Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Are wild mushrooms harmful to dogs?

Ultimately, of course, it depends on the mushroom! However, with an increasingly warm and wet autumn climate, mushroom populations are soaring. In fact, in September 2018 the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) actually issued a warning about the problem. Read on to find out if wild mushrooms are harmful to dogs and what signs to watch out for. 

If you think your dog may have eaten an unknown wild mushroom, contact us IMMEDIATELY for advice.


What is a wild mushroom?

This sounds really easy —  but do you actually know what those bulbous masses are? Fungi are a kingdom of life all of their own, as different from plants as plants are from animals. Most fungi live in the environment and form networks of fine fibres growing through the soil. The mushrooms we see are their fruiting bodies, part of their reproductive cycle, which develop spores and then distribute them into the wind to spread where they will.

These fruiting bodies are high in protein and often very nutritious, so make a nice snack for any passing critter. Most fungi accept this as one of those things that, as a non-mobile fungus, one must put up with. However, there are a number that resent their unborn offspring being gobbled up by animals, and produce a range of really quite nasty poisons to deter peckish beasts.


What do wild mushrooms do to dogs?

The majority of the 4000 or so species of UK mushrooms are harmless – they might not taste nice, but they aren’t actually dangerous. However, there are a number that produce toxins called mushroom poisons (interestingly, although very similar poisons produced by moulds are called mycotoxins, the term is not usually used for those produced by the mushroom fruiting bodies themselves). For centuries, if not millennia, the properties of these fungi have been known by healers, botanists and shamens, and used for a range of uses.

In dogs, we tend to see three groups of clinical effects:

Early onset vomiting and/or diarrhoea

These are usually the least harmful types of mushroom – as a general rule of thumb, the earlier the symptoms appear, the less dangerous the mushroom is. This is because it triggers vomiting and purging that remove any unabsorbed toxins from the dog’s system rapidly. If the dog is violently vomiting within six hours of eating the mushroom(s), then although they need to be seen by one of our vets (dehydration and salt imbalances from profuse vomiting can be dangerous in itself), the prognosis is usually fairly good.

Neurological effects

The most famous example is, of course, Psilocybe semilanceata, the “Magic Mushroom”, but there are a number of different psychoactive fungi in the UK. Unfortunately, dogs do not cope well with the effects of the active ingredients and may develop abnormal behaviour (well, of course!), self-injury, abnormal heartbeats and even seizures. In some cases, death may occur due to trauma while under the influence of the hallucinogen (for example, jumping from windows or running into solid objects), while in severe poisonings, the seizures may result in hyperthermia which may cause death from internal overheating (although fortunately this is relatively rare).

Liver and/or kidney damage

Sadly, many of the most dangerous mushrooms do not give easy tell-tail signs of poisoning until much later – possibly too late. These damage may damage the liver or kidneys, typically resulting in symptoms such as lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination (in kidney failure) and jaundice (in liver failure). Treatment requires intensive supportive therapy and often hospitalisation and the prognosis is guarded.


How do you know if a mushroom is safe or not?

The bottom line is that it’s very hard to tell – many harmless varieties have a poisonous twin that is almost indistinguishable. As a result, we strongly advise you not to let your dog eat wild mushrooms – full stop!

 

Fireworks and Your Pet

Fireworks season is fast approaching and although we may enjoy it as humans, it may be a little stressful for our furry friends. See below our advice on keeping your pet happy and safe during this time, or have a look at our top 10 tips on keeping your pet safe this firework season. 


ALWAYS

  • Keep dogs and cats inside when fireworks are being let off.
  • Close all windows and doors and block off cat flaps to stop pets escaping and to keep noise to a minimum. Draw the curtains, and if the animals are used to the particular sounds of TV or radio, switch them on.
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped so should they run away you are more likely to be reunited with them.

NEVER

  • Walk your dog while fireworks are going off.
  • Leave or tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off.
  • Take your dog to a firework display. Even if your dog does not bark or whimper at fireworks it doesn’t mean they are happy.
  • Shout at your pet if they are frightened as this will only make them more distressed.

DOGS

To further minimise distress, we suggest you install an Adaptil® diffuser in your home. The Adaptil® diffuser works like a plug-in air freshener, continuously releasing an odourless natural pheromone which helps to keep your pet feeling safe and calm. The diffuser contains a natural solution and there is no sedative effect. Xylkene® is an oral tablet which can also be used to help relieve anxiety without the use of potentially sedative drugs. In severe cases we may need to prescribe a sedative. Please discuss this with one of our veterinary surgeons.

CATS

A Feliway® diffuser is the feline equivalent to the Adaptil® diffuser. Feliway® releases feline facial pheromone, mimicking the cat’s own pheromones, helping to create a state of calmness and well-being, allowing reactions to stressful situations to be better controlled. Xylkene® can also be used in cats to help relieve anxiety without the use of potentially sedative drugs.

