Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summertime Threats to Pets by Dr. Dana Lewis

Cookouts and Potlucks 

The food people consume can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea to potentially fatal pancreatitis in our beloved pets. Corn cobs, bamboo skewers, and bones can cause foreign bodies requiring expensive life-saving surgery.

Keep them away from the grill because of the risk of burns and also many dogs will lick up any grease from the grill and give themselves pancreatitis.

Most people know that some foods are toxic to pets like chocolate, but so are the artificial sweetener, xylitol, as well as grapes, raisins, onions, alcoholic beverages, and others. (See our post on holiday hazards). Keep them indoors when company comes over and keep them away from the trash after everybody calls it a day.

Pool Chemicals 

Undiluted pool chemicals can be corrosive to the eyes, skin, mouth, esophagus, etc., and result in permanent injury. Always keep pool chemicals and cleaners safely out of the reach of pets and children. Also, not all pets can swim, so supervise them at the pool just like the kids.

The Beach

If large amounts of ocean water are ingested while playing on the beach, hypernatremia (an elevated salt level) can occur. Salt poisoning leads to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, excessive thirst or urination, tremors, seizures, coma and even death.

Instead of allowing dogs to drink from the ocean, provide them with fresh water. Also, do not let them eat beach sand as that can cause a blockage of the intestines requiring surgery. Again, be cautious letting them swim. Consider a life jacket for all swimmers whether at the pool, beach, or lake. And be aware that pets can also become sunburned as well as suffer from heat stroke even if they are enjoying the water. Short nosed dogs and dogs exercising a lot are at greater risk. Pets cannot dissipate heat like we do by sweating so watch them for heavy panting and difficulty breathing, a bright red tongue and gums, saliva is thick and tenacious, and the dog often vomits. The dog becomes lethargic and unsteady, and passes bloody diarrhea. The dog goes into shock and the lips and mucous membranes turn gray. Collapse, seizures, coma, and death rapidly ensue.


Besides being potentially frightening to your pet, unused fireworks can be toxic if ingested. The chemicals in fireworks that make them pretty can cause kidney damage, seizures, liver damage, blood cell toxicity, and vomiting and diarrhea. They can also burn themselves or be injured by exploding fireworks so keep them indoors during the festivities. If your pet is frightened by the noise, talk with your veterinarian about what can be done for noise phobia (See our post on thunderstorm phobia).

Article written by Dr. Dana Lewis

Read more or contact Dr. Dana:
Dana Lewis, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Raleigh, North Carolina  |

Dr. Dana assists families with Pet Hospice and Euthanasia in the Raleigh North Carolina area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the greater Triangle, as well as Wake, Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dental care of rabbits, by Dr. Laura Theobald

Dental Husbandry of Rabbits 

Dental care of rabbits is something that starts at home with a knowledgeable pet parent by knowing what to feed, how rabbits chew, and what to look for if there are problems.

Rabbit Teeth / Dental Model

Rabbit teeth grow continuously and are known as hypsodont, or open-rooted teeth and their adult teeth are fully erupted by three to five weeks of age. They have four upper and two lower incisors. The two smaller upper incisors are referred to as “peg” teeth. They grow at approximately 2 mm per week. The premolar and molar teeth are referred to as the “cheek” teeth. These are used for grinding of coarse material.

Rabbits need a high-fiber, herbivorous diet not only for appropriate dental care but for proper digestion. This type of diet should consist of 75-80% hay, generally western timothy, with the remaining portion consisting of high quality pellets and fresh fruits and vegetables. Chewing is characterized by up to 120 jaw movements per minute with a side-to-side motion, which helps keep the constantly growing teeth worn down to their proper levels.

A rabbit whose diet is deficient in fiber, such as a pellet only diet, will be unable to properly wear down its teeth and eventually develop malocclusion (improper tooth alignment). When this happens, the teeth become longer and longer and eventually develop sharp edges known as spurs and cause pressure against each other. These problems can lead to cuts in the tongue, soft tissue injuries and even tooth root abscesses/impactions. Once rabbits have these problems, they are more likely to have them throughout their lives and require frequent anesthetic procedures to trim the teeth and relieve abscesses.

A veterinarian that is familiar with rabbits can do a minimal exam while the pet is awake by inspecting the front incisors and by using a lighted cone to look at the cheek teeth. A full thorough oral exam requires anesthesia by someone who has experience with rabbits.

Written by Dr. Laura Theobald
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice

Dr. Theobald works with Dr. Hawthorne helping families with In Home Hospice and Pet Euthanasia in the Charlotte North Carolina region. For more information, please see their profile page.