly, their natural response when encountering this kind of threat (unintentional or not) is to scratch or bite. Not too cute or docile, huh? Of course, holding onto a tiny, squirmy razor-mouth will prompt many children to let go, and now bunny has a broken leg or back. Even the most gentle and cautious of children can be clumsy or drop things by accident, but a rabbit is not a play thing built to withstand developing motor skills.

Rabbits grow up even faster than kids and after a few months, when they’ve lost their cuteness, your kids will move on to something else. Sadly, Mr. Fluffy Wigglepants can’t move on to pursue greener hutches, because this is now his life—relying on someone to supply the necessary attention to keep the cage clean, supply fresh water, replenish food, and most importantly, continue to love and care for this adopted family member for 7-10 more years.

Bringing any pet home to join the family should always be the product of a thoughtful and informed decision. Rabbits, like dogs, cats, birds, or any other domestic animal are not temporary playthings that can be taken out and put away on a whim, living at the disposal of someone’s need for immediate (but fleeting) affection or companionship. They are a commitment, and they deserve for that to be considered from the moment you think about bringing one home. Spontaneously adding a pet to the mix can lead to a number of unfavorable situations like injury, neglect, or abandonment. If your intention is to give your child a new friend, think ahead to how your child will feel if something goes wrong. The devastation of losing their bunny prematurely—or seeing it depressed or in pain—will far outweigh the “gift” you thought you were giving in the first place.

Of course, rabbits are wonderful pets for a prepared and informed family. They are smart, inquisitive, and social. They like company and often want another rabbit to play with. When cared for, like any pet, they will be a furry source of love and companionship for many many years. If you are ready to jump in, do your research. Learn about spaying/neutering. Research what rabbits eat. Investigate appropriate living accommodations. Figure out the financial investment. And when you’re ready, find a local rabbit rescue. In fact, wait until after the Easter holiday passes, when the commercial value has decreased, and give a home to one of the thousands of rabbits that started out as split-decision gifts. Mr. Fluffy Wigglepants will be happy to live with you, and you can feel good about loving him for the other 364 days of the year. For now, you can stick with the chocolate bunnies to put in your child's Easter Basket.

Hum-dee-dum, What's That? Oh, a Porcupine!


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Bruce was out taking a leisurely stroll in the woods near his owner’s home when he came across a porcupine. “Well hello little friend,” said Bruce. The porcupine—typically known for being slow and timid—became startled and afraid. “I’m not your friend!” he said, in his own porcupine way.

Porcupines, when faced with danger or a threatening situation, can be a nasty problem for curious pets. The common name "porcupine" comes from the French “porc d'epine” meaning "thorny hog" and refers to the more than 30,000 quills which serve as their main defense. Important fact: porcupines do not attack dogs—dogs attack porcupines. Porcupines have muscular, roly-poly bodies (like small pigs) and smell like old sawdust. Their quills are nothing more than specialized hairs which rise up when the animal tenses, much like human arm hair raises in scary situations. When a porcupine is alarmed, it will rattle its quills—which simultaneously emit a strong hormonal scent—as a warning to a potential predator.

Although many a child has delighted in the idea that a fearful porcupine will shoot his quills into the air at an oncoming enemy, that is nothing more than fork lore. They do raise their quills up, but it is to create an illusion of size—to appear bigger and more threatening. When it is time for action, Mr. Quill will thrash his quill-laden tail back and forth, impaling his unsuspecting assailant (in this case Bruce). Again, like human hair, the quills come loose easily. However, unlike human hair, the outer tip of the rigid quill has a reverse barb which hooks into whatever it comes into contact with. These sharp points cause extreme pain, prompting the dog to paw his face and roll in the dirt. Efforts like these to get the quills out only drive them deeper. If not removed, they can cause tremendous infection.

Fortunately for Bruce, his owner brought him to VESCONE immediately, where he was anesthetized (it  is far too painful remove these sharp barbs while the dog is awake) and the quills were pulled out properly (this can be done with a pair of pliers or hemostat).

Bruce went home the same evening with pain medication and antibiotics. His face had some swelling—but it's now only a few days later and he is back to his handsome self. We don’t know, however, if he meets Mr. Quill (or any other porcupine) in the future, if he will remember to be a little less friendly. VESCONE, Dr. Fisher at Concord Animal Hospital, and his loving owner all agree that we’d prefer him to keep his enthusiastic greetings for friends and family and out of Mr. Quill’s way! 