SMALL ANIMALS

Rabbits and guinea pigs living outside should not be forgotten. They can also become very stressed from loud noises. Bring small animals indoors or into an outhouse to muffle the sound of the fireworks, helping them feel safe and calm.


If you are concerned or would like further advice, please speak to your local Goddard vet soon.

Top 10 tips for pets this firework season

From Bonfire Night to New Year’s Eve, over the years we’ve created a whole season of fireworks. Now, we’re all in favour of this, the more chances we get to celebrate, the better! But sadly many pets don’t feel the same way. In this blog, we’ve outlined our top 10 tips on how to keep your dogs, cats, and other pets safe this firework season.


TIP 1: DESENSITISE YOUR DOGS AND CATS

If your pet is afraid of the loud noises, start desensitisation therapy as early as you can. Try downloading firework sound effects from Dogs Trust and play them very, very quietly. Reward your pet for staying calm, and over weeks or even months, gradually increase the volume so they get used to the sound.

TIP 2: MAKE SURE THEY ARE MICROCHIPPED

Panicking pets tend to run, but they’re not so fussy where they run to! If they DO escape and are microchipped you can be sure you’ll be reunited again.

TIP 3: USE PHEROMONES

There are pheromone products available for cats and dogs such as Feliway and Adaptil. They are very effective at reducing stress and anxiety levels. Start using them at least 2-3 weeks before fireworks season starts if possible.

TIP 4: TRY OUT SOME CALMERS

There are a wide range of herbal and nutritional calmers on the market; some of which we stock and can recommend. Although the evidence for Zylkene isn’t conclusive, we think it really can help settle animals down if given over a prolonged period!

TIP 5: BUILD A NICE NEST

Your pets need to be kept safe and secure, with a suitable nest or den to hide in. This is especially important for dogs and cats, but also applies to rabbits and small furries kept in open cages or hutches. Make sure they can hide themselves away when the displays start!

TIP 6: KEEP YOUR ANIMALS SAFELY INDOORS

It may be a little tricky but make sure your cat and dog are safely inside. Not only will it stop them escaping (and then potentially coming to harm), but it will also muffle any scary sounds and frightening lights.

TIP 7: LIGHTPROOF AND SOUNDPROOF HUTCHES, CAGES AND AVIARIES

If possible, rabbits and other small pets in cages or hutches should also be brought inside — or at least, away from sight and sound of the fireworks. For example, a large hutch can usually be moved into a garage or shed. For cage birds, the aviary isn’t usually movable, but the bright flashes can panic birds into a smother. As a result, we recommend carefully covering the aviary (while leaving lots of air-holes!) to minimise any risk.

TIP 8: KEEP TO A NORMAL ROUTINE

Many pets are very sensitive to changes in routine and timing and can put them on edge. So as much as possible, keep everything the same. You really don’t need any extra stress — and neither do they!

TIP 9: DON’T REWARD FEARFUL BEHAVIOUR

Of course, if your dog is afraid, your cat is scared, or your rabbit is terrified, it’s only natural to try and comfort them. However, you need to be careful. Excessive fuss and treats can reinforce the fearful behaviour — as they learn this is what they need to do to get your attention! As a rule of thumb, make a moderate fuss of them if they come to you, but don’t go to them, or dramatically change the way you react. Remember, pets can pick up on our stress levels as well as vice versa, so it can spiral out of control!

TIP 10: COME AND TALK TO US

If your pet is really, really stressed and you’re worried they’ll hurt themselves — come and talk to us. Not only can we give you personalised and tailored advice, but our vets can, if necessary, prescribe anti-anxiety medications to relieve short-term stress, fear and panic.

What should I feed my dog?

There are a couple of age old mantras such as “you are what you eat” and “food is medicine”,  both used to deliver the message that our nutrition and our diet, has a major impact on our health. It’s the same story for our pets — so what should I feed my dog we hear you say? 


HOW OLD IS YOUR DOG?

Human infants and toddlers have different dietary needs to the likes of teenagers and OAPS as they are at different stages of their lives — it’s the same for dogs. A young puppy needs lots of energy, protein and calcium for growth of muscle, tissue and bone. An older dog, perhaps starting to slow down, needs rather fewer calories.

WHAT BREED IS YOUR DOG?

The difference in size and shape of the jaw may mean that different sizes or shapes of kibble are more easier to chew — this is particularly true of smaller short-nosed dogs, who can really struggle with some sizes of kibbles.

Endurance dog breeds such as Collies are “always on the go” whereas smaller and toy breeds (such as Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas) tend to live a more sedentary lifestyle — which can dramatically impact on their calorie requirements.

HOW BIG IS YOUR DOG?

