Latest Updates

Pet Poison Helpline

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
Poison Prevention Week: Know Your Poisons

Poison Prevention Week is March 18-24 , a good time to check around the house for items that might hurt your pet(s). The Pet Poison Helpline website (@PetPoisonHelp on Twitter) is a great resource and yielded these Top Ten Lists.

The Pet Poison Helpline fields emergency calls from both pet guardians and veterinarians in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. While the service charges a small fee ($39 U.S.), they have veterinary poison specialists on hand all the time. The information on the website is free.

If your dog or cat eats something poisonous call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately! The sooner a dog poisoning or cat poisoning is diagnosed, the easier, less expensive, and safer it is to treat your pet.

The Top Ten Dog Poisons

  • Chocolate
  • Insect bait stations
  • Mouse and rat poison
  • Fertilizers (even compost)
  • Xylitol-containing products (i.e., sugar-free gums and candies)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin® in brand name or generic form)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol® in brand name or generic form)
  • Silica gel packs
  • Amphetamines (such as ADD/ADHD drugs)
  • Household cleaners

The Top Ten Cat Poisons

  • Lilies
  • Topical flea and tick medicine designed for dogs only
  • Household cleaners
  • Mouse and rat poison
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (Rimadyl®, Deramaxx®)
  • Glow sticks/glow jewelry
  • Amphetamines (such as ADD/ADHD drugs)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol® in brand name or generic form)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin® in brand name or generic form)

Pet Poison Prevention Week

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

March 18-24 is National Poison Prevention Week. Much about poison prevention is aimed at parents with small children, but don’t for­get your pets. Household pets are naturally curious and often can’t resist smelling or tasting items in the home or yard. Knowing which household and garden items are particularly dangerous to pets can go a long way to ensuring their safety. Here are a few tips:

  • Tidy up your living room. Many things commonly associated with your main living space can poison pets like toxic house plants, potpourri or other frangrance products, chewing gum, or smoke cessation gums.
  • Keep your kitchen garbage can shut with a tight fitting lid or hidden in the pantry. Many human foods like raisins, chocolate, or alcohol are poisonous to pets. Dogs may also try to dig discarded meat bones or raw meat packaging out of the garbage.
  • In the bathroom, keep all medications out of reach. Also, never try to treat your pet with human pain killers as some common human pain killers like acetomenaphin are extremely toxic to pets. In addition, keep all bathroom cleaners locked away. If licked or swallowed, they can cause severe chemical burns.
  • In your yard and garden, keep pets away from areas that have been sprayed with herbicides until dry. Also keep dogs away from fertilizers and other pest control agents. Some that contain blood meal or bone meal can be tasty to dogs.

For more information and tips on keeping your pets safe, visit

SOURCE Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA)

November is Senior Pet Month

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Mary Ann, Ken, and Elmo

When Mary Ann Minick quips, “my life has gone to the dogs”, she’s only half joking. Mary Ann is the proud “mom” of eight four-legged, furry kids, most of whom are over the age of seven. As caregivers for these senior canines, MaryAnn and her husband Jim have learned a great deal about animal health and welfare. Their love of these animals led to the establishment of the All Pets Wellness Foundation, an organization designed to subsidize life-saving treatments for animals who would otherwise be put down or surrendered due to their owner’s lack of financial resources. 

Surfpet is pleased to welcome Mary Ann as a guest blogger and we are looking forward to her contributions to keep us informed on issues and news related to senior pets.

November has been designated as National Senior Pet Month, but in my home we celebrate every day.  As guardian to 13 senior dogs over the past nine years, I have come to understand what living with senior dogs is all about.

I’ve heard the misnomers and found they are, generally, not true. You’ve probably heard many but here are just a few things to consider when thinking about bringing a senior pet into your home. Though my direct experience has been with dogs, my friends say the same holds true for cats.

Feed a high quality diet. Good food is easier to digest and allows for optimal absorption of nutrients. This is especially important for older dogs who generally need fewer calories and, therefore, less volume. The higher quality of the food allows you to feed less while still maintaining the necessary nutrients.

