Goldenvale News

Archive for the 'Safety Tips' Category

Is this a True Emergency?

The Holiday Season is coming up fast! Along with it come holiday decorations, family gatherings, big family feasts, gifts, and lots of busy, busy schedules. All of us at Goldenvale hope that you have a wonderful, relaxing holiday but sometimes that isn’t the case and we want you to be prepared for emergencies that may come up with your pets. Dr. Steph has put together a list of things that are true emergencies; things that can’t wait until the morning, or the next day. If any of these situations arise, your pet needs to take a trip to the vet immediately, or if we aren’t open, head to the emergency clinic. Read more …

Spring Brings the Creepy Crawlies out of Hiding – Part 3: Ticks & Lyme Disease


Over the last few years, the number of ticks we are seeing on our veterinary patients has been steadily increasing, below is some general information on the creepy crawlies and things to be aware of if you find one on your pet.

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Spring Brings the Creepy Crawlies out of Hiding – Part 2: Heartworm


‘Tis the season!

I’m hoping most of you have at least heard of heartworm (if not then we, as a clinic, are not doing a very good job!).  More than likely, most of you have probably sat in the appointment room at the vet clinic and been lectured by one of us, our tech or other staff members about the “dangers of heartworm.  There is A LOT of information out there about heartworm and without getting into the lifecycle of the parasite, it is very hard to know what is truth and what isn’t.

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Spring Brings the Creepy Crawlies out of Hiding – Part 1: Fleas

FINALLY some nicer weather! It’s been one loooong and cold winter but it seems like Mother Nature is finally ready to give us a break. As nice it will be to get back outside, it’s that time of year where we have to start getting ready for fleas, ticks, mosquitoes carrying heartworm infection, and gastrointestinal parasite transmission.  
Read more …

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season

Besides the everyday concerns we have to watch out for around our homes, the holidays bring additional dangers for our furry friends. 

The Pet Poison Helpline provides lots of very useful information to pet owners and pet health professionals alike. 

Below is an excerpt from the helpful staff.


How to Keep Pets Safe this Holiday Season

We love the holidays for celebrating some of life’s happiest moments and making memories with loved ones. Dogs and cats love the holidays too, especially when their owners and guests share extra time and pet treats with them. But all the interesting foods and decorations in our homes during the holidays can be irresistible to pets, sometimes landing them in emergency pet hospitals after tasting or eating them.

“Every year during the holidays, calls to Pet Poison Helpline increase substantially,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT and associate director of veterinary services at Pet Poison Helpline. “Certain foods and items that bring holiday cheer to our homes can have the opposite effect on pets when ingested, making them very sick.”

Armed with knowledge, pet owners can keep their beloved best friends out of harm’s way this holiday season. To inform pet owners, and also to debunk some age-old myths, the veterinarians and toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline offer these tips for pet owners.

  Read more …

Nutrition Series Week #1: Raw and BARF Based Diets

Welcome to the first post of our PET NUTRITION series!

We know how overwhelming it can be walking into the pet store and being faced with shelf upon shelf of different pet foods to choose from.  You want the best for your furry family members and hopefully this series of blog posts will help you decide just how to do that.  Throughout the series we will look at a number of important topics such as ingredients, food safety, commercial diets, and raw or home cooked foods. We will also derail some common myths along the way to better equip you with the tools to make informed decisions when it comes to diet and nutrition for your pet.  

Note:  We will be focusing on the nutrition of young, healthy pets. There are many medical conditions that can change the recommended diet drastically. This is something best discussed with your vet as recommendations will vary on a case to case basis.  


Week #1:  Raw and BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food) based Diets

We don’t mean to start out with the negative, but we get a lot of questions about these diets. We feel it is best to provide you with our professional opinion right from the start. We do not recommend feeding your pet raw meat in any form.  We find this to be a risky food option and here are some reasons why…

The risk of bacterial and parasitic infection is the absolute #1 reason we can’t recommend feeding raw meat. Although it is true that many animals survive on raw meat in the wild, our pets are not living in the bush, they are with us in our homes. The risk here is that raw meat contains harmful bacteria and parasites that could transfer to your pet, and then to you. This is especially true for small children or any family member with a weakened immune system. The fact is, humans started cooking meat for a reason- why would we not apply the same principles when feeding our pets?  It is simply a safer option. Why risk infection and disease when we can avoid it.

