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Common Household Poisons and Toxicities in Pets-Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

Common Household Poisons and Toxicities in Pets

March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month.  When a poisoning is suspected, time and knowledge will be the best weapons you have and will give your pet the best chance of a full recovery.

Poisons are defined as any substance that can damage or impede the function of bodily organs, tissues, or body system processesThere are many poisons commonly found in pet homes.  Depending on the type of poison and the level of exposure, the effects of poison exposure can range from minimal, to severe, to even fatal.  Awareness of these hazards and a knowledge of how to handle the situation can sometimes literally save a pet’s life.

Commonly Encountered Pet Poisons:

Poisonous Foods:

Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine: These products are known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, and even death in pets.  Severity depends on quantity ingested vs the weight of the pet, so it is important to have information on your pet’s current weight, how much was ingested and, in the case of chocolate, what type of chocolate was ingested (dark vs light).

Xylitol: Xylitol is a calorie free sweetener found in many gums and toothpastes, as well as some candy, peanut butter, and baked goods.  Even small amounts of xylitol can cause liver failure and dangerously low blood sugar, so ingestion is always a veterinary emergency.  Xylitol can be found under other names on product labels including birch sugar, birch bark extract, wood sugar, sucre de bouleu, and Xylo-pentane.

Grapes and Raisins: Vets remain unsure of why grapes and raisins are toxic, but they are known to cause acute kidney failure, even in small amounts.  Grape/Raisin ingestion should be treated as a veterinary emergencyregardless of how many grapes or raisins were ingested and regardless of what type of grapes/raisins were eating (red, gold, or green).

Garlic, Onions, and Chives: These foods can cause gastrointestinal irritation but can also cause red blood cell damage, leading to anemia.  Cats are more susceptible, but dogs can be affected if large quantities are ingested.

Macadamia Nuts: Dogs seem to be the only pets who are sensitive to these nuts. Toxicity symptoms include weakness, ataxia (wobbily gait), depression, vomiting, tremors, and increased body temperature.  Without further ingestion, symptoms can resolve within 48 hours, but a veterinarian should be contacted if ingestion is suspected.

Human Medications:

It is advised that owners never give their pets human medication without consulting their veterinarian. Owners should also keep their medications well out of pets’ reach to prevent accidental ingestion.  Many human medications are metabolized differently by animals, and ingestion can potentially lead to overdoses, toxicities, organ failure, or even death.
If your pet ingests a human medication, you should call Pet Poison Control (see below) and/or your veterinarian immediately.

Pet Medications:

Even medications prescribed by your veterinarian should be kept out of your pet’s reach.  When used as prescribed, your pet’s medications should be safe and beneficial; however, most medications and even supplements could potentially cause problems if the incorrect dose is given, if given to the wrong pet, or if the pet accidentally gets into the full bottle of medication.

Alcohol Poisoning:

Pets should never have access to alcohol as ingestion can cause severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, tremors, coma, or even death. If your pet ingests alcohol, it is important to contact your veterinarian or veterinary emergency hospital immediately. 

Marijuana Toxicity:

Pets can suffer toxicity after eating any part of the marijuana plant, as well as from smoke inhalation, consuming hashish oil, or from eating edibles containing THC.  Signs of marijuana toxicity include ataxia (wobbily gait), hyperreactivity to stimuli (flinch easily), dribbling urine, decreased responsiveness and, in severe cases, seizures or pet becoming non-responsive.
Because pets metabolize marijuana differently than humans, a veterinarian should be contacted if marijuana toxicity is known or suspected.

Household Product Poisoning:

Rodenticides, Snail/Slug Bait, Ant Bait: These baits represent significant dangers to pets as they are commonly placed in public places and are often scented to attract animals. 
Symptoms of toxicity vary depending on what was eaten, so knowledge of the brand and/or ingredients can be very helpful to the veterinary team.  If you know or suspect that your pet has ingested pest bait, it should be considered a veterinary emergency.

Essential Oils: These oils have been known to cause GI upset, central nervous system depression, organ damage, and respiratory issues/allergic airway syndrome.
Wintergreen, sweet birch, eucalyptus, clove, tea tree, and pennyroyal oils appear to be particularly toxic.

Household Chemicals: Not surprisingly, many common household chemicals and cleaners have potential to cause toxicity or GI upset.  Some of the most common include: Laundry pods, bleach, toilet bowl tablets/cleaner, antifreeze, carpet fresheners, and carpet shampoos.

