Recent studies confirm Dr. Sullivan’s assertion, warning that secondhand smoke may lead to deadly diseases in your cat. So if personal health risks haven’t compelled you and your houseguests to quit smoking yet, there is a new incentive: the well-being of your cat.
Consider the Dangers
The health risks associated with inhaling secondhand smoke have proved to be just as worrisome for cats as they are for people. But unlike you, your cat doesn’t have the choice to escape the environment to get fresher air, says Shera Dickie, DVM, of St. Julian’s Cat Care, in Dearborn, Mich. What’s more, pollutants from the smoky air collect on your pet’s coat. Since cats are meticulous groomers, they can easily ingest these harmful substances as they lick their fur.
According to a Swedish study cited by Dr. Dickie, “six out of seven cats that lived in a smoking home had pathological changes in their lungs.” These changes foretold the emergence of cancer for the majority of the cats. Here are a few other diseases your cat runs the risk of developing if regularly exposed to secondhand smoke:
This aggressive type of cancer occurs in the lymph nodes and can be fatal. In fact, “Three out of four cats with this disease are dead within a year of diagnosis,” says Dr. Dickie. Cats living with smokers are twice as likely to get this disease, and the risk elevates with increased exposure.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This type of cancer plagues a cat’s mouth. A study conducted at Tufts College of Veterinary Medicine found there is a higher incidence of this illness among cats living with smokers for more than five years.
Feline explorers drawn to unknown objects, like a forgotten cigarette butt, are especially threatened by nicotine poisoning. The affliction occurs when a cat ingests tobacco. Cigarette butts contain much harmful nicotine – about 25 percent of the nicotine of a whole cigarette – so even a small cigarette butt can lead to the death of a cat.
Cats exposed to secondhand smoke are not only more susceptible to asthma, but they also “tend to heal slower from respiratory diseases, such as viral infections and pneumonia,” notes Dr. Sullivan. Increased coughing and breathing difficulty is a possible sign that your kitty suffers around secondhand smoke.
What Can You Do Now?
Proactive, responsible owners have many options to protect their cat from secondhand smoke. But how do you do that if you can’t quit smoking so easily? Here are
Designate Smoke-Free Areas
Consider smoking outside, or smoke only in rooms that pets are not allowed in. The less the exposure, the greater the chances your cat will stay healthy.
Use Air Filters
Air filters may help clean the environment, removing harmful chemicals in the air that could block your kitty’s respiratory passage.
Clean Your Pet And Your House
Regular baths, or at the very least wipe-downs with a damp cloth, can help remove smoke residue from cat fur, says Dr. Dickie. Vacuum and keep all cigarette butts, tobacco products and even nicotine patches out of sight to prevent accidental illness, poisoning or even death.
Look For Symptoms
Excessive drooling or difficulty eating are symptoms of oral cancer, while labored breathing is a sign of lung cancer. Observe your cat frequently, since catching diseases early on always helps with treatment. If something is out of the ordinary, contact your veterinarian immediately.
The best solution of all? Quitting if you’re a smoker – and encouraging cigarette-carrying visitors to do the same. In the words of Dr. Dickie: “Why expose your beloved furry friend to a potentially preventable disease?”
by Natalia Macrynikola
Source: Pet People’s Place
(These same dangers apply for any and all animals and pets, especally indoor or house pets that are regularly exposed!)
Posted: Just One More Pet
- Brush your pup(s) often. Even shorthaired dogs need help sloughing off dead skin cells. Brushing stimulates circulation and kicks up production of natural moisturizers from oil glands.
- Shampoo less often. Experts warn that weekly baths remove much-needed lubricating oils.
- Keep your own shampoo — even the gentle one — on the shelf, and use a moisturizing doggie-formulated one.
- If dry skin persists, take Fluffy to the vet. Itching can be a sign of something more serious.
