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Do Cats Get Separation Anxiety? 8 Ways to Help

Yes! While you may hear more often about dogs experiencing separation anxiety, cats are just as susceptible to feeling anxious when their owners leave. Learn about what causes separation anxiety in cats and how to calm an anxious cat.

Why Do Cats Get Anxious?

There’s a theory that some early life situations can make cats more likely to experience separation anxiety; for example, cats that were orphaned or kittens that weaned too early. But it’s also possible your behavior is encouraging cat anxiety. When your cat’s only source of fun, comfort, and confidence is you, it makes sense that he would worry when you’re gone. One common issue for cat owners is inadvertently rewarding needy behavior, which reinforces it instead of encouraging cats to feel confident on their own!

Does Your Cat Suffer from Separation Anxiety?

An anxious cat doesn’t suffer silently. Keep an eye out for these common signs of cat separation anxiety:

– Doing his business outside the litter box while you’re gone

– Being excessively vocal while you’re gone

– Vomiting while you’re gone

– Clawing and scratching at his surroundings while you’re gone

– Not eating while you’re gone

– Greeting you enthusiastically when you return

– Eating too fast when you’re home

– Acting distressed as you prepare to leave; for example, clinging to you or hiding

– Weight loss

– Excessive grooming

Vet Tip: It’s very common for cats with separation anxiety to eliminate outside the litter box, and sometimes they do it on your bed or clothes! This is not a sign of a spiteful cat, getting back at you for leaving. It’s his way of self-soothing by mixing his scent with yours. He’s also using his scent to help you find your way home.

8 Ways to Help a Cat with Separation Anxiety

1. Visit the Vet!

This should be your first step. Your veterinarian needs to determine whether your cat’s symptoms are truly anxiety-related. For example, elimination outside the litter box could be a sign of urinary tract disease, and excessive grooming could be due to allergies or fleas. Once your vet determines these are cat anxiety symptoms, they may prescribe medication to help, although this is usually a last resort. They’ll typically suggest behavior modification and changes to your cat’s environment before they suggest medication.

Spot the Signs of Fleas

2. Practice Leaving

This is helpful if your cat is new to you or if you’re working on changing the behavior of a cat you’ve had for a while. It allows your cat to get accustomed to and become more comfortable with the process of leaving, which may be triggering his anxiety.

Step 1: Pretend to Leave

Perform a behavior associated with leaving, but don’t leave the house. For example, pick up your keys and put them down. Walk to the door, then away from it. Once you do a few of these behaviors, add them together. For example, pick up your keys and purse and walk to the door, but don’t go out.

Do this a few times a day for about a week, or as long as it takes for you to notice your cat acting more relaxed when he sees you doing them.

Step 2: Leave for a Short Time

Once you’ve done Step 1, try leaving the house but returning immediately. Slowly build up the time you’re away from a few minutes to an hour to a few hours and then to a day.

Vet Tip: If you notice that certain items trigger your cat’s anxiety, like picking up your keys or putting on your jacket, carry these items around the house for a while each day, but don’t leave. Your cat should eventually stop associating them with the act of you leaving.

fluffy cat looks out sliding door

3. Keep Your Cat Enriched While You’re Gone

Your cat may exhibit destructive behaviors while you’re gone because he’s bored! There are lots of things you can do to keep him busy and enriched:

– Provide a perch by a window, so he can observe the outside world.

– Give him an elevated area(s).

– Set up a hideaway.

– Leave out some toys.

– Put his food allocation into a puzzle feeder for him to work on while you’re gone.

– Turn on the radio for some ambient noise, which can be comforting.

– Turn on the television or computer – You can use this for ambient noise or as actual entertainment for your cat. YouTube has lots of videos your cat may love! Just search “videos for cats.”

– Purchase a cat tree – He can climb it, sit on it to look out a window, nap on it, and scratch it.

Encourage some of these things—playing, puzzle feeders—while you’re home, so your cat knows what to do with them. Then save certain toys and feeders as special treats for when you’re gone.

4. Play with Him!

Cats need to play to satiate their prey drive, but play also helps tire them out and should be done at least once a day. It may be especially useful to play with your cat right before you leave.

5. Don’t Get Emotional

Don’t make leaving or coming home a big deal. Say goodbye and hello casually, so your cat doesn’t pick up on heightened emotions.

6. Provide Comfort Even When You’re Gone

Besides things to keep him busy, your cat will probably appreciate a bit of you while you’re gone. Lay out a shirt or blanket that smells like you in a spot he frequents.

7. Reinforce Good Behavior

You may be encouraging cat anxiety without meaning to by petting and praising your cat when he’s being needy—meowing, sticking close by your side, following you from room to room. While this behavior is cute, it can make your cat overly dependent on you. Instead, pet, praise, and reward your cat when he behaves the way you want him to, like entertaining himself with toys or his scratching post.

8. Use Pheromones

FELIWAY® is a product that distributes cat “happiness” pheromones throughout your house. These can’t be smelled by humans, but they mimic “natural feline reassurance messages” that can help calm your cat. FELIWAY sells diffusers that you just plug into outlets around your home, as well as sprays.

Your cat loves you! It makes sense that he feels a bit anxious when you leave, especially if your routine changes and he isn’t expecting it. Encouraging healthy behaviors while you’re around and when you’re away can make a big difference, helping him feel better and behave better. If you have questions about your cat’s health or behavior, let us know! We’re available Monday through Saturday at 2519 Cinco Park Place, Katy, TX.

Does Your Pet Have Fleas? How to Find Out & What to Do Next

Fleas.

It’s a word you never want to hear, but sometimes fleas are a pest you have to deal with, especially when you have pets. Unfortunately, fleas love a climate like ours. They’re most active in 80° to 90°F with 70% humidity. They can be frustrating to get rid of, but knowing the signs and strategies can go a long way toward eliminating them quickly and preventing them in the future.

What Are Fleas, and What Makes Them So Bad?

Fleas are flat, dark-brown parasites. They live off the blood of mammals. The more blood they’ve ingested, the lighter in color they are. They’re pretty small: 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch.

The cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the most common type of flea. They especially like to feed on:

– Cats

– Dogs

– Domestic rabbits

– Wolves

– Raccoons

– Opossums

– Ferrets

– Foxes

When fleas find a host, they burrow into the fur to stay hidden and feed.

A female flea lays an average of 27 eggs per day for up to 100 days on a host animal. Every time the animal shakes, her eggs fall off. They hatch one to six days later and turn into larvae, which burrow into grass, leaves, carpet fiber—whatever they can find. They spin cocoons and emerge as adults. An adult flea needs a host to feed on, but it can survive months without one!

Why Are Fleas a Problem?

