Pet Safety Q&A
There’s so much information on social media – good and bad – about pet care that we thought it would be helpful to share answers to some commonly asked questions from veterinarian Andrea Moolenbeek of Natick Animal Clinic.
Baypath: What are some pet safety issues you encounter in your practice that pet owners may not be aware of?
Dr. Moolenbeek: Xylitol toxicity. Sugar-free sweetener is in a lot of things in addition to gum. It can cause severe low blood sugar in dogs. Lillies of many types are severely toxic to cats. Even a very small amount of contact can lead to kidney failure. Chocolate is also very toxic to dogs; the darker the chocolate, the more severe the reaction. It can be fatal. The ASPCA website has a list of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats.
Baypath: Are things like essential oils and plug-in diffusers safe to use around pets?
Dr. Moolenbeek: Yes and no. Essential oils are more acutely toxic if placed on the
animal (cats tend to groom) or ingested. In general I would avoid extensive air diffusion of low-grade oils for all species. Definitely avoid these if you keep birds as pets, as they are much more sensitive to these substances.
Baypath: We often see people on Facebook recommending to other pet owners to give their dogs or cats CBD (cannabidiol) or related products for anxiety and other issues. Is that really safe?
Dr. Moolenbeek: The answer is we really don’t know. The FDA just came out with a strong warning.
There really is limited research but there are a few companies starting to work with veterinary schools to evaluate. There area a lot of hazy legalities as well, especially for veterinarians. The important thing to remember is just because it is all natural does not mean it is safe. I hope that there is more research done in the future to see if it has its place in veterinary medicine.
Baypath: What other steps can people take to keep their homes safe for their pets?
Dr. Moolenbeek: Avoid things that pets can ingest that may cause intestinal obstruction, electrocution (cords), GI distress or toxicity, and choking hazards. The biggest issues we see are when pets get into things: trash, medications, cleaning products, antifreeze. Also be cautious about candles, access to the Christmas tree (tipping over), or decorations that your pet could ingest. The noise and bustle of the holidays can be stressful for some pets. Make sure they have a safe and quiet space to retreat to.