Plant and Flower Toxicities

A number of plants and flowers can be toxic to pets.  The toxic reactions can range from gastrointestinal upset to organ failure.  Symptoms, severity, and treatment will vary based on the type of plant, portion eaten, and amount eaten, so having this information at hand can be very helpful for your veterinarian.
ASPCA Poison Control maintains a comprehensive database of toxic vs non-toxic plants, which owners can easily access from their website (see below).

Common toxic plants include (but are not limited to): Sago Palms, Lilies, Oleander, Aloe, Tulips, Poisonous Mushrooms, Tobacco, Azalea, Foxglove, and Philodendron.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a poison:
Identification of the potential poison can provide crucial information for your veterinarian.  Gather whatever information you can, including boxes/wrappers, ingredient lists, and quantities ingested to bring to your veterinarian.

Contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately.  Additionally, contact an animal poison control center (see below) for important treatment information that can help your veterinary team.  Note that there is usually a charge for these calls, but the information can be extremely valuable when time is of the essence.

What NOT to do:
It is not recommended that you attempt to treat toxicities at home. Do NOT induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide, as this has been associated with esophageal irritation or even ulceration.

It is a common occurrence for pets to ingest a potentially dangerous item in their lifetime.  In these cases, early veterinary intervention is crucial for the best outcome for your pets. With fast and appropriate care, most pets recover fully from accidental poisonings.

Important Phone Numbers:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control: (888) 426-4435
Animal Poison Control Center: (855) 764-7661
ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List: Click Here 

If you have any questions about pet poisons, you suspect your pet may have ingested a poison, or you have concerns about your pet’s health, please contact our hospital!

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

1691 Melrose Dr. Suite # 110
San Marcos, CA 92078

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo is kicking off our new Wellness Diagnostic Packages

Give your pet the gift of great health this holiday season!  Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo is kicking off our new Wellness Diagnostic Packages with our Healthy for the Holidays Promotion!  For a limited time, we are offering comprehensive wellness packages* at up to 40% off our previous pricing of services purchased a la carte’!

Pet Preventative and Wellness care is the key to helping our animal companions live longer, healthier & happier lives.  This type of care encompasses healthy diet and exercise, preventative medical treatments such as vaccines, flea, and heartworm preventions, as well as wellness examinations and labwork.  While many owners understand the need for a healthy lifestyle and preventative vaccinations, they are often not familiar with the idea of and need for veterinary wellness screening.

Wellness care means care provided to your pet when they are not sick in hopes of keeping your pet healthier and happier longer.  It includes annual examinations, wellness blood tests, fecal screens, and even X-rays and ultrasounds. These exams and diagnostics help our doctors confirm that your pet is indeed healthy while establishing “baseline”/normal labwork values which can be tracked over the years.

Perhaps one of the most important functions of wellness diagnostics is the early detection of illness and disease.  Subtle changes in labwork can signal to a veterinarian that something may be wrong with a pet who otherwise appears healthy.  Just as it is with people, early detection is key to delaying progression of disease, or even providing a cure for many conditions.

Now is a perfect time for pet owners to take this important step toward ensuring their pet’s long-term health.  Through December 31, 2022 we are offering comprehensive wellness packages tailored to your pet’s needs based on their species and stage of life.  These discounted packages include a complete veterinary physical exam as well as comprehensive labwork and other diagnostics to help make sure that your pet’s bodily systems are healthy and there are no indications of early disease or illness.  

Our Healthy for the Holidays Wellness Packages for 2022:

Young EssentialsSenior EssentialsSenior Comprehensive

Comprehensive Physical Exam Young Wellness Blood Panel Fecal Parasite Screen Heartworm Test Tickborne Disease Test (dog) Feline Viral Screen (cat) Urinalysis

Comprehensive Physical Exam Senior Wellness Blood Panel Thyroid Test Fecal Parasite Screen Heartworm Test Tickborne Disease Test (dog) Feline Viral Screen (cat) Urinalysis Blood Pressure Intraocular Pressure Test (dog)

Comprehensive Physical Exam Senior Wellness Blood Panel Thyroid Test Fecal Parasite Screen Heartworm Test Tickborne Disease Test (dog) Feline Viral Screen (cat) Urinalysis Blood Pressure Intraocular Pressure Test (dog) Chest X-rays Electrocardiograph Screen Abdominal Ultrasound

*Healthy for the Holidays Packages are intended as wellness screens for pets free from obvious serious illness.  Wellness packages are not offered for ill pets in need of medical workup.

