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!
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 pets—after he has had a chance to adjust. For cats, keep yours in a separate room—perhaps where you are sleeping—for 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 better—and safer—to 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 everyone—especially your pet—will 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!
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:
Food and water for five days for each pet. Bring extra water for rinsing the bowls and cleaning—cleaning water can be reused.
Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop, and garbage bags to collect all pets' waste.
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.
Current photo and description of your pet and you with your pet to help others identify them in the event of a separation.
A list of your pet’s medications, vaccine history, medical conditions, feeding information, any behavior issues, and name/number of your Veterinarian.
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.
By: Dr. Lindsay Vaughn, DVM, Diplomate, ACVECC
A real case: *names have been changed
“Maizy*” came to the VESCONE emergency department today after accidentally drinking a glass of wine. After briefly leaving the room, Maizy’s owners returned and found an empty wine glass and their beloved Cockapoo displaying abnormal behavior. She was very sedated and appeared unable to walk.
Her owners immediately brought her into VESCONE for evaluation. On presentation, Maizy was neurologically inappropriate and depressed. She required hospitalization and supportive care treat her alcohol toxicity. After spending 24 hours in the hospital, Maizy is back to her normal energetic self and is ready to go home.
What is alcohol toxicity?
Alcohol toxicity can be associated with accidental ingestion of alcoholic beverages, alcohol-containing household products such as windshield wiper fluid, or uncooked bread dough.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms associated with alcohol ingestion can range from mild depression and disorientation to severe central nervous system depression. At higher doses, animals can develop respiratory depression, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms.
How is it treated?
Depending on the amount of alcohol ingested and the severity of the symptoms, the pet may require intestinal decontamination and supportive care. If the alcohol was recently ingested, vomiting can be induced. They may also require a medication (activated charcoal) to bind the toxins within the intestinal tract to prevent absorption. They also typically will receive intravenous fluid therapy supplemented with vitamins which aids in metabolism of the alcohol. With severe alcohol toxicosis, more aggressive therapy may be warranted. Most animals are expected to recover within 12-24 hours with treatment.
How do I prevent this?
To avoid alcohol toxicity in your pets, keep all alcohol containing substances out of their reach. If you think your pet is suffering from alcohol toxicity or may have potentially ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline.
If you or someone you know believes that their animal is in need of immediate medical attention, please call VESCONE at 781.684.8387. We are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Do you know what foods are toxic to your pets? Take our quiz and learn more.
For more information visit these sites:
With the holidays over, please make sure that your delicious leftover chocolate is beyond your pet's reach. Amy Breton, CVT, VTS (ECC) and emergency nurse extraordinaire, explains what happens when your pet ingests chocolate.
Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to pets. Caffeine is also present in most types of chocolate and can also be a toxic component, but in much smaller amounts than theobromine.
Theobromine and caffeine effects on the body:
Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant
Cardiovascular stimulant (elevated heart rate)
Increase blood pressure (mild)
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Pancreatitis (can occur days later)
Generally the pet can be seen panting, vomiting, shaking, running around and not settling down. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. Therefore, a single bite of baker's chocolate can be deadly for pets. Conversely the pet would need more than a bite of white chocolate in order for it to produce a toxic effect. This is why when your pet gets into chocolate it's important to know what kinds and how much.
As soon as your pet ingests chocolate you should contact a pet poison control number to find out if the amount and kind is toxic for them. One of the best pet poison controls centers is ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.
If you or someone you know believes that their animal is in need of immediate medical attention, please call VESCONE at 781.684.8387. We are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
By: Bari Spielman, DVM, Internal Medicine Department Chair
Lucky Caruso is a 10 year old Pomeranian who has been under the care of internal medicine for over 2 years. We first met Lucky to help with regulation of his recently diagnosed diabetes mellitus. Lucky had developed cataracts and was in dire need of tight blood sugar control. Lucky’s owners administer insulin under his skin twice daily. We have found the dose that keeps Lucky’s blood sugars within a normal range. Lucky also receives eye drops each day to decrease inflammation in his eyes not uncommonly seen with cataracts.