‘Round and Around and Around We Go: Bunny Head Tilt is Not so Fun!


The world may be spinning but it’s not the end yet—hang on Q-Tip!

Q-Tip is an adorable, well cared for bunny that came to our clinic when his owners noticed that he was having some trouble with his balance—he was even rolling over! He had significant head tilt—which you can see in the photo—and was unable to stand. His lack of stability appeared to be very similar to seizure. Poor Q-Tip was having a very dizzy spell! Head tilt is a fairly common condition for rabbits and is often connected to a treatable disease (with the correct antibiotic and a little T.L.C.)

In Q-Tip’s case, he was suffering from a bacterial infection of the inner ear which is a potential cause of vestibular disease. Behind the ear canal is a cavity that contains the parts needed to hear as well as the nerves that regulate balance (the vestibular system). When bacteria, a virus, parasites, fungi, or cancer invades this space, it can causes nausea, dizziness, eye twitching, inability to walk, rolling, and paddling (laying on the side and moving limbs as if swimming). Interestingly, this is also a condition that we also see in dogs and cats. In rabbits the most common causes include a parasite called Encephalitozoon cuniculi and a bacteria called Pasteurella multocida which may not show any external signs of disease since the infection occurs behind the ear canal. Radiographs (X-Rays) can be taken to look for evidence of infection—sometimes an MRI of the ear is the only way to definitively diagnose this condition. However, we often treat them based on observation and without a clinical diagnosis.

Even though temporary clearing of the infection can be done, they can be difficult to clear completely in the inner ear which causes them to reoccur. These little patients may continue to have a head tilt and suffer from dizziness as long as the cause of infection remains. Q-Tip, for example, has been through this before, and this time he responded to the same treatment as previously—antibiotics and an antiparasitic agent! VESCONE wishes him a very speedy recovery!

Has your bunny had a similar experience? And words of encouragement for Q-Tip? We’d love to hear from you!

More technical information on Vestibular Disease can be found here:

Feeling a Little Blocked?


This week at VESCONE, we've seen an increase in cases of cats with urinary blockage. This orange cat, pictured below, is one that came to our ER courtesy of the Animal Rescue League. We've asked Juliet Dubois, CVT to tell us more about this condition and how to know when to intevene.

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Did you know that male cats are much more likely than female cats to develop a potentially fatal condition called a urethral obstruction?

Knowing the signs of this life-threatening condition can potentially save your little furry guy from having to suffer--as this emergency situation will sneak up on you when you least expect it!

What’s happening: Your kitty’s urinary tract can become blocked so no urine passes…and as the bladder continues to fill with no escape, his health begins to deteriorate.

Symptoms to look out for: The first “quiet symptom” you’ll see is when your cat is making frequent trips to the litter box, and you notice nothing is coming out. As his pain and discomfort increase, you may notice crying, loss of appetite, vomiting, and sluggish behavior. 

Call your doctor: If you start seeing any of these signs, time is critical to save your kitty! Call you veterinarian ASAP as they will need to perform a procedure to un-block his urethra and allow him to urinate. If it is after hours, call VESCONE at 781-684-8387 or your local veterinary emergency room.

Unfortunately, when your kitty suffers from a urethral obstruction, he is more likely to re-block in the future. Also, in some instances surgical intervention is needed in cases where the urethra repeatedly gets blocked. Talk to your veterinarian about changing his diet and increasing your kitty’s water intake to prevent future urinary emergencies.

Juliet Dubois, pictured with the cat, has been at VESCONE since 2008. She is a CVT and inventory manager. She likes to hang out with her husband, two cats, and two human children.

Eating Out of the Trash? NO WAY!


AflatoxinThis handsome Chocolate Lab is Ollie. Isn't he sweet? Well, Ollie had an unfortunate run-in with eating from the compost pile. He's okay now, but he sure taught his people a lesson!

Let’s just call it like we see it—and far too often—dogs are particularly fond of getting into things they should not. That being said, it is up to their people to make sure that bad news things like GARBAGE should be far, far out of their reach since garbage can cause serious harm if ingested.