Most of us understand the basics of creating wellness. Health begins with a sound diet, exercise, and having fun with our loved ones. Our pets are important family members, like us in many ways, but with their own unique animal needs and abilities. Our pets give us so much – the unconditional love, joy and pleasure they offer us through their loving companionship enhances our lives and makes us healthier people. But it’s easy in the hectic nature of our lives to take our pets for granted and miss opportunities to nurture them for their optimal wellness. Creating wellness requires that we meet the basic needs we all share, and to honor the special needs of our pets. We Are One, but We Are Not the Same
Pets have special nutritional needs, and are far more limited in their physical ability to deal with a poor diet and the toxins in our environment. With shorter life spans and smaller organ systems, its important to give them the best diet we can that suits their animal physiology and to limit their exposure to toxic chemicals in their food, and in so many household products we use. Consider choosing non-toxic cleaners and cat litter. Limiting your pet’s exposure to toxic materials is to be considered.
From the holistic perspective, the foundation of good health is a good diet. Dogs and cats need different food from what we eat, and many pets, particularly cats can have trouble digesting the grain-based fare (like that found in most commercial pet foods) that humans can tolerate. When their nutritional needs are met, pets have great vitality and abundant energy, and have better digestion and can maintain their appropriate weight, which are both causes of so many health problems of pets today.
A good diet provides energy for a healthy activity level, meaning daily exercise. It’s easy to neglect the exercise and play needs of our pets, but the consequences can be severe. Beyond the impact on their health, too little physical activity can create a host of inappropriate behaviors and creates a great deal of stress for our pets. Dogs need daily cardiovascular exercise in the form of a walk or run.
Emotional Stress and Illness
Beyond a good diet, exercise, and reducing exposure to toxins, the single best thing we can do for our pets (and ourselves) is to minimize the stress they experience. The mind-body connection has been well researched in human health, and emotional stress has a well-documented impact on our well-being. This is no less true for our pets, though the idea is not generally taken into account from the traditional veterinary perspective. Taking steps to reduce your pet’s stress can go a long way to creating wellness.
Some pets seem to be more naturally “high-strung,” which may be a breed specific quality or may result from their life history – a common story with rescued companions. Stress comes in many forms, including major life changes, stressful situations, and daily stress in our home and relationships.
Major life events like the addition of new pets or human family members, death of loved ones, house renovations, or moving can trigger stress in many pets, and the impact can be felt for many months after the change occurs. Cats can be particularly sensitive to these changes – even getting new carpet can cause a strong stress response in cats. Dogs are often particularly sensitive to events that cause shifts in relationships. It’s important to provide the “security blankets” our pets need during these times. Make sure the cat’s favorite pillow or blanket isn’t packed in a box when you move, and be sure each pet has their favorite toys available. When introducing new family members, spend extra time with your dog to confirm their continued high status with you and to insure that they don’t feel neglected.
The Ultimate Wellness Builder – Reducing Daily Stress for Your Pet
While stressful major life changes and trips to the vet (we hope!) are few and far between, one of the most profound sources of stress for your pet is perhaps the easiest to overlook – the stress that our pets absorb from us on a daily basis. One of the greatest gifts our pets give us is the comfort they provide to us every day. People with pets are generally healthier and live longer, because our pets not only provide companionship, but they literally absorb our stress.
Our pets are quite emotionally sensitive and are highly attuned to our moods. Animal communicators tell us that part of our companions’ “spiritual mission” is to help us cope with our emotions. It’s important to recognize that our own stress level is very obvious to our pets and can impact their wellness greatly. Many pet owners report that their pets share their emotional stress, and often share the same physical symptoms that stress creates for their own health. With that in mind, making a commitment to reducing your daily stress level is one of the best things you can do for your pet’s health.
Wellness is the result of many factors, and especially for our pets, nearly every one of those factors is under our control. Making sound decisions for our pets with regard to diet, exercise, and activities creates the foundation for vibrant health. Adding the essential element of reducing stress can help you give your pet a more joyous, healthier and longer life. With everything our pets do for us and our well-being, we owe it to them to return the favor and create harmony for them in every way we can. The time we have with our animal companions is precious in so many ways, and we have it in our power to honor that special bond through our commitment to harmonious living.
Courtesy Only Natural Pet LLC. 2008 by Cynthia Holley-Connolly
Chocolate, Macadamia nuts, avocados…these foods may sound delicious to you, but are actually quite dangerous to our animal companions. Our ASPCA nutrition experts have come up with a list of top 10 people foods that you should not feed your pet. If ingestion of any of these items should occur, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.
1. Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine
These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.
Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.
4. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies. However, they can cause problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
5. Grapes & Raisins
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In pets who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.
6. Yeast Dough
Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. However, these treats should not constitute more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.
7. Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella [ital] and E. coli [ital] that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.
9. Onions, Garlic, Chives
These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods. (The garlic argument is on-going. Adding garlic powder to their food is a natural flea deterent among other things. But no garlic cloves, chunks or even bits.)
Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
“Must” Resources For Every Pet Parent:
A slice of avocado may be the perfect addition to your sandwich, but it can have serious consequences for our feathered and furry friends. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, IL, pet poisonings fromavocado and avocado-based foods like guacamole are a consistent risk. In 2008, the Center managed 115 cases involving ingestions of avocado, and though an overwhelming 83 percent of those incidents involved dogs, the most devastating effects were seen in birds, rabbits and certain large animals like horses and cattle.
A native of Central and South America, avocado (Persea americana) is a subtropical tree that produces a pear-shaped fruit prized for its high fat content, vitamin-rich “meat” and smooth texture. Unfortunately, the fruit also contains a toxin called persin that’s harmful to animals, especially in large quantities.
“Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark all contain the toxic principle known as persin,” says Dana Farbman, CVT, Senior Manager of Professional Communications at APCC. Guatemalan varieties—sold in grocery stores nationwide—are most often involved in pet exposures, Farbman adds, while other strains have varying degrees of toxic potential. Birds—who accounted for 5 percent of avocado cases in 2008—appear to be particularly sensitive to the fatty fruit; consumption can result in respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the heart and even death. In curious canines, clinical signs of ingestion can include gastrointestinal distress, vomiting and diarrhea. Typically, these effects are seen in dogs who’ve nibbled on significant amounts of a tree’s fruit or branches.
Pet parents should prevent their animal companions from coming into contact with avocado by placing the fruit—or that festive bowl of guacamole—out of reach. For those lucky Californians who have an avocado tree in their backyards, keep a close eye on your pet when he’s outside, and don’t mistake the toxic fruit for Fido’s gnarly tennis ball.
As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, please call your vet or the ASPCA’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435. For more information about people food that’s toxic for pets, please visit APCC online.
If Bowser becomes a weapon of mass destruction when home alone, the cause could simply be boredom, anxiety, or fear. To counter the boredom factor, be sure he has plenty of toys to chew, pull, and toss. Help him relax by leaving the radio or TV on at low volume while you’re out. Soothing music and the sound of voices comforts a lonely pooch and may be enough to ease his anxiety. Finally, come and go calmly. If you don’t make a big fuss of your departure and return, he might not, either… DogAge Tip
Leaving your pup in a crate (or cage) for regularly or for extended periods of time is also not the answer. There is a growing movement against cage or crate training for the purpose of housing your dog regularly or for extended periods of time. Initial crate training to get pups used to a crate or carrier for travel or visitation situations, for their safety, or to give them a comfortable place to retreat to, on their own, but with the door unlocked, should be the goal; not for regular housing. Recent studies and common sense have shown that regular and extensive cage confinement can cause aggression, nervousness, and increase barking when your pet is finally out of their cage and can cause or exasserbate bladder and kidney problems in future years.
If you have left your dog caged regularly or for extended periods of time, it will probably take them awhile to calm down and adjust to being out and home alone. So there may be some incidents of chewing or extended barking; TV or music may help that.
If your dog is very destructive, professional training is suggested. Other options are confining them to a kitchen or service porch area, with their cage accessable but left open, but where they can walk around and access their food, water and a piddle pad or doggie door if needed. Soothing music, a small TV on the counter and toys, as well as hiring a dog walker, always help!
Be a responsible and sensitive pet parent. Crate training and regular confinement has been promoted by pet store owners and crate manufacturers to entice people to purchase pets while requiring minimal effort or adustment and sacrifice on their part, upping pet sales as well as the sale of crates and other related products. It is not in the best interest of the pet. It is in the best interest of the owner.
Animals, like children, add love and companionship to our lives, but require a certain amount of adjustment and sacrifice. Clean and perfect homes and houses become a thing of the past; a small price for best friend. All relationships require compromise and adjustment if they are to be successful and mutually fulfilling… with pets as well as with humans.