Category Archives: Cats

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.

Adopting Senior Pets

By: Lindsay, LVT

Sandy2November is now nationally recognized as “Adopt a Senior Pet” Month. The sad truth is that senior pets are much more difficult to adopt out compared to their young counterparts. (one of the world’s largest databases for adoptable pets) stated that the typical animal is usually advertised on their website for an average of 12 weeks before finding a home; but senior pets remain stagnant for four times longer than that. How could this be?

American writer Agnes Sligh Turnbull says it well “Dogs lives are too short. Their only fault, really”. Many people are against adopting an older pet because they fear their time with them will be limited. It may be true that an owner will have less years with their gray muzzled companion, but with that comes the opportunity to make their golden years that much sweeter.

There are many perks to owning a senior pet, which include:

1. Training – Senior pets usually know basic commands and can be eager to learn new commands from their owner. Their attention spans, eagerness to please, and attention to detail are greater than that of a puppy or kitten.
2. Independence – Many senior pets can be left at home unsupervised while their owners are away. They also should not require 24/7 supervision that puppies and kittens do.
3. Personality and Lifestyle – When you adopt a senior pet you know exactly what you’re getting into. You know their full-grown size, personality type, energy levels, and health status: what you see is what you get.

I adopted Sandy, a beagle mix, when she was 6 years old. She spent her whole life crated in an unfinished, dark, cold basement, only being let out to use the bathroom. I brought her home and my family had the opportunity to spend six amazing years with her before she eventually crossed Rainbow Bridge. Not only did we have the chance to change her life, but she definitely found a way to change ours in the process. Isn’t that what having a pet is all about?

Pet Allergies in Dogs and Cats

By Dr. Scott Pandya

Autumn can be one of the most wonderful times of the year – the weather cools down, the leaves change, and the hustle of the summer months finally begins to die down. However, the change in seasons can be a difficult time for pets who suffer from allergies. Here is what every pet owner should know about allergies in our four-legged friends:

Causes and Signs of Pet Allergies:

Just as in people, pet allergies can be caused by a wide range of factors. Environmental causes such as dust, mold, pollen, and grasses commonly lead to issues in our pets, as can food allergies. Parasites such as fleas and mites often lead to major allergic issues and itchiness. Remember, cold weather does not always eliminate parasites from the environment, and in some cases can even drive insects like fleas near buildings for warmth!

Dogs and cats can respond in many different ways to allergies. Common signs of allergies include itchiness, ear scratching and rubbing, paw licking, red skin, sneezing, and watery eyes. Pets that are showing any of the above signs should be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine if allergies are at play.

Treating and Preventing Allergies:

Many therapies exist for managing allergies in pets. Antihistamines such as Benadryl and Zyrtec are used by many vets to control and improve symptoms, as are specialized diets that help to eliminate food allergies. Veterinary specific shampoos, topicals, and sprays are frequently used to help reduce skin problems associated with allergies. More powerful medications such as steroids may also be recommended as well depending on the severity of your pet’s symptoms. Year-round flea control is often important for the prevention of allergies in both dogs and cats.

In recent years, two new medications have become available to help combat allergies and itchiness in dogs. Apoquel (a pill) and Cytopoint (a once monthly injection) are very potent medications that tend to carry fewer side effects than older anti-allergy and anti-itch treatments. These medications can also be combined with other products (at the recommendation of your veterinarian) to achieve maximum allergy control.

If you think your pet may be suffering from allergies, please contact us. We are here to help your pet be as healthy and as comfortable as possible!

Diabetes in Pets

November is National Pet Diabetes Month. Are your pets at risk? The likelihood of your cat or dog developing diabetes is anywhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 500 and experts say those numbers are increasing. Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a disease that affects glucose in your pet’s blood and is caused by a shortage of insulin or when the body can’t process insulin properly. Diabetes in dogs is usually type 1 while diabetes in cats is usually type 2 but can progress to type 1.

The food that your pet eats is broken down into small components that the body can use. One of the components, carbohydrates, is converted into sugar or glucose. If there is too little insulin or the insulin cannot be processed correctly, then the glucose is not able to enter the cells and provide energy. Because the cells cannot absorb glucose, a diabetic pet may always want to eat but still look malnourished.

If your pet exhibits the following symptoms, he or she may have diabetes:
-Excessive drinking or urination,
-increased appetite (early stages) or loss of appetite (late stages),
-weight loss,
-lethargy or weakness, and
-vomiting or other intestinal problems.