Ingestion of decomposing meats, garbage, spoiled food, and compost can expose dogs and cats to large amounts of bacteria and molds such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella spp., Bacillus spp., Clostridium perfringens, and Clostridium botulinum, or Penitrem-A (neurotoxin). Moldy nuts, food, or grains can cause exposure to Penitrem-A. Ingestion of these substances can affect the GI tract’s ability to process food triggering central nervous system signals such as twitching, tremors, or seizures—that is what happens when endotoxins release from dead bacteria. Pet owners often worry that if their pet eats fresh raw meat or eggs they will get food poisoning. However, the stomach acid in dogs is more acidic than humans and kills bacteria like Salmonella—a typical cause of human food poisoning. The reason dogs don't get sick more often from eating bacteria-contaminated food is simple: they are built to handle bacteria. They can eat things like poop, dirt, and bugs and often not get sick. Typical bacteria are not often a problem for dogs. But the less common bacteria—sometimes very specific to certain foods or grains? Serious danger. Also, keep in mind that any pet with a compromised GI tract or immune system may not handle ANY bacteria well if ingested. So, if you have any doubt about giving your pet questionable leftovers, don't do it—it’s not worth the risk.

Each bacterium affects the body in a different way, but all can produce potentially life-threatening diseases that affect many different organs. Penitrem-A is a fungal neurotoxin which causes uncontrolled firing of the nerves producing erratic muscle movement and seizures. This leads to muscle injury, muscle cell breakdown, and fever. Supportive treatments include antibiotics, controlling seizures, gastric lavage (removal of contents of stomach), and lowering body temperature.

Signs of bacterial garbage intoxication typically begin within three hours of ingestion. The problem is you often don't know anyone’s been eating garbage in the first place. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea—which may become bloody
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Signs of endotoxic shock
  • Muscle tremors and seizures
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Hypotension or low blood pressure
  • Collapse and shock
  • Rapid or slow capillary refill time
  • Hypothermia or hyperthermia
  • Decrease in urine production.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something nasty—in any way at all—and is showing any of the above symptoms, seek veterinary attention immediately. Do not try to make your pet vomit—once there are visible signs the toxins have been absorbed and this will not help. Adding the possibility vomit inhalation (in the lungs) or dehydration through vomiting can aggravate the situation. Veterinary assistance is required. Potential treatment includes tube insertion to perform gastric lavage and emptying of any remaining stomach contents. Activated charcoal can also be administered to absorb any remaining toxins. Intravenous (IV) fluids will help maintain hydration and distribute drugs for nausea and vomiting. Seizures and tremors are treated with medications such as phenobarbital. Antibiotics may also be required.

Ingesting bacterial toxins is unpleasant and very dangerous and the best prevention is supervision. Keep potential “snacks” picked up and put away. Garbage should be securely covered. Outdoor garbage and compost should be inaccessible from your pet’s yard. You’re your pet from chewing on unknown treats on walks. Do not hesitate in seeking immediate medical attention as garbage ingestion can be extremely life-threatening! 

Give Thanks for Safe Pet Travel!



Ah, Thanksgiving. Time for coziness and merriment, neighborly greetings and pie, winter sweaters and—what? The dog peed on the rug? Holiday time is full of love and laughs, but do you have your best pet friend’s needs in mind? Packing up the family can mean something entirely different when your dog, cat, or iguana is along for the ride! Here are some super tips to take with you this Thanksgiving and holiday season!

 Getting There.

  • Several weeks before your trip visit your veterinarian to make sure your pet is healthy for travel and up-to-date on all vaccinations. Inquire if there are any additional vaccinations recommended based on where you’re headed.

  • Before you leave home, locate the nearest veterinarian or 24-hour emergency hospital in the town or area where you’ll be staying. Save the number to your phone. Hopefully you won’t need to visit, but being prepared in case of an emergency is definitely the way to go.

  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and current ID tags and has a microchip. Make and attach a temporary ID tag with the information of the place you’re staying as well. Make sure the info on it is current.

  • Pack up your pet’s favorite toy, blanket, and bed to keep him surrounded by familiar items while away from home. Don’t forget food, litter, litter box, bowls, water, treats, and any other things that are part of your pet’s regular routine.

  • If your pet is on any medication bring enough for a few extra days as well as a prescription in case you need a refill.

  • Make frequent rest stops to prevent accidents from occurring in the car. Remember to always keep your pet on leash when exiting your vehicle.

