Monthly Archives: February 2018

Lily Toxicosis: Cat Lovers Beware!

lily-2732763_640It was February 15th of 2015. I walked into work and the hospital was gushing over my head technician’s sparkling engagement ring. The ring was just a little large but absolutely brilliant. Lillian’s eyes glistened with tears as she relayed the beautiful engagement story. This would definitely be a Valentine’s Day she would never forget.

The hospital was especially busy that day – call after call of chocolate ingestion came in. Lilly kept her chocolate toxicity calculator on her that day. When 3 pm rolled around Lillian’s shift was over; she gathered five garbage bags full of chocolate vomitus, commented on the appearance of her new diamond ring covered in activated charcoal, and departed for the dumpster outside and then on to her car.

4:30 that day I received a panicked phone call from Lilly. Her 4 month-old kitten her now-fiancé had given her for Christmas was vomiting and lethargic. She stated that Hobbes did not greet her at the door and was shaking. She was rushing back to the hospital as we spoke.

On presentation, Hobbes was drooling and continued to dry heave. He quickly descended into a state of minimal responsiveness. When Hobbes began to seize I had him placed on a breathing machine to support him while I gathered additional information.

Labs revealed that Hobbes’ kidneys were completely shutting down. I questioned Lilly closely about potential toxic exposure- grapes/raisins, medications, antifreeze, plants- ANYTHING. My team scrambled to administer fluids, medications, and oxygen while we watched Hobbes decompensate. Without an antidote, there was no hope. Lilly’s fiancé arrived within an hour and the two held vigil over Hobbes as we provided life support. The couple recounted everything that had happened within the last 24 hours- trying desperately to determine if anything had been left out- any detail that could hold the key to Hobbes’ mystery diagnosis. Listening to them my ears keyed into one small part of their engagement story. Lilly’s card in her Valentine’s bouquet had said “To the most beautiful Lilly in the world.” Were there actual lilies in Lily’s flower arrangement? Suddenly everything made sense. Hobbes had gotten into the lilies his mom had received for Valentine’s Day.

Lily Toxicosis is a threat to all cats. The Liliaceae family contains more than 160 genera of plants; only the plants belonging to the genera Lilium (true lilies) and Hamerocallis (day lilies) cause kidney failure: Day lily, Asiatic lily, Tiger lily, Easter lily, Stargazer lily, Rubrum lily, and Red, Western, and Wood lilies. It is important to note that some flowers bear the name “lily” but are not true lilies. If you are unsure, do not bring the plant into your cat’s environment.

The toxic principle is unknown. All parts of the plant are toxic (flowers are the most toxic part). Minor exposure (cat brushes by plant and pollen falls onto fur) will cause acute kidney failure within 12-36 hours and death within 3-5 days. Ingestion of the plant can result in death within a few hours. Symptoms may include vomiting, lethargy, anorexia, depression, drooling, stumbling, collapse, seizures, crying, urinary incontinence or complete lack of urination. Signs may seem to improve after onset but then rapidly progress to worsening signs and death within 12-24 hours. Mortality is between 50-100%. Early, aggressive intervention (suspecting ingestion or prompt treatment when clinical signs are first noted) results in a 90% survival rate.

So during this romantic, flower-giving time of year, please make sure your Valentine knows to stay away from lilies if you are a cat lover.


What? Oh! You want to know what happened to Hobbes? Well, OK. Hobbes’ stomach was pumped and decontaminated. He was placed on peritoneal dialysis and a grocery-list of medications to protect his kidneys, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. His blood pressure was monitored closely and medications were administered and tweaked as indicated. We allowed Hobbes to slowly wake up after 12 hours of being in a medically-induced coma. We maintained nutrition via a feeding tube for 48 hours. After 72 hours we removed Hobbes from dialysis and removed his urinary catheter. 7 days after presentation Hobbes went home on a special kidney diet and medications. At his two-week recheck, Hobbes’ kidney values were normal. Hobbes was the ring-bearer at his parents’ wedding one year later and continues to thrive today.

Valentine’s Day – Toxic Foods For Pets

valentines-day-2057745_640As Valentine’s Day approaches many yummy candies and foods will find their way into our homes. You know the ones I’m talking about….. they typically come in those adorable little heart-shaped boxes. For us, those wonderful treats are an amazing delight, however, they can also be toxic foods for pets.

Chocolate is probably the most common toxin. It contains methylxanthines which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures and even death. Darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines. The most dangerous is baking chocolate, it contains the highest amount of the toxin.

Outside of chocolate, there are many other toxic foods that we see around Valentine’s Day. They are grapes and raisins, nuts (macadamia nuts are the worst), and coconut or coconut oil. Lastly, let us not forget about those alcoholic beverages and things with the artificial sweetner Xylitol.

