Frequently Asked Questions
If you have an emergency please call us immediately or visit our hospital.
- Are grapes poisonous to dogs?
Yes! Grapes can be toxic to pets, causing symptoms from vomiting and diarrhea to acute (sudden) kidney failure in some patients. Raisins have the same effect. If your pet has ingested grapes or raisins, seek veterinary treatment immediately, as grape and raisin toxicity can be fatal to dogs.
- What foods are most commonly poisonous to pets?
Many foods that we humans eat regularly can be harmful to our pets, including:
- Chocolate (dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate)
- Coffee (caffeine)
- Macadamia nuts
- Onion/garlic/chives (more toxic to cats, but dogs are also at risk)
- Salt or overly-salty food
- Xylitol (found in many gums, candies, and some baked goods)
- The seeds or pits of many fruits (apples, apricots, cherries, and peaches)
- Yeast dough.
For more information on toxins, please visit the ASPCA for more information.
- My dog ate chocolate. What do I do?
If your pet ingests any form of chocolate, contact a veterinarian immediately. In general, the darker, more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your pet. Chocolate ingestion causes toxic effects to the heart and can result in seizures.
- My pet continues to make a gagging/choking noise. What does that mean?
Consistent gagging and choking in pets can be indicative of several medical conditions. They can range from issues that need immediate medical attention, such as a foreign object in the trachea or esophagus, to more chronic problems like laryngeal paralysis or collapsing trachea. In any of these cases, veterinary evaluation and treatment should be sought.
- Is my dog having an allergic reaction? How would I know?
Allergic reactions typically occur secondary to exposure to an environmental allergen or a bug bite/sting. Mild allergic reactions can result in watery eyes and raised areas of skin (hives). Some allergic reactions can progress to facial swelling, swelling around the airway, and difficulty breathing. In the most severe cases, pets can develop a sudden onset of lethargy, vomiting, collapse, and even death which is known as an anaphylactic reaction. If you think your pet is having an allergic reaction, seek veterinary care immediately as symptoms can progress rapidly.
- My pet is unable to/has not urinated or had a bowel movement for “x” number of days. What should I do?
Animals who have not urinated in 18-24 hours are considered a medical emergency and should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Urinary blockage (urethral obstruction) is particularly common in male cats but can be experienced by any animal. Urethral obstructions are life-threatening if they are not treated immediately.
For pets who have not defecated, contact your veterinarian for further instruction. Some cases may be simple constipation, but if your pet has not defecated because they are not eating, for example, an evaluation may be warranted.
- Why is my dog experiencing severe vomiting/diarrhea?
There are many reasons why a dog might experience vomiting or diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea could be secondary to something as simple a dietary indiscretion but could be symptoms associated with a more serious medical condition such as a toxin ingestion, inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), an intestinal blockage, or parvovirus. These medical conditions can result in fatality if left untreated. If your pet is experiencing severe vomiting or diarrhea, seek veterinary care immediately.
- My dog has been very lethargic lately. What does this mean?
Lethargy is a common symptom of a vast number of medical conditions, ranging from cancer to a simple upper respiratory infection to cancer. If your pet is lethargic, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian to ensure they do not have a serious underlying medical condition.
- My dog keeps chewing her paws with no signs of fleas. What does this mean?
Paw-chewing can be an indicator of allergies. Just like humans, pets can be allergic to environmental allergens (pollen, grass) and even certain types of foods. A visit to a veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist is likely warranted.
- My dog’s ears have a strange odor. Does my dog have an ear infection?
Pungent odor can absolutely be an indicator of infection, especially in the ear. Certain types of bacteria and yeast produce the odor. Other indications of an ear infection include pawing or rubbing at the ears, head shaking, or discharge from the ears. Ear infections can be extremely uncomfortable. If you feel that your pet has an ear infection, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible to have their ears evaluated.
- What should I feed my dog after surgery?
A post-surgical diet should be at the discretion of the surgeon. Depending on what type of surgery is performed, specific diets or types of foods may be necessary. Check with your surgeon if you have any questions.
- My dog keeps coughing. What does that mean?
Coughing in dogs can be an indicator for quite a few conditions including, but not limited to, kennel cough, pneumonia, and heart failure.
Kennel cough (tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is caused by a virus. Treatment usually involves supportive care, and in some cases, cough suppressants and an antibiotic (if a secondary bacterial infection is present.) Pets with viral infections must be isolated from other animals and avoid areas where other pets frequent (dog parks, pet stores, groomers, etc).
Coughing caused by more serious diseases, such as heart failure and pneumonia, will require more aggressive care. If these conditions are left untreated, they can be life-threatening.
- How do I care for my dog after surgery?
Post-surgical care and management should be at the discretion of the surgeon. You should have been provided with a post-operative information sheet with activity instructions, feeding instructions, medication needs, etc. Please contact your surgeon if you have any questions.
- What does excessive drooling mean?
Excessive drooling can be caused by many underlying conditions such as nausea, an issue with your pet’s teeth, or foreign material stuck in your pet’s mouth or esophagus. If your pet is drooling, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
- My dog’s stomach seems abnormally huge/looks bloated. Should I be concerned?
Yes! A large, distended abdomen is one of the most common indicators of GDV, or Gastric Dilation and Volvulus Syndrome. GDV occurs when a dog’s stomach becomes bloated and twists. This results in various types of shock and can lead to stomach necrosis (death) and, ultimately, the death of the patient.
GDV is typically characterized by a large, distended and hard abdomen, dry heaving, panting, inability to get comfortable, stretching, drooling, and weakness. While any dog breed can experience a GDV, it is most commonly seen in larger breeds such as Great Danes, Retrievers (Labradors, Guldens), Standard Poodles, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinscher.
Dogs that are bloated or experiencing GDV should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. This condition is life-threatening and affected animals can very quickly go from stable to critical. Surgical intervention is necessary for an animal with GDV as soon as possible. Early recognition and intervention have resulted in a positive outcome for a majority of affected pets.
- My pet is bleeding. What does this mean?
Any form of bleeding is considered abnormal. If your pet is bleeding, contact a veterinary professional right away.
- What do I do if my dog is having a seizure?
Seizures are a scary and often unpredictable problem that affects both people and pets. Both cats and dogs can have seizure activity over varying severity. Most seizure activity involves the entire body where pets fall on their side, are unresponsive, paddle their legs, drool excessively, vocalize, and often lose control of their bowels. Some pets can have seizure activity that is localized to one part of their body (facial twitching, twitching of one leg, etc). Most seizures are generally limited to approximately 30 seconds to a minute and a half.
After the active seizure is over, a post-seizure phase (called postictal behavior) can affect the patient for up to a few hours or a day post-seizure and includes behavior such as confusion, disorientation, pacing, anxiety, panting, and even blindness. If your pet is experiencing seizure activity, understand that they are not aware of their surroundings during the seizure and can bite you in the process. It is important to protect them from their surroundings and transport them to a veterinary hospital after their seizure activity ceases. You can scoop them up with a large blanket to protect yourself from injury.
Due to the wide variety of disease process that can cause seizure activity including low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), toxins, head trauma, metabolic disease (kidney/liver disease), structural brain disease, or infection/inflammation within and around the brain, diagnostics are recommended to determine the underlying cause. Diagnostics often include bloodwork, liver function testing and a consultation with a veterinary neurologist for an MRI and spinal tap. After performing these diagnostics, your pet may be diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy (seizures of unknown origin
Pets with a seizure disorder should be treated with anti-seizure (anti-convulsant) medication to attempt to prevent future seizure activity. Anti-convulsant therapy will not eliminate seizure activity but will hopefully decrease the frequency and severity of seizure activity. Sometimes pets require multiple anti-convulsant medications to control their seizure activity. Some veterinarians have differing opinions on when to begin seizure medication, but in general, if your pet is suffering from more than one seizure every two months or if they are experiencing “cluster” seizures (two or more seizures in a 24 hour period), it is recommended that you begin medical therapy for seizure control.
Many seizure medications need to be monitored through frequent blood work in order to maintain an appropriate therapeutic level of the anti-seizure medication in the blood and ensure the body is handling the new medication appropriately. When first beginning medical management it can take some adjustment in dosage to find the correct dosing schedule for each patient to sustain therapeutic levels of mediation and ensure the seizures are controlled.
- Does my dog currently have any eye problems?
Eye issues in animals present in many ways. Many patients with traumatic eye problems (ulcers, scratches, etc) will squint the affected eye and the eye will tear. In other situations, such as cataracts, the problem is noted due to cloudiness in the eye or the patient’s loss of vision (bumping into things, etc). Patients with an acute (sudden) onset of symptoms associated with the eyes should be evaluated immediately. Delayed treatment for some eye conditions could lead to altered healing and long-term vision loss.
Patients with a sudden onset of squinting, redness of the eye, cloudiness of the clear portion of their eye (cornea), discharge from the eye, or sudden blindness should be evaluated immediately. These sudden symptoms could indicate trauma to the eye (ulcers, scratched, etc) or glaucoma and require emergency treatment.
Patients with chronic (slow progressive) changes to their eye such as decreased vision and cloudiness of the lens within their eye (cataracts) can be evaluated by your family veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist. You should schedule an appointment for further evaluation.