Fleas are a nuisance first because of how easily they spread. Fleas eggs fall off animals every time they shake, and adult fleas can easily jump as far as 13 inches on and off hosts!

Once your pet (or you) has fleas, the symptoms are annoying: itching and inflammation wherever they bite. But they can be more than just annoying. Many animals are allergic to flea saliva. Flea allergy dermatitis causes itchiness, scaly skin, hair loss, irritation, and secondary skin infections across the body, not just where fleas bite.

Fleas can consume up to 15 times their body weight in blood every day, which can sometimes cause anemia in their hosts. And adult fleas can carry tapeworm eggs. If your pet eats a flea with tapeworm eggs, they can get tapeworms. Fortunately, tapeworms are generally easy to treat and not usually harmful, but they’re a secondary issue to deal with on top of a flea infestation!

Physical and Behavioral Signs of Fleas

The signs of fleas can sometimes resemble other skin issues your dog or cat might experience, but they’re still important to keep an eye on. If you notice one or more signs on this list, take your pet to the veterinarian to get them checked out.

Physical Signs of Fleas

brown striped cat scratches himself outside

– Red, bumpy skin on base of tail, belly, and groin because of excessive scratching

– Symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis (if your pet is allergic to flea saliva) – Red patches even in areas where the fleas aren’t biting

– Hair loss (alopecia) because of licking and biting

– Scabbing

– Black spots on skin

– Redness & blood in ears because of scratching

Pale gums related to anemia (in severe cases) – This happens when your cat or dog’s body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells to replace the blood lost to fleas.

– Fleas jumping on and off your dog or cat (in severe cases)

– (In humans) Tiny red dots that are very itchy

Another important physical sign is flea dirt, which is actually flea feces. Flea dirt looks like brown specks, and it can easily be mistaken for regular dirt. You can tell the difference by wetting it with water. If the speck turns dark reddish-brown, it’s flea dirt. That reddish color is the blood the flea digested.

If you have a light-colored animal, you may be able to see flea dirt on them. Otherwise, check the places they hang out:

– Their bed(s)

– The area around where they eat

– Other favorite locations like couch cushions

You could also wear white socks around the house to see if you pick up any flea dirt.

Behavioral Signs of Fleas

– Scratching, licking, and chewing certain areas of the body

– Shaking the head

– Restless behavior because of itchiness or pain

How to Find and Get Rid of Fleas

To find fleas themselves, you’ll have to be fast because fleas are fast! You’ll need a couple of simple tools for finding and eliminating fleas on your dog or cat:

– A flea comb (a special comb with very close-set teeth)

– White paper or paper towels

– A bowl of water with dish soap in it

Have your pet stand over the white paper or paper towels. This will catch any potential flea dirt that falls as you use the flea comb to comb through their fur. You’ll be able to easily see the dirt on the white material and test whether it’s true flea feces.

Start by running your comb over certain areas of your pet’s body. Fleas’ favorite hiding places are where they can stay warm and protected. Look for them in your pet’s:

– Neck

– Armpits

– Ears

– Abdomen

– Base of the tail

– Groin

If your comb runs across a flea, it should catch it in its teeth. Deposit the flea in your bowl of soapy water, where it will drown.

Flea shampoos are commonly sold as a way of getting rid of fleas, but they’re only really effective in severe cases and for about a day.

Getting Rid of Fleas in Your Home

Removing live fleas from your cat or dog is an important step, but if your pet had fleas, it’s likely your house has them too. Start by vacuuming, especially in cracks and other tight spaces. Vacuuming picks up fleas, eggs, larvae, and flea cocoons.

Wash your bedding and that of your pet, and dry it all on high heat.

Most importantly, call a pest specialist for advice and an estimate of the severity of your flea infestation.

Preventing Fleas

Ready for some good news? Fleas are relatively easy to keep off your pet. Veterinarians recommend regular flea prevention, which is often paired with tick preventative, making it even more convenient!

At Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, we carry Revolution® Plus for cats. For dogs, we have NexGard® (flea and tick), Bravecto® (flea and tick), and Trifexis (heartworm and flea). (Learn more about heartworm in cats here and more about heartworm in dogs here.) We also carry Capstar, which is a once-a-day medication for cats and dogs. We usually only use this for animals that come in for flea baths. We recommend that your pet stay on preventative medication year-round to prevent flea infestations.

Fleas are tough to deal with, but they’re not impossible. Keep an eye out for these signs of fleas to prevent an infestation in your home, and keep your pet up-to-date on medication. You can give us a call if you’re having trouble removing fleas from your pet, you’ve done all the above and your dog or cat is still scratching, or for any other reason. We’re always happy to help!

“Is My Cat Blind?”: How to Tell and What It Means for You & Her

If you’ve noticed your cat attempting to jump up on furniture and missing or tripping over objects that are part of her everyday life, it’s time to visit the vet. These could point to impaired vision or blindness. Blindness in cats most often occurs gradually, although it can come on suddenly. Learn what causes blindness in cats, the symptoms, and what happens next for a blind cat.

What Causes Cats to Go Blind?

There are many reasons a cat can experience worsened sight or sight loss, ranging from disease to damage to the eyes. Common causes of blindness are:

– Cataracts

– Trauma to the head

– Ingestion of an antibacterial medication (enrofloxacin) that damages the retina

– Chronic hypertension that causes the retina to detach

– Glaucoma

Optic neuritis (inflammation of optic nerve)

Nuclear sclerosis (vision loss due to old age)

Inherited causes can also occur, but they’re less common in cats than in dogs. Unfortunately, they do happen more often in purebred cats.

one cat eye through white blinds

How Loss of Vision Is Diagnosed

Blindness Symptoms in Cats

The first signs of blindness that most cat owners notice are behavioral, and even these can be tricky. Cats are generally very good at coping with blindness. They compensate for a lack of one sense with their others. Some owners are shocked when they find out from a vet that their cat is blind in one eye!

Keep an eye out for a cat that:

– No longer attempts to jump onto furniture or high places; or if she does, she misses.

– Falls from familiar places

– Doesn’t move around the house as much as she used to

– Is more vocal – This could be because she’s calling out to you for your whereabouts, or she’s uncomfortable. (Glaucoma, for instance, can be painful because of increased pressure in the eyeball.)

– Trips over objects on the floor

– Bumps into objects or furniture that have always been there

– Won’t run if she’s startled, but instead freezes in place

But often physical symptoms are there as well. Dr. Kern, associate professor of ophthalmology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, urges cat owners to regularly check their cats’ eyes for:

– A hazy appearance

– Trouble focusing on objects in close range

– Cloudiness or opaqueness

– A change in the color of the iris(es)

– Two pupils that don’t look like each other.

