Monthly Archives: November 2009

Holiday/Seasonal Hazards for our pets

Here are some things to steer clear of during the holiday and winter season!


Lilies- typically found in holiday flower arrangements, several varieties can be deadly to cats. Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer and Casa Blanca lilies all potentially cause kidney failure in cats.

Poinsettias- contrary to popular belief ingesting this holiday flower is not severly toxic to our pets. They can be irriting to the mouth and stomach if eaten, and therefore can cause mild vomiting or nausea.

Mistletoe- when eaten, this can often times just cause gastrointestinal upset but has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems.

Holly- vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy are the symptoms to look for if your pet eats this festive plant.


Chocolate- in order from most toxic to least toxic- baker’s, semi-sweet, milk chocolate. Keep in mind that a lot of holiday sweets are wrapped in foil and this can also be irritating to your pets GI tract as well as a potential cause for blockage.

Alcoholic beverages (hops as well, if you are brewing at home)
Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered expresso beans)
Fatty foods
Yeast dough
Onions, onion powder
Moldy or spoiled food


*Christmas Tree water- sometimes contains fertilizers which can cause stomach upset. It is also a breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Also if you have a real tree- make sure it is secure to prevent pets from knocking it over.

*Electric Cords – your pet is at risk for electrocution if chewed. Avoid exposure by hiding or covering cords.

*Ribbons or Tinsel- if ingested these linear items can get caught in the intestines and cause and intestinal obstruction

*Batteries- batteries contain corrosives that can ulcerate the mouth, tongue, and the rest of the GI tract.

*Glass ornaments- Can cut the mouth, tongue and rest of the GI tract if eaten. If your pets seem interested in ornaments- a suggestion would be to decorate the bottom third of the tree with wood or plastic ornaments that won’t break.

*Burning Candles


Antifreeze- unfortunately, antifreeze tastes sweet to pets, and very small amounts of it can be lethal. If you think any amount (even just a teaspoon) has been ingested by your pet, contact your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately ( 1-888-4ANI-HELP).

Liquid potpourris- some types can result in severe oral, skin, or eye issues

Ice Melting products- can be irritating to skin and mouth. Symptoms include excessive drooling, vomiting, and lethargy.

Rat and Mouse killers- used more commonly during cold weather. Just make sure they are in places your pets can not reach them.

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink.

Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.

Talkin’ Turkey
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them rawhide strips, Greenies or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

The veterinarians and staff of Kingsbrook Animal Hospital would like to wish everyone a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

More Dog Facts

Dachshunds are the smallest breed of dog used for hunting. They are low to the ground, which allows them to enter and maneuver through tunnels easily.

Developed in Egypt about 5,000 years ago, the greyhound breed was known before the ninth century in England, where it was bred by aristocrats to hunt such small game as hares.

Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible.

Dogs can hear sounds that are too faint for us to hear, and also can hear noises at a much higher frequency than we can. Their hearing is so good that they probably rely more on sound than on sight to navigate their world.

Dogs’ eyes have large pupils and a wide field of vision, making them really good at following moving objects. Dogs also see well in fairly low light.

Dogs have far fewer taste buds than people — probably fewer than 2,000. It is the smell that initially attracts them to a particular food.

Dogs in monuments: The dog is placed at the feet of women in monuments to symbolise affection and fidelity, as a lion is placed at the feet of men to signify courage and magnanimity. Many of the Crusaders are represented with their feet on a dog, to show that they followed the standard of the Lord as faithfully as a dog follows the footsteps of his master.

Dogs may not have as many taste buds as we do (they have about 1,700 on their tongues, while we humans have about 9,000), but that doesn’t mean they’re not discriminating eaters. They have over 200 million scent receptors in their noses (we have only 5 million) so it’s important that their food smells good and tastes good.

Each day in the US, animal shelters are forced to destroy 30,000 dogs and cats.

Every known dog except the chow has a pink tongue – the chow’s tongue is jet black.

Every year, $1.5 billion is spent on pet food. This is four times the amount spent on baby food.

For Stephen King’s “Cujo” (1983), five St. Bernards were used, one mechanical head, and an actor in a dog costume to play the title character.