 If you are interested in take this important step for your pet’s health, contact Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo at (760) 736-3636 for more information or to make an appointment!

Click here for more information on these great packages! 

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

1691 Melrose Dr. Suite # 110

San Marcos, CA 92078


February is National Pet Dental Health Month-Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, a time to highlight the importance of good oral health in our canine and feline companions. 

Periodontal disease is the number one health problem in pets in the United States.  By the age of two, 70% of cats and 80% of dogs show some signs of this disease.  Despite its prevalence, this preventable condition is largely under recognized by pet owners, so treatment often does not begin until the disease is significantly advanced and may have caused permanent damage.

Untreated, periodontal disease can have body-wide effects in both humans and pets.  Local disease effects include inflamed gums, bad breath, acute and chronic oral pain, tooth root infections, jaw bone infections, pathological jaw fractures, and an increased incidence of oral cancers.  However, dental disease is also known to produce body-wide effects because it puts sufferers in a chronic state of infection.  These systemic effects include kidney, liver, heart, and lung disease, and even diabetes mellitus.  It is well-documented that the effects of periodontal disease go far beyond “bad breath”; it can affect your pet’s comfort, well-being, and even shorten their lifespan.  

Periodontal disease is generally described in two stages.  The early, easily reversible stage called gingivitis and the later stage of the disease process known as periodontitis.  The disease process starts with plaque, a biofilm made almost entirely of bacteria which collects on teeth.  Plaque is soft and to a certain extent can be removed with regular (once or twice a day) brushing.  When plaque remains on the teeth it collects and calcifies, becoming a hard yellowish substance called calculus (or tartar).  It is calculus that is at the heart of significant periodontal disease.  It cannot be brushed off and requires professional intervention to remove.

Plaque and calculus are laden with bacteria, up to 100,000,000,000 bacteria per gram!  It is this bacteria which leads to the progression of periodontal disease.  The most dangerous effects of this disease are largely not visible on the surface of the tooth.  The bacteria present in plaque and tartar quickly begin to creep below the gumline into an area known as the subgingival sulcus.  As the resulting infection progresses, the process begins to eat away at the connection between the tooth and the gingiva (gums), and even into the bone that holds the tooth root (which makes up ½ to 2/3 of an adult tooth) in place.  This process starts as infected gums, but eventually leads sub gingival infection, loose teeth, tooth root infection, bone loss, pain, and systemic (body wide) infection.

Since most of this disease process takes place below the gumline, simply chipping away visible tartar or “anesthesia free” dental cleanings are largely ineffective. Properly preventing or treating periodontal disease starts with a thorough veterinary dental cleaning and oral health assessment under anesthesia.  This cleaning should include full-mouth X-rays (to diagnose signs of sub-gingival infection/damage), veterinary oral examination, sub-gingival pocket assessment, hand scaling above and below the gumline, ultrasonic scaling, thorough polishing, and fluoride treatment. 

Once the teeth have been properly cleaned, a comprehensive home care program can begin.  This program ideally includes, daily tooth brushing and may also include dental chews, water/food additives, or even dental health diets.

While the effects of periodontal disease can be significant, the good news is that it is largely preventable with a good home-care program and regular veterinary care.  As with most disease processes, the earlier you address this condition the better.  Early diagnosis and treatment will result in much less oral disease and a much happier, healthier pet!

If you have any questions about Periodontal Disease or other pet health questions, please contact our hospital at (760) 736-3636.

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

1691 Melrose Dr. Suite # 110
San Marcos, CA 92078

Summer Camp 2021 – Can We Go?

With rates of COVID-19 trending down in California, and schools opening back up for in-person instruction, will our kids be able to enroll in summer camps this year? Dr. Jaime Friedman’s latest blog gives a positive outlook for our kids getting out there and being social again. Take a look at it HERE

Children’s Physicians Medical Group (CPMG), in partnership with Rady Children’s Health Network, is dedicated to offering outstanding healthcare for your kids, from birth through age 18. Have you checked out our website?  We can help you find a doctor, explain why CPMG is right for you and allow you to view videos on our doctors and other health topics.