Diagnosis by a Vet

If you’re not sure how to check your cat’s eyes, ask your veterinarian. They can show you what to look out for.

If your cat is showing signs or symptoms of vision impairment, take her to the vet for an official diagnosis. They’ll also give you important information about caring for a blind cat.

To determine what’s going on, first your vet will ask about your cat’s history, then they’ll administer vision assessments.

Your Cat’s History

These are some questions you should be prepared to answer about your cat:

– Do you think she’s partially or completely blind?

– Has the change been gradual or is it sudden onset blindness?

– When did you start noticing signs of vision loss?

– If the appearance of the eyes is different, when did that happen?

– Is she on any medications?

This will help the vet understand whether the blindness might be related to an underlying condition.

Vision Assessments

There are lots of tests that help a veterinarian determine whether a cat is blind. Most are done twice—once for each eye.

– The cotton ball test – Your vet will throw cotton balls (or something else without a scent or a noise) into your cat’s field of vision to see if he flinches or reacts.

– The pupillary light reflex test – In a dim room, your vet will shine a bright light into your cat’s eyes to gauge how his pupils react.

– Blood pressure test – This can help determine if hypertension is the issue.

– Brain scans – These look for tumors.

– Blood tests – These detect diseases, like kidney disease, that can cause eye problems.

How to Care for a Blind Cat

The diagnosis of partial or full blindness is scary, but in some cases, blindness in cats can be treated. For instance, the drug amlodipine is often used to treat high blood pressure. This is why regular check-ups are so important; catching issues early can prevent blindness!

If your cat has cataracts, take her to a veterinary ophthalmologist right away. This specialist may be able to perform cataract surgery and restore some sight.

If your cat’s loss of sight is permanent, don’t panic! Blindness in cats is manageable. Cats are incredibly adaptable. With a little help from you, yours can have a very fulfilling life.

Adopt some of these changes to make your cat as comfortable and capable as possible:

– Don’t allow your cat to roam by herself outdoors – If you’d like your cat to experience the world outside, consider training her to walk on a leash. And don’t forget to have your cat microchipped!

– Restrict your cat to a small, familiar space at first or if she’s in a new environment.

– If you need to introduce your cat to a new space, scatter treats on the floor. She’ll use her nose to find them and move slowly, familiarizing herself with the area.

– Don’t rearrange the furniture – Your cat has a “mind map” of your house. She may even attempt to leap from the floor to that counter or bookshelf she loves, confident in her surroundings!

– Add bells or tags to yourself and other animals in the house, so your cat knows where you are.

– Keep the floor clear of small objects, so your cat doesn’t trip.

– Highlight tricky spots like the top of the stairs with a scent with strong pheromones. Keep the scent consistent, so your cat knows what to expect when she smells it.

– Speak to your cat as you enter and leave a room, so she knows where you are – You may notice your cat becomes more clingy after losing her sight; she’s using you as a guide!

– Speak before you pet your cat to avoid an aggressive startled reaction.

– Keep her food and water bowls, litter box, and bed in the same places as usual.

– If your cat has glaucoma, speak to your vet about pain management.

If you think your cat is going blind, remain calm. She’s likely feeling anxious and scared, so keep your voice low and your movements predictable. Reach out to your veterinarian to schedule official vision assessments. They’ll be able to give you helpful tips as well.

And make sure to visit the vet for routine care, so they can spot and treat illness or disease before they cause blindness.

Ready to make an appointment for your kitty? Contact Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital today!

Show Your Love by Keeping Your Pets Safe on Valentine’s Day

We’ve written before about sharing the joys of Valentine’s Day with your canine friend. This holiday can be an awesome time to show your love by giving your pet more cuddles, a new toy or treat, or an extra long walk. But many of the trappings of a great Valentine’s Day for humans aren’t fun for dogs and cats. Here’s how you can make sure yours stays safe through the season of love.

Keep an Eye on the Alcohol

Champagne and cocktails are festive Valentine’s drinks, but just like too much alcohol can cause issues for humans, it can do the same for pets. And they’re much smaller! Even a tiny amount of alcohol can quickly lead to intoxication in cats and dogs. If you’re not sure your pet ingested alcohol, but she’s acting strange, keep an eye out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing

These and other symptoms can be signs of intoxication in animals.

Signs of Poisoning in Dogs

Don’t Treat with Sweets

That beautiful box of chocolate should be kept out of reach of all your furry friends. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is easy for humans to digest but takes dogs and cats much longer, meaning it can build up to toxic levels in their bodies. Besides that, the high fat content in many chocolates can lead to an upset stomach.

You may be thrilled to get sugar-free candy for Valentine’s Day. (Your loved one finally remembered you’re on a diet!) But your pet won’t be so thrilled if she gets ahold of a piece. Xylitol is a common ingredient in sugar-free candy, and it’s extremely dangerous for dogs—and not good for cats either! It can cause vomiting, tremors, seizures, and even death.

Read more about what dogs shouldn’t eat here. And about what cats shouldn’t eat here.

Avoid Toxic Plants in That Beautiful Bouquet

Everyone loves getting a romantic bouquet of flowers, but if you have pets at home, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants before you display your gift somewhere your pet might get it. Several flowers that are wonderful in bouquets also happen to be toxic!

Common flowers that are toxic to dogs include:

  • Birds of paradise
  • Many varieties of lilies
  • Carnations
  • Dahlias
  • Daisies

Common flowers that are toxic to cats include:

  • Aloe
  • Many varieties of lilies
  • Birds of paradise
  • Butterfly irises
  • Carnations
  • Maidens breath

If your dog or cat has ingested a poisonous plant, you’ll likely notice them becoming lethargic and vomiting and/or experiencing diarrhea.

Signs of Poisoning in Cats

Don’t Gift Flowers with Thorns

Roses with thorns are another flower to keep out of your Valentine’s bouquet. Roses without thorns are just as beautiful, so avoid the risk of a pet gnawing or stepping on them altogether.

If you buy roses with thorns, plan to de-thorn them yourself, do so away from your pet, and make sure you clean up thoroughly. A thorn that’s swallowed can be dangerous to dogs and cats.

Roses aren’t the only spiky plants that are best avoided in festive bouquets. Thistles and plants with pointy stems can also pose a risk.

Monitor Open Flames

You’ve cooked an amazing meal, laid out your best china on the table, and found the candlesticks to complete the romantic setup. All that’s left to set the mood is to dim the lights and light those candles!

This sounds like a beautiful scene; just be sure to blow the candles out again if they’re out of your eyesight. Whether you’re in the kitchen preparing dessert or you and your partner retire to the living room for a movie, open flames should never be left unattended with pets in the house. A curious pup or kitty could get too close or even knock them over, posing a hazard to themselves and your house.