If your pet has these symptoms then let us or your veterinarian know so we can get started on creating a plan for your and your pet. Although diabetes is not curable, it can be managed with daily insulin injections and changes in diet (and exercise for dogs). Oral medications have shown to be not particularly helpful. Successful management of your pet’s diabetes means that he or she can live a happy and healthy life. Making sure that your pet is eating a proper diet, gets regular exercise, and maintains a healthy weight can be a big help in preventing diabetes.

For more information about pet diabetes, visit

Foods You Shouldn’t Feed Your Cat

September is National Food Safety Month. Just like people can’t eat everything they come across, cats can’t either. In fact, many human foods are toxic for cats. See the alphabetic list below for the foods you should avoid giving your cat.

Alcohol: Alcohol has the same effect on a cat’s brain and liver as it does to humans but it takes far less to see the effects. As little as a teaspoon can cause a coma in a cat and it can easily cause severe liver or brain damage. The higher the proof of alcohol, the worse the symptoms will be.

Chocolate: Although most cats won’t eat chocolate on their own, you should not attempt to try to feed it to your cat. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical found in all chocolate including white chocolate, which is toxic to cats. Eating chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death. Dark and semisweet chocolate are the most dangerous.

Coffee/Caffeine: Along with chocolate, coffee contains caffeine. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and can be toxic to the heart and nervous system.

Fat Trimmings and Bones: Don’t feed your cat table scraps. Fat, when cooked or uncooked, can cause intestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea, or pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Cats can choke on bones or the bones can splinter and cause an obstruction or internal lacerations. You should also never give them anything that is as hard as or harder than their teeth because it can cause dental fractures.

Fish: This includes raw, canned, and cooked fish. You can get away with small amounts of fish but if fed in high amounts your cat can develop a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency that leads to loss of appetite, seizures, and maybe death. The exception to this is if the fish is made into cat food. Most good cat food brands are supplemented with thiamine are just fine.

Grapes and Raisins: Although it is not known what makes grapes and raisins toxic, they can cause kidney failure. Even a small amount can make a cat sick and cause them to repeatedly vomit and be hyperactive.

Macadamia nuts: Like grapes and raisins, it is not known what makes macadamia nuts toxic. Ingestion of macadamia nuts can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle.

Milk/Dairy Products: Surprisingly most cats are lactose-intolerant, so it’s best to be safe and avoid any dairy products.

Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in the body and cause shock or result in death.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives: Onion, in any form, can cause a cat to become anemic because it breaks down red blood cells. Even the onion powder that is in some baby foods is bad for cats. Onion, along with garlic and chives, can also cause gastrointestinal upset.

Raw eggs and meat: Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin, hair, and coat issues. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella or other parasites. Raw meat may contain Salmonella and E. coli which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Sugary foods: Sugary foods, such as candy and gum, are usually sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is known for increasing insulin production which causes blood sugar levels to drop. It can also cause vomiting, fatigue, loss of coordination, and eventually liver failure. Even if the sugary food doesn’t contain xylitol it can still lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes.

Yeast dough: Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system. This can lead to pain and a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, when the yeast causes the dough to rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Non-food items: Foreign objects such as toys, soft rubber objects, stringy objects (thread, yarn, tinsel), coins, and medicine are perhaps a greater risk to cats than food. Aspirin, Tylenol, and Motrin are all highly toxic and a single tablet could be lethal.


If you suspect your cat ate any of these foods, first try to determine what and how much he or she ate. You should then call us or your veterinarian to see if medical attention is needed. If a veterinarian is not available, call either Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

Do you have a dog? Most foods that are toxic for cats are also toxic for dogs. Check back here later for a dog-specific list of toxic foods. If you’re unsure about a certain food and it’s not on this list, call your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is worth the call!

Helpful Pet Fire Safety Tips

Did you know that although 1,000 house fires are caused by pets each year, approximately 500,000 pets per year are affected by house fires? To spread awareness and help keep pets safe, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and ADT Security Services have joined together to make July 15th National Pet Fire Safety Day. Compiled here are some easy and helpful tips to keep your pet safe from fire.

Pet proof your home – Walk around your home to make sure there aren’t any loose wires, appliances, or any other areas where your pet could start a fire.

Extinguish open flames – Animals are curious about light and tend to investigate cooking appliances, fireplaces, and candles. Make sure your pet is supervised around flames, keep them away from the area, and put out any flame before leaving. Using a flameless candle that contains a light bulb rather than a fire takes away the danger of a lit candle accidentally being knocked over. Cats are known for knocking things over with their tails.

Remove your stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, stoves and cooktops are the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.

Don’t use a glass water bowl on a wooden deck – When sunlight is filtered through glass and water, it can heat up and ignite the wood below it. Use a stainless steel or ceramic bowl instead.