The adult body size of your dog can affect their growth rate, and their dietary needs, when they are younger. But alongside this, several scientific studies have found evidence which suggests that food moves relatively more quickly through a smaller sized dog, than through a large sized dog, meaning more frequent meals may be needed, or a diet with a different fibre content.

WHAT KIND OF LIFESTYLE DOES YOUR DOG HAVE?

Top performing human athletes require very different diets from your normal office worker — in the dog world a good equivalent example would be the Labrador Retriever. A working Labrador will have different needs to a couch cuddling Lab. Remember, too, that where they live is important! A dog who lives in a kennel probably needs more calories than one who sleeps indoors by the fire, for example.

What should I feed my dog?

DOES YOUR DOG HAVE ANY DIETARY SENSITIVITIES?

Some dogs can suffer from allergies and intolerances to certain components of a diet, causing itchy skin or upset tummies for example. Understanding your dogs specific needs, things to avoid, and even methods by which diets are made, all helps to select the right diet.

DOES YOUR DOG HAVE ANY MEDICAL NEEDS?

Some diets are “prescription diets” which have scientific proof demonstrating that they help to control or prevent health issues such as bladder stones, kidney problems or liver issues. Other diets are formulated to include nutrients which may help manage things like arthritis.

COMPLETE DIET OR COMPLEMENTARY DIET?

These two terms sound very similar but what you may not know is that there is a very important difference. The term “complete diet” is a legally protected term in the EU, and using it means that by law, that diet must contain the required energy and nutrients (vitamins, minerals etc.) in the correct proportions. A complementary diet doesn’t have to meet these requirements.

Feeding a complete diet is essential to provide everything your animal needs. When a diet provides too much of something, it can lead to toxicities. For example, dogs fed too much Vitamin D can ultimately suffer from kidney failure. This is one reason it’s important not to feed too much offal in a raw diet.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SAFE HANDLING AND STORAGE OF THE DIET?

Some diets (especially raw ones) may require you to keep in the fridge or freezer, and may have a specific time period for consumption. Feeding these diets may also mean accepting an increased risk of encountering some bacteria which can be harmful to humans such as E.coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella .

The best way to minimise this risk is to change your usual hygiene practices when preparing a pets meal and when cleaning up faeces, to minimise the exposure of you or your family to the bacteria.


Every dog is an individual with their own specific needs and no-one knows those needs better than you and your vet. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by choice, or just looking for the best diet for your pet,  book an appointment with a member of our team. we can discuss a unique individual nutritional assessment for your pet and then recommend a refined range of diet options available to you.

Common Toxins Dangerous To Your Pet

Certain types of food and household items can be unknowingly toxic to your pet — read our list of the most common toxins dangerous to your pet below.

If you think your pet has ingested one of the following please contact your vet immediately. If you are concerned your pet has eaten something poisonous not listed please use our online poisons guide for advice.


FOOD AND PLANT TOXINS

  • Chocolate – causes heart rhythm abnormalities and nervous system signs (eg excitement, tremors, seizures). Just 15g of dark chocolate can be toxic to a 10kg dog.
  • Onions – cause anaemia by destroying red blood cells.
  • Garlic – believed to have a similar effect to onions.
  • Macadamia nuts – in dogs, cause weakness, inability to stand, vomiting, depression.
  • Avocado – fatal in birds.
  • Grapes and raisins – can cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Raw or undercooked meat – diarrhoea and/or vomiting (due to Salmonella or e.coli bacteria).
  • Fungal toxins (mouldy food) – diarrhoea, tremors, seizures.
  • Bread dough – disorientation, depression, weakness, coma.
  • Acorns – diarrhoea, kidney failure.
  • Lilies – have been shown to cause kidney failure in cats.
  • Brunsfelsia – (“yesterday-today-and-tomorrow”) – diarrhoea, seizures.
  • Oleander, rhododendron, azalea, crocus, foxglove, hyacinth bulbs – Heart problems.

HOUSEHOLD TOXINS

  • Antifreeze – causes kidney failure, cats and rabbits need to ingest only very small amounts to show symptoms.
  • Tea Tree Oil – depression, weakness, incoordination, muscle tremors.
  • Pyrethrins, Permethrins – usually found in supermarket / pet shop flea products, toxic (especially to cats) if ingested; causes salivation, tremors, and seizures.
  • Paracetamol (panadol) – toxic to the liver and interferes with oxygen transport, can be very quickly fatal in cats.
  • Ibuprofen (nurofen) – depending on amount eaten, can cause gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney failure, and/or seizures.
  • Aspirin – can cause gastrointestinal ulcers.
  • Bleach and other cleaning products – many of these chemicals are highly acidic or alkaline, and can cause tongue and mouth ulcers when licked by dogs or cats.
  • Rat poison– causes blood clotting problems, seen most commonly as internal bleeding, or blood in stools or urine, or vomiting blood.