Store Wrapping Materials Safely Away

cat sniffs red Valentine's flowers

Ribbons and bows make Valentine’s presents look festive, but they can pose a risk of choking to pets that see them as tempting items to taste. Whether you’re wrapping for someone else or opening a gift from your loved one, securely store or trash wrapping materials once you’re done with them. That includes:

  • Balloons
  • Cellophane
  • Ribbons
  • Bows
  • Tape
  • Anything else you think your pet is likely to get curious about

Ribbons and balloon strings are especially tempting playthings, but if they’re ingested by pets can lead to choking or getting wrapped dangerously around the digestive tract.

The holiday of love can be tons of fun for your pet as well as you! She doesn’t need chocolate, roses, or fancy Valentine’s Day gifts. Treat your pets this Valentine’s Day with your time: A day at the dog park, a trip to the pet store, even some quality cuddles on the couch can make her Valentine’s Day—and yours—extra special. Get even more ideas here.

If you have questions about the safety of common household items for your pet, don’t hesitate to give us a call at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re happy to give you advice anytime!

7 Foods Cats Can’t Eat

It may seem more likely for a dog owner to have to worry about their pet snatching a toxic food from the countertop. Human food shouldn’t make up more than 15% of the diet you feed your cat, but if you’re a cat owner, you know they can get into anything they set their minds to! This includes human foods that are unhealthy and sometimes dangerous.

Foods Cats CAN Eat

Learn about several foods cats can’t eat and why.

1. Onions and Garlic

Although a meal almost always benefits from onions or garlic, your cat doesn’t. That includes scallions and shallots too! The compounds found in these foods can do damage to red blood cells and cause anemia.

If your cat consumes a food in the onion family, you’re likely to see symptoms like:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Pale gums
  • Lessened appetite
  • Orange to dark red urine

While these foods are generally toxic when eaten in large amounts, be careful of concentrated foods as well, like garlic powder and onion soup mix.

2. Caffeine and Chocolate

You’ve heard that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but did you know it’s dangerous for cats too? That’s because it contains theobromine, a methylxanthine. Theobromine is found in cacao seeds, and while it’s easy for humans to digest, it isn’t for cats.

small pieces of chocolate

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Muscle tremors
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Unusual heart rhythm

Caffeine is another methylxanthine and just as bad for your cat. She should never have tea, coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverages or items. If your cat ingests caffeine, she’s likely to show the same symptoms as she would if she ate chocolate.

3. Candy

It may be tempting to let your feline friend nibble from your piece of candy, but there are better ways to share! Many candies, gums, and baked goods contain xylitol, an ingredient that can be toxic to cats. It’s a sweetener often used in sugar-free candies, but it also shows up in products like vitamins, toothpaste, and mouthwash.

Vets report seeing fewer cases of xylitol poisoning in cats than they do in dogs. This could be because cats are pickier about what they eat. (They also can’t taste sweet!) But the definitive answer is not yet known.

Symptoms of xylitol ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

4. Alcohol

Alcohol in any form is dangerous to cats. But alcohol isn’t just limited to your after-dinner drink. It can be found in many other items, like syrups and rum-soaked cakes.

Your cat is much smaller than you. Even a tiny amount of alcohol can lead to quick intoxication.

If you think your cat accidentally consumed alcohol, look for these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle tremors
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma

If it’s not caught right away, alcohol ingestion in cats can lead to death. Should you need to take your cat to the vet, try your best to tell them how much your cat consumed and the strength of what she had.

5. Raisins and Grapes

Grapes and raisins are fun for people to snack on, but they can cause rapid kidney failure in cats. It’s not known why grapes and raisins are foods that are dangerous, but it’s not worth the risk of having them around!

If your cat experiences kidney failure as a result of consuming grapes or raisins, it can cause vomiting within 12 hours. Within 24 hours, she may exhibit:

  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced appetite
  • Decreased urination

Kidney failure is not something to wait on. Bring your cat to the vet immediately if she shows signs of having it or if you know she’s eaten grapes or raisins.

6. Raw Dough

Raw yeast dough—like bread dough—is dangerous for cats because it contains alcohol. It creates alcohol in a cat’s stomach, causing the stomach to expand.

7. Raw Meat, Raw Eggs, and Bones

Raw eggs, meat, and bones all have one hazardous thing in common: the risk of salmonella and E. coli. While cats are carnivores and need meat to thrive, it’s best to cook it. The possibility of E. coli and salmonella is too risky to take the change that it harms your cat or you, as it could pass through your cat and remain in the excrement you clean out of her litter box.

Symptoms of these bacteria include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Letheragy

Raw eggs and bones carry additional risks:

  • Raw eggs – They carry an enzyme that can cause problems with your cat’s coat and skin.
  • Bones – Besides being a choking hazard, a hard bone can harm your cat’s teeth, and a sharp bone can damage her digestive tract.

Vet Note: Dairy

puddle of splashing milk

Many people think dairy is dangerous for cats. You should avoid feeding your cat dairy products because it is most likely lactose intolerant, and products like milk, cheese, and butter can cause her digestive upset (vomiting and diarrhea). While most cats become lactose intolerant as they mature, some cats can still enjoy dairy in small quantities. If you feed your cat a dairy product, keep an eye on her afterwards to see if it made her sick or uncomfortable.

If you think your cat has eaten one of these items, take her to a veterinarian right away. Note a couple of important things:

  • What she ate
  • How much she ate
  • When she ate it

You don’t have to answer all of these questions! Even a little information can help your vet craft a plan of action for your cat’s health.

You should also bring your feline friend to the vet if she’s showing any of the common signs of poisoning, even if you aren’t sure of what she ate. Those signs include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Learn more about cat poisoning here.

Prevention is best! Avoid feeding your cat these foods. And keep foods that are dangerous out of reach of your furry friend’s mischievous paws. Always clean up after making a meal.

Do you believe your cat ate a toxic substance? Don’t wait! Bring her to an experienced veterinarian, like those at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, right away. Ask a question about poisonous food or let us know you’re coming by giving us a call at 281-693-7387.

6+ Human Foods That Are Safe to Share with Cats

You find your feline friend on the countertop or the dining room table, lapping up milk at the bottom of a cereal bowl or tasting cake batter. Is that okay? If you’ve wondered, “What human foods can cats eat?”, keep reading. We’ve compiled a list of six common food groups it’s okay for cats to try.

Vet Tip: Cats generally get all the nutrients they need from commercial cat food, so any people food should be given in moderation unless you get veterinary advice first. If you suspect your kitty is nutrient-deficient, make an appointment with a vet, who can run tests to ensure he’s healthy.

