Springtime Safety Tips
Spring has sprung, and with the change of season, our thoughts turn to Easter celebrations, spring cleaning and much-needed home improvement projects. Before you embark on seasonal chores or outdoor revelry, take inventory of potential springtime hazards for your furry friends.
*If you suspect your pet may have come in contact with or ingested a potentially poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately at (888) 426-4435.
Easter Treats and Decorations
Keep lilies and candy in check—chocolate goodies are toxic to cats and dogs, and all true lilies can be fatal if ingested by cats. And be mindful, kitties love to nibble on colorful plastic grass, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting and dehydration. Moreover, while live bunnies, chicks and other festive animals are adorable, resist the urge to buy them—these cute babies grow up fast and often require specialized care!
Many pet parents welcome the breezy days of spring by opening their windows. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly put their pets at risk—especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows.
While most dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the beds of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of moving-car windows is dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets riding in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.
Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ way! Almost all cleaning products, even all natural ones, contain chemicals that may be harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage. Please visit our Poisonous Household Products page for more information.
Home Improvement 101
Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.
Let Your Garden Grow—With Care
Pet parents, take care—fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients may be dangerous if your pet ingests them. Always store these products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully. Many popular springtime plants—including rhododendron and azaleas—are also highly toxic to pets and can prove fatal if eaten. Check out our full list—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your home and garden.
Like us, pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause itching, minor sniffling and sneezing, or life-threatening anaphylactic shock to insect bites and stings. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Pesky Little Critters
April showers bring May flowers—and an onslaught of bugs! Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a flea and tick control program. Ask your doctor to recommend a plan designed specifically for your pet. Please visit our Fleas and Ticks page for more information.
Out and About
Warmer weather means more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your home address, cell phone and any other relevant contact information.
- An animal eats some food
- The animal’s body digests the food
- Through digestion, the food is absorbed into the blood stream
- The process of digestion causes the liver to produce ammonia, which combines with other elements in the body (like carbon, hydrogen & oxygen) creating a by-product called urea nitrogen
- The kidney concentrates the urea nitrogen and excretes it into the bladder as urine
- The urine is stored in the bladder until it’s eliminated (on some grass, in the litter box, or—god-forbid—on the new carpet)
In the urinary storage bin we call a bladder, environment is critical in minimizing the growth of bacteria (which ultimately are what cause infections). The optimal urinary environment is achieved through balanced pH levels—the chemical indicator of acidity. If you remember anything from 10th grade chemistry, you’d recognize the terms “acidic” and “basic”. Solutions with a pH level less than seven are considered acidic, and solutions greater than seven are alkaline or basic. Water comes in neutral at exactly seven. Here’s where your pets should fall on the pH scale (and where a couple other things fall for reference):
Lemon juice and battery acid have extremely acidic properties, while bleach and soapy water have very alkaline (or basic) properties. Compared to these solutions, your pet’s pee is pretty close to water (no matter how much you complain about it smelling like ammonia).
Cats should be at around a 6.3 – 6.6 (slightly acidic)
Dogs should be at around a 7.0 – 7.4 (slightly alkaline)
In comparison to our pee (that would be human pee, to clarify), our position on the scale actually ranges from mid-sixes to eights. We wake up with slightly acidic pee (6.5 – 7.0) and, as we eat and drink things throughout the day (and as the liver produces more ammonia—a basic solution—as a result), our pee steadily becomes more basic toward the end of the day (7.5 – 8.0). Then, it resets back to acidic as we sleep, as we don’t typically eat or drink while we’re unconscious.1
When pH levels become an issue:
Changes in pH in either direction (too acidic or too alkaline) are a problem. Certain bacteria and crystals can develop and survive better in certain pH ranges, which can open the door to infections. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria invades the urinary tract, creating damp heat (or inflammation) in the bladder. This inflammation can lead to UTIs, urinary obstructions, or prostate inflammation, depending on the pH level of the bladder environment. Bad bacteria on the skin or in the GI tract can find its way to the urinary tract, and improper diet can actually help this bacteria survive, as it contributes to the damp heat in the bladder.
Urinary obstructions are crystals or stones in the urine. Struvite crystals are the most common form of crystalluria in dogs and cats. They can congeal into struvite stones, which block the urinary tract (and are almost impossible to pass). Struvite stones are composed of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate, and are primarily caused by high dietary magnesium (which will get into down below). Struvite crystals thrive in high-pH (alkaline/basic) environments. Cranberry is great for acidifying urine and decreasing the presence of struvite crystals. Calcium oxalate crystals and stones, however, thrive in low-pH (acidic) environments. So, over-acidifying urine in order to prevent struvite crystals can actually invite a different type of crystal & stone. Moderation is everything.
A dog’s pee should be very close to neutral: a light yellow color if you’re visually-wired (though we should note that, while less color is better, dog urine should not be consistently clear, as this could signal that your dog is over-hydrated). Because dog urine tends to fall just above neutral, they are more at risk for struvite crystals and stones, as these thrive in alkaline environments.
Cats are often especially prone toward UTIs. Their increased risk for UTIs is partially due to their anatomy, but can be greatly impacted by their diet. Diet is really an issue for cats who are consistently fed commercial dry food, as it does not provide an adequate amount of moisture. Dehydration is often grounds for cat urine to become too concentrated, and therefore, too acidic or too alkaline. Adding moist food to their daily diet can help combat the chronic dehydration often seen in cats, also helping to combat the formation of crystals. As an obligate carnivore, a cat would receive most of its moisture from its prey. In fact, the thirst center in the brain of a cat is not nearly as active as in a dog’s. Because of this, it’s important to give your cat sources of moisture outside of just her water bowl.
Beyond a healthy diet, cats can be at higher risk toward UTIs simply because of their anatomy. Male cats, because of their long, narrow urethras, are more prone to urinary obstructions.
Nutrition plays a huge role!
A pet’s nutrition is what supports organ function throughout the body, and the proper diet can make all the difference (it may seem like we say this phrase all the time, but that’s only because we say this phrase all the time. Diet really does make a difference!). Dietary magnesium is considered one of the main contributors to urinary struvite formation. The excessive amounts of grains and carbs in most generic dry pet food brands make it high in magnesium. (Contrarily, meat-based diets are high in phosphorus, which decreases urinary excretion of magnesium and can prevent stone formation). Especially for a carnivore, a diet low in magnesium and high in phosphorus promotes healthy bladder and urinary function.
(Pro-tip: Meat-based diets don’t have to require a ton more work than generic kibble. There are lots of great options out there that are meat-based with minimal grains & carbs and are still just as easy to feed. Freeze-dried raw foods are often meat-based, and are much better for your pet in the long run.)
In addition to a proper diet, we also have are a few herbal recommendations (I mean, we are Herbsmith) for combatting bladder infections:
- Plantago Seed: promotes healthy bladder function, drains damp heat & can calm urination discomfort
- Talcum Powder: drains damp heat & calms urination discomfort
- Rush Pit: clears heat from body, has mild diuretic properties
- Polygonum Root: draining & cooling abilities
- Dianthus: draining & cooling abilities
- Gardenia: draining & cooling abilities
- Licorice Root: draining & cooling abilities
- Cranberry: acidifies urine to create an unfavorable environment for bacteria
- Rhubarb Root: empties systems of waste, high fiber content to support colon function & bowel movements
- Akebia: draining & cooling abilities, eliminates damp heat, promotes healthy urination
85%-90% of UTIs are from E. Coli bacteria. E. Coli has a fringed border (which allows it to attach to the bladder wall) helping it to avoid excretion with urine. Proanthocyanidins (one of the active ingredients in cranberries) attach to the E. Coli’s fringed border, effectively preventing it from attaching to the bladder wall. D-Mannose is also used to support bladder health. It’s a long-chained sugar that allows bacteria to hitch a ride on its long body as it travels through the urinary tract. Once attached, the bacteria are eliminated through urination along with the D-Mannose.
Herbsmith’s Bladder Health Supplements:
Bladder Care®: Containing ingredients to support a healthy urinary tract, Bladder Care is a great formula to support bladder health. By maintaining a normal bladder pH, Bladder Care may reduce the likelihood of crystal and stone formation. It promotes optimal bladder and urinary tract health and function by supporting healthy urine elimination. D-mannose, cranberry, and herbs (like talcum, plantago seed, dianthus, polygonum, gardenia, licorice) support bladder health, which is key to developing the proper urinary environment.
We are so grateful for our customers! Reprinted here with permission of the owner.
Subject: Happy with FROMM
> Tracy- Just wanted to share with you what great review we got from Chloe’s
> vet check today. When the vet came in her first comment was how sleek and
> shiny her coat was. Then we we were discussing that over the past year I had
> switched all 3 of my dogs over to FROMM Gold and had notice less shedding
> with my short hair chihuahuas as well as the soft and shiny coat on my
> Yorkie, the vet said “FROMM foods are great! Keep them on it!”
> We are not only pleased with how the dogs are doing but appreciate the cost
> savings over the food we previously had to purchase from the vet for our
> senior dog that had the same ingredients we found in “Gold”.
> Congratulations on being a part of our family over the past 2 years!
> Bev Davis
We frequently have customers concerned about the presence of chicken fat in pet foods. They have pets believed to be allergic or that show sensitivity to chicken proteins. That is the key point….protein is the normal component that is responsible for causing an allergic reaction. And chicken fat contains virtually no protein component. Note this from Fromm:
Chicken fat is a quality source of essential fatty acids and an excellent source of energy. Fat has a positive effect on the immune system and plays a beneficial role in stress response. Essential fatty acids are required for proper growth, reproduction, normal skin structure, and a healthy coat. Because chicken fat contains virtually no protein, its use does not cause allergic reactions associated with the use of fresh chicken or chicken meal, both of which contain high amounts of protein.
That being said if you are still concerned about anything that says “chicken” we do have alternatives!