More Cat Facts

Not every cat gets “high” from catnip. Whether or not a cat responds to it depends upon a recessive gene: no gene, no joy.

Of all the species of cats, the domestic cat is the only species able to hold its tail vertically while walking. All species of wild cats hold their talk horizontally or tucked between their legs while walking.

One litter box per cat, plus an extra box, is the best formula for a multi-cat household.

Orange and lemon rinds are offensive to cats. A light rubbing of orange peel on furniture will discourage your cat from using it as a scratching post.

People who are allergic to cats are actually allergic to cat saliva or cat dander. If the cat is bathed regularly, allergic people have better tolerance to it.

Perhaps the oldest known female cat was Ma, from Devon, who was 34 when she died in 1957.

Purring is part of every cat’s repertoire of social communication, apparently created by the movement of air in spasms through contractions of the diaphragm. Interestingly, purring is sometimes heard in cats who are severely ill or anxious, perhaps as a self-comforting vocalization. But, more typically, it is a sign of contentment, first heard in kittens as they suckle milk from their mother.

Retractable claws are a physical phenomenon that sets cats apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. I n the cat family, only cheetahs cannot retract their claws.

Siamese cats originated in Siam—modern day Thailand. Legend has it that they were the companions of kings and priests and that they guarded temples. Some trace Siamese origins to Egypt and Burma, but many dispute this idea. Siamese were first brought to England in the late 1800s.

Siamese kittens are born white because of the heat inside the mother’s uterus before birth. This heat keeps the kittens’ hair from darkening on the points.
Sir Isaac Newton, who first described the principle of gravity, also invented the swinging cat door for the convenience of his many cats.

Some common houseplants poisonous to cats include: English Ivy, iris, mistletoe, philodendron, and yew.

Tests done by the Behavioral Department of the Musuem of Natural History conclude that while a dog’s memory lasts about 5 minutes, a cat’s recall can last as long as 16 hours.

The ancestor of all domestic cats is the African Wild Cat, which still exists today.

The Ancient Egyptian word for cat was mau, which means “to see”.

Routine dentistry is the WAY TO GO!

Staying on top of your pets oral health has many benefits to your pet as well as your pocket book. There are a variety of things you can do at home to maximize your pets oral health. You always have to consider that both dogs and cats have genetic influences and breed predispositions that effect the degree of dental disease they deal with. Some animals can be much more challenging to keep healthy than others. The number one thing any pet owner can do for any variety of dog or cat is brush their teeth daily or at minimum 3 times a week. This has all the same benefits it does for us as humans. Other things done at home are to provide dental diets, appropriate chew treats that promote plaque and tartar reduction, and oral rinses that minimize the bacterial load in the mouth that precursors plaque formation.

If needed, getting your pets teeth professionally cleaned by your veterinarian before there is significant dental disease and even teeth that require removal is ideal. It is much cheaper to perform a ROUTINE DENTISTRY than it is to address a mouth with progressive dental disease that includes severe tartar, gum recession, root exposure and even infected or fractured teeth that need to be extracted. It is also important to consider the systemic effects progressive dental disease has on your pets heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Ultimately we all have a common goal of maintaining our pets comfort and quality of life and diseased teeth are not comfortable.

The veterinary technicians at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital will always be glad to help you grade the progression of dental disease in your pet and help you come up with a plan for maximizing their health. Feel free to call Ranee, Sara, Stacey, Melissa, Jen or Nora any time at 301-631-6900. We can even set up a no cost tech appointment to look at your pets teeth and make suggestions.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

When working in an animal hospital you tend to see certain breed trends, or breeds that are becoming more popular. A breed we are seeing more oftern here at Kingsbrook is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. As an owner of a CKCS myself, I can understand why so many people fall in love with the breed. Cavaliers are a playful, happy, devoted breed that usually do well with children, cats and dogs. They require moderate exercise and grooming. A good walk and daily brushing will usually suffice. CKCS are sporting dogs so do not always do well with small mammals or birds. They often will chase anything that moves so keeping on a leash if not fenced is imperative.