A Key to Nutrients

Under each food in our list, you’ll see the nutrients it provides. Here’s a key to help you understand how each helps your cat:

Antioxidants – Protects your cat’s cells from damage caused by free radicals (molecules that can harm cell membranes, enzymes, and DNA)

Calcium – Helps blood clot and supports teeth and bone health

Fiber – Maintains a healthy microbiome in the gut and helps food move through the digestive system

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Keep the coat shiny and healthy and support the immune system

Protein – Helps repair and build tissue and muscles and contributes to healthy hair and skin, a strong heart, good vision, and a healthy reproductive system

Vitamin B – Maintains the digestive system and promotes good blood circulation

Cooked Meat

Cats are carnivores. They need meat to thrive! A little extra cooked and unseasoned meat in your cat’s diet can be a great addition. Trim off the fat, as it can be hard for cats to digest and can result in diarrhea. Turkey can be especially high in fat.

Approved foods:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Turkey

Nutrients:

  • Protein

Cooked Fish

tuna fish

The most common image of a cat enjoying people food is a happy feline lapping from a bowl of milk. The second most common is a happy cat enjoying tuna! Tuna fish and other cooked or canned fish is healthy for cats, and they love it.

Serve canned or fully cooked fish to avoid parasites. Raw fish also has too much thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine, an essential vitamin for your cat.

Approved foods:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Swordfish
  • Flounder
  • Halibut
  • Cod

Vet Note: Carnivorous fish (swordfish, tuna, salmon) tend to have higher levels of mercury than flounder, halibut, and cod. Tuna has high levels of polyunsaturated fats, which can deplete your cat’s vitamin E. If you love to feed your cat fish, do so in moderation, and choose a variety of types!

Nutrients:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Protein

Cooked Eggs

Wild cats commonly raid nests to eat eggs. Your cat is just as likely to enjoy eggs in his diet, but be sure they’re cooked, not raw. The risk of E. coli and salmonella is too high in raw eggs. And while your cat might successfully pass salmonella or E. coli, it could remain in his excrement, which you clean up.

Scrambled eggs are a quick, easy way to deliver nutrients like:

  • Protein
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B

Dairy

Dairy can be a confusing subject for cat owners. You’ve probably seen images of cats drinking from bowls of milk. But you may also have heard that milk is bad for cats. Which is true?

Both.

Foods That Are Dangerous for Cats

Lots of adult cats are lactose intolerant. They can digest milk as kittens but lose that ability as they age. You can know if your cat is lactose intolerant if he vomits and/or has diarrhea after he eats a dairy food.

Most cats—even cats that are lactose intolerant—enjoy dairy, even if it causes them stomach upset. And dairy is a source of protein, although it’s not as beneficial a source as meat, fish, and eggs. If you struggle to give your cat medicine, it can be very effective to grind up the pill and put it in cheese or butter. This should only be done in very small amounts of dairy.

Approved foods:

  • Milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sour cream

Nutrients:

  • Calcium
  • Protein

Vegetables (and Fruit)

see-through cucumber slices

Cats are carnivores, but they do like greens and need them in their diets. The main benefit of greens is fiber; otherwise, they don’t provide many nutrients.

Dogs love fruit, but while some fruit is fine for cats, they don’t get super excited about it because they can’t taste sweet! Fruit can also be high in sugar.

Approved foods:

  • Winter squash
  • Green beans
  • Baked carrots
  • Fresh cucumber
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Steamed asparagus

Nutrients:

  • Fiber
  • Water content

Remove the cores and seeds of the fruits and vegetables you serve your cat to prevent choking.

Vet Tip: If you notice your furry friend chomping on grass or trying to chew a houseplant, he might be lacking fiber, and you can take it as a sign that he may like his diet supplemented with greens.

Whole Grains

Whole grains can be an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps keep your cat’s bowel movements regular. Make sure any grains you serve are cooked and maybe mashed, so your cat can digest them. Don’t add sugar or any other flavoring.

Avoid feeding your cat bread. It’s full of carbohydrates and calories without providing much nutritional value.

Approved Foods:

  • Corn
  • Polenta
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Couscous
  • Millet

Nutrients:

  • Soluble fiber
  • Protein

Feeding your cat new foods can be fun! It’s interesting to learn what they like and what they don’t. And it’s nice to know that these foods aren’t just delicious; they can benefit your cat too! If you have questions about nutrient deficiencies or you’re wondering if a food listed above is safe for cats, ask one of our vets or vet techs at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re always here to help!

“Is My Dog Blind?”: How to Tell and What It Means for You & Him

If you’ve noticed your dog moving cautiously around the house or bumping into objects that are part of his everyday life, it’s time to visit the vet. These could point to impaired vision or blindness. Blindness in dogs can happen gradually or suddenly, and it can mean a big lifestyle change for both your pooch and you. Learn about the causes of blindness, the symptoms, and what happens next for a blind dog.

What Causes Dogs to Go Blind?

There are many reasons a dog can experience worsened sight or sight loss, ranging from disease to damage to the eyes. The most common causes are:

hand pets white dog's face

– Cataracts, often caused by diabetes

– Progressive retinal atrophy

– Retinal detachment, often caused by kidney failure and the hypertension that results from it

– Glaucoma

– Suddenly acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARD)

Some breeds are more likely to develop cataracts than others. These include:

– Miniature schnauzers

– Miniature poodles

– Cocker spaniels

– Golden retrievers

– Boston terriers

– Siberian huskies

Others are more likely to develop SARDS:

– Miniature schnauzers

– Dachshunds

– Pugs

– Maltese

– Mutts in general

If a dog goes blind, it will most likely happen to him in his old age.

SARDS

SARDS is especially alarming because it’s sudden blindness. If your dog could see yesterday and can’t today, he may have SARDS. The median age of dogs who develop SARDS is 8.5, and 60% to 70% of them are female. Unfortunately, the cause of sudden onset blindness isn’t yet known. Some specialists suspect an inflammatory or autoimmune culprit, or allergies.

How Loss of Vision Is Diagnosed

The first symptoms of blindness in dogs are often noticed by their owners. Forty to fifty percent of visually impaired dogs drink more water, eat more food, and urinate more. They also experience weight gain and often don’t want to play as frequently. They sleep more and might show signs of depression. You may notice your pup moving cautiously around the house and/or bumping into things in his environment. Some owners report these signs even in dogs with SARDS, where loss of sight is sudden.

For your dog to be officially diagnosed and to get the important information you need about caring for a blind dog, it’s crucial to take him to the vet. First, your vet will ask about your dog’s history, then they’ll administer vision assessments.

Your Dog’s History

These are some questions you should be prepared to answer about your dog:

– Do you think he’s partially or completely blind?