Over the years Lucky has developed a number of other medical issues. He has overcome pancreatitis (an inflamed pancreas), pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and battles a collapsing trachea, not uncommon to his breed. His 2 most recently diagnosed illnesses include pulmonary hypertension (increased pressure in the vessels of the lungs) and polycythemia (too many red blood cells).
Lucky receives a number of medications each day including Viagra, which helps greatly with the pulmonary hypertension. Lucky also comes in every few weeks for a phlebotomy. We remove a large amount of blood from his jugular vein, which brings his red count into a normal, healthy range.
Lucky has a wonderful quality of life. He has a very caring and dedicated family who love him very much. He lives with his father Fluffy, and son Gucci.
Lucky is a wonderful patient. He has always allowed us to do all testing, including his phlebotomies without sedation. He is a tough, trusting little dog who brightens our day.
Our last two posts about patients have had this in common--animals who have consumed grapes or raisins. So I asked one of our ER doctors to share more about this very delicious, but very toxic food.
A common toxicity seen in our ER is ingestion of grapes and raisins. Grape and raisin ingestion has been shown to cause acute kidney failure in dogs and likely in cats as well. It is unclear at this time what causes these foods to be toxic.
It has been shown, however, that even very small amounts can cause kidney damage and that some pets are more susceptible than others. Once acute kidney failure has developed, the prognosis for a successful recovery may be poor. For this reason, early and aggressive treatment early on (as soon as possible following ingestion!) is recommended. This includes making your pet vomit as much of the grapes or raisins as possible and getting them on IV fluids.
If you think your pet may have ingested grapes or raisins, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian right away or please call VESCONE or a 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital near you.
Dr. Leslie Shatkin, one of VESCONE's Emergency and Critical Care veterinarians, shares her tips on keeping your pet safe and happy this winter.
Keep antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol away from pets on high shelves and in locked cabinets. Always thoroughly clean up spills or puddles that may accumulate in the garage or driveway. Animals are attracted to the sweet taste and it is extremely toxic to cats and dogs, even in small amounts. Try to purchase antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead. If you are suspicious your pet has consumed any ethylene glycol take them to veterinarian immediately.
Ice melting products
Always check your pet’s paws and belly when coming inside as they can get ice, rock salt or ice melting products stuck in between their toes and pads. Ice melting products can be very irritating to the skin and can cause serious injury if licked or ingested.
Pets are susceptible to the cold just like us. Ideally keep them indoors during storms or weather below freezing. If they are kept outside ensure they have a warm, dry environment with a heated bowl to prevent their water from freezing. Provide them shelter with lots of thick bedding.
Cats and dogs can get frost bite. Watch for red, grey or whitish areas on pet’s nose, ears and feet. Do not leave dogs unattended in the car during winter months as the car can become even colder than the outside. Also make sure your pet is dry when coming inside.
Pets love space heaters and will likely sleep next to them. Make sure they do not get so close that their tails or other parts of their body get burned. Do not leave heaters unattended as they may get knocked over causing a fire risk. Do not use heating pads as these can cause serious injury. Purchase pet safety heating products that do not burn the skin. Hot water bottles wrapped in a towel are also a good alternative.
Elderly or arthritic pets
Older pets with stiff joints can have a hard time in the winter. Make sure they have lots of soft bedding and help them on slippery surfaces to avoid falls. If you feel your pet is uncomfortable talk to your vet about medications that may help.
Do not let your dog off leash on frozen lakes or ponds as there is serious risk of the drowning or hypothermia.
Cats are just as at risk of hypothermia, frost bite and other winter-related problems as dogs. They are especially resourceful and will crawl into small warm spaces such as car engines. If they become caught in moving engine parts they can be seriously injury or killed so always check your car before starting it.
If you or someone you know believes that their animal is in need of immediate medical attention, Please call VESCONE at 781.684.8387. We are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.