Be careful not to over feed your senior dog. Older dogs will not be as active as they once were and will need fewer calories. As with younger animals, extra weight can cause all kinds of health issues. Age can exacerbate those issues.

Stay active. Older dogs may not be as active as they once were, but they still need their exercise. They will take shorter walks than their younger counterparts, but it is important to keep them moving as much as possible. Movement maintains muscle mass and muscle helps to stabilize joints. Combined with a good diet, exercise can help to reduce the effects of the onset of arthritis.

Consider aqua therapy. Many veterinarians are now including this mode of rehabilitation therapy as part of their practices. Swimming your older dog or having them walk on a hydrotreadmill keeps him/her active while reducing the stress and impact on their joints.

Keep your dog’s mind alert. As important as keeping his/her body active, all dogs, including seniors need to be mentally active. There are many new puzzle-type toys designed to challenge our dogs mentally. This can be as tiring to them as running after a ball. Nina Ottosson produces a line of these thinking games which can keep your pet busy for hours at a time.

Give your older dog high quality Omega-3 Pharmaceutical Grade (aka Ultra refined) Fish Oil. Studies have shown that Omega 3s help to reduce inflammation present in arthritis and have myriad other benefits for other systems in the body including the heart and brain. It has also been found to be beneficial for dogs with cancer.

Supplement with a good quality glucosamine, chondroitin & MSM product. In addition to Omega 3s, this helps to cushion the joints affected by arthritis.

Older dogs can live good quality lives into their golden years. Be sure to have a senior bloodpanel and checkup done at least once each year. Some of the so-called “signs of aging” can often be easily treatable issues. So if your older dog or cat begins to urinate inappropriately, it could be the sign of a urinary tract infection and not kidney diseases, as is often assumed.

Most of all, senior pets are wonderful companions, especially for someone who is older or less mobile. The love and understanding you feel from these amazing creatures is immeasurable.

Until next time,
Mary Ann

Hot Tips for Cool Pets

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Hot Weather Tips for Dogs

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but caution is due when temperatures rise, warn ASPCA experts.

“Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat,” says Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, “and heat stroke can be fatal if not treated promptly.”

Take these simple precautions to help prevent your pet from overheating. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.

Visit the Vet
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren’t on year-round preventive medication. This is also a good time to be sure your pet is protected from fleas and ticks.

Be Cool
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure they have a shady place to get out of the sun. Be careful to not overdo outdoor exercising with them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.

Know the Warning Signs
According to Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, “Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.” Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with older or overweight pets, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.


Pets with Seasonal Allergies

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Do seasonal allergies cause you to suffer with runny nose; itchy, watery eyes; sneezing and congestion? Whether you are allergic to pet dander, ragweed, or tree pollen, the symptoms are frequently the same.

Seasonal Allergy Symptoms in Pets

Did you know that seasonal allergies can also affect your pet? If you notice that your pet is scratching a lot, chewing on his legs or feet, or rubbing his face on your carpet, he is probably having allergy troubles. The same sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and congestion that you experience can also cause a lot of misery for your pet.

Seasonal allergies in pets come in two forms: flea allergies and atopic allergies. Flea allergy is the most common allergy in both dogs and cats. A single bite can set off a serious reaction if your dog or cat has become sensitive to fleas by having regular flea infestations. The only way to control flea allergy problems is to keep your pet, your home and your yard free of fleas. This is much easier said than done, and you may want to enlist the help of a professional exterminator if you have a bad flea infestation in your home and yard.

Atopic allergies are the second most common allergy in cats and dogs. An atopic allergy is a reaction to inhaled, airborne allergens like pollen, mold, and grasses and manifests itself in the animal’s skin causing non-stop itching and scratching, hot spots, chewing, hair loss and skin irritation. Secondary infections can often occur because of sores on the skin. Allergic pets can also develop chronic ear infections, which are often very difficult to treat.