– Has the change been gradual or was it acute (He could see yesterday, and he can’t today.)?

– When did you start noticing signs of vision loss?

– If the appearance of the eyes is different, when did that happen?

– Is he on any medications?

This will help the vet understand whether the blindness might be related to an underlying condition.

Vision Assessments

There are lots of tests that help a veterinarian determine whether a dog is blind. Most are done twice—once for each eye.

– The maze test – The vet sets up a series of harmless obstacles in the room and asks you to stand on the opposite side of them from your dog, then call him. The vet will see whether your dog can make it to you on his own.

– The cotton ball test – Your vet will throw cotton balls (or something else without a scent or a noise) into your dog’s field of vision to see if he flinches or reacts.

– The menace assessment – The vet makes menacing gestures in the direction of your dog’s eyes. They are careful not to make them too close to his face, so he doesn’t feel air moving on his eyes. If your dog sees the vet’s gestures, his menace response will be to move his head or blink.

– The visual placing reaction (best for dogs that can be picked up) – The vet will hold your dog with his legs dangling and move him toward the surface of a table, as if they’re going to place your dog on it. If your dog can see, he’ll move his legs to step onto the table.

– The pupillary light reflex test – In a dim room, your vet will shine a bright light into your dog’s eyes to gauge how his pupils react. This helps reveal whether there’s a lesion.

How to Care for a Blind Dog

The diagnosis of partial or full blindness is scary, especially because most of the time, there is no treatment. If your dog has cataracts, take him to a veterinary ophthalmologist right away. This specialist may be able to perform cataract surgery and restore some sight.

If your dog’s sight loss is permanent, don’t panic! Blindness in dogs is manageable. In fact, most dogs adapt to loss of vision better than their owners expect. In a survey of 100 SARDS dog owners, just 9 reported that they thought their dogs’ quality of life was poor. In almost all cases, they said their dogs’ ability to navigate their house and yard and new places was moderate to excellent! Dogs are incredibly adaptable, and with a little help from you, a blind dog can have a very fulfilling life.

Adopt some of these changes to make your dog as comfortable and capable as possible:

– If your dog is crate-trained, take advantage of that at first—especially if he has sudden blindness to confine him in a familiar space when you’re not around. If he’s not crate-trained, use baby gates to restrict him to safe areas.

– Add bells or tags to yourself and other animals in the house, so your dog knows where you are. This can be especially helpful outside.

– Get down on his level to discover and remove any dangerous obstacles, like table corners. If you can’t rearrange something, add essential oils or another scent to it, so your dog recognizes when he’s near it.

– Utilize textures! Put a carpet runner at the top of the stairs, so he knows when he’s approaching them or a mat under his food and water bowls to help him find them.

– Keep him on a leash outside, so he doesn’t wander too far away, at least until he gets used to your enclosed yard.

– If you need to introduce your pup to a new space, scatter dog food on the floor. He’ll use his nose to find it and move slowly, familiarizing himself with the area.

– Teach him important commands:

    • “Heel” keeps him from wandering away when on walks.
    • “Stop” or “wait” warns him when he’s approaching an obstacle like a table or a tree.
    • “Step (up or down)” tells him stairs are in front of him.

Don’t forget to play! Your dog may not feel like playing as often as he once did, and you might need to adapt play to include noisy toys, but no dog’s life is full without some fun.

If you think your dog is going blind, remain calm. Your dog is likely to be anxious and scared himself, so keep your voice low and your movements predictable. Reach out to your veterinarian to schedule official vision assessments. He or she will be able to give you helpful tips as well. If your dog is partially blind or still seeing, do what you can to protect and strengthen his eyes. Beta carotene is great for dogs and can be found in many foods they like, including cantaloupe and carrots. And make sure to visit the vet for routine care, so they can spot and treat illness or disease before they cause blindness.

Ready to make an appointment for your pup? Contact Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital today!

The Big List of Human Foods That Are Safe for Dogs & Make Healthy Treats!

When you’re eating dinner or prepping a meal in the kitchen, your dog is probably a close companion. Sometimes food gets dropped, or you have extra of one ingredient. In both situations, you’ve probably wondered whether it’s safe for your pup to munch on a human food.

There are lots of people foods that are perfectly safe for dogs to eat—most in moderation. We’ve compiled a big list of things that shouldn’t make you worry if they fall off the counter. Or get snatched by a mischievous dog!

What dogs CAN’T eat

Vet Tip: It’s fun to share food with your dog, but if you don’t want to encourage begging, be mindful of how you deliver it. Putting it in his food bowl encourages him to look for food where it belongs instead of under your feet while you cook or eat.

A Key to Nutrients

Under each food in our list, you’ll see the nutrients it provides. Here’s a key to help you understand how each benefits your pup:

Antioxidants – Protects your dog’s body from damage caused by free radicals (molecules that can harm enzymes, DNA, and cell membranes). There is research to suggest antioxidants can improve age-related issues in older dogs. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins E and C.

Calcium – Supports teeth and bone health and helps blood clot

Fiber – Maintains a healthy gut microbiome and helps food move through the digestive tract

Lauric Acid – Helps fight bacteria and viruses; freshens breath; and clears up skin conditions like flea allergies, itchy skin, and hot spots

Magnesium – Helps contract and relax muscles and regenerate them. It’s also an important part of a properly functioning liver, heart, and digestive tract.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Keep the coat shiny and healthy and support the immune system

Phosphorus – Ensures healthy kidney function and helps with muscle contractions

Probiotics – Improve coat appearance and bad breath, reduce gas and allergies, and regulate bowel movements

Protein – Helps repair and build tissue and muscles and contributes to healthy hair and skin

Selenium – Helps the thyroid function properly

Vitamin A – Aids fetal development and the function of cells and the immune system

Vitamin B Maintains the digestive system and promotes healthy blood circulation

Dairy

puddle of splashing milk

Dairy is generally fine for a dog unless he’s lactose intolerant. How will you know? He will vomit and/or have diarrhea after he eats a dairy product. Even if he doesn’t exhibit these symptoms, only let your dog eat dairy in small quantities. Dogs have low levels of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugars in milk. To avoid too much fat in his diet, stick to low- or reduced-fat dairy.

Approved foods:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Plain yogurt

Nutrients:

  • Calcium
  • Probiotics (in yogurt with active bacteria)

Cooked Meat

Unseasoned, cooked meats are great for your dog! Trim off the fat and limit portions sizes to avoid too much of it in your dog’s diet. Fat is hard for dogs to digest and can cause pancreatitis and inflammation. Also beware of meat with high salt content, like bacon and processed ham, and remove all bones.