  • Do not leave your animal in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. Temperatures inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes—even on cooler-feeling days. This places your pet at risk for heatstroke and possibly death.

  • If you are travelling across state lines bring a copy of your pet’s medical records, specifically a rabies vaccination record. Some states require proof of vaccination at certain crossings.

  • During your pit stops be sure to provide your pet with some fresh water to wet their whistle. Occasionally traveling can upset your pet's stomach. Take along ice cubes, which are easier on your pet than large amounts of water.

  • Watch the food intake. It is recommended that you keep feeding to a minimum during travel. Be sure to feed them their regular pet food and resist the temptation to give them some of your fast food burger or fries (that never has a good ending!). Skip the car food. No pizza crusts or ice cream. Your pet may be tempted with table food while you’re visiting, so make sure he stays on his regular diet.

  • No heads out the window! Although many pets find that sticking their head out the window is the best part of the road trip, it's not safe. Your pet can easily be injured by flying debris. This should go without saying, but NEVER travel with a pet in the back of a pickup truck. Some states have laws restricting such transport and it is always dangerous—this holiday season some states are fining up to $1,000 for drivers with pets on their laps. Keep pets safely restrained inside, in a carrier, or in an area away from you, and with a seat belt if possible. This is for your safety as well as theirs.

  • If you're flying, research your airline. Some major airlines will now recognize your four-legged traveler. If you are flying to for the holiday, find out your airline's policy!

Enjoying your stay!

  • When you and your pet arrive, introduce him slowly to any other petsafter he has had a chance to adjust. For cats, keep yours in a separate roomperhaps where you are sleepingfor a few hours, and then slowly let him see the other pets in the house. When introducing dogs, make sure yours is on a leash and give them outdoor meeting space so all parties have room to check each other out.

  • Spend extra time with your pet before getting on with the party! Make sure he's had a chance to go to the bathroom outside before things get too exciting. Set up his bed, blanket, or toys in a place that he can call his own and then spend a few minutes in that space with him. Once he's had time to be with you and the familiar things you've brought along he'll be ready to go around the rest of the house and see what's going on. Take him exploring in a calm manner, and introduce him all the new people!

  • Check in with your hosts! Knowing how the people in house are doing can make a huge difference in keeping everything calm and happy. Ask about any pertinent restrictions like new furniture or rooms that are off limits. Make sure the hosts know that you want to help with anything that will make it easier to have your pet around. Ask if there's anything you can bring in advance (like extra bed sheets, blankets, or cleaning supplies) that will help be respectful and appreciative of being in their home.

  • Let family members, friends, and guests know if your pet has any behavioral issues, diet restrictions, medical conditions, etc., so everyone will know how to get along with him best. You want to create an environment where everyone can be informed and comfortable!

  • Do not feed your pets human food. There are many holiday foods, including fatty meats, gravies, poultry skin, bones, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol that can cause illnesses from vomiting, diarrhea and other toxic reactions. In large doses onions, grapes, and raisins are also toxic to your pet.

  • Take your dog on regular walks. This gives him a break from his new surroundings and is a way to work in some exercise. It will help reduce stress and allow you to both have some down time.

  • Do not leave your pet alone in the house with other guests unless you feel it is truly safe and comfortable for all. When your pet is away from you in a strange, new place, his behavior can change. You both want to be invited back next year!

  • Keep your pets indoors during extremely cold weather. Dogs and cats can develop a very low body temperature (hypothermia) and frost bite just like we can! Pets should not be kept outside for prolonged periods and should be brought in when the weather dips below 40F. When the weather falls below 20F it’s best for pets to stay inside.

  • Know when to leave your pets at home. Our pets are family, and the thought of leaving them behind is often heartbreaking. But as much as we all love to have the whole family together, there are times when it's betterand saferto leave them in good care elsewhere. If your travel means they'll be spending the whole time cooped up in a hotel room or off-limits somewhere in the house, or if your pet is antisocial, aggressive, anxious, or has a condition that makes them fragile, then everyoneespecially your petwill be happier staying at home.

VESCONE wishes you all happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving travel. And we'll be open 24/7 for you and your guests if you have any questions or problems! Give us a call at 781-684-8387 if there's anything we can do. Warm wishes for a fantastic holiday!

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock—When Does Tick Season End?