Anyone who has any knowledge of dogs knows that every breed comes with their list of medical concerns. Unfortunately CKCS has some serious and potentially costly health issues. The following are the issues we see most often:

Heart Disease: CKCS are 20 times more prone to Mitral Valve Disease than any other breed.
Cataracts and Cherry eye
Luxating (dislocating) Patellas
Syringomyelia: A progressive neurological disease of varying severity. A larger number of CKCS have this than any other breed.

Since any of these can be severe enough to require care from a veterinary specialist it is important to realize owning a CKCS can become quite costly. My owne Cavie has had trips to a veterinary neurologist and regularly sees a cardiologist. We have a client here at Kingsbrook that owns two young CKCS and has already started saving for potential costly health issues later in life. Smart move!!

The AKC recommends to check for ant hereditary diseases several generations back when considering purchasing a Cavalier. Even this does not guarantee a perfectly healthy dog.

Although my sweet 14 year old Cavie requires a spread sheet to keep track of al his medications, I know I will own another one day. Before Aquiring a new pup, I will be researching it’s medical history and have a nest egg for major, unexpected medical concerns. Having owned a CKCS I know it is more likely than not that I will someday be spending money taking it to a veterinary specialist but also realize that they are worth every penny spent.

Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?

Tail wagging is a behavior closely associated with dogs, who seem to engage in it more than other animals. The exact reason why dogs wag their tails may not be entirely clear, but it does seem to be linked with a desire to communicate information to other members of the pack. Being inherently social animals, dogs wag their tails to provide social cues. In combination with other body language, owners can use it as an indicator of how a dog feels about a situation.

Some animal behaviorists theorize that dogs wag their tails to indicate submission. However, this is unlikely to be true, as a wide range of dogs wag their tails in different situations. Wolves, used for the basis of a great deal of behavior study, do not bear out the submission theory. For example, puppies approaching a mother to nurse will wag their tails, which suggests submission, but the mother wolf also wags hers, making this theory less plausible.

It appears that dogs wag their tails in social situations only, and do not do so alone. It may be that dogs wag their tails in response to stimuli which they experience. The position of the tail also appears to have some bearing on the meaning. Further study may reveal the deeper reasons between why dogs wag their tails, and it probably also differs from dog to dog.

A dog which keeps its tail high in the air while wagging it may be aggressive. Many large dogs wag their tails in this fashion to indicate that they are dominant. If a dog is holding its tail up and waving only the tip, you should approach with care, watching for other signs like the position of the ears or growling. If a dog has its tail between its legs, however, it indicates submission. Frightened or nervous dogs may wag their tails stiffly between their legs. Approach this type of dog cautiously as well, since dogs can bite or snap out of fright.

When a dog holds its tail straight out, rather than up or down, it is a sign of interest and curiosity. The majority of dogs wagging their tails in this position are friendly and interested in what is going on around them, and they do not pose a threat. Studies have also suggested that dogs who favor the right when wagging have a positive response to the stimulus they are experiencing, while dogs who bear left are having a negative response.

Dry, scaly nose

Hi, My name is Morky and I belong to Nora, a technician at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital. Do you have a dry, scaly nose like me. Or is your nose thickened and cracked. This is a very common problem in many dogs as they age and in some specific breeds such as boxers and bull dogs. The manifestation of these signs can be a primary problem or can be secondary to some other underlying disease. Something that commonly happens when a nose exhibits these characteristics is that there can be a secondary yeast and/or bacterial infection. Some dogs will build up mucoid discharge in there nose, sometimes on just one side or maybe both, that can impede breathing effort and result in a congested sounding airpassage. This condition is commonly called hyperkeratosis and my case is farely mild but chronic. I am 11 years old and have had this condition since I was about 7. My mom tries to keep my nose moist and conditioned with a vitamin E roll on that she applies to my nose 2-3 times a week. Periodically when it looks worse she has the doctor check a cytology to see if bacteria or yeast are present and treat those things accordingly.

If you need help with your dry, scaly, thickened nose ask your friends at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital what your mom can do to make it better.
Happy Fall,