Approved foods:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Turkey

Nutrients:

  • Protein

Cooked Fish

Several varieties of seafood are tasty and safe for dogs. Be sure the fish is fully cooked to avoid feeding your pup parasites.

You can deliver the benefits of food via salmon oil or cooked fish skins mixed in with his regular food.

Approved foods:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp

Nutrients:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B (in shrimp)

Fruit

watermelon cubes

Lots of fruits are safe human foods for dogs. They are full of vitamins A, B, and C, along with other nutrients. Fruit can be high in sugar, so make it a special treat for your dog, and be sure to remove the core and seeds to prevent choking.

Approved foods:

  • Watermelon – Chewing on the rind can cause an upset stomach, so toss that part in the trash.
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pumpkin – Read our blog post on how to get pumpkin into your dog in fun, new ways here.

Nutrients:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Antioxidants
  • Fiber
  • High water content

Vet Tip: Apple skins can help clean residue off your dog’s teeth, freshening his breath!

Grains

Some grains, like oatmeal, are excellent sources of soluble fiber, which can keep your dog regular. Others, like bread, are safe for your dog to eat but don’t provide nutritional value. Bread is also full of calories and carbohydrates, which are best kept to a minimum in your dog’s diet.

Approved Foods:

  • Bread
  • Cooked oatmeal – Don’t add sugar or any other flavoring.

Nutrients:

  • Fiber

Nuts

many cashews

Some nuts are safe foods for dogs, but almost all are high in fat, so they should be given in moderation.

Approved Foods:

  • Coconut – Dogs can eat the raw coconut fruit (outside the shell), coconut oil, and coconut milk.
  • Cashews

Nutrients:

  • Calcium
  • Antioxidants
  • Magnesium
  • Protein
  • Lauric acid

Other Delicious Things

There are many other people foods that are both safe and delicious for dogs! Here are the benefits of a few of the most common:

Cooked Eggs

Scrambled eggs are a quick, easy way to deliver nutrients to your pup, like:

  • Protein
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B

Honey

Honey is okay for dogs to eat, but it can also be applied topically to help ease burns and superficial cuts!

Nutrients:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C (and D, E, and K!)
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Antioxidants

Peanut Butter

bowl of peanut butter with spoon

Peanut butter is really nutritious for dogs, and it’s fun too! Put it in a Kong, let your dog lick the spoon, or use it to deliver medicine. Aim for raw, unsalted peanut butter, and never give your dog the sugar-free version. It contains xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

Nutrients:

  • Protein
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Heart-healthy fats

Popcorn

When you’re putting a bowl into the microwave for movie night, it can be tempting to slip your pup a piece. That’s okay if the popcorn is unsalted and doesn’t have added sugar or salt. Make sure there are no rogue un-popped kernels; they can be choking hazards.

Nutrients:

  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc

Feeding your dog new foods can be fun! It’s interesting to learn what they like and what they don’t. And many of these make healthy meal replacements if you’ve run out of dog food. In almost all cases, your dog’s regular, commercial dog food gives him all the vitamins and minerals he needs, so supplementing with human food isn’t necessary. If you have questions about nutrient deficiencies or you’re wondering if a food above is okay for your dog, ask one of our vets or vet techs at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re always here to help!

5 Fun, Easy Halloween Costumes for Your Dog!

If you’re taking your pup to a costume contest, a Halloween party or parade, out trick-or-treating, or just for a walk around the neighborhood on October 31st, try out one of these dog Halloween costumes. From unique to classic, you’ll find something that fits his personality.

1. A Hotdog

Say “hot dog,” and people won’t know whether you’re talking about the delicacy at an Astros game or a real dog, panting in the Texas heat! Why not combine both of these fan favorites in a costume that’s as cute as it is classic?

BUY THE COSTUME: target.com

Match Your Dog

Complete the hot dog theme by stepping out with your dog dressed as a vendor!

To make the costume yourself, you’ll need:

  • 1 shallow box
  • Bright red acrylic paint
  • Black acrylic paint
  • White acrylic paint
  • A large flat paintbrush
  • Painter’s tape
  • Burlap ribbon
  • Thumbtacks
  • A tape measure
  • Scissors
  • A hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • Props like ketchup and mustard bottles and an apron

GET THE FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS: bystephanielynn.com

2. A Taco

Maybe hotdogs aren’t your favorite, but you never miss Taco Tuesday. This costume is perfect—complete with lettuce, ground beef, tomatoes, and cheese!

BUY THE COSTUME: amazon.com

Match Your Dog

What pairs nicely with tacos? Tequila! Dress yourself up in a white or gold dress, drawing or stamping a Patrόn emblem on the front. Don’t forget the yellow or green ribbon around your neck!

And if you have a partner or friend, a couples costume can easily be part of the delicious mix. A few pieces of green felt can be easily fashioned into a sash across your body that looks just like a lime slice.

GET DIY INSPIRATION: communikait.com

3. A Businessman

If you’ve always felt your dog was smarter than people gave him credit for, don’t pass on this cute little business suit, complete with navy jacket, crisp white button-down, and striking red tie. All he’ll need is a briefcase!

BUY THE COSTUME: amazon.com

DIY Dog Businessman

This DIY dog costume has all the important elements of a wear-to-work outfit, so it will look like your furry friend is ready to take on whatever Monday throws at him.

It requires some sewing skills, but the elements are so simple, it’s likely to be comfortable for your pup and an outfit you can break out year after year—or any time he needs formal wear.

To make the costume yourself, you’ll need:

  • A sewing machine
  • An iron
  • Straight pins
  • A stitch ripper
  • Hook and loop tape (Velcro®)
  • Scissors
  • An old dress shirt
  • A child’s clip-on tie
  • Matching thread

GET FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS: hgtv.com

4. A Lion

senior dog in felt lion mane

Credit: HGTV

This is such a classic costume that it’s hard to pass by. Your little beast will look fierce with a brown or a brown and black mane (and those adorable ears too). Just make sure he doesn’t get too hot, and if he’s uncomfortable with fabric covering his ears, opt for a different Halloween costume.

BUY THE COSTUME: amazon.com

DIY Lion

If you have brown felt lying around, use it to craft a lion’s mane without going to the store or clicking “Add to Cart.” Old or young, any pup is sure to look ferocious (and adorable) in this DIY Halloween costume.

You’ll need:

  • 4 to 8 pieces of lion-colored felt
  • 1 package snap tape
  • Scissors
  • A hot glue gun and glue sticks

GET FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS: hgtv.com

Match Your Dog

Everyone will recognize the sight of a ringmaster with his lion. The basic elements of a ringmaster costume are a red jacket with a white shirt underneath, a black bowtie, a black top hat, and gold elements in the right places. It’s a costume that can work for men, women, and children.