FatTickEven though it’s November, here at VESCONE we're seeing an increase in the number of dogs with symptoms consistent with tick-borne diseases—Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are most common for those of us here in New England.

Frequently seen clinical signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, and fever. We also commonly see associated lameness (limping on one, multiple, or changing limbs) and joint swelling. On occasion these diseases can even lead to bleeding abnormalities, organ damage, or possible death.

Fall is supposed to be tick unfriendly, right? Well, despite the cooling weather patterns, these little blood suckers are in full force. It is imperative to continue dosing your dog with tick preventatives. You should also be familiar—preferably skilled—at removing these creatures and they should be removed as soon as they are found. Current research suggests that they don’t actually transmit disease within the first 24 to 48 hours, so if you remove them right away, you can actually prevent disease!

If you need help learning how properly remove a tick, our Veterinary Technicians or your local Veterinarian are happy to show you. Give VESCONE a call at 781-684-8387 to learn about tick removal and handling so you can finish the season with a happy, tick- and disease-free pet!

Halloween Candy: How Dangerous is it REALLY?



Halloween is full of treats—and a LOT of those treats are chocolate. So what's the real skinny on this stuff and how much actually makes a dog sick? Here are the true facts to keep your pets safe this Halloween!

It is said that chocolate is unsafe for any pet! But what part is toxic or can make your pet ill, and what type of chocolate is not so dangerous? How much would your dog have to eat for it to be life-threatening?  

If your pet has ingested ANY amount of chocolate please call VESCONE (781-684-8387) immediately so we can determine if it’s a toxic dose. Signs that your pet may have eaten chocolate include: vomiting, diarrhea, acting hyper, abdominal pain, increased thirst, andin severe cases—cardiac arrhythmias or irregular beating of the heart, respiratory failure, or even death.   

Pets can be exposed to a wide variety of common chocolate and cocoa products such as candies, cakes, cookies, brownies, baking supplies (e.g. chocolate chips, cocoa powder), and cocoa bean gardening mulches. Cocoa bean mulch is currently out in some gardens and landscaping—it smells great so dogs will definitely eat it.

Chocolate's toxicity is mainly due to a substance called theobromine, which is in the same class of compounds as caffeine. The darkeror more purethe actual cocoa or chocolate content, the more toxic the substance. So while white chocolate is not toxic, dark and baking chocolate pack a significant dose of cocoa per ounce. Milk chocolate is less toxic than semi-sweet or dark chocolate.

The amount of theobromine that causes illness or the previously mentioned toxicity indications is approximately

  • one ounce per one pound of body weight for Milk chocolate.
  • one ounce per three pounds of body weight for semisweet chocolate.
  • on ounce per nine pounds of body weight for baking chocolate.

Dogs metabolize theobromine very slowly. Ingestion carries the same risk as other common household items such as coffee, tea, cola beverages, and certain houseplants.

Theobromine Content Of Products




HERSHEY'S Confectionery products


18 Pieces (39g)



1.55 oz. (43g)


KIT KAT Wafer Bar

1.5 oz. (42g)


KRACKEL Chocolate Bar

1.45 oz. (41g)


HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Chocolate

9 pieces (41g)


HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bar

1.55 oz. (43g)


HERSHEY'S Chocolate Bar with Almonds

1.45 oz. (41g)


MR. GOODBAR Chocolate Bar

1.75 oz. (49g)


REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups

1.6 oz. (45g)



1.63 oz. (46g)


ROLO Caramels in Milk Chocolate

7 pieces (42g)


SKOR Toffee Bar

1.4 oz. (39g)



1.45 oz. (41g)



3 pieces (16g)


HERSHEY'S grocery products

HERSHEY'S Chocolate Syrup

2 Tbsp. (39g)


HERSHEY'S WHOPPERS Chocolate Malt Syrup

2 Tbsp. (39g)


HERSHEY'S Lite Syrup

2 Tbsp. (39g)



2 Tbsp. (37g)


HERSHEY'S Chocolate Milk

1 cup (240ml)



1 Tbsp. (5g)



1 envelope (25g)



1 envelope (25g)



1 envelope


HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate

1 Tbsp. (15g)


HERSHEY'S Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

1/2 bar (14g)


Toxic Doses Based on ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) experience: (ASPCA/APCC Database: Unpublished data).