Contrary to popular belief, freezing the raw meat does not kill the bacteria. All that it does is slow down the multiplication of what is already there. It does not eliminate bacteria that existed before the meat went into the freezer.  


Raw Food Myth #1:  Dog’s stomachs have a lower (more acidic) pH than humans.  Supposedly this kills off potential bacteria that could be harmful to a human stomach.

This is not true; dog’s stomachs sit at a pH of approximately 2.5 – the same as ours!


When looking at raw food diets another question to consider is, are the diets nutritionally balanced?  It is difficult to answer this question with a simple yes or no since there are so many different kinds of raw food diets.  Generally speaking, it is difficult to achieve the correct balance of vitamins and minerals that will serve your pet best. The pre-portioned diets that are purchased as patties or frozen pucks may be more nutritionally sound but it completely depends on the manufacturer.  On the other hand the home-made versions are very difficult to do correctly and take a lot of time to prepare. They usually require additional vitamin/mineral mixes to achieve that proper nutritional balance that your pet needs. 

As a pet owner, the thing to look for on food labels are that the food has been formulated to meet the AAFCO standards.  AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) have studied extensively over the last few decades the ideal nutrient balance your pet needs. All foods should be “formulated to meet” the AAFCO standards – this just means that they add nutrients to the batch mixture that should match up to what AAFCO set as the minimum requirements.  Some pet food companies go one step further and actually perform feed trials themselves to ensure that their foods are providing exactly what it says on the label.


Raw Food Myth #2:  My dog just LOVES his raw food diet – it must be good for him and be providing all the nutrients he needs!  

Not true – I love chocolate bars and my husband loves Big Macs – delicious, but not good for us!


We are often asked, “is it ok to feed dogs real bones.”

Although the BARF based diets encourage the feeding of bones along with the meat, we do not recommend this. There is a very real risk of damage to the gastrointestinal tract.  Real bones do not digest in a dog’s stomach.  They stay sharp, which could perforate or irritate the dog’s esophagus, stomach lining, or intestine.  If dogs eat large bones whole they can get stuck in the intestine or stomach and your vet may have to go in and perform surgery to remove them.  In our opinion, it’s just not worth the risk (or expense – foreign body surgery is not cheap!). 


Another thing we often hear is, “Raw and BARF diets are based on the dog’s ancestor – the wolf – shouldn’t this be ok for my dog as well?

 The simple answer is No.  The evolutionary split between wolves and dogs happened thousands of years ago.  Their intestinal tracts have changed as well as their role in our lives.  Wolves survive on what they can.  But we bring dogs into our families and promise to care for them the best we can.  Wolves live with parasites their whole lives, they experience disease and infection and if they have eaten something they shouldn’t have, there is no one around to rush them to surgery, or give them treatment. They generally have a much shorter life span than our domestic dogs.  We want to keep our dogs around as long as possible which means keeping them free of infections and making sure they get a balanced diet throughout their lives.


Some proponents of raw food try to site the fact that, as veterinarians, we are so busy learning medical conditions and surgical procedures that we get very little schooling in nutrition.

Although this is actually a fairly accurate statement, Dr. Horgan Smith has a genuine interest in nutrition and has studied it extensively.   If you have questions about your pet’s diet and would like to discuss the specifics, we would be happy to book you a nutrition consult here at Goldenvale.  

Overall, It is our goal to ensure the health and happiness of all pets. This truly does begin with a balanced diet. We hope that this post gave you some insight on the ins and outs of choosing a food for your pet. Thank you for reading our blog and check in next week where we will be taking a look at commercial pet foods.    




Foods to Avoid Feeding to your Dog


Which foods could be dangerous for my dog?


Some foods which are edible for humans, and even other species of animals, can pose hazards for dogs because of their different metabolism. Some may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas, others can cause severe illness, and even death. The following common food items should not be fed (intentionally or unintentionally) to dogs. This list is, of course, incomplete because we can not possibly list everything your dog should not eat.

Items to avoid Reasons to avoid

Alcoholic beverages

Can cause intoxication, coma, and death.

Baby food

Can contain onion powder, which can be toxic to dogs. (Please see onion below.) Can also result in nutritional deficiencies, if fed in large amounts.

Bones from fish, poultry, or other meat sources

Can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.

Cat food

Generally too high in protein and fats.

Chocolate, coffee, tea, and other caffeine

Contain caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline, which can be toxic and affect the heart and nervous systems.

Citrus oil extracts

Can cause vomiting.

Fat trimmings

Can cause pancreatitis.

