What To Do If Your Cats Are Not Getting Along

What To Do If Your Cats Are Not Getting Along
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

Most cats live in multi-cat households and, whether it is introducing a new cat or a new issue that has started between old friends, there are times when our cats do not get along as well as we would like. We all want a happy, peaceful household so these are just some quick tips on how to deal with the situation when you have cats that are fighting with each other.

The first step is to separate your cats into different rooms for several days or weeks, with separate beds, bowls and litter boxes. This way they can hear and smell each other but do not have to interact. It is important to always remember the rule that you should have multiple areas that your cats can retreat to in order to relax and to always have one more litter box and water bowl than you do cats to avoid issues over territory to begin with. Cats need to be able to spend time alone and never should feel like they are fighting over resources, so developing these areas from day one is important. If you do not have your house set up this way and fighting begins, you need to immediately address this.

While you have your cats separated, place each cat’s food bowl on opposite sides of the closed door. This will encourage them to be close together while they’re doing something that makes them feel good and remind them that they do not have to fight for resources. Also, each day of separation, have the cats switch rooms so they both experience some variation and are exposed to each other’s scents. It can also be helpful to use the same cloth to pet each cat so they are getting love from you while being exposed to each other’s smell and be reminded that there is enough of you to go around!

After some time has passed and both cats appear to be more relaxed, crack the door open one inch and if they remain calm, open the door a bit more each day. If the cats remain relaxed, they may be ready to be together again. However, if they react with any signs of aggressive behavior (such as growling/spitting, hissing, swatting, etc.) go back to having the door only open enough that they are not aggressive or unusually stimulated. The goal is to have a gradual reintroduction that does not cause any negativity.

This process takes patience and a willingness to take one step forward and two steps back if that is what is needed. However, any time you try to move forward too quickly and the cats have a negative experience with each other it delays the process or can cause you to have to start over again. Again, it is all about the positive! If this is a new issue that has come up in your household, it is important to take a good look around your environment and be sure that your cats have multiple places in the home that they can claim as their own and that they do not feel like they are forced to interact if they do not want to. You may also pay attention to what is happening outside of your home – a new outside cat in the area may be taunting your pets through the window and so they are attaching each other (called displaced aggression). You may also need to be sure to be spending enough one-on-one time with each cat, interacting and playing, each day. The general rule of thumb is every cat needs at least 20 minutes a day of interaction with you – the use of a laser or playing fetch or chasing a mouse or feather on a string can be a great way for them to get out some of their energy.

Information About Hearing Loss in Pets

Information About Hearing Loss in Pets
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

The good news for all pet owners worried that their pet is having trouble hearing is that pets suffering from hearing loss can still live good quality, happy lives. We just want to help you learn more about hearing loss and how you can help your hard-of-hearing baby if he/she is affected. Hearing loss or totally deafness is very hard to definitively diagnose without going to see a neurologist who can use specific testing that shows specifically how the brain responds to different sound. However, most owners know their pets so well that they can pick up on when they seem to be having trouble hearing. Hearing loss is a more common complaint from dog owners than cat owners and is seen more in senior dogs or dogs that have a history of chronic ear issues (such as infections). The most common cause of hearing loss is an age-related change called otosclerosis. This process makes the tiny components of the inner ear less pliable and unable to function as they should and because the precise function of the ear is to transmit sound waves, the suppleness of the inner structure is critical to function.

As stated before, a pet that has suffered from chronic recurrent otitis (inflammation and/or infection of the ear) is even more likely to suffer from brittleness of these tiny structures because of scar tissue and swelling. One of the reasons that there are more issues in dogs than cats is that dogs tend to have more issues with environmental allergies than cats and at least 80% of dogs with allergies will suffer from chronic ear issues. Other causes that can impact hearing can include ototoxicity (adverse effects to the ear from certain drugs, which is more commonly seen in cats) and effects from exposure to loud noises (most commonly seen in hunting dogs). The three bones that are most critical to hearing are the tiniest bones in the body and there small size means that even the smallest injury to one of them can have huge effects on how well a patient can hear.