BUY THE FEMALE COSTUME: amazon.com

GET FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS FOR A KID’S COSTUME: stylemepretty.com

BONUS: If you or your little one own the iconic yellow dress Belle wears in The Beauty & the Beast, get it out of the closet! Your dog in his lion’s mane would make the perfect Beast.

5. A Jester

boxer in colorful jester hat

Credit: HGTV

This simple costume is wonderful for a goofy, class-clown-of-a-dog. Don’t pass up the opportunity to embrace his true colors!

To make it yourself, you’ll need:

  • A printer
  • A sewing machine
  • An iron
  • Fiberfill
  • Hook and loop tape (Velcro)
  • Felt in 8 different colors
  • Red thread
  • Red felt
  • 11 jingle bells

GET FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS: hgtv.com

Match Your Dog

Grab a crown or tiara, a long purple robe (Even a blanket would do.), and your most regal jewelry to dress up as the king or queen to your jester pup!

Tips for Making Sure Your Dog Stays Comfortable on Halloween

Each of these costumes for dogs is so cute, you might be tempted to put your pup in something he’s not entirely comfortable with. Both of you will have a much more enjoyable Halloween if he’s relaxed and not itchy, anxious, or in pain.

Avoid:

  • Costumes with potentially hazardous add-ons, especially if your dog likes to chew – For example, the jingle bells on the jester costume are best if you can trust your pup to leave them alone.
  • Fabrics and outfits that are too hot – Keep an eye on the weather for the day you plan to dress your dog up, and scale back the costume—or skip it altogether—if your dog runs the risk of overheating.
  • Costumes that don’t fit properly – Pay attention to sizing charts, and measure your dog before you buy or DIY.

Halloween is so much fun. Make it even better by sharing it with your dog! Choose from these dog Halloween costume ideas, and he’ll accompany you on your October 31st adventures in style.

7+ Human Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs

Whether you’re an experienced dog owner or you’re enjoying life with your very first dog, you may be wondering, “Is there anything I shouldn’t feed my pup?” This is urgent if he just grabbed something off your dinner plate! Learn what dogs absolutely should not be allowed to eat.

What dogs CAN eat

1. Alcohol

Alcohol, in its various forms, can be quite dangerous to a dog. Giving your dog even a sip of your liquor, wine, or beer is a big no, as the ethanol in the drink can lead to serious health complications. But alcohol isn’t just limited to your drink at dinner. It can be found in many other products, including:

  • Syrups
  • Rum-soaked cakes
  • Yeast bread dough (raw bread)

Since dogs are smaller than humans and not used to consuming alcohol, they can become intoxicated much quicker than a human would.

Symptoms of alcohol ingestion include:

  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing

Left unchecked, alcohol intoxication in dogs can lead to organ failure or death. With prompt and appropriate care from a vet, a dog that has ingested alcohol can recover. Make sure to tell the veterinarian how much your dog drank and the strength of the drink she had.

2. Chocolate 

Probably the most well-known people food that dogs shouldn’t eat, chocolate is dangerous because it contains theobromine, a methylxanthine. A substance found in cacao seeds, theobromine is easy for humans to digest, but this isn’t the case for dogs. They process the component much more slowly than we do, which allows it to build up to toxic levels.

Symptoms of chocolate ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Unusual heart rhythm
  • Tremors
  • Panting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomfort

The most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, but in large amounts, chocolate can lead to heart attacks or seizures in dogs.

black pug looks across table at pie

3. Caffeine

Another methylxanthine—like chocolate—caffeine is bad for your dog’s health. Under no conditions should she have access to coffee, tea, sodas, or other caffeine beverages or items. If your dog drinks caffeine, she may show similar symptoms to those of chocolate.

4. Candy 

Although you may want to share a treat with your dog from time to time, candy is not the way to do it. (May we suggest a pumpkin dog treat instead?) Many candy, gum, and baked goods contain xylitol. This substance is a sweetener often used in sugar-free candies, but it can also make an appearance in products like toothpaste, mouthwash, and vitamins.

Xylitol is harmful to dogs because it causes an insulin release that can lead to hypoglycemia and liver failure. Always avoid feeding your dog sweets or snacks that contain xylitol.

Symptoms of candy or xylitol ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

If you believe your dog has eaten a product or snack that contains xylitol, it’s important to bring her to a veterinarian immediately. A 10 pound dog only needs to eat one sugar-free piece of gum for a toxic dose of xylitol. Life-threatening low blood sugar levels can occur in less than 15 minutes.

5. Grapes and Raisins 

Grapes and raisins may not jump immediately into your mind toxic to dogs, but some pets can develop kidney disease from eating them. It’s unclear why grapes and raisins are dangerous to dogs and why some dogs are unaffected by the food while others have serious side effects. But it’s never worth the risk to find out if your pet is one of those that won’t be affected by eating grapes!

Symptoms of grape or raisin ingestion in dogs includes:

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased urination and, later, decreased urination

If your dog has eaten one of these two foods, she will need to see a veterinarian. If left untreated, the symptoms can lead to long-term kidney disease or kidney failure.

6. Mushrooms 

Just like with humans, mushrooms can be toxic for dogs. The number of toxic mushrooms found in the wild are small, but it can be difficult to identify which are safe and which aren’t.

Symptoms in dogs vary depending on the type of mushroom eaten, but they could include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Aggression
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney Failure

A dog that has eaten toxic mushrooms may experience symptoms within the first 30 minutes; other signs will not appear for 24 hours. If you dog ate a wild mushroom, always err on the side of caution and bring her to a vet right away, along with any remains of the mushroom for identification.

7. Onions and Garlic 

Although a meal almost always benefits from some onions and garlic, a dog’s health doesn’t. All types of garlic and onions, including shallots and scallions, are toxic to pets. The compounds found in the food can do damage to red blood cells and cause other issues, including gastroenteritis and anemia.

Signs your dog ate something from the onion family aren’t always obvious and may not appear for a few days. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Pale gums
  • Collapse

Garlic is particularly dangerous to pets; it is five times as potent as onions. Also note that some breeds may be more susceptible to onion poisoning than others.

Other Foods Dogs Shouldn’t Eat 

There are quite a few other foods and snacks that are harmful to dogs:

If you believe your dog has eaten one of these products or another food that may be dangerous to her, take her to a veterinarian right away. Note what she ate, how much, and when. This will help your vet craft a plan of action for your pet’s health.

Prevention is the best approach! Ensure the foods that dogs should never eat are kept out of your pet’s reach, garbage bags are closed up securely, and you always clean up after cooking.

Do you believe your dog ate a toxic substance? Don’t wait! Bring her to a veterinarian right away. Ask a question about poisonous food or let us know you’re coming by giving us a call at 281-693-7387.