We’re also very social! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Ask us a question, leave us a comment or make a suggestion for future posts. We love hearing from you!

COVID-19 or a common cough?

We are all so worried about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 right now. What f your child has a cold and cough? Dr. Stephen Carson explains some very practical things you can do to help alleviate your child’s symptoms. Watch his video HERE

Children’s Physicians Medical Group (CPMG), in partnership with Rady Children’s Health Network, is dedicated to offering outstanding healthcare for your kids, from birth through age 18. Have you checked out our website?  We can help you find a doctor, explain why CPMG is right for you and allow you to view videos on our doctors and other health topics.

We’re also very social! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Ask us a question, leave us a comment or make a suggestion for future posts. We love hearing from you!

Heat tips from Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

With their cute round faces, big eyes, and fun personalities, short-snouted breeds such as French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers have become increasingly popular in recent years.  These dogs, along with other flat faced breeds such as Boxers, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, and Japanese Chins are known as Brachycephalic dog breeds.  This term refers to the shape of these dogs’ muzzles, which are significantly more compact than other dog breeds.

While charming and adorable, flat-snouted dogs carry with them a special set of dangers vs their longer-nosed cousins.  Their flat faces mean significantly shortened facial bones and a shortening of the overlying soft tissue.  These structural differences mean both their soft palate (the soft tissue in the back of animals’ throats) and their nasal passage are more compacted, often resulting in a partially blocked airway. This particular set of structural abnormalities is known as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome.  The end result is a relatively obstructed airway which affects the dog’s ability to respirate.

In addition to needing efficient breathing to provide oxygen to the body, dogs rely heavily on their respiratory tract to dissipate heat.  Breathing, in the form of panting, is the primary way in which dogs cool their bodies down.  This means that efficient breathing is essential for thermoregulation.  For Brachycephalic breeds, this vital function is restricted, often severely, which put these dogs in jeopardy during hot weather or extreme exercise. 

It is important that owners of Brachycephalic breeds understand the restrictions of their dogs’ anatomies.  For starters, these dogs should NOT be asked to participate in activities that require higher respiratory and cardiovascular output. This includes activities such as hiking, running, and jogging, especially during warmer weather.  While all dogs need exercise, flat nose breeds benefit from regular exercise that is slow and steady vs fast and/or intense. 

In addition, it is important to note that these breeds are especially susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  The best way to deal with this problem is to prevent it and to know the signs of danger.

All dog owners should know the signs of heat-related injury and owners of Brachycephalic breeds should know these can occur much more quickly in their dogs vs. their longer snouted cousins:

Signs of Danger include:

  • A noticeable rise in breathing volume or a “gurgling” sound when they breathe
  • Excessive panting and/or panting that appears labored
  • Bright red gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Glazed eyes
  • Difficulty walking/walking very slowly
  • Vomiting and/or bloody diarrhea
  • Lack of coordination or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are life threatening and should be considered a veterinary emergency.

The best way to “treat” heat related injuries are to simply prevent them.  The following advise will help prevent heat stroke in your dog:

  • Be aware of the forecasted temperature and keep your pet out of the heat; for some sun-loving dogs, this may mean locking them indoors during the heat of the day
  • Limit outdoor exposure during the hottest months of the year
  • ALWAYS have cool water available.
  • Walk dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds, on a harness.  This will prevent blockage of the airway which is essential for efficient respiration and efficient body cooling
  • Offer a cooling pad or cool areas for your pet to lie down if they need to cool off
  • DO NOT exercise your dog or allow them to play outdoors when it is warm outside.  Remember that flat-nosed breeds have a lower heat tolerance, so they should be exercised only when it is cool outside.

In addition, studies have shown that brachycephalic dogs who are physically fit are better able to respirate and are better able to manage their body temperatures.  This means that healthy weight and exercise are important to preventing heat related injuries.  Heed the following advise regarding conditioning your Brachycephalic dog:

  • In general, squatty flat-nosed dog breeds are not designed for strenuous exercise.  Avoid running/jogging, hiking, and similar exercise requiring significant respiratory output
  • Healthy weight is essential to the wellbeing of all dogs.  Your dog, regardless of breed, should have a visible waist and a “tummy tuck” behind their chest when viewing from the side.  In addition, your dog’s ribs should be easy to feel when lighting running your fingers down their sides.  You should not feel a layer of fat over your pet’s ribcage
  • Keep your pet physically fit.  While it is inadvisable to require strenuous exercise (such as jogging, running, and steep hiking) of a dog with a significantly flattened snout, exercise is still important.  Your pet should have mild to moderate exercise daily, ideally twice daily
  • If you are just starting an exercise program, do so slowly and allow your dog to buildup endurance over time
  • Always exercise your brachycephalic breed dog a harness.  This allows them to keep their already restricted airway as open as possible
  • When exercising (regardless of ambient temperature) always pay attention to your dog’s breathing.  If it becomes louder or seems strained or labored, stop the exercise and allow your dog to rest/cool down. Head home once they are cooled off
  • Take water with you during exercise with your dog.  This will allow you to help them cool down 

In general, it is important to remember that brachycephalic breeds often have significantly compromised respiratory tracts.  This affects their ability to exercise, handle extreme stress, and to cool their bodies.  Neglecting these considerations can put your dog in a life-threatening situation.

If you have any concerns about heat-related injury in your pet or any other concerns about your pet’s wellbeing, contact your veterinarian immediately for expert advise and treatment.

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

1691 Melrose Dr. Suite # 110
San Marcos, CA 92078

Foxtails and Your Pets-Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo

This time of year, many dog owners are hitting trails to enjoy the beautiful weather with their canine friends.  Unfortunately, a fun day on the trail can turn into a painful experience for your pooch from a seemingly innocent source.

Foxtails are a frequent sight on trails, open spaces and yards in Southern California.  These invasive weeds are named for their clusters of spiked seed pods which resemble the tail of a fox.  Foxtails usually appear in our landscape in early spring.  Like the rest of San Diego county, they start out soft and green but by then end of the season they have dried to a brittle brown.

The dried, spiked clusters of the foxtail eventually break down into individual spikelets.  The pods are spiked and barbed, qualities that help them penetrate the tough San Diego ground.  Unfortunately, these qualities also allow them to wreak havoc on your pets.

Foxtails are a common emergency in veterinary medicine this time of year.  When a dog comes in contact with a foxtail, the barbs along the spikelet attach to the fur.  These barbs allow the foxail to move only one way: forward, while the sharp tip on the spikelet allows it to pierce skin or penetrate dense fur.

Foxtails will attach to almost any part of the dog that brushes against them.  Common sites of infestation are ears, eyes, nose, and between the toes.  They can also burrow beneath the skin along the body on thick coated dogs.  Occasionally veterinarians even see foxtails buried in tonsils or under the gums of dogs who enjoy chewing on these plants. 

Once embedded, these seeds rarely work their way out.  Their burrowing properties wreak havoc on infected pets and continue causing painful damage until they are removed. Veterinary intervention is usually required to treat foxtail infestation.  Sedation or surgery may be necessary, along with treatments to help with pain and infection resulting from “foreign body” invasion.

Signs of foxtails include:

A painful, infected ear

Head tilting or shaking

Acute, severe sneezing

Nasal discharge or bleeding

Squinting, painful eye

Red, painful bumps between toes or under the skin

There are some simple steps that owners can take to help their dog avoid a painful foxtail experience.  The simplest prevention is to avoid them altogether.  We find foxtails along trails, in open spaces, and in unlandscaped areas.  They are common in late spring through summer and can be identified by their bushy clusters of spikes resembling the tail of a fox. Foxtails can even be found in our yards, so carefully inspect unlandscaped areas for these invaders.
Even if you practice diligent avoidance, carefully check your pet after walks or hikes.  Common sites of infestation are between the toes, the legs, the underbelly, the eyes, and the nose.  With long coated dogs, it is a good practice to brush them out after hikes, as well.  Keeping your pet’s feet trimmed short can help prevent these dangerous hitchhikers; some owners even purchase hiking boots for their dogs to protect their feet on trail.

Dogs are not the only ones affected by foxtails.  Occasionally we see outdoor cats who have picked one up.  We most commonly see foxtails invade cats’ eyes, under their third eyelid.  Symptoms include painful swelling, redness, and discharge out of one eye.

Foxtails are not only painful but can be very damaging to your pet.  If you think your pet may be infected, contact your veterinarian immediately to prevent further pain and injury.

-Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo

Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo 

1691 Melrose Dr. Suite # 110
San Marcos, CA 92078

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