  • Mild signs occur in animals ingesting 20 mg/kg of theobromine and caffeine
  • Severe signs are seen at 40-50 mg/kg
  • Seizures occur at 60 mg/kg 
  • Death 100mg/kg

Small dogs can become very ill from 2 oz. of baking chocolate but may only have some mild gastrointestinal problems from 2 oz. of milk chocolate. And although items like hot cocoa mixor even chocolate covered caramelshave very little actual cocoa that could be harmful if ingested, it is always wise to be cautious with any cocoa products when pets are around.

Happy and safe Halloween!

When Disaster Strikes: Pet Preparedness


Hurricane Pet Preparation

Hurricane Sandy is currently making its way up the east coast and meteorologists predict that Boston will be seeing the impact today and throughout the early part of this week. The news and other safety advisory sources tell us to stock up on water and canned goods, flashlights and batteries, blankets and sweaters. But how do we prepare to leave our homes—or stay in them safely—with equal regard to our pets’ safety?

Here are the recommended steps to ensure safety for your whole family—pets included.

  • Rule number one: If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pet.  Do not expect to be able to leave your home—even for a short time—and return for your pet. Natural disaster happens fast! While it may look “fine” outside, It may not be, and you may be confined to whatever location you have departed to. Always take your pet with you where ever you need to go!

  • Rule number two: Evacuate early. Do not “wait it out.” Evacuations are for everyone’s safety. If the situation requires you to leave you home, be proactive. Leaving before conditions become stressful and/or dangerous for you and your pet helps get everyone through the situation with less trauma and panic.

  • Rule number three: Plan and plan early. Think through what you need, where you need to go, and with whom you need to communicate about what’s happening. The faster and more thoroughly you develop a plan, the easier it will be to get you and your pet through the emergency.

  • ID for your pets: make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and visible at all times. Put your cell phone and a friend’s number on your pet's tag. You can make an additional temporary tag with information that may not be on your pet’s primary tag by cutting a tag-sized piece of cardboard, writing the information on it, and wrapping it with clear tape. Additionally, microchipping your pet can be indispensible in emergency situations when pets and owners are separated. If your pet is not microchipped, consider scheduling an appointment to do so for the future. Your Veterinarian—or any local Veterinarian—or a local shelter can do this for you. This is a critical tool for reuniting separated pets and owners.

  • Pet evacuation supplies: Stock up and pack away. Collect non-perishables ahead of time and have everything ready to go in a “GO” bag that you can access at a moment's notice. Dry pet food should be stored in air-tight containers and refreshed every six months. Keep a list of necessary items in the bag to refer to along with any medications needed. If you live in a high risk area, have this bag ready and stored in the car in advance. If you are able to stay home, keep these items in a place that is water- and wind-proof. This bag should include:

  1. Food and water for five days for each pet. Bring extra water for rinsing the bowls and cleaning—cleaning water can be reused.

  2. Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop, and garbage bags to collect all pets' waste.

  3. Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that they can not escape. Carriers should be large enough to allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. It is helpful—but not critical—to have some form of bedding, spray cleaner, paper towels, trash bags, feed bowls, and toys.

  4. Current photo and description of your pet and you with your pet to help others identify them in the event of a separation.

  5. A list of your pet’s medications, vaccine history, medical conditions, feeding information, any behavior issues, and name/number of your Veterinarian.

  • Find a pet-friendly hotel or motel in case you cannot bring your pet to a shelter. Resources for pet-friendly shelter:


  • If a shelter or hotel is not feasible, consider staying with a friend or relative or have your pet boarded with a Veterinarian or at a nearby kennel.

  • If you choose to stay home with your pets or are unable to evacuate, stay in a safe location. A space that is free of small hiding places or dangerous substances or equipment will alleviate any additional conflicts. A comfortable and safe space is the best place to be for both of you. Make sure to bring the “GO” bag items you’ve prepared.

  • Listen to the radio for condition updates—do NOT go outside to see for yourself. Stay inside and don’t allow your pet outside the safe room/area of your home. You do not know the extent of impact the disaster conditions have caused.

  • Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. Disaster of any kind can be disorienting and stressful. It is very important to have control of your pet and to restrict any opportunity for more chaos or damage.

  • Be patient with your pets after the disaster has passed.  Keep them close to you while you are cleaning up and getting your home back to normal. You both will be shaken from the experience, so it is important to take things one at a time to reduce shock and feel in control.

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