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Beware of Pet Poisons

It has recently been discovered that grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs. They can cause severe and even fatal kidney damage, though we don’t understand why yet. Don’t panic if you have given your dog the occasional grape as a treat…but don’t do it anymore! If your dog ever gets into grapes or raisins and you think he may have eaten some, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 for advice, and then bring him to the veterinarian right away. The vet can give him charcoal that helps stop the toxins from being absorbed, and fluids to help protect the kidneys from damage.

When good flowers turn bad…

Did you know that lilies are very poisonous to cats? Every part of the lily plant and flower may be toxic, and cause severe and even fatal kidney damage. If you have a cat, never bring lilies into the house, and carefully check all flower arrangements for lilies. If you are sending or bringing flowers to someone, be sure no lilies are included if there is a cat in the home. If you ever think your cat may have eaten any part of a lily plant, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 for advice, and then bring her to the veterinarian right away. Immediate treatment can help save her kidneys.

A not-so-bitter pill to swallow…

Believe it or not, some pills that are dangerous for pets taste good, and dogs (or even cats) may eat them and become very ill. For example, various brands of ibuprofen often have a sweet coating that makes it easier for us to swallow them, but also very tempting to pets. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is found in many over-the-counter pain relievers.

Pets may also be tempted to eat all types of chewable tablets, including their own arthritis medication. Dogs have been frequently known to chew open and ingest an entire bottle of chewable tablets.

If you notice that one of your medicines has a sweet coating, be especially careful to lock it away where pets can’t get it. Lots of us leave our medicines out on the counter or table, thinking that as long as the bottle is closed our pets are safe. Not true- a plastic bottle is no barrier to a dog who thinks there’s a treat inside- that’s what teeth are for! Also be sure to lock away any chewable tablets for people or pets because these are yummy too. And if you have the type of dog who is tempted by forbidden treats, consider avoiding chewable formulations of his medicines, especially those that would be toxic if he ate them. Dogs will go to considerable trouble, including climbing up on the counter and opening cabinets, to get to a tasty treat.

If your pet ever does get into your medicine or his own, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 for advice, and bring him to the veterinarian right away if they tell you the medicine is toxic.

Diabetic Cat NewsFlash

If you have a diabetic cat, you may have heard about a new kind of insulin called glargine. It was developed for people but is great news for cats.

There are at least two reasons to get excited about glargine insulin (I guess I am admitting that I find insulin exciting. What can I say…I don’t get out much). For one thing, several types of insulin that have been used for diabetic cats are not going to be available any more, including Humulin U and Humulin L. Even more important is that glargine insulin seems to work better than other insulins have for diabetic cats. It lasts longer and controls their blood sugar better. Many diabetic cats treated with glargine for a period of time have stopped being diabetic, especially if they are new diabetics.

Glargine insulin can be given once or twice a day. It works better if you give it twice a day, and the chance that your cat will get off insulin entirely is higher if you give it twice a day. The only reason to give it just once a day is if you or your cat has a terrible time with twice-a-day dosing, in which case once a day glargine is a decent option.

By the way, if you have a diabetic cat and you measure her urine sugar, check out It’s a litter box that helps you to collect urine for sampling. And if you’re wondering how to know if your cat may be diabetic, most diabetic cats start out by drinking lots of water because the diabetes makes them really thirsty until it is properly treated. Some diabetic cats lose weight even though they are eating. If you want to test your cat for diabetes at home, buy some little strips called Diastix® at the drugstore, and test your cat’s urine for sugar (put some plastic wrap on the litter to collect a puddle of urine). If your cat has sugar in her urine, she may be diabetic.

Of course if your cat is having any abnormal symptoms, she should see her vet right away!

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