Grapes and raisins

Contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys. There have been no problems associated with grape seed extract.


Unknown compound causes panting, increased heart rate, elevated temperature, seizures, and death.

Human vitamin supplements containing iron

Can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.

Large amounts of liver

Can cause Vitamin A toxicity, which affects muscles and bones.

Macadamia nuts

Contain an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle.


Can depress the nervous system, cause vomiting, and changes in the heart rate.

Milk and other dairy products

Some adult dogs and cats do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea. Lactose-free milk products are available for pets.

Moldy or spoiled food, garbage

Can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhea and can also affect other organs.


Can contain toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death.

Onions and garlic (raw, cooked, or powder)

Contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. Cats are more susceptible than dogs. Garlic is less toxic than onions.


Seeds can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.

Pits from peaches and plums

Can cause obstruction of the digestive tract.

Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves; potato and tomato stems

Contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. This is more of a problem in livestock.

Raw eggs

Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella.

Raw fish

Can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. More common if raw fish is fed regularly.


If eaten in large quantities it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.


Can become trapped in the digestive system; called a “string foreign body.”

Sugary foods

Can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes mellitus.

Table scraps (in large amounts)

Table scraps are not nutritionally balanced. They should never be more than 10% of the diet. Fat should be trimmed from meat; bones should not be fed.


Contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma, and death.

Yeast dough

Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.


Exerpted from Drs. Foster and Smith


Is chocolate toxic? 

The answer is – It Could Be.  It all depends on the quantity ingested.

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine and it is this aspect of chocolate which causes the toxicity. The amount of theobromine in chocolate is directly related to the amount of chocolate liquor in the product.  Chocolate liquor is the liquid that results from grinding the cacao seeds (beans).  Baking chocolate has the highest percentage of chocolate liquor, then semi-sweet and dark chocolate, and milk chocolate has the least and is therefore the least toxic.  The following chart illustrates the quantity of various chocolate types needed to be ingested to cause toxicity.


Number of OUNCES of CHOCOLATE a Pet Would Need to Ingest for TOXICITY

Weight of Pet
in Pounds




























Milk Chocolate














Dark Chocolate














Baking Chocolate
















Signs of theobromine toxicity include: vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, tremors, seizures, and death in severe cases.

More commonly, however, pets accidentally ingesting chocolate treats like chocolate bars or a box of chocolates suffer from indigestion due to the fat and sugar content, similar to kids if they overindulge.  Occasionally pancreatitis can develop which is a serious and life threatening inflammatory disease of the pancreas causing intense abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

It takes about 4 days for the effects of chocolate to get out of the dog’s system.  If the chocolate was just recently eaten then it may be effective to induce vomiting.  Otherwise hospitalization is needed to counter the toxicity symptoms  until the chocolate has cleared the system.

So, what should you  do with all your chocolate?  To be on the safe side, maybe you should take all of your chocolate into the vet’s office – they’ll know what to do with it!

Poisonous Plants

During the December holiday season we often like to decorate with beautiful house plants – but which ones are safe for our pets to be around?

Holly and mistletoe are toxic if ingested as are amaryllis bulbs.

Poinsettias, on the other hand, are not considered toxic, contrary to popular belief.

 Next up – Chocolate !

Seasonal Safety – Christmas Trees


December Holiday Season – what a wonderful time of the year. Perhaps a reminder of some holiday safety tips would be useful  to try to avoid ending up at the veterinarian’s office.

Christmas trees are a great attraction for our pets.  The shiny tinsel and sparkling ornaments beckon to be swatted at and yes, ingested.  This can cause intestinal blockages and perforations.  Cats, especially, go for the tinsel as well as gift decorations of ribbon, yarn , and string.  Then there is the cat in the Christmas tree, pulling it over, breaking the ornaments, and spreading broken glass over the floor.  Cut pads on the paws can bleed profusely and by the time you catch your terrified kitty you could have blood everywhere.  Also the water necessary to keep freshly cut trees contains tar and other chemicals which leach out of the trunk.  Drinking this could cause, at the very least, salivation, nausea, and abdominal cramping.  A final thought on fresh Christmas trees: many male dogs find it so thoughtful of you to have brought their bathroom indoors!

 One solution to the Christmas tree hazards might be to try to place the tree in a room that can be closed off so when you are not right there to supervise, the door can be closed to keep your pets out of harms way.

Poinsettias – are they poisonous?  Stay tuned for the answer.