If you think that your pet suffers from hearing loss the first thing to do is schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure that there is no infection, inflammation, ruptured eardrum, or other concern present. Again, to be able to know exactly how a pet’s brain is reacting to sound you would have to see a veterinary neurologist. Sometimes, what is perceived as hearing loss is actually Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (where it is more that changes in the brain cause an animal to react differently to situations, including commands and/or sounds). However, Otosclerosis, the most common cause for actual hearing loss, also occurs more frequently in older patients, and these diseases can occur in at the same time and each disease needs to addressed differently to improve best improve quality of life.

There are things you can do to make hearing impaired pet’s life easier and these include teaching your pet visual cues from an early age so that the impact of the hearing defect is minimized in daily life if it does occur. It is never too late to start training your pet with visual cues paired with the verbal cues they already know. Senior pets can learn to respond to hand signals for rewards and time spent teaching the new cues is a great investment in your relationship. If your pet does have hearing loss, you can also look into the use of vibration collars designed for pets with hearing loss to rouse and interest your pet the way sounds used to. Hearing loss can make the rituals enjoyed by both you and your pet (like greetings) different and impact your bond. Vibration collars are remote controlled and you can train your pet that the vibration means you are home, so he/she can meet you at the door.

By teaching your pet appropriate responses to visual cues or a vibration collar allows him/her to feel secure even without being able to hear. Pets love consistency and knowing the response you want, makes for a calm and confident pet. Hearing loss does not mean your pet can’t lead a full and happy life, but you should be mindful of your pet’s new challenges and ask your veterinarian about any concerns you have with your hard-of-hearing pet.

Understanding Your Pet’s Fears and How We Handle Them

Understanding Your Pet’s Fears and How We Handle Them
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

Elgin Veterinary Hospital is committed to low-stress handling techniques to ensure your pet has the best experience with us. It is very important to do everything possible to help reduce a patient’s stress and there are ways that you can help once you understand the fears he or she may have. Anytime your pet feels threatened, whether that threat is real or imagined, changes occur immediately within his or her body to prepare for fight or flight. These changes occur because your pet’s nervous system releases a variety of stress hormones that have profound effects across many different systems in the body.

The release of these stress hormones results in the immediate availability of energy and oxygen intake and decreases blood flow to areas not critical for movement. This can also inhibit digestion, growth, immune function, reproduction and pain perception. When your pet is under stress, the memories of any events occurring during that time will be very powerful, and how your pet is handled during veterinary visits may have long-standing consequences for our future ability to handle him or her. This is why we choose lower stress handling and also recommend some patients be sedated for visits. We want everything to be pleasant and safe for our family members!

When stressors are unremitting and the stress response continues, virtually every system within the body can be pathologically affected to varying degrees – cardiovascular, metabolic, reproductive, gastrointestinal, immune and integumentary (skin). The results can include myopathy (muscle disorders,) fatigue, hypertension, decreased growth rates, gastrointestinal distress and suppressed immune function, with subsequent impaired disease resistance. Chronic stress can even lead to structural and functional changes in the brain, and when extreme conditions persist, permanent damage can result. This is also why we recommend some anxious pets go on long-term anti-anxiety medications. The dangers of the hormonal response to fear or stress can be severe and we do not ever want our pets to have to live with increased anxiety when there is something we can do to help.

At times we may stop a visit ask you to return later, after giving sedation prior to the visit. This is due to the fact that when pets show subtle signs of fear or anxiety during a veterinary visit, if we proceed without attempting to ameliorate the stress, we may not change the pet’s behavior at that time, but the animal will learn from the experience and will likely behave in a more fractious (aggressive) or stressed manner at the next visit. Anything we do to relieve the stress of a visit will pay off in future visits by being less scary or difficult for your pet. Remember that frequent, distressing experiences can negatively impact an animal’s overall health and well-being. Also, by continuing with a procedure when an animal is showing signs of anxiety, we are teaching the animal that the normal means of communication that the pet is using are meaningless. If we do that, what recourse might that animal have but to develop other less tolerable means of communicating its discomfort, such as becoming aggressive? To avoid this scenario, as soon as we identify signs of fear – especially during elective procedures or visits – we may stop the visit and ask you to return at a later time after your pet has received “happy pills” or sedatives/anti-anxiety medications. We always want our family members to have good experiences!