Securing your pet – Especially with young puppies, keeping them in a crate or behind a baby gate in a secure area will ensure they are away from potential fire-starting hazards. If your pet is older and you still use a crate or confine them to a certain area, make sure they are close to an entrance. If a fire does start, firefighters can easily find them and remove them from the house.

Use a monitored smoke detection service – Since animals can’t escape, use a smoke detector that is connected to a monitoring center so emergency response teams will be contacted when you’re not home. Battery operated smoke alarms can be used in addition but they may scare your pet.

Affix a Pet Alert window cling – Write down the number of pets you have inside your house and what type of animal they are and attach it to a front window. This will help rescue teams know to look for your pets. Make sure to keep the number of pets you have updated on the sticker. You can order one for free from the ASPCA by going here.

How to Check Your Pet for Ticks

I went for a walk with my pet. Now what?

The warm summer months means spending more time outside and unfortunately, ticks. Many ticks are co-infected, meaning that they carry more than one disease, including Lyme disease. Did you know that only about 5% of dogs exposed will develop symptoms that are attributed to Lyme disease? But with all this said, you’re still going to go for walks with your dog and your outdoor cat will still want to be outdoors. You can prevent Lyme disease by making sure you thoroughly check your pet’s body after they’ve been outside and removing ticks before they attach themselves. Even if your dog or cat wears a tick and/or flea preventative collar or is given a spot-on medication, it is a good idea to do a quick body check.

Keeping your pet’s fur short is an easy first step. Breeds with shorter hair are easier to check than those with long hair. Shorter coats make the ticks easier to see by keeping them close to the surface while longer hair allows a tick to hide deep in the fur and avoid being discovered for long periods of time.

Brush or run your hands over your pet’s whole body, applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps or something the size of a pea. You may also use a brush or flea comb, stopping if you hit a bump or a snag to investigate. Most attachments occur in front of the shoulder blades, which includes the head, neck, and front legs. Make sure to also feel under the collar, under their armpits, between their toes, behind the ears, and around the tail. Ticks are attracted to dark, hidden areas and when attached can range in size from the size of a pinhead to a grape.

If you find an unattached tick, place it in alcohol and dispose of it. Flushing a tick down the toilet will not kill it. If the tick is embedded, you must remove it carefully so you extract the whole tick. If you are uncomfortable removing the tick yourself then call your vet. While wearing gloves to protect yourself, use fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, slowly and steadily, without squeezing the body. After removing the tick, place it in alcohol and clean the bitten area with soap and warm water. Keep an eye on the bitten area to see if an infection arises or if your pet starts to act abnormally. It is very typical for a small nodule to occur at the site of the attachment and persist for up to three weeks. Signs of Lyme disease typically occur one to three weeks following a bite and may include limping, poor appetite, and fever. A very small percentage of dogs may also develop a fatal form that affects their kidneys. If the skin remains irritated or infected or you suspect something might be wrong, call us at 717-532-5413.

CAUTION: Lilies can be highly dangerous to cats!

CAUTION: Lilies can be highly dangerous to cats!

Easter is this weekend and we want to remind you about lilies being VERY dangerous to cats. To be safe we recommend that all cat owners avoid lilies altogether, both inside and out.

The potentially fatal lilies are true lilies, including Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese Show lilies. These are all highly toxic to cats. Even small ingestions (such as chewing on the pollen, petals or leaves) can result in kidney failure and death.

Some other varieties of lilies are a little more benign: Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies contain oxalate crystals that cause minor signs of illness, such as tissue irritation in the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus, which, in turn, causes minor drooling. Much the same as the more commonly recognized danger of poinsettias.

Cats that consume any part of a lily require immediate medical care to effectively treat the poisoning.

If you see your cat eating, or even chewing on a lily, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Swift treatment and decontamination is imperative in the early toxic stage. Additionally, aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney-function monitoring tests, and supportive care can greatly improve prognoses.

Please share this important information with all of your cat loving friends.

Cat Food Recall

PMI Nutrition, LLC (PMI), Arden Hills, Minn., has initiated a voluntary recall of its 20 lb. bags of Red Flannel® Cat Formula cat food for possible Salmonella contamination. There have been no reports of illness related to this product to date. This recall is being issued out of an abundance of caution after routine testing by the FDA Detroit District Office identified possible Salmonella contamination.

For more information on the recall, customers can contact the customer service line for PMI products at 1-800-332-4738. Customer service representatives will be available Sunday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST and Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST

For updated information, go to:

Cold Weather Field Trips for Pets

If your dog is feeling cooped up this winter, try taking him or her on outings with you during the week. Even a short trip to a dog friendly pet store or coffee shop can make their week more eventful. For dogs and cats, consider having a pet sitter drop by to exercise your pooch or play with your cat.