• Grapes and Raisins – cause kidney failure.
• Nuts (including almonds, pecans, and walnuts) – cause vomiting, diarrhea and potentially pancreatitis.
• Macadamia nuts – cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia in dogs. They can also cause neurological signs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last 12-48 hours.
• Coconut and Coconut Oil – cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea (Coconut Water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet).
• Alcohol – causes vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
• Xylitol – Anything with this sweetener can cause low blood glucose and/or liver failure. Initial signs are vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, and seizures. Liver failure can start within a few days.

Let’s give our furry friends a safe, love-filled Valentine’s Day….

There are many other things that are toxic to our furry friends. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions if your little one has ingested a potentially toxic food, plant, or other agent.

Information courtesy of and Shippensburg Animal Hospital 717-532-5413.

Healthy Teeth Make For Healthy Pets

Poor dental health is one of the most common ailments encountered in dogs and cats, yet we often don’t realize that a bit of bad breath can be more than just a smelly inconvenience. The American Veterinary Dental College estimates that by 3 years of age, most dogs and cats have some evidence of dental health issues. So what exactly is dental disease in pets, and what can we do about it?

What is Dental Disease?

Disease of teeth in dogs
Most cases of dental disease in dogs and cats are caused by plaque and tartar.
Dental disease is a broad term referring to problems with the oral cavity. This includes issues with the teeth, gums, and bony structures of the mouth.

Most cases of dental disease in dogs and cats are caused by substances known as plaque and tartar. Plaque is a substance formed by a mixture of bacteria, saliva, and pieces of food. Over time, plaque can harden and become what is known as tartar. Both substances can lead to tooth issues, infections of the gums, and problems with the surrounding bone of the jaw. In some cases, bacteria from within the plaque and tartar can cause infections in other parts of the body, such as the heart and kidneys.

What are the Symptoms of Dental Disease?
Dental disease can often be subtle in its early stages. Signs such as excessive drooling, difficulty eating, and bad breath are common. Owners may also notice changes in the color of the teeth and gums. In more advanced cases, issues such as lethargy, oral pain, weight loss, and a lack of appetite often occur.

What can be done about Dental Disease?
A variety of steps can be taken to prevent or treat dental disease. Daily teeth brushing in dogs and cats is a great way to prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar; just be sure to use a toothpaste that has been formulated for pets. Specific dental diets, treats, and additives are also often useful to improve dental health.

In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend a full dental assessment under anesthesia. This gives us the opportunity to fully clean off any plaque and tartar while also allowing us to address any other issues that may be present in your pet’s mouth.

Don’t Forget About Our Other Furry (and feathery) Friends!
Although dogs and cats typically receive most of the attention when it comes to dental health, other species often have specific dental needs as well. Small rodents and rabbits often need their teeth trimmed, and horses frequently need their teeth leveled off. Many birds require beak trimmings to ensure appropriate oral health. Even pigs and alpacas occasionally require dental care!

Contact Us!
No two pets are exactly alike, and in most cases coming up with an approach to improve your furry friend’s dental health starts with a visit to your vet. At this visit, an individualized plan tailored to your pet’s dental needs, behavior, and lifestyle can be developed. We are here to help in any way we can!

Leptospirosis – What is it?

Leptospira testLeptospirosis or Lepto, is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals.  Without treatment, it can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress or even death.  Lepto is what we call a zoonotic disease.  It is one that can pass from pets to humans.

How is it spread?

The bacteria that cause Lepto are spread through the urine of infected animals.  The urine gets into the water or soil and can survive there from weeks to months.  Animals that are infected may continue to excrete the bacteria into the environment continuously for a few months to several years.  Humans are able to contract this through the urine or other body fluids of infected animals, or by coming in contact with water, soil, or food contaminated with urine.  The bacteria can enter through the skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth), especially if there is a break in the skin.

Who are the carriers of Lepto?

Cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, refusal to eat, severe weakness, depression, stiffness, severe muscle pain, and the inability to have puppies.  The younger the animals are the more severely they are affected.

The time between exposure and development of the disease is usually 5-14 days, but it can be as short as a few days or as long as 30 days or more.

Prevention in Pets

Keep rodents, mice, or other animal pests under control. 

VACCINATE, VACCINATE, VACCINATE!  Even though there are several strains of the Lepto disease, and vaccinations are not 100% protection, they are your first line of defense.  A vaccinated pet has a better chance of survival than an unvaccinated one.

Treatment for Pets

Lepto is treatable with antibiotics.  If diagnosed and treated early your pet may recover more rapidly and any organ damage may not be as severe.  Other treatment methods may include dialysis and hydration therapy.  Dialysis, of course, would be for the more severe case.

Lastly, Leptospirosis in dogs is an extremely severe disease and can be very difficult to treat and can have a high level of suffering plus a high probability of death. That is why vaccinating, along with early diagnosis, is so very important for your cherished family member.

For more information, please visit, or call us at 717.532.5413.