Tips to Know When Not To Rescue and When To Rescue Wildlife

Tips to Know When Not To Rescue and When To Rescue Wildlife

Provided by Pine Tree Hill Wildlife Care and Exotic Rescue (803-427-1350)

To rescue or not rescue…

Most babies brought to Pine Tree Hill Wildlife Care and Exotic Rescue are not in need of help and could have been reunited with mama if the finders had the proper instructions. Please always contact a rehabber before you touch or remove any wildlife. Also, do not assume a rehabber can take wildlife you have found. Pine Tree Hill Wildlife Care and Exotic Rescue has a certain protocol they must follow before taking a wild animal. It is always best for babies if they are cared for by their own parents. The instructions below will help if you cannot find a rehabber near you or if it’s after hours for rehab centers.

Squirrels & flying squirrels
It is not uncommon to find infant squirrels year round in South Carolina. We recommend that you always try to reunite babies with mama. If you’ve found a nest after a storm or after a tree was cut down leave the nest nearby because mama will almost always retrieve her babies.

When to call a rehabber:
-If the babies are covered in ants
-If there are visible injuries
-If mama has not returned to retrieve her babies after several hours
-If a nest or babies were found, but cannot be reunited with mama due to severe weather/extreme temperatures
-If you fear other humans may try to interfere and take the babies to keep them as pets

It is not uncommon to come across fawns left alone. Like other wildlife species, mama does not stay with her babies, but she “parks” them and watches from afar to keep from attracting predators to help keep her offspring safe. She does not usually get near her babies until after dusk. Mama will not approach you if you get near her babies. DO NOT pick up a fawn just because it is sitting alone and do not attempt to raise a fawn as a pet. In South Carolina fawns can only be cared for by a permitted rehabber and it is illegal for anyone not permitted to be in possession of a fawn. (SC Code of Laws 50-11-410)

When to call a rehabber:
-If the fawn is found near a dead doe – please be prepared to show a game warden proof of the dead doe
-If a fawn is covered in ants
-If a fawn has visible injuries
-If a fawn has been chased by dogs (or people)
-If a fawn has not been reclaimed by mama after being left for her overnight

Cottontails (Rabbits)

Cottontails are found almost year round in South Carolina. If you find a nest please cover it back up. Mama Cottontails only visit/feed twice a day – once before sunrise and once after sunset. If you are concerned the nest has been abandoned simply take four twigs and put them across the nest in a ‘tic-tac-toe’ pattern and if the pattern is disturbed the next morning you know mama has returned. Cottontails are usually on their own by the time they are four weeks old, so if you find a cottontail that is fully furred with its eyes open and it is about 4-5 inches in length it is most likely already on its own and does not need to be rescued unless it is injured.

When to call a rehabber:

-If mama does not return after following the instructions above
-If babies were in contact with a cat or dog
-If babies are covered in ants
-If there are visible injuries

Baby birds/birds of prey
If the bird is fully feathered, uninjured and hopping around it is a fledgling. Contrary to popular belief baby birds do not simply jump from the nest and fly – it takes several tries and sometimes a few days for fledglings to master the art of flying. While on the ground mama and daddy will continue to feed their baby. Be sure to try to keep all cats, dogs, or other pets that could harm the fledgling away until the baby takes off.

If the bird is not fully feathered you can simply put it back into the nest. Please do not believe the myth that mama or daddy will reject a baby bird if a human touches it. If you cannot reach the nest, place the baby in a basket (one that will drain) lined with leaves or pine straw and hang it in a tree near the nest close to where the bird was found, and then from a safe distance watch for mama and daddy to visit the baby and feed it. Almost all wild birds native to South Carolina are federally protected and can only be rehabilitated by someone with a federal permit.

When to call a rehabber:

-If the baby is covered in ants
-If there are visible injuries
-If mama or daddy bird do not return after a few hours
-If a cat has contact with the bird


Opossum babies are almost impossible to reunite with mama because she is nomatic and does not stay in one area very long. If you’ve found a baby or young opossum it is always best to contact a rehabber to see what is recommended. A rehabber can help determine the age of an opossum and determine if it needs help. If you find a dead female opossum with babies in her pouch contact a rehabber immediately. If you can safely remove the babies without endangering yourself do so wearing gloves.

PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH ANY RACCOON WITHOUT GLOVES!! Do not attempt to pick up or move a baby raccoon without contacting a rehabber first. Raccoon are one of the leading rabies carrier species in our state. If you try to handle a raccoon and are bit or scratched please contact your health care provider or DHEC at 803-778-6548.

Raccoon rehabbers are scarce in our state. You may have to make several phone calls before you find someone with proper vaccines to take in orphaned or abandoned raccoon. Go to http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/rehab.html to locate someone qualified to care for raccoon or http://www.dnr.sc.gov/admin/phone.html to speak with a game warden in your area.

PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH ANY BATS WITHOUT GLOVES!! Do not attempt to pick up or move a bat without consulting a rehabber first. If you find a bat in your home, contain the bat placing a garbage can, bucket, or another object on top of it, and then call DHEC for further instructions. Bats are also one of the leading rabies carrier species in our state. If you find a bat in your home or try to handle a bat and get bit or scratched please contact your health care provider or DHEC at 803-778-6548. Like raccoon, bat rehabbers are scarce in our state. You may have to make several calls before you find someone with the proper vaccines to take in orphaned, abandoned or injured bats. Please do not attempt to care for a bat on your own. Go to http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/rehab.html to locate someone qualified to care for raccoon or http://www.dnr.sc.gov/admin/phone.html to speak with a game warden in your area.

Fox and Coyote
It is illegal to rehabilitate or relocate a fox or coyote in South Carolina. If you find an abandoned fox or coyote please contact a game warden in your area for instructions at http://dnr.sc.gov/admin/phone.html. If you have been bitten or scratched by a fox or coyote please contact your local health provider or DHEC at 803-778-6548.

Other species:
Pine Tree Hill Wildlife Care and Exotic Rescue is always happy to help you locate a rehabber for the critters you have found. Simple, call Pine Tree Hill Wildlife Care and Exotic Rescue so they can do their best or contact the DNR for rehabbers in your area at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/rehab.html

It is always important to contact a rehabber if you are concerned about a wild animal. Never try to feed or rehabilitate any species on your own. Wild animals can transmit parasites and zoonotic diseases to humans. Also, keep in mind that wildlife rehabbers are not shelters – they do not take in wildlife raised as pets and do not keep non-releasable wildlife. It is not uncommon for a rescue to refuse to take an animal you have found so always contact a rehabber before you remove wildlife.

Three Pet Food Label Myths

Three Pet Food Label Myths
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

With so many pet food options, choosing the right diet can be very difficult and so we want to offer some advice to help you select the best foods based on our knowledge and experience with many pet. We want to help you to ignore the smoke and mirrors of many marketing ploys designed to appeal to your emotional needs rather than your pets’ nutritional needs so that you can make the most informed decision possible. A pet’s food should be based on physical examination findings, lifestyle, medical condition and other factors related to your pet’s health. Therefore, before you reach for the food you heard about on a commercial, keep in mind that not everything you hear is true and there is no perfect food for every pet.

Myth 1: Foods labeled premium are always better for your pet.

Truth: Some premium food companies may try to make other manufactures look bad for using certain ingredients like corn or meat meals. However, pets do not need ingredients; they need the nutrients that are contained in ingredients. The nutrients contained in any ingredients are more important than the ingredients themselves. Manufacturers, nutritionists and pet owners simply cannot predict a food’s performance based on its ingredients list alone because there are too many unknowns. These included the amount of the ingredients present in the food, the quality of the ingredients or the exact identity and nutrient composition of the ingredient. None of this can be determined just by looking at the list of ingredients.

Myth 2: The best food for your pet is one that lists real meat as the first ingredient.

Truth: Some manufactures make unsubstantiated claims about ingredients and manipulate their own ingredient lists. For example, some dry food manufacturers tout real chicken, fish, or beef as their first ingredient because the food contains more of this ingredient by weight than any other ingredient. What the manufacturer is not saying is that the “real meat” is at the top of the list because it contains mostly water weight, which is removed when the food is made – this moves that “real meat” way down the ingredient list. They also neglect to mention that the technical term for “real meat” is mechanically deboned meat, also known as “white slime” (gross!).

Myth 3: The order of the ingredients is the most important factor in selecting your pet’s diet.

Another trick some manufactures play is called ingredient splitting, which is where they list different carbohydrates separately (such as corn, rice, barley, wheat or oatmeal) or list out different forms of the same carbohydrate (such as ground wheat and wheat flour), so these individual carbohydrates appear lower in the ingredient list. Doing so makes it appear as if carbohydrates are not the first ingredient, but if they were combined then they would be listed much higher on the ingredient list.

The Top Ten Most Searched Cat Questions

The Top Ten Most Searched Cat Questions
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

In this day and age of the internet, knowledge is closer than ever before but you can’t believe everything you read (even if you see it more than once!). We try to provide educational posts, blogs, and helpful links to additional websites on our hospital website at http://www.elginvethospital.com and on our hospital Facebook page, but we know many people still search Google for information when it comes to their pet. These are the ten most-searched questions pet owners asked about their cats last year using Google with some added information to help get to the bottom of your most pressing cat questions! Also, always remember that if you ever have a question regarding your pet never hesitate to contact us. We are always here to do our best to answer your questions!

1. Why do cats purr?
Purring occurs as a result of vibration of vocal cords due to neurological stimulation from brain activity. The purpose of purring is uncertain, but it does seem to be associated with pleasurable activity (such as being pet, rolling around, rubbing against things, or being in a familiar environment where they can peacefully drift off to sleep). Cats are also very smart and typically purring makes owners happy and results in getting more loving from the owner so your cat may also be purring for your benefit (and to get more petting time in)! Cats generally purr when in contact with someone they love or when nursing a kitten or greeting another animal who they care about. However, cats are also known to purr when ill or injured which has led some people to think that the frequency of the vibration can be associated with greater healing in times of poor health.

2. How long do cats live?

With all the advances in medicine these days, cats are living longer and longer. While the average life span in cats is around 12 years old this can vary widely depending on the health of the cat, the quality of nutrition provided and the preventive care he/she receives. As a general rule outdoor cats live much shorter lives than indoor cats due to the dangers outside (from other predators and trauma to the increased risk of exposure to deadly viral diseases and parasites). Being overweight or obese also shortens life and results in a large number of health issues – such as diabetes, liver failure, heart disease, and joint disease. Regular health care, physical examinations, parasite prevention and vaccinations provide protection against many threats to life and health.

3. Why do cats knead or make biscuits?
Kneading behavior in cats is a reflection of instinctual behavior from kittenhood when kittens knead the mammary glands of their mom to stimulate milk production. In cats that are not kneading for the purpose of stimulating milk, they often knead when settling down to rest (as seen by kneading soft places to prepare it for them to be able to lie down more comfortably). This also may be an instinctual behavior from a time when vegetation would be knocked down to make a safe sleeping place when cats were out in the wild. Another theory is that kneading cats are marking their territory with special scent glands located in the paws. Also, kneading may be a form of stretching or maybe it just plain feels good – if only cats could talk and confirm which reason they have for kneading!

4. Why do cats sleep so much?
Cats sleep an average of 16 to 18 hours a day and one of the major reasons is energy conservation. Cats use a special form of sugar to fuel their short bursts of activity and it takes a while to restore this energy. However, cats often they appear to be asleep but are instantly awakened and this type of sleep varies from the deeper sleep that helps them to recharge. Cats also tend to sleep in short increments of 10 to 30 minutes, so they are probably not sleeping as much as we think. Cats sleep in these short increments because naturally cats are most active at dawn and dusk but they have to balance their natural instincts with our human schedules (which are generally not nocturnal) so they end up taking lots of “cat naps” in order to keep up with us!

5. Why do cats have whiskers?
Whiskers are very sensitive organs and tell a cat a lot about his/her position in space, air movements, and what is going on around him/her. They appear to be particularly useful in low light and darkness, times when other organs cannot collect as much information. Whiskers may also be used to gauge whether a cat can slip into a tight space – generally if a cat can move into an area without making contact with their whiskers, they know that the rest of their body will also fit. Whiskers can also convey information to us, such as if a cat is nervous or scared then the whiskers will be pointing forward at a potential threat. Keep in mind how important whiskers are to a cat, so do not ever trim or pluck whiskers and be sure to keep flames from candles away from curious cats so they do not get singed.

6. What does catnip do to cats?

Catnip is an herb and only about half of cats are genetically predisposed to respond to active oil in catnip. The gene that makes a cat respond to catnip is an autosomal dominant trait, so that is why not all cats are sensitive. It is not certain what part of the brain is stimulated by this ingredient but we do know it is not harmful and can be used to help increase use of items like scratching posts. The aroma of catnip for cats is thought to be quite pleasurable.

7. Why do cats hate water?

Contrary to popular belief, not all cats hate water. In fact, there are many types of breeds of cats that are comfortable around or in water – such as the Turkish Van and Main Coon Cat. You can also see many cats in the wild that will actually fish for food and may even immerse themselves in it. Many indoor cats actually prefer running water to water in a bowl for drinking and will play in the water from a dripping faucet. For cats that do not like water, it may be related to the way their fur is constructed. Fur is not made for being drenching and can become quite heavy when it is, which may be uncomfortable to cats.

8. Why do cats eat grass?

There are a lot of theories as to why cats eat grass. One theory is that it is an evolutionary adaption to intestinal parasites and may serve as a purging mechanism. Most veterinarians agree grass eating seems to be the way for cats to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms. However, some cats may eat grass simply because they like it. This is supported by the fact that cats often more commonly eat new spring grass, which is thought to have a sweeter taste.

9. Why do cats like boxes?
Most cat owners have learned they can spend a fortune on cat toys and their cat will enjoy playing in a cardboard box more than that expensive toy! Cats like to hide and be able to see what is going on around them. Being tucked away in a box with an opening that gives them a view, but having the protection from the sides of the box makes them feel protected from being seen by predators. Even though they have been our household pets for as long as we can remember, they have the same instincts as they did 10,000 years ago when they hunted and had to avoid predators to survive. Cats were a prey species and so being protected in a box makes them feel safe (not to mention cozy!).

10. What is a group of cats called?

A group of cats is called a clowder or a claring. Clowder originates in Middle English from the term “clotter” which meant “to huddle together”. A group of related kittens is a litter. A few litters are referred to as a kindle.

Top Toxic People Foods To Your Pet

Top Toxic People Foods To Your Pet
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

It is not a good idea to feed your pet table scraps other than (most) fruits and vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables can be used as low calorie treats or a way to help them to feel full if they are on a diet, but there are a few that will be discussed due to the danger they can present to your pets. There are some people foods that are extremely toxic and should never be fed to pets and the following is a list of the top toxic people food to avoid feeding your pets. If you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 right away.

Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol.

Avocado is one of those dangerous vegetables that should never be fed to pets. It is primarily a problem for birds, rabbits, donkeys, horses, and ruminants (including sheep and goats), but is not advisable to be fed to dogs or cats either. The biggest concern is for cardiovascular (heart) damage and death in birds. Horses, donkeys and ruminants frequently get swollen, edematous head and neck.

Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
All of these products contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest. It is important to note what percentage of coco is in the chocolate ingested and the amount when calling poison control.

When it comes to citrus, you should not feed the stems, leaves, peels, and/or seeds of the citrus plants because they contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. When feeding the fruit of any citrus, you want to only feed small doses, in order to prevent issues. If your pet has a sensitive stomach, you may see some minor stomach upset in the form of vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Coconut and Coconut Oil
While coconut oil is all the rage right now for humans, there can be some issues when it comes to your pets. When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, use caution when offering your pets these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should never be given to your pet.

Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins are the other fruit that can be dangerous to your pets. Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to your pets.

Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Milk and Dairy
Contrary to the image many people have of giving a cat a saucer of milk, this is not a good idea. Pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset (including severe abdominal cramping and gas).

Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets. In general, any food that is high in fats should be avoided due to the high chance of your pet developing pancreatitis (a potentially fatal disease). Some breeds are more pre-disposed to pancreatitis, such as Schnauzers and Poodles.

Onions, Garlic, Chives
While most vegetables are great to feed to your pets, anything in the onion family is a bad idea. These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and can lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. It is important to check labels to see if there is onion powder in foods before feeding them to your pet because it is a very common ingredient to be added for extra flavor – this included baby food, which some people will try to feed to pets to add flavor to their food or if they are not eating well. However, there are much more helpful and safer options that feeding baby food to your pets if you feel like they are not eating like they should be. Also, you want to be sure there is not a bigger medical issue causing your pets lack of interest in food, so it is best to have your pet examined and find out the best strategy from your veterinarian.

Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
Raw diets are never recommended for pets. Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract. There are no safe bones to feed your pet as they all have the potential to splinter and can result in severe, even fatal, results.

Salt and Salty Snack Foods
Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. As such, do not feed salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.

Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days. This is another ingredient that is finding its way into more and more products; some are even products available over the counters that are marketed specifically for pets so be sure to check all your labels!

Yeast Dough
Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life threatening emergency. The yeast produce ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk and show signs discussed above under the “Alcohol” section.