Karen Gadke, Ph.D. (Health Science) is a retired clinical study specialist, medical writer, and lecturer. She has been training and racing sled dogs, many of them rescued huskies, for 30 years. She owns both Siberians and Alaskans. Karen is an internationally published author on animal issues, awareness and education and a welcome addition to AFSBC.
Have a question for Karen? Contact her at:
Information you can use to keep your pets healthy. Remember, the treatment of illness costs much more than the prevention.
Regardless of how well you maintain the health of your four-legged family members, an emergency can still happen. Although Emergency numbers are listed in Karen’s Corner, October 2011 - archived - here are the numbers again, for your convenience. Please keep them, along with the number of your veterinarian, in an easy to access place.
Emergency Pet Clinic, Crystal Lake: 815-479-9119
Rockford Emergency Clinic: 815-229-7791
Illinois Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222
ASPCA Poison Control Center: 1-888-426-4435
Reactions to spider bites occur more often than you may realize.
Most spider bites are harmless, causing only more or less painful swelling at the site of the bite. They are treated like bee or wasp stings, as described in the March “Corner.”(Note: All previous months are archived). Unfortunately, some spiders are venomous. Their bites can cause chills, fever, trouble breathing, and shock within 30 minutes to 6 hours, making an urgent injection of antivenin to save the pet’s life necessary. Even with this treatment, your pet may suffer partial paralysis for days.
If you suspect that your dog or cat has been bitten by a venomous spider, apply ice right away to stop the spread of the venom, and carry him to the car for an immediate trip to the clinic. Do not let him walk, because this will speed up the spread of the venom.While preparing for the trip to the vet, it is advisable to administer Benadryl (antihistamine) to counteract swelling. A 10-lb pet should get about ½ of a 25 mg tablet, described in detail in the March “Corner.”
If the pet makes gurgling noises while struggling to breathe, this means his lungs are filling up with fluid. Drain the fluid before it’s too late. Pick up a small animal by the hind legs, a larger one by the hips. Hold the pet upside down for about 10 seconds to help drain the fluid from the lungs before he “drowns” in them. If your pet has stopped breathing (make sure he is not just breathing very slowly), you’ll have to breathe for him.Wrap your hand around the muzzle to close the mouth tightly. Blow two quick breaths into the nose, watching for the chest to rise. It may be hard to force air through the swollen throat into the lungs, so you may have to blow hard.Give 15 to 20 breaths/minute until your pet starts breathing again or until you arrive at the clinic.
Make sure the heart is beating. Check for a heartbeat by placing your hand or ear on your pet’s lower left side directly behind the elbow.You can also check the pulse by pressing a finger into the crease where the hind leg joins the body.You may have to press hard.This is something you may want to (or rather, should) practice before an emergency occurs, i.e., during play or a grooming session. If you are not sure, pinch the animal hard between the toes, or tap the eyelid. If the heart is beating, he’ll blink or flinch.If there is no response, begin CPR. Place the pet on his right side on a relatively firm surface. For a cat or small dog (less than 20 lbs), cup your hand over the point of the chest just behind the elbow, with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other, squeeze firmly in a pulsing manner between your finger and thumb, pressing in about ½ inch, for a count of 60 to 100 times/minute. Alternate every 5th compression with one breath. Place a larger dog on a firm flat surface on his right side and place one hand on top of the other at a higher part of the chest than in smaller animals, compress the chest 25 to 50 %, giving one breath into the nose after every 5thcompression until your pet revives or until you reach medical help. Hopefully, a family member, friend or neighbor, will drive you to the clinic so you can continue CPR during the trip for as long as necessary. Many owners have saved a pet’s life in that manner. If you are afraid that you may not be able to do all this, you might be surprised. I predict that you will perform amazingly well.
Toys – revisited
Pet toys were a subject of a previous ‘Corner” (archived).Today I will discuss only vinyl, a material so many of these toys are made of. Most people have purchased materials (i.e., shoes) that smelled so bad that they had to be “banished” from the house, either outside or in the garage for a while, hoping that they would outgass. I have returned products to the store because they did not lose the stench. Many toys smell that bad, and the substances in vinyl that stink are suspected of causing many health problems in animals and people.
Vinyl (polyvinyl chloride or PVC) is a cheap plastic used to make so much stuff, including car seats, “leather” upholstery, bottles, toys, dog beds, that no one can escape it. Under certain conditions chlorine, one of vinyl’s major building blocks, produces some very dangerous pollutants, i.e., dioxins. The latter are produced not only during the manufacture of vinyl, but also if it’s being incinerated either deliberately or in an accidental fire.Vinyl in its original hard form is considered relatively safe, but when infused with phthalates to soften it, vinyl becomes dangerous because these substances can move out of the material. Over time, the phthalates leach out into the surroundings, including living tissue. Phthalates produce the familiar vinyl smell. The stronger the smell, the greater the amount of phthalate contained in it.Not all phthalates have been studied.Some may not be dangerous, but six phthalates used in vinyl have raised serious health concerns and have thus been banned by some governments around the world. Some US municipalities have either banned or advised against the use of some of these additives in children’s toys. But pets are still joyfully chewing away.
So why are these toys particularly dangerous to pets, more to dogs than cats?The constant mechanical pressure produced by chewing and the presence of saliva speed up the release of phthalates. For cats this is of lesser concern, because they do less chewing and play mostly by engaging their paws. Still, the bottom line is this: Since our pets are already exposed to so many phthalates in the environment, why deliberately expose them to toys that contain these substances? Why endanger their health? It is best to purchase alternatives, i.e., toys made of rubber. If substances in a toy are not listed, ask the store manager or call the manufacturer. Our four-legged family members can not protect themselves. We must do it for them.
More on toxic plants
Although many house plants are toxic to pets, in spring, summer
and early fall the number increases because of the emergence of outside plants,
herbs and flowers.Although the following list is not complete, here are some that are
considered mildly to moderately toxic: Amaryllis, ferns, caladium, calla lily, hyacinth,
iris, tulip.These usually only cause intestinal upsets. Among those said to be highly
toxic, capable of causing severe illness and even death if consumed in sufficient amounts
are crocus, azalea, rhododendron, tiger lily, Easter lily, clematis, daffodil, day lily,
foxglove, lily of the valley, narcissus, morning glory, camas. If your dog or
cat has nibbled on any of these, try to determine how much, and call your vet or
poison control center immediately.
Questions? E-mail me at email@example.com
(Karen’s Corner pet health tips are not meant to replace veterinary care when needed.)