It should also be noted that allergy symptoms in cats can sometimes be indicative of much more serious conditions like rino virus or upper respiratory infections. These symptoms should always be checked out by your vet promptly.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Your Pet’s Seasonal Allergies

Be sure to tell your vet about all of your pet’s symptoms. The vet will then run tests to determine what your pet is allergic to and what the best course of treatment will be. Once your vet knows what is causing the allergic reactions, short-term treatments may include, antihistamines, steroids, medicated shampoos or topical medications to control itching and irritation.

A long-term solution to a pet’s allergy problems is hyposensitization treatment, otherwise known as allergy shots. Just like allergy shots for humans, this treatment involves administering small doses of the problem allergan over a period of time. Eventually, your pet’s body becomes habituated to the allergan and no longer perceives it as a threat, thereby eliminating the histamine reaction that causes their allergy symptoms.

No matter what your pet is allergic to, seeking the proper treatment is very important in order to avoid long-term complications and chronic health issues.

Toxic Plants ASPCA Video

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Dr. Steven Hansen, veterinary toxicologist & ASPCA Senior Vice President, shows you examples of the most common potentially dangerous plants that may be in or around your home.

Your Yard May Be Hazardous to Your Pets

Thursday, March 31st, 2011


Spring is in the air and plants and flowers are in bloom, but you may want to think twice before letting your dog get too close.

Many pet owners don’t realize that some of the most common plants and flowers can be toxic or even fatal to dogs. Even ingesting a small amount of certain toxic plants can cause severe damage to pets.

We must remember that our pets do not know what is, and is not, good for them. I always tell people to think of their dogs as toddlers — they don’t know any better so you must be their eyes and ears. The safest bet is to keep all plants and hazardous materials out of your pets’ reach. (more…)

Pudgy Pets? Products to Help Fido and Fluffy Lose Weight

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Is your pet overweight?

A study released today from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that about 93 million dogs and cats in America — or more than half of the dogs and cats in the United States — are overweight or obese.

Obesity is a serious problem for pets. It can take years from their life expectancy.

Wendy Bounds wrote about the growing problem in an article in the Wall Street Journal. Bounds appeared on “Good Morning America” today to talk about the issue and to share tips on what you can do to help your beloved family pets lose the excess weight. (Video Link)


Spay Day

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011


The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, in partnership with the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, celebrate Spay Day every year on the last Tuesday in February. Spay Day is an annual campaign designed to highlight the importance of saving animal lives by spaying or neutering pets and feral cats.

More than one million pets have been spayed or neutered in conjunction with Spay Day since it was founded by the Doris Day Animal League in 1995. “It is so exciting to be celebrating the 17th annual Spay Day,” said legendary performer Doris Day, the founder of Spay Day. “As in previous years, my foundation has issued a special grant to enable animal guardians in regions that can benefit from the extra help to have their animals spayed or neutered. We’re proud of this program and so gratified by the number of lives and taxpayer dollars that have been saved over the years.”

More than 700 events take place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories, as well as 46 other countries. Animal welfare organizations, veterinary professionals and others will be hosting events in their communities, providing much-needed services to families with pets and raising awareness in their communities about the importance of spaying and neutering. Events include low and no-cost spay/neuter clinics, providing life-saving veterinary services for low-income families, fundraisers to benefit spay/neuter programs, and educational efforts spreading the message about the importance of spaying and neutering pets.

For more information:

Is My Dog’s Fur Coat Enough?

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Baby, it’s cold out there! So, we’re sharing another helpful post from our pals at Ruffwear. Is your dog warm enough and are you doing enough to protect their paws? Read on, and find out!

How cold is too cold for your dog? The answer is tricky because dogs vary in size, amount of fur, activity level, age, weight, and cold tolerance.

Especially when temperatures go below freezing, we need to consider whether our dogs would benefit from extra protection against the elements. We recommend some form of foot protection be used when the ground reaches freezing. You may see your dog prance around or refuse to put their paws down on cold ground—this is a good indicator that your dog is in need of boots.

Factors that affect cold tolerance: