Monthly Archives: January 2010

Pets and poisons


Q. Which of the following items can be highly toxic to your pet?




rat poison

slug pellets

plant bulbs



A. all of the above

Every year in our clinic we see many cases where we suspect poisoning.  While it may seem obvious that you don’t allow your pet near rat poison or slug pellets, all too frequently we will see a few animals who ingest these substances (typically dogs as they can be quite indiscriminate about what they eat).

As dangerous as rat poison can be to pets, at least if someone suspects their dog of eating some they  will know to get down to the vet quickly.What is more worrying is  many people aren’t aware of the fact that raisins can be highly toxic to dogs. As few as seven raisins have been known to cause fatal kidney failure in dogs. Raisins are palatable to dogs and I am aware of cases where a dogs have died as a result of raiding the shopping or the larder and eating a bag of raisins.

At Christmas time, it is common to be presented with a dog who has stolen and eaten an entire box of chocolates which can make them quite sick. There is a substance in chocolate called theobromine which is toxic for dogs. It is present in higher quantities in dark chocolate and cooking chocolate so be warned – and please don’t give your dog any!

Antifreeze, contains ethylene glycol a substance which causes kidney failure. Unfortunately to dogs and cats it tastes sweet and a very small amount can be fatal. A car leaking a small amount of antifreeze could have tragic consequences for your pet.

We do not usually see as many cats with poisoning as they are fussier eaters, however there are a couple of things cat owners should be aware of. Lillies are toxic to cats and cat owners should avoid them. Occasionally I have seen cats who have been given paracetamol by their owners, obviously out of care that they are in pain. Tragically cats cannot cope with this medicine, it causes liver failure. It is always heart braking when this occurs. The best advice I can give is never to give human medicine to your pet, unless prescribed by a vet. Also please don’t give one pets medicine to another without consulting a vet. Even animal remedies especially pain killers can be very dangerous if an incorrect dose is given.

There are many other items which can be toxic to pets – this article is just a summary of the some of the most common and dangerous ones. I hope it is helpful. Will try to get back to this and add some more details in time!

What you should do if you are concerned your pet has been poisoned?

For most of these poisons their is no antidote available. Therefore time is absolutely crucial – get to a vet clinic or vet hospital as soon as possible. If a pet has recently ingested poisoning we will induce vomiting – hopefully the poison will not have left the stomach and we can clear it from the system before it has a chance to affect your pet. We can also give medicine to try and prevent the poison being absorbed into the system. Blood tests may be needed to check your pets vital organs or screen for toxins.

Do not try to make your pet sick – consult a vet.

Some useful links for dog and cat owners.:

Is your dog/cat feeling a little plump since Christmas?


Is his winter jacket a little snug? Is he a bit lazier on his walks?……..Read on to find out more about keeping your pet’s weight in check!

Did you know that 40% of Irish pets are overweight?
As a pet owner it is very simple to figure out if your pet needs to loose a few pounds.
1. Feel his/her ribs- simply run your hands along his chest and you should feel them EASILY! If you have to prod him quite a bit or convince yourself chances are he is carrying a little weight!
2. Does he/she have a waist? – look at your pet from above and check if his waist comes in behind his ribs. His ribs and his waist should not be the same width! He should come in at his waist and back out again at his hips.
3. Does his waist tuck up? – looking from the side you should see that behind his ribs his tummy tucks up.

Do this simple test on your pet and you’ll know if he needs to cut back on his food. Bring him into the clinic for a free weight check and the nurses will advise you on what his ideal weight should be. Some times we have to put pets on a strict diet and low fat prescription food is necessary.

Obesity leads to problems such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, skin disease and many more.
So sometimes when those big brown eyes say ‘Can I please have a treat?’ it is kinder to say ‘No, and I’m doing this for your own good!’ It will be true!

Kennel cough


Kennel cough;  also known as infectious tracheitis is a highly contagious infection in dogs which is spread most commonly where alot of dogs meet – boarding kennels, in dog parks, at training classes, dog shows and even out on walks.

The condition is caused by a mixture of viruses and a bacteria (bordatella Bronchiseptica). Dogs with kennel cough usually develop a dry hacking, honking type of cough usually followed by retching. In mild cases dogs will continue to eat, drink and play as normal. Some dogs will develop a high temperature.

In more severe cases the symptoms may be more severe can can include lack of energy, fever and a poor appetite.

Most dogs that are mildly affected will recover rapidly, usually within 5-10 days although the cough may not resolve completely for a few weeks. Some dogs may take several weeks to be completely back to normal and antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication is often required.

There is a vaccination available against kennel cough which will protect your dog against certain strains of the disease. We strongly recommend vaccinating your pet if he/she is in close contact with dogs on a regular basis. If you suspect your dog has kennel cough please contact us for an appointment with the vet.  Also remember that it is highly contagious; if there are other dogs in the house they are very likely to contact the infection also.

Walking, lead training and pulling.


Starting off.

If you have a young puppy the best thing to do before attempting to put on a lead is to get him (or her) used to following you.  Start with some food held in your left hand. You may have to bend down a little. When the puppy is in the heel position, reward with food and give the command heel. Practice this for short periods (your puppy will get bored or distracted easily), and practice doing left and right turns using food as a lure.

Next make sure you have a comfortable lead and collar. Start training indoors or in the back garden where there are few distractions before attempting a walk in the park. Encourage your puppy to follow you. If he surges ahead of you on the lead, stop and then lure him back into position. Allowing your puppy to move forward when he pulls on the lead rewards him. This behaviour will then be repeated. Instead, if you stop whenever he pulls, he will realise that pulling is pointless and will wait for you to take a lead.

Pulling a problem?

If you have an adult dog that is pulling this training method will also work. However, it will probably take longer as he has learnt over a period of time that pulling is effective.

For a quicker resolution I recommend a “Halti” head collar. This device is a quick an easy way to stop your dog from pulling. I often see people using a harness to try to stop their dog from pulling – unless you have a special training harness this is pointless. In most cases a harness will give the dog even more power and will make it easier for him to pull.

I always advise people to think about controlling a much larger animal like a horse. If you want a horse to pull a cart, you put a harness on it – this gives him maximum power for pulling. If you want to lead a horse you put a head collar on it, and it is quite easy to lead it. The same principals apply to the dog. If you have control of the head you have control of the dog. The “Halti” does require a little bit of training – but there are clear instructions with it. This is one of the best ways of getting immediate control of a dog that pulls.

Another important part of walking your dog is being able to let him off the lead when it is safe to do so. To do this you must be able to get your dog to come reliably when called. This is probably one of the most important commands you can train a new puppy.

One major rule with a new puppy is reward them every time they come when called. Never call your dog to you in order to punish it.

Practice with friends or family calling your dog. When he comes to the person who is calling him reward him with a treat, a pat or praise.  Do not make excuses for your dog when he refuses to come to you indoors. If he will not come to you indoors where there are few distractions he certainly won’t come when he is called on a walk.

If you bring your dog on a walk and leave him off lead, make sure to call him back several times during the walk. Always have a treat or a toy or a ball so you can reward him for his obedience. Also try to have fun and play with him when he is with you. This rewards him for sticking with you on a walk, and means he is less likely to be distracted by other dogs and other people.

It is best to put him take his lead on and off throughout the walk. This way putting his lead on is not a signal that fun time is over, it is just part of the routine.

The more exercise your dog has the better behaved he will be, it keeps him stimulated, tires him out and relieves boredom – the root of many behaviour problems. Therefore if you can train your dog reliably to come when he is called, you will be able to let him off his lead more he will get more out of his walk.