4197-A3 Winchester Road, Marshall, Virginia 20115
Phone:540-364-7855      Fax: 540-364-7859

Seasonal Pet Care Tips

Halloween (and Easter) is a potentially dangerous time for pets because of all the candy, especially chocolate, that comes through our homes and lingers for a while. Please remember to keep all chocolate away from your dogs and cats - yes, cats also will break into the candy bowl. The active ingredient is theobromine but the caffeine can also cause problems for pets. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, arrhythmia (irregular heart rate), seizures, coma and death. If your pet gets into chocolate please call your veterinarian immediately or take your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic available.

Sugar-free candies contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, that is very toxic to dogs. It can cause life threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) as well as liver damage leading to liver failure and death.

Thanksgiving - watch your leftovers! Don't let your dogs get into the trash
(or the table) after the drippings, turkey bones or ham leftovers or any other food that makes it to the trash. These foods are usually very fatty and are not something your dog is used to and could cause problems such as transient vomiting and diarrhea, which are bad enough, to pancreatitis that could require hospitalization and even lead to death.

Christmas - tinsel can be a real hazard to your cat since cats love anything shiny and stringy. However, this can cause an intestinal blockage or what's known as a linear foreign body which basically is the string cutting into the inside of the intestines causing a life threatening condition that will require surgery.

The cold weather is another potentially dangerous time for out door pets especially. If your cat or dog has access to the outside or stays outside primarily please make sure they have access to the garage or shed or somewhere they can get out of the wind and snow. Check their sources of water to make sure they are not frozen over. Pets can dehydrate in the cold if they cannot get to unfrozen water. Better yet bring them indoors and keep them indoors. Do not let a new cat or young puppy outside unmonitored for their first foray into the great outdoors during the winter. The season is just too harsh for a youngster to be introduced to the outside.


Heat risks

Puppies, kittens, large dogs, short face dogs such Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers among others and older/debilitated pets are the most susceptible but all pets are at risk. Remember puppies and kittens cannot regulate their body temperatures well until they are 4-5 months so they must be guarded even more carefully – both in summer and winter.

Leaving a pet in a parked car – even with the A/C running – is very dangerous. If the car stalls while you are gone your pet could die in minutes.

Even a few minutes in a car on a warm day can kill a pet – or a child, so it's best never to take a chance. Cracking the windows is not enough. Leaving the engine running with the a/c on is no guarantee the car will not stall while you are gone.

Signs of hyperthermia (heat stroke)

Panting or open mouth breathing that doesn’t resolve quickly in the cool

Collapse and glassy eyes

Bright red gums

Vomiting, diarrhea can also sometimes occur

What should you do if you suspect hyperthermia

Move your pet into a cool preferably air conditioned environment

Offer cool water

Wash feet and abdomen with cool water. DO NOT POUR COLD WATER ON YOUR PET’S HEAD OR BACK. The dramatic change in temperature could kill your pet. Your pet needs to be cooled slowly.

Take your pet to the veterinary clinic or nearest emergency clinic immediately.

Points to Remember

Your pet will not be out of danger immediately after cooling. The risks of complication and even death can extend for days.

Pets can overheat even in the shade on a hot day.

It is not just the heat but the humidity and air quality than can affect a pet.

Out door pets must have access to shade all day long and plenty of fresh water. Check your pet’s environment in the middle of the day – especially if your dog is kept in a pen/run.

Pavement can get hot enough to burn your pet’s pads and will stay hot for a long time after direct sunlight has moved away from it.